Monday, October 30, 2017

Harm or Mystery

There's a predator crouching in your soul.  And it might be why you love gory, violent movies depicting torture and other bodily harm.

Jungian psychologists know where it crouches. "This predatory force can manifest as a psychopathic torturer in outer reality or as a tormentor, who attacks us from within. Like all creatures, the human creature must learn that there are predators, in the world out there and within us."  Dr. Heidi Kolb

Horror movies can sublimate the predator, or they can empower it.  The evidence shows that people who are more aggressive are relaxed by violence in media, while people who are less aggressive are upset by it.

I fall heavily into the second category.  Especially after completing the EMT program at Swedish Hospital 20 years ago, my fascination with gore and bodily harm in movies did a 180.  When you train in emergency medicine you don't just learn bandaging.  You look at pictures, lots of pictures, of crime scenes and child abuse.  You learn how to spot who was murdered and who committed suicide. You learn to spot systematic abuse by the movement of bruises and the way victims often defend the offenders.  You get to know how brutal people can really be to each other, especially to innocents.  And you also do rotations in emergency rooms and ambulances where you see plenty of bodily fluids relocated to where they don't belong.  You see pain and suffering and harm.

So, no movies for me named after wood shop tools tearing humans apart.

But the predator can also be an ally.  It can warn you of trouble if you pay attention.  And it can even increase your quality of life by reminding you, with some of your darkest thoughts, that life is not forever.  That we will die someday.  And that can give you plenty of energy.  It can also remind you of the mysteries of simply existing.

In my distant youth Halloween aesthetic was one of otherworldliness, eeriness, and the textures of autumn and harvest.  Back then Halloween always seemed to come on an overcast day with dark, heavy clouds, lush piles of crisp leaves you could jump into with a soft landing and a rush of their spicy funk.  There were always scents of pumpkins and apples and spices, or roasting chilies and bonfires, and stories about grey ladies and ghost trains.

Those Halloweens were about mystery, unanswerable questions about afterlife and other worlds.  Supernatural rituals like masking and carving demon faces into ground fruit connected us to to those worlds.  There was a sense of something beyond our understanding that we were linked with, whether spirits or goblins or (since there were no big bags of manufactured candy at the store and everybody made Halloween by hand) just Mrs. Williams' magically amazing peanut butter popcorn balls.

Harm has never interested me much.  I'll stick with the mystery.

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