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In the Dust of This Planet

(Horror of Philosophy #1)

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,965 ratings  ·  206 reviews
"Thacker's discourse on the intersection of horror and philosophy is utterly original and utterly captivating..." -- Thomas Ligotti, author of The Conspiracy Against the Human Race

The world is increasingly unthinkable, a world of planetary disasters, emerging pandemics, and the looming threat of extinction. In this book, Eugene Thacker suggests that we look to the genre o
Paperback, 170 pages
Published August 16th 2011 by Zero Books
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Claus Appel I am convinced that the poem is written by Thacker, for a number of reasons:
1. Most Google hits for the poem's title reference Thacker.
2. It looks lik…more
I am convinced that the poem is written by Thacker, for a number of reasons:
1. Most Google hits for the poem's title reference Thacker.
2. It looks like his style.
3. The bibliographic reference is obviously bogus. ("Sonia Haft-Greene" was the name of H. P. Lovecraft's wife.)
4. The poem is, IMO, so devoid of poetic meric that I cannot imagine why anyone would "circulate" it.(less)
The Secret of Ventriloquism by Jon PadgettIn the Dust of This Planet by Eugene ThackerSanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass by Bruno SchulzThe Grimscribe's Puppets by Joseph S. Pulver Sr.Furnace by Livia Llewellyn
55 books — 14 voters
The Conspiracy Against the Human Race by Thomas LigottiThe King in Yellow and Other Horror Stories by Robert W. ChambersGalveston by Nic PizzolattoThe Stranger by Albert CamusTime is a Flat Circle by Melissa Milazzo
HBO's True Detective
121 books — 104 voters

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 ·  1,965 ratings  ·  206 reviews

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Apr 04, 2012 rated it liked it
I was attracted to this book by a glowing quote from Thomas Ligotti, one of my favourite modern horror writers, who described it as: ‘an encyclopedic grimoire instructing us in the varieties of esoteric thought and infernal diversions that exist for the reader's further investigation, treating us to a delightful stroll down a midway of accursed attractions that alone are worth the ticket of this volume’. This description is a little misleading to say the least, since the author doesn’t aim at an ...more
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
An interesting look at some philosophical themes -- essence, reality, negation, alterity, myth -- with horror and occult themes used as a framework. The work deserves a star, simply for its ambition, given its experimental structures and unconventional ways of organizing its ideas. There are compelling conceptual turns and clever treatments, so it's certainly worth a shot, especially for fans of horror and theory, speculative realism, etc.

I would have rated this work higher, but the ideas didn't
Daniel Roy
This book made my skin crawl and my mind expand. It's a dense, sometimes impenetrable work of philosophy that discusses the Unthinkable, so obviously it's not going to work very well as beach reading. But if you give it your attention and an open mind, there are some seriously creepy-cool concepts about the Universe to be gleaned here.

I heard about this book through a fascinating Radiolab episode about the book's improbable underground cult status. Thomas Ligotti has heaped praise on it, and the
Tobias Wonderland
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have no idea what this was about but I liked it
Jan 06, 2017 added it
Shelves: 2017
Whether my disappointment in this will prove a function of my expectation, only time and renewed reading-neither of which I am at present prepared to invest-will tell. Much of the subject matter is compelling, but Thacker's treatment of that subject matter is made in the most awful kind of academic prattling. This book reads like your buddy's PhD dissertation he thrust on you, by which I mean that it is not alive. This is philosophy not in the wild, but philosophy confined to a zoo.
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
What would it mean to speak of a ‘horror of philosophy’ instead of a 'philosophy of horror’? With this question, Eugene Thacker begins his weird and wonderful romp through the hallowed halls of horror, from the nine circles of Dante’s hell, to the living dead of contemporary cinema, topped off with some mediations on murderous mists and ominous ooze for good measure. But why this gallery of gruesome? Well, Thacker suggests, it’s because horror is uniquely suited to expose the limits of thought, ...more
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosopy
Recommended to me by a friend during a conversation about True Detective. Apparently, Rust's character took a lot of inspiration from the book, so of course I had to read it. The book discusses our relationship to the unthinkable world (in the philosophical, Kantian sense) in its proximity to the concept of horror. In as much as Kant (in his aggressively structured way) said we can't think about things without imposing human categories on them, this book attempts to think through to it, as these ...more
Mary Slowik
Oct 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: College students & doomsayers
Review the unreviewable. Rate the unrateable.

