Home Alone in the Universe

Raven_Manet_B2

There is a terrible sensation I’ve experienced, often in dreams, sometimes in reveries, occasionally in the midst of a busy day. Absolute aloneness. There may be people around, but any connection with them is impossible. A void exists between me and them. At other times, it arrives with the experience of a darkened room, or a vacant nighttime parking lot, or simply a welling up of anxiety from inside while sitting watching television or listening to music. At these times, much as I may deny these experiences or run from them, I become convinced that: 1) Everything is absolutely without purpose; 2) My past has been merely a dream; 3) Something in existence is out to destroy me; 4) Not one thing in the universe makes sense; 5) There exists nothing from which I might derive any genuine pleasure, let alone joy; 6) I have been completely forgotten by all except for one – me, and this is the greatest curse; and 7) I am utterly alone with no possibility of ever connecting with another soul.

For me, this is the heart of horror. Look behind the entertaining mythological gods and old ones of Lovecraft, and this is what you will find. It is real terror, the inner dark touching the outer dark. Deep inside, there are monsters of which I am only vaguely aware, if at all. They torment me like Michelangelo’s demons, dragging me down into the abyss. Out there – nothing. Appearances. Objects. Things. Attracting and repelling each other. Separating and then colliding violently. And all of it winding down. Expending usable energy. Disintegrating. Decaying. And always calling out to me in my own voice. The only voice there is.

In spite of any laughable commitment I have convinced myself I have to truth, I miss the god that gave it all meaning and coherence, the god we (I) have killed. But such is the life of a deicide. What is done cannot be undone.

The Death of the Reader

Theorists of deconstruction often talk of the “death of the author.” They seem to mean that once a writing enters the world of readers, the author ceases to have any importance. For at that point, the writing exists as a thing with meaning only through the experiences, conscious as well as unconscious, of the reader. The author loses his or her author-ity to determine meaning. That is transferred to the reader.

Let us consider an opposite phenomenon – the death of the reader. For, dear reader, how do I know that you are even there? Given the vagaries of the Internet, it is likely you are not. But beyond this, it must be acknowledged that I write with no particular reader in mind. Here I sit typing words into a void. Wherever the words go is a matter of almost complete chance. I call out to that void and only hear my own voice echoing endlessly. Are you alive, dear reader?

Also, consider this perspective. My words describe dark places. If you join me, my hope is that you will go there and die over and over again. As I myself have died a thousand annhilations in the words of Nietzsche, Lovecraft, Borges, Cioran, Ligotti. Delicious, terrifying, rapturous deaths in the rotting soil of truth.

Yes. Each reader is dying. It really seems to be what all of our horror, existential angst, and dark nights of the soul are about. The death of the reader is an intolerable thought, but it is true. Like a child watching a monster movie, we cover our eyes but peek through our open fingers. Let us take down our hands and gaze unhindered upon the hideous truth.