Sunday, March 16, 2008

Poetic Justice 2

In my previous post Poetic Justice I commented on the ironic downfall of Eliot Spitzer, and quoted Laura Trevelyan who compared it to Greek tragedy. In a post called Banks, Privacy and Revenge, Adam Shostack writes:

"Eliot Spitzer made a name for himself attacking banks. Setting aside the legitimacy of those attacks, I find it shocking that he didn't realize how much banks know about each one of us. It's doubly shocking that he didn't expect revenge."

For my part, I am always astounded by the things people expect to get away with. Is it sheer arrogance, or an unconscious desire to be found out? There are undoubtedly some people who unconsciously engineer their own downfall. Sigmund Freud (who certainly knew something about Greek tragedy) called this the death drive. Sometimes there is no other obvious explanation for people's self-destructive behaviour.

By chance, I've just been reading a beautiful short book by David Grossman called Lion's Honey, The Myth of Samson. Grossman carefully analyses the biblical story of Samson, who is secretive and yet confides in women, who is betrayed over and over again by these women, who destroys thousands of Philistines and destroys himself in the process.
"He goes through life like a walking enigma, marvelling over his secret, his riddle. He enjoys approaching the dangerous brink of being found out by others. Yet, on second thoughts, the word 'enjoys' is inaccurate: more likely he is driven to this, compelled to confront this feeling, this bitter-tasting knowledge that he is impenetrable, that he cannot be released from his strangeness, nor from the mystery within."


And here's a great summary by Jessica Hagy from "Indexed".

Image copyright (c) 2008 Jessica Hagy

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