Archive for Sundry Musings

Alone with Ominous Spiders


Alone with Ominous Spiders


Alone with ominous spiders I sit,

Cocooned when imminent bliss is biting,

Their legs as many as starry nights lit

By thin-webbed tricksters with thirsts inciting.

A trip on a thread, vibration, I turn,

Feeling their tremors approaching the crux;

Center, intersection, I touch to learn

My fate, my end in the mother of flux.

Scurrying over my form, they quiver,

Pushing my skin through disgust into song,

Fantasy sounds, the keys to discover:

Monsters of sorrow got destiny wrong.

What is the sense in a spidery dream?

Solitary change yields pleasures extreme.

Horror as Banishment

An annoying question that intellectuals ignorant about the horror genre often think they’re terribly clever for asking: what is horror, anyway?

An annoying corollary: why would anyone read or write such stuff?

The dismissive, tautological answers, “scary stuff” and “because we like it,” are almost as annoying as the questions. My nerd-hat answer, which I write about at length in Gothic Realities, is that a work is Gothic horror if its primary object of representation is fear or the fearful. In other words, a book, movie, video game, or whatever is horror if it’s about scary stuff. It doesn’t have to be scary, but it has to be about stuff people generally consider to be scary. My nerd-hat answer is still that it’s scary stuff; I just add qualifications. My definition allows for the meaning of horror to change with shifting perceptions of what’s scary (as well as what is “real”).


This answer doesn’t do shit for the question why, though, and that’s because when I’m wearing my nerd hat, I feel pretty powerless to address causality, as inductive reasoning from empirical data—or drawing conclusions based on observations—rules purist (purest?) nerd logic. Inductive reasoning can allow you to see relationships between and among things, but you can’t infer causality from correlation (correlation does not equal causality is a mantra in some circles). Some people still claim lack of scientific “proof” for cigarettes causing cancer and humans causing global warming because proving causality is itself almost impossible, according to strictest nerd logic. I am therefore going to abandon said logic and enter a flawed a priori sketch mode that is scientifically and philosophically unjustifiable.

With apologies to Aristotle.


Claim: Horror in fiction is the banishment of horror from reality.




  • According to Jean-Paul Sartre, being precedes essence. However, fictional essence—a fixed text’s reason for being—precedes its being.
  • Fiction inverts the real.
  • The reason for fiction being precedes its being.
  • FIRST PRINCIPLE: Why horror fiction is must precede what horror fiction is.


  • Progress is the triumph of life.
  • Modernity as Enlightenment can thrive through medicine as an opponent of disease, diplomacy as an opponent of war, technologies as opponents of scarcity, and other strategic deployments of knowledge for progress.
  • Despite other deployments of power-knowledge, including some associated with the marginalization and relative invisibility of death, progress would also displace death from mainstream home and street-side spectacles to the hospital room or consensual equivalents.
  • SECOND PRINCIPLE: Horror has receded and must recede from reality.


  • Horror in reality is unpleasant for non-psychopathic percipients.
  • Horror in fiction to some degree is pleasant for many, if not most, percipients and is a feature of many, if not most, “great” works of art and literature, including non-fiction, holy texts, etc.
  • To explain the pleasure of horrific violence in art, classical theory of tragedy, which encompassed virtually all the darker arts, postulated that people experience catharsis, or a release of powerful negative emotions, when they experience violent art.
  • A preponderance of research has shown that catharsis does not occur, as people exhibit similar or greater degrees of negative emotion after experiencing violent art.
  • THIRD PRINCIPLE: Catharsis fails.


  • As a horror writer, I write down my nightmares. So did Mary Shelley. So did Bram Stoker and H.P. Lovecraft. And so on.
  • Readers identify with horror fiction. They see themselves in it. They don’t experience a release of feelings: if anything, they feel more.
  • A reader or a writer transfers her- or him-self into the fiction. Feelings are not released; they are moved through the process into the fiction.
  • The process is an individual movement from a mundane real to a horrific fiction.
  • The movement is controlled, the fiction fixed: the process is safe, keeping horror receded from reality, advancing life and the individual.
  • FOURTH PRINCIPLE: Horror fiction is an individual rite.



