Friday, 22 March 2013

Don't Look Down


There is a great variety of phobias, some of which are common and extensions of more rational fears, such as acrophobia (heights), arachnophobia (spiders), the dark, loud noises, balloons popping and thunder or loud noises.  These generally make sense, although probably the hardest to understand is arachnophobia, at least in the British Isles.  There is also a "second league", as it were, of phobias such as buttons, cotton wool balls and being overwhelmed by peacocks.  I myself have a button phobia.  In these cases, there may not be so much a reason as a cause.  For instance, i believe my button phobia is based on an instinctive aversion to skin blemishes such as sores, blisters, boils and warts, which we have because it means we avoid infection or sexual partners who are not going to be good at parental care or even pregnancy.  Of course, in my case this fear misfired and became a button phobia.  It is quite disabling in fact, because it makes it hard for me to dress formally and would impair me going to job interviews or working in offices.  It was actually really hard for me to make this video because of the buttons in it.

Similar to phobias are forms of epilepsy with very specific stimuli.  There is a case on record of a man whose seizures were triggered off by the sight of an open safety pin.  It's fairly easy to imagine a form of epilepsy triggered by seeing or feeling buttons.  More commonly, epilepsy can be triggered by strobe lighting of course, and certain kinds of "op art" can also cause fits in some people.  This brings me back to the idea of being overcome by peacocks, because this is a phobia but also, for the peacock, a sexual display.

Sexual kinks, deviations, paraphilias, perversions, call them what you will, similarly can have an explanation based on cause and effect where an early experience starts one on an idiosyncratic sexual career.  A fairly well-known example would be feet and shoes - many people think the reason shoe and foot fetishism is so common is that they are in the line of sight of crawling babies and that the association can therefore grow quite easily.  Other kinks are more arcane and seem to be in-born, but the archetypes are often fairly clear, examples being leather, rubber (skin-like), inflation (erection or pregnancy-like), vaporization and disintegration (orgasm), looners (both) and so on.  BDSM - bondage and whips - is perhaps more complex and harder to explain in this way.

In other words, i think fetishes and other sexual kinks are the other side of the coin to phobias, and that both are linked to epilepsy.  It's obvious why someone with unusual sexual desires might want to keep them - they derive a lot of pleasure from them - but less obvious why someone with a phobia would want to retain that.  My answer is twofold in fact, and i only addressed one issue in the video.  Firstly, as stated, it's part of me and i think i need to accept myself as i am.  Secondly, to be honest a world with buttons in it is just wrong and it needs to change to accommodate the needs of us button phobics, even though we're a tiny minority.

...and along came an asbestos spider!  Which will either help or hinder, i think.  I may have struck it lucky through having made a video which mentions spiders just as the asbestos tarantula news broke.  Consequently, i've cheated and inserted the tag "asbestos". People are afraid of asbestos, after all, though probably not phobic.

There really could be a world without buttons though.  As a child, i used to imagine a world with no buttons or wheels, which was however high-tech.  It had touch-sensitive panels and sliders instead of push-buttons and knobs respectively.  I was strongly influenced by Arthur C Clarke's idea of air cushion vehicles, which ironically did use rotary motion because of the propellers and fans.  I have, however, considered the idea of a peristaltic hovercraft which pushes itself up by farting air down forcefully.  It wouldn't be very quiet of course, so active noise cancellation, another obsession of mine.  And then there's the Caroline Timeline of course.