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The Collected Works Of Cho Seung-Hui

Cho Seung-Hui.jpg

AOL News has scans of two of Cho's plays, Richard McBeef and Mr. Brownstone available. The English major evidentially was noticed by classmates. T. Rees Shapiro of Collegiate Times interviews a classmate.

Stephanie Derry, a senior English major at Virginia Tech, was in a 3000 level Playwriting class with Cho Seung-Hui this spring semester taught by acclaimed professor Ed Falco.

She described Seung-Hui's conduct in classes and how all the clues had been there, but could never imagine his bizarre behavior would ever materialize into these recent destructive events.

"Cho was really, really, quiet," Derry said. "I can't even remember one word he said the entire semester."

"We were in a playwriting class together, which is a workshop class, meaning you submit your plays to everyone in it and then we all review the play in class and talk about it," Derry said.

"His writing, the plays, were really morbid and grotesque," Derry noted. "I remember one of them very well. It was about a son who hated his stepfather. In the play the boy threw a chain saw around, and hammers at him. But the play ended with the boy violently suffocating the father with a rice krispy treat," Derry said.

"He even wrote one play about students being stalked by a teacher." Derry said.

"I mean, his kind of writing was pretty peculiar, but when we asked him if he had any comments after we'd reviewed his work, he would just shrug and say nothing," Derry described.

"We made jokes around the class about his work, because it was just so fictional, so surreal, we just had to laugh," Derry said, "We had to laugh because it couldn't ever be real or truthful, I mean who throws hammers or chainsaws around?"

"But we always joked we were just waiting for him to do something, waiting to hear about something he did," Derry said. "But when I got the call it was Cho who had done this, I started crying, bawling."

"I kept having to tell myself there is no way we could have known this was coming," Derry described. "I was just so frustrated that we saw all the signs, but never thought this could happen."

Expect the same kind of reaction that occurred post-Columbine - there's going to be a school-led dragnet to try and "catch" dangerous children by parsing their writing assignments with a fine-tooth comb. Other than ensnaring hundreds of teens in a legal mess I doubt that the coming "thought police" backlash (and it will come) will make schools any safer.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Collected Works Of Cho Seung-Hui:

» Bill's Bites linked with Virginia Tech: The Day After

» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Inside Cho Seung-Hui's Dorm

» spiralbound.net linked with Orwellian Demands After VA Tech Shooting

Comments (36)

Note the 'deadly blow' was ... (Below threshold)

Note the 'deadly blow' was from someone put upon, and exasperated.

Kevin I don't agree. Judgin... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Kevin I don't agree. Judging by reading some of his first play 'Richard McBeef', he seemed very disturbed and had serious problems dealing with anger..Many of his fellow students were apprehensive that Cho was a walking time-bomb. No one saw him as potential homicidial maniac, but some compulsory academic counselling might have been in order. Instead everyone tried to ignore him.

As a parent of a boy with b... (Below threshold)

As a parent of a boy with behavioral disorder, I would respond to Derry's words, "I was just so frustrated that we saw all the signs, but never thought this could happen," with this:

Don't even think of beating yourself up over this. What would, or could, you have done? Told someone in authority (i.e., the professor) that you feared he was mentally ill? I think the professor should or could already have seen that for himself. Should or could he have looked into it, and should or could the school have been in a position to do something in advance of this?

Do we want universities to be forced to look into the mental health of its students? At what point? Is the bizarre story line of a work of drama sufficient reason for us to question the sanity of its author?

This is a terrible, terrible tragedy. I hope that it is not compounded by a rush to convict people for "not doing what they should have" to prevent it, or apply some heightened standard of care retrospectively to find fault.

These plays were written by... (Below threshold)

These plays were written by a SENIOR ENGLISH MAJOR???

Nevermind the subject matter, shouldn't someone at that level be able to write (and spell) just a little better?

For every young writer of d... (Below threshold)

For every young writer of dark and brooding prose who explodes into psychotic violence there are literally thousands who don't. The only way to tell the difference would be to put them all into an intense inpatient psych screening - and even that couldn't guarantee results, since sociopaths often can mouth the proper phrases to fool counselors.

The costs, of course, would be prohibitive and far beyond any possible benefits derived - the equivalent of reducing the interstate speed limit to 15 mph: it would save most lives lost on those highways, but at a cost too high for society to bear.

Most of such writings are cathartic, and should be categorized under "teen angst" or their desire to shock adults.

The simple fact is these episodes are virtually impossible to predict with any degree of accuracy no matter what steps are taken, which is why very few are prevented. Fortunately, they are extremely rare occurrences, far rarer than, say, lightning strikes.

Apparently in an honors cla... (Below threshold)

Apparently in an honors class at a well-respected university.

The Big U.

