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  1. #1

    [KOTC] Examining Faith: The Momentum of Madness

    SirSam vs JacobWrestledGod – Momentum









    Madness, as you know, is like gravity.





    --


    Today I had a conversation with God. And I asked Him what would drive a man to murder.


    I have a baby. Technically, he’s a toddler. He walks, he talks (a little), he’s two. He’s awesome and pretty handsome.

    My first boy. What a blessing.

    In Singapore, 95% of our housing is public apartments. I live on the 9th floor, overlooking a highway and a school. I have an unobstructed view of the clear blue sky.

    I was carrying Isaac in my arms, as always, staring towards the highway where vehicles zoomed past in orderly fashion.

    “That’s a bus!” I pointed at the road.
    “Ba-ba… ba!”
    An innocent moment, father and son chatting, smiling.

    Still hugging on to him, I strolled towards the railing. I peeked over the 9th-floor ledge, down to the ground below.




    I really love my boy so much.

    The most beautiful thoughts are always alongside the darkest.


    “I could just jump right now. With Isaac.” I thought to myself.


    I jerked backward violently at the thought, retreating from the ledge.

    l’appel du vide, the call of the void.

    I seriously thought about killing my boy.
    I contemplated. I waited.
    And I thought about killing myself, jumping with him.
    We only care enough to kill somebody we love.

    I placed him down with his toys and stumbled into my room.

    I said it out loud to see how it feels.
    Today, I thought about killing Isaac.


    I have no depression. I love my wife, my boy, my family, and my career. I have no illnesses, no debts, no REASON.

    So I debated, wondered out loud, argued with God.

    Then it dawned on me that maybe we normies, we aren’t that different from
    the Chris Watts and the Casey Anthonys
    And the Chris Benoits.

    Sure, we didn’t murder our precious children and our other halves, and this in no way justifies family murders. But examining evil requires us to explore the question:

    Why? Why was Benoit, or anyone, willing to kill their family?

    And why didn’t I jump with Isaac, when, for a fleeting moment, I wanted to?

    I believe such evil madness didn’t just come crashing down on Benoit the day he viciously strangled himself, his son and his wife. There’s the evil thought that sprang up in all of us; the traumatic event that starts the transformation; and the declining mental culpability that snowballs into murder.

    It’s like the snowball effect. A single push and the snowball rolls down the hill, gaining mass and momentum until it’s unstoppable.

    Madness gains momentum from 3 factors:

    The object,

    the slippery slope,

    and the push.









    The Object

    For the snowball effect to work, the weight of the snowball pressing down onto snow on the ground causes slight melting at the surface, allowing snow crystals to stick together as it rolls down the hill.

    In other words, the object must already be inclined to the snowballing effects of madness, hanging on to the ideation of suicide and murder.

    Benoit, 2008. At that point, he was physically battered. During his postmortem examination, it was concluded that Benoit’s brain was akin to an 85-year sufferer of Alzheimer’s Disease. Further damage was recorded in all four lobes and the brain stem.


    Steroid abuse might also have fueled the rage on the weekend that he killed Nancy and Daniel. Roid rage from steroid abuse, in many ways, may result in loss of impulse control. In this tragedy, it might have provoked overreactions that in normal circumstances won’t induce Benoit to murder.

    The object was ripe for picking up momentum towards madness.





    The Push

    This is intuitive. In academia and popular culture, we learned how traumatic events can, in one fell swoop, alter the mental state of a person. Soldiers get PTSD from combat. Women survive sexual assaults and are scarred forever. Childhood abuse created and nurtured criminals and serial killers. Deaths of loved ones destroy our capacity to live rationally as depression sets in.

    2004. Eddie Guerrero. The push that started the snowball rolling down the hill. It’s no secret the 2 were closer than brothers, and it was extremely heartbreaking that right when Eddie has finally exorcized his drug addictions, he was snatched away from his loved ones. Eddie’s faith was also paramount in his good nature - it prompted Eddie to help Benoit on many occasions to keep away from Benoit’s own demons, namely alcohol addiction and steroid abuse.

