Chapter 9: The Invincible Horrors
A woman is watching a scary movie alone on Halloween night — someone, or something, keeps knocking at her door.
What is the woman thinking? She wishes her friend hadn’t gone away. It was the deep moment when she recognized the need for a collective friendship. Reasons are always hard to find. Her fear was a kind of abstract. She had come from Armenia.
But her visions were tied to what she thought about the planet. Even her maddest visions came from the forms and the world she knew. She never thought she could go off the planet and get them, so she always thought that she was using her own just proportion and her objectivity no matter what. She never thought she could escape her world and so she reckoned sincerely there is never anything truly abstract or non-objective because everything came true as a dime from her life.
Everything she sees and knows , even things in her dreams and consciousness, even things never seen before, she knew their tangible relationships
So she listens to the knocking like she’s listening to a pattern, trying to follow the sound without following the symptoms. So what she was experiencing as she sat there on her couch was just an idea, maybe the idea of her coffee mug which was drained and just there. Or maybe it wasn’t anything. Or maybe 'the coffee mug is drained' isn't anything.
Sometimes it felt more like she just stumbled and happened to be thrown into alignments of thinking, with a kind of vision that the knocking and the patterns coming in on Halloween would finish somehow. That’s how it seemed.
If it’s horror it’s a kind of accidental horror, like iron and factory materials strike you as accidental too.
Someone is taking a bath as a hand from behind the shower curtain pushes their head into the water. He liked to take baths. His profession was the sort that activated dirty work. He liked to take a bath and change his clothes at the end of a day. He never wanted the marks of someone else on him. This is an odd attitude really. This century everyone marks everyone else. Few people get to avoid this, or even want to.
A farmer and his sons begin to hear the laughter of children coming from his fields at night — no children are in sight. If you look out you see chimney pots. The farmer, to be frank, never saw a single child. A field that didn’t have over fifty chldren, over a hundred children even better, doesn’t interest him, because there’s something about energy and the accumulation and repetition that has something deep in his consciousness.
He didn’t like to impose himself and preferred to keep things a little circular, and keep the surfaces more hidden, as if in cupboards in his fields, and therefore he never liked to open up too many spaces. So basically that was his approach: not too many open spaces in one spot and many many many closed, like an artist’s division. He sat and thought a lot about the shapes he created out in the fields. What the overall shape reminded him of most was a lasso thrown into space.
All the children in the structure made him aware more than ever of his heritage, on all levels. If one of them, just one, had been able to stand up on their feet afterwards then he might have decided that the whole thing wasn’t valid. But he was aware of the mysterious quality that turned the children in the fields into neither flowers nor people, not even bodies. And that made everything seem all worth while.
Someone looks out their window to see a clown standing at a corner holding a balloon — staring up at them. Electric lights for eyes, used sand, glass marbles, well, it all seemed like art. A great beautiful beam was thrown out, and something underneath that was the opposite, unhealthy and inactive like dead things become. That look and smile, it wasn’t what you’d jump in and swim out to. Smiles are limited in what they can deliver. With limitation comes freedom of course, the sort that you take your time to get used to, and sometimes you don’t because you feel you can’t do anything with it.
On the other hand there were leeways and when acquainted well enough with the options you can find different ways to use them. You might break up or look for a particular texture or a rugged edge, for example. By the time she’s finished with whatever she’s working on they are no longer what they were and she’d be embarrassed to think they were. They are no longer that at all and that seems right to her. It just proves we should not really admit clowns as art unless in grainy videos done years ago.
Mannequins in a department store seem to be moving on their own. Well, thinking about this, it all seems a little chauvinistic and parochial and didn’t seem to have anything to do with the future. But there are monstrous elements to consider too.
What if the God people worshiped was really Satan — and Satan had somehow kept God prisoner? Well it really wouldn’t make a difference to anything. It’s like thinking we’re in the Matrix. But nevertheless you feel a little suspicious because surely if God is a prisoner shouldn’t we be trying to figure out a way to free him? That thought rumbles on in the background with these ideas and sometimes but most of the time we don’t think about anything like this because it’s too hard. And the world, whatever it’s really like, is very tough to live in and we need to keep our minds free of clutter we can’t do anything about. That’s another thought we have when these cunundrums come up.
Stop cluttering my mind with these ideas, is the cry. Although it’s always quiet and done inside, without a real cry. Unless you’re a character in a Dostoevsky novel perhaps. Then they can react for hundreds of pages and it’s all quite sensational and somehow a relief. Because you can just read them and let them do all the mad antics and reach their conclusions whilst we can get on with our lives too.
This is what I always think when I’m reading a Russian novel whilst eating a slice of toast, for example. That’s why I don’t get too upset with a Tarkovsky film, for instance, or Anselm Keifer. Because although they seem a bit windy and outrageously heavy you can always have another slice of toast with them and then they seem manageable. I think that’s the zeitgesist way isn’t it? Although perhaps we’re not supposed to say it too loud because it makes it seem we’re being a bit of a joker.
Being a joker can be good but you need a lot of confidence, it seems, and most of us have too many doubts and don’t feel we could be Michalangelo or even Bob Dylan. So we should be careful or else. We’re not sure, but we think something bad might come of being too cock-sure. Like, we might be challenged to prove it. Whatever ‘it’ amounts to. And we might not know. And then we’ll be suspected of being part of the master-narrative and that would be bad.
A man dies and wakes up in the body of a serial killer — and no matter how hard he tries to stop killing, he can’t. There are all sorts of questions we want to ask here.
Why can’t he stop? Is it because the body is out of control? So he’s screaming from behind the eyes, so to speak, and wanting the body to stop but it won’t? Then he’s not doing anything wrong. He’s just trapped inside a body that isn’t his. So his tragedy is that he’s in control of his mind but he’s no powers in the world. Can we make sense of this?
Well, if all the different mechanisms of his mind are working except the ones linking his mind to his body then we could explain this situation. I suppose we have people with locked in syndrome like this, except they can’t move. So maybe someone else’s mind is moving the body in this case. So we have two minds in a single body. A psychopath and a non-psychopath. Or else there’s just one mind but something has gone wrong with the mind so he just thinks he’s not doing what he wants but he’s wrong. He’s just mistakenly thinking he’s out of control when he’s not. Or else the body is on automatic, working without any need to heed the self part of the mind.
Well we can start reading books on the subject of the philosophy of mind and try and get to grips with that situation. Although the idea of surviving death is stretching things, we think. How does anyone know about this? If he can’t report on it, how did anyone find out? If no one could find out, should we believe it? But really that’s not the right answer to a philosophical question is what we think deep down. It’s one of those scenarios that raises things up even if there’s something a bit hokey about it. We want to say we can ask anything and take anything seriously. That’s how we are when we get to philosophise. It seems better even than being above the master narrative. But less defended these days. A bit more unknown and in the background. But when we are reminded of it it seems important to us and with dignity and sometimes dignity can be a force for good we think. It can hold things together when everything is looking like sliding down. So this ability to ask anything about anything is a kind of big secretive power we have. But its fair to say that it’s a bit far from where the zeitgeist is these days. So we are torn.
But I think the zeitgeist is wrong here. Because we can always ask about the zeitgeist according to this secretive power. And zeitgeisty people find that too much and are aghast.
A prisoner awakens to find the prison empty — but he’s locked in his cell. There are always dark defects. The soul often needs allies aginast fierce ones. Fierce ones can be absent but nevertheless frighten. There’s a darkness about this prisoners’ situation. He’d need an uncanny strength to resist the terror of the situation. The antidote to terror is to couple the soul with undying and vital presences close in both time and space. Perhaps an ascetic would reverse this: the presences would be far removed.
We wonder if this prisoner would be better talking to angels so that he was grounded in supernature. But let’s suppose he was still able to put together the harmony concerning the course of the moon running with the rayed sun and the sea. Perhaps we might feel better about his plight were he Pelagian even in such a circumstance. In other words, that he could still do something.
Perhaps we want him to be a little Stoic and remind himself that everything is animated by a divinity analgous to his own. What he needs to do, we cry, is to affirm an affinity between the depths of his own nature and the motions of the cosmos. Where the source of his terror lies is in the absence of another. A situation like that is rubbish to contemplate and creates the gap where fear comes inrushing.
So he has to look for continuity at all levels of the cosmos so that the empty prison is no threat. There’s a kind of wisdom in this approach because it makes them accurate about who they are, how the world is, how everything works, and about the beginning, middle and end times.
