Issue 13 Volume 2 | November 2014 | “Occult, Magick, Evil and the Powers of Horror” Special

A Hymn To Revolt And A Hymn To Martyrdom: Two Films On Pussy Riot
July 13, 2014
COUNTER-INDOCTRINATION #1 Propaganda will set you free
April 4, 2015
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Editorial by Bradley Tuck

 

Slowly but inexorably crawling upon my consciousness and rising above every other impression, came a dizzying fear of the unknown; a fear all the greater because I could not analyse it, and seeming to concern a stealthily approaching menace; not death, but some nameless, unheard-of thing inexpressibly more ghastly and abhorrent.
H.P. Lovecraft – The Crawling Chaos
Deprived of world, therefore, I fall in a faint. In that compelling, raw, insolent thing in the morgue’s full sunlight, in that thing that no longer matches and therefore no longer signifies anything, I behold the breaking down of a world that erased its borders: fainting away. The corpse, seen without God and outside of science, is the utmost of abjection. It is death infecting life. Abject. It is something rejected from which one does not part, from which one does not protect oneself as from an object. Imaginary uncanniness and real threat, it beckons to us and ends up engulfing us.
Julia Kristeva – The Power of Horror
[…] Poe, Baudelaire, Proust and Valéry […] express a “consciousness of crisis”: a pleasure in decay, in destruction, in the beauty of evil; a celebration of the asocial, of the anomic – the secret rebellion of the bourgeois against his own class.
Herbert Marcuse – The Aesthetic Dimension
Fear holds a beguiling power over the human species. Against the abyssal terror that threatens to colonise the soul, dissolve the self or annihilate the body, the human mind sets a fortress of repression, regulation and control. With an obsessive regimentation it seeks to keep the strange unnameable force at bay, but the thing will not reseed. It lingers… a haunting, uncontrollable thing. Lingering; dizzying the senses with the threat of nausea and revilement. Caught in the midst of this unnamed spectre, the poor being seeks to evade its own obliteration, but it is also enticed. It is fascinated by destruction, of others and itself. It wants to run, but it wants to watch. This strange disintegration of its world fascinates it. This peculiar violation that lures its victims with the insinuation of their own violation is known as “horror”.  The genre of horror is the receptacle of our fears, but dethroned of their true power, and neutered via entertainment, they now serve to excite us. Our fears are reconfirmed: mummies, zombies, vampires, ghosts and the stigmatised otherness that haunts our social life. In this setting horror is the genre that makes possible the fleeting indulgence in our fears; a momentary catharsis that does not intrude upon our daily life. Behind the fleeting thrill lies a defence mechanism that keeps us at a safe distance. What is taken as horror is merely the  simulacrum of horror; the cliché of horror that titillates. But then something does intrude… .a  thought, a haunting image that lingers, that causes us to sweat at night and haunts our  dreams; a horror that trespasses into real life.
Horror contains the seeds of its own destruction. The abject, which is unnameable and boarderless comes to dismantle the genre itself. True horror is beyond genre. Horror is no longer the monsters and ghools but “a hatred that smiles” (Kristeva). Horror comes to subvert itself. It is in this respect that one can find a subversive potential in a Poe, a Lovecraft, a Barker, an Argento, a Cronenberg or a Lynch. Not because of political alignment, but because of the way they make us confront our fear, reorder them and reconfigure our boundaries. At this point horror no longer serves to reconfirm our fears, but problematises the social order, undermines its promises of security and reveal the Horror that intermingles in social life.
Turning our attention from occultism and experimentalism that dominated volume one, volume two takes horror as its guiding theme. Here Ben Noys finds, in Rawhead Rex (based on Clive Barker’s short story of the same name), one such subversion. Rawhead Rex queers the horror genre, subverts its gender norms and reveals a materialist dimension. Following this Dominic Fox interviews Graham Harman and they find subversive, philosophical and materialist dimensions in the works of H. P. Lovecraft. Caryn Coleman also turns to the horror in order to exhume subversive and philosophical insights about architecture, space and the home . Each of these articles, in a sense, reveals the power of horror to subvert preconceived notions and reveal philosophical insights.
Taking a different direction, Mogg Morgan turns to the reactionary and defensive mechanism that emerges within the horror genre. Exploring the myth of the mummies curse, Morgan traces the history of how an imperial mentality has overwritten and occluded the true occult legacy of Ancient Egypt.
Finally Greg Scorzo finds horror in a more unexpected place. Exploring a horror that may accurately be said to transcend the genre, Scorzo explores manners and etiquette in Michael Haneke’s Funny Games remake. Horror comes to rebel against the genre and turns its audience against themselves.
The horror genre can lead to a protective defense mechanism which offers us a momentary terror, but always reaffirms our fears and social expectations. However it also opens the possibility of another kind of horror; a horror that opens the abyss, obliterating the self and reconfiguring the social order. Potentially destructive and yet potentially revitalizing. This collapse of signification works as a potential exposure therapy which re configures the subject and its understanding of their place in the social order. It is in this respect that horror holds within its transgressions a secret rebellion that turns the subject against their social function and reconfigured the social order. In this respect, horror can be both a genre of reassurance and self-protection, but also a genre of exposure and self-abolition. Horror is a genre among other genres, but it is also a genre against genres. It is a genre that gnaws at the fixed, the secure and the ordered. All is transcended. All becomes new.

 

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A Nine-Foot Phallus on the Loose: Rawhead Rex (1986) by Benjamin Noys
An Interview with Graham Harman on H.P. Lovecraft by Dominic Fox
The House is bad by Caryn Coleman-Mojica
The “Mummy’s Curse? Wrapping Ancient Egypt in western notions of evil & guilt by Mogg Morgan
 Manners and Guilt: Audience Horror in Michael Haneke’s Funny Games Remake by Greg Scorzo