October 14, 2010 catherinetownsend

The Fear Trap


I went to see Howl, the movie about the early career of Allen Ginsberg, and was totally mesmerized by the moment when Ginsberg described the ‘fear trap’ that he felt when he was writing. I got chills when he described his terror of ending up in a crappy furnished room somewhere, alone, unsuccessful, with no one to love him.My nightmare worst-case scenario is very similar, except that I end up kind of like the Goldie Hawn character in Death Becomes Her. My horror story ending has me, my tracksuit stretched tight over my gigantic ass, surrounded by feral cats, Googling old pictures of myself with one hand while fisting an open tub of Ben and Jerrys with the other.

In the end, of course, Ginsberg realized that the fear trap was largely an illusion, and he broke free. I’m tired of worrying about getting older, being too fat, getting too thin (because it makes you look older!), too smart (because men can be intimidated!), not smart enough, not talented enough, and too neurotic (why can’t I stop obsessing??) My brain is unique. I’m unique. And I would rather regret something I did and failed at than something I didn’t do. So, just for today, I’m going to take a deep breath and write what comes to mind without worrying about the end result.

Ginsberg was right. Fuck the fear trap.

Comments (2)

  1. Daniel Wren

    I just watched Howl this evening and was touched by that moment in the film as well. Ginsberg was a resounding success in the face of great adversity. His story is vibrant and fascinating, during a fascinating time of American history. His story is one of many that inspires us to want to run straight through the ghost. We need these heroes. Like a college basketball star eager to make the NBA. Or a struggling actress desiring the silver screen. Anybody who desires to “make it” by societal standards. The “fear trap” can benefit from some redefinition, however.

    To be sure, many inspired people have flung themselves into new challenges to find themselves arrive at mediocrity or failure. They may have regretted it, in retrospect. But, the fear trap dissolves when we also acknowledge these brave individuals as heroes. Having entered a state of becoming, they became. Regardless of the result. Analogously, the result is the grade on the test while the domination of the forces is the education.

    I’m reminded of Marianne Moore’s poem, “What Are Years.” Our limits help define us. In a paradoxical way, we should be thankful for them: they are a necessary component of our transformation.

  2. just watched the film and googled “fear trap” and found this post, good to know at least 3 of felt pulled by that scene

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