At The Command Line

So I worked on this initially as something for my technical presentation/communications class, one of three I did last semester.
The primary focus in those classes is building up a rough sense of how to do what gets called “business writing,” such as proposals, business blogs, letters, presentations, formal emails, and other similar work. I’ve been teaching this forever, probably in some variation since I started teaching, so I can generally run through a semester in my sleep (not literally, but in a “I’ve taught this regularly for a while now” sort of way). I’m a big fan of teaching basic mechanics in understanding literature and in understanding writing, because it’s something that I was sort of naturally inclined towards but I know that others aren’t, and reading and writing are skills that actually come up a lot in most “adult” fields. Communication at a semi-professional level is something we really should be focusing some time on teaching, at least at the college level (and the high school level but that’s another story).
That being said, I tried to be a little different with it this last time, using better real-life examples and incorporating them into my lectures as hands-on examples in addition to the templates we’d normally use. Overall my last semester was hectic, probably because I tried a bunch of different and new things, but anyway…
Towards the end of the semester, I had a little chat with Chris Williams about his book and how any sort of technical writing similar to what we had to do in class played into the process of the creation of his book. I don’t know how I know Chris online, probably through other people I follow and who follow me mutually through social media. I can’t remember. Anyway, I reached out to him to talk to him about his book and the process for it, precisely because the behind-the-scenes and in-front aspects of book work and nonfiction overlaps so much with our material through the semester.
I initially just showed/read this short interview in class for my students, but I’ve decided to share it here.
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So your project is a new book. What’s it called and what’s it about?
My book is titled The Command Line for Web Developers. Creating websites has shifted from using desktop applications to going into the command terminal and running commands. This book explains not only how to use the command line through simple non-computer science examples and how it applies in real world web development situations.
What inspired the basic idea for the book, first and foremost?
Using the command line is kind of intimidating. I have worked with many colleagues from beginners to experts that aren’t familiar with it. Most keep their terminal application in its default settings. At most they only use it to past in commands they got from the web without understanding what they’re doing. They certainly don’t feel comfortable troubleshooting things when errors come up. So I wanted to give them something that shows just how easy and powerful working from the command line can be.
After that initial idea, how did you proceed with expanding that? Was there an element of “I want this, so it should be available?” in moving forward, or more recognizing both a demand and a need?
Ya, the first thing I did was convince myself what a stupid idea it was. Once I got over that, I talked with a friend who had written a book before and got his advice.  He’d been through the process of working with a publisher, he knew my strengths and could talk to what I should expect.  What really convinced me to write the book was when he told me he wished he had that book to read for himself.
Was there any sort of feasibility research or reading before moving forward?
The publisher I initially worked with did market research both internally and through surveys. I did have a bit of a grilling from the editors in chief over a conference call where we reviewed the survey results. I think the challenge for them was that I wasn’t writing about a specific language or discipline. So they questioned if I was covering enough topics for such a nebulous subject. I maintained that my book wasn’t to be some exhaustive tome that was everything for everyone, but rather it is to be a primer on several subjects to get everyone on the same page.
We also checked out other books that covered similar subjects, what specifics they covered, how that differed from what I was writing, and what would my readers benefit from that they couldn’t get from the other books.
To lay out the whole thing, including visuals and step breakdowns, what did you consider
When I wrote my outline, I planned that each chapter built on knowledge from earlier chapters.  So Chapter 2 covers basic Bash commands, and Chapter 3 gets deeper in extending those commands.  At the same time, the reader wouldn’t have to read from the beginning to the end if they didn’t want to. If they had specific issue with Git for example, they could just to that portion but I needed to make sure they knew they could go back to an earlier chapter if they needed to.
From the outline, I wrote a plan for each chapter.  Why was the chapter important? are there any prerequisites? What are the new concepts? What diagrams and examples will I use.  I write these answers out and keep them as a checklist. It’s not perfect though. Sometimes I went back and revised the plan as I discovered a better way to tackle the chapter.
The diagrams used were mostly annotations for command syntax.  We’re working in the Terminal app, so to show a command, I ended up with a lot of thought bubbles to point out the “new” items we haven’t encountered before.
Inline image 1
I wrote everything in MarkDown. It covered 99.99999% of any formating I needed.  PanDoc is a unix tool that does a great job converting my Markdown to virtually any format, so I could send Word Docs to my editor, and ICML files to InDesign where I ultimately ended up for creating the book file used in printing.  Illustrations were sketched on paper and I just used a pic of it for a placeholder until I could move it to Illustrator.
The overall arc of this class has been to look at different rhetorical models of business/tech communications and how those models work. Throughout this whole project, how important has business communication and having a sense of how to express technical steps and information in written form been?
I needed to demystify an archaic technology with deep institutional knowledge to a group of readers that may have never used it before, which may not have been a part of their education or background. The last thing I wanted was to turn people off by sounding academic or overly technical.  So I tried to keep my tone as conversational as possible even if it sacrifices exact technical precision.
For example, back to Git, someone new to using it would be less concerned about how Git has its own filesystem for capturing snapshots of data than knowing Git tracks changes in code. I’m more concerned in helping the reader get up and running to succeed (although there are footnotes to learn more).
That goes back to answering my chapter plans: why is this important, who care, what  are the new concepts, etc.
Thanks!

