Category Archives: Amok (Zweig)

The sin of being too readable

Dalrymple writes that Stefan Zweig

occupies more or less the same place in German letters as the literary doctor W. Somerset Maugham in British—that is to say, he is viewed with suspicion by the literati because, although brilliantly intelligent and immensely cultivated, what he wrote was so intensely readable. To be really great, at least nowadays, you have to be difficult to understand.

Der Amok-Pilot: eine sehr moderne Geschichte

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 08.16.34Dalrymple writes that Andreas Lubitz

was not depressed, he was of bad character, for the improvement of which there is no drug. He was an angry narcissist, murderous at least as much as he was suicidal.

Suffering reverses in life, Lubitz

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 23.18.38sought revenge on what he thought was an unjust world.

Many people like him who commit suicide, or try to,

imagine a continued shadowy existence after their deaths in which they are able to witness the doleful effects that their death has had on others, and they enjoy the prospect. He didn’t want to slip away quietly, he wanted fame, even if it were only notoriety.

If he had killed himself

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 23.05.48by jumping from a building, say, which requires no more courage than crashing an aëroplane, no one would have heard of him.

But now,

after crashing his aëroplane, everyone has heard of him. The 149 people were sacrificed to his wounded vanity and his desire for fame.

Lubitz

was treated as if he were ill, thereby disguising from him his own responsibility for his state of mind.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 23.20.00He was

a narcissist whose sorrows and failures made him vengeful and murderous as well as suicidal. He thirsted for fame, though he had no achievements that entitled him to it, and he was willing to sacrifice 149 others to achieve it.

And he was prescribed

useless drugs that possibly contributed to his aggression.

Amok, according to a recent account, 'is found almost exclusively in men between the ages of 20 and 40. The incidents are characterised by frenzied attacks with kris, pedang or lembing. The assaults are often directed at family members or friends, then extended indiscriminately to others. Whether or not preceded by unusual behaviours (depression, brooding, sakit hati), amok occurs as a sudden outburst resembling a hyperstartle reaction, and amok-runners typically declare amnesia for the duration of the incident. The majority of amok-runners are killed during attempts by others to restrain the murderous rampages; those taken alive may be subjected to execution, imprisonment or institutionalisation in a psychiatric facility.' Sir Hugh Clifford, British Resident in Pahang (1896-1900 and 1901-03), described it as follows: 'Much has been written concerning the acts of homicidal mania called amok, which word in the vernacular means to attack. It was formerly believed that these outbursts were to be attributed to madness pur et simple, and some cases of amok can certainly be traced to this source. These are not, however, in any sense typical, and might equally have been perpetrated by men of another race. The typical amok is usually the result of circumstances which render a Malay desperate. The motive is often inadequate from the point of view of a European, but to the Malay it is sufficient to make him weary of life and anxious to court death. Briefly, where a man of another race might not improbably commit suicide, a Malay runs amok, killing all whom he may meet until he himself is slain.’

Amok, according to a recent account, ‘is found almost exclusively in men between the ages of 20 and 40. The incidents are characterised by frenzied attacks with kris, pedang or lembing. The assaults are often directed at family members or friends, then extended indiscriminately to others. Whether or not preceded by unusual behaviours (depression, brooding, sakit hati), amok occurs as a sudden outburst resembling a hyperstartle reaction, and amok-runners typically declare amnesia for the duration of the incident. The majority of amok-runners are killed during attempts by others to restrain the murderous rampages; those taken alive may be subjected to execution, imprisonment or institutionalisation in a psychiatric facility.’ Sir Hugh Clifford, British Resident in Pahang (1896-1900 and 1901-03), described it as follows: ‘Much has been written concerning the acts of homicidal mania called amok, which word in the vernacular means to attack. It was formerly believed that these outbursts were to be attributed to madness pur et simple, and some cases of amok can certainly be traced to this source. These are not, however, in any sense typical, and might equally have been perpetrated by men of another race. The typical amok is usually the result of circumstances which render a Malay desperate. The motive is often inadequate from the point of view of a European, but to the Malay it is sufficient to make him weary of life and anxious to court death. Briefly, where a man of another race might not improbably commit suicide, a Malay runs amok, killing all whom he may meet until he himself is slain.’

Edenic Vienna

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 07.52.24Dalrymple writes that in The World of Yesterday, Zweig describes

the happiness of living in a cultivated and tolerant cosmopolitan society in which politics were secondary, any wars (like government itself) were small, limited, distant, and unimportant, personal freedom reached its apogee, and everything had the appearance — delusory, of course — of solidity and permanence. People felt they could plan for the future, because money would always retain its value and interest rates would never change. The joy of material progress, evident year after year, was unclouded by the realisation that man remained a wolf to man.

The author of 'Amok' and 'Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles'

The author of ‘Amok’

Hapsburg Vienna, in Zweig’s view,

was deeply civilised because it was politically and militarily impotent.

However, Zweig

evaded the question of how to protect the peaceful sheep from the ravening wolves.

In Zweig’s Vienna,

Zweig père

Zweig père

informal rules and conventions governed people’s lives far more deeply than laws or rights conferred by legislators. He recounts, for example, that his father, though a multimillionaire mill owner easily able to afford it, refused to dine at the Hotel Sacher, since it was the traditional haunt of the Empire’s upper aristocracy. He would have felt it tactless to obtrude where he was not really wanted; and (an almost inconceivable attitude today) he felt no bitterness at not being wanted. His actual freedoms were more than enough for his appetites.

Hotel Sacher

Hotel Sacher