Saintly Thoughts

Of Death & Monsters

I marvel at how many people are terrified of monsters constructed of make-up and computer generated special effects.  I do not doubt the capability of such images to strike an emotional chord; we humans are masters at infusing our environments, man-made or otherwise, with spiritual meaning.  But to name a thing is to dissipate its terror; reducing its power to a mere, if abiding, discomfort.  When people speak of being terrified by the likes of these, I suppose what they mean is that these avatars elicit from within the unnamed ghosts lying dormant in the dark recesses of the human psyche.  To meet these demons half-way--via the medium of art--is to dissipate some of their power over us, if only for a time.  Yet, even these unnamed demons of the mind and soul are not the source of our terror; for unnamed they may be and terrify even the most staid of stoical atheists at odd hours of the early morning, yet they are still unbidden creations of human ingenuity.  Our discomfort is more real, more banal, more terrifying: the event of death itself.  In the modern world we lock death away to shield ourselves from its awful finality, and our imaginative half-life grows in proportion to our willed ignorance.  Some live through a long lifetime never experiencing that awful reality until it itself visits them, and by then they are in no condition to recognize its grim visage, only to surrender to it.  Whether these fools are the more fortunate or deprived for their lack--no one really knows.  One thing is certain, we will know him in the end.  Should we prepare now to face him head on, or should we ignore (as best we can) our fate?  I have often felt that there is no surer imprint of a flaw lying within the soul of modernity than that it refuses to look death in the eye.