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- Science's Less Accurate Grandmother: Review: In The Dust of This Planet by Eugene Thacker
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Horror, then, becomes the human tool that we use to discuss this world, hostile to our very existence, and unknowable. Thacker's argument is that the horror genre and the occult are means by which humanity has tried to understand the "world-without-us," in a way which, by definition, philosophy never could.
His arguments, through the analysis and discussion of horror and occult concepts, is fascinating and horrifying in its own right. It induces this sense of cosmic, intellectual horror which permeates the works of H. Lovecraft , among others. This is potent, fascinating stuff that's well worth the investment in time and mental energy. In the closing chapter, Thacker introduces a poem, "The Subharmonic Murmur of Black Tentacular Voids," which he then uses to bridge philosophy and horror as he explores the concept of unknowing and cosmic horror.
It's a clever bit of meta literature, and an effective one at that. Although I was unimpressed by the poem at first, I reread it a few times and its cold, scientific genesis of extremophile life hostile to thought got under my skin. All in all, a fascinating, difficult read, and one which touches on subjects that are, by definition, untouchable. Oct 26, Tobias Wonderland rated it really liked it. I have no idea what this was about but I liked it.
Whether my disappointment in this will prove a function of my expectation, only time and renewed reading-neither of which I am at present prepared to invest-will tell. Much of the subject matter is compelling, but Thacker's treatment of that subject matter is made in the most awful kind of academic prattling. This book reads like your buddy's PhD dissertation he thrust on you, by which I mean that it is not alive.
This is philosophy not in the wild, but philosophy confined to a zoo. May 11, Alexander rated it really liked it.
But why this gallery of gruesome? The horror of philosophy, writes Thacker, is the thought of the unthinkable. Thus it is that demonology, witchcraft and magic take centre stage here with Thacker as a whirlwind tour guide, leaping from example to occult example, each exposing a dimension of an unthinkable world, one shorn of humanity and indifferent to any desire, whim and fancy of human projection. As should be clear by now, this isn't strictly speaking a work of philosophy in the traditional sense. Indeed, as a fellow traveler of the 'non-philosophical' crowd clustered around the work of French thinker Francois Laruelle, like them, Thacker doesn't so much 'do' philosophy as he works 'with' philosophy from a vantage point just outside of it.
Tag: Eugene Thacker
Looking upon philosophy from the perspective of horror allows Thacker to illuminate the stakes of the philosophical enterprise as a whole, bringing to the foreground the specters that haunt its foundations from within. In Thacker's hands, Life, one of our most intimate categories of thought, simply falls apart, and what we encounter instead is horror at the very heart of who and what we think we are. Although Thacker does make it clear that his aim to think the 'paradoxical thought' of a 'world-without-us', Thacker's endgame seems to be an inquiry into the possibility of a non-theological and non-anthropocentric mysticism, an 'occultism of the noumenal' to borrow Kant's phrase , one that aims not at 'becoming one with the divine', but rather a sort of 'becoming nothing'.
This insofar as for Thacker, as with Schopenhauer and Bataille before him, nothing is 'all there is'. Although mysticism of any sort is not something I've ever been able to buy into, my own takeaway was something like an renewed appreciation for the autonomy of horror, one not yet coopted into the omnivorous ambit of philosophy.
A matter of 'letting horror be', to put a twist on the old Heideggerian slogan. Jun 29, Kit rated it it was amazing Shelves: philosopy. Recommended to me by a friend during a conversation about True Detective. Apparently, Rust's character took a lot of inspiration from the book, so of course I had to read it. The book discusses our relationship to the unthinkable world in the philosophical, Kantian sense in its proximity to the concept of horror.
In as much as Kant in his aggressively structured way said we can't think about things without imposing human categories on them, this book attempts to think through to it, as these Recommended to me by a friend during a conversation about True Detective.
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In as much as Kant in his aggressively structured way said we can't think about things without imposing human categories on them, this book attempts to think through to it, as these fears are made manifest through the recurring themes of the demonic and the amorphous horror, in black metal, literature, film, poetry, video games, etc. It's probably the first philosophy book I've read since I graduated from a philosophy BA ten years ago.
The book summarizes how over the course of human history, we have largely converted such a horror from an external force into an internal crisis, from a demonic figure to tempt us, to demonic possession, to a dark force within ourselves. Like most things, that human history is euro centric - Buddhism for example does not really possess a master anticreator parallel to a creator god, or a creator God at all for that matter, and while some other religions possess tricksters folkloric foxes, for instance these are not imagined as in service to any hierarchical or bureaucratic system of divinities.
But everyone does this so it doesn't have to be a big deal.
