An Old Internet Classic

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

During my evening hunt for blog material, I stumbled across a "personality test" I fondly recall receiving from a friend via email back in my days as a graduate student. The test, which I found at, is innocent fun, and it reminded me of the good people and good things in my life. And in the process, it caused me to understand something very sad about yesterday's massacres in Blacksburg, Virginia, and to consider myself very fortunate to have encountered the test.

There is no way, thank goodness, for a normal, healthy human being to completely understand the depths of mental illness or depravity that motivated that boy to kill so many people so senselessly. Right now, the bereaved are barely starting to come to grips with what they have lost, and the time for the rest of us to consider causes will come soon enough. But there is something particularly unsettling about those events: We have all had to witness something that we shouldn't have, and to the extent that we have, we have all been harmed by this act.

Notice that everyone seems to be talking about it. And furthermore, there is no way to talk about it and feel any semblance of a normal, happy emotion. This crime spree had this as a motive, I think: to deprive the rest of us of any innocence we might have had that lasted into adulthood, and therefore, of our happiness. Be this due to the murderer's own incapacity to feel that emotion himself or due to envy is immaterial. This has been the result, and I think that in the name of the best within ourselves, we owe it to ourselves to take a step back from this obscene act, and to think about anything one can that is good, for that is what is normal in life, and that is what this person wanted us to forget. This is not escapism. It is an affirmation that life is indeed good.

I do not know whether taking this test will have the same effect on anyone else as it had for me, but I encourage anyone who happens by here to do something, anything, that will for a moment, cause you to forget about Blacksburg and remember what a beautiful thing being alive really is. Do it for yourself, and in honor of the victims of this unspeakable act.

I love my life and will not allow this murderer to tell me that his personal hell, the one he tried to impose on the rest of us, is a "realistic" picture of life. I do grieve for the fallen, but I will not let their murderer touch my soul.

-- CAV

PS: My answers:

  • pig
  • cow
  • sheep
  • horse
  • tiger

  • friendly
  • cuddly
  • nasty
  • good
  • vast

  • The very good friend who introduced me to my wife.
  • My mom.
  • My wife.
  • My baby brother.
  • My good friend, Raymund.

  • 9
  • Friday
Whoever sent this to me years ago, thank you. I enjoyed taking it then and it has turned out to be an unexpected comfort now.


Tom Rowland said...

This is, without a doubt, the best commentary on this tragedy that I have read. There is no one that I know that died or was wounded, yet when I heard the news and each time the story is repeated, with more details that confirm its hideous irrationality, I am in tears. The ultimate anti-life act: to kill the capicity for joy in the name of one's own despair and then, as the realization of the utter irrationality to which one has come, to kill one's self.

Thankfully there is music and tests like the one you found and art and Objectivism to remind us of what it really means to be human.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you, Tom, and I am glad this helped.

This was a ghastly spiritual crime. The only way not to become a victim of it is to refuse to accept this killer's unholy psycho-epistemological premise.

And speaking of terms that Ayn Rand invented, you are absolutely right. I owe Ayn Rand my thanks.