  • Despite the enormous mainstream success of some horror fictions, cultural authorities often pretend horror’s readers and writers are victims of a pathology.
  • Pathologizing the commonplace pleasure in horror fiction reveals the disconnection of the governing authority from the governed, reflecting on the pathology of the authoritarian perspective.
  • Horror fiction becomes the place to which horrors are banished and in which larger cultural horrors still deserving banishment see themselves reflected.
  • Collectively, cultures use horror for their most revolutionary critiques.
  • FIFTH PRINCIPLE: Horror fiction is a cultural ritual.


The Crocodile Woman: Emily Ritter [NON-FICTION]

Most education stuff I’ve moved to a different site, but this post is a transcript of someone who attacked me and admitted she’s a freakin’ monster, so I had to put it here.

NOTE TO EMPLOYERS: Never hire, and if you’ve done so, especially if you’re in education, IMMEDIATELY FIRE EMILY RITTER. The below reveals her attitude toward people with disabilities as well as her general ignorance about communication.

I am not merely giving this advice out of spite–although spite her I do–but because her attitude is, frankly, of the deep-seeded illegal sort likely to carry into the workplace, and the lack of understanding she shows of the rhetorical situation (Facebook-level public discourse as opposed to workplace-level discourse: the former favors frankness, at least in my audience, while the latter requires more politesse) and rhetorical purpose (hers to mock me, mine to expose her problematic attitudes through honed antagonism), as well as her increasing immaturity show a lack of professionalism ill-suited to teaching in what I believe is her field. I was assistant director of a world-class comp program for years. I know a thing or two.

Note that I have edited to get rid of Facebook junk. I am also offering clearly marked commentary. MS. RITTER ADDED THE CROCODILE PHOTOS WITHIN THE TRANSCRIPT AS SELF-PORTRAITS, at least metaphorically. The other images, including the croc below, are my additions for the sake of the blog.


Click to learn the origin of this frankly awesome image. The less inspiring true image of the monster in question is at the end.


Facebook_logo-2Andrew Cooper Update: Thanks to responders! I’d like more answers from the professoriate before I take action (although I don’t require it)–just don’t want to be accused rightly of not thinking things through before I make possible career-ending moves (which are likely deserved). [As none are responders here, I have deleted the list of names I tagged]

And feel free to comment, UofL College of Arts and Sciences, especially University of Louisville Humanities Ph.D. Program, as your Dean (Kimberly Leonard) and Director (Shelley Salamensky) are the alleged criminals in charge who maneuvered grad students into criminal choices. Tom Byers? What would you do with criminals at the place where you worked for so long? Or would you have me shut up and let the crimes go on?

ACADEMIC WORLD: I need your input. I believe that graduate students became involved in larger criminal activities of faculty and administration at a university. While I might grant that these adults did not fully understand that their obviously unethical actions were also criminal, and I assign more blame to those of higher rank who likely led them into the position where they chose criminal options, nevertheless, they are adults, and they made criminal choices. ERGO, do I treat them the same as the other criminals I am pursuing? Do I expose them as I would other academic criminals? Does being graduate students somehow give them shelter from the consequences of their criminal behavior? Conversely–do I have a moral obligation to inform the profession of these unethical, lawbreaking individuals before someone makes the mistake of hiring them? The answers do not seem obvious, although I lean toward treating all criminals equally.

whitehandsincuffsEmily Ritter · Friends with Tom Byers and 2 others

This showed up in my feed, and it piqued my curiosity. Could you clarify the allegations? If I’m reading you right, the university took one of your classes away and had another (unqualified) instructor teach it? Additionally, you seem to be alleging that the university disciplined you for inappropriate communications? Correct?


Andrew Cooper Emily Ritter, thanks for your interest. I am not going to rehearse the whole story here, but read here if you’re interested: FYI, I was never “disciplined” and was told the opposite in writing right until I got the termination notice. I am not publishing my 1500+ pages of incriminating evidence, as, like I said, I am working with the Attorney General’s office on a criminal investigation related to discrimination, retaliation, violation of open records laws, fraud, civil rights abuses (my own and students’), illegal intimidation and use of force (UofL police) and much more. I made no inappropriate communications, although they manufactured the illusion of them by taking some words out of context.