The new NIGHTMARE PARTY game “PIONEERS” is here!

Hey, happy 2017! Let’s start off what I’m determined is going to be a year of kicking ass and smacking Nazis with a bit of a nerdy bang…

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The new NIGHTMARE PARTY game, PIONEERS, has finally gone live. The first part is Chapter 1, “Paths Around Town”.

You can check it out here.

This is the longest Twine-based thing I’ve ever done so far, and I’m pretty proud of how it turned out. There’ll be more from NIGHTMARE PARTY in 2017, including Chapter 2, so stay tuned.

Twenty-Sixteen Demo


So, 2016, huh. It’s…actually been a busy one, in addition to getting engaged, a lot of teaching , and a trip to Greece with the lady. Professionally, despite how awful 2016 has been in the world, it was pretty good for me, and I can’t really apologize for that. You gotta grab the good things while you can. I wrote a lot;

I wrote a lot of essays at my website. Now that I look back on it, I wrote fairly regularly actually, which I don’t really remember doing. This year was also the year of Nightmare Party, where I started using Twine to tell  short stories and make puzzles/games. I self-published my chapbook Buried: Short Stories, a collection of horror short stories I’ve been working on and I’m incredibly proud of. It’s a place where I very much feel my own fiction-writing voice coming through naturally.

I also finished and compiled Save Changes together into handy novella form, my weird little mystery story I didn’t think much of but after I threw it out there as a free download, it turns out over 200 people ended up reading, which is very excellent by my standards if I do say so myself. Speaking of fiction, I also managed to get some short fiction done just for kicks at my website. There’s one here, another here, and here (this one is actually in the chapbook Buried: Short Stories). This summer I went to Baltimore during a four-day stretch of 100-degree days for Otakon 2016 and wrote about my experiences for Medium.com. That was actually pretty fun. An interesting idea I’d been thinking about got turned into a SECRET PROJECT thanks to some buds old and new, which should blossom in the upcoming year.

I started playing and paying more attention to video games (again after a VERY long time away) video games, as well as the old standard of board games. Exploratory 1st-person narratives blew up in 2016 with stuff like Firewatch (which I loved), and played quite a few of (this past year Gone Home came to PS4 and I’ve been loving replaying that a few times too). There was Until Dawn, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, DOOM, and Oxenfree (which I have something to write about brewing) as well, really ushering in games that appeal to someone like me, who doesn’t give a shit about AAA stuff like the tenth CALL OF DUTY game. I really like the horror board game Betrayal At House on the Hill, which we’ve hosted for a few times here. I forgot how fun a board game can actually be if you’re actually interested in it, so 2017 will definitely be more of a board game year and gaming year in general.

