A simple question about Thanatophobia

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Why was the episode named Thanatophobia? doesnt realy connect with the contacts.

-- zach the new lurker (mr_spidy@hotmail.com), November 24, 2002


There is a book called Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryan. Don't know what it is about though.

-- Barb e. (Suesuesbeo9@cs.com), December 04, 2002.

Thanatophobia (extreme fear of death). Hmm?

It seems like quite a natural fear. Although I've heard thantatophobia described as an *abnormal* fear of death, well I guess if its a phobia...A phobia is supposed to be an irrational fear of something.

Onan & Cybill: Very afraid of dying alone, or unfulfilled, or just plain unhappy? As far as Monica is concerned they believe the hype and dont want to die having missed out...?

What causes an irrational fear of death, and what does that fear cause?

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net.nz), November 25, 2002.

I know what thanatophobia is, i just dont see how it connects with the episode... i dont think they're afraid to die alone(Onan sure doesnt care much for Sybil either), they both want to be "free" and monica is an utopia(in their eyes) where they can be free.

The only connection i could think of is that death can be the freedom from life, Sybil is always depending on someone else, so she's never free, that is, until the end, where she tries to proove everyone that she can be independant, and make it to monica(the utopia, the land where she can be free) but fails... but its a shot in the dark, and it doesnt realy make total sense, anyone got a better idea?

-- zach the new lurker (mr_spidy@hotmail.com), November 25, 2002.

Phobia doesn't necessarily mean extreme or irrational fear. Literally, it is just Greek for fear. Thanatophobia means "fear of death". Something like an essential feature of all living beings.

I think the key for the title is Trevor's comments: That which doesn't kill us makes us stranger. The girl ends not only with a gap in her spine, but also without legs.

-- Ricardo Dirani (spharion@hotpop.com), November 25, 2002.

Yeah, for sure, fears are natural and everyone has them. Except one will find that *phobia* is a term more commonly given to fears which are considered irrational, extreme, abnormal, morbid or at least, more significant than usual. People pay professionals to use the label with (supposed) accuracy. When a fear becomes problematic its liable to be called a phobia.

Attempting to define a possible ground for speculation of title meaning: Is the title referring to the condition of particular characters in the episode, possibly Onan and Sybil? The title is referring to a condition, be that generally or specifically. The story is has a lot to do with Onan and Sybil; it's not unlikely that the title would be referring to them. How could you say they befit the condition? Phobias are commonly individualised; even a fear of death can be subject to varied rationale, right?

Let's say a fear of death, is a want of life, because death takes it. Onan and Sybil have life but they want it better (although their interests differ). I think they are both irrational and extreme in this want. They don't know that Monica will be better, they just choose to believe it, and they risk their very lives to get there. (Although it could be said that Onan merely risks Sybil's, but for the girl next door…).

As for Trevor's final line… the way I saw it was that, as far as Sybil was concerned, Onan was her life. Well, he at least meant the world to her so she was mainly interested in making him happy. She depended on him, and trusted in him. He turns out to be a small pathetic kind of guy, flimsy like the spine things she ends up depending on. She looses her love fix, and ends up needing medical fixes. Sybil chances her life on a number of bad decisions; they never end up being the death of her, but she looses all legs to stand on.

Also if you havent check the ep guide here. Although they dont make much mention of the title.

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net), November 26, 2002.

"The only connection i could think of is that death can be the freedom from life, Sybil is always depending on someone else, so she's never free, that is, until the end, where she tries to proove everyone that she can be independant, and make it to monica"

Do you think Sybil probably knew she wouldn't make the jump, so she decided she could at least make a martyr of herself? Her vision of life had been shattered so like you say death could free her from a jagged reality. Although having abandoned her dependencies she becomes a fish out of water and ends up beached. Becoming a slave to her own mind seemed like the final straw.

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net), November 26, 2002.

Answering the ep guide:

>The "heads on plates" reference is, of course, to the Hebrew >Bible story in which John the Baptist's head on a plate is asked >for when any one wish is asked of the King's wife. Now, the >very interesting thing this means is that Judaism exists in >this world. Either that or the expression has somehow survived. >That puts Aeon's world in the not-too-distant future.

John the Baptist is not in the Hebrew Bible. He is in the Christian Bible, New Testament. He is the cousin of Jesus and the one announcing the Messiah's arrival. He baptizes Jesus and a dove flies over saying "this is my son".

As for the not too distant future, would other 3315 years be not too distant for you? Because this year was the 3315th Passover... I'm not saying Israel will last that long, but that I'd not be surprised if they did.

In End Sinister Trevor says that our actions would be incomprehensible for the people a thousand years before. And then we are introduced to the people after a thousand years. Their actions are incomprehensible for Trevor, and actually, they are so highly mutated it is hard to notice they are humans. Of course far is a subjective concept. A thousand years is a heavy lot for me, even though I already dreamt of living in the year 10,000, or 100,000, I don't remember. It felt like being beyond the end of times.


-- Ricardo Dirani (
spharion@hotpop.com), November 26, 2002.

Depends if you're refering to the first jump(with Onan), or the last jump(without Onan).

In the first jump, i dont think she thought she could make it, she doubted it, and as Onan told her, "if you're doubting it that means you already failed", sure, she got angry, and slammed the coffee cup and told him that she'll proove it she can do it, but Onan was the center of her life, so his words had an impact on her(if he doubts her, then she doubts herself). I dont think she realy thought she could do it the first time(feels kind of silly to talk about a cartoon charactor this way, though).

