Wednesday, May 27, 2015
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.”
Pp. 113-4
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