Review: The Thing: A Phenomenology of Horror

The Thing: A Phenomenology of Horror
The Thing: A Phenomenology of Horror by Dylan Trigg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ll be honest, a lot of this book went right over my head. My having no prior in-depth knowledge of philosophers like Merleau-Ponty, Schelling or Meillassoux can probably be allocated a portion of the blame. As a reading experience I felt myself gripping tightly to the edges of ideas and revelations, before the promise of illumination slipped out of my sweaty grasp and I fell back into the abyss.

The Thing is also an incredibly dense book at times, and Trigg has a penchant for stringing a lot of academic words together to present his ideas. This is fine for people familiar and comfortable with that kind of writing and those sorts of theories. My reading experience often required a scalpel and a magnifying glass, my ham-fisted dissections resulting in as many frustrations and questions as they did understanding.

Having said that, Trigg’s work still brims with interesting ideas and theories, and it was captivating enough – especially with its references to films by Cronenberg and Carpenter, and its exploration of the abject – to keep me reading to the end, persevering through the more obscure tracts.

I feel like any complaints I have about this book are more concerned with my inability to grasp certain complex subjects than any fault of the author’s.

On the other hand, I would have enjoyed more of an examination of horror literature, at least a more in-depth look at Lovecraft’s work, which gets a few pages’ worth of attention and a subsequent scattering of references. Even a wider variety of cosmic horror fiction would have been more than welcome. Then again, Trigg’s other major work, The Memory of Place, may provide some deeper exploration of these subjects.

Overall, a mostly engaging work that definitely sparked my interest in further avenues of research.

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