Theses on the Relationship Between Horror, ‘Dark Music’, and Critical Theory

  1. Horror has two strata: ‘horror’ and ‘avant-garde’
  2. There is a close link between the concerns of various currents in critical theory and currents of horror/avant-garde fiction: consider the similarities in concerns between the Frankfurt School and Kafka, or between French Nietzscheans and the Symbolists and Decadents (Bataille, being an avant-garde novelist as well as a critic, is an especially good example), or the connections between contemporary British theory and horror fiction (such that ‘theory-fiction’ is a genre born from the CCRU, and hauntology is both a critical term and a device used in fiction).
  3. If the various musical movements of the 1970s (funk, art rock, disco) reflected the hope and experimentation of the radicalismĀ  of the ‘hot 1970s’ (take, for example, “Life During Wartime” by Talking Heads), first the bitter anger of punk and then the depressive horror of post-punk, gothic rock, and industrial music were a response to the neoliberal turn of the late 1970s and the retreat of the Left. Indeed, with some exceptions (Wham! being a notable one), one can separate New Wave from post-punk based on attitudes towards the neoliberal turn.
  4. The emergence of fascist bands from post-punk (beyond of course the brief vogue of fascist symbology to “shock the bourgeoisie” in early post-punk, itself a practice that must be condemned), and their relative strengths in the black metal, power electronics, and neofolk subgenres (the latter being founded by a Strasserite) should remind one that a refusal is not enough. If subculture claims to be apolitical (as many fans of fascist bands–and as many bands that rely on fascist imagery–do), what it means it has not thought about its politics and does not intend to.
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