On monsters (III)

My first essay on monsters was an attempt at describing monsters, but it said nothing about where monsters come from, and I don’t mean from under the bed or from the depths of a pond or from a dark closet. I think that any given society creates its own monsters out of the irrational fears that it harbors. In the fifties there were radioactive blobs trying to kill overly hormonal teenagers that were fleeing creepy scarred old guys. The Cold War was only too kind to share is manias, fears and irrational assassination plots with the rest of the world in the form of giant ants, fire-breathing dinosaurs and scaly green lizard men. Our contemporary society is so messed up with paranoia, conspiracy theories, and crop circles that monsters even got their own movie. They had become so commonplace that they had become comedy and not tragedy. But our obsession for monsters from outer-space, the depths of the ocean or the depths of our minds continues to grow. It’s hard to know if monsters are a sign of mental health or lack thereof. Slasher monsters don’t interest me because they grow out of a fear of random violence and general paranoia, which is just sadistic and uninteresting. Other monsters tend to be the outgrowth of our own hubris and pride, such as Frankenstein’s monster. Werewolves and vampires are just the result of pent up and repressed sexuality–nothing new there. When we start looking for ghosts and spirits, however, things start to get a little out of whack. Guilt seems to be the greenhouse for monsters, where they first take shape, take their first steps before bursting out into the nightmare world of your own dreams. Monsters don’t have to be ugly, but they do have to be menacing. Monsters are monsters because they want to hurt you, take away your stuff, scare you. Monsters hide in dark corners, in black alleys and empty cars. They are in the basement or up in the attic. They lurk well after midnight and make scuffling noises before they go dead silent. Monsters have no pity, are invincible and fast, do not worry about ethics, are unafraid, don’t care if they hurt you. Some of us handle the monsters better than others. I found that as a child, the monsters were everywhere and out to get me, but as an adult I am pretty good at keeping Grendel’s mother at bay. Nor do I harbor ghosts, spirits, sprites or genies. So if you hear a little scuffling in the dark corner of your closet, ask yourself this: what am I really afraid of and why is my conscience bothering me? Well, what’s the worst thing you ever did? Now, check for monsters.