Mark Dery on Charles Manson

12 19 1969

Over at Thought Catalog, Mark Dery looks back at the Manson Murders of 1968 and how Charlie's "love and terror cult" sliced open a seeping wound of fear whose scab is still being picked. Dery titled his essay, "Getting the Fear," Manson's phrase for "embracing the dry-mouthed jitters of sheer terror, riding that moment when your heart is thudding so hard it feels like something trapped inside your ribcage, trying to get out," as Dery explains it. From the essay:

"Growing up in Southern California, in 1969, I knew the isolation of the cul-de-sac houses out on suburbia’s asteroid belt, where the night air was thick with the cloying smell of sage and wild fennel and the darkness echoed with the hiss of automatic sprinklers, stuttering across lawns. A man might scream, might run into his front yard and scream, as Wojtek Frykowski did that night on Cielo Drive, Oh, God, no, please don’t! Oh, God, no don’t, don’t, don’t…,and get nothing but echoes for an answer. I knew the mass-produced alienation of suburbia, where you could live your life in a tract home fit for a battery hen, your sixth of an acre flush against your neighbors’, yet never exchange much more than a nod of recognition as you pulled into your driveway and they out of theirs.Whether or not I was aware of the Manson murders, the spreading stain of fear was seeping, in August 1969, under the locked doors of everyone’s consciousness."
"Getting The Fear: Manson, Me, And The Summer Of Hate"