I didn’t read a lot of “new” books and comics really, mostly older stuff and re-reading classics. I quite enjoy Warren Ellis doing his Morning.Computer quick writings, semi-nonsense jotted out first thing upon waking with no thought or real structure. Joe Hill’s The Fireman was great, HEAD LOPPER from Andrew MacLean is an excellent comic, and I read a bunch of Mary Roach. I enjoyed Kaleb Horton’s work on politics and culture through the year, and really loved any time Laura Hudson wrote about video games. Someone’s been leaving John D. MacDonald novels at the local take-a-book/leave-a-book shelf by the subway station, which are interesting reads for PI/mystery-minded types like me.

Newsletters really were full-swing this year, which is a trend in writing and internet-ing that I’m glad is “back”, so to speak. I enjoyed getting stuff from Jess NevinsAnne Elizabeth MooreAlex SeguraSarah WeinmanWarren Ellis (again), and Jamelle Bouie, among others. I can’t get too much nonfiction in me because so much of it tends to be depressing honestly, but at the same time there can be some great stuff out there, like the folks above, which can definitely inspire you to move forward with whatever it is you want. Whatever gets you moving, ya know.

Anyway…be good, look out for each other in the upcoming year. Whatever and however you celebrate, enjoy your holiday season. Keep those knives sharp, your eyes sharper, and don’t forget to scoop out the litter box.

My new academic project

What began as an informal collection of emailed and bookmarked links that I’ve been collecting as references for myself has turned into something slightly more organized. It’s called “The Bulletin Board Resource Document“, and it’s my new little academic project. 

The beginnings of this are based in me using the past few years to actively try and improve my teaching, in particular as we use more and more new software in the classroom, as I get more and more involved in department life, and as I work on improving both my classroom approaches and managing my workload.

The document is an open-source, Creative Commons Google Doc (w/a corresponding email address for interaction and recommendations to the document). There are some very rough longer-term plans for this, but for now I want to focus just on putting this out there, seeing the response I get, and updating it when I can and as I gather info.

Anyway, please enjoy, spread around and use if you’re in academia, and use the contact info to contribute!

Enjoy my short story “Skies Dance”

I wrote this to work out some ideas and feel through some approaches I’d been wanting to try, and figured I’d throw it up here, see what people think. Read it below and enjoy, lemme know what you think. Continue reading “Enjoy my short story “Skies Dance””

Pretty Pretty Rotting Things

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On Halloween, we watched I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House on Netflix, starring  Ruth Wilson. It’s written and directed by Oz Perkins, about a hospice care nurse who moves into a famous crime/horror author’s home to care for the ailing bed-bound old woman. The nurse, Lily, and the author, Iris Blum, are alone in the home, though Lily begins to suspect that the house itself is haunted, and that one of Blum’s books about a murdered woman shut up in a wall by her husband might be both true and connected to the house.

The thing that sticks out to me is how much Iris Blum feels like a stand-in for Shirley Jackson, the author of works like the story “The Lottery,” the novels We Have Always Lived In the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House, and others. The fact that Ruth Franklin’s biography of Jackson, A Rather Haunted Life, came out this year, is a nice little bonus to connect to Jackson’s impact and influence. To be fair, there are a few key differences here between the real Jackson and the fictional Blum, such as the fact that Blum is depicted as having no family and Jackson having been married and a mother. However, the idea of a woman who wrote prolifically about horrific things (Lily is open about being a complete coward in the film, which creates a slightly hilarious back-and-forth in the minimalistic sense of the film’s aesthetic overall.

