Monday, October 18, 2010

13 days to halloween

it would seem an auspicious number, 13, to talk about something spooky, like real-life ghost sightings, or urban legends, or the legend of the chupacabra, or even the fear of the numerical value itself. i mean, what might be spookier than the human mind scaring itself over a number. how does that poem go by frost?

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars--on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.

still, it is fun to scare ourselves. one urban legend i recall growing up was the razorblades hidden inside an apple. we forget sometimes and think that the past was easier, less terrifying, more assured, than is the present. not so. the 1970s was a time of great economic, environmental, political turmoil. hence, certain urban legends bade us to be scared. that never prevented us kids from trick-or-treating till our bags were bursting with goodness, and if some parent did give us something more healthy than say a lollipop, we threw it away not because we worried that the interior of the thing, be it crackers, homemade cookies,or god forbid! an apple, was packed with blades or rat poison. no. we tossed them because it was not candy.

so far as i know that urban legend has never transmogrified into a truth. but that's what's so cool about halloween. it is a time to put on a mask and face death. all the imagery we invest in are symbols of the underworld where it was once believed dead souls would roam the earth on this one night. death is all around us, still, and can't be denied. as we all know. for one night we put food out to satiate the spirits and we dress like them to confuse the dead from the living.

now those traditions have been transformed into trick-or-treating and the costumes are an investment toward a license we normally don't allow ourselves any other day. we acknowledge and become the other, thus nullifying the scare factor. in a way, we might even be closer to our truer selves by wearing a mask. our defenses are lowered and we have, for a night, invited death to party.

the times are always scary, it seems. halloween is then a break from the pessimism and bitterness of contemporary economic and political bile. i say contemporary because we are living in frightening times, of our own making and the fact that the world is still so rapidly shifting that it has unmoored certain factions that feel threatened. halloween is no balm or salve for our ills. rather than ending on a sour note i'd rather point to the tradition of offerings to the dead and the wearing of masks that even when we are in the shit we can still make it good. life is like that.

happy halloween!


At 6:07 PM, Blogger Jim K. said...

wise notes, mythophilosophically!

pretty cool bit of Frost..

At 10:57 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

you da man!

At 8:02 AM, Blogger Chef E said...

LOL, boy you just took me back! Jim is right...wise notes!

I think I am going to write a post on 'why !!!' :)


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