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Posted on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 03:13 am:   

On another thread, one person has said (something I intend to put on my wall!):

But misery, grimness, poverty, and murder (while compelling) IMO are not true Horror, they just add to it.

It’s made me think that there should be an academic discipline called Horror Philosophy, dealing with the Horror Arts: Horrorism? (You will notice I eschew the word ‘Terror’ for use in this context!)

Some initial thoughts brainstormed on another thread to kick off Horrorism:-

I feel Horror literature (that's *called* Horror) is for being cheered up, because you want to be horrified by the act of reading it and, if it's done well, it does horrify you. Mission accomplished.

This begs the question: books that are not labelled Horror or do not have a Horror cover, do they have the potential to horrify to a greater degree, by giving the reader a false sense of security? They are not so well primed for horror, so the horror becomes more effective?

And should Horror be grim downers or escapist supernatural grotesques?

Are these alternatives (and the generalities for which I intend them as shorthand) mutually exclusive?

If the style of doing utter 'grim' is admirable, can this admiration cause ‘pleasure' as well as ‘depression’ from the grimness expressed, and thus be stylistically counter-productive? A well-honed tale expressing Horror of utter grimness becomes less grim because the way the grimness is described so effectively is felicitous in itself?

And other extrapolative questions from that trend of thought - which I hope you can read into the above - that need to addressed & then answered.

There are many paradoxes and oxymorons like these along the way, I suggest, before nailing down what 'Horror' is or should be.

Is Horror, as one example of a paradox or oxymoron, entertainment?

Entertainment can be by various means. Horror seems to represent the one means to entertain that is most difficult, because it comes with so many mixed emotions.

But surely Horror's purpose is not simply to horrify on an aesthetic level. Its purpose is to *truly* horrify, I suggest, without any *apparent* intervention of Art or Artifice in so doing. Otherwise, why call it Horror?

... but to *truly* horrify, I also suggest, does not necessarily entail using extreme horror. In fact, I find extreme horror counterproductive, quite often, in accomplishing the true horror effect, for various reasons of overdose or dulling the horror centres of the nerves.

So, Horrorism has a conundrum.


Do we want to be shown (a) our loved one dying in a pool of blood for real or (b) a believable fabrication that gives us a similar jolt of horror as (a)?

I agree we'd want (b), not (a).

It's how to create (b) that is the conundrum. Or to reconcile why anyone would want it as entertainment.

Many would only be able to stomach a perceived fabrication of (b), ie. a fabrication of a fabrication?

Horrorism is, therefore, the study of fabrication levels in Horror Artifice, and how these levels interact with Horror’s purpose ((a)moral? cathartic? aesthetic?) or its purposelessness.

Purposelessness seems to me to be the ideal medium for Horror to work within, but a purposelessness paradoxically having margins and well-tempered effects that do not breach most readers’ own purpose in thus testing their optimal thresholds of disbelief and taste.

Just a few thoughts.

Read my novel "The Hawler" on-line:


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