I Am the Pretty Thing… follows the (arguably excellent) trend of modern horror drawing on arthouse and minimalist film styles to use mood, silence, and (alternately) intense volume/sound building to create intense anxiety, and using (what I thought was brilliant) background visual tricks to give you serious “WHAT THE FUCK” moments. There’s an upside-down chair hanging in the kitchen in this film that no one discusses or acknowledges and until I figured out that the chair is being hung from a peg on the wall, it seemed like a Poltergeist moment of shifted furniture that genuinely confused and frightened me. The main character pacing the kitchen as the sound and tension swells and then the simple but oh-my-god visual of the phone cord being lifted…and lifted…and lifted…

It was horrifying.

~

I’ve taught Jackson’s story “The Lottery” every chance I’ve gotten throughout the years, having fallen in love with it in high school. It’s a wonderful work for teaching symbolism, for discussing simple horror, and for introducing the concept of modern American literature’s attempts to come to terms with the bloody bones the nation is built on.

Older students tend to catch on quick, though they’re still horrified by the whole thing (a current student introduced the idea of corruption being a part of the life of “The Lottery”, which is fascinating and not something I’d through about before). Younger students are confused until you get the ball rolling about the whole thing and what the various elements CAN really mean (because Jackson was notorious about refusing to elaborate on her work, which I find delightful). Shirley Jackson as a woman who wrote in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, and in particular wrote what we’d commonly consider horror fiction, is such a fascinating figure. She’s one of my favorite authors period, and it’s because of her voice in horror that I say that. Her voice gives us something that we see and take for granted in anything horrific or supernatural. We wouldn’t have Twin Peaks without her, something seen as almost the “beginning” of the whole small-town-hiding-horrors trope.

Her voice is the voice that I saw visualized in I Am the Pretty Thing… on the screen, where bucolic Americana is a prison, bright sunlight streaming through windows a painful and hot bar in a window that keeps you penned inside. There are a lot of elements implied here as well in terms of women who are trying to write with what are seen as masculine framing, as well as how women who don’t like that are supposed to respond to it. More than that though was how Lily tries to justify the house to herself before suspecting that there might be more there. The lack of ghosts for the most part, relying instead of the fears that many of us definitely have about empty houses, paranoia, and the dark when we turns our backs. I think it’s in this that the film is most immediately relatable to Jackson, in seizing upon real human fears and hatreds, with a sense of a possible supernatural twist in there.

That ultimately is what makes Jackson’s work so great, and it’s what makes really good horror work. Real fear is in the mutation of what we genuinely can’t wait to get away from fast enough, what we couldn’t shake off no matter how much we try.

I spent one Halloween night going to see a big-screen showing of Kubrick’s The Shining. It was great, and at that size the film’s overall atmosphere really works. It worked to the point that my paranoia about empty rooms made me turn on all the lights and check every room and closet through my house, opting to stay awake and order pizza instead of going to sleep.

It was the stupidest thing to be fearful of or feel scared about, honestly. I was 27, I lived with someone else with a dog and a baseball bat, but the paranoia of dark open doorways and what was there when I turned my back was so great that it affected how I spent my night. This film seizes on that in the same way that Jackson seized on those for her writing, seizing on paranoias and fears we didn’t realize had such deep and dark holds on us, and slowly reeling them up from the depths into the light and exposing us to their true horror.

The awful root of “The Lottery” isn’t the violence, it’s the corruption of community, especially when the other side of the “close-knit community” coin is “isolated from escape and privacy.” There’s no escaping the lottery in Jackson’s story, because it’s a very real and unavoidable horror, one that like empty doorways full of dark in a house when the sun has gone down, you just don’t want to turn your back on no matter how often you tell yourself it’s not going to come for you. In the same fashion, the real horror of I Am The Pretty Thing… isn’t that the house is haunted, it’s that the ghost was killed for being beautiful, that Iris Blum’s mind has gone as she sits alone with a ghost trying to reach out to her to talk, and that Lily is caught between it all, surrounded by empty doorways.

