This article examines the waysin which the Gothic imagination has been used to convey the message of environmentalism, looking specifically at attempts to curb population growth, such as the video ‘Zombie Overpopulation’, produced by Population Matters, and the history of such thought, from Thomas Malthus onwards. Through an analysis of horror fiction, including the writing of the notoriously misanthropic H. P. Lovecraft, it questions if it is possible to develop an aesthetics and attitude of environmental conservation that does not have to resort to a Gothic vision of fear and loathing of humankind. It draws on the ideas of Timothy Morton, particularly Dark Ecology (2016), to contend with the very real possibility of falling into nihilism and hopelessness in the face of the destruction of the natural world, and the liability of the human race, despite individual efforts towards co-existence. It examines cases of such despair, such as the diaries of Columbine shooter Eric Harris, whose extreme contempt for humanity spilled over into deadly violence. Lovecraft writes in ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ (1928) of a ‘bland optimism’ as the only alternative to nihilistic horror in the face of forces larger than ourselves, referring to humanity as a whole. Pointing to Morton, and to Donna Haraway’s notion of the ‘Cthuluscene’, this article argues that radical empathy and shared kinship might instead point the way towards the urgent change that is needed.
Corstorphine, K. (2019). ‘Don’t be a Zombie’: Deep Ecology and Zombie Misanthropy. Gothic nature journal, 54-77