That title really has to go to our now-long departed big blue cat, who was so retiring that most of our friends thought we were pretending to have a cat. I, however, am making some in-roads in that direction, and I’m curious to find out why. Let me count my fears and compel them, in hopes of in some degree dispelling them.
The lesser fear is connected with a freedom granted by the Regular Job; one may wear a costume today, should one incline. My response to someone asking if I was going to participate was lukewarm. There was a time in my life when I would have said, “Hell, yes!” so this is odd. I put it down to not having a great investment in the people at Regular Job; it is not a definition of me, and the people there are no more than acquaintances. This fact leads me to hesitate to set myself up as an object of fun; “oh, dear,” says the sad creature I was in my early teens, who still dwells within, “what if they point and laugh? What if they go on pointing and laughing for the forseeable?”
For much of my adult life, I’ve been self-possessed enough to not attend to the ghost Bluebottle of the past. Am I slipping? I still dress, on a regular basis, like a weirdo; if pointing and laughing were to occur, it would already be underway, so this is a mere vapour. As a committed Ambivalent Rationalist-Buddhist Pagan, I accept the underlying reason for the Hallowe’en costume, the disguising of one’s self to avoid being found out by creepy things during the thinning of membranes, and thus should be all over looking not like myself. The fear under this fear– am I using the fear of derision as a cover for becoming self-important? Eugh!
The greater fear is in fact a phobia. I’m not going to reveal it, lest my own personal Moriarity turn it against me, but it’s a new development. I was reading something on topic yesterday, and the imaginative process put me into about the same state that I’d be were I actually in the situation. I have not previously, at least in adult memory, felt literally helpless with fear, but I had a couple of minutes of it and it was no fun. “Fear”, though, is a very weak word indeed. The thing that had climbed into my head was absolute, almost cosmic, terror, and it was almost impossible to form a thought around it.
This brief brush with such a sensation reminds me of the opening quote from “The Repairer of Reputations“:
Ne raillons pas les fous; leur folie dure plus longtemps que la nôtre…. Voila toute la différence.
…which we may take as “Don’t belittle the mad; their lunacies just last longer than ours…. There’s the whole of the difference.” The thought I was having trouble forming in that state was this; if you keep this up, you may forget what it’s like to not feel like this, so start with the kittens and uplifting slogans right damn now. I really wish I could work out why, now, after decades of the basis of the irrational fear being proven as not something I ever find happening this has suddenly appeared. Sudden notions of mortality? Changes of brain chemical? More to lose, there being a son to consider?
There are only two things I currently take from the experience; that I am very glad that I live in a part of the world where the situation of horror is extremely unlikely to be possible, and I can usually see it coming and avoid it, and that I dispair of ever imparting a tenth part of that sensation in any eventual readers of my fiction.
For the record; I’m wearing a Max von Sydow costume. I leave it to the readers’ imaginations to decide what that means.