When the media learned that these eight letters had been written in red ink on the arm of Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung-Hui the blogs went crazy… It is as of this writing the top search on technorati.
I don’t have enough room to list all of the analysis out there at the moment, but popular theories include connections to Islamic (and Christian) scripture with Ibrahim/Abraham (Ismail’s father) taking an axe to idols (I’m sure my colleagues at Hawgblog and Just Wanna Know are going to have to comment on this jump). But other (but less popular) explanations include an on-line gaming tag, Moby Dick, a misspelling of Turkish hip-hop artist Ismail YK (pictured above…Ted? John?), a cryptic illusion to Axl Rose and , my personal favorite reported by the Chicago Tribune, a very obscure James Fenimore Cooper reference:
In James Fenimore Cooper’s novel “The Prairie,” Ishmael Bush is known as an outcast and outlawed warrior, according to an essay written in 1969 by William Goetzmann, a University of Texas history professor. In Cooper’s book, “Bush carries the prime symbol of evil — the spoiler’s ax,” the professor wrote.
By far, however, the best take on this come from the Washington Post’s Emil Steiner when he evokes the concluding line of Jerry Thompson, the reporter hunting for Rosebud in the epic movie Citizen Kane.
“I don’t think that any word can explain a man’s life.” And there it was! We bloggers spent yesterday searching high and low for Cho’s Rosebud as if finding it would be some kind of poetic closure for the pain, or at least a clue as to why he committed this horrific crime. But the bottom line is that no 8 letters can explain the method of any human’s madness and no explanation can bring back the 33 people who died as a result of it.