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Nemonymous
08-16-2006, 10:14 AM
A choice of two footnotes (one standard and the other 'adult') with today's part 35 of Weirdtongue (Glistenberry Romance).
http://weirdmonger.blog-city.com/weirdtongue.htm
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I'd thought I'd put the advert first! :-)

Now the question:-
To what extent can (should?) Horror Fiction be 'intellectual' or considered to be art?
I myself feel that Horror best presents 'the rudiments of myth & melancholy' (my phrase coined in Weirdtongue). But many who would appreciate this tough job Horror does, miss out on it because they think Horror is not for them.
des

G. S. Carnivals
08-16-2006, 10:06 PM
To what extent can (should?) Horror Fiction be 'intellectual' or considered to be art?
I myself feel that Horror best presents 'the rudiments of myth & melancholy' (my phrase coined in Weirdtongue). But many who would appreciate this tough job Horror does, miss out on it because they think Horror is not for them.
I have felt for quite some time that there are only three types of fiction: the superlative, the passable, and the unreadable. We are cursed, I fear, forever with genre snobbery (the esteemed "mainstream") and genre self-placement ("I write This or That exclusively") as limiting factors in the appreciation of Horror either as art or as something sublime.

Once one does away with genre distinctions (Mainstream, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Noir, Western, Range Romance, whatever), one can begin to appreciate, for instance, Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and Thomas Ligotti's "The Bungalow House" on the same level. Both are superlative pieces of fiction. The difference is that one is embraced by the eternal snobs, and the other isn't. The similarity is that both stories are horrific in their own ways.

The astute reader alone should decide how he or she feels about any given piece of fiction.

Always read responsibly. Our team of dedicated librarians will drive you home in a Bookmobile if necessary...

adam
08-17-2006, 01:51 AM
I have felt for quite some time that there are only three types of fiction: the superlative, the passable, and the unreadable. We are cursed, I fear, forever with genre snobbery (the esteemed "mainstream") and genre self-placement ("I write This or That exclusively") as limiting factors in the appreciation of Horror either as art or as something sublime.
Very true. However, I think that dividing into genres, while often imprecise, is completely tangential to your theory as long as one recogmizes that you can have both superlative horror, passable horror, and unreadable horror; superlative western, passable western, and unreadable western; etc. The problem (if there is one) is that the snobs are automatically excluding things from the superlative category simply based on approach and/or subject matter rather than execution. One needs to recognize that genres are useful, but are descriptive rather than indicative of quality. I can understand why someone wouldn't want to read "horror" (for example, could easily be western or mainstream, etc.), but not how they could condemn ALL "horror" as being badly (or simply not superlatively) done simply because they are not personally fond of things that could loosely be defined as "horror", even though they have no experience with a/the particular work in question. That's just closeminded. However, I would submit that just because something is superlative doesn't mean that "I" will like it or even have any interest in it.

Once one does away with genre distinctions (Mainstream, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Noir, Western, Range Romance, whatever), one can begin to appreciate, for instance, Joseph Conrad's "The Heart of Darkness" and Thomas Ligotti's "The Bungalow House" on the same level. Both are superlative pieces of fiction. The difference is that one is embraced by the eternal snobs, and the other isn't. The similarity is that both stories are horrific in their own ways.
Indeed. Superlative fiction does tend to defy classification by genre in many cases so it does take a certain removal of genre labels to appreciate fully.


The astute reader alone should decide how he or she feels about any given piece of fiction.

Always read responsibly. Our team of dedicated librarians will drive you home in a Bookmobile if necessary...
Good advice.

To what extent can (should?) Horror Fiction be 'intellectual' or considered to be art?
I myself feel that Horror best presents 'the rudiments of myth & melancholy' (my phrase coined in Weirdtongue). But many who would appreciate this tough job Horror does, miss out on it because they think Horror is not for them.
Interesting idea to discuss. I personally tend to agree with you. Horror is what addresses the pertinent questions of existence/consciousness/meaningoflife/whatever; all those questions almost by definition have horrific answers. Therefore in may ways, the basis for myth (and obviously its underlying melacholy) is always horror. Though, as I stated above, I can understand why some wouldn't be interested in subjecting themselves to "horrific" things by choice (though I disagree about that philosophically, personally finding that it is essential to subject oneself to a certain degree of horror/misery/whatever for any semblance of sanity/salvation/understanding/etc., and rather more prudent to choose not to subject myself to sappy and overtly cheerful things instead. Go figure.)

But maybe that's just me.

Nemonymous
08-17-2006, 04:50 AM
I agree with the genre points by Adam and the Heart of Darkness / Bungalow House point by GSC.

I wrote this on a message board in 2004 (slightly tangential to this discussion):

My greatest love in fiction is the 'Horror/Dark Fantasy' core that I find in most sorts of literature, old and new, literary and otherwise.

For me, this core should be and is being expanded by the current vogue in fiction genre-crossing and genre-betweening (Interstitiality), i.e. acting like a magnet, and making other fiction traditions conducive to the 'Horror' spirit or, as I would like it to be called, The Ominous Imagination. Indeed, I believe, most good fiction is (and has always been) imbued with and steeped in this type of imaginative spirit, in any event.

This is really what, when articulated, I have been trying to do in ‘Nemonymous’, especially if you ignore its radical aspects of Anonymity etc. for a moment. All issues contain stories each of which are representative of a different fiction genre/tradition as well as stories that, actually within themselves, contain various genres/traditions -- but all, inevitably, with the Ominous Imagination.

Those who publish genre-specific outlets in the Horror fiction field, for example, perhaps allow the hard-fought beach-heads of 'Horror/Dark Fantasy' to crumble and separate out, thus allowing these particles of fiction already gathered for the 'Horror/Dark Fantasy' core to escape from that core because such genre-narrowing outlets tend to crystallise that core AS a core rather than as a magnet.

The Silent One
08-17-2006, 11:54 PM
Horror is art because many beautiful and fascinating things glow (and grow) in the darkness, even if they are feverish hues. And even if the horror is a grey one, even a glaringly blank one, do not vast glaciers and stormy, barren coastlines carry a kind of desolate beauty?

As for the intellectual, while happiness, sorrow (also explored in much horror), and anger are important emotions in the base of human behaviour, fear is even more base. Anger and happiness can be based in fear or its absence respectively. So many things are motivated by fear. True horror fiction is a study in the most basic fear of the unknown, and terror the same study but at the base of what can be known but is not. The story is an experiment in what triggers these things.

G. S. Carnivals
12-28-2006, 03:40 PM
I apologize for my own brand of snobbery some four months ago. I had just read a couple of pieces which disappointed me profoundly. I was much too harsh in my assessment of fiction in general, I think. We live in a flawed universe whose perfect (sic) reflection is the world which we inhabit. Every story, poem, novel, or essay is an unknown entity until we encounter it. Let there be forgiveness and understanding.

Opening My Mind with a Crowbar,

Phil

Nemonymous
12-30-2006, 08:55 AM
GSC said: We live in a flawed universe whose perfect (sic) reflection is the world which we inhabit.

*******
Very thought-provoking, GSC. Thanks.

Seems to bring out the two-way filter facility of fiction.

Perhaps we should call it the Red Tower Syndrome.

paeng
08-19-2007, 09:11 AM
This is a fascinating thread because I've always seen connections between the two. For example, I'd read Heart of Darkness together with Dante's "Inferno," and then see them in light of films like Apocalypse Now, Wages of Fear, and Aguirre: the Wrath of God, and then see all of them in light of Frazer's The Golden Bough and West's From Ritual to Romance.