That’s the way to go here. Two universes. One based on terror and anxiety. Existential, perennial and situational. The prisoner universe of the locked cell, the locked church, hopeless and howling. Another based on a desire for instruction, rooted and grounded in the nature of the cosmos itself. The prisoner finding unity between his way and the way of the oceans, stars and biology. Without dread and wholly present.
And we can also wonder if this prisoner isn’t Boethius awaiting execution by torture.
A woman jogging stumbles upon a dead, bloody body — she then hears a strange clicking sound and looks up to see a dark figure running towards her. A strange monsterous vision of the Epicurean functioning as atheism, providence-less movement and the precariousness of human existence on hind legs.
Self-understanding seems to lean heavily on irreducibly creative and narratival structures probably schematized unconsciously in the physical brain. There are synthetic and busy and boundless powers from this. And an exalted mood. Perceiving itself is a creative and dynamic act.
Whatever is not true isn’t good enough, some have said. But then, Philo thought every day a feast day. Go figure.
A girl hears laughter downstairs — she’s the only one home. There are beautiful ordinances we can find in the strange and the weird. Of course the first response is likely to be terror and biting your lip with a cringe. But there’s more that can be done. If she works through deductions she might end up laughingly decreeing that every happy person is a God.
Well, we think that might be mad and going too far. Because many of us don’t believe in Gods anymore. But nevertheless, there’s something that can catch us in that line. Myths, hymns, poetry, rhetoric, allegories, religious acts, prayer, medicinal and salvic work, they can still be seen. Wherever we start – maybe a good jog or a stretching yoga half hour – one thing comes from this, and one providence, but like fate starting at a lower level where the upper is providence alone.
So now the girl realizes her fate is enmeshed with providence and exists by virtue of it. You can escape fate but not providence is the thought here. Providence is god’s own self understanding, even if there is no god. Perspective becomes creative. You’re going to be whatever you love and know and these will carry us away from ourselves, like a new birth.
In a sense you’re going further than philosophy in this kind of mood and towards grace. She’s in the upper room of the house like a soul dancing above her fate, following providence.
An Uber driver picks up the wrong person — and may not live to tell the tale. So this is a journey which we might think is disjunctive and even hostile. The zeitgeist is feeling more comfortable with this because the situation looks like a metaphor for incredulity towards any and all master-narratives.
The Uber driver gets cut-off from the real, like a weird simulacra living suddenly in hyper-reality. She becomes just a sign referring to other signs and she has no original sign and stems from the utopian principle of equivalence. In these strange journies, the Uber driver’s language became ontology. But although evoked it can’t be completely known , described or enforced. The strange world is one that tends to give us all headaches but seems to chime with a bit of the zeitgeist although less of it than before perhaps.
So we get some saying that the Uber driver’s reality is not just not lining up with reality but isn’t lining up with itself either. And this split mirrors a split in the original world from before. So now we’re really at the level of crack-pot theorizing where we are supposed to be able to accept an ontological gap in reality. And then theologicans will run in from time to time and say that Jesus on the cross is the demonstration of this ontological gap.
So now we have this Uber driver playing the role of Jesus. We are all frowning like mad and thinking that this is a bit theology and surely the zeitgeist is against God and theology stuff. But this is never an easy call anymore because there are still mood swings that let Jesus in under different versions.
So culture used to just swallow up reality. But now we can’t allow that. The Uber driver gets to be Gell-Mann sometimes, and everyone explains that he’s a complex adaptive system acting on the real world on the basis of a schema. Along with everything else.
So we’re watching the routes he takes and we note that instead of being linear its all a bit chaotic and magnified to create large-scale effects but not disorder as such. Because these mad journeys display surprising resilience and resistence to external changes.
There are those who really think they understand our Uber driver now and see the awakening of a cyborg post-humanist at the wheel where we can trace imminent divinity to a process of self-organisation.
Whew, we go, and go watch the film Ex Machina again to check how all those boundaries get crossed – humans/animals, organisms/machines, houses/ghosts. And then everything goes high-wire and we bs and networks come in to every conversation even though there’s something fishy about it but we can’t work it out.
So the Uber driver gets to be like an infinite fractal and there are fanatics talking about how the infinite is not beyond the finite but is the rhythm of the finite as well as a matrix. So we go and watch that film as well, and listen to Dave Chalmers on youtube.
Now we talk about the uber driver as emergent self-organisation on the edge of chaos, which gives everyone the shivers and a sense that this has awe and wonder attached even though it’s a bit beyond us. So everyone talks about Eisnstein and quantum physics as if its easy to know what its really about because the Uber driver is like she is because of her inability to get down to the Planck scale.
And if we still need to say anything more, we can always mumble on about dark matter and dark energy and call the stable organized universe an absurdity with a knowing laugh. But really we know we’re talking rubbish and this is the zeitgeist just being itself a bit of a black hole.
Which is the kind of self referencing knowing joke the zeitgeist likes so long as in small doses.
There’s someone or something living and moving up in the attic — but it’s not a ghost. Maybe it’s a string. And then maybe we can unify gravity and physics. And here we get a lot of talk about the structure of space time breaking down at a certain scale.
Which makes you wonder whether its like a loaf of bread because a loaf will break down at a certain level too. When we’re listening to this stuff we’re trying to detect whether its as daft as it sounds when its not physicists and philosophers of physics talking. And we note that the latter are usually also physicists.
So there are dimensions in all this just at the level of the discourse. And sometimes the zeitgeist gets carried away and starts thinking you can understand this without much effort, jusy by using certain words. And when that happens its usually necessary to expose them as hoaxes. Which can seem a bit cruel because it sometimes seems playful and harmless but when you think about it, it’s bullshit being poured into people who trust them.
So its right to expose them on the whole, we think.
A child’s imaginary friend is not imaginary. This is like saying that repetition doesn’t repeat the same but repeats a difference. So identity is impossible. So everything is becoming and because of this endless process, nothing can be identical with itself. Because it’s now changed into something different. It happens all the time and you can’t hold it back.
This sounds cool although then you wonder how anything is anything, and how we can tell. But perhaps its about intensities. That’s the usual answer. So the imaginary friend of our identity is more intense in likeness so we can repeat, but as difference instead.
Maybe its another version of a self-orgaising system but in better language. Like ‘Tehom’, which is the depth of God or ‘chaosmos’ which James Joyce used to mean productive chaos. So this idea is like our Uber driver driving along the edge of chaos working her kind of spirituality and participating in the traffic.
And it leaves us feeling a bit breathless and our heads are spinning with all this becoming and folding together and repetition but the zeitgeist is happier with all this talk and encourages us to repeat it in endless versions until it makes sense.
So we do, but feel a bit silly. So perhaps it’ll be revealed as a joke soon. And we can laugh in relief.
The reflections that we see of ourselves in the mirror are actually us in a parallel universe — and they are planning to do whatever it takes to take our place in this world. The existence of any universe like ours is a clue to the existence of a God fetish even though the probability factor doesn’t go very high despite this truth.
It also supports the existence of a God with a rhubarb yoghurt fetish, but with lower odds. So what does a second universe, like ours but in a mirror, do to those odds? And what happens if we put a mirror in front of this one so we get the mirror reflected infinitely?
When something strange happens it’s always worth checking whether we’re still capable of a belated faithfulness to whatever we had before. The mirror challenges us to question the world we knew before we knew about this piece of esoteric horror.
On days like that everything can seem like a cry from a tomb. Every detail of the day is a bodying forth, like a bereavement can be. But everything embodied can blow away into dust. That’s the misfortune of spring feelings. And the closure of endings.
When you have these kinds of thoughts you feel like burying your face into them. So much of what is happening is done as a register of attachment and attunement. There’s a confrontation with the uncanny blur between the imagined and the real, or rather, when we confront that border we experience the uncanny as our cipher.
A cipher isn’t a symbol because it doesn’t ask for a determinate concept because they are experiences of the ineffable. Which strikes us as a bit corny in our everyday mood, but those moods are admittedly a little shallow and utilitarian.
So we can tolerate the ineffable for a while, although don’t let the science guys and post-modernists hear you talking like that. But also beware of the hipster types who want you to have ineffability as part of a health course or something.
Cipher’s of ineffability are not pointers but are the thing. There’s nowhere else you’re supposed to go to. So when we want to say this sort of thing we’ve got to be careful not to sound too corny.
