Later that afternoon I was visiting a modern art museum, the type that has a few key pieces to bring in the gray haired and the tourists but prides itself on also presenting a lot of fresh talent. The diversity of the types and style reminded me that anything can be looked at from an aesthetic perspective. The context of seeing these works in the museum made me look at the art, even the unfamiliar and nonuser friendly art, in a way that invited me to appreciate the small aesthetic choices that the artist made, whereas the context of the prison invited me to distance myself from the actions that led the prisoners to their sojourn there.
I had this odd epiphany in the museum that, particularly for some of the more gruesome and "senseless" crimes (like serial killing) that may seem to unfathomable to most people, there is a certain aestheticism and set of choices that is not unlike the art. It reminded me of some of my own fantasies about slitting someone's throat, and how if I were a killer, I could imagine myself really enjoying exploring the nuances of this particular way to kill, in all of its infinite variations. I could see how someone could devote their entire life to this exploration and feel quite fulfilled -- how some might actually feel compelled, either by the beauty of the art form or by the need for self expression in a particular way, to continually seek out this cathartic release of truth in concrete form.
Is the imperative that a killer often feels to kill in a particular way and a particular type of person any different than the artists' need to express himself in a very different, but similarly particular way?
I had never thought of killing that way, but now that I have it makes complete sense that serial killers will get apprentices, or imitators, or plain fans, just like artists. It suddenly became clear to me that many people kill not because it is bad or good, deviant or heroic, but just because it is beautiful. Even the way that formal justice has historically been enacted in the form of torture and capital punishment suggests a certain flair for creativity and desire for expression. It's a shame that formal justice has become more sterile recently, for the punishers and the punished, at least in western society. It is becoming a lost art.