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"Thacker's discourse on the intersection of horror and philosophy is utterly original and utterly captivating..." -- Thomas Ligotti, author of The Conspiracy Against the Human Race The world is increasingly unthinkable, a world of planetary disasters, emerging pandemics, and the looming threat of extinction. In this book, Eugene Thacker suggests that we look to the genre o "Thacker's discourse on the intersection of horror and philosophy is utterly original and utterly captivating..." -- Thomas Ligotti, author of The Conspiracy Against the Human Race The world is increasingly unthinkable, a world of planetary disasters, emerging pandemics, and the looming threat of extinction. In this book, Eugene Thacker suggests that we look to the genre of horror as offering a way of thinking about the unthinkable world. To confront this idea is to confront the limit of our ability to understand the world in which we live—a central motif of the horror genre. In the Dust of This Planet explores these relationships between philosophy and horror. In Thacker's hands, philosophy is not academic logic-chopping; instead, it is the thought of the limit of all thought, especially as it dovetails into occultism, demonology, and mysticism. Likewise, Thacker takes horror to mean something beyond the focus on gore and scare tactics, but as the under-appreciated genre of supernatural horror in fiction, film, comics, and music.


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"Thacker's discourse on the intersection of horror and philosophy is utterly original and utterly captivating..." -- Thomas Ligotti, author of The Conspiracy Against the Human Race The world is increasingly unthinkable, a world of planetary disasters, emerging pandemics, and the looming threat of extinction. In this book, Eugene Thacker suggests that we look to the genre o "Thacker's discourse on the intersection of horror and philosophy is utterly original and utterly captivating..." -- Thomas Ligotti, author of The Conspiracy Against the Human Race The world is increasingly unthinkable, a world of planetary disasters, emerging pandemics, and the looming threat of extinction. In this book, Eugene Thacker suggests that we look to the genre of horror as offering a way of thinking about the unthinkable world. To confront this idea is to confront the limit of our ability to understand the world in which we live—a central motif of the horror genre. In the Dust of This Planet explores these relationships between philosophy and horror. In Thacker's hands, philosophy is not academic logic-chopping; instead, it is the thought of the limit of all thought, especially as it dovetails into occultism, demonology, and mysticism. Likewise, Thacker takes horror to mean something beyond the focus on gore and scare tactics, but as the under-appreciated genre of supernatural horror in fiction, film, comics, and music.

30 review for In the Dust of This Planet

  1. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    I was attracted to this book by a glowing quote from Thomas Ligotti, one of my favourite modern horror writers, who described it as: ‘an encyclopedic grimoire instructing us in the varieties of esoteric thought and infernal diversions that exist for the reader's further investigation, treating us to a delightful stroll down a midway of accursed attractions that alone are worth the ticket of this volume’. This description is a little misleading to say the least, since the author doesn’t aim at an I was attracted to this book by a glowing quote from Thomas Ligotti, one of my favourite modern horror writers, who described it as: ‘an encyclopedic grimoire instructing us in the varieties of esoteric thought and infernal diversions that exist for the reader's further investigation, treating us to a delightful stroll down a midway of accursed attractions that alone are worth the ticket of this volume’. This description is a little misleading to say the least, since the author doesn’t aim at anything like a comprehensive survey of his subject – but it certainly has an air of the esoteric about it, and it has its fair share of dark delights. Briefly, the argument of the book is that through certain works of the horror genre we can encounter something which the author calls the ‘world-without-us’: a vision of the universe in which humanity is not only extinct but has never existed in any sense, a place which is utterly indifferent even to the idea of us. It is a thing which words fail to describe adequately, perhaps exemplified in Lovecraft’s many tales of inconceivable depths; one could call it ‘dark’ or ‘disturbing’, but our conceptions of what those words entail are limited as notions inherited from religious tradition. It’s not a particularly easy read, and I wasn’t a great fan of the jargon-laden style, but the subject is nevertheless fascinating. I marked a great many passages. The author is widely-read, his subjects diverse, his thought digressive; and yet he seems to expend a great deal of ink in tracing the contours of an idea which is expressed with greater elegance and simplicity in the fictions he so admires. Why not then express them succinctly in fiction? Most of the chapters conclude with more questions than can possibly be answered in one book, and I was constantly waiting for the author to take his thesis a step or two beyond. And so what, I kept wondering. What does it do to us, this world-without-us? Where does it come from? What is it for? The final chapter is perhaps the most interesting. It purports to discuss a long poem called ‘The Subharmonic Murmur of Black Tentacular Voids’, a work which the author describes as having emerged and circulated on the internet and in literary journals as a kind of meme, and which (apparently) has produced ‘verifiable geomantic symptoms within the metabolism and physiognomy of those who have, under unspecified conditions, recited its lines...’ Well, I quite liked the poem, though I will leave it to you to decide whether the author is tugging at our geomantic legs about it; the reference to a specially-dedicated issue of the ‘Journal of Literary Psycoplamsics’ [sic?] ought to be a clue. But the commentary seems altogether too much a part of the rest of the book to stand on its own merit; while it begins as simple textual exegesis, it soon drifts back towards topics the author might just as well have discussed elsewhere. Not that such discussions aren’t without merit, but I did wonder why the author would introduce such an interesting literary device if only to forget about it a few paragraphs later. It's good. If you like this sort of thing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    An interesting look at some philosophical themes -- essence, reality, negation, alterity, myth -- with horror and occult themes used as a framework. The work deserves a star, simply for its ambition, given its experimental structures and unconventional ways of organizing its ideas. There are compelling conceptual turns and clever treatments, so it's certainly worth a shot, especially for fans of horror and theory, speculative realism, etc. I would have rated this work higher, but the ideas didn't An interesting look at some philosophical themes -- essence, reality, negation, alterity, myth -- with horror and occult themes used as a framework. The work deserves a star, simply for its ambition, given its experimental structures and unconventional ways of organizing its ideas. There are compelling conceptual turns and clever treatments, so it's certainly worth a shot, especially for fans of horror and theory, speculative realism, etc. I would have rated this work higher, but the ideas didn't gel, or build in any intelligible way. When no continuous thread is discernible, it makes the whole work feel like a stream of consciousness of provocations and obscurity. It clearly takes itself seriously, despite its occasional sense of irony, but it doesn't move beyond the standard philosophical motif that governs all horror-oriented theoretical projects: The universe is defined by an absolutely unknowable Other, which engages us in paradoxes of alterity when we try to approach it. This is a work characterized by eclectic references, horror and occult themes, and conceptual provocations. Your mileage may vary, but if that's what you're into, give it a shot.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Roy

    This book made my skin crawl and my mind expand. It's a dense, sometimes impenetrable work of philosophy that discusses the Unthinkable, so obviously it's not going to work very well as beach reading. But if you give it your attention and an open mind, there are some seriously creepy-cool concepts about the Universe to be gleaned here. I heard about this book through a fascinating Radiolab episode about the book's improbable underground cult status. Thomas Ligotti has heaped praise on it, and the This book made my skin crawl and my mind expand. It's a dense, sometimes impenetrable work of philosophy that discusses the Unthinkable, so obviously it's not going to work very well as beach reading. But if you give it your attention and an open mind, there are some seriously creepy-cool concepts about the Universe to be gleaned here. I heard about this book through a fascinating Radiolab episode about the book's improbable underground cult status. Thomas Ligotti has heaped praise on it, and the creator of HBO's True Detective mentioned it as part of his inspiration for McConaughey's character of Rust. That being said, this pedigree led me to believe this book would be about something quite different than it is. Although it does touch on themes of nihilism and philosophical pessimism, this book's main focus is on the genre of horror, and the way in which it complements philosophy in addressing the subjects that philosophy cannot touch. Thacker introduces some concepts that truly blew my mind and made me think long and hard about my own existence. He introduces three levels of reality. First is the "world-for-us", which is the familiar, the scientific, the purview of our human experience. Next is the "world-in-itself," which escapes our grasp, but remains knowable. And finally is "the world-without-us," the unknowable, the unthinking; forever outside our grasp and our ability to define. 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.P. 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tobias Wonderland

    I have no idea what this was about but I liked it

  5. 5 out of 5

    ATJG

    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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alexander

    What would it mean to speak of a ‘horror of philosophy’ instead of a 'philosophy of horror’? With this question, Eugene Thacker begins his weird and wonderful romp through the hallowed halls of horror, from the nine circles of Dante’s hell, to the living dead of contemporary cinema, topped off with some mediations on murderous mists and ominous ooze for good measure. But why this gallery of gruesome? Well, Thacker suggests, it’s because horror is uniquely suited to expose the limits of thought, What would it mean to speak of a ‘horror of philosophy’ instead of a 'philosophy of horror’? With this question, Eugene Thacker begins his weird and wonderful romp through the hallowed halls of horror, from the nine circles of Dante’s hell, to the living dead of contemporary cinema, topped off with some mediations on murderous mists and ominous ooze for good measure. But why this gallery of gruesome? Well, Thacker suggests, it’s because horror is uniquely suited to expose the limits of thought, emerging as it does at those very points at which thought undergoes its own dissolution, where philosophy no longer mediates on horror (as with a ‘philosophy of horror’), but itself becomes subject to horror’s vicissitudes. 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. Dark subject matter to be sure, but deftly dealt with by Thacker’s surprisingly light touch – so light, in fact, that there’s almost a comic effect to the way in which Thacker so casually discusses the weighty themes of cosmic pessimism and universal indifference. Perhaps it’s a simple consequence of Thacker’s incredible erudition and deep knowledge of the texts he’s working with, but In The Dust of This Planet is infused with a sense of adventure that makes it anything but a gloomy read. 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. 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. Hence, for example, Thacker's macabre rendering of the concept of 'Life', and its breakdown into the ‘living-dead’ or the ‘life that should not be living’. 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. For all that, as the first of three volumes, the book does leave the impression raising more questions than it answers, open-endedly exploring aesthetic and cultural themes rather than fleshing out any concrete thesis, which lends the book its slightly 'pop-philosophy'/sourcebook feel. 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kit

    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. 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 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. I.e. we have anthropomorphized this darkness from the Greek pantheon into a medicalized mental illness or personal crisis, via medieval tales of temptation and possession. 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.) what do these mean for us, want danger are we trying to articulate? 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary Slowik

    Review the unreviewable. Rate the unrateable. This is an incredibly ambitious book of philosophy, in that it is quite literally trying to "think the unthinkable," or to establish a kind of mysticism / belief system that is without any human (anthropocentric) basis whatsoever. In other words, to create a framework for interpreting reality from an increasingly remote point of view... that of the planet, of the cosmos, of nothingness itself-- which is nothing, therefore it cannot even be an 'itself, Review the unreviewable. Rate the unrateable. This is an incredibly ambitious book of philosophy, in that it is quite literally trying to "think the unthinkable," or to establish a kind of mysticism / belief system that is without any human (anthropocentric) basis whatsoever. In other words, to create a framework for interpreting reality from an increasingly remote point of view... that of the planet, of the cosmos, of nothingness itself-- which is nothing, therefore it cannot even be an 'itself,' and should not be described as the absence of things but rather more extremely as the absence of absence. 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." I'm not sure this entirely achieves that ideal. 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. 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?

  9. 4 out of 5

    David Zerangue

    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. 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 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!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    To call it "philosophy" is frankly misleading. 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. 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 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.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    The "Cosmic Pessimism" expressed in this book is a lot like the ideas explored so eloquently in Thomas Ligotti's "The Conspiracy Against the Human Race." In fact I doubt most readers would really need to read both. 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 t The "Cosmic Pessimism" expressed in this book is a lot like the ideas explored so eloquently in Thomas Ligotti's "The Conspiracy Against the Human Race." In fact I doubt most readers would really need to read both. 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. He explores the figure of the Demon in mythology. Humans have often believed in malific forces that surround them and influence their lives. As we moved into the modern world the figure has become mere metaphor for psychological damage, or sociological conflict. But Thacker wants to express a more philosophical view of the demon as the limit of human knowledge. When we attempt to view the demon through these anthropological lenses it loses some of it's original meaning as something that is beyond our understanding. He gives an interesting example in Dante's Inferno of the anthropomorphic demons which appear human-like, compared with the invisible demonic winds that torture the Lustful, blowing them back and forth throughout eternity. Next he tackles human interactions with the supernatural in horror fiction and films. The magic circle appears in horror fiction and is used in rituals to invoke spirits. The magic circle evolved and became less literal, yet the contradictory "hidden knowledge" that is revealed is increasingly troubling and again reveals this indifferent universe. Apart from revealing the "hiddenness" of the world with a magic ritual, there's figures in horror fiction like mists and ooze which attack humankind. These in themselves are impersonal and indifferent to mankind and roam about absorbing what they come into contact with. But in one example the ooze is something that is seemingly pure sentience. The third section dragged a bit for me, but has some interesting things in it. Here he engages in a fascinating and often very rambling discourse on "Life," not the life of individual organisms, but of all life. This is a concept that is always just outside of reach, most studies that begin with this as their central idea devolve into systems of natural history (studies of individual organisms) or theology. This driving force behind living things remains elusive to us. There's also discussion of the afterlife, the living dead and biblical plagues. In the final section he dissects a poem about the formation of life, and primarily discussing the mystics and what they have to tell us that strict religion and hard-line science cannot. Thacker's exploration of Lovecraft's story "From Beyond" is really excellent, revealing things I hadn't thought about. The same can be said for Leiber's story "Black Gondolier." His coverage of Bataille's "The Accursed Share" was great too, which has some fascinating concepts in it not far from those of Ligotti's work.

  12. 5 out of 5

    C McDaniel

    It was when Thacker dipped significantly into (and then stayed in) the subject of Black Metal that I realized I needed the next and final volumes rather than this one. While I did enjoy it, some of the connections were a little thin/thinly constructed. I noticed the same sort of comment from another reader--the references to some stunningly esoteric ideas were interesting, but he more often than not failed to make tight connections between those references, his examples, and the larger positions It was when Thacker dipped significantly into (and then stayed in) the subject of Black Metal that I realized I needed the next and final volumes rather than this one. While I did enjoy it, some of the connections were a little thin/thinly constructed. I noticed the same sort of comment from another reader--the references to some stunningly esoteric ideas were interesting, but he more often than not failed to make tight connections between those references, his examples, and the larger positions of the work. For instance, while I understand what he's getting at when he focuses on the concepts of the world-in-itself/world-without-us (although I found the constructions kind of cheeky, though I don't know if he meant them that way), etc., it was still a bit thready as he moved into the world of demonology in an attempt (I guess) to illuminate aspects of these concepts. That didn't work for me. I'm not sure I always followed his reasoning. I understood what he was doing most of the time, however, and appreciated it even if it didn't hold my interest completely in spots and even when he appears to fall short with the supporting logic. It's a pretty ambitious undertaking, and I like that quality of it. He was working with some fairly complicated ideas, on whole. I appreciated most when he wrapped-up the Occult and began the project of situating current versions of (Horror-rooted/genre)"mysticism" in the world of ecology: our "beyond science and faith" approach to it. It's not nature worship; it's not the white stag and the Wild Hunt necessarily, though I think one could do some nifty readings of Barron using aspects of his theories, but a sort of ecology stripped-down to its processes and illuminated, somehow beyond both science and spirituality(still not entirely clear on this--I'll tinker with it a bit more and see what I might have missed). It reminded me of a discussion I had a while ago about what exists "beyond" post-modernism, post-modern-post-modernism, and other silliness. In that same vein, he does a nice, albeit short, reading of "From Beyond" that I enjoyed and found interesting. The connection with the "magic circle" is one that I never would have made. It wasn't until the final sections that I really began to appreciate his ideas, but that's mostly because he was moving into my areas of interest. I'm sure there are plenty of Horror fans whose passion is mysticism and occultism and who would prefer this volume to the others that I (frustratingly--I'm spoiled now) must wait on for delivery. I recommend this to anyone who is serious about their exploration of the theoretical approaches to Horror/Horror's place (not a "new" one at all!) in the realm of critical theory. Note that folks who approach this with an eye towards his use of specific philosophical ideas (the rigor of their implementation, etc.) rather than, say, Horror nerds could certainly and easily rip this thing apart. However, it is fun stuff for those of us who love Horror and seek to dig into its meaning a bit more deeply. I expect to really enjoy Volumes two and three.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Spencer

    "Thy mind o man! . .must search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity- thou must commune with God." -Joseph Smith (or was it H.P. Lovecraft?) I kept thinking of that quote as I read this book. it is both beautiful and horrific. An adult prostrates himself before God the silent mountain. In awe and reverence. He communes vs attempts to communicate. God sits with him like a father sits with his dying cancer riddled child. His silence does not denote an absence but "Thy mind o man! . .must search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity- thou must commune with God." -Joseph Smith (or was it H.P. Lovecraft?) I kept thinking of that quote as I read this book. it is both beautiful and horrific. An adult prostrates himself before God the silent mountain. In awe and reverence. He communes vs attempts to communicate. God sits with him like a father sits with his dying cancer riddled child. His silence does not denote an absence but a stillness. And we live in this dark abyss, not a yellow submarine. Years of quiet and "emptiness" like Mother Theresa experienced- "i have come to love the darkness for I believe now that it is a very., very small part of Jesus' darkness and pain". To know God, to have any sort of mystical experience with the awesome nature of the divine goes way beyond the image of Jesus giving a child a hug. It requires a stay in the lonesome valley. This book is an exploration of the flipside of theology, At least I think so. It took me a few months to read and I only understood every other word. There is good stuff about Norwegian Black Metal, Gustave Dore woodcuts, demons, non-being, horror films as philosophical texts, unsettling mists, the extinction of life. He referenced some minimalist soundscape stuff from Keiji Haino that plays like the soundtrack to the leviathan engulfing the earth or maybe just becoming completely unhinged. (Not playing on a radio anytime soon but good in small doses.) I was trying to imagine the visual art equivalent to some of what he was talking about. And although there is far more maelstrom in a Turner painting, The experience of an abstract Rothko seems to be more of a peering into the abyss. I have heard stories of people staring into the Rothkos at the Rothko chapel in Houston and being reduced to a giant baby floating in space like in 2001 wha?

  14. 5 out of 5

    David Walsh

    An odd book, and it certainly starts in a peculiar manner, debating the meaning of "black" in "black metal". A topic I would struggle to devote genuine interest. Nonetheless as it progresses, and perhaps as the reader develops a familiarity with Thacker's rhythm, some great insights emerge. "...in occult philosophy today the world simply reveals its hiddenness to us." "...an era almost schizophrenically poised between religious fanaticisms and a mania for scientific hegemony..." "What if "horror" h An odd book, and it certainly starts in a peculiar manner, debating the meaning of "black" in "black metal". A topic I would struggle to devote genuine interest. Nonetheless as it progresses, and perhaps as the reader develops a familiarity with Thacker's rhythm, some great insights emerge. "...in occult philosophy today the world simply reveals its hiddenness to us." "...an era almost schizophrenically poised between religious fanaticisms and a mania for scientific hegemony..." "What if "horror" has less to do with a fear of death, and more to do with the dread of life?" Although, not as deep or meaningful as some of the above quotes, I thought the allegorical associations of zombies to rising underclasses, of vampire to romantic, but decaying aristocracy and demons to a middle class burgeois was quite interesting. The linguistic contrivance that resulted in the following phrase, "extinction is the non-being of life that is not death.", was for me, the logical nadir. The book finished strongly with cosmic nihilism and mysticism. "We can also think of mysticism as actually enabled by overly optimistic, "gee-whiz" scientific instrumentality, in which the Earth is the divinely-sanctioned domain of the human, even and especially in the eleventh hour of climate change." "...darkness mysticism retains the language of shadows and nothingness, as if the positive union with the divine is of less importance than the realization of the absolute limits of the human." "...we should delve deeper into this abyss, this nothingness, with may hold within a way out of the dead end of nihilism."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Oliver Brackenbury

    This is the third book I've read that was in some way connected to True Detective, but it was actually hearing it endorsed by Warren Ellis and listening to an episode of Radiolab (http://www.radiolab.org/story/dust-pl...) about the strange story around the book's cover ending up in a Jay-Z/Beyonce video that pushed me over the edge. Only a few pages in, I pulled out a highlighter and a pen to make notes along the way. This is a great book, but it's also a very dense one that makes little attempt This is the third book I've read that was in some way connected to True Detective, but it was actually hearing it endorsed by Warren Ellis and listening to an episode of Radiolab (http://www.radiolab.org/story/dust-pl...) about the strange story around the book's cover ending up in a Jay-Z/Beyonce video that pushed me over the edge. Only a few pages in, I pulled out a highlighter and a pen to make notes along the way. This is a great book, but it's also a very dense one that makes little attempt to be more accessible then, say, a bachelor level literary criticism text. I had to remind myself about terms like "onotological", for example, and there were long sections where scanning simply wasn't enough to properly absorb what was being said. Which is fine! Books should be challenging sometimes. Is it worth the challenge? I'd say "Yes", especially if you are thinking about writing horror - and not just the cosmic variety this book may give the impression of focusing on. While I felt it got a bit weak between the middle and the end, there was such a strong first half that I hung in and felt suitably rewarded by the conclusions of the final few pages. I'm definitely interested in reading the next volume (of which there are two to expect, apparently).

  16. 4 out of 5

    C. Varn

    Thacker's knack for arcana and esoterica can be a little much here, as other reviewers have noted, a passing knowledge of middle demonology helps. Thacker's use of horror as a entry way into the the profoundly unhuman, and a good means against anthropocentrism. His use of Lovecraft and Bataille is quite admirable and while the neologism can be a little clear, they are much more interesting than a lot of the Derridian philosophy of the 1980s/1990s. Furthermore, for a philosophy book, this book is Thacker's knack for arcana and esoterica can be a little much here, as other reviewers have noted, a passing knowledge of middle demonology helps. Thacker's use of horror as a entry way into the the profoundly unhuman, and a good means against anthropocentrism. His use of Lovecraft and Bataille is quite admirable and while the neologism can be a little clear, they are much more interesting than a lot of the Derridian philosophy of the 1980s/1990s. Furthermore, for a philosophy book, this book is distinctly fun to read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Nolan

    Good, easy to follow simple pessimistic philosophy text. It seems to be constructed of some pieces that were initially written as standalone work, which means certain sections feel like they're reaching a little/ aren't entirely in sync with the books overall narrative arch. The last chapter is specious at best and to me does not pass the "so what?" test that needs to be applied to academic writing. At worst it makes me question the validity of everything that came before it. Curious to see wher Good, easy to follow simple pessimistic philosophy text. It seems to be constructed of some pieces that were initially written as standalone work, which means certain sections feel like they're reaching a little/ aren't entirely in sync with the books overall narrative arch. The last chapter is specious at best and to me does not pass the "so what?" test that needs to be applied to academic writing. At worst it makes me question the validity of everything that came before it. Curious to see where the series goes next.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vrixton Phillips

    It's certainly thought-provoking, but it took me such a long time to read, I couldn't tell you what it's about beyond "horror" "philosophy" and the various combinations of the two... from a Scholastic perspective, at that. Or at least he alludes to Scholasticists a lot.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dainy

    Why is there no ten star rating? This book demands the creation of a tenth star rating.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    This book was another on the library’s new acquisition shelf to draw my eye. Actually, the publisher caught my eye, as I tend to enjoy Zer0 books but they rarely make their way into libraries. Then the blurb began, ‘The world is increasingly unthinkable - a world of planetary disasters, emerging pandemics, and the looming threat of extinction.’ How could I possibly resist? I was to find, however, that ‘In The Dust of This Planet’ (a glorious title) dwelt more in the past than the present. It con This book was another on the library’s new acquisition shelf to draw my eye. Actually, the publisher caught my eye, as I tend to enjoy Zer0 books but they rarely make their way into libraries. Then the blurb began, ‘The world is increasingly unthinkable - a world of planetary disasters, emerging pandemics, and the looming threat of extinction.’ How could I possibly resist? I was to find, however, that ‘In The Dust of This Planet’ (a glorious title) dwelt more in the past than the present. It contains a great deal about demonology and the occult, grounded in philosophy and theology centuries old. The range of cultural references is certainly broad, from Plato to an anonymous internet poet, early articulations of the Faust story to ‘Uzumaki’ (a creepy manga that friends have told me enough about that I don't want to read it). While I enjoyed the somewhat incongruous juxtapositions that this afforded, I struggled to get at the book’s overall thesis. To be fair, Thacker seemed like too subtle a writer for a clear and obvious single idea to emerge. I appreciated his tendency to qualify and counter-argue points. Perhaps the most memorable point was made early on concerning ‘the enigmatic concept of the world’: We can even abbreviate these three concepts further: the world-for-us is simply the World, the world-in-itself is simply the Earth, and the world-without-us is simply the Planet. This neat taxonomy, with obvious relevance to environmental destruction, returns near the end of the book in a commentary on Georges Bataille’s 'The Congested Planet': It is a dilemma expressed in contemporary discourse on climate change, between a debate over the world-for-us (e.g. how do we as human beings impact - negatively or positively - the geological state of the planet?), and a largely unspoken, whispered query over the world-in-itself (e.g. to what degree is the planet indifferent to us as human beings, and to what degree are we indifferent to the planet?). This taxonomic discussion was to me the centre of the book, although it was woven in with a great deal about mysticism, theology, and ooze that I saw more as intellectual curiosities. When it comes to environmental philosophy, I find myself preferring the more focused approach of, for example, Timothy Morton’s The Ecological Thought. I was a little disappointed by Thacker’s discussion of Dante’s Inferno, in part because I didn’t agree with his interpretation of, “What I was once, alive, I still am, dead!” Still, it was nice to realise that I actually have opinions about the Inferno, something of which I was not previously aware. One reference I was delighted to see pop up was Shiel’s The Purple Cloud, an extraordinary apocalyptic novel from 1901 that I read earlier this year. Now that Thacker does do justice to, comparing it with Hoyle’s The Black Cloud (a book I regularly see in the library but do not borrow because it seems similar to so many others) and J. G Ballard’s first novel The Wind from Nowhere (which I haven’t read either, but certainly sounds like J.G. Ballard’s first novel ought to). What links the three is apparently mist; I liked the comparison of Shiel’s slightly demented mysticism with Hoyle’s scientific rationalism and Ballard’s ambiguity. Moreover, I smiled at the commentary on Roland Emmerich disaster movies. I’m not a great horror fan, but I’ve seen all of Emmerich’s stupid global catastrophe blockbusters multiple times. Something in me loves the morbid spectacle of civilisation collapsing dramatically. Thacker notes that the threat to civilisation evolves from alien invasion (Independence Day, 1996), to anthropogenic climate change (The Day After Tomorrow, 2004 - my personal favourite), to arbitrary heating up of Earth’s core (2012, 2009), so from external to internal to incomprehensible. I agree with Thacker that these films exhibit ‘implicitly or explicitly, eschatological themes’. Perhaps my favourite comment in the whole book, though, is as follows: Whereas the three previous figures dealt with allegorical modes associated that reflected class dynamics (zombie-working class, vampire-aristocratic, demon-bourgeois), the ghost deals with the that strange or unknown provenance after life. Although I’m not sure how to interpret ‘provenance’ in that sentence, I need hardly explain why I enjoyed it. What social class would werewolves allegorise? The peasantry? There was certainly fun to be found in this book, but it was more interested in themes of horror in the past than the ‘unthinkable world’ of today. At the very end, Thacker admits that his conclusion, about the need to think through nihilism to the other side, to the ‘emptiness beyond the empty’, is not helpful. This is a rather frustrating note to conclude on, despite the interest and amusement to be found in the rest of the book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This book has a gained a small measure of notoriety because its cover appeared in a few places in pop culture and because professional moron Glenn Beck singled it out as a destructive force in American culture. However I can’t imagine many people reading this -- it is essentially a short work of philosophy that looks at how twentieth and twentieth-first century horror (in fiction, films, and music) might help us comprehend the unthinkable world we now face: the world that might be: the world aft This book has a gained a small measure of notoriety because its cover appeared in a few places in pop culture and because professional moron Glenn Beck singled it out as a destructive force in American culture. However I can’t imagine many people reading this -- it is essentially a short work of philosophy that looks at how twentieth and twentieth-first century horror (in fiction, films, and music) might help us comprehend the unthinkable world we now face: the world that might be: the world after human extinction. (I am reminded of the ancient skeptical quip that just as we do not fear the nonexistence we enjoyed before we were conceived or born, we should not fear the nonexistence that follows our death, but Thacker would probably want to say: The individual's nonexistence is one thing, the nonexistence of humanity, perhaps even of rationality, is another.) Thacker’s basic idea is subtle and difficult to paraphrase. If I am understanding him (and as someone who studied philosophy pretty extensively, and in particular a lot of nihilism, as well as someone interested in or familiar with most of the writers he uses to illustrate or explore his ideas, I may be among the relative small minority of people who actually comprise his audience) -- if I understand this book, the first premise is that we need to distinguish among three “worlds”: the-world-for-us, the world-in-itself, and the world-without-us. (For my money this distinction alone was worth the price of reading this short but difficult book.) Briefly, the world-for-us is the world understood instrumentally*, the world as something for our use as humans; the world in relation to humans. This concept of the world is most fiercely promoted in myth and religion, but it is also how we usually think of the world in our everyday interactions with it. Thacker uses the term “World” for this world. The world-in-itself on the other hand is the world as it exists independently of human concerns and interests, the subject of scientific inquiry perhaps but potentially hostile. Paradoxically our scientific investigations generally convert the world-in-itself to the world-for-us because we normally undertake these investigations to solve some problem or gain some understanding of human problems, however it was the rational, scientific mindset that reveals the possibility of the word-in-itself. But philosophically, at least, we acknowledge that the world-in-itself is not just some human construct or a world made for- or by- us. The Kantian noumena (“thing-in-itself”) is obviously being invoked here, but Thacker is not strictly being Kantian here. For one thing he doesn’t necessarily agree with Kant that we know nothing about the world-in-itself; we in fact have a concept of the world apart from human concerns. Thacker calls the world-in-itself “the Earth”. Lastly the world-without-us is the world that is, by definition, hidden from us and beyond our reckoning, and its reality is most plain when we think of the world after human extinction. This concept is of fairly recent vintage because it is only in fairly recent times that we’ve had any idea of a world with no humans. In the mythological/religious past, we could only think of the end of humans as the end of the world itself. But climate change, the threat of nuclear annihilation, the threat of extinction-level pandemics, the notion of civilization-ending disasters generally: these possibilities evoke the world-without-us. Thacker calls the world-without-us “the Planet,” because when we imagine the world without us we are considering our world “objectively,” as one planet among many, and not merely in-addition to humanity but apart from and independent of humanity. The Planet is not even hostile to us; it is indifferent to us. This indifference is terrifying to us, because it negates the humanocentric world. I should hasten to add that the alienating thing about the world-without-us does not depend entirely on human extinction. The very idea of the multitude of worlds, the near-infinity of time and space, and the possibility of alien intelligences also invoke the world-without-us. Thacker’s thesis is that modern horror (in film, fiction, and even music) provides a non-philosophical approach to grappling with the Planet, that is to say: the world-without-us. The bulk of the book tries to illustrate this thesis, drawing on everything from black metal music and Hammer films to H.P. Lovecraft and Georges Bataille. Theological and occult writings on magic and demonology are also analyzed as precursors to modern horror. Along the way Thacker uses a variety of philosophers, especially Schopenhauer and Aristotle (!) to explain how the world-without-us can be understood philosophically. Perhaps obviously, Lovecraft's notion of "cosmic horror" very aptly describes the human response to the idea of the world-without-us. Towards the end of the book he suggests a mystical approach to comprehending the world-without-us, using certain “darkness” mystics (Bohme, John of the Cross) to analyze a strange, supposedly anonymous poem that is probably the work of the author himself. I should finally comment on the utterly strange but effective structure of his book: we are treated to a series of medieval scholastic forms (quaestio, lectio, disputatio) each exploring specific questions or topics. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Thacker does not settle on a clear conclusion, but there are at least two more books in his “Horror of philosophy” series. ================== *Thacker doesn’t specifically use Heidegger's concept of "instrumental rationality" here, but Heidegger certainly applies: The world-for-us is the world _for_ Dasein.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nathaniel

    there's interesting stuff in here, but I'm left wondering, as always when I read speculative realism and adjacent areas of thought (tbh even more so here than in other places), what we should make of the corpus of texts the speculative realists focus on. the glaring absence of the racial connotation of the word "black" in the discussion of black metal was particularly striking, especially in conjunction with (of course) the use of Lovecraft. note 3 refers the reader to "Facts Concerning the late there's interesting stuff in here, but I'm left wondering, as always when I read speculative realism and adjacent areas of thought (tbh even more so here than in other places), what we should make of the corpus of texts the speculative realists focus on. the glaring absence of the racial connotation of the word "black" in the discussion of black metal was particularly striking, especially in conjunction with (of course) the use of Lovecraft. note 3 refers the reader to "Facts Concerning the late Arthur Jermyn and His Family", probably Lovecraft's most blatantly racist story (which is saying something), without mentioning that the "daemoniacal hints of truth" which "make [life] sometimes a thousandfold more hideous" to which the passage refers is, of course, the truth of miscegenation and the horror of a white person having some concealed blackness (because of course black people, especially if they are from ~Africa~, are inhuman savages). I can't help but wonder about the conceptual baggage these references brings with them, especially when that baggage goes completely unacknowledged.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ben Brewski

    Where to start with this? I liked Thacker’s academic interest in horror as an intellectual idea worthy of philosophy and felt a strong urge to read the next page. Part of this is my own interest in horror, nihilism, and the darkness motif found in christian mysticism. all that to say: Thacker is a good place to start if you’re interested in any of the above items. However, i must admit i was disappointed in Thacker’s conclusions (more like assumptions) about religion and the transcendent. Another Where to start with this? I liked Thacker’s academic interest in horror as an intellectual idea worthy of philosophy and felt a strong urge to read the next page. Part of this is my own interest in horror, nihilism, and the darkness motif found in christian mysticism. all that to say: Thacker is a good place to start if you’re interested in any of the above items. However, i must admit i was disappointed in Thacker’s conclusions (more like assumptions) about religion and the transcendent. Another major point of annoyance was, despite the subtitle’s claim, this did not say anything about the “horror of philosophy!” Maybe my own preconceptions are affecting my judgements, but i felt this book only addresses this horror in the sense that philosophy shows us the limits of our knowledge but that’s it (and this point is only made in the first half of the book, not much about it afterwards). Thus, the amount of horror and dismay Thacker himself displays in his writing (not to mention the works of horror he examines) barely seems granted given the lack of any acknowledgement of what it is that we (Thacker and i) are so horrified about? (To put it simply: why are we horrified? Is this horror itself granted?) I guess all that to say this is a good start on a new subject for philosophy to consider (i.e. horror, esp. horror of philosophy) but in no way is it exhaustive or the final authority.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tariq Fadel

    interesting topic but somewhat lengthy and somewhat boring. I believe that the author applied psychoanalysis on magic. Why do people believe in such things as demons and spells and sorcery? Basically we fear contradiction. Aren't zombies defined as the living dead!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sceox

    This turned out to be more about mysticism (what ET intriguingly describes as a "dark mysticism") than I first thought it would. A turn that has now happened with more than a few books I've read in the past year, and in the end a pleasant alternative to some of the directions Dust might have gone from the starting provocations. Some of the early sections are rough around the edges, as I believe some reviewers mentioned. They read like preparatory notes toward some more extensive work, which I loo This turned out to be more about mysticism (what ET intriguingly describes as a "dark mysticism") than I first thought it would. A turn that has now happened with more than a few books I've read in the past year, and in the end a pleasant alternative to some of the directions Dust might have gone from the starting provocations. Some of the early sections are rough around the edges, as I believe some reviewers mentioned. They read like preparatory notes toward some more extensive work, which I look forward to reading. Here ET draws more on cultural sources: the Inferno, pulp horror, music, B movies, TV shows, and the like, rather than mystical or philosophical texts. I was vaguely interested in what he had to say about the cultural material, but none of these are really my thing, and I suppose were there for those who have different inclinations than I do. The parts that did draw more on philosophical and mystical writings resulted in several writers/texts being added to my list: Schopenhauer, about whom I'd felt ambivalent at best until ET's compelling summary of World as Will and Representation; Bataille, someone I've wanted to read for years now but now there's some more emphasis and another title; Keiji Nishitani's Religion and Nothingness, which ET brings in for Dust's dramatic conclusion (for those who are interested in the question of nihilism, there is a lovely gesture here); and M Shelley's The Last Man (ET doesn't deal with it in any length, but it was a reminder). Also, my interest was piqued in both Meister Eckhart and John of Ávila, though to a lesser degree. And, not to forget, ET's own After Life. Overall I wasn't blown away, but was swayed as by a gentle breeze in Dust's general direction.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Randy

    Some interesting ruminations on pop culture and philosophical underpinnings of some horror media. However, this is largely about the limits of Philosophy--the way it collapses into absurdity and semantic mazes when it approaches the unknowable, the unthinkable. Where Philosophy gets lost in abstraction trying to explain the horrific, horror media can simply SHOW us what those things look like. This is what I took to be the 'horror of philosophy' in the title. Thacker is aware of this and has som Some interesting ruminations on pop culture and philosophical underpinnings of some horror media. However, this is largely about the limits of Philosophy--the way it collapses into absurdity and semantic mazes when it approaches the unknowable, the unthinkable. Where Philosophy gets lost in abstraction trying to explain the horrific, horror media can simply SHOW us what those things look like. This is what I took to be the 'horror of philosophy' in the title. Thacker is aware of this and has some fun with it. But if you're looking for any real insight into the horror genre and what makes it tick, this'll be a slow and sticky read for you. Rather, this is Philosophy applied to horror-oriented subject matter. Minus 1 star because the book needed another round of editing before going to press.

  27. 4 out of 5

    6655321

    I think what Thacker is trying to do (express something like *actual world-without-perception nihilism*) is an ambitious task and by doing it through horror fiction this becomes much less Jargon Laden (if you don't believe me read Nihil Unbound which is extremely dense and working on the same thematic). Honestly, it's a bit more "pop" than "super dense" but i'm i guess a specialist *shrug* and i think it was a really enjoyable read (about 5 hours) although it would be nice if all 3 volumes were I think what Thacker is trying to do (express something like *actual world-without-perception nihilism*) is an ambitious task and by doing it through horror fiction this becomes much less Jargon Laden (if you don't believe me read Nihil Unbound which is extremely dense and working on the same thematic). Honestly, it's a bit more "pop" than "super dense" but i'm i guess a specialist *shrug* and i think it was a really enjoyable read (about 5 hours) although it would be nice if all 3 volumes were packaged together as a single folio rather than being an almost $60 (retail price) purchase (i think it's about $45 for the bundle on Amazon) and Zone like Verso tends to want to make *the most possible* off of the better publications they have but... an ominibus edition would be nice?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    “There is no being-on-the-side-of the world, much less nature or the weather.” I am nowhere near as well read as Eugene Thacker, and that is perhaps why I am also not as nihilistic. Not sure I can recommend or dissuade anyone from reading this book. It is wonderful and difficult in myriad ways. A lot of the deep discussion was beyond the ambit of my understanding, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing in a book that attempts “to confront an absolute limit to our ability to adequately understand “There is no being-on-the-side-of the world, much less nature or the weather.” I am nowhere near as well read as Eugene Thacker, and that is perhaps why I am also not as nihilistic. Not sure I can recommend or dissuade anyone from reading this book. It is wonderful and difficult in myriad ways. A lot of the deep discussion was beyond the ambit of my understanding, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing in a book that attempts “to confront an absolute limit to our ability to adequately understand the world at all”

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steven Peck

    Tacker's "After Life" was profoundly enlightening. This one less so, but still interesting. I think some work needs to be done to flesh out some of the distinctions between this proposed three worlds and while horror was a cleaver way to explore this, its light from this single book didn't quite yield the illumination I expected. Looking forward to reading the remainder of this series to see where it goes.

  30. 4 out of 5

    J.R.

    If anyone is interested, on "The Horror of Nachos and Hamantaschen" podcast, we dedicated to podcast episodes to discussing this book at length, or at the length we could tolerate: http://nachonomics.com/hnh/2017/7/5/e... http://nachonomics.com/hnh/2017/7/12/... This was really a 1 star for me, as I "did not like it," but 1 star is the lowest score and it doesn't deserve that. The main problem is that this book does operate from, or even really seek to prove, its thesis, that "horror" is about huma If anyone is interested, on "The Horror of Nachos and Hamantaschen" podcast, we dedicated to podcast episodes to discussing this book at length, or at the length we could tolerate: http://nachonomics.com/hnh/2017/7/5/e... http://nachonomics.com/hnh/2017/7/12/... This was really a 1 star for me, as I "did not like it," but 1 star is the lowest score and it doesn't deserve that. The main problem is that this book does operate from, or even really seek to prove, its thesis, that "horror" is about humankind's inability to truly contemplate the world as it is. This basic sentiment was expressed much more succinctly by many other writers, notably HP Lovecraft in the opening lines of the Call of Cthulhu. This book talks around in circles and flits from one discursive topic to the next without building any coherent thought. It is filled with silly sophistry like (and I'm paraphrasing) "if the majority of cells in the human body are not human cells but bacteria, does that mean that thought is non-human in nature," which is like saying that if the human body is 50% water, then water has 50% of the "thought capacity" of a human. The working thesis, again, is that horror is the non-philosophical tool people use to discuss the impossible thought of the unknowable "world as it is," or the world without human beings. But he offers really nothing to support this - there are topics on black metal, the study of demons and demonology, the magic circle, and slimes and oozes, but nothing coheres at all. Much of that really is along the lines of "so in this book there was a slime that did this, in a story there was a slime that did that, and there was also this other slime thing" and from those three disparate examples makes a silly conclusion that slimes exist to represent the unknown world. He also does not deal seriously with many of the subjects, and does not pit competing views against each other. He has this annoying habit of framing chapters as "disputios," where ostensibly two ideas get pitted against each other until there is a conclusion. But he doesn't do that. His chapter on black metal is symptomatic. He says, on the one hand, black metal means Satan and Opposition; on the other hand, it means animism and paganism, but then on the other, actually it means the unknowable world. That conclusion just comes out of nowhere and he doesn't even delve deeply into actual black metal bands, and his prime example of the genre he is explicating is some fucking folk poet using a tone generator. Then the last chapter is on this embarrassing, anonymous online "poem" about wind cycles and weather patterns, and you are left thinking: life might be pointless and futile, but it's still too valuable to waste reading this shit.

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