“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”
― H.P. Lovecraft
To what do we owe the allure of the macabre, the thrill of the uncanny or the sway of the supernatural?
They all arise from the single-most powerful emotion that lays eternally dormant in the human condition—fear. The desire to explore compels man to seek the utmost limits of his environment— the deepest depths of the oceans, the highest heights of the atmosphere, in a never-ending maddening pursuit to quantify the unfathomable. We are at odds with everything in nature and within our spirit lays the worm that writhes inside our soul and eats us from within.
Yet man believes his desire to demystify the world originates from his need for stimulation, excitement, and adventure—a constant struggle against comfort and ease. He believes that frequently trodden paths, chartered seas, and the known elements of life become tiresomely dull and increasingly mundane, and endeavours to shed light on the darkest regions of his world. But what lies beyond the furthest crag, the darkest cave, and the distant star is unknown–a place where our logic and reason collapse upon themselves, replaced by our phantasmagoric imaginings and the unrestrained power of our primal emotion. Fear nests and lives in the unknown.
Fear has the power to hold us back, to compel us forward, to delay one’s step casino online and linger a while to hear the approaching footsteps from behind, to give way to superstition, scapegoatism, persecution, torture, war, all in the name of the self-preservation it has brought about. Fear is the subdued god that we obey implicitly—he dictates both our conscious and unconscious decisions like an unruly tyrant, with full dominion over our souls. Fear is a humbling emotion that removes man from his state of hubris, walking confidently upright on two legs and reduces him unpityingly to nothing more than a trembling animal in flight. It toys with the fragility of our minds like a cat playing with condemned mice, and attests to the inconstancy of our behaviours with a rearing of its demonic head, uprooting the horrors from within our subconscious.
Greek mythology deified fear and terror into Phobos and Deimos and revered and propitiated their god-like whims, but fear and man are inextricably linked and these gods will never be appeased nor overcome.
Undoubtedly, fear is an intensely unpleasant sensation and our enduring ambitions to eradicate and dilute its effects over us bring about numbness and desensitization–a feeling of detachment and an emotional void. As animals, we live through our senses and prefer to experience them at our leisure, denying ourselves nothing and demanding everything—we are even tourists of our own emotions and dabble in small concentrated doses of terror, hence the permanence of horror films, TV shows, and novels in all cultures.
We confidently traverse the safe and known world that we have artificially created for ourselves and we have forgotten the perseverance of the god of fear. Lurking behind every dark alley and behind every closed door lays a mystery and the blinding depths of the void and the unknown–the same unknown, inaccessibly distant and dark within the recesses of man’s very own soul.