Mad speculation and absolute inhumanism: Lovecraft, ligotti, and the weirding of philosophy

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


How does one redefine the boundary between madness and rationality? This is the question that launches Ben Woodard on a discussion of the methods for accessing the Absolute or what he refers to as the Great Outdoors. Immanuel Kant’s theoretical framework with its “legalistic” norms is the first target of his criticism, which argues that Kant’s bulwark shielding rationality from madness is untenable. Kant had “circled his wagons” against madness in order to clearly distinguish philosophical speculation from the ravings of a madman, but that defense deprived philosophy of the capacity to describe reality as it is. Speculative realism positions itself as an alternative to Kant that holds out the promise of access to the Great Outdoors; therefore it must somehow distinguish philosophy from madness. Rather than indulging in the “mad speculation” or theoretical permissiveness of some followers of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in order to leave the narrow limits of reason behind, Woodard applies the thinking of Thomas Ligotti and Howard Lovecraft to make a two-pronged attack on anthropocentrism. Lovecraft represents a “shoggothic materialism” that energizes the horror of formless matter, while Ligotti represents a “ventriloquist idealism” highlighting the inherent horror of having a consciousness. Weird fiction then is no longer a literary excuse for madness that justifies pursuit of after stunning imagery at the expense of meaning, but is instead an important theoretical tool for grounding the external as such. What is ultimate is not attainable through altered states of consciousness or otherwise distorting language or bodily being. To the contrary, it is reached by rather tedious work with a text which is itself already positioned in the Outdoors with respect to the reader.

Seiten (von - bis)203-228
Anzahl der Seiten26
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.01.2019