Juan Cole – Like a Halloween Nightmare, This Election Keeps Scaring Us to Death

All Hallow’s Eve, contracted now to Halloween, became conflated with the Scottish and Irish pagan Samhain, the harvest festival marking the end of autumn and the beginning of winter.  It was an in-between time, when the barrier between this world and the next shimmered and let in decrepit old sprites and gods and monsters that had begun slipping away into the aether with the advent of Christianity.  And, the souls of the dead of the past year intruded to visit their homes before being shunted off to the netherworld, as well. Since Celts thought power resided in the head, they often beheaded defeated enemies, so All Hallow’s Eve was the occasion for a fair amount of fumbling about on the part of those who had died violently.

The 2016 election is very much like Samhain, i.e. like Halloween, in breaking down ordinary time and reality, and letting ogres of the past into our daily lives.

So we can’t get out of our minds the image of those tiny hands, back in 1982, and 1996, and 1998, grabbing parts of strangers’ anatomy.  The simulacrum of the grabber and kisser and predator has popped out into 2016 and wants to replace George Washington and Ike Eisenhower.  We are being asked, with a straight face, to elect a groper in chief.  A puritan people who drove Gary Hart from politics for some hanky panky on The Monkey Business and impeached Bill Clinton even though he never got to third base, is now all right with making president someone who groped a porn star and then offered to drop $10,000 when he couldn’t get his way.  We are entranced and willing to give our fates into the hands of a weird combination of Frankenstein’s monster and the Vampire Lestat.

The horror of Halloween always lies in the evil deeds of the past now resurrected, as with Syrian director Moustapha Akkad’s “Halloween” films.

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