Of all the literary theories, some of my favorites are the Derridian Pharmakon analysis, the Lacanian Mirror Stage, and the Freudian Theory of the Uncanny.
The others would take entire posts – or multiple posts – to explain, but the Theory of the Uncanny is so wonderfully simple that I can explain it in three sentences: Ask yourself what about the story makes you uncomfortable.
Figure out why it makes you uncomfortable.
That’s what the story is about.
That sounds waaaaay too easy, but I’m always surprised by how often it works.
It also changes moments in the stories you read from ones that disturb or offend you into moments of clarity as to the meaning of the story.
When something really gets under your skin, Freud’s voice pops up in your head and asks why, and then you have these light-bulb moments about the true nature of the story.
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Meaning that there are multiple “correct” interpretations of a story, as each interpretation becomes an intensely personal examination of each reader’s personal feelings and cultural sensibilities.
Since what bothers people about a particular text may be very different based on their sensibilities, the corresponding analysis as to what the offending text was about will also vary wildly.
This theory comes easiest to me when reading Stephen King because there’s always at least one moment that gets under my skin.
That’s kind of the point of King, especially early King.
And before anyone comments, it has been 30 years.
I’m calling him King and not Bachman.
It’s been 30 years.
What bothers me about Thinner isn’t the disgusting descriptions of popping pimple-ridden faces or human flesh transforming into alligator scales …