So if we’re with Jesus types we can say things like: ‘the Eucharist is God’s cipher’ and if we’re with the hermeneuticists we can say ‘the work of art does not simply refer to something, because what it refers to is actually there’ and drop Gadamer as a name of substance in these contexts.
But probably it’s best just to shiver quietly with your thoughts and stay dumb because this is one of those situations where the zeitgeist isn’t clear. When I knew that, my youth ended right there. If you feel a mistake has been made and you shouldn’t be here then that feeling proves you’re right, and is the error.
Don’t be afraid of being afraid, just be afraid. There’s plenty of reason for that. This is something that once it begins you can’t tell yourself it must end. This has nothing to do with the fact of the matter. Rather, it is hope experienced as anguish. Or vice versa, I forget which.
Being born is one less thing you have to take responsibility for.
Possession is the result of generosity.
Meanness sets you free.
The world is so disorganized and badly structured I like to set it all out to my satisfaction, as all liars do.
No one consents to die. Even if you say it, or act in accordance to what you think looks like consent, it isn’t consent because dying isn’t a verb. It’s a shape so large it’s invisible.
Are you involved in your life, or is it rather that something keeps interfering with your placidity, making you sulk and perverse?
Once you heard your name and ignored it, and from that moment you disappeared and started to live. Without mistakes, life would be pure horror.
I never wanted to believe anything anyone said so I insisted on only befriending liars.
Illusions feed off truths, which is an illusion, and a truth.
The obvious attitude is one that loathes friends. Start running if they start nodding at what you have to say.
Without idiots there would be no tragedies.
Anger is when you are only half in love.
I look for the eternal reassurance of exits and irresistible prejudice. I try and forget the sad things that have happened to others, not because I’m tired or busy but because I still can.
I have no hope and so never hold back my judgments.
Avoid the intimacies of the mind; you will never escape them.
I don’t repeat the past, I set fire to it and watch it burn.
Every dream I have is more vivid than the people I meet, such that I confuse ghosts with moths.
You’d be better dying than talking, better being different than the way I’m going to remember you as.
The ghostliness of fire always astonishes me. It’s as if some miracle has been worked, but far away, on a planet that is beyond incarnations we could understand.
There are poignant nights and then mornings come afterwards which desolate you and leave you with days rolling on forever, perishable and unutterably terrible.
The houses stretched themselves as if some vast obscurity might be caught in their arms, which might hold us too, and keep us safe.
How the past did what it did , pulled us back whilst we eluded its currents, that would always be a mystery, the beginning and end of everything, like a great love sometimes seems when in the throes of a series of successful gestures.
Only certain secretive things that happen just before make anything worthwhile.
Your domesticity will turn you into a cold romantic and every friendship will take on a tragic importance.
I recall the man on death row who when told of his reprieve burst into tears because the death sentence had been a cure to him and now he was bereft of it, and utterly alone once more. Here was an example of someone who paid too high a price for living too long with a dream.
Sad and lovely things should only be held in a glance and must never become a habit, let alone a friend. Some people’s voices are full of the kind of strangeness that makes you know you should run and hide whilst at the same time nothing is clearer: there is nowhere you can go where they won’t find you.
Grown ups are much more childish than infants.
Do you feel the pressure of the life inside you? It is the only thing that can reassure you that you’re doing the right thing, even if it’s not. This isn’t love. It’s the same evil twice.
What the hell is a cabinet de toilette?
Do souls age?
Once you’ve grasped what you’re life’s about, it’s already behind you.
You should lose your gift for hope because you can see what the elations of man add up to, the person they were going to be already younger and hopelessly left behind.
I know many people who tried to die and failed. Dying should be as effortless as starlight to moths.
Starting over is the bravest vitality.
There is a tendency in decadence of excessive consumption of gods.
The greed for metamorphosis has left everyone short of breath.
The precocious child topples her models frantically, in a sort of delirium, and when we observe this we grow nostalgic for decline, and wish we could vegetate. I would happily bow down if ever I met a human who believed something but didn’t pass it on.
There’s a mania for salvation in the most ordinary type, which is why even the decoration of a kitchen takes on the qualities of metaphysics.
How many of us think we lived up to our tombs? I watch the Cardassians, for example, as an extravagant attempt to seduce glory out of its tragic setting and rebuild it in the most agonized, unrefined gloss. The show makes it clear that they have absolutely nothing to do here on earth, which makes them existentialists of the highest order.
The greater misfortune is to be convinced that your boredom, being meaningless, has a higher purpose somehow, and redeems you to a kind of martyrdom. Such self-contradiction is the last word of a hopeless romantic.
Wisdom is just an attempt to sell-off the last remnants before the ship goes down, the store is closed, the sale ends - and like all cut-price sales there’ll be an overlooked bargain but mostly junk about untroubled death, indifference, emptiness and a general pathology that denies that times were better and there was once plenitude.
But there was. And there will be again once the rubbish has been swept away.
Just because I’m an accident doesn’t mean suicide is an option. Like all things, telling me that you are compelled by that equation also tells me who you are.
Anxiety without limits is just proof that you haven’t studied thoroughly enough.
You shouldn’t die sustained by what you needed to live.
A dying human needs to find new ambitions, not for peace, but to have a say in the final delusions.
If you really believe in God you will hate religion with an ecstatic frenzy and go to war against the fanatics who ritualize and mysticise.
Freedom is sterility.
Fear comes with a filled-up wombs, which is always too aggressive to be put on show except by torturers and tyrants.
I was born as a decision and an act neither of which were mine. They both lack the sort of reality that exists for me, and should be discounted when considering what to do next.
Instinct is not an offense but how we organize our impotence, and is nothing to do with philosophy.
Alive, we have a lethal omnipresence that distorts our understanding of our place, but nevertheless gives us intimations of eternity, which never seems removed from wherever we are.
Corruption has a kind of prestige in some philosophies, as if decomposition and death told us more than composition and life. It’s sheer prejudice, and an attempt to seduce a lover.
But sex isn’t philosophical, and orgasms should never be given too much clarity but rather should be crafted from the line between Dostoevsky and Tolstoy.
The difference between Apple and all the other digital companies was the sublime combined with a subtle arrangement of vengeance.
Those who love death do so because they hypostatize the event that denies them.
The pomp of legends owe everything to Wagner.
In vain we wait for the world to catch up with our vanity and when disappointed prove the evil of waiting.
A virus erodes sleepwalking for a time but lucidity is unbearable and soon the temptation to forget overwhelms us again, even though we know the dangers. Degradation is merely ludicrous deliverance and evidence for a kind of bearable obsolescence.
Nature sees there’s no difference between existence and annihilation, so how can anyone say we’re obviously natural? Surely the fact that we clutch at the distinction for dear life, and build whole civilizations upon it, is enough to make it at least not obvious.
A eulogy is often an intent to kill delivered too late, and often with regret because of this. Regret apologizes and apologies remind us that we were born before we wanted to kill. We used to want to catch up with God and surpass him. Now we’re content to walk past his grave and offer flowers, and forget the heady competitive urge that squandered every peace and left us exhausted.
Fiction extends us, so a fiction of dissolution commends itself by being an impossible object. I encourage everyone to lie so I don’t have to believe anyone. It is a weightless strategy, where substance is loosened from us, and without those burdens maybe there’ll be some things that aren’t second-rate. We’re always weary, and that’s our struggle and why bitterness is easier.
Every orgasm seeks utopia in its apocalypse, and its indifference is shattering and isolating.
How are we so bored with whose absence we find unbearable?
Disappointment is greedy whereas fulfillment never rescues anyone. It takes so much labour to make an event significant enough to express that we hardly ever even try. We live through events as if through centuries of oblivious wriggling.
Elegance is an artificial shame dispensed by geometry.
Some gods are portrayed as placid and domestic, as if the god of the wolf would be a Yorkshire terrier with a collar. I fear that these pictures get the whole story wrong, and hide a surfeit of reality that a god holds. The god of a wolf would be a nightmare termination of the ability to express anything at all. It would be the howling limit of a nightfall grounded on a superabundance of bloody meat. I don’t think anything in the religion would be reborn. The prospect, on the contrary, would be the endless annihilation of every particle in the universe, and eternal music.
Not a single wasp has ever heard Bach.
To say inattention to life is life is a decadence posing as epitaph.
Avoid talented people because their abundance is an accelerated progression towards your loneliness.
