[Notes in the book itself.]
- horror reality:
1. Toward a Horror Reality
- “The fundamental problem of human existence is rooted in an inherent inability to communicate” (11). Given that this is fundamentally a treatise on horror fiction (as I so far understand it), this inability to communicate both drives the allure of narrative and undergirds the fundamental “horror” of horror as a genre.
- “Since Lovecraft, horror has increasingly been concerned with the cosmic paralysis of humanities. The paralysis is” a problem of scale: our inability to “understand our place, as humans, in the universe” and then to speak it plain (15). Peak locates strangeness in the space between philosophies of access (correlationism) and the speculative injunction to avoid privileging anthropocentric access to the universe.
- Peak’s argument: through horror we can “think without language,” and, conversely, that the fulfillment of the speculative injunction to think without language is the genre and affect of horror (15–17).
- Peak relies on psychoanalytic theories of cogent humanness that contradict the new materialist injunction that we are entangled processes of becoming (21).
- Much of this first chapter seems to be a counterbattle between Bergson and the speculativists. “If Bergson’s thinking . . . provides the terror of being incarcerated within consciousness, then the ideas posited by speculative realism [of the Meillassoux ilk] are the terror of the lifelong prisoner suddenly being told he’s being released . . .” (22).
- “Horror reality” is the unboundedness of reality, where the conventions of stability and scale are revealed as arbitrary and transgressable.
Archive and Impact
- Peak is a horror writer; I can find precious little about him on the internet, but Schism Press is a small, anonymous press that publishes weird shit—similar to Gnomon Press and Urbanomic.
- Looking through the notes, it’s clear that Peak is conversant with the CCRU/New Weird Theory contingent: Meillassoux, Brassier (e.g., the core speculative turn folks), Negarestani, Harman, and Thacker all get prominent reference; alongside Thacker, there’s also references to the nihilist and pessimist strain of 19th century philosophical thought, e.g. Schopenhauer. And then there’s lots and lots of horror fiction and theory—Lovecraft, Ligotti, Levinas, Kristeva all are prominent. There are almost no women besides Kristeva.