Monday, 11 February 2013

Awakening the Fear Gene.

One of the Shire stalwarts asked me recently why I go for walks at night. I tailored my reply to things I assumed she’d understand: I talked about identifying constellations, seeing meteor showers, and enjoying the play of moonlight on the landscape. She understood, and even agreed.

What I didn’t mention was the fact that I also experience something subtly primal about being alone and out of doors in the darkness. Neither did I mention that it sometimes generates a modicum of fear which I assume stems from an ancient genetic memory, or that such fear gives occasional rise to some chilling imaginations.

The prosaic and materialistic nature of the modern human has, I think, largely buried that ancient genetic response under more immediate and pecuniary concerns. I assume that’s why horror films are so popular: they reawaken something that’s largely missing from most of our relatively safe living environments. Very few horror films have that effect on me. They rarely go deep enough, and I have no need of them anyway.

6 comments:

Sara said...

Ay, yes! I love to take the dog out at night sometimes and take a walk down the drive. Do you also experience a heightening of awareness associated with the fear? I find that it amplifies my senses, and I feel almost as though I could fly away with the tawny owl cooing in the shadow of the pines.

JJ Beazley said...

The fear is only occasional, and a couple of times its been big enough to have me watching my back, sure that there's something not far away.

The best times are when the fear simmers and can be kept under control. Then it can be quite an enlivening experience. And yes, it does heighten awareness, I suppose because it makes you very awake to every sound, movement, shape and so on.

I should watch the owl thing, though. With your hair you might find yourself dangling from a tree branch, calling for a pair of scissors.

Sara said...

As a squirrel, I have to worry less about getting hung up in a tree and more about getting carried away by the owl. So maybe night flights aren't such a good idea.

JJ Beazley said...

I expect you'll move on from the squirrel incarnation one day and become a tree sloth instead. It comes to all of us eventually.

Sara said...

Tree sloths only come down from their trees once a week to use the toilet. That's not really something to look forward to... hmm.

JJ Beazley said...

Oh, I don't know. Sounds like the weekly visit to the community centre for a cup of tea and a game of cards. Such fun! Otherwise, best make sure you've always got upstairs plumbing.