We should aim to disqualify ourselves from as much as possible, which of course requires a kind of participation.
A vampire is whosoever forgets the necessity of agriculture.
Table manners are the bitterest tears. I seek to rehabilitate sorrow.
Madness is a displaced instinct in some, in others it is the right instinct exactly working to expose our fractured truths. To be honest, I have little respect for anyone not expecting disaster, and revere those who carry on in the face of the worst expectation. This attitude can, alas, ruin a good party.
Dying always feels new, I guess because we’re always doing it.
God, being an infinite being, need not have been born yet. News of his murder is presumptuous.
Anguish cures us of any sense that we don’t matter.
The truth is that self-importance is just one side of a drama of detachment.
I would despise anyone resurrected who afterwards couldn’t live.
I like the idea of outliving myself because it seems we get something and get rid of it in the same gesture.
The fatality of pain is in its emphasis on birth and beauty.
Philosophy is taking insolubility to the point of insanity.
The wasp abhors the void. The ant also.
There came a morning of blizzards, and everyone had disappeared. The small boy set about making lists of the people he remembered. He became obsessed with the idea that he could be pregnant. His body was a mirror reflecting the mass absence, at one and the same time an image of his own nullity and craving. He attached himself to his own life in a way impossible before, as if to postpone the moment that it too, like all the rest, would be gone.
In this world there was no sense of indifference left, and consequently, no doubt either. He thought how others might have envied him had they survived. The oddness of this rubbed away any prestige he might have accumulated to his heart. The delirium was about being as far away from the future as possible.
There’s a man so tormented by nightmares, he asks his sleep paralysis demon to keep him awake longer. And what no part of the nightmare frightened him so much as this conversation, and the smile on the face of the creature, which seemed unrelenting, hungry and screaming.
The hearse pulls up outside and the driver knocks on your door and insists its time for your service. The certainty of self-identity is a confusion at the best of times, and this reunited you with a desolate remorse. It was the ferocity of the knocking and its unceasing maliciousness that had wakened you from troubled sleep. The distinction between pleasure and joy is what makes it difficult to receive the one true victory over all worlds. Sending the hearse away involved spying the mourners lining the street, and identifying them all, even a few that you knew hated you. If anything, this proved to your satisfaction that unconsoled anxieties are based on misinformation and the inevitability of defeat. In a world where even enemies might turn up to gloat, not even dying could communicate the proper tragedy.
Your toes are now fingers. Nights bring biological ordeals no matter how calm the sleep. Everything in the body remains a bright and bitter oscillation. The body incurs its own dread. The skin wraps mouths out of the belly and there are inexpressible depressions in the rhythm of decay. Some foreign body wriggles around under the dermal layers.
You teach English online to South Korean students. The students begin logging off and never return for the next class. No one notices but you. Emails are not answered.
Here the universe seems to be expressing itself oblivious to your own testament. Pictures on various websites showed sidewalk clutter, surface treatment, signage, shop windows and street furniture mixing painterly and poetic jumbles.
There was a bridge being looked at in both directions and a hewing to detail that seemed grudgingly intricate and over emphatic. An abstract world of generalities bordered on insanity. People looked like dolls, their faces paler than any pleasing decay, and the buildings were like models in a dinky landscape.
More people are going into the clinic than coming out. Counting became a gesture you’d regret.
It seems a child is an anti-christ.
In your toilet cistern there’s a veiny mellon.
The night shift at the local hospital reveals why the fifth floor was closed down. There’s a link to the eremitical life of Mt Carmel and quotes from Josephus Antiochenus, glossed by Daniel around AD 130.
There’s the birth of a sinless child and a small cloud that hovers. Fears are being inked out. What’s happening is that meaning is being lost. If it’s not Tourette’s, then what’s making this happen?
Sheep are exploding. Cows are running into the sea and drowning. There are animal ghosts in an abattoir.
You start dreaming nightmares of the city of Pripyat. Cases of enervation are blind to the diversity of our experience. We get out of cold beds in a morning without a struggle nor decision. What do we find? That astonishingly we have got up! Everything might be primal stuff and a paradox of things being in two places at the same time, outer space and inner mind. Attention reinforces and inhibits, and each statue existed forever alongside a thousand others besides. The sculptor is just personified attention, suppressing most alternatives and fixing us on just one.
The world is no collection.
Tidiness is pathology.
The woman wakes and rushes around her house inspecting her cabinets and finding them all empty, and melting into each other. Apart from the last one which has a tiny body in it, a dead infant immersed in a mental object in a sundry mental world of anguish. What doesn’t stay buried has some genuine life.
What comes first? Fact.
Goethe has his phrase: ‘ in the beginning was the act.’
Harness up reality so what? We get it trapped like a horse and in a strange way find sensations mediated by the intellect and also linked to facts. A difference here must make a difference there. Or isn’t a difference.
Ineffability is where everything might be the path up the mountain. Who’d trust that advice?
No theory is any good if with a great deal of effort it is made to work.
How we behave and how the world behaves should be distinct. Mutability of death insists the instinct of life be infected with seeds of itself, through a mutability of truth, as if just willing was enough, or saying a certain belief played out well in a life.
A girl goes missing in the woods and her parents find only a decrepit and scary doll left behind. They soon learn that the doll is actually their daughter. There’s a new creeping sensibility in all this. It was false, theatrical and ignoble.
What they did was lower their faces into their food and screamed as if avoiding conflict was enough. They would drown in soup that concealed, contrasted, surprised and counterweighted the antagonism of the atrocious truth.
New residents to an old neighborhood are invited by their friendly neighbors to a Halloween party. It ends up with cannibalism confabulating ghastly shapes and vernacular forms , and sadistic melancholia. The seeing eye doesn’t make it as the final arbiter of the juxtapositions and interpolations in the sordid vacuity. Nevertheles, anything over three syllables is suspect.
A family dog runs away from home. He returns a year later to the delight of his family. But there’s something different about him. It’s diffuse and disjointed. The walk is terrifying, like an amalgam of a living man’s revenge and mechanical perplexity. The limit is low-class and heinous.
A girl goes missing. Fifteen years later her parents get a call from her. But they listen in fear because they remember killing her.
There was now a peculiar new relationship between time, place and purpose, which is the level at which humanity and science meet. Implications go backwards.
A man reads a novel, soon realizing that a killer is looming. But it’s not in the book. Just like the start of the Korean War wasn’t. Nor the first testing of the nuclear bomb by Russia. The core of the book was a tempered modernism. There was something about the narrative that seemed to be about a repository of collective memory. He couldn’t help feeling alarmed then. It made him feel worse than he needed to feel. It was a faint sinister light he might have traced back to his birth. His durability was a loaded symbol expressing affluence and confidence, on the one hand, compromised by the parochial, the sentimental and the mundane. He feared his own elegiac tones.
A woman wakes up to find her family gone and her doors and windows boarded up. Memory and topography are mixed in a lime fug of particular forms falling away and determined relations beginning. This is no longer about ornaments. Old fashioned realities now reappear: the earth, the sun, the friend and the neighbour.
A woman wakes with her own corpse lying in bed with her. It is her disturbing secret. She is like everyone greedy for agonies. But abusing the corpse gives her nothing beyond intractable problems of image circulation. What struck her as wrong was the didactic element in the situation, which is the somatic way flesh doubts.
Fog crawls out of the sea and covers the village like psychology. The frozen village grows afraid as the fog refuses to lift. People try to escape but find they cannot. There are strange sounds coming from the sea. There are endless stories justifying the fear. There’s a growing sense of inner history. The rumor of something creeping about in the fog is overwhelming and takes many forms. No one argues with the universe, nor finds it in them to express it. The air is a receptacle of sorrow. The stillness is the frenzy of the slaughterhouse. It seems that history has ended and the world is no longer in place. Icy water drips from the dark hedgerows, and strange birds howl horrible lacerations through the cold atmosphere. No one rushed to their destinies.
One midnight a young woman whose face was itself a physical renunciation dragged the corpse of her cat along the ground along the streets and no one came out to greet her, or even strike her down. It was as if now the embrace was the most loathsome of ordeals. Why did no one drive away? Or communicate on their phones or computers? What held their stubborn silence? It was as if they had imagined their own burial.
A woman afraid of clowns is forced to work in a travelling circus. It was recognized as her compulsion to preach getting the upper hand. There is something loose-leaved about all this, as if an excavation under duress was taking place. It seemed too personal to be shared. There was nothing left of the classical in any of it. Proportion had been abandoned for full-scale exhibitionism.
