Holy Horror, it looks like, has been delayed until January. That doesn’t mean that I have to wait to find some relief in the escape to film. Over the weekend my wife surprised me by being willing to watch The Exorcist with me. As we settled in to see it, a few things occurred to me—watching horror with someone else isn’t nearly as frightening as watching it alone. I know this from experience, and it seems that it has something to do with the willing suspension of disbelief. It’s harder to do when someone is with you. Left to one’s own devices, it’s possible to believe what you’re watching, even if intellectually you know that it is merely a movie. That tells us something about the way brains are wired.
I object to the word “wired,” really. As organic beings, we are not computers. What invented consciousness would watch a scary movie for pleasure? What is the rationale for it? It was a gray and rainy Saturday evening in late October. In human experience that may be all that it takes. Seeing orange and black in the stores sets a mood that computers, I strongly suspect, simply can’t feel. They lack the human experience of childhood trick-or-treating, or throwing on another layer as the days grow chillier, or watching the leaves turn and slowly drift down from weary trees. No, these aren’t wired experiences—they’re very organic ones, and often those that mean something even to adults as the seasons wend their way through the calendar.
The author waiting for proofs is rather like an expectant parent. Well, that analogy’s not quite right either, but you get the point. I know the book is coming. It was accepted and submitted long ago. The publication process, however, is more complex than most people might assume. In fact, in the publishing industry it is often the main role of the editorial assistant to assure that manuscripts make it through all of the necessary hoops to move from finished manuscript to printed book. Johannes Gutenberg likely had a simpler process worked out, although, in the early days of book-buying you could purchase the pages and have them bound by your choice of bindery. Now cover and content are glued or stitched together in what one hopes is a seamless way. Still, that stitching can’t help but to recall Frankenstein’s monster. It is, however, another gray, rainy day in October. It’s just a shame my computer can’t share the experience with me.