Kim Ebensgaard Jensen (Aalborg)
Beware the Beast in Black: The Cognitive Poetics of Terror in "Night Crawler"
Beware the beast in black: The cognitive poetics of terror in "Night Crawler"
Acknowledging the need for contemporary philology to expand beyond the literary canon, this article presents a stylistic analysis of Judas Priest's "Night Crawler" within the framework of cognitive poetics (e.g. Stockwell 2002; Steen/Gavins 2003; Burke 2005; Brandt 2008; Vandaele/Brône 2009; Verdonk 2013). Focusing on application of the narrative function of terror (Radcliffe 1826) which is common in Gothic literature and other forms of verbal art that appeal to our human fear of the unknown, the analysis addresses instances of language use in song that deliberately do not observe the maxim of quantity (Grice 1975) in referring to the monstrous antagonist in the narrative of the song. In keeping with the purpose of cognitive poetics, the analysis also proposes a number of cognitive capacities involved that the reader is likely to draw on when construing the vague descriptions of the monster in "Night Crawler".
Exploring fear, violence, sorrow, debauchery, evil, hate, insanity, social injustice, nihilism and the like, heavy metal lyrics have been known to address subject matters that are quite different from other genres of popular music. One topic that is particularly popular is fear and related concepts such as horror and terror. Indeed, the song considered by many to be the progenitor of heavy metal music, Black Sabbath's eponymous song from their 1970 debut album, is rich in fear imagery, including menacing figures in black, terror-stricken mobs of panicking people, and Satan himself orchestrating the end of the world. Since the release of Black Sabbath's debut album, numerous metal bands have explored the aesthetics of fear, horror, and terror, including such (in)famous bands as King Diamond, Iron Maiden, Cannibal Corpse, and Judas Priest. A band of some notoriety caused by lawsuits and allegations of subliminal messages, Judas Priest are a particularly influential heavy metal band.
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Their front man and chief lyricist, Rob Halford, is known for his incredible vocal range and his preference for writing lyrics which revolve around characters of his own creation. While some of Halford's characters are benevolent, as is the case of the pleasure-giving sex machine Turbo Lover and the three messianic characters Exciter, Starbreaker and Painkiller, the majority of Halford's characters, however, are malevolent and associated with fear, horror, and terror, such as, for instance, the alien Invader, the all-devouring Grinder, the robotic enslavers The Metal Gods, the raging Jawbreaker, the ungodly hell-spawned Demonizer, and the beastly Night Crawler. Even among those Judas Priest songs whose lyrics were not penned by Halford, we find malevolent and monstrous characters such as the ultraviolent mutilator The Jugulator, the nightmarish Abductors, the murderous Devil Digger, and The Ripper.1
We may assume that there are perhaps overlaps between the fear imagery found in many of Judas Priest's lyrics and that found in other forms of verbal art that appeal to the aesthetics of fear. It would be interesting to have a closer look at the contribution of language use in a Judas Priest song to the construction of fear imagery. To this end, it would be particularly interesting to see whether or not the literary functions of terror and horror (Radcliffe 1826) are also at play in heavy metal lyrics such as those penned by Judas Priest's Rob Halford. One lyric that lends itself particularly well to this is "Night Crawler" from the 1990-album Painkiller, because this particular song not only describes a monstrous character, but also offers a mini-narrative of invasion and monstrosity. Since terror and horror relate to the emotion of fear, it would be further interesting to investigate how the language used in a song such as "Night Crawler" links up with human cognition in such a way that terror or horror is mentally generated in the listener. Treating "Night Crawler" as verbal art, and ultimately an instance of poetic and literary discourse, the present article thus proposes a cognitive stylistic analysis within the framework of cognitive poetics associated with Burke (2005), Steen (2002, 2003), Stockwell (2003), and Verdonk (2013) focusing on linguistic means of generating terror and horror.
There are two issues that must be addressed at this point. Firstly, we can assume that some may reject the data as not being a literary, let alone poetic, text, seeing that rock lyrics belong to the realm of popular music rather than literature in its strictest sense. Secondly, if the song is accepted as a literary or poetic text, it might be considered peripherally literary and definitely not part of the literary canon, and thus one might question the use of rock music lyrics as data in a stylistic study of terror and horror as literary functions when there is a body of revered, classic, and canonical Gothic literature and poetry available.
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This point could even be expanded into questioning the choice of heavy metal music of all the popular music genres available, given the bad reputation heavy metal has for being rude, abrasive, and of low quality. In addressing these potential points of criticism, the first thing that must be pointed out is that the current study takes cognitive poetics as its framework. Cognitive poetics does not prioritize some types of verbal art over others in terms of "worthiness of study":
This is reflected in, for instance, the Steen's (2002) study of conceptual metaphor in Bob Dylan's "Hurricane" and in his use of pop songs alongside romantic poetry and literature as data in his treatment of the cognitive model of love in verbal art. This allows us to reject the first point of criticism as being elitist, archaic, and out of touch with contemporary philology. At the core of the second point, we find evaluations of quality, and the criticism would build on a conception of rock lyrics being of lower quality than Gothic literature and poetry proper (and heavy metal lyrics being of a lower quality than lyrics within other genres of popular music). Au fond, this point of criticism may be boiled down to the question whether popular music lyrics in general, and heavy metal lyrics in particular, are worthy of academic study. This, too, may swiftly be rejected with reference to Steen/Gavins' (2003: 1) observation, but there is more to be said here. While I concede that heavy metal lyrics are not part of the English literary canon, we can assume that, in our era, popular music including heavy metal has a larger audience than much literature within the canon. True, much contemporary popular music is treated like a commercial commodity for consumption and will not have the same cultural impact in the long term as material within the literary canon. However, within heavy metal music, fans are known to be fiercely loyal and to connect with the music, lyrics, iconography, and artists at a level of passion, appreciation, and identification that goes beyond mere consumerism (Weinstein 1991, 2000) to the point of the establishment of a global heavy metal culture (Weinstein 2011).
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In this perspective, heavy metal music does have a considerable cultural impact at a global level, which in itself I would ague makes it a worthy object of academic study. Musicologists (e.g. Walser 1993; Berger 1999) have already studied musical and phenomenological aspects of heavy metal, and the recent discipline of metal studies is gaining foothold within culture studies (Spracklen et al. 2011; Weinstein 2011b).
Given the global cultural significance of heavy metal music and the academic interest that researchers within other fields have shown, stylistic analysis of heavy metal lyrics is both warranted and worthwhile. Thus, in the perspective of the non-elitist ethos of cognitive poetics and the increased interest in heavy metal as an object of academic study, I would argue that a stylistic analysis of the lyrics of "Night Crawler" with a view to identifying literary functions is indeed worth pursuing. Moreover, if philology as such is to remain relevant and up to date, researchers within the humanities need to expand their scope beyond canonical texts into including other cultural products associated with other media than literature.
The purpose of this paper is, then, to as mentioned above provide a stylistic analysis of "Night Crawler", focusing on how terror and horror, as literary functions, are established via the language use in the song's lyrics. Moreover, we are particularly interested in how the linguistic strategies of terror and horror may be linked to the listener's cognition by identifying cognitive structures and processes likely to be prompted by the language in the lyrics.
