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Nathaniel Tapley (Natt)
Username: Natt

Registered: 11-2009
Posted From: 92.21.106.154
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 11:54 pm:   

Apologies for still rattling at the corpse of that discussion, but I think some interesting and insightful points were made that could bear further discussion, if divorced from the odd atmosphere of the other thread.

The point was made that vampires are just as silly as talking chairs. I'm pretty sure that I remember a Dickens story about a man being terrorised by a talking chair when he gets drunk in an inn one night. Someone better read than me can probably remember the details, but I think it's in Pickwick Papers.

One of the famous episodes of Lights Out! was written by Arch Oboler's bet to himself that he could make any object, no mater how ridiculous, into something scary. His eyes then fell on a discarded chicken heart in the bin.

Is there anything 'silly' enough that, with the right treatment, its very silliness can't horrify rather than amuse?

Another strand of the argument I found fascinating is the idea that, in its desires to unsettle, horror fiction is, of necessity, anti-scientific. It's a distinctly Romantic, Gothic, and anti-Emlightenment genre. Is that true?

Can one be a rationalist, sceptic, empiricist and still be unsettled by horror fiction?
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, August 26, 2011 - 04:28 pm:   

Lovecraft made a career of unsettling rationalists, while purporting to be one himself. I have always had my doubts.

I believe we are entering a new stage of human philosophical evolution. We've done blindly terrified superstition, we've been "enlightened", we've done cock-sure scientific arrogance, and now we find ourselves growing unsure again. Heisenberg started the forward push to "more than we can conceive" on the back of Einstein hitting the brick wall of concrete scientism.

This is the dawning of the age of unfettered thought. Horror/fantasy fiction merely illustrates this point with a certain Úlan.

I have always found the supernatural branch of horror far more disturbing, and intellectually exciting, than that of mere human transgression. A universe of endless possibilities, both horrible and wondrous, lies out there to be explored. We owe it to ourselves and to our readers to plumb the cosmic depths of infinitely definite possibility.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Friday, August 26, 2011 - 04:47 pm:   

One of the famous episodes of Lights Out! was written by Arch Oboler's bet to himself that he could make any object, no mater how ridiculous, into something scary. His eyes then fell on a discarded chicken heart in the bin.

This brings immediately to mind Edward Bryant's chilling sci-fi/horror short-story, "Dancing Chickens," a work both ridiculous, and ghastly....
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.79.79.119
Posted on Friday, August 26, 2011 - 05:00 pm:   

"Can one be a rationalist, sceptic, empiricist and still be unsettled by horror fiction?"

Sure, the idea that being rational may not be enough is horrific to a rationalist. I'm not convinced that rationalism is finished. The last two grand narratives left standing are capitalism and science. The former is under siege, but the latter seems like the only way ahead to me. It's got a lot of maturing to do, though. I think people give up on it because it's dififcult. It requires thought, dedication and something like Orwell's ability to look unpleasant facts in the face, but its rewards are second to none.

I saw John Mills as Quatermass recently. The world is in social chaos, the sky has turned green, young people are gathering and immolating themselves en masse and still Quatermass sticks remains rational and feels his way to the root of the problem. Indulging in an absurdist or romantic view of the universe would have meant defeat.

I think about the complicated world of matter around me and how before the periodic table of the elements I too would feel the urge to just surrender and submit to a model four (or five) elements mixed in various ways as an explanation. The problem of understanding matter seems so complicated that it's easy to believe that there never will be a rational understanding. There will be an Einstein of sociology, a Bohr of psychology. Give them time. I think logic is fab.

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