Walter Price (Greene Naftali gallery), and ambient hypnagogics in painting.

rev., Sep 13, 2020.

with mention of Ficre Ghebreyesus.

To start off the post-lockdown, still by reservation, season from covid, I posted about Walter Price, at Greene Naftali.

What I like about these paintings, in a subcategory of the “new figuration” or “witchy painting” or “Zombie figuration” that is sweeping through, still (and glad of that, I was fearing, the lockdown had killed the impulse), is that they are hypnagogic. What I mean by that is that they have stepped back from rational consciousness, then, too, the categorization of the rest of the brain by the rational prefrontal as either fantasy or whatever; and actually delved down into the vigilogogic altered states, or hypnagogic light dream states that we now know exist in transition to full-on REM dreaming. These zones are real in art, as I have found that by a function I call the Big Sleep movies have made extensive use of visual strategies taken from light stage dreaming to make better sense of consciousness. Also, while the political world is locked in reactive zones of hard-set fixed-opinion rational/irrational states, leading in the stuckness to endless churn of exploitational evasions, only a fuller sense of the mind and how I works will break us out of it. Strangely, then, I argue that hypnagogic painting is helpful in leading to a new age of wokeness, with a more informed and nuanced understanding of the uses of rationality (and magical thinking being the exploitational form).

Then, this means all I have to do in order to “read’ the dynamic of hypnagogy that an artist is working with is, just as with a movie still, look for the effects of the entoptic, symbolic, lattice, whoosh or REM stages. Then, second, I have to determine if there is any internal dynamic present, or situation in a place in the mind (such as fata morgana). Finally, I have to determine if the picture stays entirely in hypnagogy, spends some time going back and forth between hypnagogy and vigilogogy, wanders out into Ambience, or even goes far out into Sentience. With these three readings, none too easy, if it turns out that an artist seems to be working in a way informed by knowledge of this inner topography of the brain, then it has “visual wisdom;” if, however, the art represents the stereotypical depiction of fantasy etc as the prefrontal sees the rest of the brain, then, no; then, too, if the art is simply using strange or eccentric painting devices derived from surrealism to depict this world as that world, without consideration of the phenomenology of it, that too, I am less interested in. Painting-wise, I seem to favor “figuration” which is immersed in hypnagogy, and depicts the world as if it is too. These kinds of paintings can open up the mind.

So, what I liked about Walter Price’s work is that it IS hypnagogic, then stays primarily in the entoptic and symbolic levels. For example, this skidding, or time-swipe gesture in 1 for Mayhem, 2 for Mischief (2020)

is a clear movie visual device evocative of time moving too fast past one, but with precedent in painting too (I am thinking of some tachiste-ists).

Then, too, An Activity of the Spirit (2019) features tree clouds as they would appear in the entoptic zone of hypnagogy, floating, phantom things, also, deeply resourced.

But, then, after having established this, the pull of the painting is that it sinks in, or crosses a line, from entopty to symbolic, that is, the glass onion/coffin state. So, it drops down. There is, on a horizon, in the symbolic level, an object, an open box, mysterious, made more so by the painting seeming to, in whole, zero in on it. An interesting added detail is that Price seems to know that it manifest as a memory out of nothing, as there is a shadow of a blue outline behind that, which indicates its indeterminancy. Then, even more surprising, the box seems to emit a smoky cloud. This is the equivalent of the black cloud emitted by a construct I call the Sleeper in that precinct of the glass onion/coffin level, which suggests that, then, the partly reclining, a bit more “realistic” palm tree on the right is the other Sleeper, the viewer of this picture, looking back, upon waking up, through the cloud, to a void, which then sinks down back over the Luor, or space between waking and dreaming to make of the terrain a kind of hellscape.

In other words, no question, this is a psychodynamic painting, and, if I apply my graphs to it, it is also a a rendering of a “formation,” if out of the usual color scheme, and entailing an inanimate object, which is a void, an opened, empty box. It could even be said to represent the process of creating a painting, in the manner of a Famulus: set an inanimate object down, watch it react to the surroundings (i.e. animate), paint that.

I am also tempted to call it a spin painting, using that phrase as the less technical version of the word psychodynamic. And it certainly is a strange screwing in of my interests that just as, during lockdown, if have begun to have to create for myself, to remember and generalize knowledge from graphs, scirpographs of my charts, which sometimes look like little paintings, this would be the scirpograph version of this painting.

That is, inanimate object in the glass onion/coffin second zone of hypnagogy, it is also the site of The Sleeper, who casts up a dream over vigilogogy, which then compromises the view of another sleeper, for the phantom trees to work as the deadfall, and the grounds filled in below. The structure and the idea of the picture, reinforced by faint blue lines behind it, is that the box is the Alladin’s lamp, or Pandora’s box, of some painful memory (the blue line indicates), this then casts up a pall over light dreaming, which distorts everything else. But that spin around it also promises the possibility of figuring out what is in the box or why it triggered this response.

Interestingly, our minds pretty regularly negotiate with such images. For example, there is one primal memory from my childhood that I keep seeking after. It involves a sort of cut-out book by which one could create cardboard houses, whether for Christmas or not I do not know. I have for many years had a vague memory of it, seeking it out as the ultimate ur place of my imagination, a place of deep safety and uncanny secrecy. I have never been able to come up with it. But, in the past two weeks, for uncertain reasons, I feel it has been very close to rising up back into consciousness. I see slightly more filled in mental images of it, it might be getting close, though it still holds off. But that is why I have said that Price’s paintings seem to capture something “on the tip of the tongue,” that is, the notion that it is something of importance to know has been established, but, for some reason, consciousness cannot get there yet, it is just out of reach.

Based on the phrase the “tail of the eye,” in M.R. James, and then from his working out of scares of this sort (see my treatment of Whistle and I’ll Come to You (1968)), the “conjure vector” is a five-stage model of approach by which a demon attacks one’s sense of security. This dynamic has become a powerful tool in my arsenal, in analyzing how people respond to fearful things. But, now, maybe there is a memory trace too. That would be vertical, with some hope of finding the “smoking gun” buried deep in, or under, REM. So, perhaps, something like this.

That is, an inkling appears in the mind, at the symbolic level; the mind bears down on it, believing it to be, somehow, important, a clue to something; it then goes searching for its meaning or memory in deep REM, finding it or not; if it is found, it then rises up (opposite of whoosh, but not really, a whoosh-up); this, then, results in a reaction, at the symbolic level, of either a positive response, or revelation of the “truth shot”; or a negative result, which is triggering, whereupon it is sent immediately back where it came from, repressed again. The parentheses mean that I think this IS a shallow loop in the central core (I placed it to the left for clarity sake only). By this measure, then, there is another quality added to the sleep or cloud of the Sleeper, it comes up as a revelatory cloud from deep REM, it is a menacing one, triggering on surfacing. But, then, this means that in the Price the excitement of the painting is that it is implied that the box somehow triggered a response and this painting captures its first tremoring as a result of the process of zeroing in on it, it suggests the activation of the memory in hypnagogy to find out what it means, but it leaves it there, in suspense. This creates a painting of deep visual wisdom, it rests comfortably, responsive to humans, because no human alive does not know this feeling, it’s uncanny, something about that box, what CAN it mean?

This dynamic is even more effectively worked out in the aptly titled, for that is what this is a picture of, A Tear in the Static of Everyday Life (2019).

Just on the surface, this space is familiar, psychodynamically, this is the Blue Room, a place of pain in the brain, which occurs when one is in an actual state of 7-10 level pain, shutting one’s eyes to it, and there you see the Blue Room (an afterimage of the blue dot). Since this is not full-on, bullseye Blue Room, that is, in the core, afflicted by lightning blasts, I place this one in the adjunct lattice level. Also, the memory of it is somewhat compromised by interference from reason (thus the extra “frame” of the line below and on the left, which represent a “peripteral” barrier to entirely taking it in). This suggests to me that this room, for Price, is a locked=in space, not unlike Stephen King’s notion of the lockboxes of the brain, which can only be enforced in locking by the continued interference and repression of it by the rational mind, thus the brackets and braces.

But, it is, after all, a form of the Blue Room, and a picture of pain. The fact that there is one piece of furniture in the room, then that it is overcast, literally, by an artificial rain storm, raining on the couch, animating the inanimate; then that the main feature of the room is its all-over blue walls, and, more importantly, its blue door, these accentuate the lock on it, then the “tear” is just a momentary bout of depression, which makes one think of things and be upset (I fight them off almost daily, and am often, now, prone to tear-jerk crying, even when I don’t actually care about whatever it is I am watching or writing about)

And, of course, this works as a trope too, because there is strong evidence of just this sort of bare essentials room, made use of in movies and art. I immediately see it, Price from Georgia, as a counterpart to my writing on the main room in Manos: Hands of Fate (1966), in El Paso (see link), a totally blue room, centered on a door leading to a deeper place, and then some sculptures evoking fears.

Here, with Price, it is the cloud and the rain that represent the “tear” in one’s mood in space, and that resulting in the “tear” of unreal “tear jerk” tears in impulsive crying. But, again, what makes it work is exactly its psychodynamic quality, its spin, which is conveyed by its hypnagogic style of painting just enough to evoke it, and its hypnagogic scene-setting, like a dream, but without any explicit references to the “surreal” (which is what dreams look like through the telescope of the rationalists who skip everything between them and their spied upon sighting of an element of dream). This is at present my favorite painting of this season.

Also, so that I can demonstrate that it is not about appearances, but how the mind of the artist processes and presents the trope, I also find the Blue Room in another painting, Windows (2002-07), by Ficre Ghebreyesus, at Lelong, in September, and it is the same trope, but in this case the frightening panel is a window (which make be worse than a door) but the difference here is that, Ghebreyesus works from a POV that I think is, in fact, suspended in the Luor, or the in-between, so, the painting, my post.

then my general post on his work,

But, now, a final point to be made, which I made in my post. The paintings are very open, they spin, in fact, spin is all, in this one, Mayhem Mischief (2020), possibly, then, a lockdown painting (or maybe even a comment on the demonstrations-that-always-turn-into-riots, or the “unrest” as it is now called, worrying over these dynamics in current politics), but the basic techniques are Ambient, that is, I think Price’s mind exists in Ambience, spinning around OUTSIdE of the comforts of hypnagogy

This means that his POV is spinning outside the formations of hypnagogy per se, and as such has about it the quality of high wind, ambient noises, whisperings, whatever. When I first wanted to say something I thought maybe Price had the same POV as Nicholas Roeg in his 1970 Mick Jagger movie, Performance, from a spot I call the Bridge Burner POV, but it doesn’t quite match, as Roeg sees chaos either side of his POV and negotiates the jump from vigil to hypnos between. That doesn’t happen here. At present, I will simply place Price’s POV out in the ambient zone, and he is looking back in. For this, his search has a yearning quality that adds an extra frame of psychodynamics to it, that makes things float even more.

That said, I guess I do think that the only place this sort of sideways zoom could exist in nature is in the Luor, the space between vigilogogy and hypnagogy.

As a visual device in the culture at large, it, of course, relates to other painters who did a full-brush smear, many examples.

