Have you ever lain in bed, hopelessly wide awake, and tried to keep your eyes shut, knowing that if you opened ’em you’d see something you dreaded and loathed? It sounds easy, but it’s devilish hard. Those eyes hung there and drew me.
This experience speaks to me all too well. I’m pretty sure it was after watching Insidious or every other horror film a friend of mine conned me into seeing. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve tucked my self in bed with the covers over my head, trying to tune out any negative vibes. Or how many “Plan B” tactics I went over, incase I wake up and Chucky was leaning over my head with a knife. What can I say? I’m a lightweight when it comes to scary movies. Some of us are just not cut out for it.
Edith Wharton’s “The Eyes,” reminded me of the paranoia that I go through after watching horror films. It’s not a severe case, but enough that I wouldn’t turn on all the lights in my bathroom before using it, because I was terrified of re-creating any scene from The Omen. I didn’t want any other reflection in the mirror, besides mine. Culwin’s ghost story about the eyes creeped me out more than it should have. It was described as having an “expression of vicious security” and undoubtedly scary. These eyes watched Culwin throughout different phases of his life and appeared out of nowhere. Wharton’s use of the eyes allude to the fact that in any decision we make, someone is watching. Some have their own argument to “who” that “person/agency” is. For example, your parents, the government… God.
Nowadays, people don’t need to see a horror film or read a scary story to feel like someone’s watching over them. There’s so many conspiracy theories out there saying that anything you own, think, or do, is not actually private. This drives people mad, literally. When paranoia kicks it, it becomes hard to stop it. No matter how well you hide under the covers, or check below your bed for the boogeyman, the thought of a pair of vicious eyes lingers. That’s because fear is every human’s weakness and often times, it’s something we make up in our minds.
A really interesting example of paranoia is National Geographic’s show Doomsday Preppers. The title itself is pretty self-explanatory. It’s about people who prepare for drastic changes in the world. From the downfall of the government, to apocalypses, these preppers are ready.
They are seen as well equipped, thoroughly planned individuals; however, I believe it to be very extreme. Some “preppers” spend millions on supplies and bunkers. They exert so much time and effort for something they can only theorize. My personal beliefs aside, I can rationalize why they do this.
We can shut our eyes and pretend like something does exist. We can shut our eyes and imagine something that doesn’t exist. We can ignore or substitute our thoughts. But as Wharton writes, “it’s devilish hard.” We fight with our own minds when in fear and in a case like paranoia, not everyone wins.