Wednesday, January 16, 2013

'horror' and desensitization


Hor’ror (hor’ər) n. 1, a painful emotion of fear or abhorrence; an intense aversion. 2, that which excites such a feeling. [Derived from Latin horrere, to stand on end (as hair), presumably from fear.] (The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary, Fourth Edition)

Graphic depiction of 'horror' was originally an obstacle of superficial fear to me as a child that had to be somehow overcome or conquered within my mind. So I began to immerse myself in it far enough so that I could create a convenient archive of disturbing scenes  to play and replay in my mind as if to trump the familiar with an imagination inspired in part through things like this.

This was a process of deliberate desensitization that I had begun cultivating at the onset of puberty, and within this I had become more reticent through seeing myself and my disposition in comparison and contrast to that of other children in my neighborhood, at school, on the television screen, and believing that I had been cheated out of what I perceived as a more genuine family system, or at least the ideal that is presented. The impression I associated with this was that of having been drafted into a shitty existence and that everyone out there should all be held responsible somehow.

Seeing my own sensitivity as a kind of weakness that had to be overcome in order to adapt and overcome the defense mechanisms that grew out of abuse, I decided that my favorite kind of media was anything that represented an idea of death, the unknown, or the antagonist because I didn't want to exist and was looking for a way to embrace this nihilistic mindset from outside myself that seemed like self-empowerment. That process seemed to justify my own history that I recognized in some way and that I couldn’t really articulate at the time, as having been unprepared for responsible adulthood. At times I wanted to attribute some of this to rejecting my father through the association of him with the smell of alcohol and cigarettes, along with the flat sarcastic projection and physical abuse. I would entertain thoughts of vindication for this just as I did for certain other people as I learned how to tap into this part of my imagination.

There were several approaches to this, none of which really had any practical significance other than the continued reinforcement and cultivation of multidimensional characters of how I saw myself in relationship to everyone else. Among other things, this included the specific fascination with the horror culture that has been described as playing on or catering to the primal fears of human beings, especially that of the unknown. The familiar motifs include blood and viscera, dark rooms, superstition, curses, isolation, graphic depiction of torture, screams of pain, running naked through the woods, hiding in a closet, charismatic/supernatural killers, sharp objects, framing the context of things that people can intimately relate to from a perspective that’s meant to disturb, and so on. 

If there's an argument for it's that there are aspects of the genre that can serve some alleged purpose as far as provoking people to look at one's participation in life from a more humbled perspective. This has sometimes been my justification as well, for the sake of feeling intelligent about it instead of being honest in admitting that in reality I am taking the whole point of primal fear and trivializing for the sake of satisfying that part of myself that wants to identify with the oppressor or the source of the fear as if to overcome it in the mind. That was the idea.

The horror fix can be achieved through watching the depiction of something to the effect of characters in the process of having their worlds turned upside-down and inside-out by some elusive, dominating antagonist. What is the fascination in seeing something terrible happen to the other? It could be a sense of empowerment within identifying with the oppressor/abuser, or something erotic about fear, bondage, and the image of blood. Maybe there is a desire to identify with the stimulus of motion-picture ‘horror’ in itself, the gratifying social status of playing the connoisseur of culture that is meant to disturb and distract, to be the god of one’s imagination, though huijacked by culture, while cultivating a self-image through deliberate desensitization and detachment from reality or the horror inflicted in this world by human beings, i.e., willful ignorance with the usual don't-fuck-with-me mask that is too cool for self-honesty.

My own experience of it has been that of following the curiosity to see how I react within myself toward each presentation wherein the death scenes themselves serve to enable and elicit the mindgasms while what passes for a narrative would essentially be foreplay for this, supposedly beyond any trivial justification. The self-inflicted experience of confronting something like this would be the heroin injection into the mind that would seem to place the familiarity of how I generally experience myself in my world into an imaginary context where the usual arbitrary definition of bullshit is less of a bother when there is a new scene that I have now imprinted into my mind as a convenient distraction to chew on.

What I am looking at while watching the depiction of mutilation and death of characters on a glowing screen in a dark room is myself, while the reality is that of a human being suppressing their own mind in the attempt to avoid directly facing the self in humility, when it is demonstrated through horror that vulnerability will get you killed. Sometimes the pseudo-philosophical pretense of expanding human consciousness is used as the justification for the marketing and projection of death and mutilation, but the point in that is that consciousness doesn’t need to be expanded as much as directed so there's no longer an apparent need for the mental masturbatory fix of seeing characters projected as mutilated and killed in an infinite variety of 'creative' graphic scenarios for a passive audience of secret minds, distracted and enslaved for profit.