Eugene Thacker on the gathering horror.
Though it is possible to regard supernatural horror as taking
up the earlier concerns of mysticism, there is one element that
makes modern horror unique, and that is the function of different
objects in any tale of haunting and the supernatural. In
other words, what is at stake in these stories is not just the experience
of a subject, but the mediation of and through an object.
The concept of the supernatural is here not simply oriented
toward a subject, as a locus of unmediated and authentic experience.
It is also oriented toward the many objects that themselves
embody or mediate the supernatural, objects that elusively slide
between the everyday and the exceptional, between their artifactual
transparency and their strange aura of opacity. The question,
then, is whether it would make sense to think about the
supernatural less in terms of a subject-oriented approach, and
more in terms of an object-oriented approach—and what such
an object-oriented approach might mean for us, as subjects.
There are, of course, many precedents both ancient and
modern for doing this. In a modern context, there is the example
of the later Heidegger, who meditates at great length on
“the thing” (das Ding) as an ontological category, resulting in his
tongue- twisting phrase, “the thingness of the thing.” What
Heidegger calls “the thing” is defined by such characteristics as
“self- supporting,” “standing- forth,” and above all the dynamic,
active process of “gathering.” Less a tool or object of knowledge,
the thing is for Heidegger that intersection or congealment of
materials, production processes, and ideologies that is encapsulated
in his phrase “the thing things, and thinging gathers.”