Honesty, or, Walking the Academic Plank


walk plank


Andrew Cooper Emily Ritter, this page establishes that much of what I claim is pretty much standard practice for UofL, a good school in some respects that just happens to be run by people I believe to be criminals:

The Criminal Aura of the University of Louisville


Emily Ritter · Friends with Alan Golding and 2 others

Aw. Thanks for your quick response. From the tone of your post, it sounded like UofL had grad students murdering hookers, laundering money through shady business practices, dealing illegal narcotics or engaging in otherwise serious criminal activities.

Andrew Cooper Tone is a weird thing. I wouldn’t bother asking if those types of crimes were in question–if I had that evidence, I would just call the police. My tone in asking, and my clear statement, was about being in a grey area. Your examples are not grey. However, those crimes are not the only ones that need prosecution. UofL’s years of crimes and bilking of millions of dollars demand restitution. Crimes committed by rich white people that immediately hurt thousands are arguably worse than dealing drugs on the street, but dismissive statements like yours suggest otherwise.


Emily Ritter · Friends with Karen Hadley and 2 others

Well, you seem awfully pissed off. That’s pretty clear.


Andrew Cooper You would be pissed too if UofL had illegally violated your rights for 1.5 years.


Andrew Cooper I take it you would defend the criminals?


Emily Ritter

I try not to make assumptions about how I would feel under experiences I’ve never had. As for your other question, I’m not sure what you were asking.


Andrew Cooper As I have been arguing on my author page, the comparing the massive criminality of the people running a public agency like UofL to crimes such as “murdering hookers, laundering money through shady business practices, dealing illegal narcotics or engaging in otherwise serious criminal activities” creates a hierarchy. The crimes you name are street crimes–generally committed by the lower classes–whereas I am pursuing crimes committed by the upper classes, which also take tolls in lives and much greater tolls in capital, but you call them less “serious.” Ergo, you are making classist assumptions about criminality that favor the rich white folk in charge of UofL, exculpating them by calling their criminality less serious, a point I do not grant an inch.


Andrew Cooper Try not to make assumptions? You mean there’s a chance you wouldn’t be pissed if an organization discriminated against you, retaliated against you, and deliberately damaged your health for 1.5 years? Get real–or admit you’re a robot.


Emily Ritter

I think it’s pretty classist of you to suggest that “murdering hookers, laundering money through shady business practices, dealing illegal narcotics or otherwise serious criminal activities” are crimes generally committed by the lower classes.


Emily Ritter

Additionally, not engaging in creative reflection on knowledge I don’t have does not make me a robot. It just means I’m a little more contemplative than most. Frankly, in the small breadth of communication I’ve had with you, you seem to have some difficulty with using an appropriate tone for discourse. That may actually be your core issue here. You should work on that a little bit – especially if you are planning on pursuing a career in education.

[Side note: refusing to empathize with people does not make one “a little more contemplative than most.” I might argue that reading world philosophy that many people spend their lives puzzling over in one’s teens makes one a little more contemplative than most. Refusing to empathize just makes one a little less human than most.]

Andrew Cooper Think that. But you were listing examples of the types of “street” crime sensationalized on television. Of course the rich are on tops of pyramids when those crimes are organized as well–but the type of crime I am talking about is distinctly white collar, and that type people love to call less serious and let slip through the cracks.

white-privilegeEmily Ritter

I promise you. I am not white collar. If that helps you sleep better at night.


Andrew Cooper As a comedian asked on Larry Wilmore last night or the night before, why are poor people Republicans? Life’s mysteries. Advocate against your interests all you want.


Emily Ritter

Sorry. I’m not following you at all.


Andrew Cooper Clearly. And as for my tone… your advice on that is not fucking welcome. This is Facebook. And that you are not following me is unsurprising. And that I am uninterested in your career counseling is equally unsurprising. If you have actual insight on the topic of this thread, have at it. If you’re a UofL crony who wants to bark at me, go away.


Andrew Cooper And if you can’t imagine being pissed about being abused, you lack empathy, which means something is wrong with your brain.


