We, the monsters

 This Young Monster
Forfatter: Charlie Fox
Forlag: Fitzcarraldo Editions (UK)
The monster is among us every day, all the time. Yes, the monster, it's us. 


What exactly is a monster? Is the monster the ugly creature that scares and wants to destroy us – Frankenstein's; the insect-like Alien-crawl in Ridley Scott's horror movies; the masked Mike Myers, who can never die, in Halloweenfilms? Or is the monster rather an aspect of us all, and the monstrous side of the most common and banal events, a most mundane thing?

«In certain cases, the title 'monster' should be reclaimed in a spirit of punk triumph to become a great honor. Monsters cause trouble, they disturb definitions, they discombobulate what we think we mean. All of which is brave and wild, not to mention something like art's task, ”Fox writes. He associates the monstrous with what does not fit in, but not dissent as counterculture or criticism of existing – we are closer to what does not fit in, per se. Fox gets close to the punk.

Missing monster story. The breadth of stories the author tells is wide – ranging from Rainer Maria Fassbinder's films to the life and works of John Waters, David Bowies and Ryan Trecartin. The personal tone, the buzzing and confessional style is what makes the text so good: This is not an academic exercise, but an attempt to think through what the monster represents because it is something the author mustn't do.

That's it monstrous who occupies Fox, in everyday life; something unpleasant, unfamiliar, strange or eerie.

This Young Monster is an impressive cultural history – but the scary creature, where the cruel and threatening is gathered in one figure as something foreign and separate from us, receives little attention. That's it monstrous who occupies Fox, in everyday life; something unpleasant, unfamiliar, strange or eerie.

The body as a monster. The most interesting thing is to find in the details, Fox thinks. The symptom – the slight scrunching in the subject of an old photograph, which is not quite right, a look from a stranger in the street. The monster is not necessarily something you can distinguish yourself from, no delineated thing or a creepy creature sneaking in the shadows, but sides of ourselves.

The most obvious monstrosity is the one that takes place in our bodies: how they change over the course of a lifetime. Puberty is nothing to brag about without a solid dose of vampirism. «Everyone experiences monsterhood in their teens: the body mutates, new chemicals flow through your veins, parents turn loathsome, good behavior goes to hell. The need for a remedy to these bodily and psychic disorientations is often entwined with all the wicked fun you can have when monsterhood peaks, thanks to drink, drugs, fucking, and the transformative powers of art. »

But the monstrous as a marker of transformation, whether it happens at the full moon or not, also has to do with other types of change – in illness, when you feel like having sex or are getting old. The body becomes different, sometimes for a little while, other times forever. This "other" we become, always has a certain wildness about it, something distorted and strange that we have no control over. Something monstrous.

Letter to the monster. As mentioned, it is the personal voice that adds something extra to these essays. Fox addresses the beast himself – "Beastie" – throughout the book: The is a letter to the monster, but also a letter to the reader, to the monstrous in US.

The vengeful and confessing form makes us co-conspirators in the author's research, and the intimacy is greater than in most essays. With markers like "buddy" and "dude" this could easily have been silly, but the book carries this form well. The lyrics appear warm and are read as confidants. The latter, together with the addressing of the monster, draws the mate-like and the monstrous in us towards each other. It may not be the deepest layers of our psyche that are revealed, but by being prosecuted as a monster, as the recipient of the letters does, at least the spotlight is on the monster-like.

The most immediate monstrosity is that which takes place in our bodies: how they change over the course of a lifetime.

This spotlight is fine-tuned as we, the readers / monsters, wander through the monster's cultural history. The constantly new monster forms we are presented with raise the question of whether it might be just that this one the type of monster that lives in my chest

The monstrosity of Trumpism. Of course, the monstrous is not only in the everyday, in us and in cultural-historical variants: Monsters practice their terrible virtues among us all the time. Donald Trump is portrayed as the greatest monster of them all: "But what do you do when a 'horror clown', a bogeyman, occupies a role of supreme power?"

If we recognize both the external monsters – who are closer to Trump than director Myers – and the monsters within ourselves, we should be well equipped to fight against the further spread of Trumpism. Then it's good to have Fox on the team.

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