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Starry Speculative Corpse

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Could it be that the more we know about the world, the less we understand it? Could it be that, while everything has been explained, nothing has meaning? Extending the ideas presented in his book In The Dust of This Planet, Eugene Thacker explores these and other issues in Starry Speculative Corpse. But instead of using philosophy to define or to explain the horror genre, Could it be that the more we know about the world, the less we understand it? Could it be that, while everything has been explained, nothing has meaning? Extending the ideas presented in his book In The Dust of This Planet, Eugene Thacker explores these and other issues in Starry Speculative Corpse. But instead of using philosophy to define or to explain the horror genre, Thacker reads works of philosophy as if they were horror stories themselves, revealing a rift between human beings and the unhuman world of which they are part. Along the way we see philosophers grappling with demons, struggling with doubt, and wrestling with an indifferent cosmos. At the center of it all is the philosophical drama of the human being confronting its own limits. Not a philosophy of horror, but a horror of philosophy. Thought that stumbles over itself, as if at the edge of an abyss. Starry Speculative Corpse is the second volume of the "Horror of Philosophy" trilogy, together with the first volume, In The Dust of This Planet, and the third volume, Tentacles Longer Than Night.


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Could it be that the more we know about the world, the less we understand it? Could it be that, while everything has been explained, nothing has meaning? Extending the ideas presented in his book In The Dust of This Planet, Eugene Thacker explores these and other issues in Starry Speculative Corpse. But instead of using philosophy to define or to explain the horror genre, Could it be that the more we know about the world, the less we understand it? Could it be that, while everything has been explained, nothing has meaning? Extending the ideas presented in his book In The Dust of This Planet, Eugene Thacker explores these and other issues in Starry Speculative Corpse. But instead of using philosophy to define or to explain the horror genre, Thacker reads works of philosophy as if they were horror stories themselves, revealing a rift between human beings and the unhuman world of which they are part. Along the way we see philosophers grappling with demons, struggling with doubt, and wrestling with an indifferent cosmos. At the center of it all is the philosophical drama of the human being confronting its own limits. Not a philosophy of horror, but a horror of philosophy. Thought that stumbles over itself, as if at the edge of an abyss. Starry Speculative Corpse is the second volume of the "Horror of Philosophy" trilogy, together with the first volume, In The Dust of This Planet, and the third volume, Tentacles Longer Than Night.

30 review for Starry Speculative Corpse

  1. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Powell

    "Every star in the universe will have burnt out, plunging the cosmos into a state of absolute darkness and leaving behind nothing but spent husks of collapsed matter. All free matter, whether on planetary surfaces or in interstellar space, will have decayed, eradicating any remnants of life based in protons and chemistry, and erasing every vestige of sentience--irrespective of its physical basis. Finally, in a state cosmologists call 'asymtopia,' the stellar corpses littering the empty universe "Every star in the universe will have burnt out, plunging the cosmos into a state of absolute darkness and leaving behind nothing but spent husks of collapsed matter. All free matter, whether on planetary surfaces or in interstellar space, will have decayed, eradicating any remnants of life based in protons and chemistry, and erasing every vestige of sentience--irrespective of its physical basis. Finally, in a state cosmologists call 'asymtopia,' the stellar corpses littering the empty universe will evaporate into a brief hailstorm of elementary particles. Atoms themselves will cease to exist. Only the implacable gravitational expansion will continue, driven by the current inexplicable force called "dark energy," which will keep pushing the extinguished universe deeper and deeper into an eternal and unfathomable blackness." --Ray Brassier, qtd within.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alexander

