Friday, October 23, 2020

Why does maize (corn) feature so much in people's nightmares?

A nightmarish visage

They stand like dark sentinels, their leathery surfaces wrinkled and tough, the corn cobs peering out from behind thick leaves like grotesque mutants. It's almost Halloween, and as expected I see a lot of gardening stores and Farmer's Markets selling dried maize plants. 

If you've never seen such merchandize, then let me assure you they sometimes really do look creepy, and quite a fitting decoration for a tradition that was once a Celtic celebration to ward off ghosts.

Halloween sentinels

But why does corn feature so prominently in horror stories and movies, and in the nightmares of people? Witness for example, Stephen King's classic story "Children of the Corn", or movies like "Husk" and "Night of the Scarecrow." Is there something about this species that inspires such fear and sometimes revulsion?

I think it has to do more with cornfields, than the actual plant itself. There is just something slightly frightening about seeing endless rows of identical maize plants. They rise above you when you walk into them, enclosing you in a moist claustrophobic environment where your imagination can be pushed into thinking about some unpleasant possibilities.

Could you get lost in such a maze, perhaps fated to wander forever within its green bosom? And what are those sinister sounds that you hear, the faint susurrations, the whispers of the corn as the wind caresses their ripe and decaying bodies? What slavering monsters, both human and unhuman, lurk behind the next towering stalk?

No comments:

Post a Comment