I was privileged to be a part of a good group in a podcast discussion at The Teeming Brain through an invitation from my good friend and colleague Matt Cardin that addressed “Cosmic Horror vs. Sacred Terror.” Following is their description of the subject matter:
Do nihilism and cosmic meaningfulness stand in fundamental tension with each other at the heart of the horror genre? Were Lovecraft and Machen getting at fundamentally different moral, aesthetic, and metaphysical points with their respective horror stories? Does the (possible) tension between Lovecraftian cosmic horror and Machenian sacred terror constitute a fault line running right through the center of the horror genre and impacting its literature and cinema today?
These are the questions driving this first-ever Teeming Brain podcast, which has been, if you count back to the blog’s original launch, six years in the making. More immediately, it was recorded between November 20 and 28, 2012. Its origin can be found in three items: first, an article titled “Meaning to the Madness” — about Lovecraft, Machen, and the moral and philosophical ideas playing out in the current horror movie scene — written by Christian horror novelist Jonathan Ryan and published in Christianity Today; second, a response to and rebuttal of Ryan’s argument by Teeming Brain founder Matt Cardin in “Cosmic Horror, Sacred Terror, and the Nightside Transformation of Consciousness”; and third, the vigorous conversation that grew up around that response both here and at Thomas Ligotti Online. There is also, fourth, John Morehead’s suggestion that this could all be turned into a stimulating podcast.
This debut episode presents a roundtable featuring eight authors and thinkers in the areas of horror, philosophy, and religion, all of whom engage the questions described above plus a whole lot more.
- Peter Bebergal, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and author of the widely praised memoir Too Much to Dream: A Psychedelic American Boyhood.
- Matt Cardin (host), founder and editor of The Teeming Brain and author of Dark Awakenings, Divinations of the Deep, and the forthcoming To Rouse Leviathan.
- Nicole Cushing, author of the forthcoming horror novella Children of No One and the trippy bizarro fiction collection How to Eat Fried Furries.
- Richard Gavin, author of the numinous horror collections At Fear’s Altar and The Darkly Splendid Realm and the Teeming Brain column Echoes from Hades.
- T. E. Grau, fiction editor at Strange Aeons, author of the Teeming Brain column The Extinction Papers, and co-author (with his wife, author/editor/screenwriter Ives Hovenessian) of the forthcoming horror fiction collection I Am Death, Cried the Vulture.
- John W. Morehead, Director of the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies, creator of the blog Theofantastique (“A meeting place for myth, imagination, and mystery in pop culture”), and co-editor of The Undead and Theology.
- M. Scott Poole, Associate Professor of History at the College of Charleston and author of Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting.
- Jonathan Ryan, author of “Meaning to the Madness,” the highly praised supernatural/spiritual horror novel The Faithful (as Jonathan Weyer), and the forthcoming urban fantasy novel 3 Gates of the Dead.
Click here to listen to the podcast “Cosmic Horror vs. Sacred Terror.”