Friday, November 5, 2010

Can you see the real me?

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.


  1. 'Being Human' didn't hold our interest after the first DVD. I had hopes...sometimes I WISH people would reign it in more than they seem to...a neighbor who knows my liberal stance sent a gloating email today about how she and her hubby were 'beyond happy' about the elections and she hopes I 'learn to live with the fact the reps are back for good'...oh puke...she doesn't want to be a friend (no problem there -- she isn't WOW material)...maybe she wants me to cast a spell her way...doesn't take much to let my ugly out...'The Dirt on Farmer John' is good, BTW...

  2. repressing dark urges must have evolved with communal living. Thog, the caveman, had to resist the urge to club Glurk to death because of the stupid painted rock he'd let Mrs. Glurk put outside the cave, which made the entire cave village look trashy... he really liked the way Glurk skinned a mammoth, and simply couldn't risk losing the assistance on the next grocery run...

    oh, and this post was great. reminds me of my favorite t-shirt, found here -,89/

  3. rats. link is here,89/

  4. A chimpanzee once cheated me out of a bottle of beer. I was suitably humiliated by her superior deception skills.

  5. Well, we're animals and we're omnivores, so I'd think there'd be something wrong with not having a monster inside. From my experience, denying the monster just irritates it. That's why there is football. That's why there are ribs. That's why there are soy patties shaped like ribs. But how do you account for the Lama?