In general movie visual culture this smear was made use of often, going back even to The Phantom of Crestwood Manor (1931), where it was used, as I worked it out, to shift from the telling of the tale, to the flashback in time to it, from the fictive to the ground stage vis a vis the audience in relation to it

It also relates to a more general device which has been revived in this “discursive era” of movies, the hypnagogic wobble-wobble reset, casting, in a whole sequence, the movie into a different place, the mirrors in Suspiria, etc; Lucy going down the stairs five times in I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) is an example.

And also relates to the more solely technical device, a screenwipe, to simply clear our mind of what it is focusing on, to get us to focus on something else.

But, then, in that flux, Price opens up two small windows (and, this is, in fact, how this works, I have seen the device in movies, out of the smear, especially in vigilogogy, a blue dot floats, then “boils,” then, as in the Sunken Place in Peele’s Get Out (2017), a detail emerges)

.But, then, finally, as to the question of where in the hypnagogic zones this is, my guess, again, is it remains in the Ambient space, and is not in the Luor, that is, this is some sort of storm Price is encountering out in the phthchth, the desert of meaninglessness, and I know this because, once again, it is set as if also, to be read with a second meaning, the stuff of a kind of landscape, or desert, and, the sky is yellow, and, amazingly, the SUN IS BLACK

From close-up, it is also suggested that this could be a sea, an ocean, something cast out into it, but, the amazing thing is the Black Sun has come up repeatedly since the beginning of the George Floyd-based demonstrations for BLM to alter by petition the policing of the Black community by white police. This is a symbol that only appears out over the phthchth, or a landscape of despair. It exists, in fact, when one goes past the Black House, another construct, or sees it from the backyard of the Black House (it is fun to think of Price maybe having this “vision” from the backyard of the Washington dc black house). The Black House is not here, but it might be the ultimate POV from which he sees things. The Black Sun is the sun of despair trying to light again, over the sentient zone beyond. So, this might go further out. To me, the original memorial mural for George Floyd in Minneapolis in the days immediately following the police killing was strong because his head was framed by a flaming sunflower, and, in that context, the black core, inscribed with the names of others killed in the same way, was the Black Sun, it bespoke the gravity of this “last straw” moment, that police oversight of black neighborhoods or stops has become not only fearful, by placing this Figment bogeyman always at the tail of the eye in the African American experience, but to signify that it has happened again, it keeps on happening so much, it is devastating the community, in ways that are making people crazy. In any case, it is interesting that it is here.

Finally, though, in Allegory of Cave Theory (2020) which might well be a lockdown painting, the dynamics have seemed to shift back into hypnagogy, with then a vertical pulI

I would say here this is a lot like Kabakov in The Man who Flew into Space from his Apartment (1989), that chair by an echo form of it above, passes over, as if is launched on a squall of yellow paint which then, once it gets up into vigilogogy, dissipates a bit; then, it seems that a photograph has been placed in the view to represent the too-much oppressive presence of a lockdown scene, this then weighs on lattice hypnagogy, to make it only possible to paint random abstract “form constants”, floating in the mind. So, like this.

The picture within the picture, though as a trope a stairwell can represent the whoosh into REM from above, here looks like a view from the apartment, so it plays the role of the High Light, a constantly intervening light from consciousness, lingering in hypnagogy, to keep one from getting to sleep; even upsetting the very circulation of vigilogic entopty formation of pareidols from which afterimages of float down into dream, here it just suspends him in the space, no resolution, entirely blocked. For that, though, it remains a perfect depiction of whatever insomnia is with painting picture-blocking?

Finally, Price does have a still wider spin in ambient space in his work. In Psychological Acceleration (2018), it seems that his mind takes an even wider spin, to take in a whole landscape, with, then, insets of symbolic presences, in the symbolic level, to from that create a dreamy impression of a drive.

He then looks back to an ambient memory, constructed of Letterspace, Icon symbolism, then more entoptic or lattice effects, above and below. And what tells me that these are almost, really, in their conception, like charts or graphs, is that these sorts of icon-like (in the computer sense) indications of content, without being the content, are exactly the same device I make use of in my graphs. All this signals, then, that his ambient imagination is, in its dynamics, always spinning from one stage to another, entering, scenically, into the world of roadtrip landscape, a tradition so rich in American movies I need hardly mention it (but, I did write about it in my analysis of Chapter 11 in Lynch’s Twin Peaks: The Return (2017), comparing it, also, to Scorsese’s use of it with an overlay of Camille’s theme in Casino (1990)), so, for me, these are a bit easier on the eyes, in that it is a well-traveled zone of hypnagogy, the only possible difference being (not having looked into the content) that while in the mainstream such a drive is liberating, perhaps among African Americans such a drive continues to be contested (a theme that comes up, in fact, in Lovecraft Country (2020; the novel, 2016, about the 1950s).

All in all, then, this is the second time I have found, this season, a painter who is delving into hypnagogics (the first was Brandi Twilley), which is my wheelhouse, either side of a “surreal” enhance-sploitation of rationality; or others who go off into pure surreality, none of which is real, so, now, Walter Price, his hypnagogic painting represents strategies, at a time when lockdown brain irrationality is toxic, to open up the mind to its greater possibilities again.


Lei Yixin’s Memorial to Martin Luther King (2011), the landscape of despair and recent monumental thoughts.

rev., Jul 21, 2020.

As the memorial at 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis, based where George Floyd was killed in May, grows, it is becoming more and more discursive, with one center and many centers. The latest picture I have from a gofundme page is that there is now a tent over some of the leavings on the left side of Cups Foods, around the corner from the original site, but closer to the, here obscured, larger, blacker, if you will, picture of GFloyd, on the left, which I think has gained new popularity over the former as it seems to be on par with the monumental tone of the moment.

but, then, this movement of aesthetics, the discursiveness of the observation, has reminded me of the MLK memorial by Lei Yixin in Washington dc, whose original form I did not like (apart from the tangles over the funding, the source of the granite, the selection of the artist, the paraphrasing of the lines of speech, etc etc etc), because not only is it naturally discursive, so dreamlike

you enter through the deadfall of the mountain of despair, you cross over through that “valley” then you come to the signal image around the corner on the front of the central stone, and it is him, he is situated as the caretaker, over the lattice, where the body is. Then from that, you then are supposed to whoosh out along the curving line of quotes, to take in the whole ambience of the power of his words. There is also trees planted there, and, no doubt, you also t take in other aspects of the view.

but, then, now, another impulse of culture courses through too, the mountain of despair clearly belongs in the “landscape of despair” that I have increasingly ferreted out of my dream studies of movies of late, in 2020. For that, then, I mean it literally that the Mountain of despair here is to be the deadfall, that is, a form that blocks entry to dream, but then propels you anyways, but it propels you through the deadfall to a dread place.

you splat through the mountain of despair, it is almost an earthwork, bleak, towering, clearly, some people get it, it is meant to disorient (but it strikes me as a fair modernizing of the classical style which dominates the other major memorials).

you are in awe of, but blocked by them. They could almost be like the cliffs either side of the path at Thermopylae, or the mountains so often referred to in various bible quotes,

it seems like a natural counterpart, though some might find this view too subservient, and the implication, the presidents of culture, MLK given a more natural look of monumentality, “nature monumentality”

but, the important thing is that you walk it through, as Obama did, many times (best detail here of the mountain carving, so putting this in a long, long tradition which I have mapped out elsewhere, a world religious context).

but, now, the thing is, we are in the mountain of despair, that means actual despair, despair is when things are bad, you are suffering, and you give up. But, then, MLK is saying, of course you are going to feel that, there have been so many disappointments, but the key is to hew from the mountain of despair a stone of hope, and move on from that. Thus, his statue is not just a statue, it is ON a place, that place is the devil’s road, which is exactly what moves through the halves of the cliffs of the mountains of despair, then comes out to him, around him, with a quote, then we swing round and see him. At the time, people complained, they thought he was too stern, they did not understand why his feet were still stuck in the mountain. My general complaint was that I did not envision MLK in such monumental terms, and I did not see how the Mt Rushmore treatment would be applicable to his role in the civil rights movement, except by other than bombast, I worried.

But, now, I have some answers, and new appreciation. First of all, the discursiveness of one’s approach, if one follows in the footsteps of the quote, is that you move from the mountains of despair to the stone of hope. This means that you are in a “landscape of despair” and the path you walk is, in fact, the devil’s road. This landscape, as I am finding out, has many tropes attached to it, one of them is Jesus on the Cold Stone, that is a trope that meditated on the fact of his utter abjection as he sat waiting to be crucified, the cold stone represented the impossible bleakness of earth itself, life on earth, in this veil of sorrow, like the cavernous backgrounds in renaissance paintings, or like in The Exorcist 2 (1976), this was the “landscape of renunciation,” to renounce this world, for another, imitatio Christi

Christ was also weighed down by the various chains and shackles of the toad road or the devil’s road, that is, everything in life was reduced to be symbolically represented by a torture, this perhaps is expressed by his folded arms, the quotes are later lined up as if symbols of his particular weapons, the pen mightier, all that.

For example, Dixon argues that this version of Christ carrying he cross by Bosch, him pushing through grotesque men, all representing humors run amock, and all armed in insruments of torture, express the horror of the devil’s road. But, then, in that, Christ represents quintessence, that perfect calmness of spirit which is obtained when rising above and neutralizing all the strife of disputation. Then, too, his image in a painting is made more real to the view, to give the painting an almost delirous feeling, by the assistance of Veronica, who has the true image, and it is the true image that looks out of this all as a acheiropoetoi, an image not made by human hands, above all the sturm und drang.

Dixon also points out that Bosch took special care to envision the devil’s road by making of it an obstacle course which, above even the passion, Christ had to suffer through, thus, in this version of the walk, under his foot is a “spike block,” which were, literally, blocks, into which were nailed spikes, it was then set in his way so that he would step on it, and suffer more, the devil’s road, a path of instruments of torture.

