Horror and the Holy: Wisdom-Teachings of the Monster Tale

Horror and the Holy: Wisdom-Teachings of the Monster Tale

by Kirk J. Schneider, Kirk Schneider




Throughout history, human beings have been strangely fascinated by the monstrous and the macabre. In Horror and the Holy, a study of the classic horror story, Kirk Schneider explains the compelling power of such tales as a result of our thirst for the sacred, and identifies elements of the holy in familiar blood-curdling yarns.

True horror arises when the mundane becomes unexpected and when the contained breaks free of its confining chains to become unlimited. Anything boundless tends to become terrifying, argues Schneider. It is infinitude, which draws us to the unsavory, infinitude that lurks behind dread. Sheer bliss, paradise, or Nirvana therefore always has the potential to turn into horror, as limits fall away and the boundless expanses of infinity open up. While ecstasy is a glimpse of the infinite, terror is full disclosure.

Drawing upon a detailed and telling analysis of eleven well-known horror stories, Dr. Schneider finds that a spiritual understanding of life can be attained through horror. Classic horror steers a middle path between fanaticism and despair: the path of wonderment. Horror teaches us that human personality is paradoxical; that revulsion and disgust are the obverse of excitement and freedom, and that both poles are vital to individual, social, and ecological well-being.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812692242
Publisher: Open Court Publishing Company
Publication date: 05/28/1993
Pages: 150
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsix
Introduction--Ecstasy, Terror, and Infinity1
IThe Structure of Horror: Chaos and Obliteration5
Freudian and Jungian Perspectives9
IIWisdom-Horror: Dracula and Frankenstein13
Dracula: A Study in Hyperconstriction17
Frankenstein: A Study in Hyperexpansion33
IIIFurther Inquiries into Wisdom-Horror43
Further Studies in Hyperconstriction45
The Phantom of the Opera45
"The Fall of the House of Usher"50
The Invisible Man55
The Incredible Shrinking Man58
Further Studies in Hyperexpansion65
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde65
The Birds70
Forbidden Planet77
Studies in Bipolar Horror85
IVHorror as a Worldview99
Between Fanaticism and Despair: Toward a Worldview of Wonderment101
Wonderment in Psychology103
Wonderment in Science115
Wonderment in Religion121
Epilogue: A Comment on Evil129

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