Emily Ritter

Obviously you don’t respond to constructive criticism very well either. You might want to work on that as well if you are planning on continuing in eduction. Add that to your list of unsolicited advice. You’re welcome.

Does Ritter pass the definition test? FAIL!

Does Ritter pass the definition test? FAIL!


Andrew Cooper Show me where you were constructive–and prove you’re not a UofL crony–and I’ll apologize. But you can’t.


Andrew Cooper And I DO NOT WANT TO WORK IN EDUCATION with people who defend alleged criminals like James Ramsey, who deserve massive Fuck Yous, in my professional opinion.


Emily Ritter

I don’t have anything to do with UofL. I suggested you work on your tone. You have responded by insulting me with various imagined (and mostly incorrect) assumptions.


Andrew Cooper Scroll up to my author page link to see my profession.


Emily Ritter

An author who has no concept of appropriate tone and is unable to take constructive criticism? Hmmm. Good luck buddy.

[side note: I really wonder who she is to give someone with my publication record such “good luck” patronization… a bestseller? or just a jackass?]

Actually, she reserved another creature in the bestiary.

Actually, she reserved another creature in the bestiary.


Andrew Cooper Like I said, condescending, not constructive. What you call assumption I call benefit of the doubt.

[I was assuming she knew at least SOMETHING of what she wrote about. If she is, as I suspect, a composition teacher, she is white collar. Although comp teachers are in general horribly underpaid, since I used to hire and fire them, I would judge her value in the field at zero.]

Andrew Cooper What you call constructive criticism I call ignorance. Where do you get your superior wisdom? You’ve been insulting me nearly from the start.


Emily Ritter

Hey man, like I said, the post showed up on my feed. I was curious enough to ask questions. From our interactions, I’m pretty clear on what happened here. Good luck on your case.


Andrew Cooper Btw, I can see your friends–you are a UofL crony, ergo, a liar. Keep your clarity spawned by lies, and I’ll keep telling people like you to fuck off.


Andrew Cooper And if you’ve come to conclusions without analyzing evidence, I’m pretty clear on what kind of person you are, too.

Great title. Don't know the book, but click the pic for more.

Great title. Don’t know the book, but click the pic for more.

Emily Ritter

If everyone who had friends that attended UofL was a crony, the entire state of Kentucky would be cronies. That’s a pretty large population of people to offend. I’m sure Jack Conway doesn’t know anyone that fits in that pool though. Har. Just to be clear, I was being sarcastic there.

[Side note: her argument here is very stupid, as the friends in question are all UofL FACULTY, ergo, cronies]

Andrew Cooper Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and I have already discussed concerns about his potential conflicts of interest, but thank you for making this point publicly, with all your UofL friends and your obvious UofL sympathies, as it will help make my case.

I think Mr. Conway seems good, but if Ms. Croc is right about him being guilty of cronyism, then he's a criminal. She should be careful about her implications.

I think Mr. Conway seems good, but if Ms. Croc is right about him being guilty of cronyism, then he’s a criminal. She should be careful about her implications.

Andrew Cooper Any other UofL-favoring attacks you’d like to share? Perhaps you begin to see some advantage in my tone.


Emily Ritter

You’re welcome. You are going to need all the help you can get.


Andrew Cooper Keep it coming. By the way, what do you do? I am going to publicize this conversation.


Emily Ritter

I don’t see any advantage in the way you communicate with other people. Of course, I only have this communication to judge you on.


Emily Ritter · Friends with Karen Hadley and 2 others

You are in your right to do whatever you want to do with your Facebook page.


Andrew Cooper Ms. Emily Ritter, you saw fit to advise someone with the finest education in English that the world can offer, as well as more than a decade of teaching experience, about tone, and then you condescended to me as if you had superior knowledge, which I allowed to go on until you reached a point where you gave me something useful. Had I been as nice, not used the word fuck, etc., you would have been nothing but a waste of my time. With UofL, my tone was often disliked, but the same thing often happened, and if you follow my links, months went by with no disciplinary action whatsoever–they finally terminated me, I argue, as an act of retaliation when they realized I would not stop pursuing my claims about upper admin’s wrongdoing. So you see, my tone is not as formed by ignorance as you have assumed, nor have my assumptions about you been as informed by ignorance as by, well, thought, something I recommend strongly to you. It’s too late for UofL.

