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Fear Factories


  • pg 1
									           Patrick Tejada

      Diploma / Final Project
      “Fear Factories”

            SoSe 2004

Hochschule für Gestaltung, Stuttgart

              [E 215]

            Table of Content


Chapter 01 :: Biology of Fear       page 4

Chapter 02 :: History of Fear       page 13

Chapter 03 :: Mediology of Fear     page 19

Chapter 04 :: Interview on Fear     page 31

Chapter 05 :: Analysis/Conclusion   page 36

Appendix   :: Media Conception      page 46



                      “Never fight fear head-on. T hat rot abou t pulling yourself
                          together, and the harder you pull the worse it gets.
                      Le t fear in and look at it. You will see it by what it does. ”
                                         <William S. Bourroughs>

“Fear” is merely a word - with numerous impacts. Although not only famous psychological
scientists have tried to deal with this rather abstract emotion and its many faces for centur ies,
they’ve come to the point that it is impossible to ban fear completely off our lives. So it is more
a task of controlling this emotion, not to avoid it?
In this Final Project, my intention is to go a step fu rther and to re-set that question, in refer-
rance to Brian Massumi’s work Politics of Everyday Fear and Elaine Sholwater’s Hystorien.
I will reflect on mass-medias’ function as resonance-machinery for spreading fear worldwide ,
with final focus on Massumi’s view on, “consequences of saturation of social space by fear.
Have fear-producing mechanisms become so pervasive and invasive that we can no longer
separate ourselves from our fear? If they have, is fear still fundamentally an emotion, a per so-
nal experience, or is it a part of what constitutes the collective ground of possible experience?”
In fact, these consequences of social fear-saturation Massumi mentions, are apparent every
day. If fear did evolve from personal to collective form, it requires other meanings of handling
than avoidance or control . Due to the media, which purpose is to supply a wideranging flow
of information, we lost any chance of filtering out fear-mongering events. Unfortunately, to b e
honest it’s mostly the ‘bad news’ which are preferrably emphasized in mass-media, managing to
attract the sensation-seeking audience. Mass-media provides tendencies in changing subjective
experiences of fear into a collective state, possibly resulting in another form of processing it:
collective acceptance and integration of fear.
To get a suitable approach on this thesis, it is re commendable to provide a brief overview of the
biological as well as social history of fear. Without going too deep into the scientific materia, the
first task in this essay will be to give a rough look on fear’s most essential and basic mecha-
nisms, outlining this emotion within its psychic and physic parameters. Commencing from this
base, the next step is to display, what changes have occured concerning our sensation of fear ;
its rise from a mere primal instict to cultural phenomenon. For a final conclusion of this
analysis, media’s important role in feeding, spreading, engaging and artistically interpret ing
what I use to call “Fearnarios” , needs to be described and discussed, to get an appropriate
result in connection to the thesis.

                                Chapter 01 :: Biology of Fear

                              “We have nothing to fear but ourselves"
                                         < the author >

Any human being has experienced fear – an d any of th e according situations has been a rather
dramatic one. No matter, if you’re closing in for your first rendezvous, if you are challenged of a
difficult exam or if you are excited by one of those nightly noises scaring your silent home: fear
is affecting our body, as well as it is affecting our mind, in certain patterns. The main focus in
this work will be on a more philosophical level of fear, but in order to analyze social effects of
fear, it is necessary to understand at least the most basic systematics of its functions. The
following chapter will look into the Biology of Fear in psychololigcal and physiological terms, its
natural form as instinct and alarm mechanism, on one hand, and special states of temporarily or
permanently exceeded fear, on the other.

         NOUN: 1a. A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence
               of danger. b. A state or condition marked by this feeling: living in fear. 2. A
               feeling of disquiet or apprehension: a fear of looking foolish. 3. Extreme
               reverence or awe, as toward a supreme power. 4. A reason for dread or
               apprehension: Being alone is my greatest fear.
         VERB: Inflected forms: feared, fear·ing, fears
    TRANSITIVE 1. To be afraid or frightened of. 2. To be uneasy or apprehensive about:
          VERB feared the test results. 3. To be in awe of; revere. 4. To consider probable;
               expect: I fear you are wrong. I fear I have bad news for you. 5. Archaic To
               feel fear within (oneself).
  INTRANSITIVE 1. To be afraid. 2. To be uneasy or apprehensive.Middle English fer , from
         VERB: Old English fær , danger, sudden calamity. See per- 3 in Appendix I.
   ETYMOLOGY: fearer —NOUN
 OTHER FORMS: fear , fright , dread , terror , horror , panic , alarm , dismay , consternation ,
    SYNONYMS: trepidation These nouns denote the agitation and anxiety caused by the
 WORD HISTORY: presence or imminence of danger. Fear is the most general term: “Fear is
               the parent of cruelty” (J.A. Froude). Fright is sudden, usually momentary,
               great fear: In my fright, I forgot to lock the door. Dread is strong fear,
               especially of what one is powerless to avoid: His dread of strangers kept
               him from socializing. Terror is intense, overpowering fear: “And now at the
                   dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so
                   strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror” (Edgar Allan
                   Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart 1843.) Horror is a combination of fear and
                   aversion or repugnance: Murder arouses widespread horror. Panic is
                   sudden frantic fear, often groundless: The fire caused a panic among the
                   horses. Alarm is fright aroused by the first realization of danger: I watched
                   with alarm as the sky darkened. Dismay robs one of courage or the power
                   to act effectively: The rumor of war caused universal dismay.
                   Old English fær, the ancestor of our word fear, meant “calamity, disaster,”
                   but not the emotion engendered by such an event. This is in line with the
                   meaning of the prehistoric Common Germanic word *fëraz, “danger,” which
                   is the source of words with similar senses in other Germanic languages,
                   such as Old Saxon and Old High German fär, “ambush, danger,” and Old
                   Icelandic fär, “treachery, damage.” Scholars have determined the form and
                   meaning of Germanic *fëraz by working backward from the forms and the
                   meanings of its descendants. The most important cause of the change of
                   meaning in the word fear was probably the existence in Old English of the
                   related verb færan, which meant “to terrify, take by surprise.” Fear is first
                   recorded in Middle English with the sense “emotion of fear” in a work
                   composed around 1290.

         <Source: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition.2000 >
                                      01.1 :: Terms of Fear
Fear, joy, anger and g rief are referred to as primary emotions. Contrary to anxiety, which often
emerges w ithout being in according relation to the actual threat or danger involved, fear is
bound to feeling s caused by direct and realistic dangers. Fear can be result of traumatic stress
scenes, simulation of other peopl e expressing fear, or an reaction on frightening sensations .
Frequent and int en se exposure of fear can provoke mental dissonan ce and instability.

Expe riencing fear is joined by various physiological alterations autonomically induced throug h
the nervous system and adrenalin-relevant glands, leading to increased heart rate, rapid
breathing, tensio n or trembling muscles, increased transpiration and a dry mouth. The amoun t
of blood is reduc e d in some parts of the body (e.g. extremities) to divert it into more essential
are as, being impor tant for movements of escape or defense against acute danger (the known
fight or fli ght -reac tion). Actually, theory is that fear is only a transitional state when
enco untering a possible threat, pro voking one of the following patterns: fighting, fleeing or
h iding. Ever since the Stone Age, it has been this system of response which controls our
beha viour in perils .

In human life, expression s of fear first are apparent in babies which are seven months and
above. In general, younger children have more fears than older persons, and they also
experience fear mo re intensely. Studies show, that the middle kids within multi-child families
seem to be less se nsitive to fears than their older or younger siblings. The degree to whi ch fear
is learned or inhibi ted still is a disputed aspect (behaviorists think it is learned). Test on
animals have show n, that certain conditio n ing is possible through neural stimulation. Ot her
specific fears, like fearing loud noises, pain or injuries are obviousely universal. Further,
there are certain species-depending innate fear traits observed, including a fear of hawk-
like shapes in certa in animals and a fear of snakes and spiders in humans.

Fear can serve as effective and important system of alert when facing real dange rs, to provide
self-protection. On the other hand however, masses of people are dominated by chronic and
unrealistic forms of fear - as there are phobias and obsessions - restricting social interaction
severely. Although modern science enables to treat pathological exceeding fears using mean s of
pharmacology, it’s often the symptoms which are being reduced, but not fears’ original roots .
Psychology profes sionals have developed a wide range of different therapeutical treatments
aiming for identify ing the underlying source of the respective fear or they try to focus on the
fear itself through behavioral therapy. According techniques include desensitization (slowly
getting along with a feared object), flooding (immediate and sudden contact with a feared
object or stimulus ), and modeling (watching another person being exposed to a feared
object without bei ng harmed).

After having outlined general usage and understanding of the term “fear”, I want to point out a
few more biological aspects in closer view. To begin with, I will explanatorily sum up the most
important parameters and mechanisms of fear.

                                   01.2 :: Functions of Fear
If we consider our sensational horizon – looking, hearing, smelling, touching – to be some very
smart natural radar device, which is able to react upon certain impulses, either received from
outside , or mentally generated within ourselves. Our sensation is reflected in accordance to th e
actual stimulus, in case of threats the reaction is fear.

                                    Fear as initial              Stress leads to               Fear changes into
     Signal of threat               emotion of                   measures of                   other emotio nal
                                    stress                       defense                       forms

But, to be precise, in such situations, fear is merely a transitional state of mind, working as a
m echanism to trigger the most suitable reaction to negate danger. Actually, fear initiates one of
three most primal instinctive behaviors to survive:

      A    Fight         The most direct way to encounter the opposing       offensive    Wrath, Anger
                         threat is open confrontation
      B    Escape        Fleeing from acute threat is often the safest way   evasive      Panic, Fright
                         to overcome it
      C    Hide          A possibly clever compromise of the two other       defensive    Hopelessness, Despa ir

Of course, what creates fear and the resulting reaction in particular, are factors depending on
th e individual’s character as well as on the general setting, in which one is encountering
danger. Nevertheless, there are certain circumstances in which most of normal human beings
tend to feel afraid - Innate Fears , as mentioned above. I want to expand this group, including
some more exemplary sources of profound fear, we obviousely seem to share often – referred
to as Primal Fears . In order to specify these fears, I’ve worked out following categories:

 I        Evolutionary                    Physical Fears                      Illness, Pain, Death
 II       Alien                           Aesthetic Fears                     abstract, unknown, ugly things
 III      Transcendental / Occult         Religious Fears                     God, Devil, Hell, Ghosts, Magic
 IV       Existential                     Social Fears                        Surpression, Poverty, Isolation
 V        Subconscious                    Pathological Fears                  Phobia, Hysteria, Panic

It is very unlikely for a person to be burdened by all of those kinds of fear, and if so, not to
to o an ex treme d egree , excep t he or she is path ologically sensitive to such mental weakness.
But generally, there can be two major states pointed out, which generate fear:
First, if something is unknown or too abstract for us to understand or accept, or if a challenge
appears to be too supreme to be dealt with. Both cases have in common, that we are facing
scenarios or things, which (in our view) exceed certain boundaries – an either biological, social
o r ethical loss of control. If the degree of intenseness reaches its individual limit, fear is spread
re aching up to panic. Our fears are always connected to specific impulses, which are again
connected - or better: displayed - through specific symbols and patterns. So the most basic
way for humans to be frightened is through their eyes, ears and, last but not least, as sort of
consequence: their own imagination.

S o, when summarizing the characteristics of ‘natural fear’, there are three basic levels of

• Body – Physical Alteratio n:
B iological and evolutionary our alarming system allows an immediate fight-or-flight reaction
o n sensing possible source of danger. Fear accesses body reserves through adrenaline boosts
within the sympathical nervous system. This process is being naturally decreased by the
parasympathical nervous system, as soon as the threat’s climax is passed, to ensure fear is not
becoming a permanent state.

• Thoughts – Cognitive Alteration:
Intelle ct-rela ted a bilities in humans, like thinking and talking o r the ima gin ation can ha rdly be
seperated from se nsation or feelings. If we , for example, thin k about a pleasant party, a
su nn y day in o ur vacation or a l ustly affair, our imagination is influenc ing our mood to some
de gr ee . The other way round, body states affect our sensa tion – it is ki nd of synergy.
T his psycho-physi cal unit in people especially becomes apparent in fear. With a phobia, the
s imple thought about a fear object results in physical symptoms of fright.

•Behavioral Alteration:
Even if today encountering physical threats, as attacks of animals, is less probable that to be
confronted with psychical ones, we also still change our way of behaving. When facing mental
distress, a person often reacts with focused or hectic alertness, retreats from social life or
gets into states of avoidance in specific situations – Psychical analogies of fight, hide an d
escape .