    “The proposition that governs this book, Starry Speculative Corpse, is that something interesting happens when one takes philosophy not as a heroic feat of explaining everything, but as the confrontation with this thought that undermines thought, this philosophy of futility.” Again, I have to preface this with confessions of bias, I absolutely love the subject matter of this series so I was easily sucked into this book after reading In The Dust of This Planet. This book sent more chills down my “The proposition that governs this book, Starry Speculative Corpse, is that something interesting happens when one takes philosophy not as a heroic feat of explaining everything, but as the confrontation with this thought that undermines thought, this philosophy of futility.” Again, I have to preface this with confessions of bias, I absolutely love the subject matter of this series so I was easily sucked into this book after reading In The Dust of This Planet. This book sent more chills down my spine than most horror fiction I’ve read. I was exposed to so much stuff I’ve never heard about before. Thacker does a lot of digging around obscure texts and finds interpretations with new implications in well known texts and philosophers. The examination of John the Cross, Dionysius the Areopagite, Meister Eckhart, the musings on the contradiction of black as a symbol for no-thing. There was so much stuff here that stuck with me. I admit that when it came down to the more dense parts I failed to follow it all. It’s very well written and there are sentences in this book that you could expand into ideas for some really good horror novels or movies. It’s not just entertaining and extremely interesting, the core of this book I suspect is the dread and terror of philosophers, things that ring more true than they dare to admit, lest they fall and face the blackness.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Aung Sett Kyaw Min

    This second installment in the Horror of Philosophy series is definitely more philosophically charged than the first one. Thacker takes us through the tradition of Darkness Mysticism and various typologies of darkness/blackness, the Kyoto's School's fascination with absolute nothingness (sunyata) and the Schopenhauer's reworking of the Kantian split as opposed to German Idealist double folding of the noumena in the phenomena and vice versa (Will or Will-to-Life as the inhuman drive within us). This second installment in the Horror of Philosophy series is definitely more philosophically charged than the first one. Thacker takes us through the tradition of Darkness Mysticism and various typologies of darkness/blackness, the Kyoto's School's fascination with absolute nothingness (sunyata) and the Schopenhauer's reworking of the Kantian split as opposed to German Idealist double folding of the noumena in the phenomena and vice versa (Will or Will-to-Life as the inhuman drive within us). What they all share is the audacious attempt to think beyond the limit of thought, bringing thought and by extension Philosophy to collapse on itself (hence the title of the series; horror of philosophy). Thacker has a deft handle on explication and is to be commended for creatively synthesizing and appropriating disparate intellectual traditions to craft a compelling narrative of Philosophy's own self-negation in the form of the suspension of "the principle of sufficient reason". The main stake of this volume is that thought may turn out to be only accidentally human and that the Will-to- knowledge, beholden only to its own terrifying rigor and implacable passion, pushes its host closer to the last midnight, of total, speculative and consummate annihilation.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lexi Turner

    Of the three volumes of Eugene Thacker's brilliant Horror of Philosophy series, Starry Speculative Corpse is perhaps the only one that faulters slightly in the face of his ambition. Based on the premise of "mis-reading" philosophy texts as horror stories, I feel sympathetic as someone who has written numerous essays with clearly set goals that, somehow, end up being un-met in favour of a more conservative, albeit successful pursuit of academic rigour, that what SSC ends up as looks suspiciously Of the three volumes of Eugene Thacker's brilliant Horror of Philosophy series, Starry Speculative Corpse is perhaps the only one that faulters slightly in the face of his ambition. Based on the premise of "mis-reading" philosophy texts as horror stories, I feel sympathetic as someone who has written numerous essays with clearly set goals that, somehow, end up being un-met in favour of a more conservative, albeit successful pursuit of academic rigour, that what SSC ends up as looks suspiciously like a history of philosophy, more than a horror. I'll be the first to admit, my background in Heidegger, Schopenhauer and the apophatic theology of St John of the Cross et al was mostly lacking before now, but I still don't see how much of Thacker's analysis here could be considered a "mis-reading," certainly in the pursuit of darker territory than that of the provenance of the original texts. Nevertheless, it is a history of philosophy both insightful (I avoid, with obvious reason, to describe it as "illuminating) and thoroughly legible. It covers a lot of ground in relatively few pages and has inspired me to spend much more of my time engaging with mediaeval dark mysticism, so that's only good. Arguably the heaviest of the three on the central theme of philosophy's doomedness-to-failure in relation to what Thacker terms the "horizon of thought," SSC achieves an analysis of the "horror of philosophy" as Thacker defines it, even if not in the somewhat sexier notion of horror that is addressed more in vols. 1 and 3. In that regard, Tentacles Longer Than Night provides a certain "relief" one might suggest, returning to Lovecraftian (etc) territory, but SSC remains a necessary, nay vital, read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nick Nordlinger