This article is structured as follows. Section two describes horror and terror as narrative functions (Radcliffe 1826; Botting 2014: 65-73) and introduces the underlying notion of the unknown, or the uncanny, which is held to be the primus motor of fear-oriented verbal art (Lovecraft 1994; Freud 2003). Section two also introduces the basics of cognitive poetics and outlines the method of analysis used for this article. Section three discusses the roles of genre and the reader, drawing on and elaborating Steen's (2002) treatment of genre in relation to the cognitive poetics of song lyrics, and relates genre and reader to the listener's interpretation of "Night Crawler". Sections four, five, six, seven, and eight present our cognitive stylistic analysis of terror and horror in "Night Crawler", each chapter focusing on one stylistic aspect of the song.
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2 Dread has no face: terror and cognitive poetics
2.1 Terror and the uncanny
In a famous essay, the cult horror writer H.P. Lovecraft (1994: 423) notes that "[t]he oldest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown". Likewise, Freud (2003: 123) relates the unknown, or uncanny (or unheimlich) to "the realm of the frightening, of what evokes fear and dread" (which, of course, also includes when the familiar becomes unfamiliar). Within literature and pre-literary oral tradition (and later cinema, TV, computer games, and other media), the fear of the unknown is reflected in the literary mode of terror, which the important Gothic literature writer Ann Radcliffe (1826) contrasts with the literary mode of horror. While horror describes, or depicts, the stimulus of fear be it a monster, an act, or a location in detail, terror keeps vague it by use of incomplete, or totally absent, descriptions or depictions. Provided with mere hints, the reader is required to construct, using their imagination, the stimulus of fear themselves. Varma (1957: 130) relates the two modes to apprehension and realization: "The difference between Terror and Horror is the difference between awful apprehension and sickening realization: between the smell of death and stumbling against a corpse". In relation to Gothic terror, dread is the keyword. As Wilt (1980: 5) so dramatically puts it, "Dread has no face". Horror as a literary function appeals, with its detailed descriptions and depictions of the stimulus of fear, to disgust and shock in the reader or viewer, and its attraction point is largely its shock value.
While often associated with Gothic literature which had its genesis in the Romantic era (Botting 2014: 20-40), terror as a narrative strategy predates the Gothic tradition. Rix (2012: 77-78), for instance, refers to the vagueness in terms of which Grendel-kin are described in the Old English poem Beowulf. Terror-evoking vague descriptions and depictions, of course, still figure within post-Romantic art traditions (Botting 2014: 128-202). For instance, H.P. Lovecraft would often describe the monsters, locations, and horrifying acts in his works as indescribable (Bille 2012), and, as Christensen (2012b: 43-47) informs us, the typical monster horror movie follows a template in which the initial attacks of the monster are characterized by unclarity in terms of what or who the assailant actually is.
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As the plot progresses, the typical monster horror movie will evolve from being a tale of terror into being a tale of horror when the nature of the monster is revealed; there are plenty of exceptions, of course, such as the lost footage subgenre, in which the monster typically not depicted in much detail, if depicted at all (a recent example of this is the b-movie Alien Origin from 2012).
Not surprisingly, darkness and dark environments and settings are often associated with the uncanny and unknown. As Cavallaro (2002: 22) points out, "[n]arratives of darkness nourish our attraction of an unnameable something beyond the human, and hence beyond interpretation a nexus of primeval feelings and apprehensions which rationality can never conclusively eradicate." Cavallaro (2002: 22) points to the fact that darkness is associated with negativity in many myths in a number of cultures around the world. At a very fundamental level, as Biedermann (1996: 90) observes, darkness is primarily a symbol of the chaos that precedes the creation of cosmos and follows the destruction of cosmos, and thus is associated with "the dark underworld" and "the enemies of illumination". Associated concepts like the night or the color black are similarly symbolically associated with the unknown or the uncanny. As Chevalier/Gheerbrant (1996: 701) inform us, "[i]n mystical theology, Night symbolizes the disappearance of all knowledge which may be defined, analyzed or expressed and, further still, the state of being deprived of all proof and psychological support". Likewise, the color black is often associated with negative concepts like chaos, cold, death, the devil, evil, and misfortune, and mourning (Biedermann 1996: 41; Chevalier/Gheerbrant 1996: 92-96). It is no surprise that the night, with its black darkness, is an environment to be feared. Its obscurity weakens our senses and we literally do not know what dangers may lurk in the darkness. In many myths, the night is thus populated by various threatening monsters. Biedermann (1996: 237), for example, refers to "a ghostly race of spirits that haunt the night, frightening those who venture out of their homes after dark" in the Alps.
At a very fundamental level, the uncanny and all its symbols are representative of primeval chaos that threatens the ordered cosmos in which we live and the illuming logos that characterizes it. In that sense, uncanny environments represent chaotic environments in which humans do not belong, thus generating the sense of fear and alienation that characterize many a dark narrative. Likewise, monstrosity as such represents the uncanny, and monsters in dark narratives including pre-literary myths and the like may be described as agents of chaos, or perhaps the uncanny, or unknown, animated. As Christensen (2012a: 13) points out in his discussion of the iconography and iconology of the monster, monsters cannot be related to reality, as they do not exist.
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As Christensen (2012a: 15) points out, following Carroll (1990), monsters typically originate outside the human world in the realm(s) of chaos. Thus monsters, be they conveyed via terror or horror, inherently represent the unknown. A phenomenon that often accompanies monsters is what Carroll (1990) terms horrific metonymy. Horrific metonymy applies whenever some aspect of monstrosity becomes strongly associated with the monster itself, such as the slime oozing from the mouth of the alien in the Alien films or the dorsal fin of the shark in the Jaws films. While horrific metonymy is used in relation to both terror and horror, it is a particularly powerful generator of terror because it provides us with indicators of the monster often focusing on ways in which the monster is dangerous or gross. However, at the same time we are forced to focus on the metonymically highlighted aspect of the monster, thus obscuring the monster itself, thus exploiting horror in the name of terror.
Radcliffe (1826) famously claims that terror is preferable, and aesthetically superior, to horror as literary functions. I will not evaluate whether or not this is the case. However, as we will see in our analysis, terror is the dominant of the two in "Night Crawler" which is why we are going to focus primarily on terror in the remainder of this article.
2.2 Cognitive poetics
Verbal art is primarily dependent on language, as the uncanny is constructed via linguistic description (or lack thereof). Thus, I would argue, analysis of terror and horror in verbal art must address language. It must address the linguistic means by which information on the stimulus of fear is verbally conveyed or withheld. Thus, I would argue, an element of stylistics is required in the analysis of terror as a narrative mode. At a basic level, given that terror provides only cues and not full descriptions, an ingredient in terror as a literary function is implicature (Grice 1975), understood such that the writer deliberately fails to observe one or more of the maxims that constitute the cooperative principle typically be maxim of quantity. Not observing the maxim of quantity, writers deliberately make use of vague language, thus prompting the reader to infer the stimulus of fear him- or herself. Here, by the way, we operate with Thomas' (1995: 58) definition of inference: "To infer is to deduce something from evidence (this evidence may be linguistic, paralinguistic or non-linguistic)". In Thomas' terminology, inferring is contrasted with implying, which covers the process of producing an utterance that contains implicit or unexpressed information.
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A stylistic study of terror in verbal would thus address linguistic strategies of vagueness, suppression of information, foregrounding of certain elements of information while backgrounding others, ambiguity, character alienation and the like. It is also worth noting that this strategy is very similar to Iser's (1980: 165-170, 182-189) notion of gaps and blanks, which, although ultimately referring to distinct categories, cover holes in, or unexpressed aspects of, narratives which the readers fill in themselves, drawing on their cognitive capacities. In Iser's theory gaps and blanks are commonplace in literature in general, and, by that logic, creators of fear-based verbal art would exploit this feature of literature.