                          “Th at fee ling isn’t fear, it’ s just telling you to MOVE"

                                       01.3 :: Faces of Fear
After having explained the most basic functionalities of fear, we will now come to get an over-
view on its various forms of appearance.
Psychology separate two underlying kinds of anxiety. The first one is state-anxiety , resulting
from acute moments of more or less visible, existent danger. The terms fear and fright would
be connected to this context, where fear would be describing a vague, general level of un-
comfortness and nervousness coming from within without concrete reason (imaginative?) and
fright is expressing reaction upon a cl early definable object of threat, a real, direct stimulus
fr om our surroundings. So, for psychical professionals, fear and fright have a difference. Such
fe ars are in some people slightly but permanently increased frequency. psychologists refer to
such state as trait-anxiety or just anxiety.
In contrast to situativ ely experienced ‘fearnarios’, trait-anxiety is unbound from special
o ccations and appear in a more generalized tendency to feel afraid, depending on certain
patterns in character (like cau tiousness, riskyness or passive forms of reacting, hesitating,
shyness, etc.). This understanding and relation of state-anxiety and trait-anxiety , was first
described by the American psychologist Charles Spielberger.
Primarily during child- and teenage we find ourselves confronted with many different fearnario s
which seem quite normal for young people, as long as their impacts are not hazardous to our
live’s progress. While individual s in younger ages use to experience fear of the dark, of ghosts,
o r of isolation, older youths tend to fear the future or persecution, and have educational or
health fears. Generally almost any of these scares typical in childhood decrease when we grow

                                     01.4 :: Disorder of Fear
As characteristical symptoms, all fear disorders (fear neurosis, phobic neurosis) have c ertain
typical psycho-physical effects in common, like trembling, restlessness, strong heartbeat or
frequently increased pulserate and last but not least, behavior of avoidance. An overview of
th e different classes in fear disorders is given by the international accepted diagnostical hand-
books DSM-IV (»Diagnost ical and Static Manual of Psychopathology«), published by the
American Association of Psychiatrists, and the WHO’s ICD-10 (»International Classification of
Diseases«). Following fear disorders are categorized:

•Panic Syndrome [with/without agoraphobia]:
P anic is a sudden outbreak of severe fear in relation to an extreme condition.

• Phobias [social/simple or specific]:
P hobias are as distinguished but irrational fears of specific object or situations.

•Generalized Fear Syndrome:
E xistential fear about at least two essential aspects of life (e.g. health and job)

•Post-traumatic Stress [Trauma]:
Mental results of extreme exposure to highly tra u matic experiences (rape, war, accident)

What is more important in accordan ce to my project are not th e sources and intensities , we
experience fear with, but the ways we deal with these emotional constellations. To get closer to
the core, reflecting some of the known wa ys, we handle our personal scenarios of fright, is
needed. Again, a categorizing way to splice this up, might be supportive: as technology and
mental science have improved greatly during the last 100 years, we’re given ‘new’ ways of
confrontating ourselves with fear in its various forms. Generally, we can split it up into med ical
approaches and arstistical ones .
The pharmaceutical and the psychiatric industries are flourishing more than ever, treating
a hardly coverable spectrum of burdens to our psyche. Art, in its respective ways, has been
dealing with fear as topic and as technique within artificial scenarios, for ages as well. But
other than the psychological and physical v iews, art and media are letting us come up to our
‘moments noir’ with a completely different attitude and understanding.

Why are many children so fascinated of a ride in a ghosttrain? Why are Egar Allen Poe’s
literature creations so famous? Why does Hollywood earn billions of dollars by promoting
the horror-genre? The following mediartistic point of view on the phenomenon “Fear” will find
some reasons, why we have learned “the lust of fear” and why it can lead to individual ways of
learning to deal with one’s everyday fears.

                                        01.5 :: Lust for Fear
One of the most impressive aspect about fear are its paradox dynamics , where fear is sought
to be avoided widely on one hand, and on the other we know there’s a distinct fascination, a
sort of lust for fear. The kick of da nger and fear becoming a sti mulating, exciting experience
- thrillseeking as lust for fear.
Thrills were first described by the hungarian medician, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Michae l
Balint in the early fifties. When he was enjoying a visit to a fair marked, joined by a group of
his patients, he noticed some of them like to be afraid, while riding a roller-coaster or other
similar thrilling spectacularities. He felt compelled to analyze this phenomenon further, a nd
called it “lust for fear”, the enjoyment, the kick of being scared. Most of what we call
“entertainment”, especially sensational challenges, ha s its roots in the more or less trivial
pleasures of fairs. These pleasures can easily be sorted into -so called- genres.
First, there’s the food. There’s hardly anything normal, noth ing especially brilliant or healthy.
Here we find extreme food : extremely sweet, salty and spicy, etc. Some of the c ulinary oddities
a re (almost) only found on fairs, similar to native tribes eating certain types of meal only on
celebrative occasions. One could assu me, that these kinds of food contain sort of magical taste,
the taste of the forbidden, questioning the cultural consense of our eating habits .
T he second class of fairs’ pleasures are aggressive games , relying on brute force and firm
competition. You beat the Luca s, throw balls into tin-pyramids, shoot with rifles in order to win
prizes. But these do normally not have any financial significance, though they are
imp orta n t: as trophies.
The third genre is artistic performa nce , such as people mastering various vehicles or
animals, or individuals who are referred at in ‘freak shows’, as they show abnormal
p hysical attributes.
The fourth type of pleasure is based upon participation in attractions creating states of
speed, spinning, height and as frequent result dizzyness and adrenalin boosts.
The fifth – and for my project most relevant – category is found in installations evoking
short moments of fear and anxiety , for example ghost-trains, labyrinths and mirror cabinets.
Finally, the sixth class is containing of games like gambling, fortune-telling, and agility cont ests ,
as well as the hypnotists, illusionists and tricksters.

We can see, that entertainment on fairs (including excessive consume of alcohol often joined by
increased sexual readiness) is based on situations, in which we enjoy a loss of self-control
within defined risky circumstances. Naturally, a form of regression is usually connected with
these intense methods of having fun – a rough but organized protest against good manners
normally prevailing us from fulfilling such ‘primitive’ pleasures in everyd ay life. Our everyday life
is being projected upside-down, so to speak. What originally is uncivilized, becomes accepted
under rules of the subleme and eventually is even promoted with gifts: being noisy withou t
considerations, live out agressions and admiring supersticious sorcery.
Fairs inscene realities which offensively and intensively attract our senses, almost over-
loading their capacities. Definitely, driven by the mystical force of (self-)destruction. The willing
subjects, like in pagan rites, literally conjure this state of chaos. These rites celebrated on fairs
ca n be interpreted as masochism of subjects , opposing the sadism of subjects in the real

Taking part in such seemingly self-destructive scenarios aim for certain aftereffects upon
our minds. It is a system of either being superior or inferior to recreational challenges in
open social territory. One can be triumphant or humiliated. For example, the one who’s
daring to ride a rollercoaster sh ows himself as master of mechanic machinery and, at the
same time enjoys the archaic thrill of speed . So, faire’s pleasures are unthinkable without
the conscious experience of anxiety and the hope of returning safely and harmlessly to norma l
life, by getting through it. This kind of feeling fear is fun and strengthens our way
to engage it in reality, after lowering the emotion onto a more basic and direct level than
we know it from our lives. Instead of abstract social, civilisatory or psychical anxieties, a
more fundamential moment of fear is created, in direct relation to a definite source of
d anger. To overcome such immersive emotional tension leaves us in a state of reli ef.
Fearnarios of that nature are parallely linked to a more or less obvious erotic touch. This
combination is, what we can understand as core of thrills: the lust for fear .

                                    01.6 :: Structure of Thrills
The amazement of a scene promising alien, exciting or even dangerous attraction – which
appears like one’s own sacrifice to a concrete, though not thoroughly imminent threat
(movement, velocity, darkness, noise, etc.) – the momentary loss of orientation. W hat finally
follows is a ‘regain of sa fety’, completing this structure to the most basic one, thrills are
working with.

Concluding from the actual overview, we’ve found fear to be artistically used to provoke
s hort moments of physical tension and distress due to artificial scenarios contain ing certain
shocking elements, symbolized within effective but controlled circumstances. This intense
p sychological pressure is, after successfully enduring the event, rewarded with the over-
whelming feeling of relief and triumph . This mechanism tends to support and stabilize our
approaches confronting our life’s fears, and other tha n that, let us enjoy a very special way
o f paradox pleasure.

                                     Relaxation                Excitement
                      unpl easan t

                                     Dullness                         Fear
                                     weak stimulation        strong stimulation

                           <Source: Huber, Andreas: Stichwort Angst. München 1995>

Contrasting the other genres of pleasure we found ourselves bound in on fairs, fear seem s the
only represented actor of the emotional spetrum, we normally try to avoid completely.
Like the physical aspect of pain, which intentionally aims for protecting us, fear is one of ou r
most profound feelings which we nevertheless have taken an enorme (abnorme?) caution
towards. But in a mix of exciting thrill and sublime lust, we left fear’s mental and so cial
parameters of disorder behind, also leaving the ‘status tabu’ it is usually set on.

Fear is far more than a simple emotion. Fear is a biological function, a very useful tool, wh en
experienced under regular conditions. Fear is a state of mind and body, whic h even can be
e njoyed in form of controlled thrills. But our natural system of defense gets more and more
under pressure of modern life’s challenges. Emotional strengh, which varies greatly in people,
has to cope with lots of sensual as well as mental irritations.
Therefore it is not too surprising, that quite a high percentage in our - so called – Western
Civilization is facing increased psychical stress, resulting in several possible forms and
intensities of fear disorder.

The following c hapter will literally venture through fear’s cultural evolution and (r)evolutionary
ri se to a social phenomenon, during the past centuries, with final focus on the last 100 years,
the rise of media.
                                 Chapter 02 :: History of Fear

                               “Taking a new step, uttering a new word
                                      is what people fear most."

After having gained an impression of the most important biological processes as defined in
p sychology, we will now turn to cultural matters of fear, and their effects during mankind’s
history. Whereas the previous part was mainly checking for how an individual feels fear,
the following chapter displays collective dynamics and relations of fear. Of course I don’t
want to loose focus on the main content of my project, the synergies of fear and our media-
based society nowadays; but to get an appropriate approach towards this topical climax, it
is suitable to have a chronologically categorized overview of significant shiftes in so-called
standarts of fear, during the last few thousand years up to now.
Therefore, allow me to split up world history into three main pe riods, on which I will display
elementary dynamics of intrinsic and cultural fears , in relation to certain civilizatory aspects.
By means of gathering examples of general contemporary conditions as well as special h isto-
rical fearnarios during the tim es of the Stone Ages, the Middle-Ages, and the New Age, each
a ccording passage in this second chapter is observing constellations of fear in relation to
nature ( biological stimuli ), community ( social stimuli ) and wisdom ( sophistical and scientific
stimuli ).

                                   02.1 :: The Stone Ages

NATURE           During the early days o f Man, it was mother nature itself, which caused most
                 of the threats our hunting and gathering ancestors had to face. As humans
                 back then were wandering on specific trails in order to find new homeland
                 and food, their journeys often led through dangerous, unknown territory.
                 Most characterizing in this period was that young nature was still very raw
                 and hostile, and creatures were roaming earth, that were lateron only refer-
                 red to as ‘jurrasic monsters’. So actually, it can be stated that Man lived in
                 pure and direct exposure to his enviroment , and there was no guaranteed
                 safety. Yet his understanding of nature was still basic, instinctive behaviour
                 often was enough providing defensive support for survival.

COMMUNITY        As tribes were relying on their collective power , in order to withstand chal-
                 lenges of enviroment as homogenic unit and to secure survival, a firm and
                 equal integration of all members was essential. Due to this naturally formed
                 solidarity, there were no known issues of tribe-internal conflicts, because all
                 social ‘elements’ were instinctively acting and behaving in accordance to
                 natural patterns. Thus, major fears in communities of the Stone Ages seemed
                 to result mostly from immediate sources of acute and enviromental danger ,
                 which posed existential threats to the whole group.

WISDOM           No need to explain, that mental progress of Man was low and slow, in the era
                 of dinosaurs. It is said, that Stone Age people only displayed in their cave
                 paintings, what they had really seen , so most probably, imagination or
                 irrational impulses did not play an essential role in sensations of fear, bac k

Generally, it is obvious, that fear occurred on levels which were rather primal and simple ,
but really effective in means of sheer survival . So there were no complex mental irritations
to be observed, due to the relatively undeveloped human psyche . Fear was normally stimu-
lated through direct sensation by immediate natural threats, without being (ir)rationally
created or emphasized in mind. Althoug h fear has been a powerful emotion ever since, in
that period of time it was simply a mechanism , not yet a cultural aspect. Nevertheless this
emotion has been extremely important for learning processes and therefore fear was cons-
tantly involved into the development of spawning civilizations, though its dangerous intens ities
and scale were not matching fearnarios of later epoches of history.