A treasure hunter finds a tomb buried beneath the dirt. This piece of evidence worked as testimony to a memory. Cities can seem like prisons, and solitude Paradise, was the rough thought. There was talk of Elijah and the Black Mountain, of his fourfold vision and conventional ruins, tower, church, cave and water. The point was that you could examine everything as modes of operation rather than images to be seen. What was investigated was a cosmological symbol and an enigma of the present times, and dimly perceived in all this was discontent. Something stood above what they were doing and it brought nothing but profound unease. At night they variously wondered whether speech wasn’t a very new thing, and that these findings occurred long before.
Everything bends when monoliths become control systems of some sort. There are very strange thoughts , as if claustrophobic and therefore panting in closed up dark holes, motivating weirder responses. Bodies are like twigs, snapping and then left alone to rot, or be eaten slowly by maggots. Maybe there’s no one around to notice this, or else it’s noticed but it’s all too revolting. The situation has that grim humour attached to it that comes with anything that runs too far.
Exaggeration is always a crime to decency. So we like the hairy madness of Dionysus and find the calmness of Apollo beige. Or vanilla. Or below middle brow.
A young brother and sister find an old door in their basement that wasn’t there before. It’s as if question and answer are the same thing. If they let it engulf them they know they will be lost. They resolve to speak no more. Suffering becomes a matter of solitude and bondage. When the brother finally dies the sister sighs, released from the promise that had held them.
Winged creatures can be seen within the storm clouds above. The insanity of birds is nothing to the terror that invented them. The sky looks like prehistoric ferns, all darkness and transfiguration. The soul shrieks a colossal suppression of pale terror.
A man wakes up to find judgment staring down at him, all sufficient perspective and renounced journalism.
Residents of a town suddenly fall dead while the dead from cemeteries around them rise. So who goes on living really? There is no one left to draw consequences. I doubt if pride has been trumped by unreality. Worms remain busy slithering through the dead.
A doctor performs the first head transplant — things go wrong. Each head maintains its primitive love of itself, and so ignores the cleaved torso, the imaginary break between reason and slumber. As always, the human acts against the truth, starting over even in a state of dispatched incarnation. Anyone can live with exhausted illusions. Sometimes though we approve of self effacement even if it leaves you with the suspicion that we’re in the presence of blandness.
It’s good to hide anguish and hide heroic efforts to continue even if we’re invisible and no one cares whether we’re doing the good things we feel we should or not. We might think that when we come to think of it, but it’s not encouraged. It’s just that when you follow all the joints and pints you inevitably ask what is really going on and what you want. And deep down lots of people just want peace and quiet and not just selfishly but for everyone else if they want it too.
Why is it so hard? - is the thought that comes next after that. So it seems we’re always erasing and starting again. We confront unharmonious and awkward things by leaning away. There’s always a discordancy in our efforts to be benign. And another thing we recognize is that there’s no turning back. We hold dear short-lived sensations, and can revere things like sunsets and the glancing light on grass, or a flower, or a window, or someone’s cheek.
Often soft things have gone wrong. When that happens it’s great to try and be muscular so we can stand it. What happens when a head is in the wrong place? It can still look great, even more perfect and sculptured and narrow and prettier. But contours can be melted too. And they can be too polished to look real. The trouble really starts when the bruises show and the world becomes tenderized in sympathy, as if no one was going to say anything before but now it feels like truth is getting stenciled in. We wonder at this process because it strikes us as being so detached. And short-circuited. And crystallized.
It seems like this because heads in trouble mix metaphors with a luxurious ease that is very disorienting. And when you think of heads you think of hearts and wonder why heads don’t have one.
A man is texted pictures of himself in various stages of torture that he has no memory of. The banality of this exposes merely a lack of imagination. What stupefies is the lack of alienation. The pictures were deliberately rough and more or less streamed. There were vague smudgy pictures of other men’s faces in the pictures. A chemical composition of light here. A bone structure there. There was an odd flowing, rhythmic structure to the slide of images as they came through, hundreds of them. There was a green light that bathed the scenes which seemed to be in a dark interior, something like a basement or something. You can see shelves and boxes of junk in the background, take-away food containers and tin-foil and cut out porn images in the shadows. But what is really in all of them is a horrible frenzy. And more than just the normal account. There’s an ambiguity about the space and the depths.
The man’s astonished by what has happened. What happened in the pictures seems to be a long time coming. Beauty isn’t something but is more about reorganization. So is horror.
A girl wakes up to find a little boy sitting on his bed, claiming to be her younger brother — but she never had one. She has to wonder at the dogmas of her own identity at this. Her sense of her own idolatry corrodes.
She ends up mimicking other shapes of living and styles through a kind of lyrical discipline. Her life becomes a back-feed born from compulsions derived from peculiarities and truths that went against her.
Does anyone really want to dwell on living? Sometimes you might, but most likely just once and only for a few seconds. Lives are like that. Hugely unobserved. Mainly missed. They last as long as they do but much much less in recognition. Like a flickery strobe working just once. We’re crescendos of a glance. And that’s it.
Funny how we never think that. Perhaps that’s the other side of our stance. Our lights flicker on then off. We’d better leave that alone is probably what we subconsciously think. It’s a pretty menacing thought all that nothingness switching over everything.
Like recognizing that the best thing about the party was wondering what to wear before.
A boy is left over Christmas on the children’s ward of the hospital. Every child on the ward is terminally ill. He watches snow falling through the windows. He takes chocolate matchsticks to each bed. He feels alarm before the huge Christmas tree and its coloured electric lights. Everything gets swirled up in him, all the red, orange, blue, green, yellow, white and purple weirdly shaped lights plus the complicated, contradictory, intimidating meanings of these other happy dying children. He became absurdly simple and deplorable. Christmas and hospitals had a special magical rising. He had to deal with all these meanings that jostled and shuffled around. They were meanings which asked for a lot of concentrated thought. Concentration in this context looks like folded arms or industrial spray on a factory wall.
What both those tell us that it wasn’t a matter of playing around with infinity or anything great like that. It was more like having to come to terms with the number three. This strikes us as a wry thing, and it seemed so to him too many years later as he soldiered on. There’s still a mysterious interaction going on in him as he approaches his own death. Maybe he’ll go back to the ward to get the extra mystery of what happens when the light goes out.
What he did between that Christmas and the end was to activate the spaces as much as he could. That’s how he put it one day by accident when talking to a disinterested person who just happened to be there.
'This all doesn’t sound like much does it?' he had asked provocatively.
Or maybe just rhetorically. Maybe he was looking to make it to being a fiully formed gesture. But I don’t think it was. It was the maximum it could be without being that. You could say that he was living through those matchbox chocolates, dead children and Christmas tree in a mysterious interactive way. They’d reorganised everything throughout all his life.
A life that’s constantly reorganising is quite frankly philosophical or artistic.
He inevitably wasn’t popular nor understood.
A scare walk in the woods during Halloween is actually real. This is not a mistake nor a fault. What is often exalted excludes us. It’s what a vast creative upsurge and hopefulness can first look like when language in particular becomes empty.
What this does is draw attention to the idea that there’s always something happening somewhere else. When we’re feeling that we’re stumbling we should remember other people are agitated. Every nightmare we thought we could make fun of comes encrusted with a new way of harm.
There’s nothing more uncanny than hysteria. Or toes.
A bartender serves last call to the only remaining patron who is the Devil himself. But who would complicate a passionate awareness of doom by denying oneself a petty idealism? The frozen look, the terror, choices, depths, decisions all run into the frozen regret of the surface. The nightmare was there long before he walked into the bar.
Earth suffers a planet-wide blackout as all technology is lost. This demands we ought to find out the means of realizing the world in constant evolution, inconceivably complicated, although at each moment absolutely finished. Association, identity, mobility and pattern became cherished pulverizations. What this says is that various mutant forms can be devilish. If we linger on them too much we can see the whole of the world summarized in by-products. All we really need for this to hit us is to try and be a self-expresser without studying much beyond what’s in your face and at the tip of your fingers, tongue, nose or wherever. Let alone the big things is what we think.
Everyone expresses more of the world than they think.
A boy’s stepfather is actually a murderous werewolf. It’s a sort of discredited illusion. In the end the stepfather is bloody and decapitated, but still loved because there’s no replacement.
