Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Word Search

There are some interesting conversations going on at The Engine at the moment on the topic of fears. Which got my gears slowly grinding. Now, I’ve never been afraid of any of the conventional things that people always mention. You know, spiders and snakes and The Dark and things like that. That stuff doesn’t bother me.

I do, however, have a really strong aversion to anything to do with eyes. I can’t watch anybody doing anything with eyes in any way imaginable. Obviously, that famous moment in Un Chien Andalou when the woman’s eye is slit open makes my whole body tingle with revulsion. Just writing about it here is making me feel ever so slightly queasy.

But even minor eye-related images freak me out. I have to look away if someone is putting a contact lens in, or if they’re trying to get a speck of dust out of their eye. It’s so wrong. If Mrs. AKA wants to freak me out, she just lets a fingertip hover above her eyeball, and that’s enough to get me running from the room.

Any parent will agree with this one: We all worry about anything happening to our children. The whole world seems like a far more dangerous place once you’ve put one of your children into it.

Strangely, I was never, ever scared of death. It was never one of those things that bothered me too much. Now I have a daughter, though, my own death has become a new Scary Thing, on the grounds that my death would affect my daughter, and that falls into the category of “Things That Happen To Your Children”. I want to look after myself for her benefit. So my environment becomes scary for me, just as much as I worry about it for her.

Most fears we seem to carry through life are the odd irrational things we develop in childhood. I just remembered one of my odd fears a little while ago. When I was a kid, I used to worry that we all had a finite number of words. Once we had used up all those words, that was it. We wouldn’t be able to speak anymore. We wouldn’t be able to write anymore. Out quota would be all used up.

And I used to think that it would be a gradual thing. So, to start with, we’d run out of all the common words like “the” and “and” and “that”. And as our word quota was getting used up, we’d start to speak like people learning English, where all the prepositions and pronouns are absent, like “I have chair. Big chair in small room. I like!” (I have visions of Borat in my head. Sexy time!).

Slowly, we’d run out of other words, and we’d just be left with words we hardly ever use – words like “eclipse” or “aardvark” or “tundra”.

Finally, we’d just be mute. That shit used to terrify me, that dearth of language to express anything at all. It seems like a fledgling fear of writer’s block used to afflict me long before I ever wanted to be a writer.


b omero said...

I used to be scared of the dark, like a terrified aardvark lost in the tundra during an eclipse.

Now I'm scared of zombies in the dark. Makes even less sense.

Penny said...

A friend of mine asked me, when I told him that I was pregnant, "Wow, Pen. How does it feel to be immortal?"

I gaped at his niavety and answered, "It felt great!"

With my little Oee in tow, I am no longer invincible and worse: that matters.