on control

Dec. 30th, 2006 09:10 am
lapis_lazuli022: (blackkats)
a.k.a., the haunted house analogy

When I was about thirteen years old, my father took me to the county fair, and I went through the most terrifying haunted house I have ever experienced.

Nothing jumped out at me, nothing sprayed gore or cackled or threatened to bite my neck. It was a single long hallway, just too wide to be able to put my arms out and feel the walls. It was pitch black. I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. All I could see were the geometric patterns my eyes made to fill in the darkness. I'd entered during a quiet lull, so I was the only one in it, and there were no moments when a door would open to provide me with any hints of light. And all I had to do was walk the length of the room.

I didn't see the challenge at first, so I started across... and stepped into something rubbery and squishy... and completely freaked out.

In this completely dark room, the only point of reference I had was the floor... and the floor, every time I would get used to its new state as I walked forward, kept changing. It was squishy. Then it was sticky. Then it was a series of wooden rollers (handrails provided for that one). There was a stretch that vibrated. I was shaking as I moved forward, testing each step, not sure what I would encounter next. I could see the faintly lit outline of the door at the end now, but it seemed impossibly far away.

And then my toe bumped something solid. It was a step. There was a small flight of about five stairs. Stairs weren't a big deal after all those other things, so I thought that would be a simple one, but it wasn't. The stairs were equipped with thick, flexible rubber projectiles that poked out from the walls to brush my ankles from both sides.

I think I jumped straight up in panic. My head was racing with thoughts of insects, spiders, slimy things... My heart was pounding, and I actually backed up a few steps and crouched down, trying desperately to see what those things were before I let them touch me again. I couldn't see a thing, but I refused to move forward until I knew what it was that was invading my personal space. I had to know what was touching me. Finally, after what felt like about five or ten minutes, someone else entered the room to start their own adventure, and it gave me enough light to see the projectiles for what they were. Then I could finally cross them, and leave.

The experience impressed me and fascinated me. It had a profound effect on me. I was in awe of how deeply something so simple had been able to make me so afraid. It taught me a lot about the nature of control, and the nature of fear, and I've drawn on this heavily in my writing and in my study of psychology. I reference it to people most often when talking about one of two things: GMing in roleplay, and BDSM.

I learned that the things unseen can sometimes be far more frightening than the things that are seen. The imagination, left to its own devices, can fill in much more terrifying details (and, details personalized to the very own fears of the person doing the experiencing, at that).

And I learned to what degree I take the floor beneath my feet for granted. We expect that when all else fails, when all else is uncertain, we'll still have what's beneath our feet as a frame of reference. As something sure, that we can count on. Cast someone's most basic expectations into uncertainty, whether it's the solidity of the literal floor or a metaphorical one, and you strip away all their control. They will be left with nothing. Nothing will be sure.
lapis_lazuli022: (Default)

Maybe it sounds silly, but this man was an important part of my early childhood.

My parents would watch NBC Nightly News every night at 7, with David Brinkley and John Chancellor. At the end of the hour, the co-anchors always signed off by saying, "Goodnight, for NBC News."

8pm was my bedtime, and while I would always fuss about it, it was non-negotiable. After all, my parents would reason with a shrug, the man on the television had said goodnight. It was out of their hands.

One of my earliest memories, then, was this man saying goodnight to me, five days a week.

Good night, Mr. Brinkley.
lapis_lazuli022: (Default)
Inspired (again) by Michele's blog and the origins of Do not pee in the Millennium Falcon, I'm thinking about the various inside jokes / words / phrases that I have with various people, which make perfect sense to us but seem incomprehensible to others.

Some of them stem from simple typos [*blinkt*], some through shared experience, some through media reference.

It seems appropriate to relate my own Star Wars story here, while I reflect on the etymologies of such classics as railiens, weem, woogums, pucks, and "i did it on purpose", and try to think of the others that I probably take for granted.

Read more... )


lapis_lazuli022: (Default)

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