Radical Spiderism: a Cautionary Tale

I am scared of spiders.  I don't mean they bother me, and I'd rather, you know, not share space and time with them because they're lousy dinner guests, or mess the carpet. I mean that I am absolutely petrified of spiders. And wasps too, but only because I'm deathly allergic to being stung. Yes, yes, I know that where I live no one has been killed by a spider in over a hundred years, but still. I'm scared of them.  No spider has so much looked at me cross-eyed or insulted my mother or anything. But I am still scared of them.

Why? As it happens I'm a primate.  I'm an evolved creature who has certain dispositions built into me as artifacts of what was useful for my ancestors to survive long enough to reproduce. Apparently, spiders used to be real assholes to my people.  And my biology knows how to hold a grudge. No doubt, those who had a natural aversion to the creepy crawlies in general were able to better avoid spiders through some kind of reluctance to be where spider supremacy meetings were being held.  >8< Spider power! Not happening upon a big spider rally reduced the chances of being captured and eaten by them in some Super Secret Spider Rituals.  On the converse of that we have those who were less hesitant about popping in and trying to broker peace between spiders and the rest of us.  They got eaten a lot more often and so had less opportunity to reproduce.

Selection favored having some weariness of spiders as it increased one's chances for passing on one's genes to the next generation of spider-cowards, like me.  So, what happens if I meet a descendant of spider supremacists walking down the middle of my wall? First I have a quick moment of shock and a bit of an adrenaline rush.  That's a good way to wake up in the morning, huh?  But then I remember a little something: oh, I'm rational.  I have no reason to be afraid of that spider across the way.  But it still scares me shitless.

Now, there are several ways I could react, and I'm beginning to think that I've gone about it the wrong way.  My personal reaction is not to scream and run out of the room, arms a'flailing.  I don't jump up on tables crying out the spider attack to alert my tribe.  I don't even go for higher ground to hide, waiting on a more rational person to walk by and win the war with a well-placed shoe attack.  I leave the little shit alone, or trap and release it.  These have seemed to be perfectly reasonable responses despite my perfectly unreasonable emotional response.

But this past weekend, I learned that my emotions actually do provide me with a certain kind of power.  Instead of long-reflecting on why it is that I have an irrational, purely emotional fear of spiders, to find out what it is about me that isn't working right, I should start blaming the spiders for scaring me. It's irrelevant if that particular spider is a vegetarian and thus I wouldn't qualify as food for it. It's immaterial that a given spider I might happen upon is the nicest spider you could ever meet. It might even make for good conversation over coffee, say.  This spider might even be a generous spider, donating time and money to his neighbor Rebecistan, who has her arms full raising like 850 kids.

No matter what it is this spider has done in its life, it's the spider's fault that I'm afraid of it. So, instead of resolving my own irrationality, dealing with my own fears, checking my own emotions to make sure they're congruent with reality, I can wave all of that as a bygone; I simply blame the spider and then take measures to prevent this very model of a sophisticated, socially adept and non-judgmental spider from eating me. Even though this particular spider wouldn't; pacifistic though this spider is, he must bear the shame of his forebears.  And all the while I can claim that anyone who doesn't agree with me is just a spider apologist, a species of creatures descended from the spiderarchy of yesteryear. Undoubtedly, these spider apologists actually used to sell my ancestors to the spiders for ritualistic purposes best left imagined rather than said.

Thanks for reading, and please remember to always blame the spider.  To suggest taking responsibility for one's emotions and actions attendant thereto is to dismiss the completely legitimate fear of spiders our evolutionary past built into us.  Demanding that we exploit our other evolutionary heritage of intellect, self-control, and rationality is simply to support the spiderarchy, and is therefore completely fucking stupid. QED

11 comments:

bladerunner said...

Oh, Justicar, when will you realize that you Just. Don't. Get. It.

Something something Schroedinger's Spider, something something misogyny, something something privilege. Step three: Profit!

So there!

Justicar said...

Something something blowme something something swallow slowly something else. PWNED BITCH!

dustbubble said...

Alternatively, emigrate to Aussie, where your behaviour will be entirely justified and rational. If a tad flamboyant, compared to the locals.

Justicar said...

Tis the deadliest spider in the world residing there - the Northern Funnel Web Spider - were I to believe the propaganda anyway. Who reads such a horrible rag as 'The Down Under' anyway?

Losers, that's who!

Sadie Heilemann said...

Where ya been, Justicar? Spiders kill and maim all the time, at least down here in the Deep South. I have a news clipping from 2005 about a local child who died from a brown recluse bite in the nearest town to me. I also personally know a woman who was bitten last year by a brown recluse twice, and her entire leg turned black for 3 weeks. It was an amazing and horrifying sight! We also have black widows all over the place, but that might just be because my husband is fond of them and keeps them for pets. Incidentally, my household rule is also "trap and release" for recluses, although the others I encourage in their present roles as insect control. I also let the cobwebs be and decorate like the Addams Family...

Anonymous said...

I am so going to bite your ass one day.

>8<

Anonymous said...

part 2 of 3 on the mighty Ganges
narration in German .. but they basically say that a little faith goes a long way, ... either that or they hide the truth well ...

close ups of cobras being so used to the reverence bestowed on them locally (statues, world fame!!) that they are their moves in brisk (foot)traffic are the most leisurely. Sideslither: in dutch the roaduser is called verkeersdeelnemer (last part is 'participant', first part is 'wrong' when you add a d and with 'geslachts' in front of it comes to mean coitis, .. that last word without the s means bloodline and/or slaughtered .. depending on context ... which segways me into hi expectations that whoever of you lot lives close to CBG enough to get an interview or stalk of her mom going should risk even the latter ... but study up on Deb Frisch for possible pitfalls first .... a very sad case. I did a few posts on her (indexterity).

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kirbie lizzie said...

What about spiders who like wearing water droplet hats... Cute, no?

http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/17299/do-spiders-intentionally-wear-water-droplets-on-their-heads

Archibald the Spider said...

I had a great time running around on your face last night. You won't remember, you were asleep.

Francis Boilshy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.