it's a very american fear, what you have

"It's a very American fear, what you have," said the boy from Larnaca. "You're so safe that you have to make up things to be afraid of."

The topic at hand was aliens - concerning the built-in gutting terror of an open plain, or of what may float in the forest at night, and he'd quickly come to the conclusion that such a fear was as self-indulged as it was groundless.

I'd told him this: that what scared me most, in the entire world, was the thought of waking up under a dark window to find an extraterrestrial looking down at me with backlit vermillion eyes, before killing me.

His?

Being in an office with only one other person - his boss - during Armageddon. When I said I found his answer to be undramatic he countered immediately - saying both that his phobia was indeed very dramatic and that mine was "really fucked up."

I couldn't help but to marvel - no, revel - in his declaration. He'd quickly and efficiently packaged what may really be a defining American trait, this fear of American space - so vast - that it's no tiny wonder paranoia wells up in our excesses of air and land.

It makes sense - crop circles in boundless corn fields and high-rolling New England winter seas and lights above Redwood forests and windless wave-ridden Adirondack lakes do the monster lore generate; the boy from Larnaca also said it'd be unlikely a monster could survive in Cyprus' shallow and warm waters. "It wouldn't be good for that monster, it wouldn't live," he'd mentioned. But in America he implied that they can, and in turn, that they do.

This much is clear: it's a fear spun in ellipsis after ellipsis by things that do actually go bump in the night. It's a fear compounded by horror-filled events transpiring out-of-sight - like when kidnappers take the kidnapped out into the desert. It's a fear made tangible by an example such as this: border town factories, crackling with halogen - a consequence of a weak power grid - with a sanguine tint on the barely-there breeze, suggesting violence and absence. Everyone observing the obliterative silence knows that some or many are missing.

But reality doesn't justify the root. None of these manifests are biologically grafted to the anchors or the inception of the idea itself; they're mere add-ons and addendum's detonated by our sensationalized and/or medicated American imaginations.

Biologically, the fear exists from the sole fact that there's nothing immediate to be afraid of - thereby connoting that the real monsters exist within ourselves, or at least some of us.

And in the hours after my conversation with the boy from Larnaca, I find myself observing blinking airliners banking away into international airspace, biting my nails, fearing not war, nor pain, nor psychopath, nor alien, nor death, nor unforeseen circumstance with negative or tragic outcomes.

I find myself fearing nothing, but still feeling terrified nonetheless.

-NR

26 July 2012

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