                             02.2 :: The Middle Ages

NATURE      With ongoing geographical as well as civilizational shifts , people gained a
            deeper understanding in nature, and managed to explore vast areas of the
            known world. The dinosaurs had been extincted leaving fauna and flora
            relatively calm in comparison to passed ages. Although humans of course
            still respected, feared and depended on mother nature, there had been a
            clear separation from it, due to the growing habit of founding settlements .
            This secured, enclaved, somewhat autonomous terrain to call home was
            providing safety for living, which was a rarely given fact as neolithic tribes.
            Despite this fact, medieval societies always feared having a lack of food.
            Crop surpluses were rarely enough to create viable storage systems and
            e ven the greatest lord could not keep enough grain to outlast a famine .
            Further, nature was posing new dangers to confront Man’ fear with:
            diseases. Typhus, Leprosy and the Black Death were the major fiends to
            middle-age’s health conditions, resulting from improper sanitation , pushing
            forth waves of fear over Europe.

COMMUNITY   Medieval communities showed straight schematics in social organization.
            Hierachical structures and spiritual commandments gained dominance over
            life in the Dark Ages, and the strong conformity of th e Stone Age tribes was
            b eing replaced by governal and divine guidance, manifesting themselves in
            systems of kinship, religion and economy . Medieval people were expected to
            live in accordance to their class-related duties, and to participate in town-
            activities. Regulations were set up, disobeyance was to be punished har d –
            most often in public, and using cruel techniques to scare away any further
            crimina l or heretic motivation. Fear was successfully used as brute force of
            control, giving the strong superiority over the weak – either within the same
            cultural group, or between different ones – depending on means of military

WISDOM      Dark Age’s superstitions and mysticism held sway over science, leaving
            tendentially the simple-minded defenseless for all kinds of fear-dripping
            chimeras, legends and tales. Religion aimed at the very soul of Man, by
            glorifying spiritual salvation above all other values, and let people even
            pay to get themselves rid of commited sins. Fear of hell was omnipresent.
            Witch Hunts, the Inquisition and the Crusades were three major cultural
            calamities deeply rippling the surface of medieval history with hysterias –
            resulting from false or inadequate moralities of dom inant intitiutions in
            indoctrinating of minorities and oddities.

It is evident, that a partial separ ation from nature took place, by the rise of Ancient World
C ivilizations. Politics, economy and science were the unknown ‘territories’ which had to be
carefully explo re d in these per iods, and the fear of prehistoric beasts was replaced by
m entally generat ed cultural anxieties and hysterias, not known to neolithic tribes back then.
Actually, a separ ation was not only to be observed from nature, but also within social
structures. Class -related fragmentation left space for fear to spread in between, fierce
political rivalty le ad to long periods of siege warfare and resulting famines and poverty,
religious purifica tion found many victims, innocently accused and injustly punished. And
last but not least , epidemically outbreaking diseases held the Middle Ages in their grasp.
Definitely, the so urces and standarts of fear, as well as individual sensibility towards this
emotion, shifted paralelly to civilizational progress. Fear was especially fed by the improvi ng
but still widely in complete understanding of the world in scientific or cultural respectives,
and through resu lting misinterpretations or false assumptions made by dominant institution s,
being blindly acc epted and believed. In general, contrast to our hunting and gathering
ascendants , free dom had become a highly valuable good , by the Middle Ages.

                      "To be afraid is to have more faith in evil than in God."
                                            <Emmet Fox>

                             02.3 :: The Modern Age

NATURE      Nature’s balance is constantly endangered due to heavy pollution and
            exploitation by many of the heavy industrialized nations. Earth’s resso urces
            are intensively exploited, without regard for following generations. A gro wing
            number of catastrophal weather-conditions, as well as natural desasters of
            similar severe impact is recorded, resulting in the demolition of whole lan d-
            scapes. Science dares to manipulate the very codes of nature, and to
            operate them for the sake of human prosperity. Unknown and extremely
            drastically appearing diseases are spreading worldwide, some unhandabl e
            for modern pharmacology.

COMMUNITY   Civilization gets highly organized and regulated , but also more divided, into
            increasingly complex systems, shaped by governal authorities and cultural
            tendencies. This often leads to the need of integration, which occationally
            is tried to improve by adaptation and imitation of group-characteristical
            flows. Macroscopic and microscopic intensification of economic competition,
            constantly demanding more perfomance and durability in career-related
            tasks. Being not up to confronting pressure in everyday life leaves masses
            of people relatively sensitive to mental or physical exaltation .
            International discrepancies, grounding on territorial, ethnical or religious
            matters are more evident than ever. Wide-ranged differences in civilisatory
            standarts are favouring economical and cultural inequalities and provocating
            wordwide discontent on sides of the disadvantaged. Despite the tendencies
            of globalizing economical structures and dislocating political responsibilities,
            there are numerous approaches of individual political acts of agression and
            ingnorance, due to totalitarian beliefs.

WISDOM      Humanity has gained a profound understanding of the world , thanks to
            intensive efforts in research and technical advantage. But progression from
            this point of evolution has also negative consequences. Although Christianity
            has seemingly lost part of its past glory, other (ancient) religious roots have
            deve loped and expand. Other than that, people show a g rowing desire to
            gather in organized unit s, which typically share a cert ain scheme of attitude,
            and therefore enables people to orientate collectively and to share relevant
            experiences. Standarts of information and wisdom are secured and improved
            by new forms of handling data, in means of achivement, distribution, and
            processing. Subjective, individual opinions often collide with overbalanced
            general doctrines, stereotypes or trends , especially when using methods of
            subtle manipulation.

Despite, or even because of the de stinctive civilisatory progres s in the humanities and natural
sciences, conditio ns of fear have neither dec reased in their frequency, nor in their spreading
throughout all cultural and social ranges. Although the human mind might not be keeping that
many mysteries, that are to be unveiled by analytical psychology, like it used to decades ago,
f ear is sti ll – mayb e more than ever – causing significant impacts upon our everyday life.
Pharmacology and psychotherapy know to withstand some of the pathological forms of fear,
but constantly new alterations of anxieties are being reported, to some of which science does
not yet know a cur e. More obvious, than those extreme, pathological experiences of intense
fear-attacks, are s ubtle sources of fright, which are profoundly based in society and culture.
Speaking of pharm acology, modern society found it’s very own market of ‘fear-killers’: dr ugs .
Especially the care er- and capital-driven affluent society with its characteristical technical
reliances and stat us preserving desire for safeguards are exactly due to that constellation
tendentially expos ed to fear of imbalance and un predictable calamities.
Our fear of the un-known and not-existing are joined by additional fears of the known and
p ossible. Hum anity has opened horizons of understanding, on its triumphant race of evolution ,
without knowing h ow to handle the forces, that might wait beyond. Under guidance of arroganc e
and excessiveness , the intellectual and material aquirations of progress can become a great
danger, when in re sponsibility of evil or unjustly dominance. With evident development of ou r
mental capabilities (with special attention to imaginative power), it has to be admitted, that
more forms of fea r are being spawned in our very own brains, than ever before possible, an d
that these interna l fears are increasingly difficult to separate from external fears.
Also deeply embed ded seems the ambivalent context of experiencing fear, as Man le arned
early to enjoy the pleasures of recreational fright . Today’s horror cinema and all kinds of
extreme sports ar e to us, what gladiator combat or knight tournaments were to past eras.
Due to the technic al possibilities and the inspiration of artistical genres, people have concepted
a wide range of ph ysical and mental activities, to feel and give in to the lust for fear. But in con -
trast to past ages , it is not only sheer sensation-seeking desire for the extraordinary, gazing at
the scene of ‘conf lict’. What motivates adrenaline hunters to parachute from skyscrapers or kid s
to play scary comp uter-games, is the wish to get more inv olved, to interact with their lust for
fear. That way, a certain adjustment towards our general view on certain threats in real life is
t aking plac e, in so me means strengthening the individuals capability of handling risks and
dangers, in other means weakening its critical intuition towards irrational peril.
In general, a tend ency for personalizing fears is clearly visible. Meanwhile, so many odd sce-
narios of rational and irrational fears have been spawned forth throughout the globe, in all
different kinds of cultures, supported by our steadily advancing sophistical level, that almost
any person today would have its very own set of anxieties . Again, it is to be said, that the
archaic concretes of fear will most certainly never change, for the world – and most of all
Humanity itself – w ill always pose threats, not knowing what conquering space might reveal.
But the faces of fe ar, according to their varying sources, keep on altering, getting increasing ly
abstract and harm ingly intense in special cases, as do our conditions of experiencing and
dealing with it.

                                Chapter 03 :: Mediology of Fear

                                 „I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.
                           Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
                  I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
                     And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to its path.
                   Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.“
                                            <Frank Herbert, Dune>

This chapter aims for a closer look on the reasons, methods and effects of capitalized fear,
as it is circulated through mass media in our modern era of information technology.
To limit the focus on common prototypes of individual-based and group-dynamic experiences of
fear (excluding pathological occurences), the following text will deal with the notions of ris k , as
a form of personal low-level fear on one hand, and the notion of hysteria in epidemical exte nts,
as a form of collective high-level fear, on the other.
Starting from outlining relevant elementary attributes of western society in constellation with
fear-mongering authorities, which are utilizing mass media as resonance membrane for thr eats,
the observation s hall, with aid of contemporary examples, finally lead the discourse towards a
c onclusion on if and how far the omnipresence of modern fears has reached a state of world
distress .
                                  03.1 :: Dimensions of Fear

                          03.1.1 :: Hi gh-level fear - Collective Hyster ia
“The simulated program began. A weather report was given, prosaically. A n announcer remarked
that the program would be continued from a hotel, with dance music. For a few m oments, a
dance program was given in the usual manner. Then there was a ‘break-in’ with a ‘flash’ about
a professor at an observatory noting a series of gas explosions of planet Mars. N ews bulletins
and scene broadcasts followed, report ing, with the techniqu es in which the radio had reported
a ctual events, the landing of a ‘meteor’ near Princton, NJ., ‘killing’ 1,500 persons, the discovery
th at the ‘meteor’ was a ‘metal cylinder’ containing strange creatures from Mars armed with
‘d eath-rays’ to open hostilities against the inhabitants of the earth.”
(New York Times, October 31 st 1938)

It happened the day before, on Halloween 1938, when millions of Americans tuned in to a
popular radio show, featuring Orson Wells. The performance given on this evening was an
adaption of the science fiction novel »The War of the Worlds« about fierce martians trying to
invade earth. But for this on-air-adaption of his book, Wells decided to make an important
change: he let the play be performed as if it was a news broadcast, presumably to increase
the dramatic effect.
Actors were playing news announcers, official representatives and other authentic roles one
would expect to hear in a news report, describing the martian landing and resulting destruction
in the United States. Of course, the broadcast included a number of annotations that this
program is just a play , but if parts of the audience missed the brief explanation at the
beginning, the next one was given aften 40 minutes of program.
The radio play lead to nation-wide irritations within great parts of the audience, which believed
in the authenticity of the show and react with epidemical outbreaks of hysteria and panic.

To understa nd how an epidemic flow of hysteria is able to infiltrate wide ranges of civilized
p opulation, we must have a look on how it spawns within individuals. Further, we should get an
im pression of the medical and cultural development of understanding of this subject, since the
fi rst crucial scientific results were reaching back to the late 1800s.

Within its medical context, hysteria have mostly been in conjunction with female gender. The
name origins from greek term hystera, which is equal to utero. In early times of medi cal insights
hysteria was considered to be a merely physical disorder, symptomizing with catatonic and
suffocation attacks, so it was defined an illness of the body, which also shows mental effects.
Acutally, hysteria was often diagnozed for the embarrassment of the consulted medician,
because he was not able to identify the true nature of his patient’s sickness.

When in the 18 th century also nerves and the brain were assumed responsible for hysterical
symptoms, male persons became included as possible victims of such exalting outbreaks, too.

So, the original definition of bein g hysterical, as state of boosted emotionality, unpredictability,
in general, feminine behavior, became obsolete. Anyway, hysteria is not to be degraded in terms
of weakness, lack of moral ity or female attribute, but as a culturally det ermined symptom of
stress and anxiety . Conflicts resulting hysterical disorders are quite real and universal.
If hysterical syndroms are appearing in connection to certain social crises, joined by accordi ng
theories which are spread via modern communications networks, it is quite probable that
manifestations of epidemical (national, global) ranges of hysteria get developing.
Hysteria was a common part of social emotionality for ages, but with rise of media technologies
and the extention of data-highway infrastructures, globally connected mankind became increa-
singly vulnerable to new dimensions of group-related fear experiences of such kind.
For the historian Noman Cohn it seems like paranoid fragments which a re scattered within
communities are re-forming into one un iversal fanatic paranoia. People strongly believing in
s uch paranoia are the initiators, because they do believe in the justification of their fears and
put loads of self-confidence, energy and ruthlessness into their struggle, hence posing firm
influence on masses of people, which are simply demoralized, desiring or disorientated –
but not paranoid.

According to Elaine Showalter, there are at least three necessary factors which are synerging
epidemical hysteria: enthusiastic doctors and theorists, unhappy and weak patients and an
appropriate cultural enviroment. Aside from that she derives that point of view rather direct
from medical contexts, this remains true when projected on mass-media’s usage of fear.
Again, you need enthusiastic institutions hyping certain cultural symptoms of threat, which
under supportive guide of the media are recepted and reflected by the willing consumer and
have him manipulated.

