The Weird and the Eerie, Mark Fisher (2016)
Making Sense of “The Weird and the Eerie” By Roger Luckhurst
(…) “You have probably heard of “the weird” by now, but you may not quite know what it is, or why so many genre critics, cultural theorists, and philosophers are keen to engage with it. It might once have been quarantined as a subgenre associated with sullen Goths and all those arrested-adolescent readers of H. P. Lovecraft, but it has long slithered free of those confines, and now leaves a trail not just straight across the internet, but on the page and in mainstream TV shows and movie screens.
Writers of the New Weird in Britain, like M. John Harrison and China Miéville, briefly rallied to this banner in 2003 before morphing into something else (although the critics still lumber around with the term). Philosophers such as Graham Harman and Eugene Thacker have proposed a “weird realism” — a rival term to “object-oriented ontology” — that replaces Husserl or Heidegger with Horror. One of the early signs of this shift was Mark Fisher’s own symposium on Lovecraft and Theory at Goldsmiths College in London in 2007. In film, David Lynch was always “wild at heart and weird on top,” from his early animated short films up to Inland Empire. On TV, True Detective was pretty weird, with its echoes of Robert Chambers’s The King in Yellow and dark nihilistic mutterings lifted from Eugene Thacker’s In the Dust of this Planet: The Horror of Philosophy Volume 1. Stranger Things was quite weird, although a little too soft-focused and retro to be fully paid up, but The OA was definitely out-and-out weird. Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy of books (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance, all of which appeared in 2014), so far the major achievement of the American translation of the New Weird, will hit mainstream cinemas with Alex Garland’s film adaptation in 2017. Best get weirded up.
Fisher’s guide to this terrain is an excellent place to start your orientation. The book displays his signature knack for reading popular culture (principally music, fiction, and film) in an expressive, demotic way that is still vigorously political and philosophical. Somehow, Fisher magically renders post-Lacanian, post-Žižekian Marxism and the radical anti-subjectivist philosophy of Gilles Deleuze entirely accessible. Only Fisher can enthuse about old Quatermass TV shows in terms of their “cosmic Spinozism” and still (mostly) make sense. With typical disdain for cultural boundaries, Fisher moves crab-wise from Lovecraft and H. G. Wells to the impenetrable mumblings of punk band The Fall; obscure Rainer Werner Fassbinder TV shows from Germany; Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, and Andrei Tarkovsky films; Nigel Kneale TV series from the 1970s; the music of Joy Division; The Shining; the unclassifiable fiction of Alan Garner and Christopher Priest; Jonathan Glazer’s extraordinary avant-garde SF film Under the Skin; and surprising appearances of Margaret Atwood’s early fiction Surfacing and Christopher Nolan’s portentous quantum SF blockbuster Interstellar (which receives a great defense).” (read more here)
The eeriness of the English countryside
(…) “In music, literature, art, film and photography, as well as in new and hybrid forms and media, the English eerie is on the rise. A loose but substantial body of work is emerging that explores the English landscape in terms of its anomalies rather than its continuities, that is sceptical of comfortable notions of “dwelling” and “belonging”, and of the packagings of the past as “heritage”, and that locates itself within a spectred rather than a sceptred isle.
Such concerns are not new, but there is a distinctive intensity and variety to their contemporary address. This eerie counter-culture – this occulture – is drawing in experimental film-makers, folk singers, folklorists, academics, avant-garde antiquaries, landscape historians, utopians, collectives, mainstreamers and Arch-Droods alike, in a magnificent mash-up of hauntology, geological sentience and political activism. The hedgerows, fields, ruins, hills and saltings of England have been set seething.”
“What are those pressing concerns, though, and what are the sources of this unsettlement? Clearly, the recent rise of the eerie coincides with a phase of severe environmental damage. In England, this has not taken the form of sudden catastrophe, but rather a slow grinding away of species and of subtlety. The result, as James Riley notes, is “a landscape constituted more actively by what is missing than by what is present”. This awareness of absence is expressing itself both in terms of a vengeful nature (a return of the repressed) and as delicate catalogues of losses.”
