Category Archives: Repetition

WHEN YOU HEAR THE SINGING, YOU WILL KNOW IT IS TIME

Thomas Ligotti is an American writer of strange, disturbing fictions, which linger in the mind long after you’ve finished reading.  He has been compared to the horror writers H P Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe, and since 1982 he’s been winning nominations and awards for his work.

His 2008 collection of short stories Teatro Grottesco is an unsettling one.  Although they appear at first sight to be about the routines and rituals of “normal” life, details soon accumulate that twist our perception of the world he is conjuring into existence.  Several of the stories share a very similar environment – a remote “northern border town” which inhabits a  post-industrial landscape, semi-derelict and decaying.  Very little can be seen – the stories are usually set at twilight, or during the night, or in a miasma of permanent fog.  The street lights, when working, are dim.  The inhabitants work at pointless and repetitive jobs – processing endless forms or constructing strange metal artifacts with no understanding why they are doing so.  They are overseen by managers and foremen, who may or may not be human, and who mysteriously appear and disappear, possibly at the behest of the Quine Organisation, a company that also controls the medication upon which everyone relies. Continue reading

THE HAUNTED HOUSE AND THE UNCANNY

The haunted house is a motif which occurs frequently in discussions about the uncanny – indeed, Freud himself calls it “perhaps the most striking of all” examples of uncanniness.  So I thought it would be useful to draw out what he says about how the two ideas are connected.

In The Uncannyhe sets out to define what it is that “allows us to distinguish as ‘uncanny’ certain things which lie within the field of what is frightening.”  He sets out two approaches: firstly, to explore “what meaning has come to be attached to the word ‘uncanny’ “; and secondly to collect examples of situations which arouse in us the feeling of uncanniness and “then infer the unknown nature of the uncanny from what all these examples have in common.” Continue reading