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The Gospel According to Dexter: Part I

Dexter Morgan kills people. He hunts and stalks his prey, abducts them to his meticulously prepared kill-room where he exacts his punishment upon them. But it is not only punishment: For Dexter, killing is an appetite he must quell at regular intervals. He must kill, must draw the final blood.

Some call him a vigilante—his antics are similar in some respects to superheroes who hunt down the bad guys and rid the world of their evil—but he does not kill for the sake of eradicating evil, rather to satisfy a deep and gnawing hunger.

So where is the Gospel here? There are several parts.

In Season One, Dexter, along with viewers, discovers his brutal past. When he was a toddler, his mother was abducted and murdered by drug lords with a chain saw; Dexter witnessed the entire episode. Several days later, police found him sitting in a pool of his mother’s blood. Though for many years he does not remember the incident, it engendered in him an inexorable obsession with blood and death.

Upon researching his past, discovering—and remembering—the incident, he understands that he was “born in blood.” The incident was a birth into his present nature, one of unquenchable bloodthirst. He refers to this appetite as his Dark Passenger.

Different people use different names for the appetites we discover within ourselves: Dexter calls it his Dark Passenger, and the church refers to it as original sin. We have all been born in blood; we all have appetites for indecorous activities that grow like weeds among our desire to do and be good. These weeds are our Dark Passengers.

We were simply born this way, born in blood. We were born with complete and good nature that has to fight against a Dark Passenger for light and breath. This is not something we choose; indeed, we call it human nature.


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Pnin Panics

I am inappropriately and absurdly in love with Vladimir Nabokov. I want to scrape his words from the page and eat them for three square meals. I want to live on their bread alone. It couldn’t be too hard to scrape them up; he writes such vivid prose his words seem corporeal and textured.

With the scalpel edge of his exacting words he delves into open heart surgery on poor Professor Pnin. But he does not find the things the surgeons find, rather Nabokov’s instruments discover the revenants of the human interior: hope, anxiety, wonder. And his findings are carefully listed in the pages of his novel.

Beneath the cracked sternum, somewhere near the galloping heart, Nabokov finds in perfect form the terrible tremors and visions of human anxiety. It is a small metaphysical organ reaching its claws toward the chambers of blood, which it now and then squeezes, causing panic and dizziness. It is a memento mori.

Pnin’s panic attack ensues:

“The wave of hopeless fatigue that suddenly submerged his topheavy body, detaching him, as it were, from reality, was a sensation not utterly unknown to him….Was it a mysterious disease that none of his doctors had yet detected?…He felt porous and pregnable. He was sweating. He was terrified….He pressed his poor bald head against the stone back of the bench and recalled all the past occasions of similar discomfort and despair….It all happened in a flash but there is no way of rendering it in less than so many consecutive words.”