Tuesday 29 October 2013

The Importance of Horror

This time of year, with Halloween approaching, there are a lot more horror films watched, more horror elements in television shows, and more horror books read than any other part of the year.  There is a marked focus in this direction, both in those pursuing watching and reading, and in those speaking against the genre.  Many of these elements spill into daily life, in costumes worn to work, parties, bars, and anywhere else people can get away with it by using the season as an excuse.

Supernatural horror the only mainstream place where the elements that are often a part of more occult and esoteric interest appear.  The very fact the genre (both in film and in literature, and also in art of many other forms) exists is interesting in itself.

The reason for the absence elsewhere is that people don't want to consider the monstrous and strange, preferring to pretend everything is safe and normal and predictable.  So it's pushed to the edges.  On the edges, we don't have to look at it.  We can pretend it's not there and go about life feeling safe.

But the presence of the supernatural horror genre in all mediums means that while it's pushed the edges, it's not pushed out completely.  People don't want to confront it in a "normal" context, but they also can't completely ignore or forget it either.  The genre persists because there is always a part of us that knows that the "normal" by itself is not the whole story, that there would be a lacking if the Other is completely gone.

So people seek out the monstrous and strange and dangerous on occasion, as a reminder not to forget, then return to their "normal" world, content that the stuff they push to the edges is still at the edges, so not hidden closer and waiting.

This is the place not just of the genre, but of the edges themselves.  Edges and boundaries define what is part and what is not, what is Self and what is Other, what is society and what is savage, what is cultivated and what is Wasteland or Wilderness.  By dividing, they define.  There is no boundary or edge if there isn't something beyond it.  There is no Self without Other.  There is no civilized without the Monster.  If what we don't like or are afraid of isn't at the edge, or across the boundary, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist, it means it has no place to be but here, where I am.  If there is no monster out there, the monster is here, or the monster is me.

The separation of worlds, the Edge and the Veil, is a separation of perception, not a gap or abyss between worlds.  Our world, our Dreaming, must be safe to us, so we push what isn't safe to the edge, make it Other, make it the otherworld.  And those that live in the otherworld, at the edges by our perception, push what isn't safe to them to the edge, to their Other, making it the otherworld for them, our world.  All things not safe for us, or that we don't want, is there.  All things not safe for them, or that they don't want, is here.  Two worlds mutually populating each other with their monsters, monsters who populate their world with monsters.

But those who walk between are monsters to both worlds, Other to all Selfs.  Because they can be either, so are monsters that appear as normal, no matter which world they walk.  And appearing normal in both, they also see both as normal, the accept the monstrous and strange as every day, as part of what makes up the whole.  They have no edges, no borders, no law, no limits.

Because edges imply two sides, boundaries and borders are between two things.  Laws define what can happen and cannot, or, what can happen without being pushed to the edges.  Limits define what is possible, but if you approach a limit long enough, you can't perceive where you are from where it is, and in effect reach it.  And once you realize the limit, what stops you from passing it?

~Muninn's Kiss


  1. I have a joke with my wife, that in our language, the name of our tribe is ________, which means "not the people". At least I think this is related... :)

    1. :-) Yes, it is.

      I've joked about starting a group called the Society of the Missing Word.


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