Writing

My Creative Project: Jack the Ripper was a Sickening Badass

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The end of our classes arrived very early. Everything went away in a second: our last class approached and we didn’t see it coming. Professor Lichtenstein just wanted to have an individual chat with each of us to talk about our projects – what were we going to write about? Could she provide any advice? Of course she could.

I just had this vague idea of writing about Jack the Ripper and the fascination of evil, and it didn’t seem like a particularly original subject. I really needed to talk to our professor. I also knew that she probably wouldn’t have liked the idea of a piece about Jack the Ripper, but I tried anyway. I didn’t want to write about my own personal theories about his identity (who cares? I don’t). I wanted to write about my own writing and Jack the Ripper.

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The power of words can make people like assholes. I know this may seem terribly wrong, but it’s true. People find Jack the Ripper interesting and fascinating – and that’s exactly what I am interested in. I am not interested in Jack the Ripper as a man, as someone who did such atrocious things, I care a lot more about why people find his case so fascinating. There are many reasons. I don’t want to explore them in my project, because it would be too much of a psychological kind of essay. I am interested in my relationship with assholes in my writing.

I think that fiction should bring us to doubt about ourselves and our solid beliefs. If a writer is good, he/she will make people understand the reasons of the “bad characters”. How can you make someone fall in love with an atrocious killer? How can you make his reasons and actions likeable? People are fascinated by violence. How so? How can you make people love your villain?

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Jack the Ripper was a man, but a lot about him was made up. His name was made up by the media. And it is such a great name. Jack the Ripper. Doesn’t it sound exactly like the kind of name that a supervillain should have? I think so. And doesn’t the stereotypically foggy, dark and sketchy East End look exactly like the kind of place where you would love to set a crime story? I do.

I want to write about Jack the Ripper as a form of evil more than a person. How can narration make people love assholes? Why are assholes always more interesting, more entertaining and more badasses than the good characters? Jack the Ripper wasn’t a person that you could like. He was a murderer, he was sickening and probably mentally ill. But you can love his character. The top hat, the black cloak, a silent man walking slowly away from his last victim. The knife flashes in the moonlight. The director Quentin Tarantino once said that details sell stories. I am sure that it’s true.

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[The pictures represent some Jack the Ripper’s memorabilia that I found in my research at the London Bishopsgate Archive].

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