Three Horizons of the Uncanny

The uncanny raises accretive connections across the areas in which we are working. It seems clear to us that the sensation referred to as ‘uncanny’ concerns the transition from familiar to the unfamiliar. This of course is the characteristic of the occult rupture. However the occult rupture does not exhaust the uncanny, hence here we put forward the three possible horizons for its manifestation.

i) The Ontic horizon: This occurs where some phenomena from within the ordinary contents of world changes from one into another -yet does not move outside of it e.g. I thought it was a stone until it moved.

ii) The Ontological horizon: This is the uncanniness of being-at-all. That is, a response to the sudden disclosure of the facticity of being which makes it appear suddenly strange and alien and prompts philosophical responses such as: ‘Why is there something other than nothing?’The sheer uncanniness that one is, that there are things and people and language. The first concerns the notion of beings as a whole, the second the experience of consciousness within being. Solipsistic concerns also come under this heading, these too give an ontological uncanny -a phantasy fueled by skepticism, the utterly incoherent possibility that there is somehow only me as an actually conscious being.

iii) The super-natural horizon: This is the uncanniness which the Tractatus often concerns itself with. All super-natural interventions (or the manifestation of them) make the world look suddenly uncanny. Synchronicity is again a powerful example of this kind of phenomena, though all telepathic, spiritual manifestations still unsettle a rationally perceived world into a suddenly irrational one. The problem with the notion of the super-natural horizon is a) that it is not necessary, it is possible to treat the world as if the magickal phenomena are rare but not something that doesn’t happen (are essentially natural) and b) that they are not transcendental illusions but rather aspects of reality that we do not as yet possess the abilities to comprehend. Note the difference in the two rational approaches: one says that when we experience the super-natural we are deluded and there is a rational world which underpins it; the second says when we experience the super-natural, whilst it is possible there is a solid world explanation (a creaking floorboard that was a ‘ghost’), there is also the possibility we do not understand reality sufficiently to explain it yet there is still some unknown force in operation here. The latter option is still rational because it essentially subscribes to the principle of sufficient reason. So even if there is an extra unexplained aspect to the phenomena we still speculate that there must be a reason for this.

This gives us a kind of Kantian sense of the power (or hubris) of reason, for we feel even in the face of the utterly strange that comprehension is still a possibility here. What does comprehension here mean? Only this: that we can speak of the criteria for the conditions of the event in such a way that someone else can understand them.




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