Reflexões sobre o estranho

Gothic criticism, of which there is a vast boiling vat these days, has been rendering down the ectoplasmic energy of “spectrality” into sound bites for 25 years, while critics seem to arrive pre-loaded with cookie-cutter cribs from Freud’s “The Uncanny,” in which they laboriously explain yet again that the term unheimlich means rather more literally the unhomely in German, but that the “homely” is housed inside the “unhomely,” the outside in the inside, the strange in the familiar. Right at the start of his book, Fisher acknowledges that Freud’s unusually chaotic essay is full of brilliant possibilities but ends with an interpretation “as disappointing as any mediocre genre detective’s rote solution to a mystery.” This wonderfully provocative dismissal sets Fisher up to articulate an alternative set of terms outside ossified Gothic criticism and dictates the wholly new conceptual structure of his book.

The uncanny, Fisher says, puts the “strange within the familiar” and “operates by always processing the outside through the gaps and impasses of the inside.” In other words, for all its interest in boundary breaches, it is still centered on the self. The weird and the eerie work at this from the other direction, Fisher suggests: “they allow us to see the inside from the perspective of the outside.” The weird is a disturbing obtrusion of something from the outside in. It is the insidious intrusion, the confounding juxtaposition, the thing found in the wrong place. As Lovecraft put it in his essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” the weird is “a certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces.” Lovecraft’s fictions, at their evocative best, are about a steady dethronement of anthropocentric models. This explains the embrace of Lovecraft’s weird realism by philosophers challenging phenomenological paradigms, or leaning toward the radical end of “Thing Theory,” where things escape routine imprisonment inside the implicit hierarchy of the subject/object binary.

The eerie, however, is Fisher’s original extension of this idea. He takes the eerie from lazy, everyday usage and gives it conceptual rigor: places are eerie; empty landscapes are eerie; abandoned structures and ruins are eerie. Something moves in these apparently empty or vacated sites that exists independently of the human subject, an agency that is cloaked or obscure. He wonders: What kind of thing makes an eerie cry? Because it rises up from the outside, and remains there, it resists simple hermeneutic interpretation.

Sobre Mark Fisher e sua última obra — sem nenhum complexo de adulação — numa análise do LA Review of Books.

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