~

Ultimately the film’s not perfect, mostly because the last fifteen minutes tend to meander a bit, though you could also compare that to a more literal vs. filmatic ending, with the cliche of the last scare visual being thrown in there to emphasize the subtle horror aspects of the film (if that makes sense).

It’s very much a horror movie not just WITH women in it, but ABOUT the women in it, in a very visual/abstract sense. And I’m pretty cool with it.

Hey, check out “BURIED”

Halloween is closing in, so in celebration of the spooky holiday season, my favorite, I threw this little chapbook together with some of my short horror stories, something for your ‘zine bookshelf or while you’re watching horror movies this excellent October season.

BURIED: Short Stories contains three shorts, one of which has appeared in the newsletter and on here, with the other two being new originals. You can get BURIED with my stories “The Iron Space,” “The Photo,” and “Cigs” for less than $4 in print (with a free digital download) or digital-only for $0.99.

 

I’m using Magcloud to publish BURIED, so shipping is a little pricey (it’ll be about $3, but that covers the printing/material costs basically).

Anyway, check it out, get a copy, spread the word, enjoy some written horror and support an indie self-publishing writer like myself!

Lo-Fi VHS Dreams

coconuts-music-movies-76452224When I was in high school we had a chain of stores in New York called Coconut’s. It was a pretty typical chain of the model of Virgin records, with bright-eyed young people in polo t-shirts with the company logo and an ID tag on a lanyard around their necks, asking you if you were looking for something in particular. They sold CDs, they sold cassettes and posters, did giveaways and pre-sales of concert tickets, and of course, they sold DVDs. It was a good place to stop in for a bit as a high schooler with twenty bucks to burn, or just browse until one of the managers would ask you if you were actually going to buy something. For the most part the employees were completely fine with teenagers wandering and browsing for an hour straight, then buying ONE used CD a cassette or some disc cleaners to justify  being in there for so long looking like a thief.

For some absolutely bizarre but magical reason, the Coconut’s in my old neighborhood in Queens would have, hidden in random slots alongside with all the “radio rock” and pop music, the most absolutely amazing punk and metal records, just squirreled away. Black Flag. The Bad Brains. Minutemen. The Descendents. A ton of then-obscure thrash and heavy metal like Stormtroopers of Death and the first few Mastodon records. For a young kid whose punk tastes were slowly burgeoning out from just the same three or four skatepunk/obnoxious three-piece acts that littered independent music in the 1990s and had a bit of awareness now of not just the older acts but also the more obscure ones, that place was Heaven.

Even better? They had awesome fucking movies.

Besides the obvious semi-hidden porno display at the very back, and the even-less hidden display of the cartoon pornography (“You know, that anime ‘hentai’ tentacle stuff, man!”), there was a whole one side of the long room that was nothing but movies, just rows upon rows of DVDs, by both genre and alphabetically.

College and a job in a cubicle (with access to the Internet almost all day), combined with an unhealthy obsession with horror movies and trashy pulp led me of course to Hammer, to Troma, and to all the offshoots of those infamous names that were re-packaging and redistributing old grindhouse and bad horror knockoff films. This was the early days of Netflix and after I’d exhausted most of the truly weird and good stuff at the local Blockbuster, which a few years later withered and died into…whatever it is now. When Netflix (and later on the very early version of Hulu) were snatching up the rental/distirbution rights to almost anything they could get their hands on, from obscure anime to old horror movies and stuff that was basically light/fake snuff and softcore pornography disguised as horror and cult/arthouse, it was a boon to someone like me.

This was also right after we got cable for the first time after the 9/11/01 attacks in New York City, and my parents decided we needed Internet and cable to be able to escape the horrific drone of nothing on TV but the news. Hence…TV channels like IFC and later on, horror-exclusive stuff like Chiller, which would spew forth even more names and titles for me to look for and, later on, straight-up hunt for.

