Weak monstrosity. Schelling’s uncanny and atmospheres of uncanniness


This paper aims to examine the very unstable concept of the “uncanny” (das Unheimliche) from an atmospherological point of view. Its official theoretical “sanction” is due to Heidegger, who considered it the latent but fundamental ground of any being-in-the-world, and especially to Freud, who described it as the feeling that arises when something familiar suddenly becomes unfamiliar. Freud claimed to be inspired in this conception by Schelling's definition of unheimlich, which I try to explain to better understand what an uncanny atmosphere is. It seems characterized by elements such as ontological ambiguity-vagueness and paranoid subjectification, alien corporeality and unpredictable situations. The paper ends with a brief analysis of the specific uncanny of houses, both in terms of their transformation from a secure interior to an uncanny place and in terms of the anxiety about materially inheriting a house and thus cohabiting with the past. In the perspective adopted here, the uncanny shows that we are not at home within our own body because we always coexist with an external-foreign and in this sense “monstrous” presence.