Something has turned the neighborhood pets into demonic killers. This is just to make obvious the existence of a new attitude. By representing phenomena from different fields we can demonstrate the existence of a new fundamental outlook from common sources for a future synthesis. Think of it like this: you have been naked before. It will happen again. There is no reason to worry further.
A priest is a vampire. What worries is a kind of visual relationship, whether in traffic or in their chair.
Dwelling influences, atmospheres commission.
A woman wakes up with no eyes.
A man wakes up with no mouth.
We can scarcely distinguish the evils immanent within them. Denouncing the crimes of ownership will not compensate. Horror compels consciousness, as do night rubbings and the ruinous positioning of the soul. What is sought is a continuum of relationships, significant messages, images, ideas and words.
Mutation is an important starting point. It gives rise to an aesthetic solution. Habitat can lose its finite and static character and become flexibly open-ended and spontaneously developed. Of course, horror is acknowledgment of good and rational doubts. Ruin, after all, is ruin, even if for a good cause.
A monster is terrified by the scary child who lives above his bed. This is a degrading scale of metaphysical truth. It debases the monster who sleeps inside us. The child is always indigent, saintly and mad. When the father comes home the child looks terrified.
‘What is it?’ asks the dad who is beginning to feel a creeping unease just by looking at her scared face.
The little girl on the bed can’t speak for a while. He stands and watches her crouched there.
The room seems darker and subjective. The Curtains churn in a lively manner. But the windows are tightly shut. The movement strikes him as odd, illusionist and hysterically violent. He sees them out of the corner of his eye so they seem like undulations of geormetry. The shadows thrown by the light seems more a pale lingering afterwards. There’s a sense of time being better before. The light feels more like a mutant of what was earlier is what crosses his mind, and with that thought there’s panic and a lot of memory.
It’s not just the visual cortex inputting here obviously. It rarely is. Memory and all sorts of other schemas and conceptual things are in play, and the visual is just a small input. The visual inputs are like the glamour hotspots of the mental when we’re looking, but they aren’t the main thing.
Then he noticed that his daughter on the bed was glancing feverishly down full of a horror look. He mimicked the horror look so they were both hideous with this look.
‘What is it honey?’ he whispered in a low voice that coiled into his throat and lungs and only just managed to creep out.
She shuddered and again he followed her with a shudder that went from his insides out, a hideous transposed thing that made his body a vile desecration and also had the strange effect of transforming her own hunched form too. It was as if her looks were torturing them both.
The little girl pointed her left little finger downwards, clumsy and wooden so it seemed to him, a buckled gesture that struck him as weirdly lurid. He looked at the tiny digit and then her face and the black swollen mouth that gaped open in pure fear and vile horror and could feel a vertigo mood swing in.
He staggered to the bed and held on to the sheets at the foot. An outsider would have called the movement incredibly elegant and simple. But to him nothing pertained to the earth. He couldn’t keep an even keel and everything in the room seemed tortured and harsh.
‘Under the bed?’ he whispered and when he said it his eyes were wide with glowing hysterical fear and a frenzy in the flesh, as if his body might start vibrating at any moment and when it did it wouldn’t stop, it would just vibrate and vibrate until he was just a horrible blur.
The scale of the horror was growing and changing its attitude. Gloom, awe and the sublime were not there at all but just that looming frenzy like a mad charcoal scribble on a wall.
So he toppled off the bed and on his hands and knees crawled a little before he pulled up the sheet that flopped down to the curtain.
He could now see under the bed.
It was plum, magenta, brown and murky and a void. But there was something in the far corner by the wall.
It was a huddled figure. What he saw was the crazy sight of his daughter huddled under the bed by the wall. He heard something floating in a jagged way from above, as if coming through the bed down to him. They sounded like the voices and moans of the departed spirits in disconsolence. It was virtually formless sound nevertheless. It had a tragic weight for a brief moment and then plunged in to him like terror, glary and wild.
The sight of his daughter under the bed curled up in a tight ball of terror was too much and he couldn’t say anything because it was the opposite of everything he thought. So he gurgled as if something wouldn’t stay in his throat.
There was a heaving jarring as if the heartbeats that he never attended to were now making black floating sounds and voids.
The daughter under the bed was pointing upwards with her little left finger and her eyes were as wide as can be, so the whites shrieked.
‘What is it honey?’ he says.
‘The one on the bed isn’t real,’ says the daughter.
So this was followed by a moment of utter stillness and silence which is often a moment where the comedy can creep in. Because the more dramatic a gensture, the funnier it is too. But then the comic drained away in an insane rush. So what was left was just the high hysteria and the dread.
And not even ‘dread in the bed’ relieves it. So it goes on deepening or covering or infusing or whatever. Dread in the very alcove of reality is how it seems.
The dad is screaming but with an awkward inward squirm as he tried to keep the scream from coming out. So he seems horribly convulsed and his limbs are turning the wrong way.
The terror bore holes through the flesh. The dread gaped monotonally. The climate of flesh dropped. And then.
The daughter under the bed’s mobile phone rang.
Without a thought she answered and held it to her ear. The voice was clear:
‘Hi Honey, sorry I’m late. I got delayed at the office. I’m leaving now and will be with you in thirty minutes,’ said her dad’s voice.
So now everything is alienating and full of dread. It covered everything like intoned variations do.
An astronaut jettisoned into the cold of space in a mission gone wrong suddenly appears at the doorstep of his family. There is always astonishment at destitution, no matter the context. Every form of possession degrades and is a kind of infamy. The mother and wife is right to fear the breakdown . She has worked hard to retain her habitat as one without truth but weaned from attachment.
‘The earth is blue’ his voice crackled on the doorstep as if he was mimicking the first Russian cosmonaut.
When he went to sit in the front room he played the proto-punk album Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers track four which was about Pablo Picasso. The song was written by Jonathan Richman and John Cale and then had been picked up by David Bowie on his Reality album but Bowie made it into a different song.
The astronaut prefers the Richmond verion which was more a single tone and slower and jangled a bit roughly at the edges. And the voice and guitars roll neatly and lower in a striking sort of language which neither objectifies nor mitigates but is a kind of pungent beauty.
And full of distancing.
And a little messy but incredibly grave and funny bafflingly blank.
Presumably that was why the astronaut was drawn to it.
The mother and wife withdraw into the kitchen and discuss the situation with bated expressionist surfaces.
When he starts listening to Joy Division maybe that’s when they start to shake to their core. The situation won’t express itself so they have to do it for themselves. Which is often what happens to us on days where we have no ideas. Which happens more often than we like to admit I think.
They both keep the door a little ajar so that they can peek through and watch the seated figure in his astronaut garb with his beer cans. The room gets correspondingly yellower and corroded as if the meditation is coming in on beams from outer space.
It’s a comforting thought and they hold hands with mugs of tea and their minds blowing. And yet there’s something threading in underneath their thoughts, and maybe him as well. A kind of self-loathing or sarcasm which the event might be expressing in a vengeaful and half baked way.
This is the zeitgeisty sense we pick up in all this. The easy mime of a fallen hero, say, or the strange duplication of what was supposedly unique. It always comes off as disturbing and off-putting.
Meanwhile the news story was going mad. All these Americans were being interviewed in mission control over in Houston, wherever.
Something disastrous had gone wrong and contact had been lost was the story. And everyone watching this on the news were being perplexed as if the meaning of it all was elsewhere. But where could anyone go to find the real meaning? Something hung in the air like a menacing abstract psychic poison. The situation was reminding them of how they knew that everyone had ineffable stuff that even if they couldn’t express they knew it was there.
This Romanticism was in the front room being personified and so they felt both privileged and sidelined. It was a scene that meant any apotheosis of the kitchen sink drama was finished.
Or something like that.
A woman answers a phone call only to learn that the voice on the other end is her future self warning her that a killer is looming. It strikes her as a myth that turns against itself and ends in doubt.
She continues to live without questioning the story. Whatever kills her becomes true, but is useful only in the way it substitutes obscurity for uncertainty.
A boy realizes that his family has been replaced by aliens. He is probably Yugoslavian.
Marx said this:
‘All the time and space of his world becomes foreign to him with the accumulation of his alienated products.’
So his situation is somehow the same as everyone’s. Which doesn’t seem right. Surely we can see that there’s something wrong with this. Because he’s not happy and we are with all our alienated foreign products and consumerism. Although the zeitgeist has a split personality on this it has to be admitted.
But even when consumerism is bad it’s usually a matter of choosing different markets and shops. There’s a lot of walking pointlessly about in this theorizing of course. But no one gets very upset unless they have a revolutionary view of animals, say, or trees and industrial urbanism or whatever. Then we want to be undaunted and dignified .
Something lurid and shimmery is always in the background of our thoughts in these situations and raw materials to be used can come from anywhere. These circumstances occur everytime you get one of those unwanted ads on your Youtube video in the middle of some incredibly sensitive section of Mahler.
The way we listen now is in a climate of paranoia and weakness and purge. What gets accumulated are unwanted random thoughts about the mechanisms producing these interruptions. But there’s nothing we can do, we think, because this is just big corporate greed taking over and that’s the price we pay.
A woman wakes up in an abandoned prison that she cannot escape. She is probably English. But all the cells are unlocked. The door to the outside too. The guards are gone. So what’s she doing staying there? She has nested inside the gigantic stone walls. Is she trying to seduce herself? There seems to be a dangerous game of hide-and-seek being played. What flickers across her face is nostaligic calm mixed with the crush and glitter of arcades. There’s a sea nearby she can hear with rogue waves. What is she saying as she walks the massive deserted corridors? Perhaps the setting is how she avows, and tells us? She seems a backup version of Pygmalion, as if someone outside the prison is stealing her lines, her friends, her very life.
Perhaps a way of seeing her frenzy is as a sort of silent ephemeral difficult reality being taken for a long, wild walk. There’s a glittering darkness in her which resists the idea of there being a right side to take her. Her situation is difficult, but in the way a contradiction is. She won’t commit to concrete existence beyond this. If you catch a glimpse of her eyes she seems to be in the process of shedding any definite practical identity. She’s tuning in to becoming the sort of person who cannot be thought.
So we should leave her there because if she’s successful we’ll be wasting our time and if she isn’t then it’ll be a little sad. What a great 'sickness unto death' is the phrase we use here, knowing that the zeitgeist will approve.
A bank robber steals from the small town bank that holds the riches of witches. This mysteriously links with Van Eyck’s concept of ‘doorstep.’ There was a sense that eyebrows were important, as signs of antiglare clerestory lights and infill developments. A witch will respond by rejecting your clustered meaning. T
hey will transform and distill.
They will correlate in strange ways.
They will be physically violent.
They will express delight in disorder and inconstancy.
One slowly carved a limb away from its torso. It used an ordinary utensil stolen from a kitchen. The destruction was necessary, physical and hurt. Witches are powerful in particular situations: the human, the physical and the built. They have a complete image system, an order and a certain tension. They tend to have a settlement pattern. They are the great frenzied changers.
We’d like them to drive us mad in bed.
A door-to-door salesman circa the 1950s visits the wrong house. He emerges in pieces, stupid, dazed, more oppressed and dark than ever. He’ll be the human who rids the earth of all the others. In one doorway a beautiful unwholesome woman accosts him.
‘Let’s fuck,’ she whispers with lascivious force.
But he draws back, appalled by her crude inclination.
He tries to explain why he is trying to stupefy himself with penitence, but she can’t understand him and thinks he lacks the courage to follow her sentimental foundationlessness.
What he focuses on is the door jamb and the black and white grainy feel of the scene. This already strikes us as being the wrong thing to focus on.
Why don’t you remember what you did? Is what we want to scream at him.
Because there’s something very foul and segmented about the smile of that sexy woman is what we’ve noticed. Something is going to happen if he doesn’t get away. Yet we all remember the way they never do get away in these situations. They miss the occult auras and continue as if their humdrum job routine would be enough to explain everything. So when they end up being torn to pieces and cooked in a stew eaten by a set of suburban women in flowery dresses that look designed by Laura Ashley (although that’s probably gone by now) we can only sigh and think we’d never be such a fool.
But these are polar aspects of lives and it’s unlikely many of us would have kept our wits and survived.
Deceased soldiers return to their Civil War era homes. This is just a moment when a lack of vitality strikes civilizations and everything hangs in the balance between the truth of reactionaries and what’s execrable. When Robert Oppenheimer said that physics ‘ is not a question of abandoning the old, but of supplementing and transcending it’ something coarse and mean was being dressed up in borrowed clothes. However, he was not being timid. So we admire the forcefulness of the old crews.
Oppenheimer seems like he was never disturbed, always sardonic and wry and dry and austere and lurid when he confronted the end of the world in thermo-nuclear heat blast death. His is the sort of mind that is likely to be black velvet. Or cool and brassy.
Kidnappers abduct the child of a vampire. In this there is both enthusiasm and dejection. It’s as if someone wanted to prove action is impossible and existence too. Catastrophe is terrifyingly weak, hollow, rational and abstract when compared with existence.
An innocent circus clown discovers the dark history of the trade. This is just the situation of every one of us. Or rather, it’s how the situation first appears. Later we realize that we’ve exaggerated the innocence and downplayed the servility and despotism. Nevertheless it’s a good summary and a good place to begin.
What’s left? Resist the assault of memory perhaps.
A homeless man is stalked by faceless beings. He finds this frightening because he wants to escape his own history and these beings have done so. So they are his rebuke. Some disasters, it seems, are personal and arid. What might save you in this situation are notes, scribblings, and publications that point out new sensibilities before there are any.
What the child vampire wondered about was how disinterested the kidnappers were. Only a feeling of indifference could excuse them was the thought here. In their mids all she could detect were malic moulds and dust, that sort of thing. Everything can be seen as dense and overlapping, which is why it hurts so much. Because in some worlds everything grates. And gets to have the wrong label. Or no label at all, just flashes.
A spelunker stumbles upon a series of caverns infested with communions with your past self. Even if the past dies there’s no guarantee of a new life, just the same one with a lack of memory. This is depressing.
A group of friends are forced to venture through a chamber of horrors where only one is promised to survive. Well, where do you think you can go where you don’t die eventually? And is this a sort of prophesy? If so, it’s a disaster that at least has the pleasure of having been forseen. Something could be made of this. He’s not the man she thought he was. In fact, he’s not a man at all. All there is is a bottomless well, and every question an echo from thousands of years ago. Cluster, growth, mobility and change are the restless keys to making a snowball. Perhaps there is where we should asipre.
Suburbia is actually purgatory. This merely testifies that we are in chains, that bonds remain unbroken and that escape has to come before not through death if anything like a new life is to happen. Any claim to being indigenous is inconceivable now. She’s not a void, she’s an arrow, a trace of energy condensing, displacing and elaborating an era as rasping as a grasshoppers legs .
An old shipwreck washes ashore. The sea sounds out of breath. The invincible impulse of the waves, the colossal godly storm, it crashes whipped by winds, spewing seaweed into the salt air, and in its audacity is intimacy, death, regret and exhilarating anguish.
A sinkhole swallows a house whole and unleashes something from beneath. There is the denial of lucidity in this. If you were to go down you’d come back as someone else, but no one would notice. Not even yourself. It’s the same fate that time inflicts in a less dramatic way.
A man suffers from sleep paralysis at the worst possible time. It won’t pass. Nor will the crisis outside. And so he will perish as if from a bad dream and without the possibility of taking precautions.
A woman out hiking is caught in a bear trap as the sun begins to go down. Her mood switches back and forth from great despair to great hope. There was no one idea that explained her predicament, and not even a single bear. When a world stops something else might light up but her situation was one where looking at nature was all that was left, or not, because it amounted to the same thing. Without faces, who will make judgments, and fulminate commandments?
Naked figures with no faces stalk campers in the woods. They strike us as premedicated criminals. The nakedness is what suggests this at first. Then solitude, unbearable, penetrating and cold. It is after all the greater weight in the region of a heart. With no faces where are tears, the invincible smile, the attempted, and therefore human, symmetry? Without a face we force sincerity into friendship, an unbearable price to pay. And we fortify silence, and cut away what we might have remembered by looking in the mirror. A face reminds us of everything we were, and tells us what at that very moment we’re thinking, just as the face of a stranger does. Facelessness is terrifying to the mediocre. We must hope these are extraordinary sojourners. With felt tip pens I’d scribble on their heads a smile, and eyes so that on their good days they’d have to answer to life, which is what makes them human. This is part of what people long for despite the absurdity of the world, a kind of wild clarity. I would take responsibility for their faces, as every man does after a certain time according to Camus.