A traditional stylistic analysis would thus allow us to address strategies and nuances of terror as a literary effect in verbal art, but it would probably not enable us to address in sufficient detail the inferential activities in the reader especially not if we are interested in the relation between language, literary effects, and the reader. Recently, a branch of stylistics referred to as cognitive poetics, or cognitive stylistics, has arisen (e.g. Stockwell 2002, Steen/Gavins 2003, Brandt 2008, Vandaele/Brône 2009) as a type contextualized stylistics which takes into account socio-discursive and cognitive contexts (Verdonk 2013: 113-122, 135-159). As indicated by Verdonk (2013: 113-122, 135-159), cognitive poetics is not seen as a replacement for the stylistics that came before it, but rather a natural further development of traditional stylistics, which draws on its findings, insights, and methodologies (see also Stockwell 2002: 75-89). Thus traditional stylistic analysis as seen in, for instance, Dienhart (1989, 1997, 2010) is not disqualified in cognitive poetics, but typically honored, and the insights generated in such analysis embraced and enhanced.2One of the main foci of cognitive poetics is the reader's interaction with, and decoding and construal, of the literary text. While indeed drawing on reader response criticism and similar approaches to literature, cognitive poeticians primarily embrace concepts from cognitive science and cognitive linguistics in particular such as cognitive models, categories, schemata, conceptual metaphors, conceptual blends, mental spaces, construal processes and the like.
Perhaps a bit of a radical position to some, I would argue that cognitive poetics does not only borrow from cognitive science, it is a cognitive science and that, by inheritance, the cognitive commitment which compels cognitive linguists "to make one's account of human language accord with what is generally known about the mind and the brain, from other disciplines as well as our own" (Lakoff 1990: 40) is also fundamental to cognitive poetics.
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That is, as a brand of stylistics that seeks to relate literature to the human experience, as it were, cognitive poetics must, in its analysis of literary language and its literary effects, relate its findings to what is known about human cognition. The cognitive commitment has not, to my knowledge, been openly addressed in literature in cognitive poetics, but cognitive stylistic analysis generally seems oriented towards the cognitive commitment. Moreover, also by inheritance from cognitive linguistics, cognitive poetics must necessarily embrace the notion of the semiological function of language "allowing thoughts to be symbolized by means of sounds, gesture, or writing" (Langacker 1998. 1) and the notion of the interactive function of language "embracing communication, expressiveness, manipulation, and social communion" (Langacker 1998. 1). While interested in the reader, cognitive poetics ignores neither text nor writer. If applying the semiological function, linguistic and textual structure may be related more or less directly to human cognition. If applying the interactive function, literary texts may be related to communication between senders and recipients as well as the contexts that surround them. As with the cognitive commitment, these two functions are indirectly embraced in cognitive poetics in the sense that, to me, they form a very fundamental dimension of cognitive stylistic analysis and thus appear to be presupposed by many cognitive poeticians. Needless to say, reader interpretation is a dynamic variable. However, Verdonk (2013: 118-119) reassures us that, despite the fact that individual readers will experience such texts differently, cognitive poetics "will not result in interpretative chaos, because in spite of the uniqueness of our personal experiences, most of our cognitive schemata are largely filled with conventional conceptions and representations of what we regard as our reality". Moreover, as follows indirectly from the semiological and interactive functions, the relations between linguistic form and cognitive function must, to some extent, be conventional in order for linguistic interaction to be possible at all.
In cognitive poetics, then, literary effect is a matter of applying cognitive structures and processes (or, in the perspective of the author, to provoke or manipulate readers into applying cognitive structures and processes); cognitive poetic analysis is a matter of establishing links between forms in the literary text and cognitive structures and processes, thus identifying how the literary effect is likely to resonate with the reader. This way, cognitive poetic analysis of terror as a literary effect would focus on elements in the text in question and, drawing on cognitive science, suggesting way in which they guide, or misguide, the reader's inference of the uncanny.
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One of the attractive aspects of cognitive poetics is that, taking cues from Johnson's (1987) branch of cognitive phenomenology, cognitive poeticians assume that cognition is embodied and absolutely non-Cartesian. Consequently, within this framework, claims that literature evokes emotions and other reactions in the reader become very real and may be directly addressed in terms of aspects of human cognition without use of overly complex metalanguages and constructs that transform intellectual or rational input into bodily or irrational reactions (and vice versa). Steen (2003), for instance, shows this in his analysis of the evocation of the cognitive model of
in romantic poetry, literature, and pop song lyrics. Likewise, the present analysis points out elements in "Night Crawler" that involve cognitive structures and processes which may be directly linked to the evocation of terror and fear.
2.3 Method of analysis
The analytical approach to "Night Crawler" is akin to the qualitative analysis found in many traditional studies in the stylistics of poetry, such as, for instance Dienhart (1989, 1997, 2010). That is, like traditional stylistics, this study makes use of close reading of the text in which elements of style (that is, language use in the text) and literary effects are identified, resulting in an analytical reading in which literary function is inextricably tied in with linguistic form (Dienhart 1989).
"Night Crawler" being a rock song, our close reading also takes into account musical aspects (melody, composition, and vocal performance). Thus, there are elements of musicological analysis in our treatment of "Night Crawler", but these are kept absolutely minimal, and are only called upon to support our stylistic analysis. I have opted for lay terminology often associated with rock music rather than proper musicological terminology. This rather strict containment of musicological analysis is deliberate, as a fully-fledged musicological analysis severely exceeds the scope of this paper; interested readers are referred to Walser (1993) for examples of fully-fledged musicological analysis of heavy metal music.
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While a stylistic analysis will typically address all linguistic aspects of the text in question, the current analysis focuses on terror and horror as literary effects and ignores other aspects of the lyric. Such selective analysis is not disallowed or frowned upon in cognitive stylistics:
Since cognitive poetics takes stylistic analysis a step further than traditional stylistics and links literary effect up with human cognition, our analysis seeks to also identify, or at least suggest, cognitive processes and structures associated with the linguistic forms and literary functions under scrutiny. These cognitive processes and structures will be defined when relevant in the analysis section. The main assumption is that the cognitive processes and structures suggested are not unique to the understanding of verbal art, but that they figure in human cognition generally.
These last paragraphs briefly describe the data namely, the song "Night Crawler". The song appeared on the 1990-album Painkiller, and was composed by the band's two guitarists Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, while the lyrics were penned by Rob Halford. The song is fairly conventionally structured, but does deviate slightly from the traditional popular song structure prototype.3Musically, the song is midpaced and characterized by Judas Priest's trademark combination of melody and aggression. The introduction and the bridge, in contrast to the rest of the song, are atmospheric and feature non-distorted guitars. The vocals are performed primarily in a mid-range with some parts being delivered in Halford's signature high-pitched screams and the bridge being narrated in spoken rhyme in a voice quality not unlike that of Vincent Price in the Michael Jackson song "Thriller".
