In the summer of 1976, Nadia scored 7 perfect tens, and David Richard Berkowitz began a shooting spree that would leave 6 people dead and 7 others wounded. Olympics be damned, worldwide press cemented the year forever in our memories as the Summer of Sam, due in part to the police manhunt and also to the letters staged by the killer. While Summer of Sam too poetically for comfort abbreviates to S.O.S., it must also be poetic justice that Summer of Bill abbreviated becomes S.O.B.
While both men’s adventures may be motivated by narcissistic delusions of grandeur, the truth is that they are play-acting (with devastating results) at the angel of death archetype which we have seen so many times before. Indeed plagues have stalked civilization since time immemorial, and yet man has always devised a way to survive such onslaughts. Moses, the father of the neighborhood watch, asked the Israelites to cleanse their doorways with lamb’s blood that the spirit of God would Passover their domiciles. Glinda, the Good Witch of North, was a bit more cheerful when in syrupy sweet tones she proclaimed to the little people in funny costumes, “It’s all right. She’s gone. You can all get up.” And do you know: the practice caught on! To this day, little people in funny costumes who show up at your door may be fended off with a single bowl of candy. Pagan and Christian rituals around the world sprung up to unite villagers in defending their homes against evil. While Bill sees a civil conspiracy in the faces of the people gathered here, I see a national neighborhood watch working in cooperation with law enforcement for the safety of the public.
The more infamous plagues of the middle ages occurred at an intersection of time when population levels sped past a speed bump in medical innovation. The sciences were religiously regulated by…well, the church, to the suppression of both conventional wisdom (old wives tales) and emerging biological studies. Rather than accept the changing times and take preventative steps for all mankind, we hear stories of self-quarantine by the wealthy nobility. This would inspire the Edgar Allan Poe classic, “Masque of the Red Death,” wherein the Spectre of Death progresses further and further into the palace of one Prince Prospero. Ironically, Bill’s narcissism is such that he is trying to isolate himself while trying to visit ruination upon those he claims are jeopardizing his own life. Themes inherent in Poe’s “Masque” include revenge fantasies (upon the rich) and the futility of escaping death.
Themes inherent in the S.O.B. include fantasies of death and sex. Why those two topics together? Freud recognized dual instincts which shape human personality: Eros and Thanatos. Eros is the drive of life, love, creativity, and sexuality, self-satisfaction, and species preservation; and Thanatos, from the Greek word for "death" is the drive of aggression, sadism, destruction, violence, and death. Freud believed that aggression towards others and self-destructive behaviour were outward projections of this death instinct. It is a largely held belief that narcissists are not suicidal, and yet self-destructive actions which put oneself in potentially life threatening situations may indeed be subconscious suicidal ideations. Can it not be said that in leaving reality behind Windsor has committed his own psychological death? What is left of him but a vampiric like creature that stalks the living in search of lifeblood (in this case wealth and notoriety). Malignant self-love has rendered him unable to contemplate a world without his existence, and yet this conflicts with the pleasure principle, his desire to avoid pain.
His final solution lies in manipulating the events of the suicide to look like murder. If Windsor can trap his victim into pulling the trigger, Bill dies believing that he has achieved immortality as a martyr and the ultimate revenge in his victim punished for murder. A narcissist’s suicide then, is an act of mutually assured destruction.
One more tidbit: Inspired by Freud, social psychologist Eric Fromm believed the psychologically disturbed people were unable to love. His theory, known as the theory of decay and epitomized by Adolph Hitler, recognized three main disorders: 1) necrophilia, or the love of death and the hatred of all humanity; (2) malignant narcissism, and 3) incestuous symbiosis, or an extreme dependence on one's mother or mother surrogate.
Summer is nearly over my friends and the fall is imminent!