So, MLK is on, but rising above the devil’s road, despair. His sternness, often complained of, is also explained by three points, one, He is not here “Martin Luther King” in the abstract, as in a portrait; he is not even MLK making the I Have a dream speech, which must have been an exhilarating day in his life. He is MLK after they have once again suffered another disappointment, again! pushing some to despair, so he had to “steel himself” to try to start again, he had to encourage his followers to not give up, but to steel themselves for the fight once again, so this is him not merely serious, but in a redoubling of a serious reset recommitment after he has, in fact, despaired, his face is an expression of the stone of hope.

there is another point. It relates his feet to his face. He might be said to be effaced, that is, not his usual speechifying self, but caught in a moment of quiet determination, holding his feelings in. Then, too, his feet are still in the mountain because he is just coming out of the despair, he is just about ready to take that first step of renewed determination, he is not quite there yet (“I may not get to the mountaintop, but I have seen the mountaintop”), and in this his likeness here compares to the antique trope of the anados, that is, Persephone rising up from the earth, to bring on, after the desolation of winter, the new spring. This was in many sculptures presided over, to make sure it is of good cheer, by Pan, but here it is he is his own aegis presiding with determination over his own anados. Moreover, in funerary busts made in Cyrene of Persephone, she is not only coming out of the ground, and pictured not in a human but in a rocklike natural way, but she has no face. This is because she is death, she has become in her absence a mystery, now she rises through an undetermined space, maybe despair makes us lose face with ourselves, we cannot look at ourselves, until we figure it out, and pull ourselves back together. But, too, this is the anados, a major event at the end, shall we say, of the devil’s road. I found some good examples, I think they relate

this one truly amazing, Persephone as the earth, or a built up of earth, as the deadfall herm, as it acting as a herm, but between death and life, this then resurrection, conveyed by her curls.

this one too, mysterious

then there are a few that are veiled, a custom that survived in folklore,

then, too, this could not be more current, in our landscape of despair culture cast back into antique times, before modern medicine and governments that protected us, to the chaos of living in a time of plague, which presence has primarily fueled my search for the tropes of the landscape of despair. So, her facelessness might simply mean the mystery that she embodies having been dead, now coming back to life. But it is also true, I would think she, that passage, the space of the anodos, if out of the earth, coming out of the earth, then coming up into the air, that redoubt between death, winter, and life, spring, is, in fact another form of the in-between, the Luor, between waking and dreaming, and, of course, in reverse, as an adjuration, she comes up, and it is this space we cannot describe, and which remains invisible because of it, because no one has ever experienced it, you are just one minute trying to get to sleep, then next minute hours and hours later you wake up, but without any sense of how you got there, this means that that space is indescribable, best described as invisible, that is why she has no face. And that is also why MLK is a bit obtuse in his stern face because he is, in addition to resetting himself after being in the mountain of despair, to with a stone of hope march forward again; but he is “dead”, but lives again, and now must inspire the living the do the same, so as you pass from the mountain of despair, on the devil’s road, you are looking for your anados, and he is there, presiding, to offer it. It is, then, in this regard, as a metaphor for anados, a rising up, after being in hell, it is, in fact, quite effective.

it seems, then, better figuring out where, hypnagogically, the structure fit, that I have made some peace with this “experiental monument,” where you are to walk the walk of it, to get the full feeling of it, and, I wonder, if, in fact, this is not in fact the way to describe the history of African American life to date in this country, walking the devil’s road, from the mountain of despair, always having to hew out the stone of hope.

Finally, if this is how it is, then it is also true that the faceless “god of day” who has come out as the embodiment of the stone of hope to lift him up again, to reset (maybe represented by the speech), is a Corposant, releasing him

the rock imagined as if informed by a miraculous power, like the moving rocks in this da vinci, the story apparently based on a legend that when on the flight into Egypt the Holy Family was in jeopardy being followed by troops so at night the rocks of the cave closed against the troops to keep them safe.

then the representation of him, slightly abstracted, is his status as Blue Angel, the reduction to essence of the self, for one to pass over, humbly guided by the greater spirit, as I have worked out previously this year; and his effacement, and Persephone’s facelessness can also be a representation of that reduction to an all but mannikin, but carried over state. This then mean that there is an adjuration here where by spirit the devil’s road is defeated, and one rises up, to go on.

then the going on is representing by a sudden span out into ambient space, of the quotes, to rest as if a fata morgana out there, by a spot of POV I call St Etienne

so the sculpture IS, from this preliminary note, psychodynamic and dream dynamic,

It would be my hope, then, that when it comes to memorializing the events around the killing of George Floyd as it became a last-straw moment that sparked mass demonstration in favor of major changes in Black community and police relations, to let African Americans be free of a life of fear, bespoken by many witnesses over the past months, as, it is true, the cardinal core at-bottom complaint, the feeling of being unsafe in this country, that must be addressed. This is a monumental undertaking, and will require a major paradigm shift to brain-based culture, eschewing forever the easy appearance-based formalist triggers of tribal separation of every us from another them, or them from us and any us or them from any other them or us to make of us of the world one us to care for and nurture each other.

Once upon a time in…Hollywood (2019) and the Once-upon-a-time demon in Hollywood time. Part 3.

rev., Jun 26, 2020.

This is part 3 in a treatment of the dream structure of Once Upon a Time in…..Hollywood (2019).

The heavier “Utrillo town” dream formation, introduced with the neon fanfare on the night of,  actually haunts the whole movie, even before then. The movie is, in addition to a panorama, here, of old restaurant signs, it is collector heaven for those who watch old movies and like old movie posters. Usually, movies show up in the background of other movies to make you feel part of the club. But these are all put here so that you feel that the town is, in fact, a fragile place, a mere Potemkin village, worse even than the stage set-movie wobble-wobble, that time passes through it very, very quickly, you make a few wrong moves, and, poof, it is over/ This display, a landscape of movie-posters, is like a rapids, the rough water that is Hollywood in time, all these big beautiful works of art, as I think old movie posters are, and a tenth of the movies most 2020 audiences will not have seen, and, my guess, those under 30, 90 per cent will not have seen. But what all the posters and billboards mean is that, as on the surface, the movie is wobbling you into a hypnotic state in a village of dreams so that you are uncertain exactly what time zone of 1969 you are in, vis a vis 2019; but there is also a more definitive darker statement about the whirlpool of time, the periacqueductal pull of time, dematerializing the world in ambient spins, reducing all lived life to memory. This is the town in the town built of only (like an old neon sign graveyard), all the movie billboards and posters. There are many.

One, with a hitler rearview moustache

0 46two

0 47three, I do doubt that movie stars of status would have their posters about in the main rooms

0 48four

0 49five

0 50six

0 52seven

0 53eight

0 54nine

0 55


0 56eleven

0 0 0 0twelve

0 0 0 0 1thirteen

0 57fourteen

0 58fifteen

0 59sixteen

0 61seventeen

0 62eighteen

0 64nineteen

0 65twenty, cliff even brings a big one through the door, him having been fired on the trip to Italy

0 66twenty one

0 67twenty two

0 68twenty three

0 69twenty four

0 70twenty five

0 71in a second viewing I caught a few more, twenty six

0 72twenty seven, Fearless,

0 73twenty eight

0 74twenty nine, thirty, thirty one

0 75thirty two, Sweet Charity

0 77thirty three, Night They Raided Minsky’s

0 79thiry five, Jigsaw Jane

0 81thirty six

0 90thirty seven, I forgot Candy!

0 91thirty eight, Tanner

0 92just in passing, but not a poster, I’ve SEEN this humble werewolf movie, takes place in upstate California movie

0 94Of the ones that I was able to count that is thirty eight, and, top of my head, and I’m a movie watcher with definite Tarantino tendencies, and I have only seen NINE of these movies (though some are fictional), which pushes THAT 1969, the 1969 lived by 40-year-olds, way back in time precedent to my 1969 of a 16-year-old (most all of the movies shown are Westerns, Action Movies and War movies, all by stars in their 40-year-old primes, so not my fare at all at the time). All of this, however, as a constant drumbeat as if with stage backdrops, itches away at the reality of what we are watching, it cries out that Hollywood is that Potemkin Village, a Utrillo Town, where time moves cruelly quick, where fame is fleeting, where everyone in the little tent village or even an Autonomous Zone of making it as a star lives with a horrible sense of time wasting (it is a theme I constantly dwell on, watching movies, actors I like, worrying that the clock is ticking, wondering where did he go? whatever happened to her? they have to get the performances on the record NOW), and it is in this heavier symbolic zone as its spirit depletes then eventually gives way to ambient hauntings that can, in fact, rise up conjure demons, that things can go dark, and trouble begin. It is a deadfall of movie posters, like a nest of white picket fences, the wagons which Hollywood circles around it to keep others out, but the problem is, it keeps fading away. Indeed¸ I think this cardboard, periaqueductal town of billboards assembled all around it, “tinsel town” in its essence, that now brings us to the truth of the yin-yang sort of knot that the movie confabulated out of the imagination of Rick and Cliff living as they did next to Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. For this reason, this inosculation, which I now must look at in detail, the wish away of the night is, in fact, a kind of existential act by a kokkochryspteronphasian (Rick dalton) in time, lagging behind time, fighting against the demon that curses Hollywood, the demon of too-fast-moving time, of instant obsolescence, and then even when you have your full career, but then tastes change, the overwhelming fear that it is all a waste, leaving you on Sunset Boulevard (a feeling I get scanning filmographies of character actors who did a hundred at least movies no longer seen).

A main problem in teasing his time-war out of the movie is that apart from a few words current culture has a poor grasp of passing time. The Greeks, my sandbox exemplum, had, by contrast, many time gods. Chronos is empirical time, past, present, future (Pacino is this one); Aion is time of the ages, the vast sweep (NO ONE is this one, well, until Rick gets intergenerational change at the env; Ananke is inevitable time, hurtling to its fate, Bia is violent forced haste (this is Manson, Helter Skelter, though it is poorly worked out); Heimamene is the fate of the universe as a whole (not present); Kairos is the god of the opportune moment (T=tthis is, according to a reading of him by another at the Playboy party, Jay Sebring, waiting for Sharon to come back to him). Kairos is also expedient opportune time (but there is NO ONE on the make to make it here, sleeping with the director, on the casting couch, all the Hollywood clichés, to force their career in the moment, think of that, a Hollywood movie, none of the cliches). Kairos is also a more benign reading of just someone who sees the opportunity and seizes the moment, carpe diem, I have always admired such people, not being one. Atropos is the god of my time has come (NO ONE, ie Sharon is NOT yet pictured as inevitable, no star is so pictured); Clotho is the goddess of decisions that you will live with forever (Cliff lives in the hangover of these, his thread has been cut); Lachesis is the goddess of the lots the gods gave you, so the goddess of “in another lifetime I’ll get to that” or “I had a good run” or “I got some good things done in my time, I got pretty darn close to where I wanted to be, though it didn’t end the way I would have liked it.” (Cliff again, “fair enough,” that’s my take on time too but no one seems easy at the decline of their career, well, again, maybe Cliff).); Moros is impending doom, like, I’m going to die tomorrow, I am afraid, a storm is coming (there is touch of this in Rick, but only for a moment; surprisingly, there is NO TRACE of this circling around Sharon, she is always depicted as if there is nothing going to be happening to her, she is excited about how her career is going, about having a baby, it is all happening, she is living it). Which brings us to Janus, the god of the beginnings of new things, of transitions, of passages, or starting over (identifying him with light, the sun, the moon, time, movement, the year, doorways, bridges, etc.); others see in him a sort of cosmological principle, interpreting him as a uranic deity (this, indeed, is Sharon, this the equivalent of Mehret-Wehret, the goddess of rebirth, see part two; but she also is shown, mainly, only, passing through, going through doors, coming to the door, entering the theater, enjoying her fame in the lobby, with her bare feet, dancing into parties, she is Janis, then, the female embodiment of Janus, the goddess of time poised at the threshold of “this is my time” or surprise that “omg, this is really happening,” when one is the “it girl” (“young girls are coming to the canyon”) of the moment (right this minute, in 2019, that is Florence Pugh, on one level, Bella Thorne, on another). Finally, the Carmenta consist of, with Carmenta, goddess of the wish for a child to have a good long life, both Postverta, the past, and Antevorta, Sharon is the latter, goddess with Januslike qualities, but all focused on the future. Yes, the Greeks thought a lot about time.

