Women in Horror 2019: Daphne Gem

Daphne Gem Host is an autodidact, trans-theologian, and publick girlfriend currently living and writing in Providence, RI. Her most recent written work, The Making Divine: Toward a Theopoetics of the Endless House, will be featured as part of the opening exhibition for the Wedding Cake House renovation project, ‘Ruffles, Repair, and Ritual: The Fine Art of Fixing’ in May 2018. She can be found on twitter @dialoghost

1) what is horror?

It’s me. It’s written all over my body. I think that anyone who experiences things like apostasy from indoctrinated ideology, transition of identity, or severe trauma, etc. embodies, multiplies, and complicates horror. Horror is a catalyst for radical transformation, messianic rupture of the boundaries of reason, causation, progression, troubling the continuity of life, history, place, body and self. Horror is where the unknowable and the undeniable converge.

2) why horror?

I can neither accept nor escape this world that was made without me, and it continues largely at my expense. Horror is what I was given to work with, and every attempt to rationalize it failed, as did every attempt to take shelter from it as part of normative culture, so I embrace the horror, follow it, study it, read the oracle of my own scattered bones, look for patterns in the blood spatter.

Also, if I’m being honest: because my parents hated it. They believed it “drove the holy spirit away” from their home, and I identified with that. Embracing the horrific, the morbid, the forbidding, the hopeless, felt like the only thing I could do that was strictly for myself, that excluded my abusers, filled them with dread and grief. The idea of living in their world, under their influence, any longer made me want to die. So I carried small things into it from beyond its limits, questionable things, things they couldn’t discipline and forget about with a clean conscience but that they also couldn’t ignore . I wanted to embody something they couldn’t accept as their own. I wanted them to feel powerless, to feel all the things they made me feel in the name of “righteousness” and “love”. I needed to feel that I wasn’t anything like them, or anything they (or I) imagined I could be, so they would have to either give up hope or be eaten alive by it. I wanted to make their denial of life less comfortable. I couldn’t live the truth of my queerness without poisoning their spiritual well, and I wanted to live.

3) where do you see horror going?

I don’t see it going anywhere but only because I tend not to look at it in terms of progression so much as refinement—of where it’s been and what it’s brought forth so far and what latent potential its yet to realize. I think it has always had the potential for trans-religious ecstasy, especially in the form of writing, and I see a lot of horror being published now that confronts religious currents that facilitate atrocity more than ecstasy—logocentric, patriarchal currents that devalue the material, the bodily, the sensual, and the feminine (devalue life itself)—and this keeps me interested, and feeling like I could make a significant contribution. something necessarily yet unimaginable. there’s something inherently experimental to working with horror that I think loses its power in genre, tropes, and fandom. But I see a lot of that being experimented with in really interesting ways, and I’m thirsty for more.

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