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Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Bloogeyman Has Emerged

Ah, the boogeyman. You all remember him from your childhood, right? You didn’t know exactly what he was and what he could do to you – all you knew was that he could “get” you. After that everything else was left to the imagination. Oh, and how we imagined! Indeed, we imagined not only what would happen to us if this “boogeyman” fellow got a hold of us but we also imagined how we could defend ourselves from that. Little kids may be a little deluded, but they’re not dumb. Faced with a survival problem like that we came up with plans, schemes, and rules that would keep us safe.

The boogeyman lived in the closet, or under the bed, and we knew that he couldn’t get us as long as the light was on. He couldn’t get us if our parents were in the room (why would a crazy mofo like the boogeyman be afraid of our parents?!? We never thought of that…). Once you were in bed (assuming you lived through the trip from the light switch to your bed), your blanket was your shield. If things really got bad, you could pull it over your head tight (you couldn’t see, but you’d listen with bated breath for any ominous sounds) and hope for the best.

Of course, we all survived the boogeyman, but what was he really? Perhaps he is a hardwired part of our psyche – a fear of the dark and the unknown. Even if we rationalize that something can’t hurt us, we are sometimes still instinctively fearful of it (note the case of a grown man’s instinctive recoil at the quick movement or thrust that a small harmless snake, or even a mouse, makes – we know that it can’t hurt us, but we will instinctively pull back from that quick movement). Perhaps as a child, when we have the least amount of control over our lives, we are looking to exert control over our very existence. Chillingly, sometimes the childhood focus on the archetype of the boogeyman blinds them to the real boogeyman down the street – the one offering candy or a ride home.

And why do we lose some of that fear as we grow older? Of course almost anyone will feel a tinge of fear walking down a dark, unfamiliar alley. But, for the most part, we have rationalized away the fear of great harm coming to us by way of this “boogeyman”. Perhaps we are old enough to understand that enough bad can happen to us at any time (car accident, cancer, the death of a loved one) that we don’t feel the need to think about such a low probability event as the boogeyman getting us. Hell, even if the boogeyman showed up at my door now I’d probably invite him in for some tea and crumpets (as long as he wasn’t wearing an IRS badge). Why, frankly, the boogeyman’s probably so far down on my list of worries now that he comes slightly after ‘finding out I don’t have any clean underwear’ and a little before ‘missing a meeting at work’.

But the boogeyman still exists. He has changed a little, but he still lurks in the dark corners of our mind. Sometimes he is a personal fear, something waiting to be discovered or a horrible thing waiting to happen. Sometimes he is societal – something we all fear (They’re coming to get us!). However, sometimes he is not what he seems. Just as chilling as in childhood, perhaps the boogeyman is not the archetype that we know. Maybe he’s just the guy next door, or the guy smiling at us on TV – we just don’t know it yet.

Interesting also is the use of the boogeyman in adult pop culture and politics. As adults we are rational and don’t give into irrational fears (right?). While some people are always yelling about boogeymen – Communists, Fascists, Terrorists – we “rational” adults take pride and pleasure in denouncing those boogeymen as fake threats. “Hah!” we say, “only a complete idiot would believe in boogeymen!” But, perhaps we have gotten so used to shouting “Fake boogeyman! Fake boogeyman!” that we are wholly unprepared to consider the idea that perhaps there is a real boogeyman. Maybe it’s not even hidden in the shadows anymore – it has gotten so used to being ignored by adults that it can walk right into the open and no one will notice.

Enter the Bloogeyman. The Bloogeyman has come to remind you that we are all still children. The Bloogeyman will help you take off your adult blinders and start to really look into the shadows. Of course, like children, in order to truly understand the boogeymen that walk among us we must allow some of our fear to return. We must understand that the boogeymen that walk among us will not simply waft away like some mild stench on a sweet summer’s breeze – they will only get stronger as they are ignored.

Like children we may not have all the facts, but we must use logic to deduce the truth. A child knows that if they heard a noise from some dark corner, if the closet door has creaked open on its own accord, if something is missing – has been snatched up by unknown hands – than there is something to fear. Not just something to fear, but something to be curious about, something to demand investigation, and something to eventually be overcome.

The Bloogeyman is simply the guide. Will he tell all he knows? Yes, but the Bloogeyman does not know all – it will be up to you to ask questions and provide answers. We will talk politics, recent events, philosophy, economics and all other manner of things – the goal will not be to just look blindly into the lights, but to peer into the shadows.