It seems we were having a l... (Below threshold)

It seems we were having a little issue with the commenting system. I've removed the duplicate comments.

I agree with Jim. What about Tarantino and Rodriguez's Grindhouse? Write something like that and you'd be "tagged."

But this guy spent the enti... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

But this guy spent the entire semester including writing workshops .without saying hardly a word.
"Cho was really, really, quiet," Derry (fellow student) said. "I can't even remember one word he said the entire semester." and he majored in English...It will be interresting to read any reports especially if he had counselling, as he was advisd. In addition, there are reports, uncomfirmed he stalked women and set fire to a dorm room. I remember a few years ago, reading in 'the New Yorker' the story of a very bright but lonely female Asian student, at Harvard College who committed suicide on campus after giving alot of signs which no one, especially the university staff took seriously. As a result Harvard, after first resisting took alot of steps..to ensure that they were more receptive and proactive in counselling students who had problems. Are we going to see the same at Virginia Tech?

Well, some would say Neal S... (Below threshold)

Well, some would say Neal Stephenson has exploded into psychotic violence.

I'll dissent with you and J... (Below threshold)

I'll dissent with you and Jim, Kevin. A professor without the wherewithal to distinguish between "disturbing thoughts" and "disturbed thoughts" has no place in a classroom. The pieces linked have no redeeming qualities, even if one disregards the general subject matter and the language they contain. There is no talent shown in story development, they are ripe with grammar, usage, and spelling errors, and for the most part read as if they were written by a fifth-grade dropout who spends way too much time listening to King Crimson albums backwards.

Should aspiring writers be censored? That's not really what I'm advocating, but they should be taught that certain things are expected, things such as purpose and skill in writing. At the very least, they should have the ability to express their "high concept" in such a way as to demonstrate a certain level of competency in the English language.

If a senior at a four-year university were to write something such as this, I should hope that his professor sees it as a sign of either a student who has no place graduating, or a student who is in the midst of an acute mental crisis.

I want to throw this out fo... (Below threshold)

I want to throw this out for the purpose of gathering others thoughts on this matter.

I first saw this on the backend of my blogging software that by default scrapes various WP connected rss feeds.

For those not following the link it's an announcement of (note Lorelle is not connected to this effort just passing it along) an effort calling for a day of blog silence on April 30th 2007 in honor of those killed in Va.

This day shall unite us all about this unbelievable painful & shocking event and show some respect and love to those who lost their loved ones. On April 30th 2007, the Blogosphere will hold a One-Day Blog Silence in honor towards the victims of Virginia. 33 died at the US college massacre.

I left a comment at Lorelle's as generally opposed to the idea based on "silence" may, I repeat may have contributed this event occurring just as it did in Columbine.

The "signs" were there but there was silence from those that saw them.

Their are many ways to honor those that have died and those left behind to suffer their loss but putting a "roll of duct tape across the mouth of the blogosphere" for a day isn't one of them.

Also note a quick Whois of the domain shows it to be registered via GoDaddy and the DNS servers appear to be located in Germany.

That may mean nothing... just added info to dicuss.

Do we really want to have a... (Below threshold)
Dan S:

Do we really want to have all the KosKids investigated for their writing over there? :P We'd overload the mental health professionals!

Really. While these plays do exhibit a lot of anger, there's not clear linkage between the narrator's voice, characters' voices and the author. Speaking as an English MA, while it might give one pause, and cause one to question someone who writes this sort of... well... trash, anyone who tells you it's some sort of clear sign of mental disturbance is basing that on something other than empirical evidence. It's junk psych. Except in retrospect, of course.

Rear view mirrors are wonderful prophetic devices, aren't they?

There's actually more reason to question the stability of those who blog or post to message voices anonymously in what is more safe to assume is their own voice. However, even there... ever heard of a sock puppet used as a devil's advocate... err, troll?

Works of fiction follow very different rules. Unstable authors can write things of loveliness and wonder, and shock us when we discover how depraved or sick they are. Meanwhile, otherwise "normal" folk can write some pretty horrifying and shocking stuff. So what?

What someone chooses to write in any of the genres of fiction is not, on its own, more than one datum on which to judge someone's stability. It's like saying someone who kills puppies is sick, and lumping those who accidentally hit puppies with their cars into the same demographic. Or PETA workers who sweetly execute the poor pups to save them from a life worse than death. :)

Half the fun of writing is casting yourself into another mind, one you imagine, and writing as if you were that mind!

Or are we going to start getting actors metal help counseling for playing Hannibal Lector?

Ok, maybe "mental" help, so... (Below threshold)
Dan S:

Ok, maybe "mental" help, some of them might need some metal help, especially if it's heavy.

