Review of Starry Speculative Corpse (Eugene Thacker)

Building the Pyramid

In part two of his trilogy of horror philosophy, Eugene Thacker further extends his skillful touch to the netherworlds of past mystic philosophy. With his oft-encyclopedic deftness able to pull mighty thinkers of past years into sudden relevance, he scans across a bewildering plethora of quotations, discussions, and ideas to build the pyramid on which his original mission stands tall.

Corralling the writings of Meister Eckhart, John of the Cross, Georges Bataille, Heidegger, Sartre, the Kyoto School, Kant, Brassier, and more, Thacker plumbs the philosophical cesspool with careful lucidity. By the end of this procedural mental spelunking I felt as if I’d survived entire seasons of the X-Files and gotten more edified for my efforts.

Appropriately Frightening

Not for the lighthearted, Thacker’s investigation makes no excuses for those palely interested in his project or the body of philosophy general. Those looking for a joyride had best return to other sections of their local library. Yet, with the appropriate care and willingness to batten the hatches, Thacker shows the reader just how expansive and appropriately frightening this brand of philosophy can be.

Springboarding from Descartes famous demon, the book’s endeavor starts with the following: “Descartes has let himself to stand on the precipice of philosophy and peer over the edge. And what he finds is a terrifying abyss, where there is neither certitude nor knowledge, nor even a single thought—just a tenebrous, impassive silence.”

Facing the Precipice

While touring the fields of past philosophy and how we might read them textually as passages of horror, Thacker brings out the point that all of philosophy, existential thought, and human cognition generally, at one point or another have to face this precipice.

Worth every ounce and paragraph, Thacker guides the reader through tunnels heretofore un-traversed, compiling a vast compendium of thinkers into something that still doesn’t lose Thacker’s self-ness behind the veil. Impressively organized, the flow almost cheats the reader until you realize just how much ground he is able to cover in the space of a few pages.

Conclusion

Fittingly, Thacker’s conclusion is at once astonishing, terrifying, and almost pleasing after the effort it takes to keep up with him when he resolves by saying, “And so the human being discovers, at last, that its existence has always been subtended by its non-existence, that it dies the moment it lives.”

 

Starry Speculative Corpse is published by Zero Books.

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