For a long time, it was assumed that hysteria was literally dead – which is by far not true.
H ysterias are not only quite vivid, but as well much more infectious than earlier on.
G enerally, infectious diseases are spread through different parameters of human interaction,
such as urbanisation and travelling. Hysterical epidemies are spread through stories of various
kind, as found in lifestyle magazines, articles in newspapers, TV-series and talkshows, movies
and of course, in the internet. These cultural narrations of hysteria are constantly reproduced
in times of modern mass-media, faster and less controllable than eve r.
T here was actually a significant shift, when the topic of hysteria was moved out of its medical
context into artistic concepts, generating stories on stages and screens, thus creating specific
prototypes, archtypes and behavioral patterns in certain plots. This aspect changed the whole
view on the essence of hysterical disorders. They were no longer simply defined as malady o r
mere mental condition, but as another form of physical (verbal and mimical) expression –
a pictographic social communication. At all times in history hysterias have constituted a fo rm
of expression, a “proto-language, delivering a code of symptoms, which would otherwise not
b e communicable”, Robert Woolsey wrote.
It is obvious that hysterical impacts within civilizational borders unfold a vast dialog of mani-
pulation possibilities for institutions, which make use of the mass-media in order to exploit
c onsumers through their fears.

                                  03.1.2 :: Low-level fear - Risk
During the last six months, the private german tv-broadcast station Pro7 was airing a reality-
show type series called »Die Aufpasser« (»The Watchdogs«), containing 75 episodes about
p eople whose job it is to control and secure everyday life in Germany: cops, doctors, pilo ts,
debt-collectors, and other officials with spectacular working conditions – crime, danger, thrill.
For example, an episode follows the working day of police officers, who are after some dru g
dealers in the city of Berlin. The camera-team closely covers the action taking plac e on nightly
streets, always on the spot if something really ‘hot’ is happening.
There’s a pattern of two essential aspects, which are processed ambivalentely to show the
social synergy of threat and protection in popular contexts. The scenarios being deal t with in
this series bear nothing new, in concerns of speciality to the subject of fear, but the produc ers
manage to create a seemingly informative, thrilling and hortative format to reach the audienc e
in its sense extend of feeling secured. “The Watchdogs” obviously adresses our ambient

Do we feel comforta ble about our lives? Do we care enough about our partner? Can we offer
a ppropriate conditions to grow up for our children? Are we really successful in our jobs?
In contrast to collective hysterical boosts, this permanent state of background fears about
typical parts of everyday life is driven individually, and within (certain communities in)
societies, whereas hysterical hypes are tendentially posed by external fearnarios. Anyway,
both dimensions of “capitalized fears” (Massumi) are determined by profound parameters of
social stability, but ambient anxieties are rather diffuse and less concentrated. Though, this
type can actually turn into the bigger, more intensive scale of hysteria with epidemical impact ,
with according circumsta nces given. As well, it could go the other way round: hysterical flows
c an fade slowly into a low-level status of subtle fear. Due to its lack of a definite object of
danger, which is quite crucial to phobias or hysterias, ambient anxiety is in close relation to
the rather vague perception of (general) risk , hence uncertainty and securation are parts
of this constellation as well.

Risk, or low-level fears in general are issues of incalculability and probability, and result in
efforts to create or uphold certain actions of defensive preparation within groups feeling
affected by possible challenges of risk.
The language of risk has spread throughout modern society and also dominates the language
of governance. What is risk? Simply put, “risk is the chance of loss or gain” (William Leiss).
Risk analysis (or assessment) is the technique by which the probability that a particular advers e
event will occur is measured, and risk management is our capability of responding to a parti-
cular risk.
Modernist understanding of risk included the idea that risk bears good as well as bad
traits . The notion of risk as it developed in insurance is either associated with notions of
chance and probability, or includes potentia l danger or loss. These directions of risk became
mixed up within a concept of accident, against one can secure oneself, knowing about the
scale of resulting loss and probable gain: the general model of insurances, which resembles
a game of chance. The fine distin ction of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ risk as it was dominant in the

19 th century, was slowly fading int o one single negative notion o f danger until the 20 th .

O f course, in economical perspectives, e.g. managing an enterprise desires to take certain
‘positive’ risks in order to increase profitability and to stand up to competitors - and most of us
know the expression “no risk, no fun” – but nevertheless the word risk tends to be used to
refer almost exclusively to a threat, hazard or harm: we risk our lives, our career, or to catch a
cold in the rain. The term risk is a quite loose expression in today’s everyday language, as it
can refer to a possible danger or negative outcome on one hand, an d to a merely unfortunate
or annoying incident on the other, but basically, it is of unpleasant and bad connotation in
late modern i ty.
Despite or even because of its ambiguous value in cultural concerns, the acceptability of fears
and risks have attained an increasingly contested status in recent years. Writing in the 1970s,
economic historian John Kenneth Galbraith branded the late 20 th century “age of uncertain ty”
(primarily b ecause of the threat of nuclear war). But what constitutes the deep uncertainty in
s ocial complexes and cultural groups, what has ordinary people so easily alienated?

                                         03.2 :: Quotes on Fear

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and hence clamorous to be led to safety -
- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." <H.L. Mencken>

"People will let themselves be led by someone who is in the next level up on the scale. Therefore, all of the
gullible souls in the Fear band can be easily influenced and pushed into action" <Minshull, Ruth: How to ch oose
your people. 1972>

"When a propagandist warns memb ers of the audience that disaster will ensue if they do not follow a particular
c ourse of action, she is using the fear appeal. By playing on the audience's deep-seated fears, practitioners of
this technique hope to redirect attention away from the merits of a particular proposal and toward steps that
can be taken to reduce the fear." <Propaganda Techniques: Special Appeals -Fear>

"Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear--kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor-
with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstro us
foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it ..." <General Douglas
MacArthur, 1957>

" For the public ever to break command science it must first understand the basis of its enormous
powers.......Traditionally, the power of medical sciences has been based on the fear of disease, particularly
infectious disease." < Deusberg, Peter: Inventing The AIDS Virus. 1996>

                                     03.3 :: Disciples of Fear
One of the main sources of individual and collective fears are located in bonds, boundaries and
dependancies of social context. A society’s structure is controlled by small groups of powerful
people, for thousands of years, no matter which gouvernal system is actually active. These
authorities tell their people, what’s to be good for them, that means, the people has to accept
for good, what serves its leaders.
In our society, one can consider powerful institutions (such as different branches of industry
expanding their influence with massive financial floods) equal to such authorities, in fact the y
are partly the ve ry sources which are continually re-shaping and manipulating our society’s
Although we have the opportunity to elect our government, strictly speaking there’s in fact not
much choice, thinking of a small range of (political) ideologies which are, to be honest, always
relatively similar to each other, and most of all, they are all following the big machineries which
are really pulling the strings in the background. Second, in the end a party or govern ment is
elected by only half of its people, so at least fifty percent of a democratic population loses out
in liberally creating their governmental structures. And the actual formations of power and ‘real’
influence, for example the large-scale-industry, banks and credit institutes, insurance affiliate
groups, which despite all cartell-re gulating laws interspersed th e whole economical system with
their omnipresent multi-involvment, are not ecta b le by anybody. They are just there and decide
independent from any legislatory period about fate or fortune of a whole nation. This is where
public interests and opinions have the roots, it is the origin and the reason to look for the
nature o f our socity’s image and view.
Each individual is geared to this system from childhood on. We are such integrated into
appointments, regulations and laws, that we hardly become aware of the fact, that we are
kept on a close rei n, so to speak. We never experience live without boundaries and bonds.
F irst, it were the parents taking care about their offspring to be suitably accommodated to
society, with means parents believe to be correct. Second, there comes the educational system,
with school, apprenticeship, studies. Here as well, youths are getting cut, being shaped
properly to fit the needs of socially dominating principles.
After starting up a business career, no m a tter if being employee or emplo yer, the meanwhile
grown-up adult is realizing in full consciousness how dependant his well-being is on hierarchical
structures in society. Instead of desparately breaking free, due to the permanent (dis)stress,
people defined another way to avoid such pressure: repression of tension and stress. That’s
why people are kind of unable to receipt reality, without having essential aspects being blurred
and distorted by authori ties, media, and last but not least, their own task of repression. What
is generally considered to be real are mere fragments of the whole picture, mental views
d istorted by filters of prejudice. Our senses are being controlled every day; our perception is
being restricted, often resulting in a subconscious denial of the new and the unknow n. So can
potential patterns of threat or challenge creating unwanted psychical pressure easily be shifted
into the shadows of the subconscious. The mind simply fades them out.
Another effective and popular way to slightly escape the rude reality which is overloading the
lonely and the unguided is to become part of social, political, cultural or religious organizations.

Some of these sub-groups actually heed life-phi lo sophies of their own. Even the very awareness
of being integrated in such a comm unity, upholding a certain sta tus, is enough for most indivi-
duals to feel safe and identiefied. Further, community affiliation supplemently contributes to
the continuity of acquired class and status.
Cruelties happening all around are either spectated or ignored, the world view is narrowing,
people often helplessly close their eyes before the moronism and the ruthlessness of their
nation’s apparatus of authority and control. The seeming protection, those organizations or
institiutions offer, is being paid back by acknowledging their superiority, possibly by altering
personal appearance after defined patterns and subordinating personal insights to collective
doctrines. These elementary and often subtle bondages resulting from individuals’ adaption t o
society’s flow, is joined by the motivation of many subjects to buy themselves into society, into
safety, pretending money could straighten any laborious path. Due to the conditioning taking
place in everyday life - on-screen, online, in people’s brains – the impression lasts that
better status and security in social relations is to be gained (only) with money.
People do and believe what others do and believe and what they are told to do and to believe -
and it appears correct to them. People get manipulated, they simulate behaviors, copy-cat
characters of idols, hate-monger scapegoats, adopt symptoms, surf on trends, love to live
and are encouraged to fear.

Of course, my impression is expressed a little over-critical and generalized, but the outlined
conditions are inquestionably present in modern civilization. In my view, Galbraith’s “age of
uncertainty” has sustained until the turn of the millennium, even has intensified. The times o f
the Cold War are over, but other global fear narios have taken its place. More than ever, people
find themselves lost in life like flotsam in an ocean. Daily routines in many respects keep on
getting more challenging end exhausting, the more complex personal and public interaction
develops. Societies are splintering into shards of sub-cultures, majorities and minorities, in-
cluded and excluded, accepted and despised, good and bad - uncountable nuances of mater ial
and immaterial marginality.
The modern adventure of western populations is a confused quest for guidance, perspecti ve,
identity and security, and fear has become a close companion – more than ever. Creating,
manipulating, exploiting people’s fears is an old game for thousands of years, but somehow th e
‘art’ of its utilization, capitalization and systemization has been thoroughly refined, crafting kind
of a cultural kinetic web of fear all over the branches of our trees of life.
Where’s the spider, who’s prey? This question of relation and proportion was hardly ever so
difficult to answer, in human history. Due to the fact, that most potential sources of threat
or oppression we’re scared of nowadays are either projected or reflected – generally spoken:
represented – in various formats of (mass) media, which necessarily imply a certain degre e of
alienation of reality, undistorted judgement seems impossible for ordinary ‘consumers’. One fa ct
is obvious: in this age of technology, the complex dynamics of political, ecological or economica l
threats, only to name a few, are oozing social spaces on as highly diffused and subtle as
intense levels, driving nations, communities and individuals into permane nt states of ambient
fear or epidemically boosting waves of hysteria and panic.

                                      03.4 :: Powers of Fear
As I’ve pointed out in the preceding paragraphs, bonds and borders postulate elementary
aspects of our everyday fears.
So apparently it is an aspect of domination in the first place – institutions of power and law
control matters of exclusion and inclusion. This basic methodology is reflected in patterns of
attack and defense, loss and gain, in and out, for and against, them and us – good and evil .
Fear is created by the threat of being cut off on the wrong side of the track. The point is, which
moral system is this question of positioning measured on? What is in, what is out? Who is them
and who is us? As previously mentioned, such relations are determined by aquired values. In
many parts of our lifes, these values are shaped externally, and we are told to take them over.
Again and again, we compare sets of gathered experiences to new situations, in order to
assume what to expect and react with trained behavior. But what happens, if we face a problem
to which we know no solution? Then we have others to count on, authorities who support and
protect our very existance: governmental surveillance, law and order, social servi ces, health-
care, and so on. Through a wide range of elaborated safety measures, systems of insurances
we feel protected and cared for, often ignoring the fact, that this integrity has its price. Eve n if
we could afford all necessary preparations to completely safeguard our existence, total safe ty is
never for granted.
N evertheless, this is what certain ‘almighty’ institutions wants society to believe, as long as
people pay off their ‘debt of protection’ with according (financial) contributions. The problem
is, no one can keep away fear itself. Fear builds up, when the balance of domination, the mor ally
defined constellation of inclusion and exclusion to a specific population is endangered to des-
integrate by external forces. It is more an aspect of probability than of actuality , fear is
appointed to. What could happen is rather asked, than how likely it is to happen.
Again, our judgment in this respect is predefined by numerous inherited traits and values,
and our vision of certain projections and reflections of threat is blurred through the very
medium, the threat is actually diplayed with. Exactly these circumstances makes society so
vunerable towards fear-mong ering. Major causes of contemporary fearnarios today are states
of uncertainty and helplessness, internally emerging on ambient levels and being enforced
through external dynamics of governal and economical superiority, eventually leading towar ds
fear to the extreme.