    Those, like me, who are attracted to Thacker for his meta-analyses of horror fiction will find this second edition to his Horror of Philosophy a bit tricky, as it wades deep in theory with little fiction to grasp on to. Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Kant are some of the names most discussed. The book functions as a sort of poetic ouroboros, constantly acknowledging its ironic existence as a discussion of the philosophy of negating philosophy. The chief focus of this book, much like its Those, like me, who are attracted to Thacker for his meta-analyses of horror fiction will find this second edition to his Horror of Philosophy a bit tricky, as it wades deep in theory with little fiction to grasp on to. Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Kant are some of the names most discussed. The book functions as a sort of poetic ouroboros, constantly acknowledging its ironic existence as a discussion of the philosophy of negating philosophy. The chief focus of this book, much like its predecessor "In the Dust of this Planet", is pessimism, both ethical and metaphysical. In sum, what Thacker refers to as "Cosmic Pessimism," or the negation of all existence (even Descartes' "cogito ergo sum") is the focus of the book. I do love Thacker's style, and the way that he manages to paint an image of the destruction of all living matter in the Universe in a beautiful light (the titular "corpse") but this is definitely an esoteric book for the critical theorist and the dialectical gothic.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Jane

    This book was much denser than volume one of Thacker's Horror of Philosophy series. It retains the humour and wit of "In the dust of this planet," but the pop culture references are much fewer and far between. As someone who has not read primary sources by Plato, Decartes or Kant, I struggled to grapple with some of the theoretical concepts and approaches discussed by Thacker. This book asks a lot more of its readers than volume one did, and assumes a solid base knowledge of philosophy and it's This book was much denser than volume one of Thacker's Horror of Philosophy series. It retains the humour and wit of "In the dust of this planet," but the pop culture references are much fewer and far between. As someone who has not read primary sources by Plato, Decartes or Kant, I struggled to grapple with some of the theoretical concepts and approaches discussed by Thacker. This book asks a lot more of its readers than volume one did, and assumes a solid base knowledge of philosophy and it's key players. The discussion of the Kyoto school fascinated me, however, and did inspire me to look into the three thinkers introduced here: Nishida, Nishitani, Tanabe. Would have been grateful to have the subsection "A Very, Very, Very Short History of Philosophy," which comes at the start of the final chapter, earlier on in the book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    More cohesive and cogent than its predecessor “In the Dust of This Planet,” Thacker mines Western (and a little Eastern) philosophy for insights we typically associate with the horror genre. If you’re a fan of grimdark armchair philosophizing from writers like Thomas Ligotti, E.M. Cioran, and Schopenhauer this is essential reading. Suitably, the volume ends in the nowhere and nothing one might expect. It arrives there changed (or the same or both or neither).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    Slower reading than the first, but understandable A really interesting look at philosophers such as Nietzsche, Kant, and Schopenhauer. This book focuses much more on philosophy itself than the first volume of the trilogy, "In the Dust of Planet". As a result it's a bit slower reading, but even if you don't have much background in philosophy at all it is still approachable.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Less punchy and incisive than "In the Dust of This Planet" (though the title is equally strong), here we dance through Kant, Hegel and Schopenhauer, and the history of philosophy. Interesting, but it didn't jump out at me as much. Only pick it up if you enjoy reading philosophy. I did quite enjoy the section on darkness.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Baglan

