Let’s take a moment to think about terror. For this type of blog it’s a cliche topic lumped in with a bunch of cliche posts . . . Or not. After all I’m all about half-dissecting things to look at them from the inside out, and then discarding them, leaving them to rot out in the sun. To put it lightly, that is. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been leading you down a rabbit hole without rhyme nor reason, or a definite end.
Maybe I’m just messing with you.
I haven’t quite decided.
Putting the rhymes and the reasonings aside, let’s turn our heads back to terror:
(Cue the much favoured dictionary post technique. You’d almost think I didn’t know what the word meant . . .)
1 extreme fear: people fled in terror | [ in sing. ] : a terror of darkness.
• the use of such fear to intimidate people, esp. for political reasons; terrorism: weapons of terror.
• [ in sing. ] a person or thing that causes extreme fear: his unyielding scowl became the terror of the Chicago mob.
• (the Terror) the period of the French Revolution between mid 1793 and July 1794 when the ruling Jacobin faction, dominated by Robespierre, ruthlessly executed anyone considered a threat to their regime. Also called Reign of Terror.
2 (also holy terror ) informal a person, esp. a child, who causes trouble or annoyance: placid and obedient in their parents’ presence, but holy terrors when left alone.
As of August 18th I finished reading The Terror, A Mystery written by Arthur Machen. As always I read on with the expectation of seeing some faery action, only to be rick-rolled once more by the lack thereof. Instead I was rewarded with an intriguing plot and good story-telling. Always good story -telling. Like I’ve said before, some of that man’s characterization is some of the best I’ve read, but with The Terror the plot takes a different turn. The premise of the story, from what I gathered, follows in the footsteps of those who like to perpetrate myths, lauding them as truths. According to Wikipedia the man already did that before with The Angels of Mons. Machen even mentions that particular myth in The Terror. The audacity!
Anyways, before I sidetracked myself, the author doesn’t focus on just one character’s point of view. Rather, he focuses on a few.
What struck me the most though was the fact that no one knew what it was. Even in the end, after they had come up with their own theories, the exact identity of the terror still remained unknown. Before I came to the end I was forced to think long and hard about a few things . . .
I’ll spare you the details of the story though. You should read it yourself. It’s more of a novella than a novel anyway, around the same length as The Great God Pan, so it should not take you too long to read.
It does beg the question though: what makes terror so terrible? We know that monsters can be anything, so does terror follow the same suit?
Of course it does. A monster can be a terror, in much the same way as a terror can be a monster. We know that a monster can be anything, and so can a terror. Both can be personal and interpersonal, national and multi-national. Look at the Yeti, the Sasquatch. Almost every culture has one of those.
One can only half-dissect so broad a thing so much. Monsters and terrors can be very broad unless defined, confined even, to a specific person, place, or thing.
Hums and haws.
Ifs, ands, and buts.
“Then at dawn figures in black robes, carrying lighted tapers in their hands pass slowly about and about; and I hear great rolling organ music that sounds as if some tremendous rite were to begin, and voices crying in ancient song shrill from the depths of the earth.”
–The Terror, A Mystery by Arthur Machen.