In my post about VT, I wrote about those who are in school right now who may write about twisted and evil stuff, but may be just fine, unlike Cho. Thinking about the guys and gals who want to be the next Clive Barker or Stephen King.
I just found this over at Entertainment Weekly.com, from Stephen King himself, talking about the exact same thing. I thought I share it.
I've thought about it, of course. Certainly in this sensitized day and age, my own college writing — including a short story called ''Cain Rose Up'' and the novel RAGE — would have raised red flags, and I'm certain someone would have tabbed me as mentally ill because of them, even though I interacted in class, never took pictures of girls' legs with my cell phone (in 1970, WHAT cell phones?), and never signed my work with a ?.
As a teacher, I had one student — I will call him George — who raised red flags galore in my own mind: stories about flaying women alive, dismemberment, and, the capper, ''getting back at THEM.'' George was very quiet, and verbally inarticulate. It was only in his written work that he spewed these relentless scenes of gore and torture. His job was in the University Bookstore, and when I inquired about him once, I was told he was a good worker, but ''quiet.'' I thought, ''Whoa, if some kid is ever gonna blow, it'll be this one.'' He never did. But that was in the days before a gun-totin' serial killer could get top billing on the Nightly News and possibly the covers of national magazines.
For most creative people, the imagination serves as an excretory channel for violence: We visualize what we will never actually do (James Patterson, for instance, a nice man who has all too often worked the street that my old friend George used to work). Cho doesn't strike me as in the least creative, however. Dude was crazy. Dude was, in the memorable phrasing of Nikki Giovanni, ''just mean.'' Essentially there's no story here, except for a paranoid a--hole who went DEFCON-1. He may have been inspired by Columbine, but only because he was too dim to think up such a scenario on his own.
On the whole, I don't think you can pick these guys out based on their work, unless you look for violence unenlivened by any real talent.