‘Pity and horror are potentially enlivening emotions—they can wake us up and connect us to others. Yet we are not watching the play so much as characters in it. When we meet Phrike out in the world, we can and should acknowledge her presence in our lives—indeed, if we remain at all sensitive to one another, we cannot avoid her—and then reach past her to touch what we fear.’
Myself, I saw the numb pools amidst the shadows; myself, the wan gods and night in very truth. My frozen blood stood still and clogged my veins. Forth leaped a savage cohort… Then grim Erinys (Vengeance) shrieked, and blind Furor (Fury), and Horror (Phrike), and all the forms which spawn and lurk amidst the eternal shades.
Seneca, Oedipus (trans. Frank Justus Miller)
Horror is not a cognitive but a physiological or affective extra-discursive state of being. Not unlike the state of, say, feeling nausea, horror is a state of being, whose manifestation, based on the etymologies of the Greek φρiκη [phrike] and the Latin horror, may be described, as Adriana Cavarero writes, as “a state of paralysis, reinforced by the feeling of growing stiff on the part of someone who is freezing,” and further, through her mythological reference to the prototypical figure of horror, Medusa, as a state of “petrification”…
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