clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


This one takes a minute.

It took me a while to understand the difference between terror and fear.

Terror prevents the normal function of a person and when implemented well, it disrupts the normal function of a society.

I've always been concerned with the atomic element of terror. [ Not that - atomic as in elemental as opposed to nuclear ].

I was a bit obsessed with the emotion of fear as a child. I suppose because it was visceral and had the ring of truth I trusted fear more than any other emotion.

As I grew older, I learned fear could be controlled  First there was the fear of things like an empty house,  lights in the sky, hunger, lack of comfort, injections. I devised ways to control these fears. I learned to not fear the dark by sleeping in a room with blackout shades (northern latitude) on top of the bed completely uncovered. If I could learn to sleep "exposed" to all the monsters and loud noises, then I could learn that my fear was irrational.

I used other means to overcome other fears. I had an upholster's pin when I was in junior high. I would repeatedly stick this 2" pin into my thigh or arm until I wouldn't flinch any more. I overcame my fear of injections. I stopped when I feared the marks would be seen and thought to be injections of heroin.

I learned that fear could be rationalized, examined, conditioned, and exterminated. Fear could be removed by the power of the mind.

Terror was an irrational disruption that I wasn't able to overcome. I understood its operation, purpose and aim. I understood the difference between inflicting and experience terror. I also began to understand that my personal terror was evolving.

It changed from something that caused physical harm (myself or others) or implied harm. Terror became more and more the consequence of my own actions that I could see but felt powerless to prevent. I suppose this evolution came with the whole embrace of an inability or unwillingness to care for others.

I could set in motion events that ultimately came to cause the disruptive effects of terror in myself.

My family was the dog who wagged until it bit.

The there was the horrible pain of knowing more than your age and feeling that horrendous pain of "this is doomed" but doing it anyway only to feel that misfortune. It is a popular marketing phrase now say "he's doing it for the right reasons." The thing is merely doing or not doing.

The doing had consequences and for a while, prevention of those consequences by not doing was nearly impossible. It was a nightmare existence. I was propelled by wants and desires I could not stop. Every young man has them : the desire for his own family, to make his own way in the world, to know what it is he enjoyed, to feel useful, to feel accomplished, to feel loved.

Terror is most that dream where everything looks and feels familiar but whose functions are completely twisted and perverted. The light switch that turns things off in the on position. The medicine cabinet opening the wrong way. The neighbor's house which looks the same but for the wrong neighbor.

Terror is in the familiar which is disconnected from the desired and conventional and whose behavior is uncertain and unpredictable. It causes us to second guess our actions. It causes us doubt. It causes us irrational considerations.

It causes unnatural disruption.

We cannot train ourselves to conquer terror. We train ourselves to ignore it. We train ourselves not to feel.

Unfeeling may be the most frightening consequence of terror.

I want my stories to embrace this sense of terror : that the consequence of actions return to protagonist and that he knows that he will fall under the avalanche of his own making. He commits these acts because he is compelled to do something, anything to answer wants and needs and desires. It is also that he knows without  any sense of resignation that there will be consequences and that these consequences will most probably be doom.


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