A Journal Of The Dark Arts

Experiencing the uncanny.

I found this mp3 on tumblr, a nice BBC Radio 4 Documentary on The Uncanny.

As you may or not be aware, i’ve been writing a series of articles for the Amazing Stories blog for the last 2 months, that i call Deconstructing Horror. It got me to thinking, wondering What the hell is the point of drowning one’s self in Horror? In anything? What use is it, to plow through the archive, looking for that next dusty thrill? What compels the fanatic, the completist? Why do we surround ourselves with moving pictures every second, fill the air with noise?

Some of the conclusions i’ve reached were bleak, indicating an escapist’s mind, a restless discontent. I mean, are you wasting yr life, watching television programs, endlessly click clicking on music links you’ll never hear? The line between the distraction and the real thing are perilously near, at this point. Let’s call it the simulacrum.

So on one hand, sure yes i am probably an escapist and a dreamer, believing in my ‘Special Work’ to protect against the gaping nihilistic void of being inconsequential. But all of that aside, i have always had this tremendous urge to see it all, know it all, to get to the bottom of things. I want to hear all the music, read all the books, see all the films, and i cannot exactly tell you why that is. I’ve psychoanalyzed it quite a bit, at this point, and this blog is part of the process of my doing so.

This blog, like the articles i’ve referenced above has been confused, convoluted; i’m making it up in real time, trying to prove a point, but i hadn’t exactly known what point that is, mainly because it’s like 6 points at once. And they’re all really personal, so there’s a bit of autobiography that is required, for all of this to make sense.

Because there’s been some pretty tremendous thoughts behind the scenes, stewing over French and German philosophy, music history and theory, film and literary criticism. There’s been a lot of brilliant minds, hacking away at the modern condition. I am coming onto the scene, rather late in the game, and have a lot of catching up to do. But i am finally finding an intersection of thought, a nexus, and the point begins to come clear.

I’ve been investigating an experience of what they call The Uncanny, that thing which closely resembles reality, but is slightly wrong. Off. The BBC documentary said the uncanny “is just the right amount of terror”; it doesn’t scare you away completely. Just makes your hair stand on end, makes your nervous system go up in fireworks. I’ve realized, while writing these articles, is that what i’ve been going after is a total immersion in an aesthetic, lately the ghost story, is searching for the uncanny, looking for the otherworldly. Looking for that mysterious feeling of intrigue, where you start to lean forward, when your mouth starts to water. It’s where reality gets soft around the edges, where possibility begins to begin.

Being fanatical, passionate about anything is an irrational act. There is a feeling, when experiencing art of any kind; there is a feeling of awe, of being moved by something. It’s difficult to say what that feeling is, exactly, because it’s a lot of things at once, hitting on many levels. It’s mentally stimulating, it’s emotional; art blossoms in your essence like a dark lotus. It sets afire the imagination. And all of these things; essence, inner fire, imagination, are non-quantifiable, not belonging to logic and reason, the world of math and numbers. The academy, the institution, they are obsessed with grids and lattices, quantifiable categorizable things that can be used to gain a profit. They want critics to merely tab and genre-ify something, and give it a star rating, so they know where to place it on the shelves.

What we are looking for is irrational. It belongs to the intuition. It is a feeling. You know it when you feel it. It is a way through the confusion, and going looking for it is a blessed act.

In my world, i call that tingling sensation magick, and it means everything to me. It’s why i keep on keeping on; i am obsessed. It is a force that i do not understand, and it has transformed me as a human being so thoroughly, that it is difficult to express. And that’s what i’ve been trying to express, hitting at it from a million angles, but ashamed to talk about myself. It’s been slowly eroding me, for a couple of years now; my life is out of control, and art is the way i keep tabs on what’s going on. I’m lost, without a reference point, making it up as i go along.

Because the thing of it is i am not marketable; rough around the edges, slightly insane. In the world of figures and numbers, i am a total abject failure. But in the world on the Spirit, i am a king, a priest, a prophet. Which do you think I’m going to pick? I am looking for intuition. I am looking for passion. I am looking for guidance.

So i swallow horror movies whole, choosing to live in a supernatural reality. The thing of it is is that none of it is true, it’s all a great big distraction, and it’s also the only game that’s worth a damn; experiencing eternity, appreciating yr own life. Y’see, i knew a lot of Buddhist folks for a long time, who like to recriminate the self, who like to demonize the mind. ‘Monkey Mind’ and i have it bad, i ain’t gonna lie. Any professional on earth would diagnose me as ADD; i live off of coffee and cigarettes. Of course, the thing of it is not that i have ADD, it’s actually like the opposite. I have a really really long attention span, and go in spurts that will last months. These derives seem aimless and disconnected, but i am 33 now, and have had time to put a lot of pieces together.

