Offbeat 30 October 2014
I have suppressed my urge to write about horror and fear, this year, even though it is my favourite chain of metaphysical thought. I’m going to let go now, as it is Halloween.
Halloween is here, boys and girls. Global health authorities have some special requests. Do not eat fruit bats and monkeys. Do not eat dead animals that you find lying on the ground. Do not kiss or caress the dead, even if you are an avid fan of Goth music. Avoid shaking hands or hugging people who are sick or bleeding inexplicably. I suppose it goes without saying that you should not eat sweets which other people have licked. Ebola has made Halloween seriously scary.
Fundamentalist Christians ‘authorities’ have several requests as well.
Do not think about demons, witches, ghosts or monsters. Do not think about anything supernatural. Doing this may do something or other to your belief.
I’m not sure what. If you are that sort of Pentecostal or Charismatic believer, just don’t do it, OK? And you may also want to avoid the temptation of sweet, sweet pumpkin puree with lots sugar and cinnamon, and a hint of cloves.
If you are an atheist, stay at home and sulk, self-righteously. Meditate on Richard Dawkins or something. Try to suppress the urge to admire the Pope for opening the door to Catholic acceptance of the Big Bang theory. Maybe read the first couple of hundred prime numbers to clear your mind of anything resembling superstition or belief.
For my part, I’ll do my usual thing: think about those loved ones in my life who have moved on, and wonder if they remember me? Halloween is the vigil for All Saints Day and All Souls Day, after all. I might watch a horror movie as well, but there hasn’t been much worth watching since this time last year.
I have suppressed my urge to write about horror and fear, this year, even though it is my favourite chain of metaphysical thought.
I’m going to let go now, as it is Halloween, which is my personal spiritual season, and is also a celebration of fear. If you are a fundamentalist of any religious stripe, or an atheist, stop reading now.
You can feel opprobrium without reading any further.
Man’s thinking imposes a certain order on things. Everything is put in its right place in a metaphysical stairway or ladder. Lower levels of the hierarchy are ruled by higher levels of the hierarchy. For instance, angels rule over man and man rules over animals. The apex predator among the animals, is seen to rule over its prey. This is an idea which emerged in Elizabethan times, known as ‘Divine Order’.
Disruption of the Divine Order leads to a state of horror. There are three possible ways to disrupt the order: removing an element, altering (particularly corrupting) an element or inverting an element.
All of these are a basis for narratives in the horror genre. Let’s talk demons and the Fall to illustrate the point.
In the Judaeo-Christian story of the Fall we are told that angels go to war with God. God hurls them out of Heaven.
This is possibly the first horror story. What it does is it removes the presence of a number of angels. The second horror story emerges later as the angels who have been cast out of heaven are corrupted to become terrifying and malevolent demons. The third horror story is the story of how demons invert the relationship by trying to take power over women and men, or possibly men and women, depending on your gender politics.
This is just one example. The zombie narrative corrupts the natural order of death.
Vampires and werewolves epitomise the corruption of humans. Planet of the Apes inverts the chain by giving simians power over humans.
This is visible in the real world as well. Ebola is a corruption of health, genocidal systems corrupt humanist systems and man fears attacks by animals.
In a sense, the horror genre validates the Divine Order, by illustrating what could happen when it is disturbed. So to my mind, horror has strong metaphysical, spiritual and religious components. And I need to look a bit harder for something scary to watch for Halloween.
If you are celebrating Halloween, with lashings of horror or a sense of spirituality, I hope the evening is good for you as well.