Eerie, plaintive organ music is playing in my head, and there is something lurking just around a corner, at the edge of my vision, that darts away if I try to look at it. There’s a cold chill in my room, and I keep having to look over my shoulder, as it just feels like I’m being watched….. If I didn’t know better, I’d think someone was trying to mess with me, by setting me down in a horror flick, complete with evil poltergeist, and maybe a slasher….. Of course, I don’t have a basement, or an attic, where I can go explore the patently scary-dangerous noises, or any teenage girls on hand to provide the obligatory screams, but, I wouldn’t put it past Murphy to try to fuck with me in a new way like that; he’s pretty inventive at times…..
Ah well, so be it….. I’m not a big horror film fan, ever since 1954 when my older siblings dragged me to see the opening of the Creature From The Black Lagoon. At four years of age, it wasn’t a big hit with me, and I’ve never liked that sort of movie ever since; just never saw any sense in paying people to scare me. I manage to find enough things in real life that perform that function just fine, thank you very much, and didn’t see why I should give someone money to do so, especially since money seemed so hard to come by (four-year-olds don’t get a lot of money-making opportunities…..).
I spent the entire movie in the lobby, after the monster’s first appearance, until the ending, when I went back in to find my sister and brother, and caught the ending scene. Even at four, I was a bit skeptical, to see the chisel-jawed hero knock the Creature out with a right cross…. Though I was only four years old, that didn’t seem realistic, to see a normal sized man punch out a seven-foot tall creature that made an eighty-foot long boat rock when he climbed aboard…. My innate feel for the physical world told me that was silly….
That was my last experience with attending horror flicks; I’ve kept my personal promise to myself, to never waste money on fear, especially as entertainment….. I just don’t get it, myself. Why is it considered a good thing to make yourself afraid? Many, many people get a big kick out of it, and I’ve never been able to understand why that is; I hate the effect that adrenaline has on me, and did so even before my experiences in living with it all the time. It has never been “fun” to feel those kinds of feelings, not to me, so I have a hard time understanding the impulse. The experiences I had later in my life, when I was getting regular doses of adrenaline administered to my system, only served to reinforce those feelings in me, and I still avoid horror films, to this day…..
It’s just another example of diversity, I guess, and goes to show that it’s probably a good thing that everybody is so different. All those people who like the horror film genre can have their entertaining sessions of manufactured fear, I can totally ignore it, and nobody is bothered at all….. Just don’t ask me to go with you to explore the attic when there are funny noises coming from it, and an organ is playing in the background….. You’re on your own, in that case…… You may borrow a knife, or a baseball bat, but, no way I’m going up there with you….
Shall we Pearl?……
“Excellent.” — Moritz von Schwind (1804-71), Austrian painter, last word
I suppose it’s normal to begin to think about Death more often as one gets older. It does seem to assume a larger significance in our view of the world, as the time for its manifestation approaches, even though we know not at all exactly when it will happen. As dying words go, this one is, well, excellent, and I can only hope that I will have something as elegant and classy to say when my time comes….. Something on the order of, “Wow, that was quite a ride!”, or “I wonder if there will be ice cream in the afterlife?” You know, classy stuff, deep with insight and philosophical significance…. Right…..
Epitaphs also become more of an interest with age, I’ve found. I saw a really cool one this morning as I cruised Smart Bee…. “Here lies XXX XXXXX, for all that it matters.” Very droll, eh? Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always found epitaphs to be a very interesting, even intriguing form of literature, with some of the finest examples of wit, and even wisdom, ever written by human hand (though, come to think of it, what other type of hand might be writing, I don’t know….. just an expression….).
Limericks, poems of all kinds, questions, answers, declarations, assertions, complaints, insults, political comments and judgments, all can be found at their best on gravestones, tombs, and crypts all over the world, from all periods of history…. I’ve seen translations of the funereal hieroglyphics on the walls of Egyptian tombs that, essentially, were jokes in the form of an epitaph, and some of the ones I’ve read from early American times were absolutely hilarious. Books have been written, I’m sure, compiling the wit and wisdom that is displayed in such hallowed grounds, and I may just spend some time at the library trying to find one, because it would be an extremely interesting read…..
The subject’s interest is, of course, easily understood, as Death is just about as common an experience as exists, for all of us. And, it isn’t hard to comprehend why such a serious subject is such a magnet for humor; if we don’t laugh at Death, we will most certainly cry, for it is the single most terrifying experience we have to face in our lives, once the trauma of being born is healed, or, at least, forgotten. We humans, for some reason, have no idea what happens before we are born, or after we die, and that lack of knowledge is terrifying to most people…. well, to ALL people, really. Some just handle it better than others, I suppose….. All of which is why, I suppose, most people eventually try to assume the following attitude about life in general….
“Don’t take life so seriously… it’s only a temporary situation.” — Smart Bee
This sort of assumed lackadaisical outlook is, if nothing else, comforting for most folks, and ffolkes, too. I’m a firm believer in laughing at Life, Death, and the whole nine yards of Reality, especially at myself and my attempts to deal with all the above, and not only because it feels better than the alternative…. It’s also healthier. But, that aside, dealing with the serious side of Reality is a hard row to hoe, most of the time, so balancing that stress and struggle with some humor works well to mitigate the difficulty we all experience in getting on with our lives through the moral and ethical morass that is modern day society.