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3 Readers and genre
In cognitive poetic analyses, the reader is important, because meaning as such does not reside in a text. The recipient does not merely unpack the same contents encoded into the text by the sender, as the conduit metaphor would otherwise have it (Reddy 1979). As Verdonk (2013: 99) reminds us, "once readers are drawn into a text's contextual orbit, so to speak, they not only decode or interpret meanings but also encode and create them". Thus, the recipient must construe the text him- or herself by applying various cognitive operations of construal and conceptualization and drawing on a number of cognitive structures and schemata. A recipient will often construe a text in accordance with the sender's intentions but that merely owes to the sense of stability within the language system caused by conventions shared by members of the same speech community.
In construing texts, recipient rely, in addition to linguistic convention, on a number of contextual cues and factors, which may be cognitive, cultural, co-textual, situational and social among others. These are organized in various cognitive schematic structures, which we call upon in understanding a literary text (Verdonk 2013: 117-119). As Steen (2002: 188) notes in his analysis of metaphors in Bob Dylan's 'Hurricane', "the mental representation of genres in individual language users play a pivotal role in their processing of language, be it production or comprehension". In his analysis, Steen classifies "Hurricane" as an instance of the recorded song genre, specifying the genre-dimensions of mode, medium, and channel like this:
Steen (2002: 189) further specifies the fourth and final genre-dimension in his modes namely, the code: "Moreover, the specifically musical aspects of singing, melody and rhythm, are yet another level of information. They are part of the code that is distinct from the code of sheer language, and this may further reinforce or relativize our view of the words".
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Due to the specifics of these four dimensions, we need to specify the reader of
lyrics, not as a reader, but as a listener. We can assume that, although recipients have access to lyrics in album sleeves, CD booklets, and on the Internet, recipients of
lyrics mainly encounter them in the acoustic channel. Listening to a
is different from reading: "One important difference between the lyrics as words on the page and the lyrics as part of the song is that the latter pushes on without stopping" (Steen 2002: 191). Another important difference is that, listening to a
is essentially a multimodal experience, in the sense that the listener not only processes the sung words but also the instrumental aspect of the song, and, often, the visual artwork of the album or single is also at play.
Having established that the reader of recorded song lyrics is best described as a listener, let us look into the relation between the listener and genre in more detail. I would argue that, while "Night Crawler" is indeed a recorded song and that Steen's observations generally apply, we need to take into account musical genre and listener-response thereto. "Night Crawler" belongs to the genre of heavy metal music, which is known to embrace darker lyrical themes. We can assume that the listener evokes a genre schema associated with the heavy metal music genre when listening to "Night Crawler". As with many other musical genres, heavy metal music subsumes a host of subgenres, and "Night Crawler" belongs to the subgenre often referred to as traditional heavy metal . At this point, we must distinguish between expert listeners and lay listeners. Expert listeners have insight into the affinities of heavy metal music and knowledge of the many subgenres and their distinguishing features, while lay listeners only have a rudimentary insight into the genre. Thus, expert listeners' genre schemata involve expert cognitive models and expert taxonomies (Ungerer/Schmid 2006: 65-67, 55-58) while lay listeners' schemata consist of rudimentary taxonomies and naïve cognitive models (Ungerer/Schmid 2006: 55-58).
Thus, an expert listener will know that, while extreme metal genres such death metal or grindcore are more likely to involve explicit lyrics about gory violence and horrifying monstrosity, fear-oriented lyrics within traditional metal are more likely to be subtle and inclined towards terror. A lay listener would probably not know this, and thus the expert listener and the lay listener, drawing on different genre schemata, have quite different interpretative vantage points to begin with.
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The present analysis assumes that the listener is most likely to be an expert listener who draws on detailed and complex genre schemata and delicate taxonomies of genre and subgenres within heavy metal music.4
4 Setting the scene
"Night Crawler" is about a town that is terrorized by a monster, called the Night Crawler, at night which kills and eats the townspeople. The setting of the narrative is constructed both musically and verbally. Musically, the song opens with the sound of thunder accompanied by atmospheric keyboards and a non-distorted guitar figure, all of which generates an eerie and dark atmosphere. This atmosphere is reiterated in the first two lines of the first verse listed as example (1) below:
Listeners familiar with Gothic literature or horror cinema are likely to evoke the narrative schema associated these genres on the basis of the auditory cues in the introduction and these two lines, given that howling winds, pouring rain, and thunderclaps constitute staple atmospheric elements of settings within these related genres. The next two lines specify the setting as a town:
Of course, the expression into town occurs at the end of the last line of the verse, but I would argue that the pluralized collocation bolted doors already evokes, by metonymy, a human settlement model in the listener, which is then confirmed via into town. The Night Crawler is introduced in the last line in (2) via a proposition in which it moves from somewhere outside of town into town. As we will see later, this constitutes a central theme in the Gothic literature and horror film genres as well as pre-literary myths namely, the invasion theme in which the monster, representing the uncanny or the unknown, invades the world of the known.
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Some examples are Dracula's journey to Britain in Bram Stoker's Dracula, Grendel's attack on Hrothgar's hall Heorot in Beowulf and even the DNA-consuming alien Scythe's killing spree in a small American wood in the b-movie Aliens vs. Avatars. This
schema constitutes the narrative skeleton of "Night Crawler".
5 Wording and degree of specificity
The Night Crawler is never described in detail, which quickly becomes apparent if one takes a look at the wording used when referring to the Night Crawler.
We can assume that, although the Night Crawler's first appearance proper, as it were, is line four of the first verse (in (2) above), the listener's first exposure to the Night Crawler is the title of the song. The noun Night Crawler may in itself be argued to serve the literary function of terror. It is an endocentric compound noun whose two constituents are essentially instances of horrifying metonymy. The first element Night not only specifies the nocturnal nature of the monster, but also evokes the semantic frame associated with the concept of night . A semantic frame is a cognitive system of concepts that are interrelated such that, to understand one of them, you have to have access to the entire frame; this way, semantic frames are gestaltic cognitive models which we evoke in our understanding of linguistic units in discourse in such a way that a linguistic unit, such as a lexeme, expresses its denotative concept but also evokes in our encyclopedic knowledge an entire frame or cognitive model associated with it (Fillmore 1982). The word night evokes all the knowledge associated with the concept night , including the darkness of night and how it impairs our sense of vision. The head of the nominal compound, Crawler, is a deverbal noun derived from the verb crawl via the -er nominalizing suffix. Crawl, like walk and run predicates an act of self-propelled motion, but, unlike walking and running, which specify an upright position which may be bipedal, crawling is typically not bipedal but quadrupedal. Thus, crawling is much more likely to be associated with a non-human animate entity. The nominalizing -er suffix has an inherent metonymic function in that it applies the construal operation of selection to the act expressed by the verbal lemma and then selects the agent as the locus of attention, thus conceptualizing the agent primarily in terms of the act. In this case, then, crawler evokes in the listener the typically non-human type of self-propelled motion of crawling and metonymically highlights that as the feature of the monster that the listener focuses on.
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In cognitive science, metonymy is considered a cognitive process, and in Croft/Wood's (2000: 57) model of construal operations, it is categorized as an attention-based process of selection, in which a part of a whole is selected as the locus of attention. A logical consequence of selection is what Talmy (2000a: 259) calls gapping, which is the removal of attention from parts or portions of the whole. Gapping logically follows from selection, because selection of parts or portions of a whole naturally results in deselection, and thus gapping, of other parts or portions of the whole. Metonymy differs from other types of selection operations because metonymy also involves a process in which the selected part a portion becomes representative of the entire whole. Jensen (2011: 120) suggests that metonymy is likely to be an instance of the more fundamental psychological process of pars pro toto, in which a part of an entity or a scene is perceived as identical to the entity or scene (Jacobsen 1971: 20). In the nominal compound Night Crawler, the two nouns metonymically highlight two different aspects of the monster, either of which evokes conceptual content which may be associated with the uncanny or the unknown. Thus, on the basis of the song title and the name of the monster, the listener is provided with mere cues in terms of the monster's behavior, but no information as to what the monster actually is or looks like as such, and the listener is manipulated into inferring the gapped portions of the Night Crawler.
