SCREAM: Edvard Munch 1893
“I WAS WALKING DOWN THE ROAD WITH TWO FRIENDS WHEN THE SUN SET; SUDDENLY, THE SKY TURNED AS RED AS BLOOD. I STOPPED AND LEANED AGAINST THE FENCE, FEELING UNSPEAKABLY TIRED. TONGUES OF FIRE AND BLOOD STRETCHED OVER THE BLUISH BLACK FJORD. MY FRIENDS WENT ON WALKING, WHILE I LAGGED BEHIND, SHIVERING WITH FEAR. THEN I HEARD THE ENORMOUS INFINITE SCREAM OF NATURE.”
Over the last few years I have sat back and watched a variety of crime series on television, I have seen people killed in the worst ways in a plethora of episodes packed full of such delights, and closed my eyes as bits and pieces of the human body are scrutinised under extraordinary Microspcopes by uncommonly beautiful women and interesting looking men. These programs have never been to my taste but I have lived with people for whom this viewing is compulsive, bordering even on the obsessive for some. Therefore, such horrors have entered my living room and often invaded my subconscious mind in ways I might honestly have preferred them not to.
Imagine my reaction then on recently hearing a real-life story of Horror to rival all the fictional murders we see portrayed on such programs. Aside from recognising, not for the first time, that life is indeed stranger (and crueler) than fiction I realised above all how utterly distasteful I find the glorification and glamour that these television shows portray around matters of such intense distress, Horror and the resultant inevitable heartbreaking tragedy of these senseless and brutal murders in reality. Yes, of course there are fine authors who have written very well of Horror across the ages. I need not list the famous books, films and probably even blogs which have been brilliantly composed on this subject. I refer specifically to those incredibly popular television series to which we have been subjected over the past decade at least, in which forensic science appears to have become a platform on which to parade the most perfect faces, beautiful clothes, hair styles and flawless makeup. Which writer of which one of those shows has been able to fully convey the full extent of the Horror of each tragedy, or come even close to creating a sense of the indescribable pathos of every victim in their final moments of life. News Flash!! This happens in the real world all the time. Are we really “ok” with that. So ok with it, we are happy to sit down and watch brutal murders portrayed in high definition in our very own living rooms.
There is no greater nor lesser Horror than that of pure, unadulterated Horror itself. Once seen, never forgotten. Once experienced, never deleted from our individual life story. Seeing and experiencing things that are usually only read of or seen in a film or recounted in the catalogue of disasters (World News) that constitute our daily diet, both on television and radio, are the ways in which matters of extraordinary Horror enter our living rooms and, more importantly, our hearts. But these are not the only ways in which we learn of that which is unspeakable and beyond belief. We learn of Horror on stepping into the world of someone who opens a door indicating, tentatively, that we may enter their story.
What is Horror. The dictionary tells us it is an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust and intense dismay. None of these words truly express the feelings evoked by what I heard last Wednesday night at a dinner party at my house. A bold image was presented to us, the listeners, as a shocking statement of fact through words now etched in our minds. Words that told a story of something screen writers and novelists alike are paid a great deal of money to commercialise. That night we heard of a real-life Horror Story – a real-life tragedy. Can the distress, terror and sickening devastation experienced first of all by the victim and then by those closest to them truly be portrayed in any way by a decorative cast acting out against a backdrop of CGI sets placed in exotic locations where blood itself is colour co-ordinated carefully with whatever it is spilled on, and where human organs are filmed in close-up, shiny, brightly coloured silicone coated pictures.
What level of disrespect for such pain and suffering does anyone have to have in order to put pen to paper and write of these things in the careless, heartless way we witness on our television screens in programs dedicated to the subject of brutal murders.
“No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human breast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can come through the struggle unscathed.” Sigmund Freud.
I declare myself scathed. Purely in the hearing of these things, I struggle to wrestle with the half-tamed demons that inhabit the human breast. I battle to find a place from where I might find refuge from the Horror of what I heard, and for sure, no more sordid television programs are going to be viewed in my home – no matter how pretty the women, how handsome the men, how exotic the locations each Horror is filmed in or how stunning the quality of these glossy images may be. I am appalled by these crass, cavalier representations of murder and brutality. I have been touched by the reality of such things and I am pretty sure that in the reality of what I heard lipstick was not perfectly applied, suits were creased, the forensic scientists involved weren’t all models, the murderer was ugly and without any doubt whatsoever, no damn music was playing!
With this in mind I wish my readers a very Happy Halloween! Certainly, dress up in funny clothes, paint streaks of blood down your face, parade the SCREAM mask derivative of Edvard Munch’s powerful painting, frighten people in passing cars, and terrify each other and yourselves. For fun.
This Halloween, I shall not be attending that party.
“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” Carl Jung.