Within this brittle enclosure, where the battle of time frames, of postures toward fleeting Hollywood time, rages, we sink further down in. At some point, the symbols deplete, or float out into the desert of meaninglessness, leaving one to sink into the next, or third state of hypnagogic depth, this is the Lattice space, it is a very important threshold space, as it on the lattice, for example, that a figure lies in bed, asleep or otherwise, and it is to the lattice that demons are attracted, to chew you up;and it is in vis-a-vis with the lattice that conjure vectors form to storm life at you, and it is in the spin of a conjure vector that one has to spin down through the “under the bed” space to chase out or succumb to the fears, and so it is this central vortex, the seemingly unreal real, apparently merely passing relationship between Ric and Sharon, which only ends up with them meeting at the very end, with the hope of a fairy tale ending, that the movie, inside all the outer surface confetti I have detailed here, gets really into it, the terror of time tick-tocking away in Tinsel town, it’s the old Sunset Boulevard theme, stirred in a bit more cryptically.

For this, now, I have to go through the closer relationship of the Cielo drive neighbors

Having looked at the surface features, and also background elements, of the movie, that is, tricks of the eye the create the hypnagogic mood, using, I posit, conventions of hypnagogy, perhaps if only by accident, abide, the Village of dreams in the lightest entoptic phase of light sleep, in the Land of Nod, and, then, “Utrillo town”, a place in the second level of hypnagogy where things compress into symbols, often rotating, but then  deplete into a monotonous town with built-in entropy that heads out of town, and into spiritual depletion (i.e Cliff’s night ride to Van Nuys). I have mapped these out as the places the time-warp effects, that is, the intermediations; and the place of the billboard/signage shows, most of which movies I have not seen, to create an atmosphere that is entirely “unreal.”

0 95

but I am also generally proposing that as the movie proceeds, and in a situation that is increasingly difficult for your average rational positivist viewer, who thinks movies should be commentary on immediate political events, on the surface level, things are progressively getting deeper, evidenced by more of the same of both devices as we move through. But, then, there is also the central core of the movie, which is built around, to the point of maybe not even seeing it as that, the almost occult relationship between Rick-Cliff and Sharon-Roman, that is, the next door neighbors on Cielo drive; but, in my terms, two halves of a yin yang in time in which one is the past (Postvorta), the other the future (Antervorta, Sharon/Janis). This is the core lattice formation, the fixing image of the movie, and the overall dream (symbolized by the morning after shot of Sharon sleeping in the nude, late). To abstractly represent it, it lies like an engine in the central core, rotating throughout, radiating vibes, from below.

0 96

But now, to figure this out in the movie, I have to artificially make the space in my graph larger for the action to be shown, so the whoosh below the lattice is always the center of contention in a movie, whenever the primary focus of the movie is at the lattice

0 97

then, the whoosh, and the lattice form above it, going in and out, which is why those sequences are there, is Cielo drive itself, the vortex of the movie; then, the lattice itself is Rick’s house, with the cul de sac parking area just below (really, when you think of it, an odd arrangement of space, and, I think, entirely a movie and dream formation) (neighbor movies are not uncommon, though, I think of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1964), but this reminds me of something else). And then it continues

0 98

but, to get into it. To be continued.

Once upon a time in…Hollywood (2019) and the Once-upon-a-time demon in Hollywood time. Part 2.

Rev., Jun 26, 2020.

This is Part 2 of a several-part treatment of the hypnagogic structure of the movie.

Picking up with Rick’s night of reheasals at home, the movie then returns to the neighbor wobble-wobble by going over the roof, great shot

0 1to now catch Blue Boy Polanski, not guilty but blamed (moreso in history, due to his crime of 1976) with Sharon Rightful Red Herring (sort of blamed, for her occultness, but she was innocent) off to a party

0 2 (2)it’s at the Playboy Mansion, in its time (but when Hef died a few years back, boy, that time was over)

0 3 (2)then a similar contrast with the morning after (I will talk in more detail as to how the houses are related and compared, and  the role that Sharon plays, this though in passing might contrast with Ann Francis, things have really changed in the 13 intervening years, later).

0 4the wobble in time between the western sets and Rick in them is 11)

0 5an optical illusion is tossed again possibly to double down back off the roof trip to Sharon, to reemphasize how Rick lives in a very different propentive time zone than Sharon.

0 6 (2)when Cliff is fixing the antenna, he contrasts with Sharon, in the house above, dancing to Paul Revere and the Raiders, another flame out reference that I doubt those who were not there know, I will simply call this a continuation of 11).

0 8 (2)though, in the movie’s funniest scene, he recounts how he got fired, and his stuntman career basically ended, in his encounter with Bruce Lee. After reviewing the mayhem, and Rick’s friend who went out on a limb for him having to fire him again, Brad Pitt utters the line that won him the Oscar, the resignation! (is the Oscars, in fact, an annual wake mourning the next death of the next old Hollywood ad infinitum?)

0 9 (2)slipped in here is Sharon’s brief encounter with Charlie Manson, which did, in fact, occur sort of like this, in February, six months before, to let Charlie stew, she walks by a poster for a truly terrible callisthenic movie she did with Tony Curtis, no less, another making-it movie, so minus-1969 encountering a minus-1969, 12), (but really the rotations around the two houses, their inosculation in the movie, all feels a bit heavier, gravitywise, for me, than mere time-wobbles, thus I will treat them as Utrillo Town sequences, along with the posters, to indicate how they were dragged down by their depletion).

0 10 (2)now we counterpoint the first scenes where Rick is working, that all takes place in the present; with Sharon going to see herself in the movies, in the Matt Helm, another flame-out in time, I think it very unlikely anyone watches dean Martin no less in Matt Helm movies anymore).

0 11 (2)now, movie theatres in movies are fascinating places, strange things happen at them, I have always been interested in this type of scene (I will also tend to how Sharon in general was captured in another part of my reading), but in this one there are two wobbles 13), is that while she is looking at the lobby cards, and then at the movie, we see that Tarantino made I think the right decision in this case, or at least in the cards in shots that could not easily believably be changed, to leave the original Sharon Tate in the shot, in the movie in the theatre, and she is watching herself, but she is also Margot Robbie in this movie nondiegetically watching Sharon Tate in her movie, this is 1969from2019, a rare intrusion of now, the viewing time, into the movie, a kind of, in fact, rrhexis, or rupture of the movie.

But, then, in the theater, we are yet shown another market lag, 14) the theater shows older fare, so The Mercenary, which I have not seen, a Sergio Corbucci 1968 movie, exactly the kind that Rick is worried about accepting an offer to star in

0 12 (2)then inside, another horror, CC and Company with Joe Namath and Ann Margret, also beneath contempt for us at the time, though we liked Joe.

0 13 (2)the poster

0 14 (2)

so the theater and its fare is a time warp too (I found this in this viewing of Once Upon… because I did a Starz trial to see it, and found their list of streaming films to be weirdly dated from what I guess would be the taste of a man of 45 in the year 2008, with 1980s classics, lots of “current” from 1995-2005, then nothing much newer, its called the propentive fog that people get stuck in).

0 15 (2)nonetheless, inside the movie, she chooses to ignore the dated fare, even if made this year, to enjoy that her performance, but it is the real Tate, so we are in 13) again, as a rrhexis

0 16 (2)her dirty feet are both a sign that, for someone of her age, as for us, matinee movies were a regular thing, we watched them as if, in fact, we were on the couch at home, this could also lead to sexual issues; but also that she is just an up and comer contending with the issue that she is being used by older directors with older tastes who have not yet caught up to where she is so she walks with dirty feet through their sexist terrain as she tries to break out of her being cast as a sex object (but the surprising thing about the movies mentioned, both in the poster at home, and here, is how much physical comedy Tate did).

0 17but, then, there is another time zip, 15) the movie cuts away for Rick’s first problematic scene, first shown as, as before, as numbered, inside the double loop of past time as real; but then the movie actually comes back to Sharon, still watching the movie in the theater, contrasting then on a more right now context that while some people are making movies others are watching the movies and sometimes even those who make the movies are watching the movies with people in the theater. But we now see her go kung fu with Nancy Kwan, and we now wobble from the real Sharon Tate

0 18 (2)to scenes, before the shoot, where she was trained for this scene by Bruce Lee

0 19this is the second appearance for Bruce, here not as Kato, but as Bruce Lee, Hong Kong star, but the rrhexis here is that this is true, but it resulted in for a moment after the murder Roman thinking Bruce Lee might be the killer because some unknown watch was found at the Cielo scene; and, then, maybe, maybe, did a mea culpa for that moment by putting himself into another theater moment watching Bruce Lee but getting a handjob from Isabel Adjani, in The Tenant (1976, 1 BC), one year before his crime. One cannot help then but think of this, it pulls forward so there’s that.

This now swings us round to where we began here, at the counterpoint between Rick making a better showing, then Cliff out at Spahn Ranch.

One would have thought that might tie up the time-warpings, but a few more, 16) turns out that after a good day Rick and Cliff, like fans, watch Rick’s appearance on yet another tv show I never watched, the FBI, so having felt bad about being a has been, he still indulges it, but on a rather low level of tv watching, so this is happening in minus-1969, the time warp I detected in the dated market in the theater posters, and earlier.

0 20now, in 17) I was a bit miffed, because it seems to me both in the depiction and in the return from Tarantino downplayed the importance and quality of a type of movie he obviously loved, the spaghetti western, word was, then, in Hollywood-uber-alles rhetoric, that he movies sucked, but no, many of them didn’t. Also, this was a big time at cinneciti, la dolce vita, Italy had an extremely robust movie making machine and a good number of American stars went over to make films that I would rather watch them in in those movies than in anything they did in America, such as Tony Francioso, Carroll Baker, then, too, even Joseph Cotton did a few, they must’ve at the time all felt like it was the end of the world, so maybe Tarantino is bespeaking the attitudes of the time; but, no, in some ways, Cinecitti was more advanced than Hollywood, I guess I will call also this complication 1969plus, that is, 1969 but vectoring out into another future than Hollywood. In the movie, here, however, it is all viewed as a wash, except that he picked up a wife, who is downplayed

0 21 (2)but in this time-warp, we do have a funny moment because it is true, it is less likely a stunt man would’ve been used, but this then to show that Rick was desperate to stay on film (if that is, in the end, the addiction that actors suffer from).

0 22 (2)For all of this, then, there have been, I count 17 intermedial shifts, or wobbles, often involving showing a clip from other media than the media “we” are audience are “living” as in a dream in, in the watching of the movie. This might put some people off, it is extreme, it makes it hard to see an arc, it as if covers the movie as a separate screen or grid over the movie, much in the way that Hieronymous Bosch covered over his art with a grid of grylloi, or little monster vignettes, to hide from us the deeper stuff.

