Let Horror Clense Your Soul

While traversing my masters in English, I stumbled onto a fact that clicked with me: The Greeks believed that Tragedy was cathartic for the soul. In other words, seeing other folks going through hell, releases the viewer’s personal demons.

This could explain our collective yearning to view horror films. Ghoulies and nasties abound. Even though my daughter is going through the typical fear of things going bump in the night, she still clings to her stuffed werewolf and Lego monsters.

The same cathartic release appears in bullrings. I witnessed a bullfight in south Spain twenty years ago (I was going through my Hemingway phase). Although it was brutal (and plenty bloody) there was this strange sense of unity with the crowd. Just before the killing blow, they all chanted and stomped to a rhythm. It seemed to hypnotize the bull.

Could the same thing have happened in Roman gladiatorial competitions? It’s well known that patricians like Julius Caesar put on many events to amuse plebeians (presumably so they wouldn’t riot). Yet, maybe it also sucked out their fears, letting the gladiators act them out.

One horrific sight I recently stumbled upon was a zombie-like behavior from the audience. Eating fresh liver was believed (by the Romans at least) to cure epilepsy. The liver had to come from a healthy specimen. What better than a gladiator? Consequently, when a gladiator fell, there was a mad dash to tear open his gut and gulp down the liver. Can you picture this? It’s like Romero movie, but for real.

Feeling a little stressed and weighted down? Maybe some adrenaline and screaming will help. Either hop on a roller coaster to slip in a horror disc. Either way, screaming may lead to peace of mind.

Tim Kane

Advertisements

The God of the Lost

Worship me with your feet.

That’s what the God of the Lost wants. A creation of Stephen King, this deity drops down to earthly levels in the book The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. I have said before that this is one of my favorite books by King. Not only have I read it seven or eight times, I even wrote a paper on it for my Masters in English.

One interesting aspect of the book is King’s take on religion. The protagonist, Trisha McFarland, becomes hopelessly lost in the woods. At a clearing, she meets three gods, each offering a sort of salvation. There’s the-god-of-Tom-Gordon (the one the pitcher points to when he makes a save). This god is too busy to help a child lost in the woods.

Then there’s the sub-audible. This, according the Trisha, is a creation of her drunk father. The sub-audible is that noise just below hearing. Like the sound of the refrigerator turning on and off. People don’t notice it. But it’s there. This version of god is just behind the skin of the world. Always humming. It can’t really help because it’s too weak.

Then there’s the God of the Lost. This creature has a face composed of living wasps. Plump, ungainly poison factories. It feeds off Trisha’s fear, allowing her to live so she can ripen. Later in the novel, Trisha finds a road and is almost to safety. Then the God of the Lost appears in the form of a possessed bear.

I snatched this from the movie, The Edge, starring Anthony Hopkins. It was the first bear that popped into my head.

I like this portrayal of the monster. Rather than invent some horrific creature, the reader only glimpses the edges off it in the same way as Trisha. We know the terror that lies behind the empty eye sockets of the bear, squirming with maggots. Yet most of the image is left for us to fill in with our minds.

True monsters need to be this way. Only ten-percent written, and ninety-percent in the reader’s head.

Tim Kane