    Thacker's "heretic" reading of Meister Eckhart's treatment of a single passage from Bible (Acts 9.8: "Paul rose from the ground and with open eyes saw nothing") is quite possibly the most horrifying thing I have ever read. Dehşet. "He saw nothing, that is God"

  11. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Villaseñor

    I love Eugene Thacker, he changed how I see the world. This book took me a while to read because it got dense in some parts, but it didn't stop me from loving it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Peck

    So much good Schopenhauer

  13. 4 out of 5

    ElanMorin

    душно

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alexander

    Moving away from the cultural and aesthetic themes that detailed the first volume of his ‘Horror of Philosophy’ series, Starry Speculative Corpse finds Eugene Thacker casting his dark and idiosyncratic gaze over the realm of philosophy proper. No longer witches, demons and back metal occupy the pages here, but instead arcane treatises on Being and becoming, existence and nothingness, negation and nihilism. Those who enjoyed Thacker’s free flowing and engaging style need not worry however - in Moving away from the cultural and aesthetic themes that detailed the first volume of his ‘Horror of Philosophy’ series, Starry Speculative Corpse finds Eugene Thacker casting his dark and idiosyncratic gaze over the realm of philosophy proper. No longer witches, demons and back metal occupy the pages here, but instead arcane treatises on Being and becoming, existence and nothingness, negation and nihilism. Those who enjoyed Thacker’s free flowing and engaging style need not worry however - in his hands, even the most mystifying of texts offer themselves up to his easy explication, serving as touchstones that propel the book into the deep, dark abysses of thought that Thacker so plainly enjoys. Divided up into three central chapters - on darkness, nothingness and negation, respectively - Thacker’s ‘heretical’ project is to ‘read works of philosophy as works of horror’, finding in the cracks and crevices of philosophy the resources by which to think the impossible thought of a world-without-us, a thought of abnegation that undoes itself in its very thinking. Spanning the gap from the first century darkness mysticism of Dionysius the Areopagite to the modern day speculative nihilism of Ray Brassier, Thacker treats philosophy not on its own terms, but in a light that aims to expose the futility that dwells at its heart. A futility that for Thacker, far from making philosophy a discipline to dismiss, instead makes it all the more interesting. Indeed, what Thacker finds in philosophy are the resources for a new kind of mysticism, one hinted at in his first volume but only properly pursued here: an a-theological mysticism that aims at the limit of the human, or rather what he terms the ‘un-human’ - that towards which we can only grasp at but never behold. In pursuit of this mysticism, it’s to negative theology that Thacker turns, the doctrine according to which God, transcending any human power of description or discernment, can only be spoken of in terms of what He is not. Reconfiguring the 'negative logic' at work this tradition, Thacker discards the God and instead displaces the 'unthinkable thought' from the realm of divinity to the World-Without-Us. Starry Speculative Corpse abounds with just such guerilla-style interventions into philosophy, with Thacker sweeping in, pulling out just what he needs, and leaving the remaining philosophical carrion to the birds. Thacker’s reflections on the 'Kyoto school' of Japanese philosophy are a similar case in point. Combining aspects of Buddhist philosophy with the phenomenological writings of Martin Heidegger, the school's adherents expounded a philosophical approach that proceeded not from ‘Being’ - as the tendency of most classical Western philosophy - but from ‘Nothingness’ or rather, 'sunyata’ (‘emptiness’). I’ll leave it to the prospective reader to follow the twists and turns of logic that follow from such a philosophical starting point, but suffice to say that like his treatment of the theologians, Thacker wrings out some equally compelling conclusions from a similarly neglected strain of philosophy. Throw all this in together with a set of mediations on Schopenhauer and pessimism, and Starry Speculative Corpse certainly delivers on the promise of its name. Like the previous volume, I wouldn’t look to this book for a set of tightly argued theses or lines of sustained argument, but if you’re keen to have your thoughts taken down paths little-traveled by virtue of their darkness, Thacker is a guide you’d want by your side.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mjhancock

