On horror, and I’ve been pondering John Clute’s concept of Vastation. He defines it as the moment in horror when artifice is stripped away, and the world is revealed in its true, bleak, sanity blasting magnificence.
In Lovecraft, it would be the moment when you find out about Cthulhu; in Stephen King, the point at which you realise that your husband really has been lost to a hotel; in Ramsey Campbell, the dusk second when you understand that the dead tramp with a copper coin covering each eye really is haunting you personally.
A new truth about the world has been unveiled, and it has been shown to be a directly, inevitably threatening place. In Horror, innate rightness is a comforting illusion that can only be dispelled. The action of horror is the approach of truth, a truth that removes any real possibility of a full, completed consolation.
We’ve just come out of a century of Vastation – as Adorno had it, one that left lyric poetry an impossible thing to honestly write – and we’re heading into another one. As such, Horror isn’t a fantastic literature; it’s an honest and (sadly) very realist response to the ongoing brutality and insecurity that our action as humans reveals, again and again and again.