Image from here
We've started watching this British TV series on DVD called Being Human. It's about a vampire and a werewolf that live with a ghost. Sounds like the opening line of a joke, right? So far, we really like it. Perhaps even more than most stories of supernatural beings, the focus here is very much on the monster within.
I've had enough long drunken nights with enough different types of people to know that we all have a monster inside of us. Or at least people that will drink with me seem to have one. No matter how much we show to those around us, we hide a creature that we believe to be so vile that we cannot afford for even those closest to us to catch a glimpse of it. Or maybe the point is that we especially can't afford for those closest to us to see it.
I wonder about those perpetually perky types that hide their monsters beneath mountains of bunnies and flowers, or (somewhat ironically) the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Are they truly unaware of this primitive presence within themselves? Or are they ones working hardest to conceal it, lest someone catch wind of how the sight of a full moon makes them want to tear off their clothes and run howling into the forest, eviscerating those same bunnies that decorate their kitchens?
Or maybe it's not monsters for all of us. Perhaps, in what Arianna Huffington calls our "lee-zard brains," some of us are prey rather than predators, secretly longing for the fangs in our throats, and the sweet release from perpetual fear that only comes as we bleed out onto the snow. I suspect we all have a little of both. This is a theme that may get explored in this series, though it's too early to tell.
How did we get this way? Do chimpanzees hide their true motivations from their community?* Did secrets somehow evolve alongside language? I guess the ability to tell goes hand in hand with the option not to tell. But do we really need to believe that others lack the same primitive motivations as ourselves?
I suppose the answer to the last question is "yes." It is probably much easier to build civilization when we can believe that our wife has never had the urge to cuckold us with our boss, or that our children have never considered killing us in our sleep. And isn't that the whole point of civilization, after all? To allow us all to believe we live in a world of order and fairness and safety? Instead of the one we really inhabit, where a looming shadow could be the last thing we see, and the only thing keeping that moment in the future is our wits, and a great deal of luck.
*This is not to imply that I believe we are related in any way to chimpanzees.**
**But I do.