Unspeakable Trash: Heidegger, Philip K. Dick, and the Philosophy of Horror

Part of the Palgrave Frontiers in Philosophy of Religion book series (PFPR)


Apophatic thought has, from the beginning, involved an esoteric tendency: a prohibition on communication enforcing the boundary between sacred and profane. This chapter argues, however, that there is also an exoteric apophaticism: a nothingness, silence, or even unspeakable horror haunting and shadowing everyday life. Starting from a reading of Being and Time, Adler contrasts Heidegger’s formal indication with a “material indication”: whereas formal indication makes it possible to show possibility as possibility, material indication exposes an event without relation to possibility. Yet it is above all in the novel that we experience this event. After briefly considering Apuleius and Flaubert, Adler turns to Philip K. Dick, arguing that his science fiction, first published as “trashy” pulp fiction, involves a radical experience of an exoteric apophaticism. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the theoretical limits of the contemporary “philosophy of horror” of speculative realism, while pointing the way toward a phenomenology of “trashy literature.”

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yonsei UniversitySeodaemun-guRepublic of Korea

Personalised recommendations