15: A Red Hot Poker In The Eye


Let us break this down. Is this fear a mere conflation of a number of individual horrible things, happening all at once. The invasion of the eye, the fear of blindness, the fear of burns plus the fear of stabbing. And the fear of an old fashioned clich’ coming true (I suppose fear of being beaten off with a shitty stick might apply in that case). Perhaps it is. Our eyes after all are the delicate, soft wet pools in the middle of our head. An attack to the eye is an affront to our senses, to our most prescient sense. If you consider where the eye is, it is also an attack to the brain. To the very thing that makes us what we are and able to operate in this world. And it hurts. Even getting a fly in your eye is a major irritant. You cannot touch the surface of the eye normally. It is a squeamish fear.

Blindness. Well, imaging the long term effects of that one. Not being able to read, to see films, to watch the TV. You can see why this might haunt me, 200 film a year boy. I often joke that my eyes are my livelihood. It is no joke really. There are lots of things I could not do, or at least could not imagine myself doing, without my sense of sight.

Burns hurt. And that is on flesh. The third degree burn victim, with the hideous smell of charred flesh, burnt hair – horrid. It turns the stomach and comes with both the agony of being burnt, and the aftermath. In the eye? Well the eye is mainly liquid. The sizzle on flesh becomes a rapid boiling, part of our very physicality sublimes into nothingness.

And no-one wants to be stabbed.

So is that all there is to having a red hot poker in the eye? Possibly. I suggest that this fear is great than the sum of its fearsome parts. Maybe it is the hangover of medieval torture. That often the red hot poker in the eye treatment was done for no better reason than being in the same religion. Attaching a Spanish Inquisition to the other end of the poker makes it even more fearsome. But the worst thing? I can imagine the noise. Not just the SIZZZLLLEEEE!!! Of a steak on a skillet. But the screams….