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A Moron Who Doesn’t Know the Ropes


When I read that Anders Behring Breivik considered himself a modern Knight Templar, I was immediately reminded of Umberto Eco’s great set piece in Foucault’s Pendulum, in which one of his characters describes the four basic types of human being: fools, morons, cretins, and lunatics:

A lunatic is easily recognized. He is a moron who doesn’t know the ropes. The moron proves his thesis; he has a logic, however twisted it may be. The lunatic, on the other hand, doesn’t concern himself at all with logic; he works by short circuits. For him, everything proves everything else. The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.

There seems to be more than a trivial dash of cretin in Breivik, too, as is usually the case with these romantic-apocalyptic types. Think of Timothy McVeigh choosing “Invictus” as his final statement before execution: “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” That or a low-rent hick with a truck full of fertilizer. Norway does not put murderers to death, but I do hope that whatever fate awaits Breivik, he is remembered not only as evil but as ridiculous. 


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