Friday, August 12, 2011

Monsters are Due at The Blue Hotel

The Swede answered him swiftly and eagerly: "These men are going to kill me."

Smell that? That line reeks with the heady bouquet of Fear.

One of the most interesting studies in fear & mob/pack violence, with some xenophobic spasms thrown in for good measure, is Stephen Crane's Blue Hotel.
Is there something in the smell of fear that provokes aggression? Ask the Swede from the story. Does perceived weakness and vulnerability in an individual provoke violence from others? In a perfect world, presented with an individual who is afraid, fearful, those feelings would be met with compassion (like Morrissey says it takes guts to be gentle and kind). Naturally enough, in Crane's Blue Hotel, one character's fear escalates an attack against him with dire consequences. Maybe in a deep down dark place we are wired biologically (read imperative) to come down hard on fear and weakness. I remember being warned as a kid, when around strange or growling dogs, "Don't let them know you are afraid". Or maybe it was walk don't run. Any pheromone experts out there? If animals can scent fear, can human's to some degree? Anyway, here is a link to Crane's story on line.

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