“Fear suggests the irrational dreads, reverences and superstitions of the ( pre-)modern world”,
John Gold and George Revill stated in their work »Exploring landscapes of fear«.
Basing their arguments on factors of marginality , spectacle and surveillance the two of the m
outline a landscape of fear, which “is an important repository for cultural value and social
memory, at the same time as being a direct expression of the actions and activities of every-
day life”. The positve connotation Gold and Revill put to fear is based on their view, that
fear represents an decision-making energy at any levels of social spaces, from super-structures
of national defense policy to everyday patterns of personal routine.
In their explanation, Gold and Revill combine aspects of marginality to manage exclusion of fea r-
factors, forms of spectacle as medial bookmark to uphold th e social memory of fear, and tools
o f surveillance to improve the management of fear.

In his book »Against the Gods«, Peter Bernstein argues that the “revolutionary idea that de fines
the boundary between modern ti mes and the past is the mastery of fear and risk: the notion
that the future is more than a whim of the gods”. Bernstein rightly credits the creation of new
institutions in the public (democratic institutions) and private sectors (insurance, accounting
and capital markets) for enabling an energetical attitude to emerge, leading in turn to an
acceleration of economic and social development. Appropriately the researchers who developed
probability analysis and established the foundations of modern economics, democratic theory
and statistics are the heroes of Bernstein’s story. So actually the principle of risk has partly
enabled cultural development, hence we learned to control and evaluate the probabilities of
threats to become hazardous for our lives, and worked out suitable ways to avoid or limit
their results.

Similar to Bernstein’s view was Elmer Hankiss’ in his book »Fear and Symbols«, labeling “fear
and anxieties the main forces for constructing our civilization”. As fears mobilize defensive
mechanisms as sort of creative power, Hankiss’ thesis is that civilization protects itself with
houses and cities, art and religion, myths and philosophies and thus is per se “a sum total of
these protective dev ices”.

Obviously, when we observe the complex superstructure of fears punctuating populations up to
the present day, there seem to emerge some quite ‘positive’ side-effects of fear’s civilizational
contributions. It is no big deal to check the main factors being included in this context:
Fear is naturally pushing body and mind onto higher levels of readiness and tension, whi ch
often provides a higher capacity and effeciency in productive outputs of individuals and groups,
leading to fast-paced progress in creating measures to counter danger.
That said we transform this routine on nation-scale over a period of time, and it sounds qu ite
reasonable to expect a strong and distinguished growth at least in protective and preservat ive
means within and between cultural groups and urban agglomerations, due to existential fears
as driving factors.

But exactly due to the se driving dynamics, fear is used as tool of control for the powerful
re sulting in facilitized intrusion and manipulation of the weak.
The news media are flooded with potential threats - child abuse, greenhouse-effect, terrorism.
It’s such a big world with so many things to be afraid of, but the distinction betw een rational
and irrational dangers which are fueled by the mass media, greedily preprocessing spectacular
fearnarios for the sake of tv-ratings, is almost not to be drawn by the audience.
Thereby, authorities like politicians, industrial companies or financial conglomerates are trying
to push their interests forward by subtly interspersing fear-enhancing agendas into public life,
leading to a messy mixture of real and virtual threats. People are made compliant, and their
energy is easily transferred onto specific aims. The trick is not only to display dangers and
boost fear, thus enacting control, but to provide the concerned populace with suggestions to
defend themselves properly. The excited public desires to be soothed. Helplessness will fade
to the background, if minds are occupied by encouraging tasks of ‘self-preservation’.

                                     03.5 :: Profits of Fear
One example, how fear is used to increase efficiencies of profitable floats, is the way American
mass media used to hysterize criminal statistics, easying weapon-lobbies to pass their bills fo r
gun-right in many states. Men at arms - protect your families!
Or: each year, health industries blow out new warnings of common diseases, frequently giving
rebirth to influenza, obesity and other shadows to health’s light. Let the doctor apply some
vaccine to prophylactically immune you against viral odds, or prescribe some medicine for your
hurting spine – live long, and prosper!
What else have we got? The incredibly complex entity of the World Wide Web is deranged in its
stability due to villainous hackers and script kids, embarrasing privacy and breaking down
connectivity of internet users. Thus, anti virus- and firewall-software coding companies kno w
their products being more needed than ever. Lock down your computer like Fort Knox!

In these examples, we find several basic freedoms of human beings restricted by the possibili ty
of certain accidents (in general understanding). In case of such accidents, losses could be by
far greater than effords and costs to preserve intactness.

As world affairs are constant ly on a steep increase in complexity, people – at least in techno-
lo gically advanced regions of earth – are trusting in their ‘third eye’: mass media.
Niklas Luhmann formulated in his book »The Reality of Mass Media«, that “the operation of
mass media creates a reduplication of reality. It is a chain of successive programmes, which,
if intermitted, have the system of mass media collapse“.
So we observe a constant need to be up-to-date, which is required and desired to be feeded .
Although the image mass media derives from reality might not be unimpeachable, people – or
‘sheeple’ – gladly soak up any spectacular information to refine their wor ld perspectives.
This tell-me-now-mentality is driving popular tv-channels, broadcasting agencies and newpaper
journalists to a competitive race: collecting the most recent news, ideally from points closest to
the events, hunting down as many detailed pictures, words and numbers about the happening,
as possible. Take a seat in front of your TV and fetch some chips – you sit in the first row!

I clearly remember 9/11, when I pointed a stunned gaze at the slow-motion cam, repeating
the airplanes’ crash into the twin towers over and over again, fr om different angles. On that
day, terrorists demonstrated how one of the boldest achivements of technological progress in
human transport, the aeroplane, is turned against the ones, it was invented to serve: civilians.
And the world was to witness the pain.

Another exemplary event, where the media posed a special scope into human abysses of fear,
was the launch of the “Discovery” – the Montréal Gazette of 30 th September 1988 wrote:
“So smooth It’s scary”. Why that?
In this case, the relation to implied fear is turned around in contrast to 9/11. Here, the know -
legde about what happened to the “Challenger” before, provided a dense ground of suspense.
The expectations were raised to the worst – waiting for an actual accident to echo the past –
made it so scary. Again, media was on the spot to cover any possible desaster.

                                   03.6 :: Circulation of Fear
Ever since the beginning of mass media’s rise, appalling spectacularities have been emphasized
prior to ‘innocent’ news. The mere urgency to have the audience alerted is often joined by a
cheap sensationalism promoting fear.
The constant repetition of recent events of anxiety by re-publishing specific broadcasts in
slightly altered form all over mass media’s spectrum, guarantees a high catch throughout the
audience, all around the clock – 24-7.
But there’s no guarantee for validility of the reports. One can “only observe, how the media
observes reality” (Luhmann).

Of course, the competence and neutrality, in which the news are being formatted vary through
the numerous categories and instances of the publishing organs worldwide. The Yellow Press
a nd Boulevard TV are for sure taking a bigger promotion and exploit of public’s fears, than their
seriousity orientated collegues.
B ut altogether, they do utilize the hypnotizing attraction of horrors – to keep spectators
hooked, thrilled and up-to-date.

Anyway, the real problem with mass media’s fearmongering abilities seems to be in “stoking
fears of unlikely danger”, according to sociologist Barry Glassner, author of »Culture of Fear«.
His opinion expresses the view, that Western Societies live in “about the safest times in hum an
history”, though politics and media are supported in effectively developing by concerning the
public about moral and material insecurities.
As a result of the techniques being used to present the coverage of menace, the respective
events are tendentially boosted of proportion by the mass media.

A prototype of such disproportionality can be displayed on the example above, which was about
gun-right in the US. According to official surveys, great parts of the American population believe
crime rate to stay on constant rise, whereas related statistics articulate that actually criminal
incidents have increased during the last years, in the States.
S imilar conditions are obviously visible in Germany. Referring to my discription of the real life
series “The Watchdogs”, as shown on a private channel, it is likely that people are tempted t o
believe, criminal threats in german cities have been growing in numbers, lately.
For several weeks, episodes were covering daily work routine of police officers, fighting drug
dealing, traffic offense, and cases of disappeared persons. After watching the series a couple
of times, most of all the gullible charact ers amongst the audience could gain the impression of
a increasingly criminalized country. But as well, they get to know better, how ‘guarded’ they
(seemingly) are. Anyway, this is an individual matter of judgment and validation, always depen-
ding on intellectual background, degree of education, thus on resulting manipulativity.

While the news media mostly concentrate on hyping big external threats, which occur on global
or national scale, infotainment formats are known to take a spot on local and, lets say, more
personal concerns. In such tv-shows, links between big topics and small people are being es-
tablished: “Mrs. X, breast cancer is so much feared nowadays. You survived it! T ell us more!”

So mass media enables a broad a nd firm connectivity to the worl d, with all its good and bad
dynamics, as well as a close integration of the audience, with additional focus on personal
attitudes and needs – or at least the impression of it.

In contrast to television, radio and newspapers, the Internet constitutes a particular system of
mass media, by its definition and intention as a networked interactivity of global range, where
virtually anybody can publish his or her opinion in different ways. This digital space is even
harder to control in means of validity, than ‘traditional’ kinds of mass publications, due to a
lack of reliable filtering mechan isms and suitable censorship for specific contents for this
m edium. Of course, there are techniques to hold off spam-mails or to block popups which imply
unwanted – or worser: offensive – contents. But the fact remains, that the complexity of the
web and the creativity of those whose aim it is to deliver ideological contents, will never come
to exhaustion in exploiting on needs and fears of potential victims – for particular profits.

Latest events prove this fact, as for instance, the execution of the American Nick Berg by
extremists was openly published o n the web. Even if the first location of access to the documen-
ta tion of cruelty, which was on a particular radical islamistic website, had been closed down by
the providers as fast as possible after the news had spread, the video-file nevertheless was
made available for download on other ‘underground’ sources – and still is!
Not by the Iraquis, that filmed it in the first place, but by ordinary web-users with quite macabre
moral values. Borderless sharing of fear gets theoretically possible, as long as there are indivi -
duals or groups which choose to appraise spec tacularity of affliction rather than clarified
criticism and and moral standarts.

T he World Wide Web is stamped by what I call “Anarchy of Rumors”. On one hand it represents
crucial information about large-scale or small-scale affairs, but on the other it includes as much
canard to confuse or negate these very information, if things are not reflected properly by res-
ponsible consumers.
So, it is not uncommon, that information in the web about cert ain dangers are mixed up into a
turmoil of assertions, which often contributes to distort the actual nature of the threat. With
TV, radio and newspapers things are more easily sorted out by professionals, preprocessing
contents of concern so that the audience simply has to ‘absorb’ these emissions.
The Internet defintely requires a higher degree of scepticism and selection, thus an greater
autonomy of its users, to tell false threats from real ones, as the respective spectrum of data
to be evaluated is actually more chaotic than in ‘better controlled’ media spaces.

To sum up, society is marginalized by different patterns of boundaries. Influential instances
condition according values of inclusion and exclusion, which are iterated by society. Potentia l
th reats become mostly defined by governal or scientific authorities, circulating specific sets of
symptoms throughout mass media, to have people either engaged or weakened for certain
purposes. The likeliness of particular fearnarios is to be questioned properly, to separate
rational from irrational dangers in order to react suitably, avoiding unnecessary panic.
Nevertheless, people’s fears keep on being stoked and capitalized on, for the sake of power.

                               Chapter 04 :: Interview on Fear

                    Rushkoff: “There still has to be a ‘they’ that we're afraid of.”

Amongst a world-wide community of mediasphere inhabitants, he is acknowledged as
author, journalist, futurist - a visionary of the Digital Age. He himself would rather prefer
to be seen as an entertainer, a travelling troubadour telling tales about uncovering land-
s capes, making the invisible visible, and to show people how to navigate the liminal spaces.
Though, his wife Barbara, who he lives with in Brooklyn, NY, will most probably call him
just Doug.
The man, I’m honored to interview about the thesis of my Final Project, is Douglas Rushkoff.
His analyses, writings and speeches about the relations and dynamics of social communities
and institutions creating, sharing and influencing each other’s values are well known far
beyond the borders of »Cyberia« as he entitles todays complex media landscape.
Besides »Cyberia«, Rushkoff has published numerous best-seeling books and his commentari es
and monthly columns on pop-culture, media and technology are read in thirty countries.
His lectures contribute to a widening understanding and open view about “media, art, society
and change« at conferences and universities around the world, serving as an adjun ct professor
o f communications at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, as Advisor
to the United Nations Commission on World Culture, on the Board of Directors of the Media
Ecology Association, and as founding members of »Technorealism-Manifest«.