Pardon me,I was wrong with ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Pardon me,I was wrong with a few of the details..I'll include a book review of the book which expanded on the New Yorker piece. Halfway Heaven. It was actually even more horrifying; a murder/ suicide by a international female student than I remember, but the indifference shown by the university, Harvard, was as I commented.

Well, some would say Nea... (Below threshold)

Well, some would say Neal Stephenson has exploded into psychotic violence.

I thought you were referencing Stephenson when you wrote The Big U.

"metal help" - I did... (Below threshold)

"metal help" - I didn't even notice that...

It's not funny when you hav... (Below threshold)

It's not funny when you have to explain it.

I noticed it.Nice ... (Below threshold)

I noticed it.

Nice and thoughtful reply Dan S. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Junk psych, just like psych radio programs.

If a person is cuckoo/off his or her rocker/a few cans short of a 6-pack/2 eggs shy of a dozen, there really is no way of telling sometimes.

That's the part that sucks.

Oh, and I DID see the metal... (Below threshold)

Oh, and I DID see the metal :P

I AM SO SOORY FOR THE PEOPL... (Below threshold)


You have the answer right t... (Below threshold)

You have the answer right there, crystal. He was crazy.

By any definition, no matter what exactly his malfunction, he had one. He was crazy.

Now I do understand that people want to destigmatize mental illness and I do understand that people want to know what was wrong so that similar events can be avoided. I do understand that a compassionate person will care about the killer and recognize that he was likely messed up for a reason and it's possible to feel sorry for him.

And still be glad that he *is* dead. And still wish that he'd killed himself after the first two murders. And still wish that someone had managed to kill him before he killed so many.

You all make me laugh.... I... (Below threshold)

You all make me laugh.... If you read Stephen King or Quentin Tarantino play, would you have appreciated them? You guys live in a murderous fucked up country, who the hell can sell a gun to a 'clean cut, cute college student'? Only idiots! But the rest of the world is been telling you this for ages.... USA is going down badly, don't blame mental problems, because you yankees are the first with it!

Least likely to become a pa... (Below threshold)

Least likely to become a part of our immigration problem.

He chooses to enfasise part... (Below threshold)

He chooses to enfasise particular gruesome words in each of his plays that show the extent of this kids madness.

I believe Mr. Cho's is the ... (Below threshold)

I believe Mr. Cho's is the most refreshing, vivid voice to hit American Letters in generations and I look forward to reading his further work as it hopefully becomes available. I have read that there is a novel out there somewhere. Perhaps a collection of his work could be published. Doug Brinkley could edit. You out there, Brinkley? We know you're eyeing this one up.

wow 32 dead!Will t... (Below threshold)

wow 32 dead!

Will there be more killing spree like this in the future? This incident death toll really surpass every incident in history. If anyone knows if theres going to be more of these stuff. Let me know. I love it and would like to see more.

Actually guys, Cho's plays ... (Below threshold)

Actually guys, Cho's plays were very good. Its funny how his classmates try to act surprise like they never saw anything like that before.
His script are up to date with some of todays hollywood movies. If he was alive, he could of submit his script to Tarantino, and make another Grindhouse together.
The hell with what his professors and classmates think. Nikki Giovanni is annoying. I dont know whats more annoying, her black poems or her just being black that carries the name Giovanni.
She should of been more understanding and more tolerant towards her students. Its obvious Cho has issues by his actions. If she could break down the teacher barrier, confront him as a friend, and gain his trust, he will obviously open up more. All she does is brush him away like dirt. Ofcourse he is going to feel single out.

AS for his classmates, I dont think they were angles like they claim to be in the news.
Cho, being insane and acts differently, the students will have a tendency to whisper ridicules, mockery, sarcastic remarks amongst themselves. And Cho, being seated in the back may have heard it, and feels bullied.

And his roommate, it seems like after they found Cho to be different, they lost respect for him, and made him their laughing donkey by following him and saying stuff to hurt his feelings. There was one instance where his roommate's friend told the girl Cho was trying to court that the question -mark user name was Cho Seung Hui.
That basically crush his self esteem even more.

From what I see, Cho's action was indeed motivated by what he claimed. These other kids probaby did bullied him to the point where theres no more reasoning left in him. The 32 deaths resulted from bullying. Do all of they deserve it? Probably not. I think he should have just direct his killings only on specific targets that are affected only. The ones that participate in the bullying. Then you can have a good justification for the killings. They phucked with me, now its my turn to phuck them back. Let this be a lesson for everybody. If you dont expect a revenge then dont take part in making other peoples lives miserable else dont complain when it happens. Since Cho has no specific targets, this message should affect society as a whole.

While some say Cho was a coward by suicide, Cho killing himself at the end was a logical thing to do. After killing 32 people, why would you give up yourself to the authority? So society can get their revenge on you be executing you, or stick you in prison and get A*s phuck?
His suicide is not a coward act, infact, it is a noble and digant act to take your own life instead of letting your enemys have you. In history, his is how a true warrior dies when he knows he is out numbered.
If you really analyze his manifesto, those rich kids are actually about republicans.

