After the Bang, My Love: The Passing of a Horror Fan, and Mine

Last weekend, Kaarina Wilson passed away.

I haven’t really talked much about her, though I have definitely referred to her on Mythic Bios a few times. She’s even commented on this Blog a few times, once with regards to a poem I wrote for her called For Red, and another time encouraging my writing.

She always supported my writing, and continuing to improve myself. She was the only one of my friends and partners that came to my Graduate School Convocation back in 2012, almost a lifetime ago now. Kaarina saw me through that difficult part of my life where I was running out of money and dealing with the Damoclean nightmare that became my Master’s Thesis, and the end of Grad School. It wasn’t easy, for either of us. She was the first person I ever lived with, and the first person from whose place I had to move out.

Kaarina was also one of the first people in my life to tell me that I should not only keep a Blog, but I should write on geeky subjects. Her favourite genre in particular was horror.

While she introduced me to Kurt Vonnegut — or Grampa as she called him — and the black comic, almost banal terror of Cat’s Cradle with its Ice-Nine in the sky, and Mother Night‘s warning that you will become what you pretend to be there were two other extremely important contributions Kaarina provided to return me back into horror properly: Clive Barker’s Books of Blood, and the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

Up until this point, I had mostly read H.P. Lovecraft, Neil Gaiman, and Alan Moore — fear of the unknown, interpersonal character development and the strange being commonplace and the normal being bizarre, and a cynical world still made cerebral and wondrous respectively — but it was Clive Barker that taught me that what you fear can be inexorably linked to what you ultimately desire.

But while I went on to read more Barker, the Toronto After Dark Film Festival showed me just what independent films — both horror and weird — could truly accomplish. Alongside Kaarina in 2010, the year we started dating and when the After Dark used to be in the summer and where Hot Docs currently resides — we watched ridiculous films with heart like RoboGeisha, and twisted things like The Human Centipede. Some of my best memories was getting off at Bathurst Station and meeting her there, and she was often late, while eating some chicken shawarma wraps and freshly squeezed orange juice watching the latest volley of insane films. I think it was from Kaarina exposing me to these forms of literature in the horrific and the sublime that showed me not to take things so seriously anymore and, in doing so, to remember what creative play was, and to genuinely enjoy watching entertainment again.

It was an interesting time when we met. Rental stores were already being phased out. Not long after my first year with her, Blockbuster’s physical stores died, though it took a few years for Suspect Video to share their fate. But we saw it coming. We felt change coming.

Kaarina had always suffered from four autoimmune diseases, something she made no bones about when we first met at a bar gathering in 2009. She had scleroderma, which is a chronic disease that hardens the connective tissue throughout the body, along with primary biliary cirrhosis, which is a slow destruction of the bile ducts in one’s liver, and Sjögren’s syndrome, which often accompanies other autoimmune disorders but has symptoms of dry eyes and mouth. She also had Raynaud’s disease, which narrows the blood vessels in extremities: usually in the fingers and toes.

One of the few times we spent the night together, she showed me the sore developing her finger which caused her horrible pain. Often, she would talk about having it amputated. Once, when I went to the hospital near the ROM to pick her up we came across a patient who had multiple amputations, and she told me that she expected this in her future.

That future didn’t happen, thankfully, but the fear was always there. When she would get sick, her immune system would attack the illness and her: which is what autoimmune disorders often are in and of themselves. At the very least, she was far more vulnerable to infections — including Staph infections — than most, and she never had flu shots as they would most likely compromise her immune system further.

I didn’t want to see it. I knew it was a reality, her reality, but I thought with more time and so much more time there would be further treatments, that she just had to hold on. We just had to hold on.

I also didn’t have a lot of time, though in a different way. I was running out of money and funding for Grad School and OSAP. My bursaries, scholarships, and loans only went so far. Every day, even before I met Kaarina, I knew I was on borrowed time: that this period of freedom and independence, unless something spectacular happened, wouldn’t last forever.