    Call it a 3.5. Thacker continues the work he set out in the first volume of Horror of Philosophy, exploring the concepts that poke at the edge of human understanding, or even our ability to understand that they exist--the world without us, as the first volume would put it. That first volume explored these topics through a mix of philosophy and popular culture; while Thacker promises to return to that formula for the third book, the second is more firmly focused on philosophy. This, Call it a 3.5. Thacker continues the work he set out in the first volume of Horror of Philosophy, exploring the concepts that poke at the edge of human understanding, or even our ability to understand that they exist--the world without us, as the first volume would put it. That first volume explored these topics through a mix of philosophy and popular culture; while Thacker promises to return to that formula for the third book, the second is more firmly focused on philosophy. This, understandably, maybe a deal breaker for some people. It wasn't for me, but while I have some experience with reading philosophy, I'll admit some of this was slow going, and I certainly found it less engaging than the first volume. The book is divided into five chapters, each with its own focus and subset of philosophers. The first chapter charts out the basic thrust of the book, framing it around the philosophy of Descartes, Kant, and Nietzsche. The second chapter explores philosophical approaches to darkness and blackness, featuring Dionysius the Areopagite, Angela of Foligno, and George Bataille, among others. Chapter three is on the philosophy of nothingness, utilizing Heidegger, Satre, and Badiou before eventually turning to the Japanese buddhists of the Kyoto school. Chapter 4 is about changing one's mindset about life, in conceiving of it as a negation over an abundant founthead, with Schopenhauer as main source (Thacker could have relied more overtly on his previous book on the subject, After Life, but resisted.) The fifth and final chapter presents a brief overview of Western philosophy and the book, before presenting a pessimism as an alternative, or perhaps adjunct, to philosophy's realism. I think if I had to point to a favorite chapter, it would be the fourth, although a great part of that preference is my preference for Schopnhauer's brand of grumpy philosophy; Thacker characterizing him as a curmudgeon is just about right. In general, Thacker is to be commended for presenting an astonishing array of philosophy in so compact and understandable a form. My biggest complaint about the book, however, is that it falls into the same sort of trap that philosophers in object oriented ontology used to fall into. In focusing on the matters that are literally inconceivable to humans, Thacker tends to lump all humanity together, which can erase some very real differences. The elephant in the room for chapter two, for example, is that an overview on how Western philosophy treated darkness and blackness never talks about race. I understand that Thacker's subject means he can't go too far in this direction, but a nod towards it would have done a lot to demonstrate the utility of his brand of philosophy. All in all, it's a good book, but there's a sense to it that it's the vegetables that must be eaten because they're good for us before getting to the final volume.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Roger Whitson

    This book dragged, particularly when Thacker talked about modern philosophy and medieval mysticism. His discussion of Buddhist philosophy was fascinating, but all too short. I also enjoyed his pseudo-Nietzsche chapter at the end. But I sometimes worry that "Horror of Philosophy" will be the Hobbit Trilogy of Thacker's oeuvre: a three-book manifesto that could have been better if it were written in one book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Brackenbury

    Really bogs down in the middle, and I was disappointed to see it more or less abandon the connection between horror fiction and philosophy to focus almost entirely on the latter. Just started volume three, though, and that seems to veer back to fiction again.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I thought this was a much stronger work than In the Dust of a Planet was. I think that Thacker could have expounded his thoughts on nothing a little more with the Kyoto school of philosophers and perhaps even went farther back into Eastern thought with some Daoist musings.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    This was a dense but highly rewarding read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Vena

    forse, così sento, è pure più bello di In the Dust of This Planet.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Terence

    My artwork is featured in this. But I really liked it, in fact I may have enjoyed it more than Vol. 1 - the idea of the void/ the abyss was very compelling. Looking forward to volume 3.

  22. 5 out of 5

    David

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rps

  24. 4 out of 5

  25. 5 out of 5

    Keith

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gaius

  27. 5 out of 5

    rob

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nich Eggert

  29. 5 out of 5

    Indigo Blue

  30. 4 out of 5

    Trond

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