I got some new material this week for a scholarly article I’ve been mulling over for quite some time. The essay, titled—in my head—“The Real: a Psychoanalytic Approach to Body Horror,” would combine Slavoj Žižek’s interpretation of Jacques Lacan’s Order of the Real with squirmy, David Lynch-style scenes from literature and film in order to discuss how and why this horror subgenre affects us.
I get ideas like this one a lot: to write about things I’m not entirely qualified or otherwise prepared to discuss. When I have one of these topics on my mind, I like to let them marinate for a bit. They always come out better this way than if I force them out onto paper as soon as they pop into my head. It’s kind of like making a stone soup, slowly cooking up a big idea while collecting tidbits to enrich the broth.
This week, I was watching Mark Cousins’ documentary series, The Story of Film, on Netflix. In episode 4, “The Arrival of Sound,” Cousins says that “horror cinema is often about the dread of the unseen.” It’s a great quote, one of those gems so blatantly obvious that no one thinks it until someone else says it. Oftentimes, little bites of enrichment, like this one, present themselves quickly and without warning. They’re quite rude that way, but oh so welcome.