Literature Meme- 9/10 Prose
Danse Macabre, by Stephen King
The work of horror is not interested in the civilized furniture of our lives… It is in search of another place, a room which may sometimes resemble the secret den of a Victorian gentleman, sometimes the torture chamber of the Spanish Inquisition- but perhaps most frequently and most successfully, the simple and brutally plain hole of a Stone Age cave-dweller.
For anyone who reads horror, writes horror, contemplates the psychological basis for horror, or wonders why anyone else might do any of the above, I offer here a marvelous resource. Stephen King, a man well-versed in such a world, collects a cultural history of American and British horror from the gothics to the pulps to the slashers, and what he has to say about them may forever change how you think. Included are such concepts and questions as: what are the four archetypal monsters? (The Vampire, the Ghost, the Werewolf, and the Thing Without a Name.) What are the three levels horror works on? (Terror, horror, and gross-out.) In our beauty and youth-obsessed culture, what constitutes abnormality on the level of monstrosity? (Pimples taken to the extreme become the hideous face of AIP’s I Was a Teenage Frankenstein.) And what does it feel like to destroy the world in the pages of a book? (Liberating and gleeful at first, then frustrating when you realize you haven’t actually solved anything.)
Though I desperately wish King would put out a new edition so I could see what he thought of contemporary horror television- would he still think it couldn’t work in non-anthology formats with the advent of Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and Hannibal?- his work is so comprehensive that I can’t in good conscience ask for more. WIth him, I gather around the campfire to hear urban legends, squeal in disgust at E.C. Comics, mourn the loss of horror radio, and look into the self-absorbed mirror of the Southern Gothic protagonist. Come join in the dance yourself!