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This context comes from the show "Mindhunter". It's an exchange between a serial killer Edmund Kemper and an FBI agent Holden Ford. Ford is asking Kemper if he felt pleasure while he committed his murders.

Ford: So there's no pleasure, Ed?

Kemper: Sure there is. I just wanted the exaltation over the party. In other words, winning over death. They were dead and I was alive. That was the pleasure. I was the hunter, they were my victims.

I haven't heard of the phrase "exalt over" so I assume this is the noun "exaltation" which means..

  1. a very strong feeling of happiness (Cambridge Dictionary)

.. and the preposition "over" which means:

in reference to, concerning, or about: to quarrel over a matter.(Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)

"party" is a noun that means:

  1. a person, esp one who participates in some activity such as entering into a contract(Collins Dictionary).

edit: another probability just struck me (and which I think is more probable) is that exaltation means..

raising someone to a higher rank or more powerful position

and over means..

above in authority, rank, power, etc.

Does this mean that he "killed people in order to raise himself in rank over them"?

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  • There is no expression "exalt over". /over the party/ suggests a control freak. To have control over someone. To feel exaltation over the victim. over=with regard to.
    – Lambie
    Apr 22, 2023 at 17:23

1 Answer 1

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It's a curious sentence.

Yes, "exalt" can mean "feel happiness", or it can mean "promote to a higher rank".

"Party" has at least three possible meanings here. 1. A person or organization involved in a transaction. 2. An event organized for fun. 3. A social or political organization working for some cause.

Any of the three could be the intended meaning here. "Exalt over the party" could mean: I enjoy defeating another person and triumphing over him. 2. Killing people is entertaining for me, I enjoy it like going to a party. 3. By killing people and getting away with it I am beating the "system".

But none of the 3 really makes sense to me.

If by "party" he means someone involved in a transaction, normally you would say "the other party", because you also are a party to the transaction.

If by "party" he means a fun event, you wouldn't "exalt over the party", you'd "exalt in the party".

If by "party" he means a political party, well he's not defeating any particular political party, he's defeating the system as a whole. If he was living in a one-party state like China, talk about "defeating the party" would mean "defeating the government" and would make sense. But in a multi-party state, whatever your political views, you wouldn't refer to the government as a whole as "the party". Not unless you had previously said something like "they're all the same. There's really only one party."

So personally I find the statement unclear. I haven't watched the program so maybe if I saw more context it would make sense.

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  • I know I'm not really in the position to disagree as a non-native speaker but I still think that the sentence means "I wanted to get elevated in rank over the victim I was killing and I was doing it by getting the approval of death". Also I'm very positive that "party" doesn't mean "political organisation" in this context. May 2, 2023 at 13:41
  • @StaticBounce Yeah, I only mentioned "political party" to be complete. I was trying to say that that was very unlikely here. Your interpretation is possible. Whatever the scriptwriter meant, it seems like odd wording, because no definition of "party" really makes sense here. But perhaps earlier in the story story someone used the word "party" in a context that made sense and this is a reference back to that.
    – Jay
    May 5, 2023 at 20:47

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