But, in any case, in 18), if you will, this is the triple clash, it is the clash of Manson-time, Rick-time and Sharon-time, but, then, for some reason, Tarantino cannot let it clash, or pulls the Manson-Sharon clash, which was just dumb luck, into the Rick-Cliff vortex, to make it go away, weirdly. The dynamics of this requires a bit more analysis than simply intermedial notetaking, for on a deeper level, we see that Tarantino has created a town of darker dreams

0 23 (2)The village of dreams flickers on the eyes, it gradually lets you drift off, but you keep nodding off, then waking up, then nodding off, it goes on like that, wobble-wobble effect. This can result in some very pleasing effects, like hearing things going on in the room where you have fallen asleep, it can result in some scary effects, like sleep paralysis issues. But let’s just say that in watching the movie Tarantino has been successful by his 17 time-zone time-warp wobble, that is, comparing, by way of intermedial splicing, 17 different ways 1969 exists in time, in itself, in it seen as the end of something prior to it, it as seen as the beginning of something, it as seen as, as I saw it last summer when I actually went to a theater to see this film, maybe the last time I will ever go to see a movie in a public theatre, in 2019-minus 50. It is in the latter zone especially that publicity for the movie must contend, and if some aspect of the art of the movie goes against the grain of whatever is the movement of the moment, then there is trouble, so for example #metoo critics found the depiction of Sharon Tate to be strange and objectifying. But, she is a figure of time itself, that is, like Kairos, whom I cited in a recent work of public art about George Floyd, by Bansky, Kairos is that aspect of time that is the opportunity of right now, hoping for the opportunity to get something done now, and not letting it turn into a what-happened? when reviewed from the fireside at Christmas

0 24

but to get at where these figures are in their time, or in their perception of time, we have to drop down into a deeper place in hypnagogy, what I call Utrillo town. This is located in second zone hypnagogy, the glass onion, or the symbolic phase, but in its more adjunct and lower parts as these symbols begin to deplete out or become weak or pulled apart by ambient pulls on the mind, so here.

0 25 (2)

I call it Utrillo town because it is mainly by paintings by Utrillo, starting in the mid1950s, and reaching a peak in, in fact, 1968, when they appeared in both Targets, as mentioned, a New Hollywood production, and, also, Night of the Living dead, yet another new Hollywood production, even by an outsider, but it was a hit on campus. The problem with Utrillo was, I conjecture, American in Paris, after the war every Tom dick and Harry who loved their time in war in Paris wanted to stay in Paris and thought themselves either Hemingway or Monet and as a result many of them ended up on Montmarte squares making paintings for the tourists like Jerry Mulligan, without any sense of how they actually relate to front line art. They become such a pest that after a while they began to symbolize, as per the trope, spiritual depletion, or at least, passivity before time. When Susan breaks into the house in Living dead and there is a Utrillo over the mantel that tells you that the family who lived there falsely wasted their culturing impulses by harboring impossible dreams of a far away scenic Paris, so they depleted, and, as a result, that painting as trope being there says, there is no safety in this house, things will get worse. Utrillo towns as towns, are quite depleted, and haunted, I guess the pre-history form would be Orson Welles’s appalled tour of the town in The Maginificent Amberson, which had grown big and befouled itself; we have seen the Giant house, but in culture it had already been touched by negation as the General Grant style faded from style it began to exude negative feelings that Hopper picked up and so it goes, the depletion continues. In dealing with depletion in time, I have assigned the time lag problem only to Rick, but it seems that there is a larger structure which sinks to the level of the Utrillo town formations of signs of depletion, which pull the movie in a darker direction.

So, are there any Utrillo paintings in the movie? Actually, yes, though very incidentally. On the night of the climax that never comes, Rick and Cliff go out to dinner, they have descended into neon town, somewhat not quite in downtown Hollywood, they go to Casa Mesa (love the Candy poster, dig Marlon Brando in that one, movie is a monstrosity of 1968 incorrectness, this might be an inside joke about Ringo’s treatment of a Mexican maid?).

0 26while Sharon et al go to the more famous El Coyote

0 27 (2)as they get a red leather booth, the symbol of power lunches that I have brushed up against in Theaster Gates’ use of one in his Black Chapel installation in Munich this summer.

0 28there on the wall are two Utrillo paintings as per trope.

0 29according to the trope, it is by no means necessary that the painting actually be a Utrillo, though in the 1950s they mostly were, but they have to be copied in the style of, with a trope use of forms to convey a homely, singular, genre meaning, it is usually a road down the center, angling away

0 30 (2)it is like there is nothing going on in town, like the road is just running out of town, to a more desolate place; it also can feel like, more in this one, like you are a stranger in town, trying to get your bearings in a town that seems to have shut itself up against you, it is spooky. And, as the paintings, at least in my imagination, go further and further into outlying areas, things get more and more depleted, then pretty soon you are in a horror movie (the Spanish-Mexican connection also makes them tourist art, and, alas, my father was somewhat entrapped by his particular problem, I have mentioned the Beulas that we had in the house, in my view, crap).

0 0 0they are seated before more scenic ones, so maybe a bit better fare for the celebrity part of the room

0 32they sink into a margarita fog, as per the inversion of the red leather booths in Musso & Frank’s, the restaurant where six months before Rick met Al Pacino as agent. But that road turned out to be a dead end, as as an agency his specialty was giving you jobs on the road going out of town, that is, the outlying street, the haunted main street of Utrillo town.

0 33in context, then, it is in this “town,” wherever it is, that they get wasted, it is point I missed, first watching, at one point Cliff even has to ask if the killers are real. So, they have been given the depletion treatment.

I mentioned in review my surprise that the big night was announced on film with a big ta-da sequence with all the lights of the town, the restaurants and theaters, all caught just as they turn on the lights for the night life, so Taco Bell.

0 34with

0 35another

0 36back to this one

0 37not sure what this is

0 40more neon

0 41German

0 42Sharon et al out in it

0 43making a joke, going in, that there is a premiere at a porno palace across the way

0 44back to Casa Vega

0 45it is a fanfare, a blast of trumpets, a ta-da, this is it, Hollywood, as it was, or is, all the lights, but, to what purpose? with, also, a lot of wornness to it, and some frays around the edges. THIS formation on film, this haunted town depiction, in such concentration of successive shots, this TOO is a dream formation, the Utrillo town, because you do, in fact, get stuck in dreams in fuguelike places of this sort (I also call them toad road formations, though none is repeated so many times here to form into one of those). This does serve as a fanfare for the evening, but it also serves as a bolt of lightning bespeaking the depletion of spirit, the darkness, which is coming.

Once upon a time in…Hollywood (2019) and the Once-upon-a-time demon in Hollywood time.

rev., Jun 26, 2020.

This is segment 1 of a 3-part posting of Part 1 of a larger treatment of the movie. Included in The Horror of…..Manson (2020, unpubl.)

There is a reason why, in the last shot, Once Upon a time…in Hollywood (2019) ends with the fairy tale words that usually go at the beginning. Since, in fact, James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake (1939) there has been a small tradition of movies that end with the beginning. It is also true that in all horror movies, which this is most definitely not, the movie always ends with a shot of the horror or the monster likely to return, to generate sequels, with the “to be continued” trope; but, in the context of the movies, the story will always be spun again, and again, and again, that is, monsters never die. So it is here.

once 1Most people most of the time in our rationalistic modern society read movies as filmed fictions of events that are, in the fictive space, real. That is, we see the movie, we accept that it is a fiction, but when it settles into its middle fictive space, the storytelling space, that is a “reality” which we momentarily suspend our disbelief of, and go along.

once 2 (2)that is, though the frontal space is more likely than in previous eras of movies to come forward to engage us with effects, we still, as rational audiences, want to go into the fictive space in the movie, settle in, then make a pact with the cult image or truth behind the movie, then think, ok, so everything now is “real” in that space. No Country for Old Men (2010), for example, once we get into it, we are in it, a man hunt for a serial killer in Texas. Certainly, therefore, it is 100% guaranteed that at least 95% of the audience even for a Quentin Tarantino movie like Once Upon a Time…. (2019) will want to view the movie as a fictional biopic of the events in the life of a struggling actor over the hill, Ric dalton, in the year of Hollywood’s big change, the new era symbolized by Sharon Tate. This is how I first watched the movie, for that reason, I found the fantasy ending quite problematical. But, now, having mulled it over, based on the magic of a second viewing, I begin to see some deeper underlying logic.

Still, in viewing the movie, one might be fair to wonder why is Tarantino constantly shifting from one temporal POV to another, why can’t he just leave the movie in the present of the movie, 1969, and stop going into other movies, or whatever? Worse, he goes into the other medium for just long enough for us to then try to settle and get comfy there, then he bounces us out. In fact, I got this. This is a hypnagogic device, which alerts me to the fact that the movie is to be viewed under the influence of the Big Sleep, that is, the devices of hypnagogy are utilized to make a depiction of conscious life more interesting. And a zone in hypnagogy, high up in the Land of Nod, just as, in fact, like Bruce dern, who is simply sleeping between movies, is a place I term the Village of dreams.

once 3 (2)The Village of dreams (I call it a village because it is usually pictured as a village) is simply the formations and sights in a shallow stage of the entoptic first phase of hypnagogy, as one drifts off to sleep, and it’s primary characteristic is that it is constantly nodding in and nodding out, almost as per the camera clicks, it is moving from dream to reality (in the example I give often, Anna Lui’s The Spooky Bunch (1981, Hong Kong) it is a ramshackle backstage carnival place where you don’t know, from shot to shot, who is real and who is a ghost), from falling asleep to waking back up, and as such it has a lightning like visual experience form, as such.

once 4 (2)

It is part and parcel that Spahn Ranch is the ultimate village of dreams formation, as, as I studied it last summer, it has a long and quite seedy history as a site of b-movie production. The whole sequence where Cliff goes out to it is pocked with time-skips by way of generational misunderstandings. First, there is the Manson girl in the car, who characterizes Cliff as really old.

once 5 (2)he is amused, you mean eight years ago? so, from now, for example, that would be 2012.

once 6 (2)then they have a wobble-wobble over her sexual come-on, and, no doubt because of his “history” saying I’m not going to prison for some poontang, is you’re 17 if you’re a day.

once 7 (2)then when he gets to the place, Charlie is not there, so this is not prime time Charlie movie (an odd decision) but he is confused, now a cult is living there, he wonders if his old friend George is ok, so he knows where he lives, and he’s going in, regardless of their paranoia against outsiders.

once 8 (2)inside the parlor of George’s house, there are one, two, three, four, five, six, maybe seven wobbles in time. They are, George’s western sculpture; the black and white tv showing the Monkees; the black and white TV sitting on top of the color tv because the color tv, all posh in 1964, obviously got broken; the western gear to the left; then, most interesting, the bare feet of the watchers, I count ten toe cleavages. Thus, this room is a composite in time of 1954, 1964, 1969, 1953 (when the kids were born), then the toes are doing the counting up of time passing. (if you do not recognize the Monkees, then I would liken this shot to Lewis-Williams’ analysis of San rock art using neurological structures, that is, the center is invisible, but then a buzz or frisson around the edge is evoked by the wobble-wobble of a bunch of animal legs only, so, here, toes only (it comes up elsewhere in the movie too, indeed, the most we saw of the hippie girl, communicating her unwashed state to Cliff, was the bottoms of her feet).

once 9 (2)the bit lip indicates to her that not only is it always a problem when an outsider comes into their ensconcement, but if there is trouble she will get blamed for it.

once 10 (2)but, back inside, wise-ass red-haired girl settles back down as if she does not care, but her report on George is encouraging, and surprising, he’s in back sleeping, because he’s 80, and “I fucked his brains out this morning,” so good for him, though one still suspects exploitation. The fun part of the shot to me is that there is a split lamp, a great property, bespeaking talking at cross purposes, it also seems, from the time when the whole Western thing was going to seed, a ukulele lodged in between the shades, and you know from Joker (2019), I think ukeleles bespeak a song from another state of mind.