L. Andrew Cooper By the way, look up the word “crony.” I still have friends, or at least people I like, at UofL, more whom I like than I dislike, actually. But I don’t mindlessly defend the U or attack its enemies (as you have attacked me) because I have friends there. That’s what cronies do. “Buddy.”

Another test--FAIL!

Another test–FAIL!

Emily Ritter · Friends with Karen Hadley

Man, you don’t know when to shut up. Do you? Add that to your list of unsolicited advice. I don’t need a synopsis of what has transpired between us. Within several short interactions, I’ve already made up my mind as to what kind of communicator you are. Have a great afternoon!


Andrew Cooper You’re writing on my page. You shut up! I told you to go away awhile ago. You know what kind of communicator I am with you. I like you less and less, and my communication follows. Making up your mind from limited evidence is a typical action for the small-minded.


Andrew Cooper Or just keep up the unsolicited advice, and I’ll keep enjoying how uninformed it is. I never understand why people come to my pages, bitch and moan, and then when I’ve defeated their arguments, accuse me of trolling and not knowing when to quit. My page. You leave. Your page, I leave.


Andrew Cooper And since you keep coming, here’s my advice: stop defending criminals, don’t comment on subjects about which you are ignorant, don’t advise acknowledged experts on topics about which you know little, and know when YOU are the person who needs to shut up.


Emily Ritter

This is just comedy now. Thanks for the entertainment.


Andrew Cooper Likewise. Prepare to have people laughing at you in lots of places.


Andrew Cooper And shut up already!


Emily Ritter ·LOL


Andrew Cooper You can’t do it, can you? The Evil Troll Force is strong with this one!

Emily Ritter I’m laughing so hard that I have tears coming out of my eyes. Literally.

Andrew Cooper Just keep it coming. I don’t need to insult you anymore. You just insult yourself.

Emily Ritter I’m sorry I can’t continue this conversation with you much longer Mr. Cooper. As much as it entertains me, I have responsibilities to attend to. It’s a lovely day. You should go outside and enjoy the weather. Maybe it will lighten your mood… and your tone. It looks like you could benefit from some sunshine.

Andrew Cooper You have been my sunshine, Emily Ritter, as so much has beamed directly from your ass.

Andrew Cooper LOL

Andrew Cooper And may you one day have the experience I have, and feel reason to be sorry for the shit you threw at me today–no one who has suffered what I have deserves to deal with people like you.

Emily Ritter · Friends with Tom Byers and 2 others
I’ll be sure to shed a single tear for you. One single, VERY dramatic tear.

Andrew Cooper Crocodile, I’m sure.

Andrew Cooper Now we see your true character in full relief.

Andrew Cooper And when you haven’t been able to eat or sleep like a human being for a year because of what your bosses do to you, may hordes laugh at you and cry similar tears of joy.

Emily Ritter · Friends with Karen Hadley and 2 others

Ritter added this photo.

Ritter added this photo.

Andrew Cooper At least you admit to being inhuman.

Emily Ritter · Friends with Alan Golding and 2 others

Ritter likes being a monster, in true UofL tradition

Ritter likes being a monster, in true UofL tradition

Andrew Cooper I write about monsters. I avoid them in real life. UofL likes them, though, so go back to your cronies and GO AWAY.


Andrew Cooper Don’t worry. I’ll be reposting it on my blog anyway.


Emily Ritter · Friends with Tom Byers and 2 others

HAHAHA! Thanks for the fun, man. I’ll be enjoying this one for awhile. I hope everyone in the world sees what a complete jerk you are. You don’t belong in a classroom.


Andrew Cooper Reread this thread. Reevaluate, if you have the intellectual capacity. Meanwhile, refer back to your cruelty for whatever masturbatory purposes you like. As a horror writer and blogger, when people are nasty to me, I am nasty back. Call me a jerk? Fine. But you shed a crocodile tear over someone who has suffered documented mental and physical–severe–distress from others’ criminal activity. I may come off as a jerk, but you come off as a sociopath, and most bloggers are jerks, and horror writers aren’t supposed to paint pretty pictures. Sociopaths are bad no matter what, though. That’s you in this conversation.

