Be Just and Fear Not
"Do you know what the most terrifying thing is? It's fear." Peeping Tom

This filmmaker is making a documentary about "What is scary?" All you have to do is call this toll-free number: 1 (877) 250-8285 and after the introductory message, answer the question, "What is scary?"

I will be calling in, but here is my answer in written form, which is my performed medium.

"What do you see when you're in the dark and the demons come?" In the Line of Fire

I have a unique experience having lived through so many things that people fear. And not only did I face them, but because of my parents, I wasn't allowed to even express those fears. I've confronted major surgeries at 12 years old with less fear than most people experience going for a walk-in surgical procedure. So things like cancer, surgery, death-they don't scare me. I've faced them too many times.

As a child, though, I experienced some very unusual fears. I was terrified of alien abduction for years. I was also scared of spontaneous human combustion and demonic possession. When I was in my twenties (which is when I was finally able to rid myself of the alien abduction fear), I realized the common denominator. For me the basis of those fears was one thing-the inability to control my own body. All of these fears about other forces acting and controlling my body while I am unable to do so. What makes this fear is particularly odd is that I faced this reality on a daily basis. Because of the surgeries and some of the experimental treatments and tests I was subject to (I've had wires injected into my legs and had electrical currents sent through them) I often coped with having control of my body taken away and bestowed on a seemingly malevolent force. Even when another force wasn't controlling me, my body due to neurological damage, I was often unable to control my body. While I could envision the execution of acts perfectly in my mind (like running upstairs), I was, despite all of my efforts, categorically unable to perform the act itself. To me, although I couldn't express it directly, this was the most terrifying thing of all. I was literally not myself or not under my own control. My body was this other hostile thing that had to be coped with and feared.

The surrendering of control, although expressed in an unusual form in my life, is fairly common and is what underlies (I suspect) the common fear of dentists and doctors.

Once I realized the basis of my fear, it significantly diminished. I'm still terrified of dying in the OR, that my death not only would be while I was completely vulnerable (naked and unconscious), but in front of a bunch of apathetic strangers is worse than dying alone, but not by a lot. For a while, after my father died, I was scared that he would come back from the dead to continue to tell me how I was fucking up my life. (I didn't sleep until he was buried,which since he was a Jew was right quick.)

"Keaton used to say that didn't believe in God, but he was afraid of him. Well, I believe in God, Agent Kujan, and the only thing that really frightens me is Keyser Soze." -The Usual Suspects

I think now aside from those fears, most of my fears are more in the abstract realm-like dying without making difference. I'm not afraid of actually dying itself. Actually if the last 7 months have been a testimony to anything it's how not afraid of death I am. I'm probably more afraid of living. Living alone. Living without hope. Living with the idea that nothing I do matters. Being so unhappy with life and yet being categorically incapable of ending it. I think these are far more terrifying than death.

I'm honestly probably the most terrified by things like some of my former students and their inability to follow a line of thought to its natural conclusion or their pathological apathy about almost everything. I'm terrified that I've spent my life building myself into an intellectual because my parents taught me this was the way to happiness and being loved only to find that it is absolutely the wrong way, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, to achieve either of those goals. I'm terrified of wasting my life. I'm terrified that I am unlovable. That there is something in me that makes impossible for people to love me. (I have often billed myself as the cure for romantic love-that is both a joke and a truth of which I am terrified.) I am scared that all those kids who made my life miserable in middle school were right-the idea that I could be lovable or useful or cool is just ridiculous.

"Even without the events of 40 years ago, I think man would still be a creature that fears the dark. He doesn't face that fear, he averts his eyes from it and acts as if he doesn't have any memories of his past. But, 40 years is both a short time and yet, a long time. Man's fear has withered. And even time itself tries to wither the desire to know the truth. Is it a crime to try and learn the truth? Is it a sin to search for those things which you fear. My purpose in this world is knowledge, and the dissemination of it. And it is I who is to restore the fruits of my labor to the entire world. Fear... It is something vital to us puny creatures. The instant man stop fearing is the instant the species reaches a dead end, only to sink to pitable lows, only to sit and wait apathetically for extinction." The Big O

I used to ask my creative writing students about fears from their childhood. They came up with some classic ones: butterflies, bridges, and turtlenecks to name a few. I was terrified of the Muppet re-enactment of the Jabberwocky and the girl who turns into a giant blueberry in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I'm sure there are reasons for those fears, but I think a lot of comes down to our little minds looking at something and saying, "Now that is some fucked up shit."

I eat fear for breakfast. I spread fear on a bagel, with a little jam and nuts." Catscratch

If you don't feel like sharing your fears with some twit filmmaker in NJ, I totally understand. You can, however, share them with me. I promise not to hide under your bed with a flashlight and playing my special edition of "Creepy New England House Noises Vol 2."

Unless, you know, you want me to.

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