It has been observed by psychologists that gamblers have a tendency to move away from more conservative bets to riskier, higher return bets at the end of the day. This is called quite simply end-of-the-day betting. What is true for gamblers can also be true in life. Those nearing the end of the road and sensing in their bones their approaching death may have a tendency to throw caution to the wind in order to gain an impressive pay out.
This may or may not have been a factor in the case of the Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock. As yet we don’t know his motivations. Maybe we never will. Although, from what I’ve read about the man, I’m disinclined to believe ISIS’s claim that he was a latter day convert to their cause. However, the idea of “end-of-the-day betting” chimes in quite well with what appears to be an “end-of-the-day Boomer effect.”
To take it from the individual to the social level, isn’t there also a hint of this in the whole Trump phenomenon, namely a large part of the older generation doubling down on the polarizing figures of Trump and his antithesis Hillary, instead of the boring “safe” bets.
But back to Paddock — whose very name even evokes gambling — the best picture and the most believable one that has emerged of the man is one that depicts him as an antisocial loner — someone skilled at living “off the grid,” cautious in the same way that successful criminals are cautious, a careful man, carrying around within himself a nihilistic core and psychopathic tendencies bequeathed to him by his father, a convicted bank robber, edging closer and closer to the abyss.
To be honest, the man is thin gruel for those seeking simple narratives. There appears to be very little social media to dig through and almost no photos. Neighbors report standoffish behaviour, blinds kept down, and long. unexplained absences. In short the type of guy who, if he had any opinions, would have kept them to himself. He almost definitely seems like the sort of person who wouldn’t bother to vote, although it seems that, as with the largest group of Americans, he was a registered Democrat. Then there are his Asian girlfriends. That, in itself, is an alienating and insulating device of sorts.
Looking for social significance in such an antisocial creature leaves you with few places to go. The best one is to view him as a kind of “supernova collapse” of the vacuous, nihilistic, materialistic Last Man of Nietzschean terminology — a symbol of the putrescence of affluence combined with the decomposition of atomisation ignited by his inner psychopathy. Why would such a person care about sending sheets of hot lead into a writhing, blooded mass of injured and dying people?
It is one of the sad ironies that our supposedly “hyper-humanistic” society runs on selfishness, hedonism, hatred, and greed, lubricated with liberal doses of atomisation and channelled with intolerance.
The selfishness is self-evident, the hedonism blatant and repulsive, the hatred formerly invisible now crystallized in the electronic footprints of billions of people; while the greed is in the way that technology has managed to pervade, monetize, and micromarket all of the rest.
This massacre happened in Las Vegas, a symbol of the crassness and vacuity of the West, but in a sense, don’t we all live in Las Vegas — and by living there die — because that is what the greater West has become?
As our civilization shuffles towards its end, the bets being placed on the future become increasingly unhinged.