If we return to the first appearance of the Night Crawler in the lyric itself, we will note that thing is provides the first reference to the monster. Thing is, of course, typically used with reference to an inanimate object and is arguably a superordinate level category term (Ungerer/Schmid 2006: 77-79). Superordinate level categories are characterized by a high level of abstraction and have only very few features, and example being furniture which refers to the category furniture whose primary category features are large movable object, usage in a room in a human habitat, and enablement of human living. This category is rather vague and may cover such specific type of furniture as chairs, tables, beds, closets and shelves. Likewise, thing evokes a very abstract category (probably much more abstract than furniture ) and is semantically a vague term. Due to its vagueness, the listener is kept in the dark in terms of what exactly the Night Crawler is, but, because thing serves as the subject of the verb crawls, the listener identifies the use of thing as a metaphor in which the inanimacy associated with things is metaphorically projected into an animate entity to emphasize its uncanny monstrosity.
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This metaphorical use of thing seems have become more or less conventionalized within the discourse of horror literature and cinema, as exemplified by numerous movie and novel or short story titles. Consequently, informed listeners are likely to draw on the schematic knowledge of this discursive convention in their reading of the thing crawls into town and will associate it with more specifically with monstrosity than an uninformed listener would.
In the chorus, which is listed as example (6) further down, the Night Crawler is referred to as the beast in black, in which beast has a similar abstracting function to thing in the sense that it evokes a superordinate level category. Unlike, thing, of course, beast refers to an animate being , but one a much lower degree of animacy than a human. A similar representation of the Night Crawler may be associated with as the creature cries in the bridge, some of which is listed in example (8). Creature, like beast, evokes an abstract category of a non-human animate being . A semantic difference between beast and creature is that the concept of danger is present in the semantic frame evoked by the former, as beast typically refers to an animal which is dangerous in some way. By virtue of being superordinate level category labels, thing, beast, and creature force the listener to operate with a low level of specificity, but still emphasize the non-human, uncanny nature of the Night Crawler.
We saw an instance of horrific metonymy in the title. Another instance of horrific metonymy occurs in the song's bridge: clawing at the windows, which syntactically serves as a participial adverbial clause of ''Come to me' it calls. While, crawler is an instance of action-for-agent metonymy via deverbal nominalization, clawing is an example of instrument for action metonymy via denominal verbalization. More specifically, the morphological process is that of morphological conversion (Crystal 2003: 61, 63, 128-129; Hilpert 2014: 132-134), in which a noun is derived from a verb through zero-derivation that is, no verbalizing suffix is added (that is why the participial -ing is added directly to the nominal lemma claw). Typically, in morphological conversion, a participant in an event is selected and highlighted metonymically, serving as representative of the event itself. In this particular case, the event is the Night Crawler interacting with the window using its claws possibly in an attempt at breaking the window so as to enter the house in whose cellar its victims are hiding. Thus, its claws serve as the instrument in the scenario and, via metonymy, they are selected and highlighted while the rest of the monster is gapped.
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Moreover, claws are associated with
as they may be used by animals as weapons and may cause harm to humans. A result of this morphological conversion, then, is that the listener's inference of the Night Crawler is guided by a horrifying image of a dangerous part of the monster.
Let us return to the beast in black, this time focusing on the postmodifying prepositional phrase in black which also contributes to the construal of the Night Crawler as uncanny. Of course, beast in black features a parallelism in the form of the alliterative repetition of /b/. Beast in black appears in another parallelism, as it is part of the chorus and thus repeated four times throughout the song. This repetition and the alliteration have a foregrounding effect, making this description of the Night Crawler particularly significant. Part of its significance is purely musical, as it were, since it appears in what is popularly called the hook (Burns 1987). Hooks are vocal melodies5 that are repeated throughout the composition and stand out as being very easy to remember. Hooks are thus melodically foregrounded, but from melodic foregrounding follows conceptual foregrounding since the lyrical content, being repeated and being associated with a memorable hook, stands out against the rest of the lyric in question.6On the surface, beast in black provides another clue to the appearance of the Night Crawler namely, its color. As mentioned earlier, the color black is typically associated with negative aspects (Biedermann 1996: 41; Chevalier/Gheerbrant 1996: 92-96), so, at a profound level of cultural cognition, the color black is associated with the uncanny. There is also a sense of ambiguity in beast in black. When postmodifying a noun, in followed by a preposition arguably tends to refer to the color of the apparel of the referent of the head noun, which tends to refer to a human. However, here, the head noun is beast which we know is a superordinate level category term used with reference to non-human animate beings. There appears to be conceptual conflict at play in the chorus, and, as we shall see, this conflict actually pervades the entire lyric.
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6 Man or beast? The effects of multiple specification
The dehumanization of the Night Crawler which follows from the lexemes discussed above is supported by the many text-deictic uses of neuter third person personal and possessive pronouns with reference to the Night Crawler that appear in the bridge. However, there are also a number of text-deictic uses of masculine third person personal and possessive pronouns, also with reference to the Night Crawler. Thus, there seems to be a referential conflict at play in the lyric between it/its which refer to entities with low or no animacy and he/his.
