Fear. The one emotion which is betrayed every time it makes itself apparent to its host. The one emotion which has been at the receiving end of every warrior’s bleeding sword; of every writer’s lethal pen; of every padre’s lively eloquence and of every child’s hindered imagination. I have been aligned with cowardice and shame in every age of Man! I have touched the cords of the mightiest of men in their hours of solitude. When people say that an empty mind is a devil’s workshop, they lie. An empty mind is the blast furnace where I thrive, where I am created. The Devil is the tool. I am the Messiah he preaches. No man can say that I haven’t been a loyal counterpart of their actions…right till the very very end of his very very scary life!
Yes, Fear is the most easily interpreted of all the other emotions. I agree that sometimes it initiates its presence in various disguises. By curiosity for instance (No wonder it killed the cat) in a child when he sees the dancing flame of a candle. It is the curios streak that makes him wants to hold it, want to touch it. He, nor his curiosity, is aware of the heat, of the hellish store, of the fire’s hidden agenda. The moment he touched the flame it is then that Fear disrobes. It is then the child pulls away and runs. It is then that he learns to fear the yellow flame! Fear is what you imagine. Fear is something that you yourself have nurtured in your solitude.
Psychologists say that fear is compartmentalizing what our heart feels from what your brain analysis. Fear comes not by mere beckoning. It has to be created. One cannot scare people without being intimate with their psychology. They also say that fear evolves; that your fear mutates and never really leaves you. It always lies there hidden from view and hidden from everything you feel and think. It’s there to be awakened at the slightest of any external stimuli. They say that if you were scared of the dark when you were 7, you probably wouldn’t be scared of it at 24! But darkness coupled with the echo of a twig breaking and the faint, but clear, sound of rustling footsteps would make you weak.
Your mind tells you that darkness is just the absence of light. But, at the same time, your heart tells you that it’s ACTUALLY the presence of darkness! And darkness has always been associated with evil, with ghosts, with bleeding corpses doing the mambo, with Lucifer! It probably killed every caveman. No matter how hard your brain tells you that it is nothing but your intangible imagination that’s fighting your tangible imagination it won’t work. It’s not meant to. People always wonder if the brain slows down when you’re cold and numb with fear. I think it does. But the total control of its being is never diminished. The control you had over the analytical brain does go down but at the same time your hearing is at its best. Your heart runs a mile in a matter of seconds and you can hear all the way it ran. Clear and sharp. Edged with crispness and desire to harm and kill! Clearest at the very end!
If we were to separate the few components of our twig example we’d be surprised to see that the components themselves are not the least bit scary. But, like the friendly shrink across the street says, Fear mutates. It has now acquired enough of your psyche to know which facet of your imagination it needs to trigger you off. It now knows what to make you think and feel to make you break in to cold sweat! Fear feeds upon fear itself. When Remus Lupin tells Harry Potter that he fears fear itself he makes a colossal statement. It’s so true that Harry never learns to get over his fear. He learns to combat it. He learns to repel it. But he never forgets it!
A faint hearted is not always a weakling. It’s not a rule! Fear has sometimes been portrayed as a sign of effeminacy in men! It doesn’t mean that Fear strikes the weak. It creates the weak! Fear sees no reason not to infringe upon the deepest, most primitive imagination and bring to life the one thing that its host cannot ward off. Fear seeks fear. This fear encapsulates those parts of your personality that you might not even know existed. It plays with your mind and exploits every possible permutation until it uncovers the hidden, ancient, untapped and raw crust of the very fabric from which fear is born!
The conquest of fear lies in the moment of its acceptance. And understanding what scares us most is that which is most familiar, most common place. It’s been said that the fear of the unknown is an irrational response to the excesses of the imagination. But our fear of the everyday— of the lurking stranger, and the sound of foot-falls on the stairs, the fear of violent death, and the primitive impulse to survive— are as frightening as any x-file, as real as the acceptance that it could happen to you.
– Fox Mulder
– Written by Guest Writer, Fayesal Siddiqui, as a run-up to this blog’s 3rd blogoversary.
Nice write up 🙂 Very well elaborated!
