American Psycho (musical, book, movie) is a central work of post-modern art. Patrick Bateman, its antihero, is all what our western values are afraid of. Racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. But, is he pure evil, or can he offer some information on virtue? In this short text I want to look at Patrick Bateman as Buddhist hero, especially within concepts of non-essence and how he is better and more smart than most of readings imply, and how he gives valuable insights not only on post-modern American experience, but all possible experiences. This interpretation for me is mainly an experiment for me on a crazy plausibility in argumentation, and postmodern experience of lack of religious metanarrative. Also, of interest is how Patrick Bateman (especially from movie adaptation) is seen as an ideal for many young males who need to find themselves in the modern economic system.
Let's start with one of central tenants of Buddhism (Esoteric) - lack of essence.To put it simply: you are so lost in the sauce that you forget the 'you' are not you. How does it occur in case of American Psycho? Patrick Bateman already is misnamed and misrecognised with his peers, especially Marcus Halberstram, as their identities are based on clothes, style, fashion, ways of existence. In the book we can see, that he is quite aware of his position, and the classic statement of 'I want to fit in.' shows his will towards non-identity, and non-essence within the yuppie space.
To understand the character of Patrick Bateman, we must know his difference. The difference was central for Kukai to differentiate between true teachings and delusion. His difference from all yuppies is the fact that he is a psychopathic murderer. This difference - as non-Buddhist as it may seem - shows how he breaks all the values of his own culture and becomes above. Or every yuppie is a psychopathic murder, and therefore he has even less identity nor essence in himself. His essence although, the essence of difference, is not of matter for his day to day life, and only comes up doing his rituals of murder and abuse.
The rituals do not only extend to murder and abuse, they also touch on his treatment of art. He wants to bring artists and their ideas alive, in his extended readings of superficial 80s pop artists. He is signifying the difference, and the emptiness of aesthetics. In his explanations, he often focuses on the context, as it is the context that allows art to become important, and none of its inherent elements. The music exists insomuch as it is part of the ritual and nowhere beyond that. The music also can be used to explicate the efficacy of his murder rituals, as it completely decontextualises all the songs into works of horror and fear. The songs themselves, still keep his lack of identity real, as it is sure that all other 80s yuppies would enjoy them.
Patrick Bateman, therefore, only exists through externalises, and his internal existence is only one of difference. The items of fashion he owns are all that define him, and allow him to exist. The difference occurs in his rituals and enables him to be unique, despite his own non-uniqueness. His beginning is statement of non-beginnings. Facts like: being child of broken marriage, having better brother, etc. only exist as side terms for him to talk about, but never act upon. He is free from his pre-definitions and limits his individual existence to minimum, and when he becomes a murderer he continues the fantasies which are also non-uniquely his (i.e. his references to other serial killers).
The greatest part of the entire work is that there is no end lesson. There is nothing to be taken away, and there will be more Patricks Batemans. The identity of Patrick Bateman is just passing appearance, a representation of masculine and libidinal ambitions. It is then why, some men still want to identify with him despite his being a complete anti-hero. He is someone you must not follow in action, but when you become him, and realise the enlightenment of his anti-hero Being, you end up understanding him and wanting to become him. Is it for good or for worse I cannot state. As that would be giving the end ethical notion, and that is impossible in the case of Patrick Bateman.
So, what is identity now? How am I supposed to know, I just write texts on stuff. This analysis was just elaborate thought experiment, and nothing more, and there are more blogs on the web with same things being done. Repetitively, without identity, same rituals, same thought processes. All the same, and all the unique. Originally non-arising. Written for a day, written for a week, written for a month, written for eternity. The end lesson is that reading and writing can be fun, and that is for sure something to do in free time. Now, I have to start anew, and create new thing if I am able to (or not).