Are Scary Stories Good?

*Is* this a good way to spend an evening?

*Is* this a good way to spend an evening?

Are horror stories or films acceptable reading or viewing for Filianists? Let us look first at what we mean by “horror”. Horror as a genre began with Gothic literature in the 18th century, at the latter end of the “Age of Enlightenment”. It could not have begun before that because it relies on the existence of the fantastical where it should not be. Before this rationalist revolution, the idea of the supernatural as separate from the natural world, and therefore of the supernatural being a great surprise, simply did not exist. Ann Radcliffe, one of the definers of the aesthetic of Gothic literature, defined horror not as a genre but as a feeling. Horror and terror are two distinct forms of fear; terror is the fear of the unknown darkness, horror is the fear and revulsion caused when the darkness is revealed in a definite form.

When literature or film uses grotesqueness to cause the sensation of horror, we know that it is not good for us, because it is by nature coarse, and will coarsen our souls. What, then of that which is chilling and frightening, without the grotesque? By describing terrifying things in art and literature and by then absorbing them, Maid gives form to the darkness. On the one hand, this is not something she can truly avoid doing. In the Gospel, when the Maid embraces the Serpent and gives it form, that is Myth – the description of a thing that cannot not be. As Myth, it does not happen in time – Maid did not embrace the Serpent once long ago and then never again. It is a thing that happens outside of time and thus Maid has done it and is doing it and will do it. The only real choice Maid is given is the form she gives the darkness. And that is where we must be very, very careful.

It isn’t only velveteen rabbits that become Real when you cuddle them close and stroke their ears.

Very recently, in the age of the Internet, someone altered a photograph to create a new monster, chilling and terrifying. They told its story as though it were a genuine urban legend, although it was only the creation of their own mind. Their audience treated it as a genuine urban legend, creating more altered photographs and tales of people in the photographs going missing, as well as a very unsettling false documentary in which it “appeared”. In other words, they took a thing they all knew was fiction and did their very best to will it into existence – and succeeded. Within the past week, two girls were induced to commit violence at its command. The details have been withheld because they are disturbing – this is absolutely factual and an example, if an extreme one, of what happens when people are not careful about what form they give the darkness.

A more manageable form.

A more manageable form.

What would be a better form? Well, one of the most fearless demon-hunters this writer knows regularly sees the demons she banishes as small and goblin-like, with the demeanor of naughty children. She wins many more battles than she loses, partially due to her skills and calling, but in no small part because she sees the darkness in a form she knows she can vanquish, and so she does.

So we see, to remain on safe ground, the scary things in our stories must not be allowed to win; they must certainly never be too big to defeat. Even if they do manage to win on the earthly plane (as in some stories they do) there must be great care taken to show that they do not and cannot win beyond it. If you will take scary stories into your soul, only take the ones that in the end show the triumph of the light over the darkness.

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One thought on “Are Scary Stories Good?

  1. This is an excellent article to warn of the dangers of dark tales.

    This humble one does her best to filter out the most damaging of tales in her efforts to “know thine enemy”, as she battles with them frequently in the Aethyr and knowing how they work is key to purifying or defeating those she meets — but it’s true in many ways that “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here”.

    The Forces of Darkness seem to have pervaded Tellurian culture to the point where mortal kind has the opportunity to be even more cruel than they. We are all miniature Creatrixes, but just as we have the potential to shape an air and world of goodness about our spirits, we also have the potential to imagine and thus create even worse nightmares. Such things as the Spanish Inquisition, whose details this one doesn’t dare remind of.

    In many cases, the things mortals can come up with are twice as bad as anything the dark forces could even hope for. We are children of the Great Mother, and so we have power, but with that power comes the responsibility to use it to our Mother’s approval: when darkness becomes an available “commodity” even to such small children, one can’t help but be concerned for the direction mortalkind is taking.

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