the value of horror in shaking complacency

I’ve been thinking about horror lately. Sure, we’re a few weeks removed from official spoopy season, but horror is omnipresent and does not abide your calendar rules.

I’ve been rewatching Courage the Cowardly Dog, a show that affected me when I watched it as a kid, and hits me in a totally different way now. I plan on talking with a friend about it on their podcast soon, so I’ve been watching with a more critical eye than I might otherwise. I’ve also been consuming content like the always haunting Over the Garden Wall, listening to Allie Nimmons’ podcast on female horror, Hysteria, and moving through the original run of Are You Afraid of the Dark thanks to a borrowed Paramount+ login.

It seems obvious what some answers could be when I ask what it is about horror that is drawing me in more than usual right now. While I am comparably safe and secure, there are a lot of things to be worried about. I spend a good part of my day every day concerned with something in my life that needs doing or that I cannot quite figure out or manage. It’s a quiet, subdued kind of horror. The malevolent spirit is always hovering just out of view, lurking in the cracks between moments when I try to catch my breath and slow my mind.

As Timothy Morton said in a recent Wired feature discussing their book, ‘Hyperobjects’, their intent in writing what could be viewed as a form of existential horror was to “offer people a dose of disquietude in hopes of inoculating them against the growing weirdness and terror of being alive”. There are some concepts that cannot be forced down into the understanding of a single person, and the feeling of helplessness that engenders is palpable.

But what kind of horror are we dealing with really? Most of the episodes of Courage are about misunderstandings viewed through a lens of trauma, where maybe the need to be afraid isn’t really there. As shown regularly throughout the show, it is how we deal with the trials that come our way that shapes us. Our own fears are what can turn us into monsters.

Horror has some value then. It can provide a shock, a jumpstart to the system to shake us from complacency. It’s not necessarily the best way to deal with problems, but it is one way to remove us from stupors that lead to inaction. On a personal level I’ve been struggling with some issues that I can’t find the right answer to, and it’s only at those times where a bit of fear settles in that I feel a motivation to run and to just do something.

Is this healthy? Not any less than some other ways of getting into motion I’d argue. The safety of a little imagined fear is better than some of the real world horrors that can’t be addressed by a single person. The hyperobjects that are unfathomable beasts can be beat, but we need to be scared out of our hubris to really view them head on.

Tweet from @problemathiccx that reads "My all time favorite, Over the Garden Wall", with four beautiful screenshots from the show. This includes the two main characters looking at a half moon in the woods, a series of characters with pumpkins for heads and bodies, a figure facing away in a crypt full of bones, and a shadow figure with antlers and glowing eyes holding a lantern in the dark


Another End of the Empire – Tim Pratt, Strange Horizons

What a fun fantasy story! I like some of the messaging here and how it turns out in the end.

The secret court case 50 years ago that has robbed transgender people of their rights ever since – Patrick Strudwick

It’s not what I expected, but of course a good amount of transphobia just extends from patriarchy and property law.

The World’s Largest Record Company Is Creating an NFT Super Group – Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

Stop. Just don’t, thanks. Also please don’t try to compare it to Gorillaz just because they are like the Bored Apes.

Richard ‘Lowtax’ Kyanka, Founder of Something Awful, Is Dead at 45 – Matthew Gault, Motherboard

Burn in hell, and fuck you for the shit that you inflicted on the world.


Tarkovsky’s Stalker, Loki, and the End of Things

I wasn’t sure that I wanted to watch a nearly two hour video about the MCU and Russian surreal film. But I like Maggie Mae Fish and am glad that I gave it a chance. Capitalism, Ideology, Fascism, Bi-erasure. It’s all there!

Creepypastas, Nostalgia, and Hauntology: Examining Internet Horror Through a Post-Modern Perspective

Oh look, more horror talk! This also combines my love of internet culture too, so bonus points.

GOOD JOB – Animation Short Film 2021 – GOBELINS

This is too real about some tech companies, sigh

Are You Scared of Your Dog?

Not the best end to a season of Are You Scared? considering I’ve heard variations of this story since I was a child, but I love the energy between Shane and Ryan nonetheless.

The GENIUS tool LEGO wants to forget

(It’s a hole punch.)
Honestly, I’d get back into legs to make beautiful papercraft like this.


TWRP – Bright Blue Sky (Official Video)

New TWRP album on the way! And a new tour, but not hitting Orlando 🙁 Fun fact, this was the first show that I had plans to go to that had to be cancelled in March 2020. Either way, still a fan and still excited for the new album

Travis Scott partnered with BetterHelp after the Astroworld tragedy. Therapy Den’s Jeff Guenther explains why it might not be a good thing.

I knew that BetterHelp was not good, what with not being licensed, not requiring licenses, etc. But I didn’t even consider that they were under no obligation not to share information collected by the therapists and so of course they do. What the actual fuck?


Any day that I can share new music from GOJII is a good day

Over The Garden Wall Official Soundtrack | Full Album – The Blasting Company | WaterTower

Ending with something to keep you company while you work

If you made it this far, why not share this newsletter with a friend? Or share with me some of the things that you found that you liked this week. Either way, I’m thrilled!