Steven Shaviro on Lovecraft

•November 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Transcendental Monsters

In a brilliant article that draws surprising parallels between Husserl’s phenomenology and the “weird fiction” of H. P. Lovecraft, Graham Harman (2008) argues that Lovecraft’s tales of unrepresentable monsters cannot be read in a Kantian register…

Paul Di Filippo, “Phylogenesis” (1988)

“Life is tenacious, life is ingenious, life is mutable, life is fecund.” To consider what it means for us to live on — to survive, and to reproduce our social existence — as parasites on the monstrous body of Capital, we must turn from Lovecraft to Paul Di Filippo, a more recent writer of the fantastic, who also hails (as Lovecraft did) from Providence, Rhode Island…

Ben Woodard – ‘A Nature to Pulp the Stoutest Philosopher: Towards a Lovecraftian Philosophy of Nature’

•November 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Special commissioned writing by Ben Woodard
A Nature to Pulp the Stoutest Philosopher: Towards a Lovecraftian Philosophy of Nature

The possibility of Lovecraftian philosophy (and a philosophy of nature) is at least a threefold weirdness:

1-Lovecraft’s own philosophical views were bitingly materialist following in the footsteps of Hugh Elliot, Bertrand Russell as well as Nietzsche and Schopenhauer while making dismissive remarks about Bergson, Freud and others. Lovecraft’s enthusiasm for Nietzsche was actually more Schopenhauerian than it appeared as evidenced in his piece Nietzscheism and Realism.[i]

2-Lovecraft’s reception ‘among the philosophers’ has been fairly limited with only a few scattered remarks from Deleuze and Guattari and philosophical-literary treatments by Michel Houellebecq, ST Joshi, and others. Though it seems to have begun to change with Speculative Realism and other connected thinkers – as even Badiou has expressed his appreciation for Lovecraft.[ii]

3-This relationship of Lovecraft to philosophy and philosophy to Lovecraft is coupled with Lovecraft’s habit of mercilessly destroying the philosopher and the figure of the academic more generally in his work, a destruction which is both an epistemological destruction (or sanity breakdown) and an ontological destruction (or unleashing of the corrosive forces of the cosmos). These demolitions are a result of a materialism which border on supernaturalism in Lovecraft’s cosmos, a materialism which operates within an onto-epistemological indistinction. This indistinction, which runs throughout weird fiction on the whole, means not only that being and knowing are indistinct and cannot be pre-determined by thought, but that it is difficult to separate being and thinking formally from one another.

Continue reading ‘Ben Woodard – ‘A Nature to Pulp the Stoutest Philosopher: Towards a Lovecraftian Philosophy of Nature’’

Carl Neville

•November 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Carl Neville on George A. Romero’s Martin and 1970s horror films

George Romero’s “Martin”, which was made in 1976, is one of best films of 70s. It’s not just great fora horror film, but a great film by any standard and certainly Romero’s best.

“Martin” is in many respects a quintessentially 70s movie, a complex film in which severalantagonisms are played out, a film which revolves as so much 70’s cinema does around conflictand disillusion. In many respects its an anti-horror movie, or at least attempts a subversion of thetraditional vampire movie. It doesn’t do this in any kind of facile way, like “Love at first bite” aparody vampire comedy that came out around the same time or by emphasising the trashy, campand erotic elements of the vampire legend as in the earlier “Blood for Dracula” but rather throughforcing the vampire movie into a pretty straight social realist frame. In some respects “Martin”is a meditation on the problems of being a Vampire in 70’s America as well as on the problemof adequately representing the vampire in a movie in that unhappy land, and at that particularlyunhappy time.

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Amanda Beech

•November 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Amanda Beech’s – presentation text and image of Sanity Assasin (2009) that was screened


Horror

  • Horror as an experience and an image
  • Horror as the condition that describes the limits of our mastery, the edge of reason, the place at which we no longer control our environment, or our future.
  • Horror as the description of a negative space that stands for that we do not have access to.