As mentioned above, my project covers an ambivalent topic, as it examines synergies betwee n
emotional and technical dynamics and the resulting impacts on our collective experience – t he
consequences of media-induced saturation of fear in social spaces. I’m glad be virtually joined

by Mister Rushkoff, to share h is thoughts and visions in a brief disc ourse on the most powerful
e motions of Man, its evolution from mere instinct to social phenomenon, and fear’s renaissance
in the era of media.

(This discourse was done via email.)

PT: Mr. Rushkoff, in the dedication prefacing “Media Virus” you were thanking your parents
for allowing you to watch as much TV, as you wanted. How did you experience television, or
common media in general, during your childhood ?

DR: I felt I wasn't just watching television but, rather, watching the television. I'd be interested
in the groundplans of the sets, or why the doors on comedies tended to be on the right of the
screen while on dramas they were on the left. I wondered about laughtracks, and how they
were produced. But mostly, I was interested in the way different shows created tension in the
viewer, and why that was being experienced as entertainment.

S peaking of which, do you think that tension, or its intenser form of thrills, have become
a n essential part in entertainment genres? For it seems people are tendentially desiring
relaxation rather than tension , in their spare time. Why have excitement or tension become
such extremely important techniques to television industry, in your view?

In part, because it's all that's out there. Tension works better as a programming tool.
Make a person tense in a medium (in a story) over which he has no control, and then offer
him a particular way out. The businessman in the commercial has terrible problems.
What's his s olution? Pain reliever X!
It worked the same way in Greek theater, where Athena came down at the end and solved the
hero's dilemma. Complication and release is entertaining because it imitates nature, the brea th,
the orgasm...life. It's just the imposed state of tension has been exploited by those who w ant us
to act or think in certain ways.

To be honest, an intimate moment of erotical contact, either as participant, or as observa nt
might imitate nature as well, without requiring any dilemma. But it is known, that within the
context of thrills, which you discribe with the terms complication and release, people subtely
notice a certain erotic drift in such exciting moments.
As you label tension a programming tool , what are the most popular methods for generating
fear in mass media audiences today?

That's probably easiest to understand and recognize when you consider that the purpose of
fear is simply to engage. To engage the audience, and make them more vulnerable to
suggestion. It's called regression and transference: regress the audience to a childlike state,
so they transfer parental authority onto the media maker.

In mass media, most stories about children do this. Are you children safe? Anything to do with
security - personal, family, job, or nation - usually has the purpose of making you feel unsafe.
In the most recent war, the tactic was to make the journalists feel unsafe - it was called
"e mbedding," where journalists were allowed to travel with the troops - so that they would write
g ood things about the forces that wer e keeping them safe.

Besides fear’s usage as a tool for regulation and suggestion in modern media, cinema- and
videogaming-industries are constantly developing products for recreational purposes, which
often make fear the central topic – the audience is en couraged to enjoy anxiety! Apparently,
this trend is by not li mited to media. Physical thrill-see kers are always on search for new
adrenaline boosts - bungee-junping or parachuting from skyskrapers, the more dangerous,
the better.
Do you consider such forms of controlled, voluntary confrontation with our fears within an
artificial context to be an important ‘training’ to increase our ability of dealing with tension
in real life?

Well, I'm not a psychologist, I'm a media theorist, but I'd venture that thrillseeking enter-
tainment in our culture is a way of compensating for the deadening effects of a highly
p redictable, fragmented, and alienated daily experience. After spending 8 hours in a
cubicle balancing spreadsheets, I'd think people would want to experience their bodies a bit.
E xtreme sports are more experiential than they are competitive, and in some ways that's a very
good sign. Sports as team warfare gives way to sports as shared experience.
The terror and tension aspects, well, they've always been a part of adolescence. Look at the
behaviors of young men in aboriginal cultures, and you'll see similarly daring feats.
In the West, we've certainly been watc hing such exploits in an organized fashion since the
Roman circus...

It’s true, humans knew to entertain themselves by mixing dangerous settings with public
presentation into a thrilling spec tacular sensation, for ages. Though, if we look back at the
fa ct, that fear is biologically an instinctive reaction of defense, in the first place, its status
obviousely has been shifted from this instinct level into a force with profound cultural
impact – could we even classify it a complex civilizational phenomenon, nowadays?

Of course. But it still depends on some element beyond what we think of as our own control.
So in the West, the fear may be of terrorism, or in Europe the fear may still be of the Jews or
what they represent. But culture-wide fear depends on the same illusion of separateness that
individual fear depends on. T here still has to be a "they" that we're afraid of. So it's not really
that co mplex - it's just a tribal emotion extended to a broader scale.

According to Elmér Hankiss, fear and anxieties are the main forces for construction of our
civilization. In his book »Fear and Symbols«, he explains ho w people over centuries (re-)

shaped their microcosm by two basic systems – Promethean (scientific/technical) and
Apollonian (symbolic). Mankind protects itself with habitats, religious beliefs, science and
technology, myths and philosophies, in order to withstand the hostile universe. Hankiss
argues, that our civilization per se is “a sum total of these protective devices”.
In other words: fearful scenarios within cultural structures throughout world’s history
d elivered important impulses provoking vital improvement in methods of survival, hence
gave rise to civilization itself. So, if there’s something to his hypothesis, what you call
“they” – the enemy, the threat – would be an essential gear-wheel within quite a complex
evolutionary machinery of defen s e. “We fear – therefore we make!”
An infiltrative stimulus forcing us to develop ourselves?

Well, I'm not quite sure about all that. But what I can tell you is that - at least on the psychic
landscape - "they" is us. There is no "they." And if there *is* a they, they're only as power ful as
our own willingness to surrender authority. Sure, after that, power-seekers can gain actual
authority via cash or weapons or dominance over the legal system. But the sum total of
c ivilization is not merely a set of walls built against fear. Our systems of thought and our
institutions, though social constructions, also represent our hopes, dreams, and aspiratio ns.
The reptilian brain may act purely out of surviving a hostile universe. But there's also a
neocortex that may just have its own designs on evolution.

In 1938, Orson Wells successfully scared a whole nation with his radio adaption of “War of
the Worlds”. Do you regard such epidemical hysteria as a result of a ‘misunder standing’ to be
likely to happen again, nowadays, or might people have become too critical?

Well, it might not happen on that scale, but there have been many media pranks that have
worked on moder n audiences. Spoof emails still convince thousands of people to surrender
their social security numbers or Ebay passwords, or that CNN used fake footage of cheering
Palestinians after the 9/11 attacks. And what would you call the current US presidential
administration, if not a media hoax of some kind?

This sounds very reasonable. If we take a look at this complex course fear is circulated on,
we come to observe out three main checkpoints: almighty gouvernal institutions, omn iscient
m ass-media and irritated people, to simplifiy it. Who is to blame, in concerns of fear-mongering?
Politicians and such, misusing their powers in order to uphold and expand the very same,
mass-media failing its responsibility of reflecting reality in an undistorted and neutral way,
or is solely society creating those bondages of fear, due to people’s lack of courage to judge
their lives properly?

Blame is easy to spread around, but it might not be the best way to look at things. It's a bit
forensic for my taste, rather than pro-active. I don't really care so very much who is to blame
for our cognitive and social paralysis as I am concerned with how to get ourselves beyond it.
It's not a matter of punishing the offenders as much as fixing what they've done.
We can blame everyone to different degrees. I tend to think of it as more systemic than
intentional. An unintended side-effect of charging interest on money, as much as using oil-
burning cars to get around. Deconstructing the past, or even the present situation, actua lly
contributes to the fear that we're seeking to quell. It's the reconstruction we hav e to get to.

If I may ask you more personally, how is your own relation to fear? Do you feel affected b y
those overwhelming media projections of possible danger in everyday life, as displayed e .g. in
the news or in talkshows, in any way? Or would you consider yourself to be kind of immune
against the scary stimuli of spectacular influence on-screen, knowing of the synergies of subtle
intrusion, due to your profession and insight?

I get scared, sure. And it's possible the things I'm afraid of - war, what's happening in Iraq,
Bush's seeming insanity and power - are projections of the media sphere. But I don't think I'm
generally as vulnerable to fabrications as some. Education helps.

Imagine, you were chosen to conceptualize a “Memorial to Fear”, to make people aware of
their individual responsibility of verifying what they are encouraged to be afraid of, by others –
what would your ‘message’ look like?

A memorial to fear suggests that fear would be ended. If it were, there'd be no need to
memorialize it. As it is, fear *is* the memorial to itself. It's phantom. Causative more than t he
effect or reaction to something real. It's like poking at a sore in your mouth to see if it
still hurts. Fear is the very memory you are talking about.
R eduction of fear is a good thing, I venture, and the way to do that is to encourage levity. We
can certainly take care of those who are in pain and suffering without succumbing to our ow n
fear of being in their position.

I think, this message is clear!
Your preceeding aspects of opinion have not only c ontributed greatly for a completing view on
th e materia of my work, but also outlined very interesting pesonal attitudes, in this context.
Mr. Rushkoff, it has been a great pleasure. Thank you very much for your thoughts and your

(end of interview)

                             Chapter 05 :: Analysis/Conclusion

                            “The stuff we’re breathing , the pollution, is
                               by far more dangerous, than anything
                              the media is telling us to be afraid of.”
                                          <Michael Moore>

                                          05.1 :: Analysis
F or all times, the emotion of fear constitutes one of the most complex polarities of human mind.
Although its physical expressio n has not changed essentially during our history, the psycho-
logical understanding of dangers and resulting fears has undergone a constant development.
The most significant insights for an extended overview on the nature of fears were enacted b y
the science of depth psychology. Historians like Jean Delumeau shared the opinion, that the
progre ss of science and rational thought have substituted the antiquated believes on myths
a nd magic, hence leading to an according reduction of fear in the last two centuries.
Obviously, it was quite contrary.

In the shine of proceeding scientific researches, many distractions of outwordly and supers-
ti tious kind have been faded away, but concurrently, new schemes of fright were raised.
In general, there was most of all a shift of the subjects of fear noticeable; nowadays, not evil
gh osts, demons or fierce sorcerers are menacing the world, but microbes, bacteria and ruth-
le ss scientists do!
P sychology defined a wide spectrum of fear disorders, which have been recognized existing for
lo ng, but with their scientific substantialization they have been integrated thouroughly in


To an essential degree, it has been advancing technology itself, which enables creation and
distribution of fear most effectively.
On many levels, the industr ial civilization has reached its limitation in means of secureness.
This aspect is getting obvious, for example, on facts of destabilized job market s, of social
complications resulting from developing large-scale technologies, or of ecological damage
due to industrial exploitation. These and similar circumstances are consequences of structural
changes within individual and collective living-conditions, mainly accelerated by technical and
industrial processes of modernization.
Emerging from this steadily increasing civilizationary dynamic, a wide insecurity of the future
is being reflected in diverse forms and intensities of social fears.
Such developments disfigure themselves in dire, almost apocalyptic visions of fright and are
being misused to scare people intentionally, trying to manipulate and control them.

Science, Technology and Politics are getting into close focus for social accusal, even though it
were these very instances, which were expected to bring about a certain relativity and
protection towards internal as well as external fearnarios. However, limits to progress mixed up
with destructive side-effects of civilisatory modernization are putting this desired result into firm
restriction, therefore lowering science’s and techno-logy’s promises of reducing sources of
human fear.
Constellations of modern fearnarios are created by synergies of several social structures:
supervising authorities enacting regulations and control for their people, subordinate parts of
the population which have to obtain required levels of productivity in order to gain status and
well-being, and organs of communication, mass media, which are to provide a broad but filtered
reflection of reality, as intended by supervising institutions.

The ‘brave new world’ of western civilization is seemingly offering floods of individual means
for self-realization – systems of communication, of transport, of education or of research are to
establish preconditions of bordeless networking of global and local dynamics, hence introducin g
an overall awareness of collectivity and integration.
Again, these advantages of process would be expected to clarify contemporary perspectives o f
threat, but resulting from exactly those aspects are profound conditions of dependancy, man i-
pulativity and separation.
The complex structure of advanced populaces are showing more tendencies of creating borders
a nd boundaries, than to let them vanish for the sake of freedom and liberty.

To counteract the growing challenges of everyday life and resulting forms of stress, certa in
instances are being activated throughout all categories of social interaction, to support well-
being and prosperity – and due to that effords maintain people’s productivity.
This is based on th e fact, that expectations on personal status and success of the affluent-
society, as well as its needs of guidance and care are increasingly shifted onto high levels.

