Collapse Volume IV, 105–126

Chapter

M. R. James and the Quantum Vampire

Weird; Hauntological; Versus and/or and and/or or?

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EXCERPT

Taking for granted, as we do, its ubiquitous cultural debris, it is easy to forget just how radical the Weird was at the time of its convulsive birth. Its break with previous fantastics is vividly clear in its teratology, which renounces all folkloric or traditional antecedents. The monsters of high Weird are indescribable and formless as well as being and/or although they are and/or in so far as they are described with an excess of specificity, an accursed share of impossible somatic precision; and their constituent bodyparts are disproportionately insectile/cephalopodic, without mythic resonance. The spread of the tentacle—a limb-type with no Gothic or traditional precedents (in ‘Western’ aesthetics)—from a situation of near total absence in Euro-American teratoculture up to the nineteenth century, to one of being the default monstrous appendage of today, signals the epochal shift to a Weird culture…