I’ve been reading Andrew Scull’s magisterial, new book on the history of madness in culture, chiefly European, and the chapter on witches was both fascinating as well as disturbing. Then the chapter on Erasmus and the virulent response of Luther and the RCC to his relatively secular outlook? Wow. I mean: Double wow.
Meanwhile, closer to this century, the houses in the neighborhood are decked out in orange and black, cobwebs and tiny witches, skeletons and monsters: And tomorrow night droves of kids are going to hit the posh Brattle Street palaces in search of C-A-N-D-Y.
I rather like a holiday that transmogrifies fears and placates them with sugar. For one night, fear is coupled with pleasure. Sadness meets anticipation. It’s kind of a group experience of what madness may have been like in Europe during those dark ages when witches were tortured and then burned alive.
Nowadays the witches get Snickers.