So the list has been narrowing, over time, until the last five years, where a couple of vast traditions have been occupying my thoughts, the ones that really light me up. The ones that keep me up at night, and i don’t exactly know why. I can’t say why i’m so transfixed, other than i am, and the process has been changing me for the better, as a person. The traditions i have been researching mainly are Heidegger and Ontology; Hauntology (with all of its musical offshoots), which led me to Jacques Derrida and Deconstruction. Throw in a bit of Guy DeBords and Situationism, thus Psychogeography, leading to Walter Benjamin and Baudelaire. Add a little Baudrillard and Gilles Deleuze (with all of his musical offshoots), and you start to understand why i’ve been a bit distracted, feel a little distant at parties. I’ve been trying to find these themes in music and film, because it’s how i found out about these theories in the first place. I mean, it’s fucked up! I started off as some raver kid who just wanted to read and write about bands, end up getting a crash course in 20th century philosophy, psychoanalysis; it’s a lot going on.

In the meantime, i feel like i’ve been getting a handle on the modern mind, finding a way to look at the world that we live in. I’ve been watching something emerge, these last five years, and i feel it’s starting to make sense. The tradition that first obsessed me was called Hauntology, it was based on Derrida and ’70s horror movies, everything i like. There was a musical movement, that was pretty amorphous to be sure, more like a number of movements, and all the journalists were talking about it (all the British ones, anyway). I lapped up all of that writing like a cat with creme, couldn’t get enough, which made me try to read Specters Of Marx and Being And Time (hauntology is a play on ontology, and Being And Time is one of it’s principle texts). I will not lie, these texts are hard and dry and slow. I have not yet become a doctor of deconstruction or semiotics, although i assure you i am doing everything in my power to get there.

So i end up dissecting horror movies and noise music. Gotta start somewhere. And that’s what i am going for, at Forestpunk. A study of the Occult, western philosophy, noise music, emotion, current events. It’s the act of seeking that is transforming me, of following on the scent of something. Of being passionate, something to strive for. The only problem that i have now is not nearly enough time or attention to get to all of it. It makes me battle my demons, the ones that make me want to check out, evade my life. I don’t want to space out and piss my life away. I feel like i have something brilliant inside of me; i am chipping away the edges.

Looking for the uncanny is refining me; it teaches me to be a better listener. It makes me calm, it makes me a nicer person. It helps me to concentrate, and to be more imaginative. If you don’t slow down, you will miss yr own life. The main thing i am interested in is music, it fills me with images and emotions, and i aspire to be a musician (like every music journalist). I’ve been listening to millions of hours of records, looking for ideas, and how to implement them. I was in college, but i dropped out, ran out of my money. Life has forced me to go my own way, do my own thing. It’s forced me to become a DIY academic and theoretician, doing all my research on my own time, for the sake of curiosity, and for something to do.

With no taskmaster, i must be accountable, or i’ll never get where i’m trying to go. And that’s what’s maddening, why i speak like Rasputin, is for the longest time i was just lost in the dark, truly going in every direction at once at a million miles an hour, hovering like a hummingbird. I feel like i’ve burst free, and things are starting to make sense, and finally i can MOVE. So i am excited! Stoked! to be finally moving, and i’m trying to not feel bad at being so fucking consumed by these thoughts. I do not know why i am this way, other than to tell you that i am a triple air sign, and talk a lot.

And that’s part of why i write, is i cannot fathom in a million years who would want to listen to this shit. I can’t necessarily assume anyone wants to read it, but that’ll be up to you. At least if it’s written down, i’m not forcing it on anyone; you can look if you want to. So what i am trying to do, hope to do, is to gather as many of the pieces as i can, to look at individual albums, movies, art pieces, to let them flood over me, for me to show them to you. Because brilliance begets beauty; and i long to make the world a weirder and more wonderful place.

I will continue trawling the archives, and bringing back what i find. Let me know if you need anything.


3 comments on “Experiencing the uncanny.

  1. Leigh Wright
    July 16, 2013

    This is quite like what happens in my brain-hole also, only this is written down here by you from YOUR brain-hole, in a pretty concise way, actually. Now THAT’S uncanny… 🙂

    • forestpunk
      July 16, 2013

      Vacations in the uncanny valley, that could be the name of a memoir.
      If yr interested in this, there’s a pretty swell book called The Uncanny by Nicolas Royle (, i’ve only flipped through it a little bit, so far, but it looks interesting. Nicolas Royle’s a professor and literary critic, a deconstructionist, a brilliant man. Its much more current and way less dry than Freud’s essay.
      Thanks for the comment!

      • Leigh Wright
        July 18, 2013

        That’s great, thank you! It does indeed look very interesting – I shall seek it out. In the meantime da interwebs coughed up this thesis “The Uncanny: The Double as a Literary Convention” by someone who seemed to have gotten a lot out of attending seminars by Nicholas Royle. I have only just begun, but it seems great. You may well have found it already, but I’ll share here anyway:

        I do very much like this notion of The Uncanny, and shall have to ponder it much further. I am a self-explored student of the concept of Wyrd, which is much more than our modern “weird” in it’s original Anglo-Saxon usage, where it refers to fate and/or destiny.

        Yes – brain ticking over, synapses firing, and synchronous connections being made…


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