In the Trap
One speculative etymology of the word ‘terror’ (and, by association, ‘terrorism’) connects it to words like terrain and territory. If to be a victim of terror is to tremble with fear, as the earth trembles with seismic activity, then perhaps the projection of enmity onto landscape is not a uniquely twentieth-century phenomenon. Maybe it is a form of psychological atavism, a vestige from the days we wandered amongst sabre-toothed cats, inexplicable earthquakes, and ambush-prone wolves. Dark forests have always had a special place in our mythologies—sites of unspeakable acts, black magic, and dread. If, at certain points in history, humans have been prone to pantheism, perhaps the twentieth century (and its unprecedented horror) marks the beginning of an engrained panophobia: the fear of a complete and unified enemy—animal, vegetable, and mineral.