While still reading:
I'm actually much more freaked out by the unproven retaliatory murders committed after the Manson Family's arrest. Which is partially because I didn't realize that was happening, but the list of people who died and had a connection with Manson is goddamn chilling.
One of the things I like about the book is the author's skeptical but growing understanding of the hold Manson had on his followers. Even cult theories don't encompass what he was doing, and the author being the prosecutor and interviewing the different members of the Family, his impressions of them, both defense and prosecution witnesses, showing his uneasiness with them without being self-conscious about the fact he's narrating things in a way that sound crazypants neo-mysticism is refreshing. And he knows that's how some of it sounds. There's a really strong impression that he also wants to add If you had been here, you'd get what I'm saying.
Being sentient, I still find it bewildering (it could never happen to me!) and extremely unsettling (remember ages sixteen through twenty-one?) and oddly frustrating, the same way I feel about Jonestown and the millennium group suicides for the coming of aliens and Scientology. I know it's slippery slope--very few people dream of the day they will be drinking down poison in South America after killing a Congressman or embracing a movement based on the secret meaning of Beatles lyrics and committing mass murder--but there's slippery slope and then there's the chasm between the moment you aren't a murderer for a truly bizarre reason and the moment you are (assuming you are neither a sociopath nor a psychopath nor a variety of clinical sadistic narcissist).
Slippery slope is often more about giving away more than you thought you were--aka personal freedoms or rights--and realizing suddenly the dangers. In general, murder is an action taken where realization is kind of hard to miss when you're holding the weapon and there's a body in front of you: I don't get that. Even suicide--which is understandable to me, considering--kind of throws me, but part of that is I have clinical depression, and suicidal thoughts are weirdly enough my sharp inner line that is literally the one thing that forces me into some kind of frantic activity, even stupid activity, until my baseline misery isn't on that level; if something that can hold me hostage for two years in a morass of utter self-inflicted misery cannot make me do it, a person telling me to would probably make me laugh hysterically.
It does feel like something that you have to be there to understand, very literally.
This is interesting reading; I'm glad I saw the article on Manson's parole hearing tomorrow and remembered to go grab it.
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