Thursday, 5 August 2010

Fear of Life

I woke screaming silently, sitting bolt upright in bed, hands brushing frantically at my side.The nightmare had shown me a creature - somewhat like a lobster, or even an overgrown Parktown Prawn - clinging to my left side. Trembling, with a racing heart, I kept telling myself it's just life and again it's life, you twit, yet it was several minutes and an entire cigarette before I was calm enough to return to sleep.

This is an issue which plagues the civilised - the unwanted ingress of lifeforms into their convenient living-spaces. I know I suffered from it greatly: my huge fear of spiders kept the enormous Rain Spiders returning to my walls again and again, until I no longer feared them - and now you rarely find a Rain Spider in my house anymore.
Our fears tend to do that - keep reappearing in our lives until we integrate them.

One of the chief fears of civilised humanity is, almost unbelievably, Life itself. John Michael Greer, writing in the Archdruid Report on compost, says:
“There’s another name for the Squick Factor: biophobia. Compost is life – damp, oozing, crawling, slithering, breeding, dying and being reborn – and life in the raw scares the bejesus out of most people in the industrial world these days.

Yes. And this biophobia is manifestly visible everywhere we turn. From the weedless, regimented gardens of suburbia, to the clinically cleaned floors and surfaces of the interiors of houses, to the touted antibacterial products yelling at us from shelves in sterile hypermarkets, to the fashion industry standard of fleshless females - which standard we have been internalising for generations now, as fertility equals life equals yucckkk - we are absorbing the anti-life message through our pores.

For heavens' sake, don't let your children roll around in the mud with the dogs, they might end up dead from typhus. Equally, don't let any more members of society than absolutely necessary have anything at all to do with birth - and make sure that those who must witness this icky ritual do so with all the technical assistance at our command: white walls, sterilised sheets, antibacterial floor washes and all.

Yet how eagerly we batten onto the machine counterfeits of Life. The electronic gadgetry, phones, virtual-reality (and there's a telling genre) games, televised 'reality' shows, et nauseating cetera. Clean, germfree, and not even dead but rather never alive. These are our preferred companions as we sicken in our cities and towns.

With the awakening people of the world, My Earth Is Wild, I say. And whatever nightmares wake me gasping in the night, I am aware that it's some of the last issues of Civilisation screaming to the surface of my consciousness to die.