Thank you! I tried!
A very good write up (excellent when compared to other write-ups on this blogoversary). Good use of quotations and certain linguistic constructs. Good choice of metaphors.
Although I do have points of divergence.
I do believe fear serves a very fundamental evolutionary purpose. That “fear” is not all bad and not bad all the time! I don’t have a degree in psychology, but over-simplifying academic psycho-babble, let me present to you one example of why “fear” is not necessarily always bad (this is an extract from a post which I never ever published and which has remained in my drafts for a couple of years now):
I consider two very critical emotions to be at the heart of what keeps people motivated practically on a day-to-day basis. What is critical to understand is that these two emotion-dimensions work to ensure practical functioning and operate in a domain that is much distinct and disjointed from long-term issues of role, identity or purpose. People might completely lack an epistemological/ontological sense of purpose & grapple for years with meaning and direction in life, but yet manage to function on a day to day basis and lead a reasonable life.
The two dimensions I refer to is “fear” and “passion” as explained below:
FEAR (Fear of Authority, Fear of Reprisal, Fear of Failure): This refers to a sense of fear (which has psychological, free-will consciousness, physiological basis) from being penalized by an authority figure or fear of embarrassment or fear of failure. This may involve fear of losing a job, fear of being exposed for incompetence, fear of embarrassment, fear of failing an exam, fear of losing social standing and fear of social rejection/disapproval.
PASSION (Genuine Passion and Excitation): This refers to psychological (and to a lesser extent cognitive, bio-chemical and physiological) changes that express themselves in terms of elevated excitement levels when given a challenging task or given a reward for good performance or some such activity/experience. This refers to elevation in mood, genuine sense of excitement, a sense of resolve, usually accompanied by a sense of passion for the task – it will result in elevated heart-beat, hormonal discharges and other physiological and bio-chemical changes. The end-result is an overall increase in brain excitation, brain activity, awareness and alertness, and short-term mood elevation. It also no doubt, has a tangible impact on cumulative long-term mood regulation. Extreme E.g.: Schumacher before a Race, Federer before a tennis match. Practical E.g.: lot of average common folks when given a major project/work assignment, students when given an interesting problem/puzzle.
Now my postulation is that when a person is given a task and told he/she would be supervised during it (understand that the word “supervision” may also be considered in a metaphorical sense as “reward/penalty” or monetary and social success in general life, as opposed to an actual supervisory individual) – that person may respond in one of four ways, by demonstrating:
Both FEAR and PASSION: Such people tend to be the most successful and well-balanced in life. They are able to be reasonably creative and involved in tasks and don’t get carried away and adhere to deadlines and are able to handle work pressures.
Only FEAR but NO PASSION: Such people end up as mediocre individuals with limited success who are making do with whatever they have/get. Such people may not have a conscious or sub-conscious sense of purpose or identity, but their FEAR dimension is a pragmatic and practical tool that enables them to get through day to day routines. (In my opinion, a majority of people end up in this category).
Only PASSION but NO real FEAR: Such people usually tend to be highly creative eccentric (and/or perfectionist) geniuses who may not do well initially in conventional formats but who eventually succeed with their brilliance in something unconventional.
Absolutely NO FEAR and NO PASSION – basically a state of absolute indifference: lost souls who have no clue whats going on and how to live a decent life – unless such people are transported to categories 1-3, they are likely to stagnate in depressive tendencies and there isn’t much hope for them.
It is clear that the presence of either of these two dimensions is absolutely critical and vital to a reasonable existence and survival in life. In this sense, using a computing term (in a lighter vein), the ability to lead a reasonably well-defined life is the output of an “OR” logic-gate, whose boolean inputs are FEAR and PASSION (or their lack thereof).
As I mention in the excerpt above, I believe “fear” does play (one of the) fundamental roles in the motivational framework that keeps us on our toes on a day to day basis and perhaps even on a medium to long term basis.
Now there are other aspects of this story, but for now, let me just say this much. Depending upon the participation of Siddiqui & others, we can perhaps take this discussion forward.
Having said that, definitely an excellent write-up. I especially enjoyed your use of good language and apt quotations! 🙂