This pronominal use, along with the conceptual conflict between beast and in black, is an example of what Talmy (2000b: 323) calls multiple specification which is applied to the situation where a sentence, or other portion of discourse, provides two or more specifications of the characteristics of the same referent and is, not surprisingly, commonplace in discourse. There are two logical outcomes of multiple specification: semantic compatibility or semantic conflict. In "Night Crawler" there obviously is conflict between the concepts of human and non-human in references to the Night Crawler. As hinted at above, this conflict extends beyond pronominal use. For instance, in the bridge, there is an instance of metonymy is at play in the form of Fingernails start scratching / On the outside wall, which is similar to clawing at the windows. However, this time the Night Crawler is assigned more human characteristics. As with clawing at the window, this is an example of metonymy in which the instrument becomes representative of another element in the scenario in which. However, in this case, the instrument (the fingernails) metonymically represents the agent (the Night Crawler), rather than the action, which is predicated by scratching. Still, the literary effect is very similar in that, by selecting a part of the Night Crawler to metonymically represent the monster, the monster itself is gapped and kept unspecific. In this case, though, the highlighted part of the Night Crawler are its fingernails. Whereas claws are associated with animals, fingernails and fingers are typically associated with humans, and the lexeme fingernail likely evokes, via a conceptual scope of predication (Langacker 1987: 118-119), a semantic frame of the human body. The Night Crawler is even endowed with the ability to speak like a human in "Come to me" it calls, in which the subject of the matrix reporting clause is it while the object clause is an instance of direct speech thus creating conceptual tension within the same line between the dehumanization and humanization of the Night Crawler.7
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Now, it may be tempting to accuse Rob Halford of simply being inconsequential in his references to the Night Crawler. However, such ambivalence is not uncommon in genres of verbal art that appeal to fear (Botting 2014: 9-12), and it is not uncommon an uncanny feature of the monster is unclarity in terms of whether it is human or inhuman. One example of this duality is, of course, Robert Luis Stevenson's Gothic classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula in Bram Stoker's Dracula may take on both human and animal, and even amorphous, shapes; even in his human form, Dracula is still very much a predator. This duality may be traced back beyond Gothic literature. For instance, Rix (2012: 77-78) notes that the vague descriptions of the Grendel-kin in Beowulf also involve both humanizing and dehumanizing descriptions. With that in mind, it is likely that the semantic indeterminacy (Leech 1969: 205-224) in references to the Night Crawler is at some level intentional. The conflict between humanization and dehumanization of the Night Crawler is an instance of foregrounding via semantic deviation (Leech 1969) generated by multiple specification. Cognitively, multiple specification which results in conceptual conflict will prompt the recipient to attempt to resolve the conflict via a number of semantic resolution processes which Talmy (2000b: 324-334) classifies into five categories:
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In this particular case, I assume that shifts and blockage are unlikely to take place, although they cannot be completely ruled out in some listeners.8 It is more likely that listeners engage in processes of blending or juxtaposition. A useful, perhaps necessary, notion in discussing such conflict resolution is Langacker's (2002) idea of the current discourse space, which he defines as "the mental space comprising those elements and relations construed as being shared by the speaker and hearer as a basis for communication at a given moment in the flow of discourse" (Langacker 2002: 144). The current discourse space is comprised by the cognitive structures and processes activated throughout the discourse and, by virtue of the interactive function of language (Langacker 1998: 1), characterized by the notion of the other self and common ground in communication. Common ground, as perceived by interlocutors, may be linked to a type of schema that Fillmore (1982) calls an interactional frame. Interactional frames are conceptualizations, or cognitive models, of "what is going on between the speaker and hearer, or between the author or reader" (Fillmore 1982:117), let us refer to this as the communication situation frame. The current discourse space of "Night Crawler" is characterized by activation of, and conflict between, the concepts human and non-human. Listeners who apply blending as a resolution strategy are likely to select those elements from both inputs that are either highlighted or hinted at throughout the lyric and blend them into a new concept in their inferring the Night Crawler. The result is then a man-animal hybrid which has a quadrupedal configuration, the ability to speak , sentience, a predatory nature, and human hands with fingernails more akin to claws. On the basis of a blend along the lines of this, the listener infers a truly chaotic monster which combines the unknown (its animal nature) with the known (its human nature). Listeners who operate with juxtaposition also activate the human and non-human concepts, but instead of unifying them, the listener directs his or her attention to the fact that the conflicting concepts or rather the conflicting characteristics of the Night Crawler are irreconcilable, generating an inference of the monster which is itself characterized by indeterminacy. Both resolution strategies would lead to the uncanny.
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The result of the application of blending would be a monster that combines the known and unknown, which in itself is considered uncanny. The result of the application of juxtaposition would be uncanny indeterminacy as an incongruity effect, and, ultimately, the Night Crawler would remain obscure and blurry to those who resort to juxtaposition. Schema juggling is probably less unlikely than shifts and blockage, and it is not inconceivable that, as the song progresses, the listener will go back and forth between the
concepts in the current discourse space. Given Steen's (2002: 191) observation of the linearly continuous experience of listening to a song, we might even suggest that schema juggling serves as a subprocess within both blending and juxtaposition.
7 Diegetic deixis, discursive deixis, and presupposition
We will now turn to deixis in "Night Crawler" to see how deictic forms may be exploited in the name of terror. In Croft/Wood's (2000: 57- 64-66) model, deixis falls under the heading of situatedness, which covers our cognitive ability to relate the self to the world in which it exists. Situatedness also enables us to locate the self in a range of contexts, including spatial, temporal, epistemic, social, and cultural ones among others. Consequently, via deixis, interlocutors are also able to reconstruct and partially or completely construct contexts in discourse, and create in-text relations between diegetic elements, situations, and settings.
Common ground (and the communicative situation frame) is also considered a matter of situatedness in Croft/Cruse's (2000: 57; 64-65) model of construal operations. More specifically, common ground is a matter of situating the self in the context of other selves, as it relates to one's perception of shared knowledge. Interlocutors typically have an idea of which knowledge is shared and which knowledge is not shared and may situate the communicative situation via various linguistic forms of epistemic deixis (Croft/Wood 2000: 64). One type of epistemic deictic form is arguably what Huang (2007: 65-67) calls presupposition triggers, which are linguistic units that signal, and refer to, information taken for granted by the speaker as common ground shared with the other interlocutor(s), be it as common cultural knowledge or as part of the current discourse space.9
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An example of a presupposition trigger would be the definite description the door which takes for granted that there is a door and the recipient already knows about the door. Another example could be the lexeme return as in I will return to Mars which takes for granted that I have already been to Mars and the recipient already knows this. One final example of a presupposition trigger is the cleft sentence construction as in It was me who knocked on your door, which takes for granted that someone knocked on your door that the recipient already know this.10
7.1 Diegetic deixis: in-text spatial relations
By diegetic deixis we understand the deictic relations within the narrative that relate the elements within the narrative to the text-world, or diegetic, context. Diegetic deixis is thus the construction of situatedness of characters or entities within the narrative via use of deictic forms.
There are a number of instances of diegetic deictic elements in the lyric, but we will focus on those that contribute to the literary effect of terror. We saw earlier that the uncanny monster typically originates from beyond the human world (Carroll (1990); Christensen 2012). With this in mind, we might argue that As the thing crawls into town captures this relation via the combination of the path-source-goal and containment image schemata (Johnson 1987; see Kimmel 2009 for a discussion of image schemata in literature) which is associated with into. In this image schema an entity moves along a path from a source outside of the container into the container. Thus, the thing that is the Night Crawler instantiates the entity that moves along the path, and the town instantiates the goal, while the source is the location outside the town from which the Night Crawler originates. This, I would argue, coincides with the invasion theme. In the invasion narrative, the container links up with our known cosmos, while the source links up with the unknown, and uncanny, chaotic origin of the monster. Thus, the quite simple spatial relation that underlies the Night Crawler's crawling into town may cognitively resonate with a very deep-rooted cultural narrative which in turn may represent a basic human fear. The invasion narrative is echoed in spatial relation expressed by homing in in homing in, its cry distorts.
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A similar spatial relation is constructed in the bridge in which the Night Crawler is located outside the house in whose cellar its victims are hiding. In this case, it is the house or perhaps more specifically the cellar instantiates the container and thus the known world. Essentially zooming in from the macroview of the town to the microview of this particular house, the exterior of the house becomes the unknown world of the monster and the interior of the house the known cosmos. In changing to this microview, the lyric converts the town itself from being the known cosmos into the dark chaotic realm of the Night Crawler, and this is obviously a process in which the known becomes the uncanny. The inside-outside contrast characterizes the entire bridge, describing in quite some detail how the Night Crawler transcends the inside-outside boundary by clawing at the windows, scratching on the outside walls, beckoning its victims, and finally descending into the cellar to kill and devour them.