And it didn’t.

It’s like those old horror films, zombie movies in particular, where two survivors are hiding in a place besieged by the undead and trying not to get bit, while one of them has already gotten infected and is more real about it — is more pragmatic amidst horrible emotional turmoil — while the other is in intense denial, that they just need to hold on a little longer, and it would work out.

Kaarina liked zombie movies. Not the newfangled zombie runners, or rage-monsters created from 28 Days Later, but the undead — the ghouls — that came from George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. She always said that she preferred slow, encroaching, inevitable horror and death to the fast and furious show-off gore of other films. You can, obviously, see the parallel. Horror, after all, makes you face your own mortality and find some catharsis in the thing. I could make a pretty good argument, if I wanted to, that the horror cinematic genre has elements of what the ancients would have considered tragedy, if not outright tragedy in and of itself.

There is something about a zombie horde as a mindless, relentless scourge that consumes everything in its path — something so unstoppable, so senseless, so … fucking stupid despite the fact that Romero’s ghouls can use tools — that spoke a lot to Kaarina, and her continuing struggle with her own body, and sometimes her mind.

Zombies weren’t the only thing that Kaarina enjoyed. She always had a focus on doppelgängers: on doubles of people, mirror parallels, and the uncanny valley that they inhabit in the minds of those that they see them. When she was studying Journalism at Ryerson, she was taking a course in Gothic Literature, possibly the only thing she enjoyed in that program. And while this allowed me the opportunity to read some of her required reading such as Lovecraft’s “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” it also gave me the opportunity to help her with her assignments. While I couldn’t always contribute financially, I had the skills and the ability to read over her work, offer reviews, and even help her formulate those ideas. Her last assignment in that course was about doppelgängers and their thematic function: why they exist, and what they represent.

Throughout Kaarina’s life, and from my understanding of it and experience with it, there were two sides to her. They even had two names. Most people, including her friends, called her Karen. Karen was often the persona that was matter of fact and had the party manners. She took things gracefully, even when she could be cold and distant. Kaarina, on the other hand, was the more creative and intuitive part of her, the sensitive part that cried a lot, and would freeze into place when she was particularly upset or scared, or rage at the unfairness of everything. Karen, in my mind, would question you, always. And when she got angry would methodically and with some detail explain everything you did wrong, while Kaarina would shout and scream and was far more visceral. The dichotomy of these aspects of her were not mutually exclusive, and they did not develop in a vacuum. Both were very real. In fact, I would say dichotomy was a major part of her life. She even had heterochromia: two different coloured eyes.

The focus of her final paper had been on Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, a film I woke up late at night with a fever to sit with her on the couch in our apartment under the stairs and watch. And later, long after the money ran out, and patience turned into exhaustion, and I moved back in with my parents with my boxes following, and hospitals became an even more daily occurrence of her life Jordan Peele’s Us that, according to Fangoria, was the first or most definitive horror film that utilized the doppelgänger as the central monster.

I bought that film for her. I also got her a subscription to both Fangoria Magazine and Shudder. I recall getting her Shudder when she was in a medically-induced coma after a procedure to shred the damaged parts of her lungs, curating a collection for her, hoping that she would wake up and eventually be able to watch the entire thing: a shadow of the shared experience we had in watching some of these films at the After Dark together. I didn’t see her often after I moved out, and a lot of our own struggles with each other, and ourselves. These gestures seemed just so small by comparison, even though I hoped they would make that difference when I would finally see her again.

Kaarina’s contributions, and her utter exasperation in me not doing any writing during our time together, led me to creating Mythic Bios, led me to writing for Sequart, and even the stint for GeekPr0n, and covering the Toronto After Dark. I went from buying single passes to particular films at the After Dark, to sharing a Press Pass among GeekPr0n staff, to eventually just getting a full Pass like she always did: to enjoy those films on my own again. Part of it was to try to find a sense of meaning as I moved back into my parents’ place and rejecting academia, while some was a combination of homage and defiance towards Kaarina herself: to show her I had learned from her, to illustrate that I would all the thing she pushed me to do when we lived together on my own outside of the place we used to share.

A lot of things happened after I moved out in 2012. I got published in a print and ebook anthology about Hell. I wrote for two online publications. And I went to the After Dark on my own, and it became more than our place. It became my place as well. But never once, during that entire time, did I forget Kaarina, or the impetus she gave me to keep going. To keep experimenting. To keep seeing what I could do.

The last film she and I watched together on our own was in 2017, at the Carlton Cinema. It was the anthology XX: a film directed, written, and starring all women. After the film, Jovanka Vuckovic — one of the central writers and directors in the film, who I met through covering her at GeekPr0n — noticed that the central theme in the whole film, through the blood, and pain, and loss was about family. And, looking back, it makes sense that that would be the last movie we saw on a date because, despite everything, I never doubted — not once through everything that happened, perhaps because of everything that happened — that Kaarina and I loved each other.

I was going to visit Kaarina in the hospital the Sunday after the Pandemic was formally declared. I couldn’t make it. I wanted us to have a remote Movie Night, Bed-Time as she called it — where we would watch The Addams Family or The Twilight Zone together — but it never happened. It seems, in a way, the two central horror themes of Kaarina’s fascination unfolded before, and after, her death. Disease and the slow crawl of fear has enveloped the world, and in doing so we are seeing two sides of the same reality become starkly contrasted with each other: social inequality and justice, hope and dread, truth and lies, and life and death all unfolding around us, and with little ambiguity.

There is an uncertainty in the world now, more than ever. There is a loss of understanding in my own, without her in it. The fact that I saw it coming doesn’t make it better. It just felt like a rehearsal for this time. It was just like watching that zombie horde come creeping towards you, and now it is facing myself in the mirror scared of the feelings I am continuing to find while viscerally, morbidly, messily fascinated with exploring their guts.

Horror and weirdness lost a great fan last week. I lost an amazing lover and friend. I lost one of my greatest fans, and supporters. I want her to be honoured in the places that she loved the most.

Rest in peace, Kaarina. You always liked to quote Hitchcock, again, when he said “There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it.”

I hope that after your bang, when it came, all that is left now, for you, is its catharsis.

Do What You Fear. Do What You Desire. Write For Clive Barker

Sometimes what you’re scared of the most is the very thing that you desire.

This is the first lesson from horror and fantasy writer Clive Barker: a lesson that branches off into mystery and mythos. So many of his stories have inspired countless other writers and creators. Jovanka Vuckovic, for instance, is in the process of creating a film adaption of Barker’s short story Jacqueline Ess. In fact, last year Clive Barker called out writing submissions for an anthology based on the world of Night Breed.

And now Clive Barker wants to read your writing.

Yes. You read that sentence correctly. You see, Clive Barker is not only an excellent story maker, but he is a talented artist as well. Your task prospective writers, should you accept it, is to look at and keep track of Clive Barker’s drawings on Deviantart, activate or make your login and write a story of anywhere up to two thousand words. Barker will go through your posted entries and decide which words capture the spirit of his artwork the most. He will read all of these stories by October 31.

Now if this isn’t a Halloween Event, I don’t know what is.

I’ll be honest with you ladies, gentlemen, and other beings. The idea of this event both terrifies and excites me. I myself am a writer and I have many projects that I need to do. And it is a rather intimidating prospect to have Clive Barker look at something I wrote. There is a part of me that is actually afraid to try this: for fear of whatever I make not being good enough. But then this is Clive Barker we are talking about here and not only would it be awesome for me to see something I made — even if it doesn’t embody his work — but he gives all of us writers something even more valuable than readership and potential critique and suggestions.

He gives us an excellent prompt to keep writing brilliant stories.

Sometimes that old lesson is true. Fear and desire are often the same sides of the coin, and when they are embraced, that’s where some of the best stories come from. I hope to see everyone in the Deviantart Comments. Oh and the above graphic in this article? It’s taken from the site. And that is your first prompt.

Image Credit: Clive Barker

Interviews and More Writing

I’m still doing my writing, but I just thought I’d go into a little more detail about what I was talking about in my last post.

If you remember I talked about an interview I did for GEEKPR0N. That interview was actually with Larry Wilson: the co-writer and co-producer of Beetlejuice, The Addams Family, and the writer and director of Tales From the Crypt for six seasons. Our interview centred around his current project the web series Cindy: a twenty-first century retelling of Cinderella with elements of Reality TV parody, dark humour, and just plain weirdness.

To be honest, I never dreamed that I would be talking to one of the people integral in creating a large feature of my childhood. I first got to know Beetlejuice through the cartoons and it goes without saying that while I knew about The Addams Family before the film, I recall spending a recess in the corner of my elementary school reading its novelization. And I’m not even going into the time where I would to sneak up late and watch some Tales From the Crypt on Fox.

And I will tell you right now that if I had the money and even basic screenwriting experience, I would definitely take up Larry’s script consultation reward. I honestly hope that if I can’t, someone else does.

I’ve also written a little something for Clive Barker. Yes: that’s right. You read that correctly. Basically he has put a challenge out there to write a story for an image he painted and posted on Deviantart. I will link to the image and I’ll post what I wrote here: because one requirement was placing the narrative in the Comments section.


They built cities to keep them out.

People will tell you all manner of more pragmatic reasons for the creation of cities. They will mention the intersection of culture and trade, of the need for propaganda art to cow enemies and citizens alike, of a place to better house the billions of human beings being born every day.

But some will tell you something else. They’ll inform you, secretly where they think no one else can hear, that all of that art and architecture, the arrangement of the paths, streets, and buildings, and even the placement of certain homes and peoples were arranged as a pattern: to ward them off.

Yet ultimately it is the enclosures that are the thing.

They are no new innovation. It’s well known that ancient humans and their predecessors would hide in their caves during the night after saying farewell to their loved ones, their friends, and their enemies. And even now they would like to forget the howling outside, the scraping against the rock walls and their paintings of animal blood,  the hunger deeper than the tunnels in which they hid and the pleading: to be accepted back among their people.

However, all of them are wrong. They remember it all wrong. Cities weren’t made for the living to hide and hoard their food against the seasons and the predators. The lost weren’t put outside to roam around for eternity. No. The tribes often placed their lost in their homes: sealing them up and painstakingly maintaining them. They would bring them food, tools, and the results of trade. Over time they bargained with them, prayed to them … worshipped their memory and what yet remained.

Caves like wombs became camps. Camps became villages. Villages towns and towns cities. The monuments grew higher each day: growing from the foundation of countless generations and those that tended their ground: which they still do to this very day.

So now do you understand? Do you know why sometimes you feel so tired: so drained? Even as the symbols lengthen like shadows into the sky and expand across the land, nothing truly changes. It is amazing how, simultaneously, you are cramped and alone: like you are the one living in the coffin. You are the one that’s trapped here.

No. Cities were not built to keep them out, but to keep them in.

For cities are not built for the living, but for the dead: in which everything within truly belongs.

So to say I’ve been busy would be something of an understatement. I’ve already told you about the fact that I’m going to be covering the Toronto After Dark. I actually tried to do this last year with Mythic Bios and for my efforts I got an invitation to view and write a review of their opening night. This time, however, I’m attending on behalf of GEEKPR0N. Expect to see me there for the Sunday and Thursday showings.

And I am going to be interviewing someone else. Again, I’m not going to go into any details as of yet but I will say that it will be my first in-person interview ever and I’m both cautious and excited over that prospect.

I remember once being the person that never even dreamed of having these opportunities or being this person as immersed in geek culture as I am now: even when people encouraged me to do so. And well … here we are.

Don’t worry. I will take time to peer in here and update all of you. I just thought you’d like to know about this. And please, read my articles and tell me what you think. It means a lot to me. Yet again, take care everyone. 🙂

Vuckovic and Headey Explore Jacqueline Ess: Her Will And Testament

Clive Barker’s short story “Jacqueline Ess: Her Will And Testament” is not only being adapted into a horror film by the Canadian and Torontonian film director Jovanka Vuckovic, but Lena Headey will be playing the role of Jacqueline Ess.

While until this announcement I was unfamiliar with Jovanka Vuckovic or her work, and I only know of Headey through her roles in Game of Thrones and 300 as Queens Cersei and Gorgo respectively, I have read “Jacqueline Ess” and it is a fascinating story. Beware my friends, if you intend to read this story there will be spoilers.

Books of Blood

“Jacqueline Ess” is a story found in Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. It is about a woman by the same name who, after being neglected and passive-aggressively abused by her cheating husband and being dissatisfied with her overall life, attempts to kill herself only to be brought back from death with–for lack of a better word–some strange, flesh-crafting abilities. Think of it as telekinesis that can only affect human flesh and organs. Now imagine all that rage and pain that she has suppressed her whole life in being the good wife or woman and patronizingly being told what how she feels by men.

But the story is so much more than simple revenge. It subverts stereotypes. It changes Ess from a victim to an accidental instigator of manslaughter, to a murderer, and into someone who examines the very nature of power. Her sexuality, which was used by men, becomes her most overt weapon. However, again, she is not simply a monster or a villain, or a Carrie that lets her repressed emotions completely rule her powers. She is an intelligent woman that not only wonders about this power and what it means, having gained it by temporarily piercing the veil beyond death, but she also truly examines what the meaning of life is in light–and despite of–the discovery of her powers.

The very weapon that is her power, that is her sexuality, that is her body, becomes a weapon that ultimately turns on her. What this might say about social perspectives with regards to female gender and sexuality is a whole other subject entirely that will hopefully be explored in further depth, but I will say that the story manages to move this power from the place of the stereotype into the dark, red realm of the archetypal: of that primal place where life comes from, where it is changed, in that plane suspended between sex and death and, when you get right down to it, even a sense of enlightenment and acceptance.

Clive Barker has an interesting sense of horror: at least in his earlier stories such as those found in The Books of Blood. For him, horror is not only your fear of the unknown, but your secret desire for it and that place where your anxiety is forced to meet your sense of anticipation in the language of the flesh.

Lena Heady

I suppose you can tell that I really took a lot away from this story. Certainly, I can see Lena Headey making an excellent Jacqueline. Not only does Headey have a sense of portraying women of power in Game of Thrones and 300–characters that exist in traditionally male-dominated spaces–but particularly in the first Season of Game of Thrones to me she actually portrays a more sympathetic version of Cersei Lannister: someone who has power, and knows she has power as a woman in a traditional role, but who was never trained to understand it to its fullest extent or to protect those that she loves.

Headey’s Cersei understands just how subjugated and micro-managed women in Westeros truly are and even in Season Four you can see just how powerless and vulnerable she can be when her father takes her son from her. To me, it’s almost as though Headey’s Jacqueline may well be a parallel to the character of Cersei: both start out with affluence but are limited by the men and patriarchal structure of their lives, but while Cersei stays with the trappings of power and never seems to explore their origins, hopefully Jacqueline will portray her vulnerability and continue to explore her more literal and supernatural power and its nuances on the environment around her.

As I said before, I didn’t even know who Jovanka Vuckovic was before news about her film came out. However, if she can explore the details of Jacqueline’s evolution and its effects on the men and society around her, while keeping in mind Barker’s own horror genre sensibilities we will definitely see an interesting multifaceted blood-soaked gem of a strong female character and what she says about our own world: as a master of the horror genre, the sub-genre of body horror, and the medium of film tends to do.

Given the fact that Jovanka Vuckovic was an Editor-In-Chief for Rue Morgue magazine, author of Zombies! An Illustrated History of the Undead, founder of She Wolf Films, studied physical anthropology, and the fact that she made The Captured Bird, a horror-fantasy short film about a young girl that discovers a black-inky evil underlying her world only adds to the fact that I very much look forward to seeing what she does with this film. I know that many of her friends in the Toronto geek community–including some here at GEEKPR0N–wish her and her endeavours well.

Book Review: Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret

One evening, when I was living downtown, I came across a book in a church-run thrift store. It was this big thick-paged book with a very luminously colourful ornate cover. I’d never ever heard of The Invention of Hugo Cabret before this point, but I saw that Scholastics had published it, and it was about five dollars or so. So I bought it and it sat in a cupboard for a while until I finished my initial draft of my Master’s Thesis. Then a day or so before leaving on a trip, I began and finished reading it.

Hugo Cabret is the story of an orphaned boy of the same name who finds himself operating and maintaining the clocks of a Paris train station while attempting to fix an old and broken clockwork automaton. It is when he attempts to steal some parts from an old man’s toy booth at the station that he reveals a far greater story and his life changes forever.

I really don’t want to spoil this book. I will tell you now, though, that it is excellent. Brian Selznick is not only an excellent writer that knows how to pace and flesh-out his characters, but he is a brilliant illustrator. Hugo Cabret is essentially an illustrated novel: with pages of text inter-dispersed with sequential pages of softly shaded drawings and stylistically-faded copies of sketches and photographs. It basically looks like a notebook or a journal: especially with the image of a lock on its cover. Given that there is a notebook that features somewhat heavily in the plot–once belonging to Hugo’s inventor father–the aesthetic follows the form well.

What I also like about Selznick’s aesthetic form is that it is on that border between an illustrated novel and a comic: in that while there are pages of words, and pages with pictures and words, there are also entirely silent panels that display interrelated sequences. It’s a nice borderline form and it adds to the content nicely.

In terms of content, this book is apparently labeled a work of historical fiction. This is an interesting designation because while there is definitely one central character that is real and historical, Selznick has taken some creative liberties. I also wonder in light of this if the other characters may be conceptions of this particular character’s work made into real personalities in a meta-narrative sort of manner. I love that kind of thing, in case you didn’t already get that, but even if it’s not true there are definitely moments where the concepts of the characters could very well fit into … other conceptual places.

But what really intrigues me about this book, aside from its liberties and ambiguities as “historical fiction,” is how it eventually focuses on the medium of film. In contemporary times, we often take moving film for granted. It had to develop from somewhere after all: both technologically and artistically. Even Hollywood itself was a small independent pioneering workshop studio at one time before it gained more resources and popularity.

While this story seems to take place in the 1920s, it refers after a while to the turn of the century when film was being developed: as well looking at the kinds of people who helped to create it. And who were these people? Some of them were magicians. I am not being figurative here. Some of them, including one of the characters in this book, were artificers, artists, and stage magicians before they became directors and creators. And it makes sense. After all, aside from the fact that vaudeville and its acts, along with theatre, and opera preceded a night at the movies in terms of prestige and guaranteed entertainment, film is kind of like watching a magician’s shadow-play on a thin skein of reality. It is a concept that reminds of Clive Barker’s short story “Celluloid”: where the silver screen is a more permeable layer of existence with our world than we would be comfortable to believe.

I love the image of the magician as film-maker and inventor, and if you read this book I assure you, you will understand what I mean. A friend of mine once said to me that if I embodied any kind of film, it would be the black and white 1902 A Trip to the Moon: something that is extremely symbolic, experimental, even comic, but also parodies and is self-reflexive and aware enough to know that by consciously parodying things, it reveals its opinions on what these things are. I mention this film for a reason that has to do specifically with one aspect of the book. What’s also interesting is that not long after I read this strange and awesome artifact, a film was released based off of it: one I’ve still have yet to see.

That digression aside, I give Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret an unambiguous five out of five. Until next time, au revoir. I seem have something in my eye.

Horror as a Universal Power

What is it about horror that is so incredibly powerful? It’s something that many like to avoid, but is attracts people as well: and oftentimes it does both. In part I think it is linked to fear. Fear is a healthy and necessary human emotion: a “danger-sense” to let you know that something isn’t right and that you might want to watch yourself before doing anything foolish: or not doing anything at all. Many old cautionary folktales derive themselves from this ancient impulse: utilizing archetypal images and story-elements to make their points.

This is me basically writing as though I know exactly what I’m talking about. Because I know horror is more than merely fear and it has more than a cautionary function. Aristotle would most likely posit that a story or play created from horror brings out pity and fear in the audience, but that isn’t completely true either because horror doesn’t always bring catharsis: it doesn’t always drain out the pity and the fear. Sometimes it plays with these feelings, increases them and leaves them inside you like a hollow, dark cold spot as you leave the theatre.

Among others, Clive Barker in his short story “Dread” looks at another other aspect of horror. Dread as an emotion is knowing something bad is coming for you, or lurking just over your shoulder and feeling powerless to do anything about it but writhe in a corner. You try to avoid it and it only makes it stronger in you. Dread is fear so internalized into a loop inside a human being that it cannot be resolved: or at least not without considerable effort and willpower.

Yet none of these explanations are enough. Horror is more than just a cautionary genre. It is more than leaving people traumatized and afraid. It is definitely more than embodying something that people try to avoid in vain: only to give it more power over them. Horror has all of these elements to an extent, but I think there is much more to it and I think this is why it has such powerful through its narratives: particularly its universal narratives.

I think horror is a part of the human psyche that is both repulsed by and attracted to what Freud would call “the uncanny.” I also think the uncanny is very much linked to Romanticism and the Gothic’s worship of Nature as a terrifying form of beauty far beyond human understanding. You can argue that when one feels horror–true horror–they blow beyond the limits of their comfort, cultural, and even conscious boundaries into something so weird and still so unknown that it can be positively overwhelming. It uses fear and dread as building blocks to off-set or play with the rational mind enough to connect the animal mind with the infinite darkness that is already there connected to them. Horror is the darkness in us all. The bloody plays of Seneca, the gruesome feast of Thyestes, the ancient dithyrambs of Dionysus and his Maenads all play with this power and instead of providing catharsis–as Aristotle believed tragedy does–it alters the mind by showing the wonders and the terrors of a much greater world.

That above paragraph is a lot of poetic license, I know, but given the nature of this Blog and the subject, I’d like to think it’s at least somewhat appropriate. After writing this and mentioning Clive Barker, I realize why the former’s stories are so effective: in that they really play on the attractive and repulsive aspects of horror. Books of Blood make the very thing the characters fear or dread, or what the reader finds disturbing, attractive in a perverse but natural way. I loved those two books when I read them and I have never looked at the horror genre in the same way again since I did.

Attraction and repulsion towards the uncanny is why we like horror stories. We also like them because they tap into truly universal elements and archetypes inside all of us: the very places some people want to deny the very existence of. Short stories, novels, and films structure horror in a very symmetrical way but before the existences of any of these–before even the ancient rituals of the divine that led to theatre–there were tales and stories told around campfires spreading to other campfires like the wildfire they already were. They are called folktales and horror stories, and in our time now they are called urban legends.

Then there are the stories that exist on the Internet. They are called “creepypastas” and I think this post has gone on long enough and I will write about creepypastas in the next one. I tend to write a lot and I just want to make sure that people will want to read my points this time and not give up because of the length. But soon, I promise, we will talk about creepypastas.