However, in the last jump, i think she thought she could make the jump, and she did, too: may i remind you, she was unaware of the new installments, if they were not there, she would of made it to monica.

-- zack the new lurker (mr_spidy@hotmail.com), November 26, 2002.

How do you know the old system wouldnt have shot her down, the new system seemed to rely on her making it that far.

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net.nz), November 26, 2002.

Because the new system seems to be the old one, with upgrades.

You could be right, though, guess only Peter knows for sure.

-- zack the new lurker (mr_spidy@hotmail.com), November 27, 2002.

Yeah, and the title, that ep guide doesnt seem to even go into it. (Or does it? I read it ages ago, have recently only skimmed).

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net), November 27, 2002.

The new system disables the turrets. That's why the turret follows (does it?) her but doesn't shoot. That's also why the kid who played with the turrets throwing things for the turrets to shoot lost his arms. He saw the turrets weren't responding and got to the place where the system catches people and surgically remove their limbs.

-- Ricardo Dirani (Spharion@HotPOP.com), November 27, 2002.

"That which does not kill us makes us stranger", like "Aldus B".

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net), November 27, 2002.

Anyhow, what about the title? I'm suprised theres been so little discussion over it. Whats to conclude here?

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net), December 03, 2002.

I actually want to read that now.

Peter, naturally, your explanation would be great.

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net.nz), December 05, 2002.

"I think the key for the title is Trevor's comments: That which doesn't kill us makes us stranger. The girl ends not only with a gap in her spine, but also without legs. "

If you take it in that sense, the episode could be described as an allegory of adaptation and change: Is it better for us to try to preserve a rigid concept of the self, or should we enter into each change and necessary evolution of the self without qualms?

In broad terms, Bregna and Monica can be seen as two different states of identity: Bregna as the static sense of self, and Monica as the acceptance of change and dynamics in identity. Onan, wanting to be free of his previous identity - Sibyl, the homogenous nature of Bregna, all the ties of his past - enters Monica without any difficulty. But Sibyl, tied both to Onan and her hesitancy to accept change, doesn't make the jump. In the end, Sibyl has change forced upon her by circumstances, and must either adapt to and accept that change or lose her ability to retain her identity. Sibyl falls into her routine as a worker of the factory, accepting her situation and doing little to change it. Her "disability" eventually integrates itself into herself, and becomes a vital part of her personality, but aside from this she still doesn't accept change.

Until Trevor Goodchild comes along, of course :)

Trevor Goodchild acts as a catalyst for Sibyl to evolve and change past her current sense of self, and even overpowers her desire for Onan. When she begins seeing Onan through the crack, their positions change: Sibyl begins her evolution to the circumstances of change, while Onan suddenly forges a link back to his past. Sexually, the dynamics of change in this episode are interesting: Onan, who once embraced change, reacts aversely, even with fright, to Aeon's more unusual advances on him; whereas Sibyl, becoming passive to change (and Trevor Goodchild), embraces her new circumstances and, to some degree, gains more pleasure from it than from Onan.

The shift comes full circle when Aeon takes Onan back to Bregna, and Onan begs for Sibyl to take him back - after which Sibyl locks him up and attempts the jump again. Although she yearns for change from both Goodchild and Onan, she fails, perhaps because she still retains affection for one (or both) of them. And consequently, change is once again forced upon her.

The key to the title "Thanatophobia" is this: Is it better for the current self to die, so that a new self may come to be; or for one's immediate idea of self to be preserved at any cost, even though the possibility of a new self may die? To quote the last two lines of Authur O'Shaughnessy's poem "Ode:"

"For each age is a dream that is dying, Or one that is coming to birth."

Every permutation of the self has the possibility of self- destruction so that a new self may be created, or self-preservation at the cost of that new self. Thus, to fear these two kinds of deaths - as Sibyl and Onan do - is Thanatophobia.

-- Brian Davis (ubik@purdue.edu), February 01, 2003.

Thanks Brian, your perspective is really helpful.

Change is an inevitable part of life and death; therefor one should strive to change for the best. Fear and desire, while compelling us to make such changes, can compel us to better upon them; meticulousness, is after all means to a potentially preferable outcome. Being caught between both fearing and desiring change may be a helpful restriction that encourages a deeper consideration of ones options. ("The paradox that standing can be more tiring than walking").

By the end of the story Onan and Sybil have become far worse off than they were in the beginning, maybe a result of obeying impulsive emotions without clarity on the situation - Irrationally responding to rational fears and desires.

Onan and Sybil's acrobatic jump to Monica, could be seen as a fanatical leap of faith, obvious amounts of meticulously skilful execution involved - (Trevor comments "What a waste") - A perilous endeavour towards a *possibly* preferable existence. One should be aware of ones situation before attempting to improve upon it, well, to a degree. Onan wants Aeon and Sybil wants Onan, yet Sybil proves too not really know Onan who certainly doesn't know Aeon. Issues of co-dependency arise, ultimately it seems neither Sybil or Onan can do well independently. That doesn't seem to reflect well on the knowledge they have of themselves.

A better understanding of yourself and the world around you should be what increases, not only a desire to change, but also a better idea of what and why. Logically a fear of death should be what alerts you to the pros and cons. Furthermore, a consideration of logic should be what makes apparent how gradual the process of change should be, as oppose to consisting of something like a singular leap.

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net.nz), February 02, 2003.

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