Review of In the Dust of This Planet (Eugene Thacker)

A Horror of Philosophy

What relationship do philosophy and horror have? This question is the concern of Thacker’s erudite exploration. With the backdrop of the world as unthinkable and the motif of the world-without-us (contrary to the world-for-us), Thacker develops the horror of philosophy, which he explains as the following:

“the isolation of those moments in which philosophy reveals its own limitations and constraints… the thought of the unthinkable that philosophy cannot pronounce but via a non-philosophical language.”

A New Mysticism

Thacker centralizes supernatural horror as what our modern era formerly called mysticism. He points out that supernatural horror and science fiction often take the bane of pointing out what a world-without-us might resemble. Through this grounding, Thacker creates a carnival blending demonology, metal music, the history of witchcraft and its literary treatment, and existential philosophy.

While the book is necessarily a bit slow building and takes some mental heavy-lifting, that is no fault of Thacker’s, who clearly moves toward the pinnacle of his argumentation, which itself remains defter and more intellectual than a host of tenured Harvard faculty plucking harps in a pool hall.

Following his initial formulations, Thacker moves into the biggest section of the book: his six Lectio on occult philosophy. Here again he uses every bit of his scholarly brain to pick and probe at old texts in light of finding new ground,  venturing into realms such as modern film, cosmological Internet literature, and, unsurprisingly, H.P. Lovecraft.

Conclusion

Thacker’s learned, passionate discussion of a topic that feels like springtime for modern philosophy develops into his striking conclusion:

“If historical mysticism is, in the last instance, theological, then mysticism today, a mysticism of the unhuman, would have to be, in the last instance, climatological. It is a kind of mysticism that can only be expressed in the dust of this planet.”

Like an express ticket to removing ignorance on obscure sects of historical thought, Thacker’s first third of his series on the philosophy of horror shouldn’t scare any readers away. It establishes a standpoint from which all supernatural philosophy might take its inspiration.

 

In the Dust of This Planet by Eugene Thacker is published by Zero Books.

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