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What is the meaning of "the crawling of the walls"?

I can practically feel the presence of disease: the crawling of the walls, the energy tension— like the nesting of a thousand insects.

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closed as too localized by Matt E. Эллен, FumbleFingers, aedia λ, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Kristina Lopez Apr 2 '13 at 17:14

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It's a clumsy attempt to recycle the expression crawling out of the walls / woodwork, but it doesn't really work because it gets mixed up with formication (the tactile hallucination where you think insects are crawling on/under your skin). – FumbleFingers Apr 1 '13 at 17:40

The meaning of “the crawling of the walls” is not perfectly clear in the example sentence, because there are several possible meanings.

With the reference to “nesting of a thousand insects”, perhaps the most likely meaning is “It was like many insects were crawling on the walls”.

Another likely prospect is that it means the same, or nearly so, as idiomatic “climbing the walls”. Thefreedictionary.com quotes Cambridge Idioms Dictionary to this effect:

to be extremely nervous, worried, bored, or annoyed [eg] I was practically climbing the walls at her stupidity.

Another possibility is that it was as if insects were crawling inside the walls, and making rustling noises. Finally, it might refer to a feverish shimmering of the appearance of the walls.

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