Horror Sweet Horror

But what is all this fear of and opposition to Oblivion? What is the matter with the soft Darkness, the Dreamless Sleep? – James Thurber

I never intended to become a horror writer but when I put pen to paper chaos ensues.

In the past I have shunned the ‘horror’ tag, preferring the more general “dark fiction” label to describe my work. The word ‘horror’ irked me for a long time. It sat on my shoulder, a drooling little demon. Lately we have become friends. I am stroking its scales, playing with its sharp, hooked tail. Horror has started to grow on me, breeding and festering like an obsession or an infection. Embracing the word and all its connotations is really helping me move forward with my writing and stake new ground.

In the mind of the mainstream public ‘horror’ takes its obvious and more mundane incarnations with slasher violence, gore, and evil supernatural themes, but in the heart of horror writers and their discerning readers, horror is a subtle and delicate craft. We know what it takes to walk an extremely fine line, sanity on one side, madness on the other, in order to bless the page in the name of horror.

Horror is the art of evoking the iciness of dread, terror, sorrow, revulsion and also fiery responses like anger and arousal. It is deeply interwoven with sex and death, both instinct and force of nature. “Horror is an attempt to tame the untameable, to tap into the Great God Pan.” (G.W.Thomas) It is the friction and play of symbolism and taboos.

“Every story is, in its tiny way, a horror story… It’s an existential thing, a tragic thing, and somewhere in every story this dark heart beats. Horror is part of our narrative make-up.” – Chuck Wendig

I don’t write horror because I think the world is a terrible place and I hate people, quite the contrary. I write horror for the sake of the brilliant light it shines upon things. The stark, uncompromising reality it reveals, and the unexpected visions it projects. Poetry of the Adversary. To have fear and pain stretched before me like the corpse of my inner self, hovering above it with a glinting scalpel. The rush of liberation and wonder I experience at that first cut, the gentle pop as words break the surface and the thick slide through resistant layers. Remain here beside me, as I dissect my own neurosis and desires…

Nightmare

Image: The Nightmare, John Henry Fuseli, 1781

 

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Horror Sweet Horror

  1. I like that “Poetry of the Adversary.” That seems to typify it more than anything else. I, too, have had my qualms about the term “horror,” preferring dark fantastic or – because of my preference of Southern Gothica etc., a sense of the Southern Fantastic and Grotesque. I prefer fantastic in the sense of in-between the marvelous and the uncanny, in the place of no place where one can never be sure, where what one is experiencing is uncertain, and is closer to the Negative Capability of which Keat’s once so ably said: “I mean Negative Capability, that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason…” A sense of active participation rather than passive suffering, of entering into the darkness as one’s own element and atmosphere, but unlike the psychopath or sociopaths being neither controlled by it, nor fully controlling it; rather entering into that feeling and knowing and being felt and known by the darkness as it is the secret sharer of one’s being: the daemonic force and power of one’s art and creativity.

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    1. Yes, indeed! Thank you for a wonderful comment. I like the way you have described it, an act of participation and communion with a dark and fertile aspect of oneself and hopefully not completely at the mercy of it! It is a liminal craft to write of Darkness, poetry at the crossroads. Thanks for dropping by.

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      1. Sure! Plan on reading some of your stories soon. I see you’ve published in a few anthologies, etc. I’ve only recently begun to delve into writing short stories of late. Wrote essays and poetry for years, never published much. But after years of grind finally retired recently and decided to blog, then pursued philosophy for a while but have come back round to my old haunts of Southern writers and feel comfortable with what their terming that whole tradition of gothic, grotesque, macabre… along with my need to work into crime fiction, horror, and weird or fantastic. Either way, good luck with your work… I need to wander through your site, too. Thanks!

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