Coconut’s had so many movies, at one point (partially through being in collusion with one of the employees there) I got my hands on a non-American version of the Hammer film The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (released in the US as The Seven Brothers and their One Sister Meet Dracula, for some reason). Eventually because I couldn’t keep everything at home due to space, I was buying DVDs and returning them for cash at the buyback counter with something like a 25% loss, resulting in what I look back on in a stupid-but-fond way as a “fucked up rental fee.”

The week that the store was closing (an inevitability as music/movie downloading and cheap movie rentals online started to put huge dents in  with insane deals to just get rid of stuff, I went in with half a paycheck in cash and just went nuts, with everything half-off. Obscure Japanese movies, a few Hammer titles I didn’t have but really wanted to fill in my Dracula collection, and a box set proclaiming itself as “The 30 (or was it 50?) Greatest Lost Classics Of Horror In One Place!”, a box of slim DVDs that was $20 for what turned out to be ten straight hours of awful, two hours of 70’s smut masquerading as slapstick horror, and the rest was maybe salvageable.

I think that box set is still in my parents’ basement.

Most of those movies are gone, as are a lot of other things that got sold/donated later on or lost in a shuffle of several moves after then. I couldn’t tell you the plots to most of the movies I watched in that “era” of my life outside of the big name titles/critically-acclaimed titles, because now with the hindsight of age, I can tell you how awful most of them were. All those remastered and re-released “grindhouse classics” and “spotlights of foreign horror mastery” were, for very good reasons, forgettable.

No one outside of New York (and sometimes New Jersey) really remembers Coconut’s, and I still think about it every time I think about my early weird film education, in those really formative years when I started college and threw myself into pulp and Korean horror and old films that I managed to find as box sets or rereleases in the shelves and sales bins of this store that’s now a bank, one I still walk by and look at every time I’m in the area visiting family.

I work really hard to not allow myself to be so entirely nostalgic, but I will totally be nostalgic for a place like Coconut’s. In its own unmeaning way, a place like that can be a real oasis for a brain like mine that was craving more and more weirdness to keep up with it, which it did, in leaps and bounds limited pretty much only by work, school, sleep, and my wallet. If there was any time and place I’d go back to to, honestly, it’d be then.

Mostly because now that I’m older I’d know better what to get and what to look for.

Body Talk

Robert E Howard's CONAN THE BARBARIAN by Ezra Tucker
Robert E Howard’s CONAN THE BARBARIAN by Ezra Tucker

A quick Twitter exchange got me thinking about (well, continuing to think about) horror genres, and body horror in particular. I’d been listening to an audio horror podcast, and as soon as one of the stories started to turn into body horror, I tuned out.

Clive Barker and the Hellraiser franchise are, as far as I’m concerned, a gold standard in a  genre of horror that’s fairly popular, and for good reason. However, I can’t really bring myself to appreciate and enjoy what we’d call modern “body horror” anymore, primarily because the focus is almost entirely on the “ick factor” elements, rather than the deeper reasons for those feeling of uncomfortableness that gross visuals bring up.*

In comparison, I’ve found myself drawn more and more to the unexplained, not necessarily horror in a conventionally-paranormal ghost sense, but rather abstract existential horror (“Lovecraftian” for a lack of a better term, though Machen is arguably almost superior). What terrifies me, rather than grosses me out, is a sense of realization of the grander chain of things, that I’m not only not at the top of the food chain, but I’m not even at the top of the intelligence chain. Also, the chance that it’s not even a chain or a ladder with a semblance of order, but a wild and ever-changing, unknowable web, makes me fear in a deep part of my gut. I can’t come to a conclusion, I can’t learn anything about it beyond what I experience, and what I experience is so beyond my comprehension at the time I can only hope to survive, or at best, be ignored by it.

~

Sean T. Collins touched on some of the really interesting bits here how this is applicable to the religion of the Iron Islands in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice And Fire books (the Game of Thrones series)

Because Martin is not just the child of Tolkien. […] 

Martin is the child of Howard.