However, the structure of the book is also based on medieval and classical lecture styles so sometimes argument, sometimes exposition, sometimes just general thoughts , and that can sometimes make it difficult to see the connections that link sections together. The horror of the unthinkable is perhaps best exemplified by HP Lovecraft, where one person's obsession with a perceived nameless horror moves into its manifestation in the world. Lovecraft would hate Star Trek I think, the idea that "aliens" in any way resemble the human was anathema to him, however much it may have been driven by budgetary considerations.
Several interesting but common observations about horror genres and their psychological antecedents are made: how our fear of invasion is manifest in horror stories about amorphous blobs and gases; that allegorical modes of horror reflect class dynamics: the zombie working class, vampire-aristocratic, demon-bourgeois, and so on.
None of these ideas are explained in great depth--they don't need to be, the similarities and symbolic significance are readily apparent. But what about horrors that can't be named? The Thing, The Blob, etc.
Science's Less Accurate Grandmother: Review: In The Dust of This Planet by Eugene Thacker
These are an aberration of thought rather than an aberration of nature The Wolfman, Dracula, etc , and it's the former that really concern Thacker in this book. The kind of modern nihilism that Thacker describes, where dissatisfaction with both religion and science seems to leave us with no ground on which to construct a base for knowledge, collapses the distinctions between self and other, between the world as it exists for us, and what it is without us. Basically, I think it's the same as the End of Evangelion but I think that about a lot of things.
Oct 18, J. Shelves: essays , horror , philosophy , non-fiction , pessimism. Review the unreviewable. Rate the unrateable. In other words, to create a framework for interpreting reality from an increasingly remote point of view Yeah, it's mindfuck territory like that. The recommendation of Thomas Ligotti means a lot to me, but I don't know if I can agree that this is 'riveting' or even all that accessible, much as it might try to be. The guiding principles of Zer0 Books, which published it, include fostering works that are "intellectual, but not academic, popular, but not populist. Much of it wanders into psychobabble territory, even with all the references to supernatural horror in literature, cinema and popular culture, too often content to carry on with familiar philosophical wool-gathering.
I much prefer philosophy that moves in straight lines rather than circles, and reaches workable conclusions, as found in The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. I suppose that means I prefer a horror writer discussing philosophy, instead of a philosopher discussing horror writings.
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This was written by a professor, and it shows in the academic verbiage: "antinomies," "meontology," "noological," etc. It reads very much like a thesis paper or an exegesis, rather than genuinely accessible philosophy. I admire the ambition, and the dual advantage of broad scope and narrow focus, but I can't in good conscience recommend this to anyone except those already steeped in existential or nihilistic literature. Even the discussion of extinction is marred by the fact that the author doesn't appear to take sides.
You can either be for or against procreation: no fence-riders allowed. Yes, the planet is indifferent towards our survival, but how do you feel about it, professor? Oct 11, David Zerangue rated it liked it Shelves: philosophy. I have made periodic commentary as I read each section of the book. I broke it up into four sections so that I could manage this intellectually. Otherwise, it would have been just a bunch of words without meaning. There is nothing easy about this book.
It is hard from the concepts posed as well as the prose employed. Sometimes it read like a thesis Sections 1 and 3. Other times it was quite readable Sections 2 and 4. Eugene Thacker brings to focus what is normally fleeting thoughts for most I have made periodic commentary as I read each section of the book.
Eugene Thacker brings to focus what is normally fleeting thoughts for most people. To actually focus on it is mentally trying and scary. So, we tend to ignore it. Honestly, this is what religion was made for insignificance is just too scary. Take every notion you have ever heard described as Light and invert that to Dark and this is where the book goes.
Fascinating, honestly. Not Dark in a bad way but more in a 'not to be understood' way. I am sure many RadioLab listeners have attempted this book since hearing the episode about it. I hope each of you was able to stick it out! Apr 16, Andrew added it Shelves: theeeeeeory.
To call it "philosophy" is frankly misleading.
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In fact, its arguable companion piece, Ligotti's Conspiracy Against the Human Race, despite it being the work of a literary author, offers something far closer to a systematic philosophical system than Thacker does. Thacker simply wants to show the complex ways in which the unknowable other manifests itself in thought, whether through contemporary genre fiction, or through the midnight nail-bitings of Saint John of the Cross.
While it's not bad -- I To call it "philosophy" is frankly misleading. While it's not bad -- I found each section interesting, and, as with the best nonfiction, it gave me some further additions to my reading list -- don't expect serious philosophical inquiry. Nov 27, Andy rated it really liked it. I would personally recommend Ligotti's book over this one, it's going to be more interesting, to-the-point and frankly makes a bigger impact on the reader.
But Thacker's work tackles a lot of the same issues from different angles. The basic idea of "Cosmic Pessimism" as I read it, is that this world is indifferent to us, it's not meant for us, we're just a mistake and can only see the world through our human perspective. Because of our limited perspective what Thacker is trying to show us is very difficult and nebulous to grasp. Various forms of horror fiction have tried to express it, and he uses these as starting points to explore this idea.