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Agalmatorhemaphobia: the fear of speaking statues…

January 27, 2013


The fear of speaking statues is one of the most mysterious and less studied psychic disorders (agalmatorhemaphobia comes from the Greek agalma = statue, and rhema = speech, utterance). The unfortunate afflicted by this unpronounceable disease cannot visit a museum, or even walk through a park adorned with statues, for they imagine them stepping down from their plinth and walking behind them on tiptoes…

In its less acute forms, the aforesaid disorder takes the form of agalmatophilia, of which, for instance, Pygmalion seems to have been affected, for he made the statue of a woman with which he desperately fell in love.

Villiers de l’Isle-Adam developed all this in his disturbing L’Ève future (1886, translated into English with the no less disturbing title Tomorrow’s Eve, in which the character builds for himself, and –desperately again- falls in love with, a female robot whose name, Andréide, would later have a brilliant future as: Android).

On the other hand, in the case of Don Juan we are submerged in the sheer horror of full-blown agalmatorhemaphobia, for not only the stone statue of the Commander admonishes Don Juan for his compulsive womanizing, but in the end the agalma of doom drags him alive to Hell.

As recorded by Borges in El Libro de los Seres Imaginarios, the XVIIIth century French philosopher Condillac, in his Traité des Sensations (1754), tried to prove that a marble statue which would be endowed with the sense of smell (quiza el menos complejo de todos, writes Borges, who doesn’t dare say that it is also the most feminine sense) would end up by forming its (her?) own ideas and would slowly build a personal ego (la nocion del Yo).

What is less known, is that we are all afflicted, in various proportions, by agalmatorhemaphobia. We all know those sulky long evenings when the statue you live with sits sulkily in a corner, brooding coldly and silently for reasons that she would not reveal (for you have to guess), but ready to swiftly run after you, in case you would try to flee, and to drag you alive to the realm of eternal punishment.

It so happens that some of the people who have been severely exposed to agalmatorhemaphobia become immune to its effects. Most never recover, though.


Cf. also:

Build me a woman (on a lethal kind of DIY)…

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