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From: "Tony Ellis" <tony.ellis@futurenet.co.uk>
Subject: (urth) Re: Re: Dualism and Horror
Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998 10:38:16 +0100

I wrote:
> Well, the usual expression is "supernatural horror" rather than
> "supernatural evil". Most of the more highly-regarded horror writers
> long ago grew out of the simplistic good\evil trap. 

and Alex David Groce wrote: 
> Perhaps out of the simplistic version of it--I think there are some good horror
> writers who still make use of the concepts.  Even a supremely ambiguous writer
> like Robert Aickman (my favorite) often suggests, in his quiet way, that
> something is evil--the dog in "The Same Dog," or Mr. Millar in "Meeting Mr.
> Millar" or Parliament in "My Poor Friend." 

Now that -is- interesting. I was actually thinking of Aickman when I
wrote that! He's one of my favorites too. But for me he's very much a
writer of supernatural horror, rather than evil. The dog in "The Same
Dog" or the father in "The Stains" scare -me- because they seem
representative of an alien, unknowable universe, rather than "evil". I
don't know what Aickman's religious beliefs were, if any, but the
impression I receive from his books is of a fundamentally pagan
worldview, where "good" and "evil" are labels for things we don't
understand rather then absolutes.

Alga wrote: 
> I don't pretend to be a Lovecraft expert (though I have a friend who is; I'm
> not going to ask him about this, however) but still, you have to have a
> Light that has beaten the Dark back for a while, don't you? During that
> blip?

Well... no, actually. Sorry to be so insistent, but this is the essence
of Lovecraft's fiction. The Dark is merely sleeping, as the result of
certain cosmic cycles - it hasn't been beaten back by anything. Later
imitators developed the idea of Good Gods defeating the Bad Gods and
imprisoning them, but you don't find that in the original McCoy.

> It does seem to me that, as a generalization, Good v. Bad works pretty
> well for horror. You start with a norm and discover that Things Are Not What
> They Seem. 

Perhaps as a generalisation for a certain kind of horror story, but I'm
still not convinced. If you find that the norm turns out to be Not What
It Seems, haven't you just collapsed dualism into monism?

> Easy to parody. Jane Austen did it in -Mansfield Park- a long
> time ago.

Northanger Abbey, actually. (Sorry.)

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