    It’s almost prophetic now to look back at Benoit’s live television breakdown as he remembered Eddie. It’s like Benoit’s spiritual pillar of support crumpled and collapsed in front of our eyes:


    It wasn’t just Eddie who left. Before Benoit (who was nursing a severe depression) could get over his grief, more tragedies struck. In January 2006, barely 2 months after Eddie’s death, 2 other close friends of Benoit, Victor “Black Cat” Manuel and Michael “Johnny Grunge” Durham, passed away.

    After Eddie’s death, Chavo Guerrero was riding exclusively with Benoit as his tour buddy. It took Chavo awhile to get Benoit’s trust and built the friendship again, and he mentioned in an interview that Benoit said this:

    “Hey Chavo, Eddie’s gone. He’s my go-to guy and I don’t know how to continue anymore. I can’t go on anymore. I can’t handle all my friends dying one by one.”

    Chavo said that based on the outward appearance and his interactions with Benoit, he only felt subtle changes in him. Revisiting history, it is clear that the deaths of his friends seemed to be the tipping point.

    The push had begun, and the momentum towards madness gained its traction.





    The Slippery Slope

    Isaac is my entire life right now. Taking care of a toddler is not just a sideshow - the tiny frail being is entirely dependent on us, the parents, and through the arduous process of caring for the baby, we learned to love the boy with sacrificial love.
    And why didn’t I jump with Isaac, when, for a fleeting moment, I wanted to?
    Are we any better than Benoit?


    I am not the Object - I have no mental illnesses, or physical addictions, unlike Benoit.

    There is no Push - I have not suffered the type of grief and depression that Benoit had.

    But what horrifies me is the Slippery Slope.


    And I asked God, what would drive a man to murder his own family?


    Benoit was a religious man. So am I.

    I am a man of faith. I believe in the central fundamental tenet of Christianity - which is everlasting life through Christ. I believe, as most modern churches teach, that believers will not experience death - that we simply drop our mortal bodies and rise to heaven upon our earthly passing. Even though murders and suicides are sins, no sin is too great for the forgiveness of sins through the Son of God.

    The implications of this doctrine are extremely polarising, to say the least. Those trapped in sin will find freedom - free from the burden and shackles that bind them to their past history, like how Eddie Guerrero and Shawn Michaels changed over the years.

    But for me, it formed in me the belief that
    I could hold Isaac tightly
    and the jump over the ledge.

    If jumping off a building
    means all of us escaping
    this world and its burden of depression and responsibility…

    And meeting our Lord and Saviour face to face...
    free from pain and suffering,
    forever as a spirit…


    Why SHOULDN’T I kill myself?
    Why SHOULDN’T I kill everyone
    I love
    so that we can
    ALL LIVE IN PARADISE?


    That’s the slippery slope I can’t escape from. The same religious trappings that Chris Benoit must have wrestled with as he placed the bibles beside the dead, cold rotting corpses of Nancy and Daniel.





    You see, Benoit must have believed this:
    That he didn’t send his wife and boy to hell,
    That they
    all
    ascended
    to
    paradise.

    To meet the Lord.

    Together.


    As I ponder upon the impulses of evil, I realize: the same teachings that saved my soul and done so much good in me and my family is also the foundation for murderous insanity to gain its foothold and momentum.

    All of us climb up really high,
    and then falls really far.
    We stand in line
    and makes mistakes.
    Sometimes, a little push is all it takes.
    I don't know what to say when people come apart, come undone.
    Well, funny how our morality checks out,
    we always find someone who got it worse.
    Someone who hit the ground harder than us
    to feel better about ourselves,

    “I will never kill my boy, my wife like Benoit did.”

    Are we any better?
    That’s why the preacher’s podium

    is called the pulpit -


    it can pull you
    out of the pit,

    Or it can pull you
    into the pit.











    -fin-

  2. #2
    You know who I am, but you don't know why I'm here
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    Damn...

    That was incredibly engaging, oddly formatted, and deeply affecting.

    Helluva take on the topic, and the kind of column noir that I really appreciate. I loved how you presented the case for Benoit's final hours being more than about steroid use; I've written a lot on that topic myself and find it utterly fascinating. You make people think when you write about topics like these and in this personally-engaging manner. The format was obviously intentional, but I did think it hurt the flow of the piece and disrupted the presentation, not to the point where it crossed the line over to completely detracting from what you were going for, but certainly to a point where it stood out to me as flirting with crossing that line. I thought the writing was good enough not to need the gimmicky format, strong enough to powerfully execute the points you were making minus the jumps in alignment, font size, and spacing.

