Tuesday, April 9, 2013

In Darkness

Lights in the kitchen, on a cold, dark night

Last week, I played around with the concept of the fear of heights. This time around, I'm considering fear of the dark. This isn't a phobia that I personally have, but I do have empathy with it. After all, who likes fumbling around in shadows, attempting to get somewhere or do something that requires precision? With a few exceptions, everything that we would like to do is probably done better in the light.

Darkness transforms familiar locations into dangerous unknown realms. Take the simple walk across a familiar room. With normal lighting, it is such a quotidian task that we don't even spend a moment thinking about it. In the dark, stepping on something discarded upon the floor or banging a foot against a newly moved piece of furniture are commonplace missteps. (Yes, I have sympathy for the parents of young and energetic children.)

But beyond the hazards of toys and tables, there is the insidious play of the imagination. Our minds detest a void. When a strange sound comes to us through the darkness, there is an irresistible impulse to visualize how it was made. Was a creak the result of an intruder's footstep upon the stairs? Was that rustling a monstrous vermin? Was that moan something more than the wind? In the brightness of day, a glance towards the source of the bothersome noise sets our minds to peace. But, in a murk of night, the source is unconfirmed, unresolved, and our imaginations may provide disquieting images to match the sound.

Darkness falls, transforming the familiar to the foreign

So, it makes sense that this is one of the oldest and most enduring of human phobias. Heck, if some prehistoric beast preyed upon my little community of hunter-gathers, I'd also be freakin' terrified of the deadly dark. Next to the fire, keeping it well fed and bright, that's where I'd be to hold the nighttime horrors at bay.

Anyways, I have plenty of fears, but I'm really happy that the darkness is not one of them.

And I can also appreciate the safe thrill of a spooky tale told in the dark, whether around a campfire or a candle or just with a flashlight held up under the chin. ;-)


Let's listen to some music.

"Lullaby" by the Cure

"Darkness" by Peter Gabriel

"Fear No Darkness, Promised Child" by Timo Räisänen


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