Is it common for solo theatergoers to socialise with another singleton at the theater? Is it a social practice that’s generally accepted and implicitly understood?
It happened once before, although this time, it was a lady who sat beside me. A while had passed before she asked,
“Are you here alone?”
Her question broke my reverie. It took me a moment to gather the scattered pieces of the puzzle and form a comprehensible picture of the social context — that she had indeed said something, that she had asked a question, that the question was directed at me, and that those were the words that formed her question. As it took me by surprise, I wasn’t quite sure how to react so I simply smiled and gave a slight nod, then turned back to face the stage and resumed my original sitting position, wondering what her motives and reasons were that prompted her to break the silence between us and to ask me that question.
It got awkward between us after that, and there were no further exchange of words for the rest of the show.
On a separate note, the following are excerpts from 3,096 Days in Captivity by Natascha Kampusch. They echo my thoughts and are worded much better than I could have.
Nothing is all black, or all white. And nobody is all good or all evil. These are words that people don’t like to hear from an abduction victim. Because the clearly defined concept of good and evil is turned on its head, a concept that people are all too willing to accept so as not to lose their way in a world full of shades of grey. When I talk about it, I can see the confusion and rejection in the faces of many who were not there. The empathy they felt for my fate freezes and is turned to denial.
That, within the evil, at least brief moments of normality, even mutual understanding, were possible. That’s what I mean when I say that there is neither black nor white, neither in reality nor in extreme situations, but rather many subtle shades in between that make the difference.
Our society needs criminals like Wolfgang Priklopil in order to give a face to the evil that lives within and to split it off from society itself. It needs the images of cellar dungeons so as not to have to see the many homes in which violence rears its conformist, bourgeois head. Society uses the victims of sensational cases such as mine in order to divest itself of the responsibility for the many nameless victims of daily crimes, victims nobody helps — even when they ask for help.
Crimes such as the one committed against me form the austere, black-and-white structure for the categories of Good and Evil on which society is based. The perpetrator must be a beast, so that we can see ourselves as being on the side of good. His crime must be embellished with S&M fantasies and wild orgies, until it is so extreme that it no longer has anything to do with our own lives.
And the victim must have been broken and must remain so, so that the externalisation of evil is possible. The victim who refuses to assume this role contradicts society’s simplistic view. Nobody wants to see it. People would have to take a look at themselves.
……It is society’s self-hate that rebounds on society itself, begging the question of why it allows something like that to happen.
I was unable to find any desire for revenge within me — just the opposite. It seemed as if I would only reverse the crime he has committed against me if I delivered him into the hands of the police. First he had locked me up, then I would make sure that he was locked up. In my twisted worldview, the crime would not have been cancelled out, but rather intensified. The evil in the world would be no less, but indeed would multiply.
The sympathy extended to a victim is deceptive. People love the victim only when they can feel superior to him or her. …But even the offers of help were indicative of what was going on inside many. It is a human reflex that makes you feel better about yourself when you can help someone weaker, a victim. That works as long as the roles are clearly defined. Gratitude to the giver is wonderful; but when it is abused to prevent the other from developing his or her full potential, the whole thing takes on a hollow ring.