Tuesday, 5 November 2013

What scares the snakes and spiders?

Dogs aren't so fond of fireworks - quite a few might panic tonight in the UK. But some of them have been bred and trained to hunt with human masters, and accept their physics.

Beware of scrolling below this point unless you are an adult who is willing to be discomforted, possibly offended, and scared. There will be spoilers for Alien too.

A weaving or scurrying spider can look a bit like a human hand. A slithering or striking snake a bit like a human arm - an arm struggling maybe, possibly drowning or wrestling.

Look how they flex, move and struggle, how the camera can obscure wider context and bonds. (Also, did human hands set it up? Did men stay at arm's length?)  Picture a limb there, a shoulder.

If fear of the two - spiders and snakes - can be a deep-rooted instinctive defence against the danger these creatures once represented - still do - isn't it also possible this can be fear not of them, but the human? Our own abilities. After all, we do know ourselves best. We are more dangerous than spiders and snakes. Arms and hands that manoeuvre and manipulate - design, sculpt and wield new and strange tools. Not much revelatory there.

Look at the facehugger, a nightmare hold made by human hands - is that tail all elbow?

Is it a scheming 'I' that our sixth sense seems to see in the forms and flows of the spider and snake? Do we see tensed hand, arm slipping in? Worry at the mind that guides it..?

If so, what might a spider fear? Or a snake? Gossamer glints? Flicking tongues? What about other creatures of vastly different forms? Creatures from other worlds - fantastical, or coldly or warmly real - on a planet by another star, or inside that star, or in the space between, maybe on a level we can't see? The kind of being AsymmetricalXeno dreams up. What keeps them awake in their version of night, peering into their own dark corner?

Is it possible we have more in common with monsters and aliens than we think - each a fear of ourselves, our tools that might bridge a galaxy? Are the monsters, aliens and us together allies against each other's kin? Why do we love horrors, dragons and sci-fi AIs, the monster manuals and fiend folios, tyranids and worlds of darkness? Things and Its? Why do we keep pets, so different than us? Why is it the dog that's a man's best friend?

Whose hand is that on your pillow, whose arm across your chest? What is the dark..?

Remember, remember the fifth of November: it may well be 11/5 everywhere we go in the universe - but if a hand can stroke, or an arm stop you falling, maybe that's a good thing.


Tallgeese said...

Another brilliant, thought-provoking post, with a beautiful last sentence.

garrisonjames said...

Loads of great food for thought here. Dreams and nightmares are of especial interest...and the things that scare the monsters...that's an intriguing notion well worth exploring!

Loquacious said...

I am somewhat abnormal and LOVE LOVE LOVE snakes. I think they are such fun animals. They truly can make wonderful pets.

Spiders... well. I'll admit that I find them super icky, especially in the loo.

As far as what scares the others in our world, that's a tricky experiment to put to mind. thanks for the thought.

Porky said...

Good to hear. This one just keeps giving. The core idea was a sudden realisation, and the rest naturally wove in. They're such interesting animals too, from our perspective for sure, and if they do provoke strong reactions one way or the other, that's a good reason to start wondering what's up.

AsymmetricalXeno said...

I have a pet Tarantula named Helga. I'm not sure what her biggest fear would be - probably nowhere to flop down and sleep happily knowing her (she is extremely lazy and a bit of a prissy princess I might add).

Porky said...

In the context of Primeval Abyssian, a tarantula seems very natural choice of pet. It's interesting how much variety there is in creatures just in this one small space, on Earth, and that variety does seem to support you looking for new forms for life beyond it, new contexts for fiction and gaming.

Thinking of Helga as being prissy brings up another aspect of the wider subject, the way creatures see each other and interact, and the very different methods we might all have for recognising and understanding what and who we meet.