The most important test--the empathy test--FAIL.

The most important test–the empathy test–FAIL.


Andrew Cooper Btw, I won teaching awards virtually every year that I taught. The people who illegally arranged my ouster? Some of the worst-rated teachers at UofL. Fact-check time!


Andrew Cooper Btw, I captured all the stuff you deleted.


Andrew Cooper Looks like Emily Ritter wasn’t so confident in her position after all… deleted it all.


But before I captured it to re-present it to you. Emily Ritter, a genuine monster and proud of it, who loves to laugh and laugh and laugh at people with disabilities and what illegal discrimination and retaliation does to them. This woman BRAGS about her lack of empathy for other humans. Again, if anyone with conscience has anything to do with her, now is the time to stop.

I suspect the Emily Ritter in question, whose profile during conversation suggested she lives in Louisville, Kentucky, teaches for Spencerian college and is described here, on p. 11, but I am not certain this Emily Ritter is the same person. However, the correlation of details is strong. If you know otherwise, please contact me immediately.


Probably the Emily Ritter in this conversation, who at least until recently taught at Spencerian College?

Definitely the Emily Ritter from the transcript above

Definitely the Emily Ritter from the transcript above (but she totally reminds me of Heather from The Blair Witch Project)



Dreaming Lasts a Long Time

“Some Things Last a Long Time”


The Twilight Sad


Your picture is still on my wall, on my wall
The colors are bright, bright as ever
Red is strong and blue is pure
Some things last a long time
Some things last a long time

Your picture is still on my wall, on my wall
I think about you often, often
I won’t forget all the things we did
Some things last a long time
Some things last a long time

It’s funny, but it’s true
And it’s true, but it’s not funny
Time comes and goes
All of the while, I still think about you
Some things last a long time

Your picture is still on my wall, on my wall
The colors are bright, bright as ever
The things we did i can’t forget
Some things last a lifetime
Some things last a lifetime
Some things last a lifetime


“California Dreamin'”


The Mamas and the Papas


All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray.
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day.
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.;
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.
Stopped in to a church I passed along the way.
Well I got down on my knees, and I pretended to pray.
You know the preacher liked the cold;
He knows I’m gonna stay.
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.
All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray.
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day.
If I didn’t tell her I could leave today;
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.
There is no dark side of the moon really. As a matter of fact, it's all dark.

Open Letter of Natal Day Thanks

Dear Natal-Day Well-Wishers:

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

ÁgætisByrjunCoverI am feeling better today than I have in a long time, and a lot of that has to do with you, this digital community that has gradually started paying attention to my writing—because you like horror, or film, or cultural philosophy, or some other aspect of what I do—and have largely come together as never before during the last month as I’ve shared more about my personal life than ever before.

And today, which is my birthday, this guy who recently couldn’t think of anyone other than his partner to list as an emergency contact on a medical form is experiencing a digital reversal. I’ve heard from more of you than I can acknowledge. I’ve never experienced a feeling like it. I am humbled.

If all were right in the world, I’d be talking with some awesome students about one of my favorite films– rather predictable for a film prof–Fellini’s 8 1/2, which was my only real plan for the birthday itself, other than being chill.

FelliniEightandaHalfI’m sorry I don’t get to have that conversation and others, conversations that must be being led by someone, although I’m unaware of anyone with remotely similar qualifications on hand. I feel like students I care about are being cheated out of the education they signed up for, and I can do nothing about it. The solution isn’t for me to submit to unreasonable demands—it’s for unreasonable demands to cease.

melancholia_newsitebigIn any case, the world doesn’t have to be completely right for it to be looking much better. Kafkaesque trials march on, but I am not a modernist in that I believe only in serious games if they allow interactive play. In other words, any conjecture that I would do harm to myself or others when, no thanks to any university, my writing and scholarship are doing better than ever, is as false as any conjecture that I am not in a highly defensible position, one that is owed quite a bit of justice that I do not believe to be as unattainable as it would be in Kafka’s world.

The darkest hour is just before dawn.

House-1986-Movie-1And just remember: always look on the bright side of life!


Yours in sanity,

L. Andrew Cooper