Thursday, 12 November 2009

The slinking cat beneath the lilacs of my mind.

Clive Barker once wrote "There is no delight the equal of dread." and I think he's right. From the very start of man's awkward, brutal ascent out of the primordial ooze he has meditated, debated and waxed lyrical on the subject of fear. We even use it as entertainment... we revel in the adrenalin rush, the sweaty palms and heavy breathing that accompany a good, scary story. Our fantasies are riddled with dangerous situations and cruel lovers because to be afraid is to be aroused; our hearts thump, our nerve-endings fire, our bodies shiver in anticipation.

But real fear, real terror is not so much fun. It can be educational and it can save your life, as Hannah Arendt says "Fear is an emotion indispensable for survival". In our ancestral environment fear was adaptive; the angel on our shoulder warning us of imminent threat. Even today fear continues to be our constant guardian, the sentinel of safety that helps to ensure a long, healthy life. I am a big fan of fear.

But as is the way with all good things fear all to often simply paralyses. It acts like an iron cage upon our hearts and minds, as Samuel Butler opined "Fear is static that prevents me from hearing myself" and fear is a hungry monster, a yaffling Greedygut constantly whispering to us in honeyed tones "Feed me, feeeeed me". 

We can't escape it, we shouldn't escape it for it is as much a part of existence as the air we need to breathe but we do need to recognize it; to see it's true form so that we can understand it's motivations and ultimately, teach it some table manners.

(The Perils of Tessa by Darktess)

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