December 23, 2011

The world created by Patricia Cornwell

"Chastisement will come 
when a very large number of bad books have been spread."
Sister Bertina Bouquillon

"Horrible books will be freely available. 
Intellectuals will argue fiercely among themselves. 
Then the war will break out ..."
Abbe Voclin 

I did not know much about Patricia Cornwell until she was scheduled to speak and sign books at a local book store. So, since she promotes herself as "the world's #1 bestselling crime writer," I decided to see what she had to say. Only later did I learn that her creative talent is euphemistically called "colorfully visceral." In other words, generously sprinkled with graphic, sadistic violence.

Do I sound prudish? Well, bear with me a moment.

This post is a little different from my others, as I steer through the process of being amused, insulted and offended. (Perhaps, I am too thin-skinned. But I still have a point to make.)

As a writer, I have enjoyed listening to bestselling authors such as Stuart Woods, Vince Flynn, Debbie Macomber, Kurt Vonnegut and others. Their stories have been interesting and educational. But I quickly realized Cornwell's appearance might be different.

A couple hours before the event, I visited the book store to speak with the owner. Though he has been helpful and communicative in the past, this time he apologized that he was scrambling to arrange security for the book signing. I was amused by the thought that Patricia Cornwell would need a security detail in our safe, little town and wondered if she might be pretentious, paranoid or both. (In 25 years, here, no officer has been killed in the line of duty.)

So, when I showed up at the event, I was only mildly surprised to see a Secret Service wannabe looming at the author's side. He was doing what might be called, "the opposite of blending in." With a communications device in one ear, the big guy's steely eyes continuously scanned the audience of potentially bloodthirsty octogenarians.

Then, as I stood and listened, I became the threatening presence that alarmed him most. (It must have been my mint green Polo shirt and white tennis shorts that tipped him off.)

I had already settled in at an uncrowded spot between some women, not far from the guard. When he saw me, he walked over and asked me to move farther away. I thought that it was an odd request but quickly complied, slipping in with a group of women, and even squatting so I would not block anyone's view.

But Deputy Fife immediately returned and ordered me to move even farther away, pointing at an open spot. So, I obeyed without complaint, but soon realized that he had stuck me behind a pillar.

By the time Barney returned to his post -- apparently proud that he had effectively thwarted my nefarious scheme -- the show was over. Patricia Cornwell had completed her obligatory 10 minutes of comments. Now, she needed to make money. So, the audience members were herded into a line and I left, pretty disgusted about how I had been treated and imagining fond fantasies that one of those meemaws or peepaws might pounce on her.

I was amused and insulted by the security guard's actions, but more importantly, I later thought about the twisted world Patricia Cornwell has created for herself. When I got home I did some research and had the misfortune of reading some of her "colorfully visceral" work. I soon realized that she has dedicated her talents to stimulating and educating sick, evil minds. Sure, many of her readers are normal (though I find it hard to understand why anyone finds amusement or pleasure from sadistic violence.) But, deep down, she understands why she needs security more than any other author I have seen.

Increasingly, the trend she started in 1990 has produced an ever-increasing supply of like-minded books, movies and even television shows. Recently, for example, the wildly successful, international bestseller "The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo" has been made into a big-budget movie. I have been told that the novel is downright disturbing, at times. But Entertainment Weekly Magazine doesn't seem to agree when its critic brags, "...yes, the film's two rape scenes are as cover-your-eyes shocking as promised."

The movie is being released just in time for Christmas.
Top cable and network television shows now regularly include acts of sadistic violence and portray it as graphically as they are allowed. So it's no surprise that such sick violence has even found its way into the video games our children play.

As reported HERE, hundreds of studies of the effects of Television violence on children and teenagers have raised cautions that children may:
  • become numb to the horror of violence;
  • gradually accept violence as a way to solve problems;
  • imitate the violence they observe on television; and
  • identify with victimizers.
When adults regularly immerse themselves deeper and for even longer periods in the cultural and Spiritual sewage that is widely available today, is it surprising that evil is gaining influence?

Purveyors of what has been called mainstream "torture porn," however, will never learn until the profit incentive is removed. Hopefully, others will begin to think like one online reviewer, who wrote, "... some readers, if they encounter a very graphic description of violence, will simply not read anything else by that author. I gave up on Patricia Cornwell for just that reason--the murders she described became ever more violent and bizarre--beyond the pale."

It all reminds me of something Debbie Macomber once said at a book signing. (She has sold over a hundred million books on subjects that are quite the opposite of "colorfully visceral.") Debbie asked the audience what they believe is the most intimate act. Naturally, the audience squirmed and mumbled. Then the author suggested that reading a well-written story engages the reader's mind more completely than just about anything else.

So, it is not surprising that "the queen of the forensic thriller" is living in a world in which she needs security ... even in today's equivalent of Barney Fife's Mayberry.

Unfortunately, Patricia Cornwell -- along with so many other copy cats -- has built her success by dumping moral and spiritual sewage into each of our communities. She is a polluter of the worst kind, a polluter of the mind.

My hometown is safe now, but for how long?

Of course, Patricia Cornwell can afford security. But can we?

Please study the content of movies and books before you invest in evil.

1/15/13 UPDATE: Court case reveals Cornwell's missing money and mind