The Fiddler It is a fair assumption that you have all watched that classic film from 1964, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies. The reason for this assumption may become clear as we journey together through yet ever more nonsensical Fiddler Chronicles. But don’t depend on it, or as those legal charlatans would have it, you should take this, “Without prejudice”. Some persons have superb powers of deduction but most, like the Fiddler, do not. Take this Sherlock Holmes tale:
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine they lay down for the night and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend.
“Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see”.
Watson replied, “I see millions and millions of stars”.
“What does that tell you?”
Watson pondered a minute.
“Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Theologically, I can see that God is all-powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?”
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Holmes was silent for a moment, then spoke.
“Watson, you fathead! Some bastard has stolen our tent!”
We can only use the material into that we are shaped through the fickle genetic lottery that creates us. Some of us are exceptionally intelligent and some, like the Fiddler, got a minus score on the IQ test. Some are blessed with strikingly good looks and some, like the Fiddler, are wrecks. Alas, it is now too late for the genetic engineers to transform the Fiddler into something more presentable and less disheveled.
Which for no rhyme or reason brings us to the topic of fear. There is the utterly ridiculous utterance, “there is nothing to fear but fear itself.” Well, Fiddler fears a lot and that is certainly nothing. Fear we are told, is a biochemical response to a threat of harm. But it can also stem from an imagined danger and can be a symptom of a mental health problem such as when a person has a phobia.
One Google medical site on psychiatry lists one hundred and one different types of phobia from which we may suffer as we attempt to manoeuver through that tricky and hazardous thing known as life? There are some doozies. If you have a fear of chickens you are suffering from alektorophobia; fear of clowns is coulrophobia; fear of beards is pogonophobia; fear of disorder or untidiness is ataxophobia; fear of failure is atychiphobia; fear of ugliness is cacophobia; fear of people or society is anthropophobia; fear of imperfection atelophobia; fear of failure is atychiphobia; fear of being alone is autophobia; fear of being ridiculed is catagelophobia; fear of love is philophobia; sociophobia is fear of social evaluation; venustraphobia fear of beautiful women; insectophobia is fear of insects.
If you suffer from insectophobia your fear is fully justified as insects massively outnumber human beings on our planet. There are apparently more than 200 million insects for each human. In an article intriguingly entitled “The Bugs Of The World Could Squish Us All”, the author responds to a question from a toddler about whether the combined weight of all the insects on our planet is greater than the combined weight of all the humans. The answer she gives is that insects far outweigh humans and hence they could easily squish us all. This is because there are estimated to be more 20 million insects for each human being. The New York Times has claimed that for every pound of humans there is 300 pounds of insects.
Another American newspaper the Globe and Mail carried this article in 2012 which although out of date, shows how one would go about making this strange calculation:
“An online resource tells us that there are an estimated 10 quintillion insects on Earth. That’s 10 followed by 18 zeros. Taking the Earth’s human population at seven billion, that means there are 1,428,571,428.57 insects for every person on the planet. Let’s round it out to say there are about 1.4 billion insects for every human. (Incidentally, this doesn’t include spiders, because they’re arachnids, not insects.)
This got us wondering about approximately how much humanity is outweighed by all those little critters. So we did the following, very rough calculation: Assuming the weight of an average insect is 3 milligrams (as is the case with ants) and the average weight of a person is 60 kilograms, then the weight of the world’s insect population is about 70 times that of its human population.”
We could probably be making other, more pertinent global calculations such as to determine whether the combined weight of corrupt politicians is greater than the combined weight of incorruptible politicians. One person was foolish enough to suggest the following syllogism: All politicians are corrupt/ X is a politician/ Therefore X is corrupt. We could also estimate the total number of law-abiding citizens as compared with the total number of persons who fail to abide by the law. We could develop a quantum theory of good and evil. The possibilities are endless.
Returning now to phobias, we could add politicophobia, pvophobia and ovophobia. The last one relates to a person who is fearful of eggs which was apparently the phobia from which by Alfred Hitchcock suffered. This director who terrified audiences with his macabre films like Psycho and The Birds told an interviewer:
“I’m frightened of eggs, worse than frightened; they revolt me. That white round thing without any holes, and when you break it, inside there’s that yellow thing, round, without any holes … Blood is jolly, red. But egg yolk is yellow, revolting. I’ve never tasted it.”
The web site, History.com also provides this insight into the lighter side of Alfred’s character
“He was a notorious practical joker.
Hitchcock had a penchant for pulling absurd and often cruel pranks on his movie sets and in his private life. He delighted in placing whoopee cushions under his coworkers’ chairs, and once held a dinner party where all the courses had been inexplicable dyed blue with food coloring. For one of his most elaborate stunts, Hitchcock bet one of his crew that the man couldn’t spend a whole night locked in handcuffs. The crewman accepted, only to later find that the director had secretly dosed him with a laxative before slapping on the cuffs. In some cases, Hitchcock even used his pranks as part of the creative process. During the filming of ‘The 39 Steps’, he handcuffed the two leads together for a scene and then pretended to have lost the key. The actors were chained to each other for a good while before Hitchcock suddenly ‘found’ the key in a coat pocket and explained that the ordeal had been a ruse to help them build chemistry.”
Given the crucial role that fear plays in the world, I would propose that we should set aside a day that can be declared the International Day of Fear. The Fiddler could be the Feartie Goodwill Ambassador. After all, he suffers from the best of all phobias, phobophobia.
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