Justin Barton on the Xenogothic

RevisitingOutsights” today — that brilliant conversation between Mark Fisher, Justin Barton and Robin Mackay published in When Site Lost The Plot.

I really like these comments from Barton below, encapsulating the very feeling which this blog was built on.

In a sense, there is no word for the other side of the eerie, this dispassionate positive side of the eerie is precisely what’s been edited out of the world. […] I think it’s really important to get this right, it’s fundamental to see that with M.R. James, the problem is that you have something which is an expression of the birth of Gothic horror in the modern world. And the modern world loves gothic, it loves horror, but it absolutely has a shutdown on the opposite dimension of the eerie, because that’s the way out.

Basically, gothic horror just in the end plays into Christian — or Judaic or Islamic — entrapment metaphysics, with its violence of transcendent maleness. Because in the end it just frightens the hell out of people, points out that horrific things happen if you open yourself up in the direction of the unknown, and people are likely, in the end, having just frolicked around as critique-freaks in the zone of the gothic, to go precisely nowhere, and to have played into the hands of people who say, yes, there’s something out there other than the material world, and be afraid, be very afraid — if you genuinely open yourself up to the unknown, you’re going to go to hell to be roasted by M.R. James’s demons. Which means it’s the last great attempt to defend Christianity — M.R. James was a Christian, he read his stories out at Christmas! In Cambridge, a bastion of traditional Christian values.

So that incredible attempt by the religious system to defend itself by scaring people, which in fact goes on all the way through the twentieth century and is still going on as strong as ever, and which is gothic horror, has got to be fended off. Because the opposite direction is what’s been edited out. It’s really important to see that. Unless you get to the thought of an intent towards absolute deterritorialization — dispassionate movement towards absolute intensification, absolute freedom — you haven’t seen what’s at stake in all of this. And the gothic keeps you staring in completely the wrong direction, keeps you staring in the direction of the old Christian myth system.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply