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Anders Behring Breivik Lists Favorite Books, Music, Video Games

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In the wake of last week's bombing and massacre in Oslo, Norway, its perpetrator Anders Behring Breivik has come under intense scrutiny. Breivik enumerated his ideas in a 1,500-page manifesto titled 2083 - A European Declaration of Independence, which has already been plumbed extensively. Breivik also kept extensive private writings, including a Knights' Templar Log, in which he wrote--among other topics--on his taste in media.

All quotes from Breivik are from this Telegraph article, which investigates his writings and offers considerable insight into his personal aesthetics.

Breivik's favorite books include:

"George Orwell - Nineteen Eighty-Four, Thomas Hobbes - Leviathan, John Stuart Mill - On Liberty, John Locke - Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Adam Smith - The Wealth of Nations, Edmund Burke - Reflections on the Revolution in France, Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, William James - Pragmatism, Carl von Clausewitz - On War, Fjordman - Defeating Eurabia."

This largely political selection may frame the attacks as act of protest. It should be noted, however, that several of the works carry anti-fascist and free-market themes, the likes of which seem to conflict with Breivik's nationalist-leaning monoculturalism. On the list of his favorite music, we find:

"Vocal elektronika (vocal trance) but also classical music and pop. Armin van Buuren, John O'Callaghan, Marcus Shossow with vocals like Audrey Gallagher, Emma Hewitt, Sarah Howells, Sheryl Dean, Helene Bøksle, Saga etc. I also appreciate classical music. Opera: Wagner, Verdi, Mozart."

Electronic music in general is very popular in Norway, and none of these selections (other than, of course, Richard Wagner) reveal overt political or social affiliations.Breivik also notes that, despite having no military instruction, he was able to undergo "training" with the help of first-person shooters.

"I just bought Modern Warfare 2, the game. It is probably the best military simulator out there and it's one of the hottest games this year...I see MW2 more as a part of my training-simulation than anything else. I've still learned to love it though and especially the multiplayer part is amazing. You can more or less completely simulate actual operations."

Of course, we shouldn't attribute Breivik's actions to his taste in media. When it was revealed that the perpetrators of the 1999 Columbine High School shootings were fans of musical groups Marilyn Manson, Rammstein and KMFDM, the musicians responded with bewilderment, sympathy and pacifism.

Breivik's preferences may be treated as an insight into the man himself. Due to the conflicts between these preferences and the acts of terrorism to which he has admitted, however, it is unlikely that we can learn much about Ayn Rand or Armin Van Buuren from lists such as these.