Understanding homicide, as it turns out, helps in understanding the human condition. Who could have known? But the podcast, This Thing of Darkness, produced by the BBC and superbly written by Lucia Haynes and Anita Vettesse, tells us a lot about us: about how we think and why, about what it takes to commit murder and why, and, about love and how distortion and anxiety can pervert it. It isn’t hate we’re shown but the other face of love, which can deadly.
Despite the presence of brutality – you can hardly have murdered without it – what we hear is why life can produce brutality in an individual. The reasons, of course, are vast and deep, cruel and illuminating, sobering and disturbing. But, underlying it all, they are very human and because of that, ultimately decipherable.
Perhaps the reason This Thing of Darkness can boast to have achieved such a high standard of insight, is because the story is so beautifully choreographed. As it swings from the personal to the theoretical, the narrative reveals how the unresolved in us, can build. Without realising it, we are pushed ever closer – often by distortion – to bring about a resolution. For some of us this eventuates in things being resolved in a deadly way.
While the gulf between murderers and the rest of us may seem vast, this podcast not only manages to clarify and inform us about why murder occurs, but to bring those who commit it, closer. It demystifies our tendency to think of them as outside of us. Like the warp and weft of material, the text never excuses their behaviour but seeks and succeeds in showing us the fabric of the human condition even if it leads to the act of killing.
Deftly pieced together, This Thing of Darkness shows us how we love and how that love can be misshapen.