Eugene Thacker is an American philosopher and author. Thacker is known for his writings in philosophy, media theory, music/sound studies, and on the horror and science fiction genres. His work is often associated with the philosophy of nihilism and pessimism. Thacker's most recent books are the Horror of Philosophy series (including the book In The Dust Of This Planet) and After Life, and he also writes a column called "Occultural Studies." He received his Bachelor's degree from the University of Washington-Seattle, and a PhD in Comparative Literature from Rutgers University. Thacker is associate professor at The New School in New York City.
Thacker's major philosophical work is After Life. In it, Thacker shows how the ontology of life operates by way of a split between "Life" and "the living," making possible a "metaphysical displacement" in which life is thought via another metaphysical term, such as time, form, or spirit: "Every ontology of life thinks of life in terms of something-other-than-life...that something-other-than-life is most often a metaphysical concept, such as time and temporality, form and causality, or spirit and immanence" Thacker traces this theme from Aristotle, to Scholasticism and mysticism/negative theology, to Spinoza and Kant, showing how this three-fold displacement is also alive in philosophy today (life as time in process philosophy and Deleuzianism, life as form in biopolitical thought, life as spirit in post-secular philosophies of religion). Ultimately Thacker argues for a skepticism regarding "life": "Life is not only a problem of philosophy, but a problem for philosophy.
In his ongoing series Horror of Philosophy, Thacker explores the idea of the "unthinkable world" as represented in the horror genre, in philosophies of pessimism and nihilism, and in the apophatic ("darkness") mysticism traditions. In the first volume, In The Dust Of This Planet, Thacker calls the horror of philosophy "the isolation of those moments in which philosophy reveals its own limitations and constraints, moments in which thinking enigmatically confronts the horizon of its own possibility." Thacker distinguishes the "world-for-us" (the human-centric view of the world), and the "world-in-itself" (the world understood via the sciences), from what he calls the "world-without-us": "the world-without-us lies somewhere in between, in a nebulous zone that is at once impersonal and horrific."
Thacker's work has often been associated with contemporary philosophies of nihilism and pessimism, as well as to speculative realism. His text "Cosmic Pessimism" defines pessimism as "the philosophical form of disenchantment." The text begins with the following line: "Pessimism is the night-side of thought, a melodrama of the futility of the brain, a poetry written in the graveyard of philosophy."
In an interview with True Detective creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto, Thacker's book In The Dust of This Planet is cited as an influence on the TV series, along with Ray Brassier's Nihil Unbound, Thomas Ligotti's The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, Jim Crawford's Confessions of an Antinatalist, and David Benatar's Better Never To Have Been.
Thacker is also an author of experimental fiction. His writing has appeared in anthologies such as Degenerative Prose (published by Black Ice/FC2), Diagram: Selections from the Magazine (edited by Ander Monson), and Debug: Primary Techno Noir (edited by Kenji Siratori). Thacker has produced book arts projects, and an "anti-novel" titled An Ideal for Living, of which American poet and conceptual writer Kenneth Goldsmith has said: "this an important book...these pages take cues from Burroughs and Gibson, while at the same time presciently pointing to the web-based path writing would take over the next decade." With Ronald Sukenick and Mark Amerika, Thacker helped establish Alt-X Press, for which he edited the anthology Hard_Code. Thacker has also collaborated with art, media, and music collectives.
Thacker has written the Forewords to the English editions of the works of E.M. Cioran, published by Arcade Press, as well as the Preface and Annotations to Clive Barker's novella Cabal, published in a special edition by Fiddleblack Press.
In September of 2014 the WNYC's Radiolab ran a show entitled "In The Dust Of This Planet." The program traced the appropriation of Thacker's book of the same name in contemporary art, fashion, music video, and popular culture.
Into the Influx Incision (Mercury Arts Press, 1994),
Editor, Hard Code: Narrating the Network Society (Alt-X Press, 2001),
Biomedia (University of Minnesota Press, 2004),
Creative Biotechnology: A User's Manual, with Natalie Jeremijenko and Heath Bunting (Locus+, 2004),
The Global Genome: Biotechnology, Politics, and Culture (MIT Press, 2005),
The Exploit: A Theory of Networks, co-authored with Alexander R. Galloway (University of Minnesota Press, 2007),
After Life (University of Chicago Press, 2010),
In The Dust Of This Planet - Horror of Philosophy, vol. 1 (Zero Books, 2011),
Editor with Ed Keller & Nicola Masciandaro, Leper Creativity: The Cyclonopedia Symposium (Punctum Books, 2012),
Dark Nights of the Universe (with Daniel Colucciello Barber, Nicola Masciandaro, Alexander R. Galloway and François Laruelle) (NAME Publications, 2013),
Excommunication: Three Inquiries in Media and Mediation, with Alexander R. Galloway and McKenzie Wark (University of Chicago Press, 2013),
And They Were Two In One And One In Two, co-edited with Nicola Masciandaro (Schism Press, 2014),
An Ideal for Living: Anti-Novel (Gobbet Press, 2014 orig. 2006),
Starry Speculative Corpse (Horror of Philosophy Vol. 2) (Zero Books, 2015),
Tentacles Longer Than Night (Horror of Philosophy Vol. 3) (Zero Books, 2015)
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