So horror becomes emblematic of the nothing. It is here when we see that horror is a referential term, capable of invoking this relation to the inaccessible or non-relational. But, in its referential capacities, we can start to look at some problems within the category of horror. This is where I can cite scepticism, finitude and myth as the standards of horror that horror itself cannot escape. The Real Horror then is that horror cannot be real, and will result in camp, kitsch and formula, because its aim is contradictory. A key problem of horror then, as something that references the infinite, is that it asks us how we can speak of this ‘being beyond’ without reproducing this as presence without reconditioning it to another form of finitude. This is where the image of horror must live out its own contradiction, for an image must – if it follows the standard of horror – refer to and invoke the unsayable, the unfilmable, the unrepresentable and the unconscious – let us say the anti-image. This reminds me of a theological schema that would tell us that images are the work of the devil, since their illusions are capable of a domination we cannot imagine, precisely because they replicate the world we know.

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Tom Trevatt – Introduction Excerpt

•November 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Introduction by co-chair and co organizer, Tom Trevatt

Real Horror

This symposium is a provocation of sorts. It asks the question of the relation between reality and horror, and proposes that they share a common ground. We want to explore, on one hand, how horror exists within the prosaic material world and on the other how it brings an objective reality to bear on the human world. It is for this reason that horror seems to exist both materially, as part of the everyday, but also, to contort and twist human finitude to such extremes that it presents to us the possibility of a world other than ours, a world beyond the human. Today I would like to explore how horror’s irreality, i.e. the monster at the heart of the story, the unnameable terrifying  non-humanity, is specifically the key to an expression of an objective realism, or to give it another name, a Speculative Realism. The philosophical movement of Speculative Realism is most closely linked to the philosophers Graham Harman, Iain Hamilton Grant, Quentin Meillessoux and Ray Brassier and, in brief, is concerned chiefly with the overcoming of the finitude of human existence, a resistance to what Meillessoux has termed a correlationist position and a complete disavowel of philosophies of access. Speculative Realism rejects the privileging of the human being over other entities, suggesting instead an objective approach.

For me, what this type of thought opens up in relation to the horror genre, is the idea that these cultural phenomena, books, films etc, present an inhuman element within a human world, approaching, in a sense, the realism of Speculative Realism. I want to think the presentations today through this frame. Perhaps we can touch on these kinds of questions in the discussions after each presentation.

 

Caryn Coleman – Introduction excerpt

•November 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Introduction by co-chair and co organizer, Caryn Coleman

Hello, Happy Halloween, and Thanks Given!

Harman’s reading of H.P. Lovecraft is the starting off point for this symposium and from this numerous threads can be pulled out. Although I consider Lovecraft to be of a Gothic tradition rather than strict Horror, his placement of the fantastical into the real world has had a profound effect on modern horror films. In movies like The Haunted Palace and others in Roger Corman’s Edgar Allen Poe series, the lesser-known Lovecraft’s narratives were incorporated into the Poe stories. And on television Rod Serling’s Night Gallery (a series where artwork was the focal point of fear) they re-enacted such Lovecraft tales as ‘Pickman’s Model. This conflation of horror and reality is the beginning of what eventually manifested into films being based in the present day. Films like Rosemary’s Baby, Night of the Living Dead, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are turning points of horror cinema into the post-modern era. Decades later, and skipping over many keys points in horror history, we now see that horror has invaded our everyday contemporary pop culture reality. It has become buying power. Take Virgin Trains’ new zombified advertising campaign ‘Don’t Go Zombie’ featuring graphic billboards across London and in a gimmicky online interactive shooting game on their website. The fast version of zombies is also being used to sell Ford Fiestas in a commercial in the United States. And, thanks to Twilight, it’s impossible to ignore the onslaught of teenage vampires represented on television, books, and movies. It’s even seeped into our love lives with the online dating site Horror Crush whose tagline is ‘horror dating for horror fans’. The reality is that horror has become a part of our culture and is now big business for the masses.

Horror and reality, in the most obvious ways we can think of them, have a very close relationship and often their existence must be considered in relation to each other. Scientific invasions, cultural migration, patriarchal systems, war, sexuality, and gender roles are just some of the realities expressed either explicitly or implicitly in the horror genre of literature, television, film, and art. Horror is much more than surface material. It’s a complex and nearly indefinable genre. This is due to a variety of factors, mostly based on personal opinion and reaction, but also because of the historical specificity of horror. It means different things to different people depending on the time period it was produced and consumed. And to me, that’s what makes the provocations set up in the Real Horror Symposium so important.  All of the speakers here today provide us with an opportunity to map out the similarities and differences of horror and reality where we can then ignite a dialogue about what horror is and what its future possibilities are.