This is Howard’s world. A world of so many bizarre and terrifying ruins that they can’t possibly be reconciled, a world where there are as many mind-warping remnants of impossible architectures as there are stars in the sky. 

And this is, in many ways as it turns out, the World of Ice and Fire. The world of the Basilisk Isles, of Sothoryos, of Yeen, of Hyrkoon, of Yi Ti, of Leng, of Asshai. As with Howard, the point is not aligning all phenomena in an intelligible system, but in suggesting that the system is beyond intelligence. (It’s not for nothing that Howard and Lovecraft were close friends and correspondents, often riffing on one another’s science-fantasy-horror concepts within their own work.) The world through which Conan wanders, or about which Maester Yandel writes, is in a very important way just a series of trapdoors that drop you directly into nightmare after nightmare. The drop is the point, not the floor that connects them.

The idea of Howard being a major influence (as much as Lovecraft) in the early creation myths of Westerns (moreso than Lovecraft arguably) is such a fascinating idea, and it certainly ties into this idea of something truly horrifying being that which we can’t be codified in any sort of large-scale creation myth or pantheon. Howard, as Collins is touching on, created a world (the world of “Conan the Barbarian”) where dueling creation myths, unexplainable phenomena, and remands of former inhabitants and civilizations exist in some sort of paradoxical state of the world as it is for the character(s). There is no real overlapping reason, Collins argues, because there doesn’t need to be one. That lack of codification of the world for Conan the Barbarian is what makes Howard’s world so intensely dangerous and horrifying.

This is, to Collins, the appeal of the “magical” elements of the world of Westerns in Martin’s books, because while the danger of diving too deep into history and expository work to explain the history and mechanics is that it ultimately strips the story down to explanation. It’s why so many of Howard’s elemental world of barbarians and monsters work. They’re meant to be reminders of

~

from 1987's "Hellraiser"
from 1987’s “Hellraiser”

Now, this brings us to the ultimate flaw of modern body horror, which is that its focus on exquisite and intensely-intrinsic (physiologically) mutilation and mutation of the form, the root of body horror (the fear of an unknown invasion of the familiar and personal) is changed into something else (the horror of grossness), ultimately turning what I’d consider an interesting subgenre into just another hack-fest.

However, this does lead into something interesting, which is just why I can’t keep up. It’s not that I don’t like gory grossness (I mean, the fact that I advocate for 1980’s trash-bag gloriousness Motel Hell constantly should be evidence of it). However, it’s interesting that I just don’t find it scary. It’s fun and cool and schlocky, it’s just not scary. What’s scary to me is far different. What’s scary to me is what I genuinely don’t know.

I don’t know what’s out there beyond my field of view. I find myself genuinely concerned when I can’t track or predict a story, or when I find stories that deal with that same level of non-understanding. Howard’s Conan fights beasts on instinct, from forgotten folds of history that he can’t think of, because if he does it could destroy his mind. Lovecraft’s fear of the unknown (arguably the intense root of his xenophobia and racism) is in the idea that, at the dawn of a new century, exploration by bolder souls will show us a horrific truth, that we’re not at the top of the food chain.

I’m scared of finding out that no matter what, all of what I know is pointless, especially against the larger strength and knowledge of the void. Some things just happen and I can’t understand them.

Fuck, I hate the void.

*) Of course, there are obvious clashes with this thesis, in particular and idea that came to me while I was doing some deep thinking (scrambling some eggs for lunch). A major one (that I’d hope to eventually be able to dedicate some serious brainpower to) is the idea that are my own feelings about abstract Lovecraftian horror rooted in my male cisgendered heterosexuality, considering the intensely feminist leanings and implications of good body horror, which is more aptly-describable as “body/invasion horror,” which is rooted so deeply in the ultimate threat against women, the violation of space…but that’s another rambling I’ll get to.