Based on a True Story: Realism and Horror

Jonathan Wald

Dimanche, UdeM – 11h45 à 12h30

« There is a limit to thinking about even a small piece of something monumental. You still see the shadow of the whole rearing up behind you, and you become lost in your thoughts in part from the panic of realizing the size of that imagined leviathan.” Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation

This presentation will discuss the ways in which horror writing and film prepares us to think about the unthinkable challenges of today, ranging from the devastation of ecological disasters to the creeping resurrection of fascism around the globe. Far from its apparently supernatural or otherworldly initial appearance, I will argue that horror is perhaps a particularly honest form of realism. From the gothic horror of Mary Wollstonecraft and Ann Radcliffe to the surreal speculations of Clarice Lispectre and Jeff VanderMeer, horror writing provides a set of tools for dealing with a world that threatens our very existence as well as our ability to understand those challenges. While drawing on philosophy from Eugene Thacker, Vilém Flusser, and Hannah Arendt, this presentation will consider the limits of intellectual reflection in dealing with problems whose danger, scale, and obscurity test the presuppositions of philosophy itself.