We aren’t going to get much help with anything from the BRC, or the priestly hierarchies, and society itself is too amorphous to depend on for anything so mundane, so we may as well take the reins for our own happiness into our own hands…. and part of that is facing the concept of Death with courage, and humor, and a sense of wonder, rather than letting it fill us with dread and unreasoning fear…. Mind over matter, ffolkes….. if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter…..
“It’s OKAY — I’m an INTELLECTUAL, too.” — Zippy the Pinhead
It’s Death Again
It’s Death again – He’s always there –
Watching, waiting – e’er the stare!
Every time I look behind
Or reach to pull the window blind,
I catch a glimpse of grubby hood –
A little clue to where he stood;
The glint of light that caught the scythe.
Perhaps if I could pay a tithe…
But O! no use, he’ll never go.
The adamant phantom; don’t you know
He will but wait until it’s time
For me to hear His fateful chime? –
The toll that claims my destiny,
To Hail: ‘You’re next, it has to be…
Copyright © Mark R Slaughter 2009
Seen on a headstone in a graveyard in England:
John Macfarlane (dates unknown)
Erected to the memory of
Drowned in the Waters of Leith
By a few affectionate friends.
“I’ve never killed a man, but I’ve read many obituaries with great pleasure.” — Clarence Darrow (1857-1938)
I really love the power of understatement; this one from Mr. Darrow is an excellent condemnation of a huge class of people, unnamed as yet, but whose names are indelibly etched on our memories, just waiting to be included in a list of people the world would be better off without…. We all have a list by that title in our heads; anyone who denies it is a liar, plain and simple, and fooling no one. As a human being, it is part of our nature to hate, and nobody is so morally chaste as to escape those kinds of feelings now and then. Nobody…..
Sometimes, what amazes me about modern life is that there are so FEW outbreaks of random violence… I’d think that, with all the pressure our society puts on people, there would be a lot more of us who crack, enough to lose control over our baser impulses, and start trying to cross names off our list of preferred targets….. The way they usually go about it isn’t the most logical, or tactically intelligent, but what do you expect from somebody in an emotional crisis? Logical thinking? Not going to happen, sorry….. I’d say it would be time to get nervous when some guy starts blasting away, then disappears, only to attack again later, in a new place…. That would indicate more planning and strategy, and a much more dangerous person…..
I’m not sure just why I started this pearl…. It might have been in response to yet another random shooting spree reported yesterday in the news, in which a teenager started firing at people because of some argument he/she had with another teen, or something like that… another totally insane reason to start killing people, but, then, do you really expect rational from these people? It isn’t rational to expect them to have an understandable reason for their insanity, it doesn’t work that way…..
But, the media will spend an incredible amount of time and energy exploring every nuance of what this idiot was doing when they snapped, until no secrets are left to the young person’s life…. In looking at the entire incident, including the media coverage, I am tempted to give a big sigh, and lament the death of society, or at least the apparent death of decency…..
Amorphous anxiety seems to be our legacy as members of today’s culture; our lives consist of a series of unpalatable events fueled by unwarranted lies, and made worse for a societal tendency toward sloth combined with a severe lack of compassion; the sheer futility of it all seems to be the only message that comes through clearly. The fatal flaw in human nature that keeps us from becoming truly moral creatures is still in control of our destiny, and any impetus toward rationality is disallowed.
“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.” — Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)
This is the flaw we possess, all of us, and that which has plagued us throughout our history. One of my blogging friends commented a day or two ago with a relatively famous quote, in response to another discussion around the recent spate of reported shootings…. “All that is needed for evil to succeed, is for good men to look on and do nothing.” (She didn’t report the attribution, but according to Google, it was first stated by a man named Edmund Burke, with a number of slight alterations in wording since its appearance.) This single truth has been the biggest stumbling block to human progress for our entire history, and continues today to keep us from making any progress toward improving our chances of survival in the long run.
Once more, I’ve painted myself into a virtual corner, so to speak, since I don’t have any good solutions to offer to our dilemma. Oh sure, I can tell anyone what is needed for us to start making the world into the kind of place that would be home to EVERYONE…. I think, down inside, all of us KNOW what is needed for the world to be a better place. But, until it becomes common practice for people to make decisions based on compassion and love, rather than ambition and avarice, things aren’t going to change much, because the folks who don’t care about others aren’t going to stop what they’re doing…. there’s nothing in it for them if they do. Only when good men stand up, and refuse to allow that kind of usurpation of the rights of everyone else, will any changes take place…..
So, you tell me….. When is that going to happen? And how do we convince people that it needs to happen? Answer those two questions, and we might have a direction to go……
“If you ever go temporarily insane, don’t shoot somebody, like a lot of people do. Instead, try to get some weeding done, because you’d really be surprised.” — Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey
I tend to cook, and then eat what I cook, rather than pull weeds, when I’m feeling homicidal, but that’s just me…. otherwise, Jack’s advice is unusually relevant, and surprisingly valuable, coming as it does from perhaps the world’s most egregiously stupid person…. (Don’t worry, Jack doesn’t mind the insults; his creator made him that way deliberately, so I doubt he’d sue me for stating the obvious success of his caricaturization….) That single thing is probably why I’m so overweight…..
Well, here I am, at the end of another Pearl…. I find myself almost melancholy; the process of creation has, of late, been particularly….. satisfying….. So, going on to the rest of the day’s activities brings some sadness at having to cease an enjoyable experience. Now, all I have to do is take my own advice, delivered so freely, to allow the change to happen without reluctance, or resistance from me, accepting the good feeling, and going on to the next…. Okay, I can do that….. Watch me….. Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you…..
Sometimes I sits and thinks,
I just sits.