The bridge is significantly foregrounded in terms of its instrumental and vocal delivery, among other things because it is spoken rather than sung. Not only does it deviate from the rest of the song by virtue of being spoken, it also deviates from spoken language by virtue of being rhymed. Interestingly, Punter (2000) observes that rhyming itself may be uncanny exactly because of its deviation from regular conventional speech. It is quite interesting that the verbally, vocally and musically most foregrounded section is also the segment of the underlying narrative of "Night Crawler" in which the monster's invasion of the known world is complete and culminates in the killing and eating of its victims.
The origin of the Night Crawler is, in fact, specified via the parallelism of repetition in another foregrounded part of the song namely, the pre-chorus, in which it is mentioned that the Night Crawler is one of a kind that comes straight out of hell. Of course hell may literally refer to hell or a location merely metaphorically referred to as hell. In any case, in Christian symbolism, which pervades much Western culture, hell is associated with darkness (Bierdermann 1996: 169; Chevalier/Gheerbrant 1996: 492), so even the metaphorical use would link up with the uncanny. At this point, it is perhaps worth mentioning that the cognitive model of hell is a conventional part of the imagery associated with the heavy metal genre, and that the inclusion of straight out of hell, which may possibly even be a type of idiomatic expression, might as well primarily simply serve to reflect the genre affiliation of the song. Still, the spatial relation expressed by out of, which, like into, combines the source-path-goal and container image schemata (Johnson 1987), but specifies the prepositional complement as the source rather than the goal, does fit into the invasion narrative quite well.
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The diegetic vantage point primarily tags on to the townspeople, as exemplified by the following verse which describes their last attempts at protecting them against the Night Crawler:
Already activated in the current discourse space are those cognitive structures and processes associated with the scenario of the Night Crawler approaching the town, of which the listener is reminded by homing in and the horrific metonymy created by the reference to the distortion of the Night Crawler's cry. This evokes terror in the sense of anticipation of the horrific. In a verse that precedes a guitar solo which is followed by the bridge, we are reminded of this:
Unlike the rest of the song which is sung in mid range, this verse, which also follows a vocal melody that does not appear anywhere else in the song, is performed in Rob Halford's trademark high-pitched melodic screaming. The verse is thus foregrounded melodically, and also emphasizes the sense of anticipation of the horrific (the screamed vocals may even amplify the sense of terror) in the inclusion of the idiomatic The end is drawing near and the spatial deictic semantics associated with near.
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7.2 Discursive deixis and presupposition
Discursive deixis is to be understood in contrast with diegetic deixis: while diegetic deixis covers deictic relations within the diegetic universe of a text, discursive deixis covers the deictic relations between the text itself and its context. Thus, discursive deixis in this analysis is not the same as Levinson's (1983: 85-89) discourse deixis, but more akin to the intersection between what Verdonk (2013: 28-29) calls the immediate speech situation of a poem and the deictic structure of a poem. In his analysis of Auden's 'Musée des Beaux Arts', Verdonk (2013: 29) notes that there are textual features of the poem that indicate verbal interaction between the poem's persona and the reader. Perhaps not surprisingly, such features are also found in many popular music lyrics, and "Night Crawler" is no exception.
While the verses and the bridge constitute a narrative in the third person, the pre-chorus and the chorus, and the coda contain elements of person deixis typically associated with the context of the immediate speech situation of discourse. More specifically, these parts of the lyric contain elements that, via person deixis, address the listener directly. Let us first have a look at the pre-chorus:
The first three lines appear to still be in the third person narrative mode, but in the fourth line the recipient is suddenly addressed directly via two linguistic elements. Firstly, there is of course the second person pronoun you, which via person deixis specifies the addressee. Secondly, there is a negative imperative in the form of Don't look behind you; seeing that imperatives are typically directives or commands directed at the addressee, there is also an implicit second person deictic element in imperatives. It may of course be that Don't look behind you is a diegetic warning aimed at the victims, but, drawing on the communicative situation frame, the listener is likely to interpret the pre-chorus such that the listener is the addressee. The preposition phrase behind you is transferred onto the listener's deictic center. Given that the current discourse space includes a narrative of a dangerous uncanny monster, the spatial area behind the second person referent of Don't look behind you (that is, the listener) is fused with the domain of the Night Crawler.
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The area behind the second person referent is quite literally associated with the unknown in that it is outside his or her field of vision, and people literally do not know what is behind them. In addressing the listener, the lyric draws the listener into the diegetic universe of "Night Crawler" and construes the listener as a potential victim of the Night Crawler. Cognitively, the most likely process involved here is that of conceptual blending (Fauconnier/Turner 2002), such that, in the current discourse space, the
frame of the lyric, in which the listener is specified as the second person referent, is blended with the narrative itself. This way, the sense of terror that pervades the lyric is not only related to its characters, but also directly to the listener via the exploitation of listener's own perceptual vantage point. The chorus maintains this perspective:
In the first line, which is another imperative this time with the speech act function of a warning the listener remains in the role of the addressee , such that the warning appears to be directly addressed at the listener, maintaining the listener's transcendence of the discursive deictic and diegetic deictic structures of the lyric. You now he's coming back not only addresses the listener via person deixis, but also involves epistemic deixis, assuming common ground between the narrator, or main persona, and the listener. We will return to this in a moment, but let us first have a look at another instance of discursive deixis in the coda:
This line contains both temporal deixis and person deixis. The temporal deictic form is the present tense form of the future indicating be going to V construction. In specifying a temporal discursive context of the lyric, the boundaries between the diegetic and the non-diegetic are further blurred, as a diegetic event is projected onto the future within the temporal context of the lyric itself and thus also the future of the second person referent in the immediate speech situation constructed via the evocation of the communication frame in the listener.
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Thus, through the use of primarily person deixis, combined with spatial and temporal deixis, "Night Crawler" transcends diegesis and draws the listener into the atmosphere of terror that permeates the song. Another strategy that is employed is, as mentioned above, epistemic deixis via presupposition triggers. As mentioned above You know he's coming back is an instance of epistemic deixis which assumes common ground. This assumption is, of course, overtly expressed via you know, which assigns to the listener the knowledge that the characters in the narrative are likely to have about the Night Crawler's behavior. The most interesting example of epistemic deixis, however, is the use of the definite article in the first appearance of the Night Crawler in (2). Disregarding the title, this is the first mention of the Night Crawler, which technically is new information to the listener, but the definite article presents the information as given, thus presupposing that the listener has the same knowledge as the diegetic characters have. This is another instantiation of the uncanny in that the listener is projected into the diegetic universe and treated as if the listener and the personae in the poem share common ground. The listener does not, however, actually have the knowledge that constitutes the common ground, and, consequently, the effect is simultaneous diegetization, as it were, and alienation of the listener.
8 The killing
The final example of terror-evoking vagueness I will address is the description or lack thereof of the Night Crawler's killing of its victims. The killing itself is never really described:
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The killing is referred to in the last four lines and, although we learn that it is swift, the manner in which the Night Crawler kills its victim is kept implicit. Death comes in an instance is accompanied by a scream performed by Rob Halford, which arguably is another instance of horrifying metonymy in that the scream is likely to be construed as one of the victims' death scream. This implicitness leaves it up to the listener to infer and construct the exact manner of killing. Note the contrast inherent in the antonymy between As it now descends the stairs and Souls ascend to heaven. It is almost as if the Night Crawler completely submits the known world when killing its victims, such that their souls ascending to heaven is their only escape.