“Digging down to reveal the hidden content of the under-earth is another trope of the eerie: what is discovered is almost always a version of capital. Keiller’s Robinson tracks the buried cables and gas-pipes of Oxfordshire, following them as postmodern leylines, and tracing them outwards to hidden global structures of financial ownership. Wheatley’s deserters rapaciously extract “treasure” from the soil, by means of enslavement and male violence. In his cult novel Cyclonopedia (2008), the Iranian philosopher Reza Negarestani figured oil as a sentient entity, developing Marx’s implication that capital possesses emergent and self-willed properties, that it is somehow wild.” / see: 771-robinson-in-ruins-2010
(read more here)
The Endless is a 2017 American science fiction horror film directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead and written by Benson. The film stars Benson, Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington, Lew Temple and James Jordan. The Endless is a partial sequel to the Benson and Moorhead’s earlier film, Resolution as it shares the same creative universe and some plot points.
timespace coordinates: 2017 Possum Springs
Night in the Woods is a single-player adventure game released for Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. (wiki)
NIGHT IN THE WOODS is an adventure game focused on exploration, story, and character, featuring dozens of characters to meet and lots to do across a lush, vibrant world. After a successful Kickstarter it’s being made by Infinite Fall, a teamup of Alec Holowka (Aquaria), Scott Benson (Late Night Work Club), and Bethany Hockenberry.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS MINIMUM: OS: Windows 7 // Processor: Intel i5 Quad-Core // Memory: 4 GB RAM // Graphics: Intel HD 4000 // Storage: 8 GB available space // Additional Notes: 32-bit systems must use virtual memory to get over 2GB.
spacetime coordinates: 1970s Red Creek Valley
Experience, in non/linear fashion, a story that combines the pleasures of pulp, private eye, and horror fiction, all of it inspired by writers such as Raymond Chandler, Algernon Blackwood, Stefan Grabinski, and H. P. Lovecraft.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a 2014 horror adventure video game developed and published by The Astronauts for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a first-person story-driven mystery game that focuses entirely on exploration and discovery. Inspired by the weird fiction (and other tales of the macabre) from the early twentieth century, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter aims to significantly evolve immersive storytelling in games. While it features a private detective and quite a few mental challenges, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is not an especially puzzle-ridden game. Our focus is on atmosphere, mood, and the essential humanity of our characters.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS (MINIMUM): OS: Windows 64-bit // Processor: Intel Core2 Duo or equivalent AMD // Memory: 6 GB RAM // Graphics: DirectX11 compliant card with 1GB of VRAM // DirectX: Version 11 // Storage: 9 GB available space // Sound Card: DirectX9c compliant
spacetime coordinates: desolate South Atlantic island the edge of the Antarctic Circle 1914, just after of Franz Ferdinand’s assassination that eventually caused World War ICold Skin is a 2017 French-Spanish fantasy adventure / sci-fi horror film directed by Xavier Gens based on Albert Sánchez Piñol’s novel of the same name. The film owes a good deal to HP Lovecraft’s tales of Innsmouth folk. “cinematographer Daniel Aranyó takes the pebble-strewn shores and grey skies of the island and fills them with uncertainty, finding in all that bleakness something that beguiles and something that chills. The waves that swirl up against the shore can be cool, clear turquoise or a deep, obscure blue-black, and either way they could be hiding something deadly just beneath the surface. Though at times we glimpse an awful tide of grey flesh like that once said to have pursued a man who stayed overnight in an Innsmouth hotel, there’s a sense that the real horror here is just out of sight – perhaps because we dare not look at it. And still, when morning comes, we can almost taste the salt air and the sweet fresh water from the fountain by the shore: the island is undeniably beautiful.” Review by Jennie Kermode
The Cabin in the Woods is a 2012 American horror comedy film directed by Drew Goddard in his directorial debut, produced by Joss Whedon, and written by Whedon and Goddard. The film stars Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, and Bradley Whitford.
Goddard and Whedon, having worked together previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, wrote the screenplay in three days, describing it as an attempt to “revitalize” the slasher film genre and as a critical satire on torture porn. The special effects, monster costumes, special makeup, and prosthetic makeup for the movie were done by veteran horror film actress Heather Langenkamp, her husband David LeRoy Anderson, and their company AFX Studio.