When looking for a title for my ongoing web story, I decided on “The Uncanny Saga of Krog the Barbarian”. I’ll explain in another post why I went for the above title. In this post, I want to focus on one word I chose: uncanny.
Well, uncanny may be seen as the opposite of “canny”. Being canny is defined as showing shrewdness and good judgement, especially in relation to money or business matters. It also has a secondary meaning of being nice or pleasant.
Now, my thought in titling my serial as being “uncanny” was to exploit the humour of being the opposite of canny as defined above. And to take advantage of the usage of the word, which refers to something strange or mysterious or unsettling. But perhaps to subvert it?
Following the decision, I go and read an article that there’s a Freudian aspect to the word. A feeling that something can be familiar yet at the same time be foreign resulting in a feeling of the situation being uncomfortably strange. This leads to cognitive dissonance. In an 1906 essay titled “On the Psychology of the Uncanny”, Ernst Jentsch defined it as:
"…doubts whether an apparently animate being is really alive; or conversely, whether a lifeless object might be, in fact, animate"
And that this is the basis of a lot of horror fiction.
What this suggests is that by choosing to include uncanny in my title and not having explored the word’s meaning to its full usage, it seems my subconscious decided that the serial will have some dark elements in it.
Who would have thought? Poor ol’ Krog. And Ratface.