I’ve met a few famous people in my time. Meat Loaf wasn’t one of them. In fact, the only real rock concert I’ve ever attended was Alice Cooper, back in the first part of the millennium. Still, the good folks over at WikiTree like to let you know your degrees of separation from the famous. With the news of Meat Loaf’s passing recently the connections emphasized were rockers, and I ended up being some twenty degrees separated from Michael Aday. Every time this happens I wonder why our world doesn’t take better account of how closely related we all are. Fear is a powerful emotion and fear of strangers runs deep. Even babes in arms often object to being held by those with unfamiliar faces. We could benefit quite a bit, it seems, by learning to get comfortable with fear.
Looking at the political mess in the United States it seems pretty clear to me that its main fuel source is fear. It’s been decades now since I first learned that politicians are well aware of how fear makes people behave at the polls. This fear is carefully crafted and exploited to try to get the election results desired. If we could learn to master our fears just think of how things would improve! Instead, those who have something personal to gain use fear to attain it. Not that there aren’t real reasons for concern. Facts such as global warming are real and deserve our immediate attention. To address them we have to work together. Instead, many chose to use fear for personal gain, and we let them.
For me personally, engaging with horror is a means of handling fear. Like most people I don’t want to be afraid. At the same time I’m fascinated by it. I can’t scroll past a web page listing scariest books. I try to go through tallies of the scariest movies made. In doing so I’ve found that many of my phobias (and there are many) have dulled a bit. Perhaps that comes with age, but then I’ve read that fear tends to increase with age. Why not get it out of the way when we’re younger? What has all of this got to do with Meat Loaf? I suppose it’s the kind of gothic quality of his songs with Jim Steinman that drew me in. The songs are all stories and the gothic was among the earliest influences of what would become horror. Now my fear is nobody will be able to fill that need. Perhaps the answer is connection.