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Oh, The Fear of Fog (Homichlophobia) and Global Weirding

“I fear no army or beast, but only the morning fog. Our assault can survive everything else.”

—Lord Hilneth (the fog card in Magic the gathering)

 Fog. It can bring the darkness to the world and fill one with suspicion.  You can round a corner in San Francisco and run right into a thick wall of fog. What is lurking in that fog?  Could there be a criminal waiting to hide and jump out? Could there be ghosts wandering about in the fog?  Can fog serve as a purgatory for lost souls? Many cultures have their ghost stories that fill you with trepidation about the naturally occurring weather phenomenon of fog. Some people are so paralyzed by their fog that they cannot leave their homes for fear of suffocating.  There is something called the Fog Monster which is a large purple monster that can create and/or transform into a thick mist. It’s true; it exists-in the gamer’s world. Ok. Regardless, have you ever been afraid of the fog?

 

Fog. Fog.  Everywhere, there is fog.  “Dense fog for the morning commute, folks”.  That is what the meteorologist warned us three days in a row.  It has been a tad spooky.  Mind you, here in the Northeastern part of the United States, we are not in the foggiest place on earth. That distinction lies with the Grand Banks off the island of Newfoundland.  The longstanding fog is a result of the cold Labrador Current from the north and the much warmer Gulf Stream from the south.  Bamn!  What a recipe for living in constant fear.

 

Have you ever been caught in a flash fog? Not a flash mob. But a flash fog: a fog that within seconds envelopes you completely.  I recall one time at a local airport waiting to take off on the tarmac when suddenly the plane was enveloped in complete fog. There was no way the flight was going to take off when all of a sudden we had no visibility. It felt like perhaps we were caught up in the “Langoliers” movie just desperately trying to see beyond 10 feet in front of us.  Within half an hour, the fog lifted but we all felt groggy throughout the remainder of the flight.

Apparently, the fog isn’t just a strain on your eyes to see what’s in front of you, but the fog can also be a drain on your emotional well-being. Especially, if it is a vengeful fog.  Speaking of which.  The movie “the Fog” (1980) by John Carpenter, is one of the first movies I recall seeing in the movie theater.  My mom was so excited to take me as she loved horror films (as do a huge percentage of Latinos).  The movie is about a Northern California fishing town, built over an old leper colony, that is the targeted by a killer fog containing zombie-like ghosts seeking revenge for the leper deaths.  That movie freaked me out for years and made me suspicious of what may lurk in the midst of a fog. Many who fear fogs may feel as if they have entered a horror movie and will stay indoors whenever possible to avoid confronting the fog.  Besides killer fogs, recent research showed that constant exposure to fog can make one feel gloomy.   Fog can also make one fuzzy and loopy. For instance, nearly two-thirds of women complain of “brain fog” during menopause. Brain fog in that instance is a type of forgetfulness.  Now that most American women experience their last period at about age 51, this brain fog phenomenon goes way deep into the average woman’s lifespan. Brain fog and menopause, now, that’s cause for fear.

 

Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris showed how dangerous a fog of war can be in his film aptly named “Fog of War.” It demonstrated the uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations.  Sometimes people get caught up in their own uncertainties about their capacity and what should be their next steps. At times this term is quite applicable to the modern day workplace that oftentimes feels more like a game of Survivor where you have to figure out who will help get you reach the end.  Consequently, things can get quite foggy and scary in the workplace.

But going back to our recent weather events. There is definitely a sense of global weirding going on. Two years in a row, New York has been hit by a hurricane.  New York getting hit by a major snowstorm in October and being pummeled by a superstorm? That is weird, eerie and spooky.  Have you seen the photos of the rollercoaster on the New Jersey shoreline in the water? When it is covered in clouds and fog, it inculcates a sense of pending Armageddon.

 

There is a 1950s film called “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” that is based on science fiction writer Ray Bradbury’s short story called “The Fog Horn” that is about a lighthouse’s fog horn that serves as a call to the wild and attracts a sea monster who destroys the town. The scene reminds one of the New Jersey rollercoaster floating in the ocean.  As a matter of fact, Ray Bradbury says that the idea for his Fog Horn story came from seeing the ruins of a demolished roller coaster on a Los Angeles-area beach.  I guess what we perceive as new is really old.

Not that I want to cause any anguish for those that suffer from Homichlophobia.  But it seems these days fog is everywhere and can be quite menacing.

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