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Fear Is in the Eye of the Beholder Pt. 1



In a previous piece, I touched on what makes good horror fiction and its connection to our inherent existential fears. Here, I want to shed light on those fears and how they speak to the everyday horror we face. Our triggers, our responses, our entire relation with the outside world is informed more by our fears than our elation. Those fears, themselves, grown from seeds planted by expectation and exchange not met. Desires unfulfilled. Boundaries demolished. Through these, lack of growth becomes a way of life, stagnation more sought after than mobility, avoidance as a survival mechanism – a mechanism that thrives on distraction.


Human are born weak and mewling. Entirely dependent on outside forces for survival. This dependence leads to the birth of expectation; when I am hungry, I cry and get fed, when I need changing, I cry and I am changed…if these needs aren’t met within a learned, expected timeframe, my crying will intensify. This same process is carried through life, the weight of expectation outweighed by lack of gratification. The is expectation both emotional and physical, existential in its utmost. We can only be pushed so far before out brains begin to push back. The cries becoming that of lament.


The curious nature of desire and lack of fulfillment is that it is a circle. Desires unmet lead to fear and, in turn, inaction, leading to further desires unmet in conjunction with the foremost. And on and on. The barriers we build become the symptoms of PTSD and various other diagnosable disorders, the main remedy being acceptance of the disorder and an avoidance of the fear-based triggers. The cycle itself never truly being broken, we can only assume that whatever life is led after the effects of fear is only half a life, a life of never-ending desires going unfulfilled. In this way we become our own fear’s victims.


Time was set forth to alleviate some of these fears. WE may learn, in time to move past and beyond the box our fears hold us in. The unavoidable, however, is that often, these fears become replaced with new, more elevated fears. We are woefully adapted for change and acceptance thereof. Fighting is human nature, denial of the self in relation to the world at large becoming the modus operandi of existence.


We are taught to train ourselves to balance fear with our personal relation to the individualized item at the root of the fear. The fear exists regardless of our action, but it is our action and interaction with the root of the fear that must be changed. Not losing the fear entirely, but a form of absorption that must be accepted in all its forms. If a fear cannot be overcome, it is a failing of the self, if the fear remains, WE are the ones who must changed to move past it. Over and over, even once fears have been alleviated, they are inevitably replaced by further fears. Inadequacy, a state of constant flux and flow to maintain heading. But what if, instead we recalibrated to just remain in a constant state of fear. The worry, the anxiety, becoming the accepted norm, rather than the problem that requires fixing? Could we then change how we relate to our fears personally and societally? Perhaps, but first we would have to look at the way in which we define and recognize fear.


The first step in doing this is coming to the realization that fear is one of the largest driving forces in our behavior. Fear of death, fear of isolation, fear of inadequacy, fear of failure, few can deny that at their root, our behaviors, actions, and entire systems of belief can be reduced to these fears. Where the path of clarity becomes muddied, is our inability to recognize these fears for what they are and instead view are reactions and desires as behaviors’ basis. This is how behavior becomes repetitious, emotions become stagnant, and growth ceases altogether.


We cling to relationships that suit no one for fear of struggle and the unknown. We cling to the jobs we hate for fear of destitution. We cling to the cycles of destruction and ill-repute for fear of their dissolution. What we may fear, more than any one single entity, is discomfort. Fear of the recognition and process required to invoke change. A fear so all consuming at times that we become paralyzed to the world, to ourselves. An existential paralysis from which few can regain control.


And so, we sit, content in our discontent. Deflecting and reflecting fears until we have reached the end of our collective rope. “Why can’t anything go right?” we may ask ourselves in desperation. But just any moral good can be debased given a skewed motivation, so too can a positive want, need, and desire be debased based on the underlying fear feeding them. Discontent can be easily moved through when the focus is on the fear feeding it, desires being replaced based on necessity.


These fears, and the desires they breed, lead indelibly to a loss of self. They are ignored because the desires themselves wrongfully invoke a deeper sense of self. But it is this act of ignorance, whether willful or otherwise, that allows us as individuals and as a society to be seduced and led down an eternally recurring path of unfulfilled desires borne of exploited fears…a path leading inexorably towards the fear of existence in itself.

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