The pressure triggered by such dynamics, is a diffuse mixture of uncertainty, irritation and help-
le ssness, because the more chances to develop oneself are being offered, the more risks may
arise from this situation.
In addition, personal fears of that kin d are often over-layered by seemingly endless sources of
external (say: national, global) fearnarios, pouring out all over the world – ecological or
economical desasters, wide-spread diseases, political conflicts, are only a few but ominpres ent
sources of stoking contemporary anxieties. During century of world wars, humanity’s faith in its
progress and its confidence on the future became frequently shocked, and moral coherence was
globally more and more corrupted by distrust and fright.
For several theorists on the late or pos tmodern era, the notion of risk is used as a keyword. It
has come to stand as one of the focal points of feeling fear, anxiety or uncertainty. At the turn
of millenium a distinct mood of disorientation and resstlesness has aroused, a deep sense that
people are living in a general ‘fin du siecle’.
In “Politics of Everyday Fear”, Brian Massumi argues that individuals in late modernity expe-
ri ence a constant low-level fear, which is quite vague and diffuse, not as sharp as panic or as
localized as hysteria, but rather “a kind of background radiation saturating existence”.

Massumi’s view is that the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 has marked a deep divide
in American culture: between the optimism of Enlightment humanism and progress and the
pessimism and uncertainty of the late modern era:
“Cracks bega n to open all around. There was no longer any safe ground. The shot could come
from any direction, at any time, at any form…Even pleasure no longer felt the same.
Smoking was the insidious onset of fatal ailment. Food becomes a foretaste of heart disease.
(..) Industrialization, once the harbringer of progress, threatened the world with environmental
collapse…Everywhere, imminent disaster.”

A pparently, the achievements which drastically pushed progress of civilization, are also posing
their very own threat.
The Internet, for instance, which was hyped as borderless “global village” and was to unite
wisdom and culture of humanity on ‘neutral’, digital ground, had the web community surf on
waves of fear, at the turn of the millenium.
Fearful expectations fed by the immanent threat of the Y2k Bug were reflected in hysterical
visions, predicting crashing computersystems world-wide would lead to breakdowns in crucial
elements of life-support, en ergy-supply or technical maintenance. The worst case to be ex-
pected were resulting malfunctions in mechanisms controlling nuclear plants or weapons.
The communicational collectivity which provides the basic materia of the medi um Internet led
m asses of users into a downright delusion of imagining a digital apocalypse in all possible
At the latest, it was this event - which fortunately never occurred to that extend scale – that
emphasized the profound fragility being inherent in our control- and connectivit y-depending
technological civilization. Though, this overwhelming irritation in connection to Y2k was
thoroughly used as temporary source of profit for respective divisions of the computer indust ry.
N evertheless, haughtiness of the digital age experienced a weakening ticking-off.

Anyway, today’s omnipresence and saturation of fear, and media’s important impact on this
condition, in technology based cultures can be displayed most clearly with the chain of events
resulting from assault of 9/11 in the USA.

One of the biggest provocations resulting from 9/11 aimed for harming the general sense of
security and protection. Word-wide, people were deeply concerned, some even expecting a
third World War to break out. Could such inhuman massacre and the devastation of financial
symbolism – such provocation – drive the USA as most inf luencial supremacy to rage and lash
Actually, the fear of potential retalitation somehow exceeds the horrors of the terrorist attack!
Not enough, succeeding attempts of anthrax attacks by mail were additionally boosting that
already intense feeling of insecurity.
But what instances and mechanisms helped raising this state of distress, and for what reason ?

As I’ve pointed out several times, it is a known fact, that media in general are shaping p eople’s
v iew of the world, thus altering the image of reality. Populace of complex industrialized cultures
are spectating most of comtemporary fearnarios as tv-audience or newspaper-readers.
What we generally know about terms of terror nowadays is projected in mass media. There’s a
noticeable ambivalence of media’s role for its consumer s: on one hand it shows parameters of
emotional hysterialization, and on the other hand functions of rational information. To have
(mass) media’s essence most effectively analized, it requires to examine both dynamic s.

Looking at the side of news distributing and fo r informational means first, it was quite a
s taggering experience to realize how fast and extensive floods of information about terrorism,
islamic religion and biological warfare were gathered and circulated.
People in many countri es debates about guilt, responsibility and consequences started, in view
on the Western World, in many cases not only critizising fundamental islamic motives, which
led to these catastrophal incidents, but also the American attidude of reaction in this situatio n.

When observing American mass media on its reflection of latest political tension, a distinct
patriotical phasing emerged from the coverage of terror, setting up a deep demand of political
vengeance in wide ranges of American society.
Not only European representatives of media public came to detect a ‘biblical credo’ in the
demand for moral pay-back against Islamic offenses, as expressed by the US-government and
media which stimulates calls for a ‘modern crusade’ within the population.
Another important impact on conditions of information exchange after 9/11 was provided by the
web. After the airplane attacks, global access to news websites was almost exploding, due to
masses of users wanting to enhance their understanding of the whole situation. But as I’ve ou t-
lined earlier in this chapter, the web cannot exclude its disadvantage as potential resona nce
space for rumors or groundless exaltation of conspirative theories, which float around the
globe almost immediately, as soon as they are mentioned.

No matter, if it is the devil’s face which can be recognized from structures of smoke pouring out
of the burning WTC or prophetic visions of Apocalypse as foreseen by Nostradamus centuries
ago – There’s hardly a myth or rumor being too absurd or exxagerated not to be believed and
spread by morons.
O bviously, the reason why there has been a much lower state of panic in Germany, for example,
might be the way public opinion dealt with this situtation and resulting tendencies, due to the
objective and rather competent means of report people were provided with.

Nevertheless, the greater part of mass media is under commercial and private control, which
means th at their tast is to intensify each published topic by implying particular ‘kicks’, in order
to activate high ratings and popularity.
To maintain such effects, media is using the tool of tension to promote respective events mo st
impressively for the audience. The hys terializing abilities of mass media are part of a universal
trend – not only limited to western industrial nations, but as well, if not even stronger, present
in the culture of Islam or communistic regimes, for example.

Mass media are feeding evolutionary based and culturally enhanced disposition to fear.
Differently displayed by all kinds of media publication, any possible forms of fearnarios a re
being analized and evaluated for all expectable consequences. Topics to be discussed were
including extended information about ABC-weapons, or intensive calculations about new,
potential aims and methods for terrorist assaults, only worsen public’s expectations, hence
increasing their fears.

T he question might be, which parts and to what detail are media contents received by the

Researches in media-effectiveness are looking for answers for decade s, but there has been
no absolute clarity gained, so far. But one fact seems proven:
The broadcasted or written contents are in far less amounts reaching the audience directly, t han
the publicists intend to, thus less intensive degrees of concern and hysteria can be transported.
T his has several reasons. Different kinds of media with varying niveaus of quality or credibility
are communicated to a broad spectrum of social subgroups . Of course, not all of these sub -
groups are easily driven to hysteria, some show interest distantly, some others indifferently.
Only small parts of the audience really react ove rloaded or distracted, and digress.
In fact, most of the people experienced an increased desire of information after 9/11. The older
and more educated news consumers are, the more information they want to obtain. It has to be
stated that psychological consequences on European mood after the terrori st attacks are of
calmer impact, than in the United Stated itself, of course.

To face some figures, according to polls about 90% of American adults have expressed symp-
toms of stress like heavy transpiration, rough sleep, tachycardia and mood-downs, during the
first weekend after 9/11. Approximately 10 hours the ‘average American’ was hooked in fro nt
of the TV-screen when the attacks occurred. There were rep orts of detached people crowding

together in the streets of New York, the capital of singles, fleeing from the isolation of their
appartments and their fear while lonely watching the horrifying news. The intensive perception
of danger had people buying new handies or jogging shoes, in order to be prepared in case of
Another clue for the immense levels of pychological pressure is reflected in the fact that with
most patients suffering from heart-disorders, critical arrhythmias were encountered. According
to researches, the ordinary numbers of incidents with such characteristica we re exceeded about
tw o of three times after the terrorists’ suicidal martyrization, lasting for about a month.

All these facts and figures raise the question how much fear and uncertainty would actually be
adequate, in catastrophic contexts like t his?

The sense of fear originates from evolutionary measures of avoiding dangers. Walking through
a dark alley still enables an archaic feeling of threat.
The school of Existentialism, most of all Martin Heidegger pro pagates, that fear is a primal
e motion of Man, but somehow on a hidden level. It’s “the fear of the nothing”.
Sartre stated, that fear is of existential nature – particularly the fear of freedom and tha t of
autonomy of decision. Actually, American long-term studies starting in the 50s came to prov e
that dimensions of fear have even been increasingly growing, which is due to circumstances o f
social erosion, violence and crime, gender and race conflicts, or political exploitation – an d due
to standarts and exceptions in mediation.

In view on 9/11 it is very understandable that countless people were filled with wrath again st
the terrorist ist, with grief about the victims and with fear of the future. There’s hardly anyone
w ho did not feel shaken from that desaster.
The attacks of 9/11 unveiled a seemingly new range of fearnarios, including bio-chemical thr eat
or the violabiliy of and through technological symbols of progres s. Anyhow, most of the people
who want to fly again or who have to, do so – and despite the threat of new anthrax contamin-
ated letters, after some time has passed, no one would actively refuse touching a suspicious
envelope or paper.
The growing attention to the media after these events in 2001 has been posing an adequate
reaction with soothing effects: gathering of information is the best method to estimate the rea l
scale of risks and threats – until the frequency of repetition of certain disturbing sce neries on
screen leads to such an overload, that people often stop their ‘monitoring of menace’ in
disgust. Consuming reflections of threats in mass media may help revealing certain causes for
catastrophes and examining how likely those dangers are to struck in one’s own life.

T o obtain a reasonable balance of fear seems to be extremely difficult in media flooded socie-
ties, for risks of menace are often not displayed coherently in TV or printed publications.
“Coherent” in means of relation and context. Reliable information however is the strongest
tool to absorb unnecessary fear and uncertainty.
To return the view on the exemplary analysis of terroristic threats, a proper judgement of the

actual probability of such assaults has to be gained.
After the developments during the last three years, the risks of unexpected fundamental attacks
have clearly risen, although it is by far more dangerous to use public transports in cities like
Jerusalem or Bagdad than in Berlin, for sure. But when anthrax warnings climbed a climax in
Germany, Berlin became a potential target with focus on governal districts – to get the greate st
public attention, terror attacks first of all aim at important public personalities and places.

A special attention is as well for granted, if methods of harm are of rather bizarre nature :
S cientifically designed for best performance, bacteria and toxins were shaped to weapons.
In the past, there havn’t been that many attempts of biological or chemical incidents by
terrorists, though.
T he radical usage of the neuro-toxine Sarine posed by members of the Aum-Shinrikyo sect in
the subway of Tokio in 1995 led to 12 victims, was one of such horrifying ABC-attacks.
Anyway, aside from creepy aftertaste the notion of non -technical – invisible – weapons
understandably create, technological means seem by far more probable. But if we remember , it
was a strong suspicion against Saddam Hussein accusing him to produce B- and C-weapons, and
this claim pushed Bush’s policy war in Iraq forward. The fear created in American society whe n
recapitulating reports of Saddam’s inhuman assaults using mustard gas on Kurds in Halabdsch a,
15 years ago, was greatly supporting justification of American intentions to intervene in Iraq.

It is obvious that these parameters of terr or found their origin in the very progress of
te chnology and science, providing the modern individual with threats as scary as the plague.
In deed, three most terror-inspiring creations of the past century spawned from laboratories
of science: shrapnel, biological weapons and nuclear bombs. Their effectivity was thoroughly
tested during both World Wars, as well as in Vietnam for example, where napalm bombing and
“Agent Orange” ruptured the country.
These symbolical incidents have been circulated all over the world interweaving deeply into
mankind’s memorial mind.

The terroristical threat which has arouse, is basing on old patterns which has been transposed
into new dimensions. Again, this conflict is fueled by aspects of cultural differences, having
virtual enemies created and projected by certain agressors. Anyhow, the methods and
consequences are much more diffuse and extreme nowadays. Potentially anybody at any place
in capitalistic western nations could become a victim – or at least that’s what people are made
to think. Humans become bombs, airplanes are turned to missiles and innocent civilists ar e
taken hostages, to be executed ‘live’.
These events are gruesome, no doubt about that, but they happen in particular, extra ordinary
c ircumstances which are only given in specific regions of earth. What makes such threats
appearing most omnipresent to people world-wide, is their broad and intense representation
through mass-media, taking the setting right into each viewer’s living room. Cases of conc ern
are cloned a million of times, dramatized and spread, individually creating a personal scena rio
of fright for anybody attending the reports of thre at.

“Nothing will remain as it used to be!”
With these words, news readers wanted to express their shock after the attacks of 9/11.
Of course, media people had to pose such a dramatic perspective on the future, because this is
what’s raising their rates of popularity in the audience.
Is it true, that there have been that a deep cut into the usual flow of social life, that anything
changed since the attacks?
T he notions of “great change” or, as mentioned earlier “fin du siecle” are quite helpful for
explaining and handling the conditions of extreme emotional tension or stress resulting fro m
political events covering the beginning of the new millenium. This was reflected by a global
call for a “return to seriousness”.
If this view is reason able might be questionable, though.

