By Kirby Farrell
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Extra resources for Berserk Style in American Culture
From death row he wrote: “I was calm. I was no longer me. ” He “went from tunnel vision to total blackout. When I got my vision and my mind back, I looked and seen what had happened. I did not know who I was. ”37 To hold himself together Davis organized his life around fighting off threat. In themes (conflict, defiance, revenge) and practice (gun-use) he focused on mastering violent abandon. To interpret his experience, however, he seized on Jekyll-and-Hyde ideas about dissociative states that have been influential in many movies such as The Manchurian Candidate (1962, 2004).
Such unbridled energy can resemble that of creativity or inspiration or genius . . ” 43 Sacks calls attention to the alien quality of that manic energy, drawing on the title of Edward Podvoll’s The Seduction of Madness. Recounting a therapist’s treatment of mania, Greenberg observes that she speaks as if it were a lion or another being inside the patient. “Mania is a glutton for attention. It craves thrills, action, it wants to keep thriving, it will do anything to live on” (60). This sounds like the berserk state in its “beastlike” wrath (the lion), rage for risktaking, alienation, and tyrannical sway over the personality.
For them he was more St. George, who kills the voracious dragon of death, marries the rescued princess, and becomes the city’s new ruler. As gender roles have modulated in recent decades, berserking has replaced motherly empathy in some popular entertainment. Instead of being depicted as victims of demonic fury, many Hollywood heroines are now as violent as men. ” In Salt (2010), Angelina Jolie is a spy and an unstoppable supercharged killer. Steig Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander is grotesquely persecuted but more than equal to her tormenters.
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