Author Topic: A Weird Man in a Weirder World  (Read 311 times)

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Haywire Baboonery

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Supernatural Horror as Pessimistic Argument
« on: May 15, 2019, 10:24:25 pm »
I think the following article would be of interest to Holden.  (from HORROR STUDIES Volume 8 Number 1)

"No, everything is not all right": Supernatural Horror as Pessimistic Argument.

Here is a direct link to download

Teaser:  The paper explores how the weird is related to the uncanny, and how weird fiction may be used to create a disturbing feeling of dread which might be equivalent to philosophical pessimism.   We are wired for optimism as we are "goal oriented."    Goal-orientation implies optimism.    Why would we want to feel this dread or grasp the futility of all goals?   Well, because we can.  There is a bug in the system, and that bug is our consciousness.   

Honed over thousands of years, the very structure of information transfer and persuasion simply does not lend itself to pessimistic messages.

While philosophical pessimism’s rhetorical prospects are, for these reasons, rather unpromising, a viable alternative is afforded by a less philosophically discursive mode of creative expression, namely, weird fiction, a relatively neglected subgenre of supernatural horror.  Although early writers of weird fiction such as H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe were no strangers to pessimistic sentiments (and in Lovecraft’s case philosophical pessimism), Thomas Ligotti is perhaps the first of his kind to make an explicit contribution to the philosophy of pessimism. In his book The Conspiracy against the Human Race (2010), Ligotti explicitly describes his own brand of weird fiction, and weird fiction in general, as constituting a strategy by which to spread pessimistic ideas.    Building on that insight, this article maintains that weird fiction is uniquely situated to convey the spirit of pessimism while avoiding the pitfalls of anchoring: like a pessimistic Trojan horse, weird fiction promises a simple, scary tale while surreptitiously working to invoke in the reader a sense of uncanny fear and in ways that call into question the very nature of reality.   Rather than presenting well-reasoned arguments in support of pessimistic claims, weird fiction manifests or enacts pessimism, aesthetically, through the clever deployment of a range of stylistic devices and rhetorical manoeuvres.

What is more, by eliciting the sense of the uncanny, such rhetorical tactics work to undermine the common psychological defences of anchoring, thereby disrupting our ability to comprehend the world in terms of a coherent narrative. In so doing, they transform what would otherwise remain merely strange into an effective hostility against the world, against life, and against meaning.   Weird fiction’s monstrous aberrations destabilize the conceptual-ontological categories of space and time, knowing, and performing, all of which serve to anchor human beings’ feelings of existential security, both in the world and in their own skin.

My take on this is that The Thing That Should Not Be is our consciousness, and the conspiracy against us is our very silence about all life as perpetual misery machine.

I am still in the process of reading the article in between these living days.

Note:  The author ascribes to Schopenhauer as having referred to this world as a "perpetual misery machine."

I would like to use this phrase on this site somehow, whether it is in the title or description or even my own damn user-id.

The following links are for my own amusement.  Please do not feel obligated to listen to them.

In madness you dwell.

"Schopenhauer the ultimate horror writer."  ~  Holden
« Last Edit: May 16, 2019, 10:18:12 am by H »
He [Arthur Schopenhauer] has been the most radical of all troublemakers. He was defiant. ~ (Marcuse?)

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