This is an incredibly ambitious book of philosophy, in that it is quite literally trying to "think the unthinkable," or to establish a kind of mysticism / belief system that is without any human (anthropocentric) basis whatsoever. In other words, to create a framework for interpreting reality from an increasingly remote point of view... that of the planet, of the cosmos, of nothingness itself-- which is nothing, therefore it cannot even be an 'itself,
David Zerangue
Oct 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I have made periodic commentary as I read each section of the book. I broke it up into four sections so that I could manage this intellectually. Otherwise, it would have been just a bunch of words without meaning. There is nothing easy about this book. It is hard from the concepts posed as well as the prose employed. Sometimes it read like a thesis (Sections 1 and 3). Other times it was quite readable (Sections 2 and 4). Eugene Thacker brings to focus what is normally fleeting thoughts for most ...more
Apr 16, 2017 added it
Shelves: theeeeeeory
To call it "philosophy" is frankly misleading. In fact, its arguable companion piece, Ligotti's Conspiracy Against the Human Race, despite it being the work of a literary author, offers something far closer to a systematic philosophical system than Thacker does. Thacker simply wants to show the complex ways in which the unknowable other manifests itself in thought, whether through contemporary genre fiction, or through the midnight nail-bitings of Saint John of the Cross. While it's not bad -- I ...more
This book was another on the library’s new acquisition shelf to draw my eye. Actually, the publisher caught my eye, as I tend to enjoy Zer0 books but they rarely make their way into libraries. Then the blurb began, ‘The world is increasingly unthinkable - a world of planetary disasters, emerging pandemics, and the looming threat of extinction.’ How could I possibly resist? I was to find, however, that ‘In The Dust of This Planet’ (a glorious title) dwelt more in the past than the present. It con ...more
Redundant as philosophy (Mostly reheated Conspiracy Against the Human Race leftovers), somewhat interesting as literary criticism, wonderful as a catalog of weird books, essays, etc.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
The "Cosmic Pessimism" expressed in this book is a lot like the ideas explored so eloquently in Thomas Ligotti's "The Conspiracy Against the Human Race." In fact I doubt most readers would really need to read both. I would personally recommend Ligotti's book over this one, it's going to be more interesting, to-the-point and frankly makes a bigger impact on the reader. But Thacker's work tackles a lot of the same issues from different angles.

The basic idea of "Cosmic Pessimism" as I read it, is t
Jan 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was when Thacker dipped significantly into (and then stayed in) the subject of Black Metal that I realized I needed the next and final volumes rather than this one. While I did enjoy it, some of the connections were a little thin/thinly constructed. I noticed the same sort of comment from another reader--the references to some stunningly esoteric ideas were interesting, but he more often than not failed to make tight connections between those references, his examples, and the larger positions ...more
May 08, 2016 rated it liked it
"Thy mind o man! . .must search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity- thou must commune with God."

-Joseph Smith (or was it H.P. Lovecraft?)

I kept thinking of that quote as I read this book. it is both beautiful and horrific. An adult prostrates himself before God the silent mountain. In awe and reverence. He communes vs attempts to communicate. God sits with him like a father sits with his dying cancer riddled child. His silence does not denote an absence but
David Walsh
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
An odd book, and it certainly starts in a peculiar manner, debating the meaning of "black" in "black metal". A topic I would struggle to devote genuine interest. Nonetheless as it progresses, and perhaps as the reader develops a familiarity with Thacker's rhythm, some great insights emerge.

" occult philosophy today the world simply reveals its hiddenness to us."

" era almost schizophrenically poised between religious fanaticisms and a mania for scientific hegemony..."

"What if "horror" h
Oliver Brackenbury
Nov 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the third book I've read that was in some way connected to True Detective, but it was actually hearing it endorsed by Warren Ellis and listening to an episode of Radiolab ( about the strange story around the book's cover ending up in a Jay-Z/Beyonce video that pushed me over the edge.

Only a few pages in, I pulled out a highlighter and a pen to make notes along the way. This is a great book, but it's also a very dense one that makes little attempt
C. Varn
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thacker's knack for arcana and esoterica can be a little much here, as other reviewers have noted, a passing knowledge of middle demonology helps. Thacker's use of horror as a entry way into the the profoundly unhuman, and a good means against anthropocentrism. His use of Lovecraft and Bataille is quite admirable and while the neologism can be a little clear, they are much more interesting than a lot of the Derridian philosophy of the 1980s/1990s. Furthermore, for a philosophy book, this book is ...more
Andrew Nolan
Oct 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Good, easy to follow simple pessimistic philosophy text. It seems to be constructed of some pieces that were initially written as standalone work, which means certain sections feel like they're reaching a little/ aren't entirely in sync with the books overall narrative arch.

The last chapter is specious at best and to me does not pass the "so what?" test that needs to be applied to academic writing. At worst it makes me question the validity of everything that came before it.

