Horror, religion, Lovecraft, sleep paralysis, creativity, reality: Matt Cardin interviewed

Horror, religion, Lovecraft, sleep paralysis, fantasy, science fiction, consciousness, creativity, reality, the dystopian hazards of an uber-online lifestyle — these are all topics broached in an extensive new interview with Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin by fellow idea-driven horror writer Ted E. Grau at The Cosmicomicon. (Ted is also, of course, the author of The Extinction Papers for The Teeming Brain.)

The interview is extremely philosophical, personal, and lengthy. Here’s a taste:

As for why I ultimately started writing fiction, and why it has always been of the dark variety, I think interrogating the question itself shows that it is, at bottom, unanswerable. In fact, interrogating the question opens up a vast, murky, electrifying, terrifying realm of unknown and unknowable realities that hold all of us perpetually in their grip. This is along the lines of the thought experiment that Robert Anton Wilson recommends in, I think, Prometheus Rising, or maybe it’s in Quantum Psychology — and anyway, he borrowed it from Aleister Crowley, who said he got it from somebody else — where you stop, as in really and truly, for a long pause, and you engage in a deep questioning of the reasons for why you’re right there, in that location and circumstance, at that precise moment, doing what you’re doing and thinking what you’re thinking and feeling what you’re feeling. Keep pressing the question “Why, why, why?” to each and every answer that presents itself, and if you really dig down and follow this backward trail of causation and justification, eventually you’ll find, not just as an intellectual matter but as a startling existential realization, that you have absolutely no idea. You don’t know, ultimately, why you’re right there, right then, doing that. In a sense, everything about your life is just arbitrary, just happening by itself, and any story you tell yourself to explain why stands as more of a rationalization than an explanation.

What’s more, those unknowable reasons — which also, pointedly, include the reasons for why you are who you are — shade directly into the unknowable reasons behind everything else. The impenetrable mystery that lies behind the entire universe, and that makes it be what it is and do what it does, is not something you can write off as abstract and distant and unimportant for daily life, because it happens to be the mystery of your very own being as well.

I think the fact that I’m the type of person who instantly and helplessly goes for the über-philosophical end of things even when nobody’s asking for it — as in, you know, the way I’m going on and on right now in answer to your reasonable and straightforward question — is linked to why I write, and to why my writing always inhabits dark territory … Where do innate qualities ultimately come from? Instantly, the mystery of human personhood is all up in our face, and for me this leads to inevitable ruminations about the metaphysical and ontological origins of individual selfhood and consciousness, and the ancient idea of the genius daemon that makes each person’s life and self be what it is, and the Zen koan where the master orders the student, “Show  me your original face, the one you had even before your parents were born.”

I could also mention the fact that I entered a very dark place late in college and an even darker one in the years following it, a development abetted by a kind of spontaneous initiatory experience into certain nightmarish things by the onset of sleep paralysis attacks that were accompanied by visionary attacks by a demonic-seeming entity.  This permanently and profoundly altered me, and set the tone and direction for what I write. Or maybe it just realized what was always wanting to be written through me anyway.

– Ted E. Grau, “TC Blog Review & Interview: Matt Cardin Unleashes His Teeming Brain, Featuring New Monthly Column ‘The Extinction Papers,'” The Cosmicomicon, September 20, 2012

Image: “The Nightmare” (1781) by John Henry Fuseli, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

About The Teeming Brain

The Teeming Brain is a blog magazine exploring the intersection of religion, horror, the paranormal, creativity, consciousness, and culture. It also tracks apocalyptic and dystopian trends in technology, politics, ecology, economics, the arts, education, and society at large.

Posted on September 21, 2012, in Arts & Entertainment, Psychology & Consciousness, Religion & Philosophy, Writing & Creativity and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Fantastic read. Thanks for sharing, Matt.

  2. We seem to have a very similar reading history. When you mention a book or author, it is often something I’m already familiar with, often even a favorite or major influence.

    I haven’t come across too many people in my life that I could say this about. In fact, I’m not sure I could say this to any great extent about anyone else I’ve met in my life, not even my book-loving life-long best friend.

    That said, our respective experiences diverge in other ways. For example, I’ve never been harassed by a demonic-seeming entity as far as I know, although I have had a few unusual experiences that maybe were similar.

    • As I’ve read your comments here and read some of your own blog posts and articles over the years, I’ve noticed the same striking parallelisms as well, Benjamin. I share something similar with Jonathan Padgett, creator of Thomas Ligotti Online. He and I were astonished when we met online in the late 1990s and started discovering the spooky similarities between us. Then we found we were born seven days apart. Spookier still. Who knows what these synchronicities mean. But I’m inclined to think they’re not just meaning*less*, especially since meaning is a function of the very minds/selves that notice and are moved by all of these things.

  3. Really great to hear the perspective of other people who have been forever changed by (and taken inspiration from) sleep paralysis. My last sleep paralysis experience a few years ago actually involved an entity similar to Lovecraft’s Yog-Sothoth, I didn’t actually discover Lovecraft until some time later but the similarity was enough to intrigue the hell out of me!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>