I am well aware that the central metaphor running through this post is wildly inaccurate and completely unfair to snakes. The Kaa song was an integral part of my post, however. No animal treats its fellow animals the way we habitually treat one another in the so-called superior species. We use animal comparisons as a way of distancing ourselves from the worst aspects of humanity.
Makes you wonder, as P.G.Wodehouse was wont to say through humour, whether mankind really is nature’s last word.
Do you remember the famous scene in the 1967 ‘Jungle Book’ film in which Kaa sings ‘Trust in me’ to Mowgli? He is a snake with all the serpent’s mesmerising charm and devious wiles – and, bottom line here, desire to consume a tender young long-pig.
Very different in the book, was Kaa: A mentor, not a tormentor! But, Disney does as Disney wishes to these old stories…
But, the character as shown on the screen represents a type of human being with which I am only too familiar: The Destructive Predator; the emotional bully who uses the trance-like power of rhetoric and mind games to lure someone in and, once confused and off-balance, to pounce and devour the victim’s emotions or light or both. Very often these people will make a big song and dance about how trustworthy they are – and I am always reminded of Kaa’s pinwheeling eyes and the siren-like tones of his song.
Mowgli was an innocent, an easy target, overly trusting and unused to the darker side of animal-kind. He had not yet learned cynicism or the ability to discern and go with a gut feeling. He was, at that point in the film, perfect Narcissistic Supply, and Kaa’s creepy lullaby a form of basic gaslighting in that it caught Mowgli off guard, played with his mind and emotions and came close to destroying him.
We can, I feel, learn from this slice of film. As a child, I loved it (though I preferred the book!) – and, since Kaa was as clumsy and bumbling as he was voracious, laughed and cringed at the same time.
In my experience, those who actually are genuinely trustworthy do not, like Kaa, need to emphasise it – and those who say, ‘Trust in me!’ are, I suspect, using a manipulative technique rather than proving themselves to be people of trust.
The sad thing about betrayal of trust is that it seldom comes from enemies – because, by the very nature of the ‘relationship’, we are unlikely to have trusted them in the first place. No: It is most likely to emanate from friends, family, loved ones, some of whom will have inveigled themselves into our hearts, and our fragile trust, with snake-like intelligence and cold-blooded-ness. Why? Because something tender and delicious in our souls attracts their hungry gaze and stirs in them the ancient need to swallow whole and then digest at sleepy leisure.
‘Trust in me…’ they warble, as they swing us high in a hoop of strength and flattery, their beautiful eyes fastening upon us as if we were the best thing since Lindt chocolate (as, to the emotionally empty and soul-rejecting, I suppose we are). Stupefied, fascinated, entranced, we do not notice the advancing forked tongue until it is far far too late.
It is very hard to keep our wits about us around serpentine humans: Their ability to catch us off guard and charm us is so high that we do not notice warning signs which, in our right minds, would shrill a loud and obvious siren. Perhaps the most obvious is that these people get too close too quickly. They cross boundaries with terrifying ease and assume a level of intimacy with us which has no true foundation in fact or time. Very often, we get bad vibrations, feel uneasy, feel invaded and taken over – but they are incredibly adept at convincing us that the bond is meant to be, or that we are stuffy, fussy, untrusting and old-fashioned to shrink from this super-fast seduction scene.
So, what does ‘Trust me’ actually mean in their highly-specialised lexicon? I think it is more analogous to ‘Be sucked in…’ ‘Do as I say/want…’ ‘Be controlled by me…’ ‘Live life the way I want…’ ‘Adopt my thoughts…’ – and, in the bluntly sexual sense, ‘Soften your mind and body so that I can fuck you…’
They are dangerous precisely because they can shape-shift with such speed and ease: From snake to human in the twinkling of an eye – and back again just as quickly. They are dangerous because they wear their second skin so easily and convincingly, and because they act emotions so brilliantly. Like Kaa, they use their eyes as love-weapons. They know how to draw you in and do so without conscience or consideration.
Once in their power, it is all-but impossible to get away. They are more than capable of saying, in sorrowful tones, ‘Don’t you trust me?’ when you question them in any way or object, no matter how gently, to their behaviour.
Ultimately, however, they paralyse you with their venom and eat you – because, you see, to the snakes of this human world, you were only ever a meal, something to fill up their vast emptiness, and something to be excreted before the next tempting morsel wanders into view.
The mind-stealing, personality-rummaging starts with the eyes – and continues with the honeyed words, the advanced level rhetoric and the subtle bullying. Refusing to maintain eye contact helps, oddly enough: The fault lines in the snake’s logic, the inconsistencies in the serpentine argument, seem much clearer when out of the immediate trance zone.
Trusting a snake causes harm, serious harm. Since it is the nature of the beast that such an encounter can never end well, trust as an abstract noun is tarnished and difficult to access and seen with terror rather than joy. The damage inflicted by the snake transfers its fangs to other relationships.
This is where the gut instinct comes into its own. This is where we have to close our eyes, and, if necessary, stop up our ears – and sniff out what lies beyond beguiling eyes and a flattering song. This is where our ancient ability to discern colours/auras in other people comes to our aid – because no snake can hide its true nature indefinitely, and the darkness at the heart of some human snakes cannot be denied, no matter how bright and gorgeous the outer raiment.
If our gut says, ‘Do not trust this person,’ it is warning us for a reason: For our own safety and well-being. If it insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that there is something wrong with the situation, that there is darkness flowing our way, we would do well to listen to this inner voice – and take evasive action.
Gut instinct was given to us for a reason, a damn good reason. We sneer at it, or ignore it, at our peril. Remember these important distinguishing marks of human snakes: They are smooth, sinuous, certain; there is no human hesitation or clumsiness because they are so intent upon their prey. They sidle up close, lock eyes, seem to know us intimately within seconds and sing, oh so sweetly, ‘Trust in me…’
Don’t! Don’t listen! Don’t be taken in! Stamp on the fuckers! Pin them to the ground with a sharp stick and sever their heads from their coiling bodies! Don’t trust them as far as you can gob them!
‘Trust in mee…’