This is the age of the inspirational. We wake up each morning to a torrent of messages on social media informing us that if we ‘be ourselves’ and ‘believe in ourselves’ we can achieve the impossible. Transformation will be quick and painless. A screen full of medicine men (and women) selling easy answers with beautiful backdrops. Conversely when we do achieve something there are legions of ‘trolls’ ready to lay siege to us. The age of the inspirational is an age of extremes. Love is public and anger is quick to surface. We search for the impossible and when it can’t be found we want to scorch the earth. Our loves, our hates, are quick. Our fear is now public domain.
This fear remains in the ether, an indistinct agent in our psychological lives, both invisible and disturbing as hypothetical warfare. When we feel under attack it solidifies and we name it. It is in naming the thing that should be feared that it comes into focus, even merely as mirage or red herring. By naming it, mythologizing it, adorning it with colours and connotations so as to turn it into a child’s villain, we cast it from ourselves and make it temporarily stable enough to identify: a tangible enemy. A named fear is a catalyst for all that frightens, within and beyond ourselves. Telling a story of good and evil, of black and white masks the problematic complexity of these qualities incestuous and changeful relationship. Light can obscure as much as darkness, and on each the other depends for definition.
Image is by Megan Doherty. http://www.megandoherty.com/
Abridged is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland