Note: We are pleased to offer this brief break in our hiatus to bring to you a post by our lead editor, Esther Wolfe. Keep an eye out for the abstract to her article later in the summer.
The following post is by Morgan Blair, an undergraduate from the University of Louisville, and it deals with the concept of the uncanny as it is utilized by writer Georg Heym and director Robert Wiene. The uncanny itself is an important facet to consider when studying the paranormal, particularly ghosts and hauntings. Morgan’s post provides an intriguing look at Freud’s theory and presents an understanding that merits further consideration.
Written by Rebekah Hobbs
Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) was written almost a century ago, but it still inspires fascination for romantics. The tragic storyline is a cautionary tale that tells us that dreams are unsubstantial, and must not be held too long. The story is still powerful because people in the modern era are not haunted solely by ghosts and spirits, but by their own failings and dashed dreams as well.
Gatsby is haunted by his desire for a life with Daisy, so he attempts to recreate the past. “Can’t repeat the past? …Why of course you can!” he says to Nick (124). But his attempts to attract Daisy are not purely the result of love—they stem from the deeper sense of self that Gatsby lost when he allowed himself to fall in love with her. “He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never again romp like the mind of God” (125). He is haunted, not because Daisy fails to meet his gilded expectations of her, but because he spent his years and striving on a dream that had stretched too far, at the cost of his potential for greatness, for all the things that a mind like the “mind of God” can achieve.
Gatsby is nothing more than a tragic striving, haunted by the very past that he claims can be repeated, and subsequently overcome. Modern life moves forward, “material without being real” (179), so we assign less importance to spirits of the dead, and instead focus on our desires and motivations, allowing our regrets more room to haunt us.
F. Scott Fitzgerald. “The Great Gatsby.” New York: Scribner. 2011. Electronic Book.
Written by Morgan Aprill
“A sudden bell rang in the house—the prayer-bell. Instantly into our alley there came, out of the berceau, an apparition, all black and white. With a sort of angry rush—close, close past our faces—swept swiftly the very NUN herself! Never had I seen her so clearly. She looked tall of stature, and fierce of gesture. As she went, the wind rose sobbing; the rain poured wild and cold; the whole night seemed to feel her” (392).
Written by Rebekah Hobbs
Since the evolution of the genre, Gothic writers have employed subtle language cues to create a sense of uncanniness. In the Western tradition, an unnatural use of language often proves that something is not as it should be, that the reader has cause for alarm. In “The Tomb” (1922), H.P. Lovecraft creates uncanny effects with references to ancient languages and texts and a general knowledge of things that should have receded from the collective unconscious long ago. In The Turn of the Screw (1898), Henry James achieves haunting effects within the structure of the narrative itself by writing in a way that summons more questions than it answers.
Written By Rachael Heffner
Society has an obsession with being scared. We constantly look for scary movies that are playing at the theatre or a haunted house to go to in the middle of October, desperate for that next scare. In E.J. Clery’s book, The Rise of Supernatural Fiction, she explores the correlation between the supernatural and consumerism. In her study, Clery concludes that when it comes to consumerism, the upper class sets the standard. The upper class is known for having a higher education, too; therefore, middle and working class members may conclude that whatever the upper class is known to believe or study must be true.
Written By Ashley Starling
“You’ll finish [reading] and that will be that, until a moment will come, maybe in a month, maybe a year, maybe even several years. […] Out of the blue, beyond any cause you can trace, you’ll suddenly realize things are not how you perceived them at all. For some reason, you will no longer be the person you believed you once were. […] And then the nightmares will begin.” – Johnny Truant, introduction to House of Leaves