Have you ever read No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre? If you haven’t and you intend to, don’t read this post, because I’m going to spoil the plot. No Exit is a play with three characters in a room. It eventually transpires that they realize both that they have all died and that they can never leave the room. It’s famous line is, “Hell is other people.”
The prompt for today is: “You’re locked in a room with your greatest fear. Describe what’s in the room.”
I think my nightmare scenario would be to be locked in a room with two perfectly incompatible strangers, in perpetuity. No books, no television, nothing but those two other people.
It’s not that I’m socially awkward or anything like that, I just feel like even the two most interesting people in the world would inevitably, eventually, become boring to me. And boredom makes me anxious. And anxiety can make me panic. The lack of alternative external stimuli would be such that I don’t know that I could keep from becoming a lunatic. To constantly be watched, to have nowhere to really be alone to gather myself, to have to choose between an endless performance for others or the raw vulnerability of being completely myself in front of others…terrifying. And I don’t know that we are ever completely ourselves, but our ourselves in reference to others. Facets of our personality are illuminated in reference to others. Self-hood is not a stable construct but shifts relative to our relationships to others.
Or, at least, that’s how I feel about it. I think you reach a certain point in your life and you change less, become less adaptable, but that human interaction is akin to chemical reactions that goes well or poorly or just produces a null result. Whatever the case, I think an eternity with two perfectly incompatible people would produce reactions on both sides of the spectrum. Which, when balanced over that eternity, would ultimately balance to an infinity of zero. Which would eventually drive a person crazy. So maybe what I’m really afraid of is losing my mind, and I think that this scenario would inevitably lead me there.
Or a room filled with wasps. But I feel like I would either become envenomed and die, or else dethrone and take the place of their queen. Like Sarah Kerrigan in StarCraft. And then I would conquer the wasps, then the world, then the universe. Though that might also drive me insane…
Well, this was a fun prompt. Fun fun fun.