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Why So Horrifying? Supernatural Fiction and The World

There are two reasons for this, I think. One is my ever-deepening religious sense. This doesn't mean I now believe that angels dance on the heads of pins or that the right prayer said in the right way will fetch you a million bucks. But I have begun to experience a moral logic to life that extends beyond life, an understanding that the good and evil we choose to do exists on a continuum of which birth and death are only a part.

As atheist scientists try harder and harder to explain away man's altruism and spiritual striving with fanciful evolutionary just-so stories, I — and an increasing number of other thinkers and writers besides — am beginning to understand that what these scientists are saying is not scientific at all and doesn't really make much sense.

As a writer of what I hope are thrilling tales, I find it almost impossible to represent this spiritual idea of life without resorting to the uncanny. I think a lot of the audience is feeling this as well.

And the other reason I and others are increasingly turning to supernatural stories is that the natural world is becoming so outlandish that, even without spirituality, it has begun to seem sort of uncanny in itself. Terrorists mesmerized by a seventh century superstition are developing the capability to end human life — and it's considered bigotry to say them nay. Sex, which once was an important private interaction between human beings, has become a matter of ubiquitous imagery, assaulting the senses while containing about as much emotion as an electric jolt to the brain's pleasure center. Journalists and intellectuals have replaced the search for truth with an ongoing attempt to impose a narrative, turning the ever-present voices of media into a cacophony of competing lies.

In a world of such globalized danger, sensory assault and omnipresent deception, is it any wonder we discharge our burgeoning anxieties with tales of zombie apocalypse, vampire seduction and an ordinary world that is not what it seems?

So now I've given two reasons why I and other artists and audiences are increasingly turning to supernatural tales:  a rebirth of true religion and the explosive extension of human insanity through technological means. But perhaps these are really two sides of the same reason. Perhaps there is a growing sense in the zeitgeist that the world is on the brink of either great beauty or vast destruction or possibly both.

And only tales of the supernatural can express both the glory we anticipate and the gnawing fear we feel.