It’s mass medias purpose to hype social up-and-downs of contrasting emotions, constan tly
exchanging stimuli of joy and of fear for an audience which, in western cultures, is programmed
for rapid consumption of products and images. People are medially conditioned in terms of
diversion and distraction and a kind of shallowness, rather than of constant mourning, inner
contemplation or permanent political changes. Threatening events naturally have deep impacts
on people’s minds, but they have to be re-projected by mass media permanently to uphold a
steady awareness of danger.
If we remember BSE with its hysterializing force when it first came up in TV and newspapers,
this menace has for long vanished from the news again, and seemingly from social mem ory as
Tendentially, the public is relatively soon getting adapted to gravious global events, and
simultanously for an individual these circumstances become re-superposed by challenging
events of personal everyday-life, although there will be always people who are directly
concerned or harmed by certain threats , and therefore feel continually bound to their fears.

Under these given paramet ers, it is necessary to have a brief view on how the social situation
o f stress has been developing after September, 11 th 2001.
After a year has passed since, most of all, New York City has been terribly shocked by the fear-
some attacks, still many people were suffering nightgmares. Since the assaults, crowds of
psychologists and doctors are trying to medicate and care for the relatives of the victim s, and
thereby gathered loads of material about how processing their traumas.
Surveys in NYC have shown that 9/11 has dramatically increased the number of reports about
fear disorders and post-traumatic stress syndrome – ten percent of the local population
encountered depression, exhaustion, we ak appetite. These statistics outnumbered data
collected in peaceful periods about thrice. Inevitably, actions of moderation were booming,
as a higher rate of known legal and illegal drug consumption displayed.
Children were particularly suffering from results of the events, not only showing depression
or similar symptomatics of stress, but as well agoraphobia – fear of wide, open spaces.
Even in actually safe places, there was a latent presence of menace sensable.

                                         05.2 :: Conclusion
But to be honest, the incidents of 9/11 did not invent terrorism. There have always been separ-
ations of spacial, racial, ideological or economical nature or certain risks in relation to science
and technology - globally and locally - leading towards conflicts between groups of contrary
Violence and fear for all times have been typical tools and products of cultural development, to
which is the pattern of conflict an important ingredient.
Danger is in the essence of life. What makes danger a threat are aspects of perspective and
relation of an individual or group to wards the threat, as well as the social and sophistical
background of the affected subjects.
N owadays, these parameter are widely diffused as people are experiencing reality like it is
presented to them. So the perspective on particular dangers is led by focuses set in mass m edia
and the knowledge implied on the respective subject. Either the individual is able to compare
the published contents actively, with intellectual clarity to calculate personal as well as colle c-
tive risks in connection to probability and impact - or the media consumer is posing a body of
absorption and reflection: passively absorbing news and stereotypically reflecting a reaction.
So apparently, fear is easily created when threats displayed in mass media are not critically
analyzed and filtered. Due to t hat fact many forms of (dis-)stress are imminent in large parts
of technology based civilization with growing coverage, but that does not require the
assumption, the amount of dangers has also shifted upwards.
With c ontinuing progress and advancing complexity of cultural constellations, a resulting fragility
of these structures should be accepted as sort of sacrifice. Actually the industrial and scie ntific
gains are potentially contributing to the predictability of risks and threats of all kinds, and to
their controllability, rather than constantly creating new ones.
If, anyhow, the intention to aim a threat on a target for specific purpose is becoming evident,
p eople can be sure about measures of protection. But like our standart of modernity is ad-
vanced, but by far not perfect, the same is to be considered for safety and prevention.
That means, that tendencies in articulated violence – war, te rrorism, riots, crime – will do a
steady improvement in matters of furtiveness, inreversability and cruelty, to avoid securing
precautions, to hit devastatingly , thus focussing the attention of mass media.

However it is very questionable, what such mediated fearnarios should pr ovoke, except an
even increasing rejection and hostility, in general. Western capitalistic leaders, which the
attacks of fundamentalists are adressed to in the first place, only feel more encouraged to
show political constancy and to fight back.
Actually this whole system resembles a snake biting its own tail, for nobody can can tell for
sure where this perpetuum mobile of fear in modernity has gained its imp ulsion, but we can
clearly see that many parties are trying to profit from its exploitation.

I think, there is no ‘real’ saturation of fear. Fear’s standarts merely have been adjusted to the
c hanging parameters of human process, as well as respective awareness and sensitivity have
b een constantly reshaped by media.

Of course, mass media projects many threats of quite vague and diffuse context, thereby fueling
rational as well as irrational fears, bu t the aspect being mos t infuenceable in this context is how
fast these stimuli are communicated these days. This combination might lead to the impression,
that most of all modern industrialized communities are overloaded with dense levels of mental
It is one of mass medias main characteristics to recycle contents of all kinds, and to
re-publish them like new spectacularities. This formula is as well applied to the complex of
social fears. Dangers are projected as threats and the m edia machinery uses its abilities to
hype it properly.
My opinion is, that there’s no saturation, but a constant renewal of fear due to circulation by
mass media, which have this emotion appearing in new dimensions, thus provoking people
to be more afraid of fear.
There’s not much choice: fear has been present ever since, and will be. There’s no way to get
totally immune to this emotion, which anyway would lead to even greater problems. The only
reasonable action would be to develop ‘sophistical responsibility’.

But most of all it’s not fear itself that we should be afraid of. Altogether, the human mind
becomes the ultimate parameter, for it is the ‘place’ where fear takes its impact –
humans’ ability of imagination, the very phantasy of people indeed is fear’s most trusted

                                 Appendix :: Media Conception

                         “Art does not merely display visibility, it makes visible.”
                                               <Paul Klee>

• Basic idea
When I first thought about the topic of fear, in relation to my Final Project, I remembered an o ld
fairytale of the Grimm Brothers’, about the »Youth Who Went Forth to learn What Fear Was«.

In my opinion, this story reflects the processed topic of mine quite well, though with quite
abstract symbolism. Allow me to recapitulate the core plot:
A boy wanted to learn what fear was. In contrast to his brother, who is clever but lacks courage,
th e younger lad was quite dumb and did not know how it feels to be scared. So he left his home
to seek out for fear. He passed several adventures including gruesome corpes, haunting gh osts
and such, which were frightening anybody but him. Finally though, he did come to kn ow what the
essence of his fear was: a maid knew of his wish and one night, when the boy had fallen a sleep,
she emptied a bucked full of water and little glibbery fishes over his naked body. He woke up,
fe lt all the fishes sprawling about him and cried: “Oh, what makes me shudder so. - What makes
m e shudder so, dear maid. Ah! Now I know what fear is like.”
W hat could be interpreted from this tale is, that the world is actually full of fears – yet any
in dividual has to define and experience its own patterns of this emotion. Fear and threat are
a lways relative to a specific point of view and to particular individual conditions.

T herefore, I find it suitable to re-mediate and project the core of this story on new,
c ontemporary contexts, using audio-visual techniques of display in my Creative Work.
T he result is an animated graphic-novel with basic interactivity and sound, which aims to
v isualize my relatively open interpretation of the above fairytale. I’ve chosen this form of
m edium, because it offers a great potential to express emotional circumstances within very
v ariable parameters of narration. Therefore it is possible deal with specific topics under
a bstract and flexible conditions of discourse. By providing an outlining plot construct, which
le ads the focus of attention to the expressed topic, a hidden statement can be implied during
th e plot, without distracting the spectator’s own view on it. With enhancement of audio-visual
s upport, not only the corresponding materia is more effectively projected, the process of
g eneral entertainment is also improved.
It was not my intention, to concept a media product, which purpose it is to provoke or to
e xplain fear. I want to provide a multi-medial experience that encourages audience to
re flect on their fears, as this emotion constitutes a very important but also delicate aspect
o f mental autonomy in everyday life. Though, the Creative Work should not lack a certain
d rift of playfulness, in the widest meaning – or at least a devotional thrill.

• Content and plot
As I mentioned before, the graphic novel I have concepted is based on the structure of the
Grimms’ tale, but visualizes in altered forms of symbolism.
»eX.inferis« takes the vie wer on a somewhat bizarre journey through some body’s nightmare.
The title for my Creative Work derives form Latin and m eans “out of hell”. As I understand
n ightmares as products of surpressed fear, a virtual escape from such dreams may pose a
m etaphorical model of mental salvation.
T he narration is separated in five chapters, which are set in different surroundings. Each of
these scene ries is representing characteristical aspects of life, which appear on-screen in
omnious style.
As it is typical for most people to react with tension when they have to accomplish an impor-
ta nt task under supervision of others, the first scene for example symbolizes how challenging
it is to follow one’s path straight on without falling, while critically stared at from behind.
The dark cityscape is meant to describe the bleakness and a nonymity which emerges from
clustered urban complexity, having inhabitants desperately getting lost in its scale.
Again, referring to well-known threatening elements in nightmares, the dreamer passes an
seemingly aestethical though menacing chapter, were dangers of drowning and being hunt
through dark woods by invisible fiends only outline some of nature’s fierce forces.
After the protagonist has reached the corridors in a strange building, his movements are
recorded by surveillance cameras – a catch on today’s fear of controlled privay.
Finally, the person whose dream was to experience stumbles into the room, where the whole
nightmare has originally begun, to find himself in reality simult anously awaking slowly on the
very floor…
and then the real nightmare gets obvious.

T he text appearing at some spots of the narration are originally excerpts from Charles Manson’s
testimony. As he has risen on a high level of doubtful popularity, due to his cruelties and
seemingly morbid ideology, Manson states an incarnation of threat, a symbology of fea r. Thus
the quotes of his, which I have worked into the story commentate event of the dream-worl d from
kind of a distant, yet focused perspective – literally picturing ‘fear’s off-voice’ omnipresen tly as
accompanying moral judgement with narrative support.

The particular sets of music being played during the graphic novel are not directly connected
to the narrative meaning, although by its depressing nature it contributes to an increased
intensity of sensation and emphasis of emotional context, the same goes with graphical style.

•Technical data
Graphics result from photos taken of original settings and actors, being processed in
»Photoshop«. Certain movements of the protagonist were refined with »Poser«.
Music has been composed with »Reason« and mastered with »Wavelab«.
Animation and assembling of all elements has been done with »Flash«.


                                          Chapter 01

• Image
Experiments basing on Duchenne de Boulogne’s writing in the 1860s.
Facial expressions are arranged to stimulate according emotions.

• Secondary liter ature
Freud, Sigmund: Hysterie und Angst. Frankfurt/Main 1971.
Benesch, Hellmuth: dtv-Atlas Psychologie. Band 1. München 1997.
Baer, Udo / Frick-Baer, Gabriele: Gefühlslandschaft Angst. Neukirchen 2002
Huber, Andreas: Stichwort – Angst. München 1995

                                          Chapter 02

• Images
1. Stone-carved gargoyles by sculptor Walter Arnold, resembling a symbol of archaic fear.
2. Artwork about superstition and mystic, displaying medieval aspects of fear.

• Secondary l iterature
Parkinson, William A. (ed.): The Social Orga nization of Early Copper Tribes. London 2002.
W allbank, Taylor: The Middle Ages – Europe’s Search for Stability. Manchester 1992.
Haberl, Helmut: Modelle der Gesellschaft-Natur-Interaktion. Graz 2003.
Bourke, Joanna: From Fear to Anxiety - Dimensions of an History of Emotions for the 20th
Century. Oxford 2003.

                                          Chapter 03

• Image
Soldiers take cover, while spectating a nuclear test. This picture was taken by Micheal Light,
as part of his work »100 suns«.

• Secondary literature
Showalter, Elaine: Hystorien. Berlin 1997.
Massumi, Brian: The Politics of Everyday Fear. Minneapolis 1993.
Glassner, Barry: The Culture of Fear. New York 2003.
Luhman, Niklas: Die Realität der Massenmedien. Opladen 1996.
Rushkoff, Douglas: Media Virus. New York 1994
L upton, Deborah: Risk. London 2004

                                          Chapter 04

• Image
Photography of Douglas Rushkoff, as show n on www.me diaed.org.

• Second ary literature
Rushkoff, Douglas: Cyberia – Surf the Trenches of Hyperspace. New Yor k 1995.
Rushkoff, Douglas: Media Virus. New York 1994

                                          Chapter 05

• Image
Artwork about TV related fear, as shown on www.screed.org.

• Secondary literature
Meyssan, Thierry: 11. September 2001, D er inszenierte Terrorismus. Kassel 2003.
B eck, Ulrich: Risikogesellschaft. München 1992.
Bartholom ew, Robert /Goode, Erich: Mass Delusions and Hysterias - Highlights from the Past
Millenium. Ampherst 2001.
Massumi, Brian: The Politics of Everyday Fear. Minneapolis 1993.
L upton, Deborah: Risk. London 2004
Hankiss, Elmer: Fear a nd Symbols. Budapest 2001

                                         Media Concept

• Secondary literature
Grimm Brothers: Story of a Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was.
R ieser, Martin / Zapp, Andrea (ed.): New Screen Media – Cinema / Art / Narrative.
London 2002
S chreck, Nicholas: The Manson Files. New York 1988.

Additional sources like printed webcontents, articles, essays and abstra cts used for the thesis
are not represented in the above list of sources. Yet, they are included in my collection of
processed material, which I handed in together with the Final Project.


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