What of the campers? They’re mere hysterics and foils. They need to acknowledge their collapse of courage and goodwill, of endurance and willpower. Theirs is a common sort of prudence, illuminated by their willingness to be deprived. Deprived of will, deprived of redeeming moments, deprived of love by consenting to the unguarded roots of distress. They need to begin again after a night like that, and find peace by the shadow of a tree and in a dog’s bark and the sea.
An astronaut is the sole survivor of a moon landing gone wrong — only to discover that the moon is infested with strange creatures. War lives inside them. So they aren’t so alien we can’t understand them. They are the mute effigies of ourselves with stone or blank metal faces, expressing themselves as is only right, but all alone, dreary and not aware that we’re looking and judging them. We did them this honour though, that by passing a sentence we were bringing them freedom. I think they hurt each other because of some cruel necessity in their lives, as if a condition for happiness, though not pleasure. From earth everyone stares at the moon differently after this. There is a sense of terrible exaltation, and a dread, as if a mirror shows you your old age for the first time, or as if they could make sense of their lives at all after this.
A woman is wrongfully condemned to an insane asylum. Which implies a choice. And an act of rebellion, though not hers. It is one of those stranger incidents where someone slips quietly towards a horizon, then falls below it without the faintest stirring of hope forever. The terror we feel is that of the exceptional silence of a beach, drowning in the sounds of the beating ocean waves. There are motionless bodies on some beaches. Horses rush from their paddocks, from the meadows to the sea and in a frenzy die amidst the waves. Their gigantic bodies float without harmony. They become voids with colours that stream into the vast waters, like pestilence. Here there are clouds that cover up every question. In some places there are no clouds. In those places the sun kills all questions and everything is clear, like invincible days are.
A mother’s baby will not leave it’s womb and continues to grow and grow and grow while doctors try to cut it out but can’t. Here whatever is pushing there is something stronger pushing back. There is no honesty in this relationship. The blood is murky and unrefined. It stinks. It slowly oozes. The frontiers had collapsed. Roots and sap were clusters and constellations of mad aimless fear. The crazy look in the mother’s eyes was just the hidden core of her being revealing itself. Her moans were what was left of unbearable gentleness rising to extreme terror and boredom. If you looked carefully you would see that flickering sense of unease, as if she had forgotten what the pain was about, or what was happening to her in each wave after wave of fluttering body parts. Inside there was a monstrous thing growing to fully human size, an absurdity that bound her to it without authorizing actions or thoughts, nor feelings either. It was dead to her, though fully alive in this sense, that it craved and was hungry and would come eat her from the inside out if need be.
This slow thought rose gradually from her, empty-handed and pointlessly because inevitable, and true. What did the doctors feel? Scorn. Because they were a cult that always liked to ask whether it was correct to be an individual. They wanted life to be more jazzy and schematically rendered for more commentary than a self brings. But there’s a haunting feeling also that ‘no self no pain’ makes sense as a slogan. What’s this? Well we’re indexical and it’s immoveable. Like the sense of ‘I’m always here’ is. And ‘you’re always there’ is.
That’s the thought. It would take a lot to explain it but you might be able to get it from just those analogies. It’s how we might prefer lumpen thoughts to be spelled out. Quick sentences that end fast and then its done. Philosophical ruminations done in the time it takes to order a pint at a moderately busy pub. You don’t want the conversation to go on about it afterwards but it’s a good thought for that situation. Philosophy always seems best done like that. When you’re busy waiting in an interval between drinking. A slacker finesse doing Wittgenstein or higher order theories of consciousness or whatever, like we approve of Dylan because we all take our time with our hairdos.
But its also darkening a little of the original lightness of the scene because philosophy does that. It’s a reorganization don’t forget. Haha!
Every philosopher is doing a little bit of someone else’s drawing.
Friends on a road trip stumble upon a back country town whose residents all dress up as different types of clowns. What couldn’t be reconciled were the differences between costumes, and the impossibility of not resigning to singularity even here in this attempt at conformity. These clowns had negated themselves by not being the same. Awareness of which drove them to ever more extremes of violence and savagery, as if the more they terrorized the surrounding parts, the more they would become as one.
But after a while each was identifiable and had their own trait. The saw, the hook, the limb-chewer, the eye gouger, the entrail riper, the dead fucker, the penis chopper, the skin stripper, the hair plucker, the scatterer, the crusher, the ear lopper, the skin costumier, the nail eater, the centipeeder, the screamer, the raper, the pummeler, the Russian doller, each became almost their own brand. They weren’t even joined together by the same attitudes towards the world. Some you sensed were indifferent, others hostile, others loveless. There was no single thing that bound them. Even when you looked closely at what they wore, it wasn’t certain they were all dressed as clowns even.
Tourists in Ireland retreat to an old castle when the country is taken over by greedy and vengeful leprechauns. The indecency of this suggestion is what makes some people smile. I suppose it is a habit of existence, but even if so, it is a crude one and doesn’t recognize how life is just a habit, has no intrinsic worth and so deserves better.
A boy on a farm sees a scarecrow that comes alive. It twitches. A crow screaches and veers off into a hysterical sky. The boy is frozen to the spot. The field seems inexcusable. He feels alone as never before. The indecency of the scarecrow is its sterility and height. The sticks seem curved too much, and the hat too distressed by what was likely a gale blowing by now. There is an incorrigable horror in these uncanny moments. The boy stared at the corn head. But nothing happened. It was as if the scarecrow was now rooted into the solid earth of his distress. If the boy burst int tears then or later I can’t say. But it was because he realized how easy it is for the world to turn on you and loathe you with all its force.
A figure dressed in an old, dirty Easter Bunny suit haunts the children of a town. She didn’t mean anything by it. The children came after her with pitchforks and carving knives they stole from their parents kitchens. She is slaughtered out on the headland. The children butcher her and throw her severed parts into the sea. It is never spoken of by anyone for years. But of course, children grow old. If you live in a universe of grief, even if you authorized it, then someone will protest at some point. It is almost a law. There are dark forces in the soul, even against assassins. Even meaningless acts are important.
The abused animals of a zoo are unleashed and wreak havoc on a small town. Not the larger ones. Not the lions and tigers. Not the elephants. No, the insects and the less understood, the uglier ones. In the night they crept into bedrooms where people slept and dreamt. You would hear the faint scratching of their legs, the buzz of their friable wing casements. They burrowed into the flesh and lay their eggs. They sucked at the juices inside. They settled into the charnel puddles.
A deceased grandma’s old doll collection comes alive. Which didn’t mean they lived or were alive like humans. They were alive like dolls can be. Which is by force of imagination and an overflowing. In these cases the most extraordinary overflowing swarms about. This freedom is limited fate doubled by the progenies made up by others. They are therefore like doubles, but not fully so, not complete. They have dashes of this and that, and overemphasized bits that cling like a miser does to her excesses. Everything they said, however, was this:
‘You’ll be sorry, be sure of that. I’ll make sure of that.’
What are dolls if not that sort of vengeful solitude? Little Red Riding Hood was a vampire, or maybe just superhuman. Her nights are alive with fires, stars, wolves, rages, blood, bodies, the right to kill, the vices of the good and evil, humiliations, clear-sightedness, cherished unhappy lovers, factual inequalities, watchfulness and retrenchment. The vats of blood spilt take time to live. Like oil lamps, they gleam into the night. This is what Little Red Riding knows: she’d rather be dead than be saved, and in the throes than commanded.
Somebody clones Hitler and raises him as a white supremacist. No code of ethics nor effort justifies this petty man who paints landscapes, marries a perfectly normal stranger and dies of old age somewhere in a small town near Wisconsin, happy to be as forgotten when dead as he was alive. The cruel mathematics of his cloning is another matter of course. Those responsible had proved their point. It takes more than a man.
A pumpkin patch comes alive — beings with heads of pumpkins and bodies of vines. It’s a sort of psychical-physical synthesis where lives are unaware of being defined by spirit. As such, they fit right in and become leading members of the community, finding the energy, the earnestness and pathos of the community enough. Their absolute contrast with the human binds them to the human in a great paradoxical averring. Groups with purposeless phantom camaraderie, idle chatter, garrulous confiding, snobbish self-satisfaction, multidudinous double-mindedness, groups merely chameleonic, infinitely abstracting and smooth wither away as they face their earnest efforts. These strange intruders are angular and faithful to themselves only.
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