The Semiotics of Terror
... fantasy structures are given by a society as maps ... by which a lost audience can find its way.
—JAMES TWITCHELL, DREADFUL PLEASURES, P. 87.
You must look through the surface of American art, and see the inner diabolism of the symbolic meaning.
-D. H. LAWRENCE 1
... all ghost stories presupposed a life after death ... no matter how scary the ghosts are, isn't that optimistic?
—STEPHEN KING 2
There are apparently two books in every American household—one of them is the Bible and the other one is probably by Stephen King.
—CLIVE BARKER 3
At the core of American cultic memory is a rhetoric shared by colonial theological text, civic ritual, and contemporary pulp horror formula. This rhetoric is partly habit, partly pragmatic social strategy: the duty of remembering the Holy, writing it into society as transcendent origin and authority. Traditionally, however, to speak of the Holy is to enter a realm of experience that could not be enunciated within earthly grammars; speaking the Holy, therefore, is to invoke the limits of human comprehension.