In conclusion, its sad for the families of the victims, but this incident does shed some light on the reality of our current society.
If we look at his personal problems, we can relate it to our society as a whole.
Asians,blacks,hispanics,immigrants all come to this country to be apart of America. They work hard, take jobs that upperclass wouldnt take. Contribute to society and what do they get in return? They get disdain,they've become the butt of a joke, accuse of stealing jobs. When are we going to stop all of this already, and see each other truely as a nation of one, Americans.

Freedom and equality is written on paper but in our hearts is the opposite. He sacrifice himself for his children, brothers, and sisters so that
attention is brought to us society. So what are we going to do? The way we were brought up, the teachings of our parents, we cannot pass it to our childrens because it will not be useful in the upcoming generations.
I sense this precedence will awake more Cho Seung Hui of all ethnic groups in the future.

Such eloquence is rare, but... (Below threshold)

Such eloquence is rare, but appreciated. Thanks.

Do you think he intended th... (Below threshold)

Do you think he intended the same message you have? Do you think he effectively conveyed it?

smackf, you might consider ... (Below threshold)

smackf, you might consider counseling yourself.

I agree with smackf's comme... (Below threshold)
Picked On Too:

I agree with smackf's comments, above.

A Great Lead Title... (Below threshold)
Ismail Ax:

A Great Lead Title

but AOL doesn't let you copy and paste 'Richard McBeef.'' (In 2007 I'm sure as hell not going to sit and type out the text for the whole 8 pages.)

Why don't you have the Plays re-printed copyable



Ismail Ax

All symptoms point to autis... (Below threshold)
Sunil Krishnan:

All symptoms point to autism. Cho suffered an undiagnosed mental illness that no one understood. People, even his own family did nothing to help him. Finally, he decided to end his life. Had he committed suicide in his dorm room, we wouldn't be speaking of him today. Now he will probably will bring world attention to autism.

Several interesting thought... (Below threshold)

Several interesting thoughts here. How did Cho's act defend the weak? Why do you think he was autistic?

C'mon, defending the weak i... (Below threshold)

C'mon, defending the weak is a good thing to do. Did Cho defend the weak?

Question Marks..."... (Below threshold)

Question Marks...

"This didn't have to happen", Cho Seung-Hui said, after brutally murdering thirty-two people at Virginia Tech University.

And this terrible tragedy of sons, daughters, mothers and fathers didn't have to happen, if we'd only listened.

But we never listen.

We never listen to those that are different from us- the outcasts, the lonely, the homeless, the ones that are unspoken for. We don't try to understand. We shun them and put them out of our minds because of our fear that we will become like them.

And these people become more and more lonely and alienated in their isolation.

Words like "creep", "deranged misfit" and "psycho" devalue this killer's humanity so we don't have to face how similar he is to us. Cries of "how could he have been stopped" are uttered by media quick to sensationalize and gain market share, when the words "how could he have been listened to" are never considered.

Because we don't want to listen.

We don't want to hear about loneliness and alienation when we're all so busy with our lives, making money and making friends. And the unpopular, the ones that don't fit in, the lonely ones are ignored or made fun of because we don't care to understand anything about them.

As a boy, Cho Seung-Hui "was picked on, pushed around and laughed at over his shyness" (Associated Press). When he started college, according to the Guardian, "his mother took his dormitory mates to one side to explain about her son's unusual character and implored them to help."

And he clearly needed help, devaluing himself so much that he called himself "Question Mark".

There are more "Question Marks" out there. There are millions of them. And if we don't listen to them, they will follow the same path again and again, because people are not connecting. We are becoming more and more disconnected from each other, creating more and more "Question Marks" every day.

Most "Question Marks" don't become murderers. Some just kill themselves. Most harm no one and live just as we do, needing antidepressants to appear what we call "normal". They may be someone you know, someone you love.

This "Question Mark" was once a little boy, who cried, and smiled and loved, He wanted to fit in just like you and I. But that desire to fit in transformed itself into anger towards a society that shunned and ignored him.

How many more times will we shun and ignore the one that doesn't fit in, the one in the corner, the one that's different? When all we have to do is listen, before it's too late.

But we won't.

Thirty-two human beings who did not know Cho Seung-Hui were murdered.
They were sons, daughters, fathers and mothers, with dreams of futures that will never come and children that will never be born. The thirty-two leave behind people that love them. People that are now scarred for life by this horrible day of death.

To most of us that have not been directly involved, this tragedy will become a memory and fade like all the others that came before.

And the "Question Marks" will appear with more frequency, again and again, because we don't listen.

We never do.








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