Curious to see wher
Vrixton Phillips
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's certainly thought-provoking, but it took me such a long time to read, I couldn't tell you what it's about beyond "horror" "philosophy" and the various combinations of the two...
from a Scholastic perspective, at that. Or at least he alludes to Scholasticists a lot.
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Why is there no ten star rating? This book demands the creation of a tenth star rating.
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, horror
This book has a gained a small measure of notoriety because its cover appeared in a few places in pop culture and because professional moron Glenn Beck singled it out as a destructive force in American culture. However I can’t imagine many people reading this -- it is essentially a short work of philosophy that looks at how twentieth and twentieth-first century horror (in fiction, films, and music) might help us comprehend the unthinkable world we now face: the world that might be: the world aft ...more
May 04, 2018 rated it liked it
there's interesting stuff in here, but I'm left wondering, as always when I read speculative realism and adjacent areas of thought (tbh even more so here than in other places), what we should make of the corpus of texts the speculative realists focus on.

the glaring absence of the racial connotation of the word "black" in the discussion of black metal was particularly striking, especially in conjunction with (of course) the use of Lovecraft. note 3 refers the reader to "Facts Concerning the late
Oct 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: despair
This is less a philosophy book in the traditional sense, and more a diffident dance with thoughts on nihilism, strangeness and occult. There are some interesting ideas and references here and there, and I often felt as if Thacker was on the cusp of arriving at something profound after engaging with different concepts, but that moment never arrived. For some bizarre reason, he never probes deep enough into any of the concepts he introduces. However, I would recommend the introductory chapter and ...more
Ben Brewski
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Where to start with this? I liked Thacker’s academic interest in horror as an intellectual idea worthy of philosophy and felt a strong urge to read the next page. Part of this is my own interest in horror, nihilism, and the darkness motif found in christian mysticism.

all that to say: Thacker is a good place to start if you’re interested in any of the above items. However, i must admit i was disappointed in Thacker’s conclusions (more like assumptions) about religion and the transcendent. Another
Tariq Fadel
Nov 23, 2018 rated it liked it
interesting topic but somewhat lengthy and somewhat boring. I believe that the author applied psychoanalysis on magic. Why do people believe in such things as demons and spells and sorcery? Basically we fear contradiction. Aren't zombies defined as the living dead!
This turned out to be more about mysticism (what ET intriguingly describes as a "dark mysticism") than I first thought it would. A turn that has now happened with more than a few books I've read in the past year, and in the end a pleasant alternative to some of the directions Dust might have gone from the starting provocations.

Some of the early sections are rough around the edges, as I believe some reviewers mentioned. They read like preparatory notes toward some more extensive work, which I loo
Cody Sexton
Jan 23, 2017 rated it liked it
It is increasingly difficult to comprehend the world in which we live and of which we are not a part. To confront this idea is to confront an absolute limit to our ability to adequately understand the world at all - an idea that has been a central motif of the horror genre for some time.
To confront the unthinkable, is to confront the limits of our ability to understand the world in which we live. When we do that, Thacker says, we come to a sobering realization: that there might not be a purpose
May 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Some interesting ruminations on pop culture and philosophical underpinnings of some horror media. However, this is largely about the limits of Philosophy--the way it collapses into absurdity and semantic mazes when it approaches the unknowable, the unthinkable. Where Philosophy gets lost in abstraction trying to explain the horrific, horror media can simply SHOW us what those things look like. This is what I took to be the 'horror of philosophy' in the title. Thacker is aware of this and has som ...more
I think what Thacker is trying to do (express something like *actual world-without-perception nihilism*) is an ambitious task and by doing it through horror fiction this becomes much less Jargon Laden (if you don't believe me read Nihil Unbound which is extremely dense and working on the same thematic). Honestly, it's a bit more "pop" than "super dense" but i'm i guess a specialist *shrug* and i think it was a really enjoyable read (about 5 hours) although it would be nice if all 3 volumes were ...more
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Eugene Thacker, author, philosopher and associate professor of Media Studies and Film at New School for Public Engagement and Liberal Studies at The New School for Social Research, has written several books focusing on nihilism, philosophy and media theory.

Other books in the series

Horror of Philosophy (3 books)
  • Starry Speculative Corpse (Horror of Philosophy, #2)
  • Tentacles Longer Than Night (Horror of Philosophy, #3)

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20 likes · 17 comments
“We have to entertain the possibility that there is no reason for something existing; or that the split between subject and object is only our name for something equally accidental we call knowledge; or, an even more difficult thought, that while there may be some order to the self and the cosmos, to the microcosm and macrocosm, it is an order that is absolutely indifferent to our existence, and of which we can have only a negative awareness.” 20 likes
“Even though there is something out there that is not the world-for-us, and even though we can name it the world-in-itself, this latter constitutes a horizon for thought, always receding just beyond the bounds of intelligibility.” 14 likes
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