kayla rae-rinne lawlor
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Cardillac Syndrome
Murder and intrigue are two words that have a long history together, and that continue into contemporary news accounts as they did hundreds of years ago. People are intrinsically drawn to know the details of another’s woes. Today, we find our salvation in new reports, crime shows, novels, and movies. The tradition of telling murder mysteries dates back centuries, only recently have they been written down. The short story Mademoiselle de Scudery by E.T.A. Hoffmann was published in 1819, twenty-two years before Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe, laying claim to the first detective story ever written and published.
A detective story as defined in the dictionary is “a story whose plot revolves around the investigation and solving of a crime.” Richard Alewyn describes Hoffmann’s story to “contain murder (a series), a solution at the end, an innocent suspect and an unsuspected criminal, detection by an outsider, an old maid poet, and a locked room element.” In Mademoiselle de Scudery, several homicides are taking place in Paris that involves men being murdered while traveling to meet their mistresses late at night to bestow on them expensive jewelry. The murderer stabs the men in the heart with a knife and makes off with the jewelry. In the end, Mademoiselle de Scudery finds out that the well-respected goldsmith, Rene Cardillac, of the community is stealing back his own designs and murdering the men.
Cardillac Syndrome is a modern take on Hoffmann’s Mademoiselle de Scudery. The syndrome is a German psychology term used to describe “the pathologic difficulty or inability of an artist to separate [themselves] from [their] works.” I chose Hoffmann’s story as a narrative to base my fictional murder on. I, myself, as well as other fellow artist I believe, have some of the Cardillac Syndrome in them when they make a piece. In my thesis, I become Rene Cardillac. I have the Cardillac Syndrome in which I have a hard time parting with the things I make. But, my thesis is not about a real murder that I have committed but rather our culture’s obsession with crime, as well as our obsession with information and possession.