Professor Edward Maietta
April 17, 2014
Richard Miller's essay "The Dark Night of the Soul", contains a variety of authors and writing styles.
He includes five stories all relating to the subjects of violence, racism, crime, ect, of the modern day world.
In these five essays Miller gives several shocking examples of how these subjects of violence can have such
a large infuence on today's behavior in society. In an enviroment filled with much evil the question poses,
"what is the outcome of a society at large that displays these ills?" Some might say it could lead to larger,
more threating problems, or maybe it can teach us a lesson and give society rejuvination or peace.
The first of Mller's essays begins with the events that occured at Columbine High School in
1999. Two young men, before both commtting suicide killed twelve students and a teacher. In
addition to the shootings the planned attack involved a fire bomb and 99 other explosive devices.
The personal writings of the perpatrators depict motives of wishing to rival with the Okalahoma
City bombing. Instead of just accepting the actualy evidence of something this large many
memebers of society such as newsreporters, writers, or movies try to cope by looking for blame
of many kinds. Blaming these acts of violnece on violent movies, video games, or a certain kind
of music, bullying, inattentive parents, the internets, or religion.
Miller asks, "What legal or educational reponse could be equal to the challenge of controling
the behavior of so many student from such varied backgroubds?" ( 421. Miller). With such a
system so corrupt of the wrong reponces to events, such as Columbine, it's merely impossible to
predict or even stop someone from trying to escpae from normal surroundings through violence
and crime. The boys chose to escape from reality through reading, writing, TV, and video games.
For most of us, the lines between fact and fictin are very clear and we are able to use that to find
peace or creativity. Miller suggests that possibly reading, writing, and medetation are the only
sources that ca teach us properly about humanity. Miller explains that in the writings of the two
young men no one was to blame but themselves and nothing was going to stop them from their
plans. That leaves specalations that this was merely something that could not have been
dectected, but only two misguided boys that mistook their fiction and turned it into reality.
The second part of the essay "The Prince of Darkness", Miller uses the work of Martin Amis's
"The Information", to discuss the healing works but also the harm of reading and writing in a cuture.
Writers are being compared to crimials, depicting the imagry of literacy creation being possibly physically
harmful. Amis says, "the criminal is not like an artist, the criminal resembles the artist in his
pretension, his incompetence, and his self pity" (425. Sited by Miller). Amis's novel explores what
society can produce in times of dispair or worry, like creating great novels or stories, but we live in a
time where good things don't last long. Only the production of sadness or hopelessness will have any
lasting significance on the public becaue that's what they like to hear. Many studies show that, as humans,
we care more about the threat of bad things than we do about the prospect of good things.
Miller's third essay "Following The Word", is written with the use of a favorite story of mine,
John Krakauer's "Into The Wild". Krakauer's book was written through peices of a journal of a young man named
Chris McCandless. Chris is another example of someone who's lines between reality and fiction were blurred.
He is seduced by writing and begins to believe that the stories he was believing was real and used it to ecape...
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