once 11 (2)as such

once 12 (2)then he goes back in, and this part of the house appears to be another time zone, almost like in a horror movie, because entering into it are guardian guides in the form of later-put-up afterthought reinforcement images of old cowboy hero black and white photos torn from fan magazines and pinned to the wall, as a fan would.

once 13 (2)there, hidden, are three phantoms from my childhood, Zorro, the Lone Ranger and Tonto.

once 14 (2)the horse of nightmare makes him worry, coming in, finding George heaped in a corner, he could just as likely’ve’been dead

once 15 (2)but, while it’s not perfect, with the rats too, it’s ok enough for Cliff to leave it be

once 16 (2)though I am enough of a trope collector to out-Tarantino Tarantino, to wonder if that wallpaper isn’t the same as in the bedroom in the original Amityville Horror movie, and forebodes ill for George.

once 20 (2)then as Cliff leaves, apart from the flat tire part, there is one more wobble, when the girls think Tex needs to be called, to secure the place from an intrusion, so he rides in like the cavalry, to save the day, but he is too late.

once 21 (2)this is a larger wobble-wobble effect. He is squarely, as a person, in 1969, doing tours for tourists of the canyon; but, in this movie, he is reawakening the period of Spahn ranch, when, in fact, it hosted scenes like this, in westerns in the 1950s, so it is a wobble to that time; then, too, this whole sequence is counterpointed, a bit too bluntly, with an immediately preceding scene in which Rick acting on the set in a Western town does his scene. So, duel at High Noon on a Hollywood soundstage is contrasted with a difficulty in aftertime at a former soundstage, now to host an even more horrific form of Western carnage, Charlie’s plan for Helter Skelter.

The movie in fact, plays with the wobble when we move from Rick acting to Cliff checking things out, when Rick comes in from berating himself in his trailer, to get back onto set, there is a shift in scenery that in my purest postmodern days, I would’ve exulted in, moving from a reality to a simulation of another reality, in that reality. It really does still tingle, when we see him walking from off to on set, and filmed in a way that increasingly focuses on it being him in the movie in the movie, and not just in this movie.

once 22 (2)when he comes up the stairs of the saloon, and the legs of a modern staffer young woman come down past him, that’s the nexus point, where you are between, where things tingle.

once 23 (2)but, then, the “fun” thing is that once the movie in the movie begins to shoot, Tarantino pulls his camera back so that it equates with their camera and we now are almost meant to read the movie in the movie as a reality unto its own filmic space, the movie we are momentarily watching, and we are in it.

once 24 (2)he pulls us out into the artifice of THIS movie, but, then, by shooting right over it, doubles us down back into the real fictive space

once 25 (2)

but, then, it is as if we watch this scene with double vision, as Rick acting a scene in the movie in the movie, routing for him to get through it, because the illusion was broken earlier when he botched a previous scene; but, also, we are “engrossed” in what appears to be an attempt by Tarantino to say, see? those old Westerns weren’t so terrible, some were good, that is, we are meant to watch the Sam Wanamaker TV show being made then.

once 26 (2)then, to spin it deeper, Rick, for US, to “our” camera, but their camera too, improvises in the shot, by pushing the girl forward into the dust, a clear example of a frontispiece shot, which then ricochets back to us, watching Once Upon…, this is a bigger as if wind up for a fastball effect as it shows that Rick has gone deeper, and it is getting in deeper in his role that he is less likely to make mistakes, but this going deeper into the cult reality of the fiction, his ability to lose himself in the reality of the West as depicted in the movie, caused him as an actor to improvise an undirected moment that pushed the whole thing forward not only for him to get praise from both the cute girl and Sam Wanamaker for being so good in that scene, but it made for a movie moment for US, 2020 viewers of the movie, wondering, no doubt, why we are spending 10 minutes in the middle of a movie watching a Western scene without irony played out?

once 27 (2)

Rick’s wonder that an action hero of the Western era, which is dying, that he still has the stuff, his entire internal mental dream structure is pretty much an exact flip

once 28 (2)of Spahn ranch, so these two sequences clearly counterpoint to keep us on our toes as the lightning strikes of time travel splice the space of the Village of dreams.

once 29 (2)it is this sort of wobble-wobble effect that oscillates throughout the movie. Its oscillation is what one ought to be fixing on, or enjoying, not the “reality” of the fictive space. In fact, by constantly switching from one medium to another, only then on a slightly larger frame frame it all in a view of Hollywood in 1969, that the movie works as a hypnagogic tour of a pretty much plotless haunting of old Hollywood, the “story” of it basically being movie creatures working either side of the timely divide having moments of realization of what time it is (it really is a cuckoo clock movie, as per the The Ghosts of Berkeley Square (1939)), and it is in those time travel moments that the movie has a story to tell. So, let’s count the time strikes

We open with a strange TV shown, Ric’s old Western, Bounty Law, given a lot of time on screen right after the title.

once 30 (2)

then we wobble up to the present, an interview 1)

once 31 (2)

next we have 2) a large face of Rick from an old poster, contrasted to his current errand

once 32 (2)and

once 33 (2)then 3), while he is headed into a meeting in an old standard restaurant of old Hollywood to be told by a veteran agent that his career is over, unless.

once 34 (2)1969-from-1959 as framed in 1949 is contrasted with 1969-still hot from 1968-with the whole future in front of it, as Roman and Sharon come into town, moving forward, in the swing of things, living the full now of their it moment (well, Sharon had not yet quite got there).

once 35 (2)then 4) older agent (Pacino) does an at-table autopsy on Rick’s careers, we see an excerpt from one of his old movies, Henry Wilcoxon, was, by this point, the epitome of ancient, he was a silent actor for deMille than did lockjaw Anglo Saxon parts, then played the Egyptian soldier whose son drops dead in the first born death miasma on the balcony in Memphis with pharaoh Yul Brynner in The Ten Commandments, so that was 1956, it dates the movie terribly, by him being credited like this, so this is agent’s 1968-as-hungover-from-1956

once 36 (2)but then it seems that, ignoring for now QT’s self referential tweak at Inglorious, maybe Rick was in a movie like Sinatra was in Von Ryan’s Express (1964), which had a modern feel, but was strictly old Holly wood, that’s when he torches the Nazis, to be continued on this detail (I saw it in the theater, a Frank Sinatra movie).

once 37 (2)either way, Rick is now doing villains on TV, which, he is told, is box office poison. He is also told that trying to look hip and so 60s in the rock post-Beatles scene only makes him ridiculous (I watched Hulabaloo slavishly, carefully recording in a notebook every major act I saw on it, I loved it, but I was 13).

once 38 (2)then 5) Rick has an all but complete time-lapse breakdown, as not only is the message he received that he is a has-been, but against that billboard of the “oldest” restaurant of old Hollywood, that makes the whoosh of depression even more vertiginous, so this is a 1969-plunging back to 1949 nightmare (Tarantino makes extensive use of signage, about that in a bit).

once 40 (2)then we return to both making do in 1969, but right away 6) we see the Manson girls dumpster diving before a Giant poster for Giant (1956)

once 41 (2)and as they walk it out, in 1969 from1956 one cannot help but think Tarantino held on to the haunted house

once 42 (2)to ping on an unacknowledged rrhexis of reference to Psycho (1960)

once 42

to maybe, as above, whisper a little something along the lines of, what the hell happened to women? in reference to Elizabeth Taylor in her late prime.

once 43

Then, 7), but really picking up on the time warp of the opening scenes, Rick becomes aware of the fact that he lives right next to Roman Polanski, so it is his 1969 versus their 1969 again

once 44 (2)then comes the tragic drive home by Cliff  8) where it is revealed he lives in a trailer way out in Panorama City, next to a drive in, playing Lady in Cement (1968), exactly the sort of movie Sinatra played in his second revival after Von Ryan’s Express, I think unwatchable (it’s on youtube); but for that, drive-in culture is definitely late 1950s, and so Cliff also lives in a 1959-1969 time warp, with a nice wobble here, (the curious thing is that in light of the covid outbreak, which has now doubled up to return big time to California, there is some return of the drive-in after  going obsolete in the later 60s (I never went to one)). In movie lore, the end of the drive-ins, and the end of “old” horror, that is, Corman Victorian-story horror, for new “horrors of the world now” horror, which is not exactly true, happened in Bogdonavich’s Targets (1968), using old clips from Karloff in The Terror (1963), as a movie shown in a driven in which lets the shooter shoot

once 45

the camera even does a beautiful flyover of the drive-in,

once 46 (2)to come over the neon rainbow

once 47 (2)into the blindspot in time which rests at the top of many a leap out of nightmares awoken from.

once 49 (2)for it to then blind us,

once 51 (2)to bounce us into a white out, in ambient space

once 52 (2)showing that Cliff lives very far away, indeed, from the movie (but the chair indicates he watches them from afar for free).

once 53in his little end of the world. His trailer life is all TV all the time, in this case 9) I think Tarantino is meant to show us the flameout nature of fame, this is Robert Goulet singing MacArthur Park, Jimmy Webb’s anthem of almost-Beethoven by which crooners pompously entertained higher than middle culture in the 60s, so pretentious now (Richard Harris, no less, did the record hit; donna Summers did the best version).

once 54 (2)then he’s got Mannix on, never watched a single episode, this was for “grown ups” in the 60s, can’t even tell you the actor’s name, ok, Mike Connors

once 55 (2)then there is Three in the Attic, a “new” film for young people, “relevant”

once 56 (2)(I watched it, see part 2).

once 57 (2)other than that his life is in tatters, a series of make-do routine actions depleted by routine.

once 58 (2)he seems, indeed, to have a housewife’s life, in the 60s, we were so sold on the New TV Season that we eagerly consumed all of it, excited to see new offerings, the New Fall Season TV Guide we would cut out the pictures and put them all in a scrapbook, alerting us (how different now, with one million unwatched series to stream).

once 59 (2)but his tastes were formed in the 50s, Ann Francis

once 60 (2)it took me five seconds to google another photo from this pin up shoot, called busty or buxom.

once 61 (2)she was, of course, in Forbidden Planet (1956) when as the sexy daughter of Walter Pigeon, pre-funny days Leslie Nielsen basically balled her out for walking around half naked because she is making all his men, who haven’t seen a woman in a year (the “no women” excuse) want to gang rape her.

once 63but, that’s all 9) cliff is his particular time-warp wobble. By contrast, Rick 10) lives in more luxury, but the posters, which are all over the movie (about these in a bit), are old too, so 10) is a revisiting of earlier days.

once 63 (2)fading fame is also evinced by souvenir mugs with his cowboy image on them, which he collects.

once 64 (2)then old rat pack rituals, love the glass with the red pheasant with gold wings on it.

once 65 (2)I guess it was a thing

once 66 (2)

I did a post on it. What could it mean? One, of late, in a time, June, 2020, when people are ping-ponging politics-as-usual with a grave pandemic, things have gone hippalektryonic, that is, a horse-headed rooster whose composite nature captures he spindly shouty sharing nature of the nonmaskwearing person (related to a Karen with her “Can I talk to the manager” haircut). I am looking to see other ‘monsters,” or grylloi. Two, a red herring, of course, is a character in a mystery on whom suspicion falls for a good long time, only for it to turn out he was a misdirection, it wasn’t him. Then, I have found in movies, a Wrongful Blue Boy, and then paired with a Rightful Red Herring, classic case of this joining is Black Christmas (1974), Keir dullea is not the killer, but takes the blame; the woman who kills him gets off, even though she was the red herring. What would a red gold winged pheasant, a Chryskokkopterophasian,represent? he’s guilty, but of not paying attention, of getting caught up in the shtick of it, then letting time get away from him, but he’s not guilty, because most people do. So, vis-a-vis time he is the guy who lets himself become old hat, a chryskokkopteronphasian (more on this later). Since this might be a kind of sleep, it may play into the bigger plan, is he too a Seventh Sleeper?

once 67 (2)

highballs, cocktail hour, it was a custom of the World War Ii crowd

once 68 (2)

to be continued.