    A mixed bag, like in a wrestling match that does some things excellently and others not so much, the composite result is still a memorable piece of work
    Author of The WrestleMania Era book series, author of The Doctor's Orders columns on LOP since 2010, LOP Columns Hall of Famer, former host of The Doc Says podcast on LOP Radio (2013-2018), former LOP Raw and WWE PPV Reviewer (2006-2007), and former LOP Smackdown Reviewer (2004-2006)

  3. #3
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    Interesting reading this, we have both gone with very personal pieces about family and mental illness and ended with kind of a poem.

    Good read, you were right to say it is very dark. It is crazy truism that inside humans we have the capacity for great kindness but also incredible evil.

    So many years on I still flip flop on how I feel about Benoit. Sometimes I can separate what he did in his life before he went insane but other times I just cannot bring myself to watch him. It must be so impossibly hard for guys like Jericho who were so close to him, knew the family he killed and very publicly have such mixed feelings about it.

    I'll be very interested in where the judges come down on us.

  4. #4
    HUGE Member TheLAW's Avatar
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    WOW this is dark, in the best ways possible, but damn!

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    This was dark but very compelling to the thought process of human nature itself. Beautiful.

  6. #6
    It’s deeply personal as faith is so important to me, and exploring the pitfalls of it, coupled with the fact that I have my own personal dark thoughts and Benoit’s religious leanings, I hope to juxtapose a compelling case on human nature and religion. I suspect “Examing Faith” will be a series, and this is the start of a column that will explore more of my personal faith.

  7. #7
    Really impressed reading this, the amount of personal, spiritual, and medical analysis makes for quite a compelling read. As someone who has brought politics into my writing on wrestling, I can appreciate the effort to draw on religious themes here, as wrestling provides opportunities for a wide spectrum of comparative analysis. Have to admit I was a little thrown off by the formatting as well, but I think the writing speaks for itself. I was left persuaded by the main arguments.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    The formatting for sure is a resemblance to stream of thought. And the writing is powerful. Everyone has those dark thoughts and doesnt admit them. My reocurring one is punching fellow employees or patients in the face. I imagine it randomly (most of the time!), just about daily. How would they react? How would it play out from there? It makes me wonder why humans have such dark thoughts so often. As if our primal selves are screaming out. The uncivilized core feeling unfulfilled...

    This is very solid, but I think there is more to what makes a killer though. It is a combination of Nature and Nurture. Anybody who grew up in or around the industry back then is drawn to violence. That speaks volumes in itself. Maybe mental illness is genetic to him, and it didnt rear its ugly head until the brain damage? Family history of depression? Addictive personalities? Substance abuse? Violence? Most every person with CTE hasn't murdered. The human mind is a complex thing. I think in that regard you and I both went in a particular direction in this round, to explore deeper layers of very complex things.

    Which made a 1500 word limit difficult. I would have enjoyed seeing what you did with 2000-3000 words here. Your column also has strong undertones of my topic (you discuss ID, Superego, and ego throughout). And mine has strong undertones of yours (the path or momentum to a mindset) . I chalk that up to us analyzing and deep thinking as often as we both do. You said in PM you were always drawn to me, but I vividly remember a lot of your columns for the same reason. The two brothers in the barn, the girl on the subway, e.t.c. We may be in different parts of the world but we think in unison often.

    Someday we will face off in a tournament and blast out a metric ton of creativity. With any luck in this one?


  9. #9
    Main Pager Maverick's Avatar
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    I feel like sometimes, in the past, your formatting and experimentation sometimes detracted from the writing, but here, it definitely added to it. This was powerful and emotive without being sensationalist and a new take on a topic that all wrestling fans find hard to come to terms with. Well done- I read this on Saturday and I’ve thought about it ever since. Definitely the best thing I can remember you putting together, kudos.

  10. #10
    I don’t know if I told anyone this but I have always been lacking in the pure writing department. Being bilingual and learning English only when I was slightly older, my English has been just barely ok. grammar, tenses etc are my weakness, as well as vocabulary. What I do have are fanciful ideas and gimmicks, which is why I over compensate with weird formatting and all that. I always admired the good “technical” wordsmiths who use powerful structures and turn of phases in their columns. my personal fav are Plan, Doc and Maverick, so I am so happy and humbled to see praise from Maverick on this column.

    If this column make you feel disturbed and thinking about the themes explored, then I have done my job. I wrote the full draft on Thursday, and I was tossing and turning in bed that night, still pondering about Benoit and his family and still talking to God about the nature of evil.

    My formatting has always been polarising, and I think I have overdone it on multiple occasions. In this case, I pictured words coming from the right side of my vision as disturbing thoughts and the centre as exclaimations. However, even as it all made sense to me in my mental vision, I didn’t realise that how it would be just simply a jumbled mess to the readers, somewhat like a director who has a vision of his own but failed to translate that vision to the screen such as people can easily interpret the symbolism of it. Ultimately I think visual formatting requires a easy to understand logic (intuitive logic) in order to work. An example would be left brain and right brain, or an angel on left shoulder and the devil on the right shoulder, thus having text aligned left and right to symbolise different characters. I will make sure to be more mindful of this in the future and if I get to the next round.

    I learnt a lot just examining the feedback, and thanks for all the support
    Last edited by JacobWrestledGod; 02-05-2019 at 08:06 PM.

  11. #11
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    This one was, by far, the most difficult to give feedback to. You have a way of plunging into some deep, dark places – often beautifully, and sometimes artfully uncomfortably. It’s an absolute talent, but sometimes it gives me shivers.

    Let’s talk about the writing first. The stylistic choices you made, the formatting you opted for – fantastic. Having your pure, “normal” self speak on the left-hand side of the column and your far rarer, dark impulses be aligned on the right-hand side of the column, having them creep up as though from another source, is stunning use of formatting. And the best part was slotting in the middle, formatting with a centered alignment, the part of you that questioned; the part of you that recognized the dark impulses but longed to stay on the left-hand side.

    The content that began this column was utterly chilling. I love psychological thrillers; I love movies and books that use art as a way to ask questions about the human psyche. Your touch on the call of the void, that weird, illogical desire, even with absolutely no seeming reason to want to jump, sent a shiver down my spine. I think the call of the void is a fascinating phenomenon. From what shallow bits I understand of it (and I absolutely do not claim to be an expert), I believe most experts who have studied the psychology behind it find that it’s actually an affirmation to live.

    Sticking with dissecting this as a written work – you entered this topic with such a deep, artful approach. It really hit me as a powerful commentary on your psychological take on the subject. I do feel, however, that you maybe tried to do too much with the almost scientific breakdown of the snowball – specifically in the object section. I feel like the tone was taken away a bit and it almost got clinical when you detailed the three pieces of “physics” in the push, the slippery slope, and again, particularly the object. Things definitely felt a little more compartmentalized after the call of the void section and before the religious conclusion. Maybe it was a byproduct of what I felt was the effort to tie things to your topic of momentum a little more, or the effort to connect things to the wrestling aspect of it in the form of Benoit, but I felt a slightly jarring shift in tone.

    I don’t know how to touch on the three elements of the snowball with the same kind of judicial dissection I’ve been attempting to bring to every column. All I’ll say is that I think a slippery slope can be represented in many different ways and methods. And I suppose the same could be said for the push and the object. The way you described yours in this setting worked well with the column.

    Last thing I noticed - you got two key dates wrong. Benoit died in 2007, not 2008. Eddie passed in 2005, not 2004.
    Last edited by Skulduggery; 02-07-2019 at 02:16 AM.

  12. #12
    The Brain
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    Eddie and Benoit died in different years, as mentioned, but putting that little flub aside... damn, this was hard hitting stuff. “Deaths of loved ones destroy our capacity to live rationally as depression sets in.” What a line. This is very striking but it’s so far into the abyss that I was genuinely uncomfortable with it at times. The formatting is great and the core idea is fascinating, in an almost unbearably macabre way. Definitely the piece I had to sit with the most to get my thoughts in order.

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