'However selective the conscious mind may be, most biological memories are unpleasant ones, echoes of danger and
terror. Nothing endures for so long as fear. Everywhere in nature one sees evidence of innate
releasing mechanisms literally millions of years old, which have lain dormant through thousands
of generations but retained their power undiminished. The field-rat's inherited image of the
hawk's silhouette is the classic example- even a paper silhouette drawn across a cage sends
it running frantically for cover. And how else can you explain the universal but completely
groundless loathing of the spider, only one species of which has ever been known to sting? Or
the equally surprising- in view of their comperative rarity- hatred of snakes and reptiles?
Simply because we all carry within us a submerged memory of the time when the giant spiders were
lethal, and when the reptiles were the planet's dominant life form.'
J. G. Ballard, from The Drowned World
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