These Are the damned (1963) and the geometry of fear sculpture of Elizabeth Frink.

rev., dec 10-17, 2019.

with mention of Kehinde Wileys Rumors of War (2019).

In These are the damned (1963), a strange mashup of a biker movie and a children of the damned movie, made by Joseph Losey, there is an opportunity to see how sculpture works in the mis en scene of the psychogeography of the movie. I came to this viewing of the movie, which I still like, by way of Joseph Losey, and I came back to him with surprise when after looking at the movies of Bill Rebane and Bert I. Gordon, I found out that Losey was born and grew up, rather well off, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Nicholas Ray was in his high school (which means Rebel without a Cause is basically a Wisconsin movie), and only after he was blacklisted by Hollywood for being a Commie did he decamp to Britain to take up his real career, which I always thought of as quintessentially British. First thing, then, from that POV, as with Bert I Gordon, where I suspected that his treatment of the Atlantic was based on beach days in Kenosha, Wisconsin, even with having some island just offshore (in my case it was a receiving point for an water filtration system, but we thought it was a pirate ship), in Boy and a Pirate (1958).

0 1I know that I watched and was influenced by the movie, and maybe my sense that it was about OUR childhood beach adventures made the movie activate this way, because for one Halloween I wore precisely, I mean precisely, an exact copy of the pirate costume the little boy wore.

0 2so, now, in The damned, I wonder if Losey was able to resist making Weymouth, Cornwall, south of Bristol, classic place of so much British horror, a bit different, by seeing it psychogeographically from the POV of Wisconsin (it seems like there are a few places of bluffs over the Mississippi at La Crosse, I don’t think I’ve been).

0 3this would be hard to prove, but, first of all, I have for over a decade made use of a psychogeographical function as it were of culture, whereby, in the process of ‘translatio,” if you could not get to the Holy Land, you go get the Holy Land, then bring relics of it home to make of home a Holy Land. And, geographically, this would entail a sympathy for one type of landmass, leading to a culturing of a precedent form of it as a ‘holy land,’ then a further extension of the space to like places further on up in time, to create as it were a horizontal cascade of reflective sites all of which echo off each other because they are the same land or rock formation. So, for many years, I have known that I like all use of the cliffs of Cornwall in many, many British horror movies because in my pre-teen years I spent all my “wild space” time on the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan, in Milwaukee, Wi. Then, too, going back to a prototype space before Cornwall, there is the cliffs of the Rhine, when the Rhine was the border between two Europes; then back even to del el bahri, on the Nile, the tomb of Hatshepsut, whose intricacies I also learned to better understand as informed by the mystique of cliffside sites. Then, going back up to Cornwall, you come forward in time (and this paralleled the rationale of the emigration of my Irish ancestors from mines in Ireland to mines in southwest Wisconsin) to compare the cliffs of Cornwall to my own experience on the bluffs over Lake Michigan, they all link. The question, then, is, however, is there any indication that Losey saw the cliffs of Cornwall a bit differently than their standard treatment. In fact, there seems to be.

I will at this point make a blanket statement, meaning I have not broken it down, that for the most part, Cornwall was the “wild space” of British horror, that meant that in terms of being the end of the world, that entailed a remote country house, an abandoned tin min, and, then, direct access to the cliffs, then going over. Variations on this are few and far between, but I recollect an interesting one in Burn Witch Burn (1964) where some of the action takes place in a small chapel built into the side of a cliff (but shot in Wales). But, then, in general, no, one goes right over. Losey’s Cornwall, however, has a different psychogeography  that is, there are four zones, as it were, in the cliffscape of the Cornwall shown in this movie.

0 4There is 1, which is the classic cliffs, a place of pure nature, dangerous, perilous, the edge of the world, the eschatia, the edge of life, a suicide ideation zone, a place where people die. Then, there is 2, this is an odd in-between zone. In 3, there is the classic country house set up, and there is a house above the small cottage that the sculptor lives or works in, so this is the land of the country house with view of the sea and proximity of the cliffs, but safe, a cultivated area of classic English country house horror. But, then, in 2, it seems that to make extra income or whatever a second smaller house was built, perhaps only to rent out, then that turned out to be extremely scenic and almost gothic in its romanticism, and this is the “wild space,” the playground where the in-city and cliff dichotomy is worked out. Finally, behind the country house space, there is 4, the space headed back into town, and dealing behind it with the whole moral panic atmosphere of the movie in town, etc., and then it is strange that the bikers, who control the town, also come patrolling or looking for Mcdonald Carey and the sister, to, as if pirates, watch for illicit coming ashore in the 1 zone, so that they can get them in the 2 wild space. Finally, there is 5, this is the bureaucratic military-industrial complex space which is so prominent in British horror movies of the time, controlled by the military, top secret, the locals don’t know what is going on there, and while the headquarters of this sort of thing is in town or in a base in a logical place back in 3, there is, in this movie, an extension underground out into and under 2 and even 1 so that the “wild space” of borderline imaginings takes place under the cliffs as well as on the cliffs. That then sets up that in this wild space there is a vertical dimension where below is a cave prison, a secret laboratory of the modern sci-fi world; while above is a more primitive set up of surveillance, watching, boundary keeping, and catharsis of feelings derived from all of the above. This I will call 2a, above, and 2b, below.

0 5Things start out strictly in town, then way out of town, as Mcdonald Carey, no less, from days of Our Lives, is mugged, with Oliver Reed using his sister as bait. She then in penance begins a kind of relationship with him, which involves, I think, one sex act, then he tries to help her escape her sense of being caught in the vice of the grip of her brother, unable to get out of town

0 6and she gets out of town, by getting onto his boat. At one point, he cannot resist making a pass at her, she explodes, “so you are dirty, take me back”; so she was looking for full escape from her life in town. Then then make up and Carey says that he is in love and he has enough gas to take her to France, but she refuses, I am stuck.

0 7who she is stuck with is the criminal biker-mob life of her brother, young Oliver Reed, who terrorizes the proper city with the proper symbolic monuments evoking urban and national power in town. He is a townie, is the jargon we used to use, and a criminal. He is also one of the gang members who caused such a moral panic in the early 60s, by staging fights in the towns down along the coast, and Cornwall.

0 8VivecaLindfors (Freya) also comes into town, Weymouth, to a nice restaurant with a view of the main street, and the beach, where she meets the older man who runs the government program, but she only knows as her ex boyfriend. So, for her, there is the street art of tradition, traditional monumentality, but, then, she turns from it, to create in a counterspace of free expression that the pent up nature of the dynamics of town life or street life will not let her express, ‘modern art,” which is also stereotyped in movies of the time as a sign of madness or frustration, but is notably given rather a fair shake here. At one point, she says that she makes her sculptures unfinished because nothing is finished in the world, which is a counterspace answer, then she says she makes her sculptures expressive because that is the only way she can express what she needs to, another counterspace way of saying it. So, this posits, fairly, modern art against traditional art. In terms of traditional art, Oliver Reed as a biker has an exploitational relationship with it, he does not acknowledge it, in fact, in his contra mundem pose, uses it to give him stature, and high profile to his menace, but in doing so exploitationally, by as it were not through reagency, but simply in depletion crawling over its plenum space, negating it, so that it means nothing to him, and is empty scenery. Still, he does have an exploitational relationship (brackets) with it.

0 9The interesting thing here is that the response of the establishment and the town at the time was “moral panic,” a thesis put forward by Cohen, and the basis of a very good exhibition of contemporary British art at Zwirner, in Summer, 2013. This meant that the cult establishment, fronted by the traditional monumental statuary, saw itself as under attack, so, in effect, converted in their paranoia public art into apotropaic art, or, at least, places of contention, where a battle was to be waged

0 10

so there is a tug of war between the gangs and the town, and this expressed by the otherwise mocking mimesis of Reed and the gang as if pretending to be a foolish example of a platoon in the British army as they go about their dirty work, then, there is a fightback from the town, which chases the gangs out (but I am not sure if the movie had such scenes).

The main cautionary tale to discuss here is that it is questionable that such a battle can ever get anywhere beyond a tug of war and this tug of war not degenerate into a simple game of ping pong over a fixated upon binary the line of which no one is really interested in moving, to it is stalemate, over and over again. And this would eventually cause it to cross over to hypnagogy and the purely symbolic for it to fixate as a twinfire noxom in the zone of the glass onion, a split world view without any real solution.

0 11

This is of interest, of course, because of late, since 2017 at least, the issue of traditional public sculpture as an object of repression has reemerged from a long sleep in which it was dismissed out of hand by the art world as repugnant to the minimalist aesthetic and ipso facto an imperialist program of conservative value glorification that the negative monument had to negate, wanting no part of any monumentalism. Thus, the negative monument became orthodoxy for art world treatment of public sculpture from 1981 through, I don’t know, 2010. But, then, surprisingly, traditional monumental statuary, from which is descended only a realistic tradition of bronze that I now call bronztronics, as I saw at Scheel’s last month, which is not art world art, or art world=based public art, of which there is a lot outside of the art centers.

0 0 0 0 0 0

And then the actual traditional monumental statues simply ignored and not paid attention to at all by artists in the know, or the negative monument orthodoxy. But in the late 80s after looking how statuary was made use of in the Velvet Revolution, then, by comparison, in the French revolution, I began to see that the negative monument was in fact a matter of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, because the traditional monument had, in itself, intra-the-traditional-monument tradition, begun to twist and turn in functions I did not know what to call then but I now know as dynamic reagency spins or cycles, and for that reason it was able to trace a deconstruction of the tradition through the traditional sculpture installed as contemporary art in Paris in the 19th century; so that is what I did in 1989, though was never able to entirely express this full picture to the art world (I wrote an article on the French Revolution dynamics, as background to a history of house of wax sculpture and popular culture; then also wrote two catalog essays, on the other end of the spectrum, on “world space”, mostly focusing on Daniel Buren’s piece, the Two Plateaus, in the Palais Royal).

