Rebecca Tyrrel: 'Nicole Kidman answers the great rhetorical question: 'Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?'

Share
Related Topics

Who knew that Nicole Kidman is frightened of butterflies? Who knew, in fact, that anyone had a phobia so rare that it doesn't have a name? The fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth does (arachibutyrophobia). So does the fear that somewhere a duck is secretly watching you (antidaephobia). And so, needless to add, does the fear of the bluff know-it-all with misguided dress sense (Clarksonophobia).

Yet the fear of butterflies is so recherché that even the online support group ihatebutterflies.com, while claiming a link to the fear of moths (mottephobia), admits there is no official term.

Nicole is baffled as to how she developed her violent aversion to the most exquisite of all God's creations. All she knows is that it came upon her while growing up in Australia, when she once climbed over a fence to avoid a butterfly that was sitting on the garden gate. She did once try aversion therapy, by walking into the butterfly cage in a natural history museum. "But that didn't work. I jump out of planes, I could be covered in cockroaches, I do all sorts of things, but I just don't like the feel of butterflies' bodies." All sorts of things indeed. Nicole actively embraces creatures and communities about whom it is surely a moral duty to be phobic. For instance, being close friends with Rupert Murdoch, or spending 10 years married to Tom Cruise, or becoming a Scientologist?

The obvious advice to anyone who can be reduced to quivering paralysis by a Red Admiral while hanging out with Murdoch, Cruise or fellow followers of L Ron Hubbard is urgently to seek the help of a clinical psychologist. But since Nicole's father is a highly respected one of those, and hasn't sorted her out, her problem must lie beyond the healing power of the mental health professional.

If anything useful emerges from Nicole's take on terror, it is that she has provided a literal answer to one of the great rhetorical questions of all time. "Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?" was first asked by Alexander Pope in a satirical poem (about a royal courtier), followed 200 years later by William Rees-Mogg (about Mick Jagger). Now we know. Nicole Kidman, that's who.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - London - £43,000

£35000 - £43000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior IT Support Analyst...

Recruitment Genius: Technical SEO Specialist

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The digital world is incredible – but it’s human bonds that make us who we are

Joanna Shields
A mother and her child  

50 signs that we need to stop spreading the myth of the 'ideal mother'

Victoria Richards
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness