F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech

From, of all sources, The DaVinci Code (which, yes, I was rereading just now, what of it?), one of the characters’ statements reminded of this awful-seeming truth: people are more driven by their fears than by their desires. I can’t find the exact citation now, but I was struck when I read it by one of those oh-crap-he’s-talking-to-me feelings. But, I don’t know, is it really true? What if your driving fear is that you won’t get what you desire? Is that good? Doesn’t that potentially mean you’ll work harder toward what you desire? Maybe. Unless the fear is hobbling you from doing anything toward what you desire. I don’t think for me that it’s fear of failure that haunts me, it’s other, more conventional fears — poverty, loneliness. Actually, I think my biggest fear is the fear of being uncomfortable. Is there a word for that? Infortuniophobia? Rilke wrote that we must rejoice in what strikes us with terror, that there is a “unity of dread and bliss, these two faces of the same divinity….” I’ve never quite grasped his connection between beauty and terror, fear and the sublime. All those angels who haunt him. Maybe it’s a kind of duende he’s referencing — the struggle/dance with death in the midst of life. I sort of get that, having long had a taste for gallows humor and a love of, for example, Edward Gorey’s darkly amusing view of the world. So I guess the lesson is to not just let any random fear drive you — let a good dark terror get a sniff of you. Then run like hell.

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