Robert Aickman’s strange stories (1): “Meeting Mr. Millar”

Robert Aickman’s “strange stories” are epistemological in nature. Consistently, each story portrays an increasingly baffling series of events. The events rarely culminate in some horrifying revelation (comprehensible or otherwise). Instead, they end with the obstruction of all possible access to that which has occurred, why the events in question have taken place, and the general… Continue Reading Robert Aickman’s strange stories (1): “Meeting Mr. Millar”

Rereading Lord of the Flies

Rereading William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, I couldn’t help but notice the degree to which the received interpretation of the novel has relatively little to do with the substance of the novel itself. The received interpretation emphasizes the inevitability of social breakdown that supposedly attends the withdrawal of authority or constraint. Without the “men… Continue Reading Rereading Lord of the Flies

The pulp critical

The pulp critical is a minor analytic mode in which genre tokens are interpreted as arguments or ontological operations in their own right. Hence, it’s important to refuse the conventional terms of any standardized hermeneutics. The emphasis on “pulp” echoes the use of the term in literary history, where it refers primarily to popular fiction… Continue Reading The pulp critical

Consider the Retronomicon

Retronomicon [/ˌɹɛkɹəˈnɑmɪkən/]. Noun. 1. Any nonexistent media artifact that serves as the imagined or imputed retroactive source for a field of meaning or sense (e.g., a genre, a mode of aesthetic production, or a school of thought). 2. Hyperstition. A network site of increased hyperstitional activity or productivity that operates more effectively by not existing.… Continue Reading Consider the Retronomicon

Ligotti epherema: “The Blonde” from Theoretical Detective (1982)

Here’s an interesting piece of Ligotti ephemera, for which I’ve been searching for many years. It’s a sonnet Ligotti published in a very obscure 1982 speculative detective fiction fanzine called Theoretical Detective (edited by Tine Said). My interest in the material relates to a long-term fascination with Ligotti, on the one hand, and with philosophical… Continue Reading Ligotti epherema: “The Blonde” from Theoretical Detective (1982)

The roots of creative darkness

(A shorter version of this post can be found at the DePaul University Institute for Nature and Culture‘s website, Environmental Critique. Thanks to Dr. Christine Skolnik for the invitation to contribute.) Introduction At first glance, the three figures under discussion – Algernon Blackwood, Marion Milner, and Friedrich Schelling – seem to form a rather unlikely… Continue Reading The roots of creative darkness

“Metaphysical Boredom in the Empire of Desire”: Prime Intellect and posthistoire

Roger Williams’s novella The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect (1994) isn’t a narrative primarily concerned with technology, but, rather, with the end of history. This is generally true of singularitarian science-fiction (SSF). Consider, for example, the degree to which Iain M. Banks’s novels Player of Games (1988) and Use of Weapons (1990) address, respectively, the fundamental… Continue Reading “Metaphysical Boredom in the Empire of Desire”: Prime Intellect and posthistoire