Thoughts on Auschwitz & The Appearance of Evil

Some of my personal interests are crime, psychology and history. These areas of study often intersect as humans tend to kill one another, often times over differences they can’t or won’t remedy. The Holocaust is a prime example of this trifecta intersection. From 1933-1945 roughly, the Holocaust was carried out by Adolf Hitler and his Nazis with great detail and intentionality. The Germans were very well organized and kept paperwork and records on everything they did, including in each death camp.

I started learning about the Holocaust around 8th grade, or around 13 years of age. Even now, when I see pictures and footage of Auschwitz, I feel confused. Surely, this wide brick gateway with the glass lookout tower wasn’t so bad, was it? It looks like an airport tower, or even an entrance to a theme park. Everything appears so orderly and ordinary, if a little old and European looking. I expect Hell on earth–flames shooting out of the gate, the Devil walking around on the railroad tracks, bloodstains on the fences, anything really.

How could evil look like so ordinary, so efficient? Where were the flashing lights, the warning signals or other clues? No. There was just brick, mortar, glass and railroad ties at the entrance. And something else I learned recently—Auschwitz is massive. The immensity of the death camp be seen in the BBC drone footage here.

The evil was in the ordinary.

auschwitz2

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A Partial Movie Review & Thoughts on the Horror Genre: “The Quiet Place”

My spouse bought the tickets, got us free glasses of ice water and I scurried off to use the restroom. I sat down in the dark theatre, baffled by the motley collection of previews that ranged from the dramatic yet playful “Avengers” series to an odd, demonic horror movie of  uncomfortable supernatural darkness. I was reminded how even though I write horror, most horror I’ve come across I dislike and avoid. More on this later.

I relaxed as the “The Quiet Place” finally began and flashed my husband a grin. I was geeked about this movie, particularly because I could learn more American Sign Language (ASL). As I mentioned previously, I’m attempting to become fluent in ASL and was curious how the language–and maybe even Deaf culture–was incorporated into the film.

“A Quiet Place” is the story of an American family cobbling a bizarre, post-apocalyptic existence while striving not to make the slightest noise. The parents are raising children, one who is a teenaged deaf girl and two younger boys who are hearing. Alien neighbors surround the town and farm where the family scratches out an existence. The aliens are blind, armored predators; they target and kill anything that makes the slightest noise (including unlucky raccoons). The family walks barefoot on sand paths, eats on lettuce plates and plays Monopoly with soft fabric playing pieces. They cannot cry loudly and struggle with expressing (and suppressing) their emotions. The parents whisper hoarsely to their kids and use ASL to communicate and teach their children how to survive.

I made it through about 40 minutes of the 90 minute film before leaving. Hats off to Mr. John Krasinski, the director, for the movie’s unique power. I walked out of the theatre, afraid to make any noise in case an alien was hiding around the corner ready to ambush me. I blared my Pandora station with courage at home and proceeded to clean my house–until 2 in the morning.

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Flash Fiction Contest: 100 Words of Horror

My entry for Pia Majumdar’s flash fiction contest. Enter here* and join the fun!

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Book Review & Theory: The Turn of the Screw

A friend recommended reading Henry Jame’s novella, The Turn of the Screw. It’s a psychological horror, set in Victorian times in England in Essex, specifically. Throw in an old country estate named Bly–isolated and with a large pond–a couple of potential ghosts, a country church and I’m sold. Get me a cup of tea, some caramel popcorn and away we go. Nothing better than a cozy horror snuggled up in blankets.

Expecting something like Jane Eyre, I sat and read the novella (approximately 43,000 words) over a weekend, some in the car, some in restaurants and the rest at home. It’s a quick read–I particularly loved the short, but thick chapters, that gave just enough momentum to keep the reader going. The imagery, particularly the ghost sightings I adored. James has a way with describing just enough and letting your mind fill in the rest, particularly with domestic scenes so close to our experiences.

I got to the end, eager for answers, several theories at my side I developed. I met Mr. James there, holding his white handkerchief in a tease surrender, standing next to his character’s corpse. My theories fell to the wayside. I argued, I harangued, I politely condoled. But I would get no answers, it seemed. It was up to me and all the other readers since the 1800’s.

I screamed.

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Seasons of Writing & Novel Snippet

I’ve been in a particularly busy season of my life for the past few years. There’s been some respite and solace, but overall everything’s been at a steady, enduring clip. As things shift and change, I’m starting to realign my time and focus on my personal goals: writing and exercise among them. I’m also volunteering and becoming involved in activities that support my growth and refill my cup. As an introvert, this is a careful balance. Remember my formula? One hour of socializing = one year of hibernation. And yes, I’m still in the red.  But it’s less crimson and more of a happy, candy apple red now…

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