10
Oct 04

Constriction

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I have what I imagine is about an average amount of fear of crocodiles, heights and so on, but what I have always found much the most terrifying thing to imagine is being stuck in a narrow tunnel (and I am guessing it didn’t make the top 25, so I can post about it myself). The fear centres on the idea of my chest being trapped and immovable – I expect this is related to my very bad asthma. The most terrifying thing I’ve ever come across in the arts is in either The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen or The Moon Of Gomrath, two young fantasy novels by Alan Garner, where our heroes have only one way to escape from some monsters, by climbing into a rock tunnel. They have no idea if it goes anywhere or stays wide enough. It’s completely dark. They get to parts where there is a steep drop, so they know there can be no return. They get to water, and have to plunge into it with no clue whether they will get out again. There are parts where they have to really squeeze through. I found this almost unreadably terrifying.

My other big fear is snakes, but that’s different, in that I can contemplate them in the abstract without terror, or even watch them in a zoo or on TV with enthusiasm and fascination. If one slithered into the room right now I’d be at risk of dying of a heart attack, I think. Despite the heading of this post, it’s the bite and the venom that I’m scared of – I could face up to a huge python or anaconda if I knew its fangs had been removed or it wore a muzzle.

So for me that’s very narrow tunnels and snakes. Make something of that if you can, Mr Freud!

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