Sunday, January 26, 2014

Five Amazing (But Still Gross) Spiders In Literature To Help Freak You Out I Mean Inspire You.

Remember how J.R.R. Tolkien had that great scene where Frodo and Sam faced off against Shelob and (I think, it's been a while since I read the books) Frodo got bit and Sam had to take over for a while? Actually, Sam did most of the work, now that I think about it, making Frodo a bigger fraud than Gandalf.  Whatever, remember then how J.K. Rowling had Harry Potter and his friends (who later hooked up even though everyone thought Harry and Hermione would get together) fight a spider and nobody said anything about how that might maybe be copying because J.K. Rowling is the only person
 in the world more litigious than me?

Did anyone follow that sentence? Never mind. The point is, some guy named Jimmy Kong has a zillion pictures of spiders looking directly into the camera, and it might be the creepiest thing I have ever seen.  I have been staring at the pictures for 10 minutes now and I think my skin crawled away and is hiding under the couch, whimpering.  I feel like they're all on me, help.

The pictures on this post are some of the shots from that Flickr account (a link is at the bottom.) What better accompaniment to find out about other spiders you might want to read about if you have been able to stop staring in horror at the pictures on this page.

1. Charlotte, Charlotte's Web.  Apparently not all spiders are evil and need to be destroyed immediately? I'm sure lots and lots of people love Charlotte and the way she and Templeton kept Fern's family from having delicious barbecue ribs for Christmas. Me, I never warmed up to her. I was more of a Cricket In Times Square kind of guy.  But anyway, yeah, people love Charlotte.

2. Ungoliant, The Silmarillion.  J.R.R. Tolkien wrote something that wasn't The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit, but I never read it. According to Wikipedia (a phrase that is no longer ridiculous to say) Ungoliant is an evil spirit who takes the form of a spider, and was from "before the world."  In the Wikipedia entry, there is a lot of stuff about what Ungoliant did, stuff that involves names like "Vala Melkor" and I stopped reading there to skim the rest of the entry and find this gold mine:

Ungoliant has been the subject of several heavy metal music songs. ...On their 2006 album The Morrigan's Call, the Irish Celtic metal band Cruachan featured a song "Ungoliant" as well as one named after Shelob.

The mind reels: An Irish Celtic metal band? All I can imagine is that dwarf from Spinal Tap.

3. A Noiseless, Patient Spider, Walt Whitman.  Those are the worst kind and I find them often in my shower.  Whitman compared a spider unfurling its web (probably so someone could walk through it and feel like it was on their face the rest of the day) to his soul when it dies, and now he's grossed me out about Heaven. Are there spiders in Heaven? I think we can definitively say that no sane concept of Heaven includes spiders.

4. Arachne, Greek legend.  So Arachne was pretty awesome at weaving and said she was better than the gods themselves, because gods weave? Apparently.  And an old lady came up to Arachne to warn that people oughta not say they're better than the gods, to which Arachne responded with "whatevs." (I'm taking some liberties, here.)  The old woman was -- you guessed it -- Athena herself, because the goddess of wisdom weaves? I guess so. They got into a weaving contest, and Athena outwove Arachne with her pictures of the gods besting bragging mortals, but Arachne, stupid as ever, wove her own tapestry showing the gods abusing mortals.  Athena gets mad and, as gods always do, punished Arachne... by ripping up her tapestry.  In response to which, Arachne said "Whew, dodged a bullet there." Ha, no, wait, she hung herself, at which point Athena got sad, but not too sad, because she brought Arachne back to life but changed her into a spider.  Let me mess with your head for a long time by showing you the picture of this transformation, as shown in Dante's Purgatorio:

I will never stop barfing.

In related news, they illustrated books in the Middle Ages?

5. Indra, Indian mythology.  Indra created the world, but created it as a web because Indra is a spider and that is what spiders do, besides hide in my shower until I have shampoo in my hair and have to try to kill them with the soap because if I don't they will drop into my mouth and lay eggs in my brain (that is the other thing spiders do.)  Indra's web has, at each juncture, a pearl, and the way it works is beautiful:

When Indra fashioned the world, he made it as a web, and at every knot in the web is tied a pearl. Everything that exists, or has ever existed, every idea that can be thought about, every datum that is true—every dharma, in the language of Indian philosophy—is a pearl in Indra's net. Not only is every pearl tied to every other pearl by virtue of the web on which they hang, but on the surface of every pearl is reflected every other jewel on the net. Everything that exists in Indra's web implies all else that exists

Still, beautiful as that is, the world is a spider's web and in the middle of all those reflecting pearls of insight is a monster that is going to lay eggs in your brain.

Happy writing!

Look at all Jimmy Kong's terrifying spiders looking back at you by clicking here.


Briane Pagel doesn't like spiders. I'm sure you got that.  He also writes books, none of which feature spiders, but many of which feature things that seem like they would be worse: women who eat souls to stay out of Hell, kids living with parents who are graverobbers, murderous astronauts, stuff like that.  Find his books on Amazon by clicking here.

And don't forget to check out lit, a place for stories, which will pay you for your writing!


  1. I love The Cricket in Times Square.
    I also loved the animated Charlotte's Web as a kid, but I've never read the book.

    You know, I seem to have lots of spiders in my stuff...?

  2. I read the Silimirrilian... Silmirillion... dammit... I read the other Tolkien book. It was fine. A collection of myths he'd been working on for most of his life that served as backstory to the LOTR novels. It wasn't exactly what I'd call a narrative. But it was interesting.

    They way reading the Book of Mormon is interesting if you aren't a Mormon. Which I've done, because I found it interesting. How interesting? About as interesting as the Silmirillon.... dammit, whatever.

    So, the first spider is kind of cute. If it were blown up to puppy size I'd probably try to hug it.

    Secondly, I don't think there is anything harder to spell than the Silmirillion... Salmonella.... Salmon... Simon....

    What was I talking about?

  3. HUG a spider?

    I just died a little.

  4. Ugh....I'm all creeped out now. Their eyes are hypnotizing and terrifying all at once.

    And that picture of Arachne is something out of a nightmare.

  5. I have no idea why people are scared of spider, so am I.
    Sometime they look cute, but I would never risk touching them. Disgusting...I will quit write my essay here, because those eyes at staring at me and seems as if it will jump on me and eat me up. The creepiest thing ever!