Stagnation Horror


“The lake…lies stagnant…where the river…left it to die…”
-Alan Moore, The Saga of the Swamp Thing #39

“We can not continue thinking about the aesthetics of horror as an exclusive feature of the fantasy genre, because no work that is realistic today can ignore that horror has become an essential element of contemporary culture.”
-Germán Sierra, “Welcome to the shadows”

Stagnation turns waters to slime, where malaria and Leptospira sprout. Stagnant waters become nest to millions of tiny, delicate vampires. Plague spreaders.

Stagnation derives horror from the abominable turned mundane through overexposure. The natural byproduct of mass market jeeps covered in Zombie Defense Team decals and serial killers as television protagonists. Universal streaming access to unsimulated chainsaw executions. Suicide on webcam. Budd Dwyer’s cultural significance long eclipsed. Wars fought via satellite from a swivel chair. Atrocity troped and made banal. The mainstreaming of Apocalypse Culture.

Stagnation is Cosmic Horror’s reflection. Where the latter centers the universe’s indifference to us, Stagnation is our numbness to that indifference; a numbness so powerful it swallows even transgression. Every recorded and conceived blasphemy rendered canonical. The sociopath’s elevated social capital. Within every home a torture garden, unhidden. Horror in the openness and absence of shame. A frat boy dressed for Halloween as Edmund Kemper. Digital shrines to Elliot Rodger. #hybristophilia.

Stagnation Horror is oppressively cyclical. Life’s vibration so subtle as to be mistaken for non-existence. The day following the end of history; a day expanding beyond traditional cycles until every mind has died. Stagnation is a boy clicking through endless snuff films, masturbating himself into oblivion, forever. It’s a man and his children glued to their tablets, laid across their metamorphosed wife-mother and feeding on her secretions, forever. Stagnation Horror is entering a room and choosing never to leave. It’s an endless scroll. Life reduced to clicks, likes, and shares. The horror of content.

Stagnation Horror is the longest duration of time occurring within the smallest amount of space.

Nothing is learned or gained. All change is superficial, if even that. Matter persists where sentience does not. Stagnation our final defining novelty.

The Unyielding – Gary J. Shipley (Eraserhead Press)


The world had never been as momentous as it purported to be. It was just objects coming in and going out of view.

A feverish and viscerally accurate depiction of sentient existence becoming unthinkable. At once grisly and resigned, Shipley’s narrative details the shifting of matter from one state to another, to another, and to another, ad infinitum. The Unyielding is a brief yet dense Ballardian nightmare, occupying space both surreal and utterly familiar.

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