We each approach the world from a unique angle. It’s bewildering if you stop and think about it—billions of individuals (more by orders of magnitude if we add animals) looking at the world like no-one else. Given the numbers it’s no mystery that some individuals will share fascinations, and I was glad to learn of Mark Fisher’s book The Weird and the Eerie, since it tries to capture the essence of these two terms that characterize so much of my reading. The introduction explores what these words might mean in regard to Freud’s unheimlich, a term with which many writers are familiar. What makes many stories interesting is their unusualness. Fisher considers what it means to be inside or outside, and these categories often play into our perceptions of the weird and the eerie.
The study is divided into two sections (weird and eerie) and explores these concepts through a variety of media—literature, film, and popular music, especially. Here’s where the unique angle comes in. While I’ve read quite a bit of “weird fiction” and certainly eerie tales, Fisher has a different spectrum of materials than I do. We share some resources, of course, such as H. P. Lovecraft, but The Weird and the Eerie gave me a new set of books to read and movies to watch. Or read and watch in new ways. Fisher’s reading of these various sources is sharp and perceptive, and he has a wealth of experience on which to draw. The intertextuality here is rich.
When I think of reading for leisure or pleasure, it occurs to me that without something unusual happening in a tale, I have little with which to gain a grip. The unheimlich makes for compelling reading. Fisher sheds considerable light on this—what is it that we mean by saying something is weird or eerie? It’s not that we should avoid them. Humans are innately curious creatures, and we’re drawn to the strange in a way that we can seldom help. Learning to avoid the weird and eerie means missing out on opportunities to learn. And stories that we might tell to reflect our individual experience of the world. This brief book contains more than first appears from a cursory glance. There’s depth here, and for those of us individuals drawn to these aspects of both human and literary expression, much to mine. The Weird and the Eerie is a flashlight for going into areas sometimes considered dark and learning much along the way.
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