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Offbeat – 09 May 2014

The ‘new normal’ is disturbing. It is a series of depictions of events and thoughts that desensitize us through familiarity.

I have been reading the new Batman comics. I excuse myself on the basis that I am mildly goth, albeit the kind with a sunny disposition. Here’s another excuse. One needs to keep up with one’s icons. Any other excuse needed for reading a comic? It’s a valid form of literature nowadays. And lest I forget, I also enjoy comics. If the idea puts you off, you can always watch a movie.
These comics are part of the DC New 52 ‘reboot’. Think of a reboot as a family moving into a new house. The house provides new décor and a refreshed environment. The family remains the same, but the new environment gives them a small amount of additional room to change themselves.
Batman and his supporting characters did not move into a house, so much as a violent abattoir. I’ll focus on one character in particular, The Joker. Joker evolves alongside Batman. He and Batman are noted in the comics genre for their symbiosis. The two need one another to exist.
In the early comics, Joker was witty and urbane in addition to being dangerous. In the fairly recent Batman movie, the joker evolved once more. His madness became a lot more threatening. The comics take it a step further. The reading became grueling after a while, the violence and brutailty extremely intense. Aside from the greater degree of sadism and inexplicable motives on the part of the Joker, the illustrations are  very graphic.
I’ll get used to it I suppose. It will become the ‘new normal’.
The ‘new normal’ is disturbing. It is a series of depictions of events and thoughts that desensitize us through familiarity.
I dwelt a lot on the phenomenon of the abduction of the Nigerian girls and the intent of the verminous leader of Boko Haram, to sell the girls as brides. Most of my thoughts turned to my own reaction to the story.
I collect news for a local news site, usually three times a day weekdays and once a day over weekends. My approach is first to try to find the stories that have an impact on current affairs with first prize going to stories that will shape the future.  I add a small amount of sensationalism because the news also has an entertainment component in its psychology. I don’t give much shrift to things like market bombings and car bombings. Those are commonplace fillers on the global and regional news sites.
Every once in a while looking through the news becomes depressing in the extreme, but after a while I become inured to it. A mass shooting, for instance, feels like a normal thing. So does an earthquake. Flooding of New York is a more interesting phenomenon for instance, because it might mean that the US finally comes to the climate change table. Flooding in Bangladesh is not so interesting because it happens every year, and they are already upset by the threat.
I kept reporting on the kidnapping of the Nigerian girls at a low key, a couple of items. In my estimation it was just another incident that would be rapidly resolved with a minor battle. The horror only became apparent as the girls were not rescued and the cretinous piece of trash who leads Boko Haram announced his plan.
As I thought about my reaction to the story, I realised I would give presence to the next mass abduction, but after a while, with subsequent abductions, the stories will lose their power to hold attention, and I will begin to ignore them, like the suicide bombers. The abduction of girls will, in all likelihood, set an example to other ‘Jokers’ and become the new normal.
I have no solution or statement that I can make on this, other than state that the incident is sickening and depressing.
The new normal is an emotional retreat, an acknowledgment of my inability to absorb the desperation, year after year. It’s the same for everyone in this rising tide of sickness and damage.
I never enjoyed sport in the past, but I am beginning to feel the pleasure of it now. I have become a Manchester United fan in some way. It’s easier to enjoy something I have never enjoyed before than absorb the woes of the world.

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