Horror as subconscious: antiquated theory and alien instrumentation.

It is often forgotten, and needs to be repeated over and over again, that sometimes horror is appealing simply because things work differently in the world of horror movies, than in real life. What I mean is that when you are in a horror movie, you are in the unconscious, as explained by the Dr Death character in Madhouse, and in horror the unconscious is a repository of dead or discredited ideas out in the real world. So, it is not only true that a series of good horror movies is likely to be made during a time when a certain belief captures the imagination, but also that a hangover effect of ideas from a previous generation, that have not yet died out, or which are in the process of dying, exist in the movie. Consider, for example, life and death, which would be the province of generation theory and disease theory. In scientific life, current ideas are known; but outdated ideas linger, so palingenetic theory argues that life is generated spontaneously from a mucky mess of fertile natural waste, spontaneously; then, the flip side of that idea, with regard to death, is miasmatic theory, which argues that death and disease is caused by bad air germinated in graveyards or swamps or other icky mucky places, which then travels and kills one.

Here is a quick-wiki on palingenesis

The word palingenesis or rather palingenesia may be traced back to the Stoics, who used the term for the continual re-creation of the universe by the Demiurgus (Creator) after its absorption into himself. Similarly Philo spoke of Noah and his sons as leaders of a renovation or rebirth of the earth, Plutarch of the transmigration of souls, and Cicero of his own return from exile.

In philosophy it denotes in its broadest sense the theory (e.g. of the Pythagoreans) that the human soul does not die with the body but is born again in new incarnations. It is thus the equivalent of metempsychosis. The term has a narrower and more specific use in the system of Schopenhauer, who applied it to his doctrine that the will does not die but manifests itself afresh in new individuals. He thus repudiates the primitive metempsychosis doctrine which maintains the reincarnation of the particular soul.

The 17th century English polymath Thomas Browne used the term describing experiments in which the ashes of incinerated plants allegedly took forms that recalled the organism they had come from.[2] In modern biology (e.g. Haeckel and Fritz Müller), palingenesis has been used for the exact reproduction of ancestral features by inheritance, as opposed to kenogenesis, in which the inherited characteristics are modified by environment.

As for miasmatic theory

The miasma theory (also called the miasmatic theory) held that diseases such as cholera, chlamydia or the Black Death were caused by a miasma (Μίασμα, ancient Greek: “pollution”), a noxious form of “bad air”, also known as “night air”. The theory held that the origin of epidemics was due to a miasma, emanating from rotting organic matter.[1]
The miasma theory was accepted from ancient times in Europe, India, and China. The theory was eventually displaced in the 19th century by the discovery of germs and the germ theory of disease.

Combine the two theories, and you have the idea that life is born again through miasma, in a form of spontaneous combustion of life.

Both ideas separately have been discredited for more than a century, and together for more than five, but they live on in horror. Sometimes, the presence of these theories can make a movie interesting, when the rest of it is not. Consider Breeders (1986), late British horror movie about a girls’ school. Both theories are in play. The art professor involved in the story is a hunk who elicits the interest of the girls in class, and, in fact, he dates one. She is represented as an incarnation of Nefertiti, meaning that he likes her because he associates her with an image from art history, and thinks she is related.

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This is associative theory, generator of stereotypes. More interesting, meaning that it was instrumentalized in a new way, due to the theory, is that the movie has a very robust and quite distinctive girls locker room scene, including shows of full frontal nudity, and topless girls shaking about their teats because of course they are always having towel fights. This scene is right up there, in the lore of girls locker room scenes, with Carrie.

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We also have a whole sequence. All the girls playing, then entering the shower in an excited state, as if bringing their energy to the shower. And then we have close ups of the girls taking their showers, and the water, and especially the suds of soapings, running down their bodies,

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And then we find out why this is relevant to the plot. All that suds has washed off a lot of girlsweat generated by their towel play and locker room hijinx, not to mention their sport. It has washed down under their arms, between their breasts, between their legs, of course they brushed a hand with soap down in their crotch and got their backside too, as they came back up around to give their breasts and armpits another soaping. And then multiply this by fifty sweaty girl school girls. That is, the soap has touched and involved itself in all of their sexual parts, it has by association and pallinogenesis been linked with their reproductive organs, or their reproductivity, they have been fucked by their soap, sometimes more literally so, if involving selfpleasuring, and then this miasma of soap and girlsweat and girlshine and girlgunk and all their fertilesexy girly smell and bodiedness in liquid soapy form is flushed down a drain that then pours open into the basement of the school, and we are shown it at the other end of the pipe, pouring down into the basement

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And it is this palingenetic mess of girlness that then forms a fertilizing agent in the basement, that creates a cocoon in which girls, when the others go looking for them in their nighties, in fact only making the situation worse by bringing all their fertile presence into the chamber again

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And then when another girl sleeps or dreams her body, having somehow been involved associatively in the germination of new alien life, begins to leak a semenlike substance from her neck, down between her breasts,

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This then forms a kind of crystallized presence, that then forms again into a kind of cocoon,

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And when it really grows into a whole zone for miasmatic palingenetic germination of aliens it even crystallizes the door (in a scene that reminded me of visualizing the presence of a devil with webs of this sort in the Mephisto Waltz with Jacqueline Bisset

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And then the whole room is covered in this semeny snow, including the Nefertiti bust, and the girlfriend, indicating that it was the professors first violation of student trust, perhaps, that activated the school and their fertility in an unnatural way

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And then there is a fight of some sort, and she breaks out of the web, or cocoon, and on it goes, etc etc. It would be entirely understandable if, encountering such a vague and uncertain instrumentation, derived no doubt, ultimately, from the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and that uncertain germination, I would critique it, as I critiqued instrumentation in Death Ship, for example, as being vague and underconceptualized. But it is also possible that this was enough, because it was fashioned on a scaffold of outmoded instrumentation, unexplainable to the rational mind, like mad science, only mad sex, based on antiquated pallinogentic/miasmatic theory. That is, it takes place in the unconscious, in a dream world, where such illegitimate nontechnical instrumentation is allowable, within measure.

In any case, this posting therefore suggests a second thought to outright condemnation of what appears to be poor instrumentation, and a more nuanced view of how instrumentation may work itself out in horror imagined as happening in the unconscious.

In The Mythology (Von Hohenheim culture; as every Wiki page ends in ‘In Popular Culture,” this site turns it back).

In Mark Booth’s Secret History of the World it is explained how occult philosophers of the Renaissance conceptualized world history as a kind of evolution from the miasmatic, to the mineral, vegetable and human state. In this view, each grew from the other, and certain transitions were made, others left behind. Thus, there are miasmatic-mineral, -vegetable and –human creatures, mineral-vegetable, mineral-human, and vegetable-human figures, all possible. This history of mankind, particularly as it focuses on the vegetable, explaining the evolution of families who believed themselves to be mandragores, descended from hanged men’s seed inseminating mandrakes, is element of the mythos of the Von Hohenheim family.

Nefertiti is the ur-mother of the pallingenetic races, a signifier in modern horror, but also, possibly, according to Invasion Theory, the “eve” of the DNAasty (pronounced D-N-asty, in The Mythology there are only DNAties, not dynasties) in which the many families (Von Hohenheims, Riemenschneiders, Mandragores, Highsmiths, etc.) are conjoined.

 

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