More animal

By Carstian Luyckx (1623–1657)

Pouring boiling water down the sink drain to kill the fruit flies. The look of them in the dark as it spills through, this everyday violence. Remembering what my arm looked like when I cut it as a 5-year-old, running through a glass window. A trifecta of really bad wounds that summer of ’76 that ended with me falling out of a tree onto a freshly cut limb, how it poked a hole in my stomach and looked like a mouth. Reading Stephen King for the first time, as a child. Why this fascination with gore and the macabre, that starts so young. A collection of stories called Night Shift, with a bandaged hand on the cover and eyes poking out of the palm. The story “I Am The Doorway” about an astronaut who contracts something in space and brings it back to earth. It starts as an itch in his hand, and soon sprouts eyes. Then one day, his arm just shoots up in the air and a bolt of lightning comes out of the hand to kill a small child at the beach. It ends with the itching starting on his chest...

Dreaming about Roxy getting eviscerated by a bob cat. They say bob cats will have their way with house cats, and that’s what she looked like when she came in, like she’d been compromised. In the dream, she’s on the pavement by the back stoop dying with her eyes pressed shut, and it’s clear she’s at the end, but needs my help getting there…

This undercurrent of violence that feels so pervasive, it’s always with us. The torture scene towards the end of 1984, the psychological violence in the everyday conditioning that dehumanizes us. How they turn the characters against each other, in favor of the state. And make us less human, more animal. This desire to control us through fear.

But haven’t we always been this way, more animal in our desires and brutality? Or is it that we’ve just gotten better at concealing it.

This post is a plug for my friend Walt Walker’s annual Halloween call for content. Also inspired by the horror film that is American politics, all of them witches.

Categories: musings, writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

21 replies

  1. Yes, American politics has become a horror film. An unpleasant, but honest, way to put the thing.

    The story from Night Shift that I most enjoyed and still remember to this day (although I’ve forgotten the title) is the one about the package that is delivered to a penthouse apartment. Inside the package is a set of army men who come to life and attack the occupant of the apartment ultimately destroying it with a small scale nuclear weapon. Loved that story. I may need to read that book again — it’s when Stephen King was able to write truly different and creative stories, not the repetitive schlock he’s been putting out for years now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really enjoyed your piece on Kavanaugh earlier this week. Woke feeling angry yesterday, trying to draw some link between Rosemary’s Baby and what’s going on here, so this is how it turned out.
      Yes, I remember that story too. that was a far-out collection. I am the Doorway was my favorite. Good bonding material for me and my dad, when we were young. The birth of ‘dark.’ Here’s to that, Mark.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I was alone in my family with my fascination with Stephen King. 😉

        There is a whole lot about the Kavanaugh situation to be frustrated about. And as I wrote, it’s not just about the Republicans. It is about both sides and the decades long slide that has brought us to a place where what happened with him and Dr. Ford is even possible.

        I just posted something else and in it I mention that I’m just done with all of it. I’ve been fascinated by politics for 35 years, but I’m officially done. Except to bash both sides. They are destroying us all.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree, all of them witches. Us too, if we’re not careful.

        Liked by 1 person

      • And what I’m trying to do is not become one.


  2. When I was 10, I would read a lot of inappropriate things. I read Helter Skelter, a lot of Hitchcock short story collections, and Edgar Allen Poe. I think I was likely a creepy little kid, but introverted and a girl, so no one noticed.
    These days are a real test of some people’s propensity towards violence and I think about how language is often a precursor to acts. The public discourse is certainly become collectively more tribal, violent, and aggressive towards others. Somehow, that gives me hope as a writer, since it is not a one-way street – we can become practiced at de-escalation as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Creepy, I can see that. I like the notion of de-escalation and the positive vibe you’re on now, from the sounds of it. Have to pick ourselves out of the muck. I think I’m still stuck in it, today. Could be the weather, too. October is a hit man, pretty efficient too in our parts…probably the same in MN.


      • Sorry you’re in the funk. It’s gray and chilly here, my daughter is sick, and we’re avoiding yard work and finishing our deck replacement. Definitely an air here of not giving a shit. Even after my little high of the last week, I’m going to have to write against the grain today. Sometimes that does the trick. Hope you find your way out as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • No, I’m good! Cooking a curry tonight and meeting a friend in the city for beers. Nothing to complain about in the microcosm of Seattle, today.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the plug! That’s right neighborly of you, neighbor!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting piece and comments too, Bill.
    I’m still feeling like I want to pour boiling water down the drains of Washington, of Westminster, of Canberra.
    Maybe boiling water with sulphuric acid. And I want to lean down and listen to the tiny, helpless screams.
    Still a tad cross, it seems.
    Cheers, Bruce

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, well put Bruce. Fruit flies are thickening here in our kitchen. Literally, no metaphors. Kind of gross. Put out some Sherry today to try to bait and drown them but didn’t seem to work. More like a bunch of saucy teenagers who won’t leave.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. i used to love terrifying myself, with books, movies, and stories told out loud, but now i just have to turn on the news and realize that the terror is real.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, that summer of ’76 was eventful for you! Lucky to have survived it all.
    I used to feel bad about sometimes being drawn to the dark in things, as if I was somehow debasing my nature, a ghoul knitting by the guillotine as another head rolls. But, it’s all in the nature of us, isn’t it? This need to experience horrors, even if vicariously. It’s there from the earliest stories the Greeks myths and Beowulf and Chaucer and fairy tales, every story before and since. It’s like we have to examine them day after to day to acclimatise ourselves to how awful things can get and perhaps conquer our fears of death.
    Grand dark writing Bill

    Liked by 1 person

    • In the nature of us is right. I had a few themes and ideas here and just threw them into the omelette. It’s true, we’ve always been this way…I just wish in a sense we’d evolve to become kinder to one another but that seems foolhardy a notion. Or perhaps we have become that way and I’m not seeing it. I love hearing your comments and voice though, I’ll say that. There, that’s kind! Peace out, Lynn!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s horrible but I can’t look away.


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