Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Conservative Horror


Many are familiar with the conservative thinker Russell Kirk.  However, not as many are aware that, along with his more serious work, he was also an accomplished writer of ghost or, "horror" tales.  This is perhaps not as incongruous as it might first appear.  The genre is one perfectly suited to the conservative mind.  Horror, at its best, is about the past coming back to haunt the present.  Someone upsets the status quo, asks too many questions, looks too deeply into the heart of things and is punished for their hubris.  What is more, studies have even begun to show a difference in chemistry between liberal and conservative brains that reveals a great deal about their, no pun intended, mindset.

The conservative psyche lives in a state of perpetual fear and disgust, the very bedrock of horror.  It is perhaps the sense of disgust especially which has always characterized the right's overwhelming lack of empathy.  They live with a fear of the "other" which is almost supernatural (and is supernatural where fundamentalism is concerned) in its intensity.

We can see this type of thinking perfectly illustrated in the work of H. P. Lovecraft.  Lovecraft was notoriously racist, and a reading of his "The Horror at Red Hook" will instantly conjure up images of contamination and too close a proximity to filth.  Thankfully for his admirers, Lovecraft appears to have dispensed with many of these views in his later years, but his work stands out as an excellent guidebook to the dark corners of the conservative mind.

It makes one shudder to think at what strange vistas of hell we could witness, if Cheney ever pulled himself away long enough from shouting angry epithets to set pen to paper, even the Necronomicon might be put to shame.

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