Perhaps drawing on the good-is-up and bad-is-down vertical metaphors, the ascension scenario has an almost relieving effect following the increasing intensity throughout the bridge of the song. This sense of relief is quickly subverted though by the last line of the bridge which predicates a scene in which the Night Crawler eats its victims. Again, we see horrific metonymy at play in the mentioning of flesh and blood which, being part of the victims' bodies, metonymically represents the victims. The imagery evoked here is one of bodily disintegration, which is further amplified by flesh and blood being mass nouns, thus prompting the listener to apply constitution-based construal operations of unbounded and unindividuated structural schematization (Croft/Wood 2000: 57, 66-69). The words flesh and blood are horror-generators, but they serve the purpose of terror-generation as well because they prompt the listener to construct the imagery of the reading itself, which remains unexpressed in the lyric.
9 Concluding remarks
In our analysis of Judas Priest's "Night Crawler" we have seen that there are several instances of language use which may be argued to serve the purpose of invoking terror in the listener. In applying a stylistic analysis in accordance with the tenets of cognitive poetics, I have suggested a number of cognitive structures and processes likely to be involved in the (expert) listener's construal of references to the Night Crawler.
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We saw that all lexical references to the Nigh Crawler are vague. Nominal references to the Night Crawler, with the exception of its name, are done via dehumanizing lexemes which refer to either inanimate entities (thing) or non-human beings (creature and beast). Moreover, these lexemes are super ordinate level category terms which are semantically characterized by very few specifying features and a high level of abstraction, thus forcing the listener to construct the specifics him- or herself on the basis of the vague linguistic cues offered throughout the song. Another primary means of reference to the Night Crawler is via horrific metonymy in which an aspect of the monster, such as its claws, its crawling, its nocturnal nature, or its cry. In this process the highlighted part, which is in itself evocative of horror, is selected as representative of the Night Crawler but, a consequence of this construal operation is that the rest of the monster is gapped and kept unknown to the listener. Likewise, the killing of the victims in the second part of the bridge is largely kept implicit, and only hinted at via horrific metonymic reference to the victims' disintegrated bodies. Via multiple specification at the level of text deixis and also in the more substantial lexico-grammatical texture of the lyric in which that Night Crawler is conceptualized non-human and human . Ruling out the blockage and shifts as probable conceptual resolution strategies, it was suggested that blending and juxtaposition, and possibly schema juggling, are most likely to be employed by listeners in trying to make sense of this conflict. In the case of both blending and juxtaposition the resulting reading of the monster is one characterized by duality in terms of humanity and non-humanitiy. In both cases, the indeterminacy which we suggested was not uncommon on verbal art that appeals to fear amounts to the uncanny and thus appeals to the fear of the unknown. In other words, what seems to be inconsequential use of referring expressions is likely to actually be a strategy of terror as a narrative function. In addressing deixis, we found that what we called diegetic deixis also seems to serve the purpose of terror as a narrative function in that the spatial relations between the town and townspeople on the one hand and the Night Crawler on the other hand appear to fit neatly into the invasion narrative schema in which the monster originates from a chaotic place outside the known world of humanity. In breaking down the particular invasion narrative in "Night Crawler", we identified the source-path-goal and container image schemata as underlying, and, perhaps boldly, I will suggest that these schemata are basic to all invasion narratives. This hypothesis will of course have to be tested against other instances of verbal art revolving around the theme of invasion to be verifiable (or falsifiable).
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In changing from a macroview to a microview in the bridge, focusing on one particular cellar in which the Night Crawler kills and eats its victims, the song culminates in a complete invasion of the human world by a monstrous entity whose core remains very much unknown to the listener. We also saw that the boundaries between the diegetic and the immediate speech situation are transgressed through the use of person deixis and epistemic deixis in the pre-chorus, chorus, and coda, which include imperatives and second person pronouns directed at the listener and include presupposition triggers that assume common ground between the narrator and the listener such that information, which is technically new to the listener, is presented as given. This way, the listener is drawn into the diegetic world of the song and construed as a potential victim of the Night Crawler on par with the diegetic personae. The interesting literary effect here is that the terror of anticipation of the horrific is directly projected onto the vantage point of the listener.
In proposing this cognitive poetic analysis of terror in "Night Crawler", I hope to have shown how terror, and linguistic strategies serving terror as a communicative function, may be linked to general processes and structures in human cognition. Ultimately, the experience of listening to "Night Crawler" is, in addition to the pleasure attained by listening to traditional heavy metal and the music of Judas Priest (mind you, the expert listener is likely to enjoy this kind of music), also involves the pleasure of the uncanny, which readers of Gothic literature and viewers of horror cinema also revel in. Of course, this study is not a comparative study, and, aside from a few vague intertextual references to literature, myth and cinema, I am obviously in no position to claim that the findings of the present analysis apply to all other instances of verbal (and other) art which appeals to feat. However, one may of course hope that future comparative research into such verbal (and other) art may draw on the findings of the present analysis in one way or another.
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1 Turbo Lover appears on the 1986 album Turbo, while Starbreaker, Exciter, and Painkiller appear on Sin after Sin from 1977, Stained Class from 1978, and Painkiller from 1990 respectively. Invader also appears on Stained Class, while Grinder and the Metal Gods appear on British Steel from 1980. Jawbreaker appears on Defenders of the Faith from 1984, and Demonizer on the 2005 album Angel of Retribution. Like Painkiller, the Night Crawler also appears on the Painkiller-album. The Jugulator and the Abductors appear on Jugulator from 1997, and the Devil Digger on the 2001 album Demolition, while The Ripper appears on the 1976 album Sad Wings of Destiny.
2 See for instance Burke's (2005) cognitivist enhancement of a more traditional stylistic analysis by Peter Verdonk of Philip Larkin's poem "Going".
3 More specifically, the structure of "Night Crawler" is as follows, with instrumental parts in square brackets: [Introduction] 1st verse type A pre-chorus chorus 2nd verse type A pre-chorus chorus [guitar solo] verse type B [breakdown] bridge pre-chorus chorus chorus. Readers who use Spotify's music service can listen to the song via this link: Judas Priest Night Crawler; the lyrics may be accessed from Judas Priest's official webpage, using this link: Painkiller lyrics (scroll down to "Night Crawler").
4 There are two reasons for adopting the perspective of an expert listener: 1) heavy metal music is generally non-mainstream and expert listeners are thus more likely to listen to "Night Crawler" than lay listeners and 2) I, the analyst, have expert listener status within the genre of heavy metal music, and, at the end of the day, the reading presented in this analysis is my reading.
5 Hooks may, of course, also be instrumental, and in traditional heavy metal, lead guitars typically also deliver hooks in the form of thematic guitar melodies.
6 This, of course, requires the hook to not be lyrically nonsensical as is the case of, for instance, Caramba's "Hubba Hubba Zoot Zoot".
7 The two propositions that is the Night Crawler scratching on the outside wall and the Night Crawler clawing at the windows with the former humanizing the Night Crawler and the latter dehumanizing it are listed below
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8 My reason for not expecting shifts to occur is that a shift involves the adaption of one of the conflicting concepts towards the other, and, in this particular case, the lyrics constantly change back and forth between humanization and dehumanization. Consequently, the two concepts remain activated in the current discourse space, making it quite difficult to select one over the other. For the same reason, blockage is unlikely, because, due to the constant evocation of the two concepts throughout the lyric, listeners cannot easily abandon them (except if the listener simply gives up listening to the song altogether), but will constantly have to process them mentally.
10 See Stockwell (2002: 41-57) for a detailed model of deixis in cognitive poetics.