The Collective Unconscious thrills, and trembles, to a Race Memory of gigantic, powerful and dispassionate beings – and, from this, we get our fear of, and fascination for, the huge, the outlandishly tall, the hulkingly grotesque.
We love to read fairy stories which contain giants. Our souls contain the mythological layers formed by gigantism. ‘Fee Fi Fo Fum…’ has the power to strike terror into the bravest child – and its echoes down the years cause adult hairs to stand on end.
Above-average size is the enemy. It is the club-wielding monster, the creature which drinks the blood of Englishmen; it is the fear of being overwhelmed, squashed, torn apart which becomes personified in these scary and sub-human beings. Perhaps it also encompasses a child’s fear of growing up, of being one of the Big People – and all children’s sense of powerlessness in world of huge adults who make all the rules and are not above using physical might to enforce them.
Those afflicted with the modern-day medical problems which cause excessive growth are seen as creepy, grotesque, ugly, cursed. They attract stares and nasty comments. They are regularly bullied. It is as if society has to assert dominance over the mythological giants of its childhood by bringing their human counterparts down a metaphorical foot or two through intimidation.
And yet, we have a sick need for these early symbols of terror. They, along with witches and all the other villains of folk stories and fairy tales, have a purpose in the world: They are the archetypal can-carriers of the worst of the Human Condition, the scapegoats to end all scapegoats. They allow us to view the world through the black and white prism of goodies and baddies. They produce a mindset which links the physical accidents of birth, and the holding beliefs outside those permitted by Patriarchal Religions, with monstrous character – and evil.
Giants! Ice-Giants! The Big Friendly Giant. Goliath. All the giants, named and unnamed, who lumber and club their way through our stories! Detritus, the Troll! Our literature is packed with them. Our imaginations honed on their over-large bodies and slow gait!
Giants! I love them! Wanted to be one when I was little, in between my Nancy-and-Peggy-from-‘Swallows and Amazons’ phase and my short-lived Prima ballerina afternoon!
Giants! Let us not demonise them! Let us enjoy their presence in our stories and their reality in our world! Let us, above all, remember that most genuine monsters look like you and I – and that we humans have created the sub-human appearance and its related malignity as a way of distancing ourselves from man’s nasty, brutish and short nature!