F E A R

I’m afraid of everything but horror films. It’s something I just noticed about myself. I’m afraid of everything but horror films. I think there’s something about everything that makes a horror film so insignificantly horrific. Everything’s scary. Everything’s scary because everything’s so uncertain. Even the floor is shaking beneath my feet. Even the Earth underneath my toes is quaking. If there’s one thing that reminds you that everything is uncertain, it’s an earthquake that starts in Ridgecrest, CA and ripple effects into Los Angeles (154.1 miles away) and Las Vegas, NV (238.5 miles away). Everything’s scary because everything’s so uncertain. That’s why I’m afraid of everything but horror films. But, there’s nothing I’m afraid of more than dying. I’m afraid of dying because it’s so uncertain. The psychiatrist in the hospital confirmed me as psychotic after I told him that, “I don’t view suicide as a weakness, I see it as a power I don’t possess yet.” He never asked why because they never do. But the answer is that: suicide requires one to assert an overwhelming amount of power over  and on top of one’s body-being and, it is an actional declaration beyond the fear of death. As for me, I’m terrified of death. I’m not afraid of nothing more than I am of death.

One of my colleagues told me that I’d truly be at the point of thinking outside of this paradigm of relation once I overcame this fear. She was a black women with a mystic spirit and yet, in the past, in this intellectual struggle, I’ve always tried to distance myself from the mystics. All the Christians I know characterized them as demonic, as witches, as devils, as heretics. And even though I never was one to distance myself from something simply because someone told me to, I always associated mystics with Christians in the same discursive realm of spiritual-religiosity. And I’ve always believed spiritual-religiosity to be a friend and foe, a time and a place, a who and a when and a why. But, there was something different about this specific call from my colleague. There was a mysticism in the flesh, an embodied non-knowing, an undifferentiated, indeterminable kind of wisdom generative of questions I had never thought to truly take serious. Questions I had never heard asked with such earnest sincerity, questions which become generative of possibilities that we have never thought to truly think possible because we have never thought to think deeply about.

**

What’s Death like? I can’t imagine. No one can. No one knows, but everyone’s going. That, in fact, we are certain of. In fact, now that I think about it, death and dying is the only thing we seem to be very certain of at all. The rest seems to be nothing more than a haze. We know that the folks in the detention centers are dying. We know that Black folks are dying. We know that queer and trans folks are dying. We know death as our most intimate knowledge if not anything else. But, I’m afraid of dying more than anything. I just don’t know where it goes. Death, to me, seems like entering into a black hole – a heartwrenching entrance into Oblivion. The scientist say that, “If you were to take a step into a black hole, your body would most closely resemble ‘toothpaste being extruded out of the tube.”[1] I’m afraid of everything but horror films. I’m afraid of everything but horror films because my everything possesses detention centers, mass incarceration and the sense of its eternal dimension, queer and trans antagonism in its myriad manifestation, and massive deformities in space and time with the capacity to turn flesh into toothpaste. What a world. What a horrifying world. What a horrifying everything. And then again when I think, when I reflect on all the things that I have been, I do not know if toothpaste is the worse of it.

***

For, I am one of the Nobody’s of the World. In fact, I am the Nobody par excellence. I am Black. I am Nothing. I am Death. I am Destroyer.

In this Everything,

in this Everything,

where I rest,

I am Nothing,

I am Death.

Perhaps, this has implications for why the horror films do not scare me. I am the horror in the script of Life. I am the terror of Ontology. I am the demon behind the mask in the film of Representation. I can imagine that in this moment, “one wants to assert the presence of something between the subjectivity that is refused and which one refuses and nothing, whatever that is. But it is the beauty … of Afro-pessimism that allows and compels one to move past that contradictory impulse to affirm in the interest of negation and to begin to consider what nothing is…”[2] What is Black? What is Nothing? What is Death? In this horrifying world, with its axiomatic hierarchalization of the Human Being, I am.

****

No one knows where you go when you die. When I was a child, I was always terrified that I would go to hell. One day, when I was probably somewhere around five or six, I remember crying in my bedroom after what was probably a rather minor incident of disobedience or transgression. I wasn’t crying because of the disobedience or the transgression; I was crying because of fear. Fear that because I had been disobedient or transgressive I was destined to go to Hell. My mother, who was always kind, patient and gentle with me, assured me that I wouldn’t. But, I had always been a skeptical child and it was my skepticism I think that made me particularly inclined to believe that I would burn in hell eternally. Eternally. I always knew what that word meant for some reason. I don’t feel like there ever was a moment that I had to struggle to grasp its meaning. Forever. Eternally meant forever.

 

My younger brother and I used to have late night conversations about this. We would say that it wasn’t fair how God could send us to Hell for eternity if we never got to meet him personally. We used to compare God to a dead-beat father who wanted veneration even in his absence. My enduring assumption that I would go to Hell made my identify with Satan at a very young age. By identification, I mean, I saw myself in the idea. For me, Satan was an evil that couldn’t be overcome. Satan was an energy that pervaded the entirety of the planet.

 

One of the greatest crimes of Christianity is that it made it a sin to even have sinful thoughts, or better a sinful imagination. Further, it made it sinful to use those thoughts and imagination to think deeply about what it means to be in a world where sin is the basic constituency of one’s being. And at this time, I started to have a sinful thought that has never left me. Indeed, one may even say a “Satanic” thought. I always had this Satanic thought about Satan, about Satan and God. A Satanic thought that I sometimes wish could be understood as something other than satanic. A Satanic thought I sometimes wish could be understood.

Why is Satan incarcerated in the Gates of Hell eternally? Why does God hate Satan so much?

I understand that the question is absurd. But, it is mine. More than anything, it seems as if whatever it is we are is more Devil than Angel, more Satan than God and yet, somehow we still find ourselves entangled, enmeshed and enthralled by the Glory, the shield of God’s light, and the unrepentant assumption that we are God’s most enamored beings.

Do we hate Satan because we hate ourselves? Do we hate ourselves because we are Satanic?

I know if Satanic means “acting in the ways, behaviors and performances similar to that of Satan,” then there is a Yes to be answered to at least the latter question. That’s what I was feeling as a child, and that’s what, to a certain extent, guilt is. Guilt is the shame that comes with feeling oneself as akin to Satan. Guilt is feeling oneself as embodied Evil.

But, must we hate embodied Evil? Who is embodied Evil?

In this horrifying world, I am embodied Evil. I am Black. I am Nothing. I am Death. I am Destroyer. And yet, if you were to ask me, what it is that I am afraid of, I would tell you everything but horror films because this everything is my horror film. The only paradox that remains is that I, as Black, as Nothing, as Death, and Destroyer, cannot be thought nor imagined to be afraid of anything at all because I am the birth of Fear itself.

—————————————————————————

TWITTER, MAY 24TH, 2019.

11:52 AM.

it’s okay to follow the questions and the thought rather than the answers and the theory.

 

[1] Wolchover, Natalie. “What Would Happen If You Fell into a Black Hole?” April 13, 2012. https://www.livescience.com/19683-happen-fall-black-hole.html

[2] Fred Moten, Blackness and Nothingness (Mysticism in the Flesh), South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 112, 2013, 741, https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-2345261.

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