Empty Days

Tuesday, August 03, 2004



Crawling beasts.

My brother is very squeamish but I am the total opposite - I can literally eat worms and not wince. Like today: I grabbed a chicken bone from yesterday's meal just to gnaw on it while I was preparing some tea (I wash dishes about once a year), and it turned out that the soft part of the bone had small larvae swarming on the underside. So I basically ate some larvae. Hmm - it was an unpleasant surprise, but I didn't find it all that upsetting. Just spit the stuff out, threw out the bones, splashed the dish, washed my mouth - and fuck, who cares.

But I hate snakes. I would not want to touch a snake. I have no idea where this distaste for snakes comes from, a lot of people seem to share it. I would feel seriously threatened and paranoid if I fell into a snake-pit (Indiana Jones slash Survivor type of dread). In terms of falling into pits, I'd much prefer being eaten by lions.

I have far less distaste even for rats, and I frankly like mice. I don't like rats because, well, they're pretty big and they can bite, so you don't wanna be overpowered by rats ("1984" movie has a good scene with torture by rats). But I don't understand people who are seriously disgusted by mice, spiders etc. I guess I only hate snakes - for no other reason probably that this hate is so deeply engrained in cultural mythology that even as a small kid I was read bad stuff about snakes in children literature. But I am not sure this is the right explanation. There are explanatory theories involving some sexual-repression motives - that the snake is supposed to symbolize the male organ and thus overt sexuality. But while I hate snakes, I don't find male organs at all unpleasant, yet at the same time I can still say that I do resent too much body contact and thus the more invading and threatening aspect of intimacy - rather than sex per se. But there are enough men who also hate snakes - what is it with them then, fear of homosexual rape? Oh my god.

In the end, I'd go with the cultural myth thing - it's deep, it's wide-spread, and is not always overtly expressed but you still get to hate snakes after you've absorbed enough of these hints early enough. Sex-related or not, snake-hate is firmly established (figurative expression such as "snake-pit" means a very bad situation, whichever way you put it). At the same time I have no bad feelings against the mythical Mr.Snake that seduced Eve and thus fucked up Adam - he was a wise intelligent snake, and it is only later and in punishment that he was made to be mindless and crawling on his belly - a reptile.





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