The Horror of the Unknown

One of the reasons I feel such a kinship with vitalism is the ability to account for the horror of the unknown; vitalism is by necessity an incomplete system, and as such, it is always able to account for new discoveries in both the organic and the inorganic realms. Examples of this can be seen through out science, but I think the real test is (science) fiction. Take for example the video for Mogwai’s song Batcat:

Such a horrifying organism can be easily accounted for under a vitalist system. Actually, to perhaps put it better, vitalism can never be surprised in the usual sense, because vitalism is a philosophy of surprise. The vitalist is never truly horrified because they are always anticipating novelty with an understanding that the new or novel is entirely unpredictable. The distinction lies here I think, between an anticipatory philosophy, and a predictable philosophy. An anticipatory system would be an open system, whereas a predictable system is closed. What this means is that the latter will take new evidence or data and format it for the system, whereas the former is always readjusting to the new.

As soon as you de-privilege the human being by accepting that Nature is active production, with no final cause (save the impossible, cf. my final section on Messianism in “Towards a Proper Introduction to Spectral Realism”), then the human being becomes just a product among products. The human is no longer the apex of the system, as there is no Final Product. As soon as this move is made, you allow for the non-human to surpass the human. You allow, with this small move, for Lovecraftian Old Ones, for Batcats, but also for inorganic structures the ability to destroy the de-privileged structure of the human subject. Such a system appears horrific to the subjectivist, but to the vitalist, it’s simply the structure of the cosmos, a parade of horribles.



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2 responses to “The Horror of the Unknown

  1. It’s amazing how a system of unknowing can sate so much more than a system of perceived knowing.

    Lovecraft is scary, scary business — reading his stories before bed doesn’t give me nightmares, or make me afraid of bumps in the night, but it makes me have existential crises for the rest of my life. Some tradeoff!

    My friend Thomas recently posted on the beginner’s mind, which the distinction between predictable and open systems reminded me of. The Old Ones push our boundaries in a way humanoid, Star Trek-style “aliens” never can. (Um, not that I don’t love them anyway.)

  2. Right on. Lovecraftian beasties aside, this idea of an ever-evolving “unknown” is essential to really getting vitalism as a concept. It is what Bergson means by his notion of “duration”. Strangely, I just wrote about this tangentially myself…

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