Whenever our friends from University of the Underground reach out to us, we know something exceptional is in the making. Known for their offbeat approach to research and knowledge, this November they’re throwing an Agora Club II: a Thanksgiving celebration of a feeling so powerful and omnipresent yet most often swept under the carpet of our everyday routines—fear. Through an amalgam of dining, discussions, dancers, a fashion parade and DJs, a performance of collective fears will take place; one that explores the act of transformation in an age reliant on extremities.
The curious creatures that we are, Glamcult eagerly joined its favourite school for a confrontation with the monsters under our beds. As soon as they inquired about our darkest fears however, we couldn’t resist but risk (with fear of failure, naturally) to shift things up and ask you, our community of readers, about the horrors that won’t let you rest. And so, a one-of-a-kind conversation came about—you guys making heartfelt confessions to University of the Underground, with us as mediators of your deepest nightmarish thoughts. Read up below, and don’t forget to join us for the gripping night that 22 November will be. Or else, may the scary monster finally get you.
What keeps you up at night?
Lots of things that I would summarize as the fear to not be enough. Jeez, I feel naked saying this. Yes, it’s very self-centered. Sometimes I’m also afraid of losing my relatives, but strangely enough, in such instances it makes me more sad than fearful. Social failure remains more frightening than death.
Peaches Christ, the host for Agora Club II: Thrill Demeter, says that her biggest fear is organized religion, tied with corporate greed and its effect on humanity. From authoritarian regimes to the fear of capitalism and technology, how have our collective fears and ideologies developed in contemporary societies?
I think we’ve always been made to fear what we don’t understand. We fear a future where robots take over because nobody really knows how A.I. works; we fear religious people because we’ve never felt the spiritual drive they have; we fear other nations because their way of doing is unlike ours. The specific object that’s given for us to fear depends on whether that object benefits the people in charge. The shame of this is that we learn to ignore our curiosity and our natural instinct to learn from the new, and instead are made to stay within a long tradition of an arbitrary norm.
David Wise is a composer for video games, and at Agora Club II he’ll discuss how suspense and tension can be designed and engineered in media, from video games to movies. Do you think media makes us fear junkies? What kind of fear has it made you addicted to?
Of course the thrill is addictive—we love the relief that comes after it. I guess what’s still most powerful is the good old fear of death. It’s what curates horror films, games and news reports, and is impossible to not be confronted with. And because it’s such a primal fear, it always works well. When we realise we haven’t actually died, we feel a little more alive, and hence addiction comes at play. As for a fear I’ve been made addicted to—definitely loneliness caused by social media. It’s so easy to get lost in the eternal scroll down feeds of little windows into the glamorous and healthy Lives of Others. Yet, by obsessing over others, we become disassociated from our own selves. We desire as many friends as our online contacts but forget to realize that probably everyone is experiencing something similar.
Is fear an innate attribute of human species, or do you think animals and other species also feel fear?
Animals do feel fear, in both other animals and us humans. I believe animals also use their sense of fear as hunting strategy. It could be a metaphor for politicians who spread fear among voters to catch them better. We’re the preys to those who crave power.
What do you believe are the modern new age monsters of our time?
Drugs. For the right-wing voters, the monster is recreational drugs; for the left, it’s the medicinal ones. Trump is also one of the first things that comes to my mind when I think ‘monster’ however…
Is the best way out to fight against fear? Should we?
I think fighting fear isn’t the best idea because we shouldn’t make a taboo out of these very real affects. Instead, we should see fear as a way to start conversations or to inspire artworks, so that together we can learn to appreciate not only fear itself but also the things we’re fearful of.
How do you navigate your fears?
Like lots of personal development discourses will tell you: “Face your fears, confront them to overcome them.” I personally think there’s no such thing as overcoming my fears, however. It works better for me to just accept them. I came to understand that fear and suffering are very powerful tools for self-knowledge and wisdom. So, why try to escape it? I don’t think fear in itself is the cause for people’s destructive behaviours. Rather, it’s them trying to fight against it.