But, as for back in America, traditional public sculpture was beneath contempt, not worth discussing. And I seriously doubted that anyone looked at any of it as, in fact, “art,” in the way that contemporary art was looked at. But, then, a new generation arrived, with a revived retrograde sense of essentialism, and claimed that apparently African Americans on a daily basis were upset by Confederate monuments lingering on in cities in the South, an issue I would not know anything about, the South being more or less a different country of its own, from my POV, so the issue was, take them down, and Black Lives Matter found this a front of action that could garner publicity and interest and then, of course, in 2017 when there was a firelit march of the far right against the far left over a statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, the whole thing became “real,” again, even though I still looked upon this whole approach as a dangerous essentialism that was in effect waking up old grievances and curses (the opposite, then, of nomos, as it offers no real release).

And, then, the art world took it in. Kehinde Wiley, this past season, created Rumors of War, to directly, face to face, contradict the traditional monumental tradition of traditional statuary in Richmond, VA. He installed it last week

0 12I mean, it is full on traditional monumentalism, even with a giant pedestal, with a title and author listed in the middle of it, nothing “negative monument” about this monument. It is not even a counterspace art world monument, really, but a contra monument. What may save it from my complete dismissal, comparing it to how Oliver Reed in the damned simply exploited monuments to wrest power, is that the petition of annoyed or aggrieved African American citizens of Richmond, testifying that over time it really did come to be annoying that confederate monuments just staid put, that is not exploitational, or bracketed, but agentic and genuine, that is, in parenthesis, for them to for real contest them.

0 13

that is, African American citizens of Richmond had a genuine grievance, which was ignored by the art world, and made that grievance known to Richmond, eventually, because of the fact that the debate had sprung up as a convenient symbolic front for sorta-activism by Black Lives Matter, they got a response. What they wanted, the people, was a traditional monument, more or less outside any concern that it be by an art world artist, as there are many subspecialists who can make bronztronic sculptures for you, in the literalist-realist tradition, but they wanted it positive, like some Vietnam vets wanted a more traditional Vietnam memorial too, so they got one

0 14

and that was what they wanted, a voice in the debate. I do not know how Wiley got involved, someone in the search committee obviously must’ve known his art world art included pictures of rap stars in equestrian painting mode, in the baroque mode, and, thought, when he became popular-famous from the sacred iconic portrait of Obama, in 2017, why not him? So, petitioned, Wiley appears to not have just come in and done his thing, no, he listened to the citizen want list, he saw the type of statuary that was there, that they were complaining about, he knew that he had done equestrian images, had no trouble adapting his trope to a more traditional context, so Richmond got way more than they had a right to believe they might get out of this, not another hunk of junk of realist bronztronic statuary, but a genuine adaption of a contemporary art discourse into a popular traditional monumental type of public statuary, it was, in fact, a work of fusion (though I will not at this point, to avoid head explosion, try to place it vis a vis some of Damien Hirst’s fusionist sculptures). Because there was no exploitation, but reagency in the grievance of citizens, and then because Wiley came in behind them and then by his own reagency adapted his trope to their needs and the discourse of the statue they wanted was in, things turned out ok, but, still, for me, simply because of its monumentality, problematic on purely art grounds.

So, back in the town, the various ways to contest the status quo as evoked by the public statuary in the town square. But, now, getting back to the damned, at one point, things tilt to another back-and-forth. There is the beautiful view out the window, overlooking the sea and the cliffs, that is, the real nature, 1, where there is beauty, but also peril (in horror movies).

0 15then the view pulls back in, and we see a small sculpture on the windowsill, it is owned by the head of the operation, whom we have seen before, friend to Freya, it is one of her sculptures.

0 16then, rather strangely, it is picked up, and we are startled to see that we are in a military office, with modern art, no less. A strange aspect of the sculpture in this movie is that it is often picked up, as if acknowledging it as tabletop items, but with a more personal relation to the viewer, as art.

0 17it is also placed amusingly in an ensemble of modern art, which, in this context, expresses depleted obtuseness, as abstraction in offices did then, as a trope.

0 18then even possibly paintings made in a modern art primitive manner by the artist who did the sculpture, Freya.

0 19this then comes all the way in, and we learn that it is time for the daily briefing with the children, yes, the children, using, what the uptodate head honcho says of the tv, “that thing,”

0 20then we find out that the children under discussion are a group of guinea pigs he is raising with a certain genetic composition which will allow them to survive a nuclear war, or something like that, this is now entirely crazy, it has about it a very Quatermass crazy character.

0 21later we find that there is other crazy modern art in the setup, like this one

0 22then in a library there is a bit of modern art

0 23as a cover to a screen, for them to learn things

0 24we also find that the boss has cool art in his office, so Freya has softened him up, this is art.

0 27this one I like a lot and do wonder who did it, and where it comes from and why it is given such attention?

0 31this one too, not sure who

0 28so here we have at cross purposes with the previous noxom, here we have the military-industrial complex making use of, expropriating, then negating, modern art, to use it as cover or psychological warfare “expressive” of depletion and obtuseness in the context of a modern look office, as a cover for what is really going on, and that the system is art-destroying. But, then, the head of the operation, as an individual man, has formed a small redoubt of reagency or even possibly a hint of counteragency, but only in the scale of a redoubt in reagency, to know of in parentheses the reality of modern art, and what it means, and this makes of him a renegade within the system, who has therefore the ability to be still human.

0 29later, visiting Freya, we find out that he had cultured a taste for or at least some understanding of modern art by means of his relationship with her, and they still know each other and talk to each other

0 30but he is becoming so obsessed by his work it is changing him, at one point when she is in the tower lying in bed and wondering why they don’t make love anymore he resists by pointing out that he thinks that nuclear war IS, definitely, coming, and that he has no time to waste, he must prepare the children so that there are survivors, or humans who can survive the blast, it is as if his vision of the future is a negative animadversion in whole to the loss of contact with her body. Which leads me to think that this painting in his office is by her and it serves for him as a psychogeographic map laying out his conceptualization of the turf of the movie, it is the view from his office and his life in the office, across the moor, to her place, where she is, by the horizon, at the castle at the edge, and that world is idealistically or dreamily depicted as if a series of her sculptures, in the abstract, as she seems to not recreate her sculptures when in drawing land but simply play with the idea of them.

0 31that means that the above picture renders for him a vision of his very particular POV in the movie, from 5, the foreground sculpture covering his involvement in his office, in his official world, out across the in-between void of 4, to her at 2a, but, oddly, as if simultaneously to remind himself, is a series of small winged sculptures that from one side could represent her and her sexuality but from the other the children under the cliff, so also 2b. This is a classic, therefore, predicament picture, with quite extraordinary accuracy in rendering his contested world, crosscutting against the other contested turfs of the movie, but eventually to come in clashing contact with them.

0 32but, then, the really “neat” thing here, is that this statue emerges as if it is a turnstile statue, negotiating not just the two noxa we have worked out already, to bring now into the picture, to tie up the knots in it, both the contact of Freya and the Carey, and Freya and Reed–at one point she says my place is becoming like a hotel–but also her and him, and then she stays put when Carey and sister, and Reed come in contact, against the head, of the children below. So, it speaks volumes of where things are.

0 33this is a real sculpture by a real artist of the time, Elizabeth Frink, who signed herself in the title sequence simply as FRINK, she was one of the “geometry of fear” artists of the time in England that spoke to the fact that somehow formations or buildups of fear had lodged  themselves in the postwar brains of Brits, and why not make sculpture out of capturing exactly what those lesions or tumors looked like (the term was first used by Herbert Reade about the 1951 British pavilion at the Venice Biennale). This then brings us to the role of art in negotiating the wild space of this movie, by making quite extraordinary, and, surprisingly, dead on correct use of Elizabeth Frink’s art work in the movie.

To switch my mode of graphs, and situate the spaces in either vigilogogic (half=asleep) or hypnagogic (light dream) space, the cliff is, as it is in Neo Rauch, at the edge of the in-between space, which is just past the wild space, heading over into entoptic hypnagogic space. I believe that this particular sculpture serves as the boundary marker to that border.

0 34

This means something, but depending on which direction you come, and in what nexus you are caught.

So, at one point, when Carey and sexy sister are trying to hide from Reed, they come upon the house below the house, built into the very cliff, and, finding it empty, vacant, they even think possibly uninhabited, they take shelter (only to then overstay their welcome by making love in there). This means that the sculpture expresses their situation, moving between 2 and 4, but also, temporarily, in the wild space, crossing over to its entoptic counterpart, it welcomes, it is an usher statue, a votive statue, offering sanctuary.

0 35it is, other side of the wall, a very curious place, as if built into the cliff, then there is a frontage, but not really of a house sort, then a patio or platform, that goes right to the very edge.

0 36then, the sister, who embodies being caught in the exploitation space of the town, takes an immediate, almost madonnic, liking to the sculpture that is set or lying all about. This one has the aura of a human cast in Pompeii, and lain prone, forcing her to her knees, it seems to represent her lost independence and self-determination as a woman, entirely under the thumb of her brother.

0 37for that reason, the sculptures in this situation immediately become a symbol of her inner dispositional push-pull, stuck in the town’s politics, wanting to get out, dreaming of the sea, but which she has already rejected as impossible, so the sculpture in this shot becomes as it were a negative eidol or a predicament eidol, that is, a work of intercessional art, but without spelling out the way out to her entirely; but it is that, inside of its larger purpose of being a wiggle room statue, offering them a respite.

0 38it then in this context also comes to represent, as abstract art will in modern movies, her incommunicative obtuseness, everything that she cannot say, or even understand, about why she is so disempowered. For that reason, it turns Carey on, they become, in fact, for him, eidols of her mystery, appealing, they begin to in his mind migrate over into a cult posture, as if being moved like a chesspiece on a board, to represent his adoration of her

0 39he then senses that somehow the art is part of his changing mood, or, more importantly, feelings, so he begins with attention and earnestness to look around, to try to understand, through them, her, but also what is happening to him.

This is one of Elizabeth Frink’s most famous sculptures, a bird. It is insistent, if she is part of the geometry of fear school, then it would be read as a response to fear, that is, alert to danger, but a guardian, since it is so pronouncedly placed in the center of the studio, with the more negating eidols of male figures off to the side, I might, taking Faraone’s scheme of where sculptures existed agentically in an array of a Greek home’s protections, mental and physical, call it a Hecate statue, watching the crossroads, wary of any incoming, alert to danger. It is a nice shot by Losey, putting Carey’s head on it (I saw a small one of these at the Sheldon Museum, UNL, in 2018, they are quite beautiful).

0 40then from her side of the picture, he is still a question mark, she nonetheless comes to accept that he is a nice guy, and not bad looking, in a grown up sort of way, so she acquiesces, she kisses him, they make love (which is kind of ew). The small Frink figure up in the interactional space speaks to the nexus they are now entering, it says both that he might be being tamed by her, so a votive offering to her; but also warning them, behind their backs, because they are forgetting it, all turned on, that there is another person involved who is not going to like this (and since it is over her left shoulder, it is her albatross, or nemesis, her curse figure, her brother).

0 41this episode of making use of Frink’s art to negotiate this in-between space infromoutofdanger interval of lovemaking makes of it guardian, predicament, then intercessional, then votive art. That, the work spins in the space of their interaction, to give form to what is going on. It stage directs. This is a character of property behavior in movies, not of works of art, so it is an example of the work of arts being “used’ for purposes outside the range of the intent of their creation, but it’s ok, it suggests readings.

But, then, the sculptures play a much more central role in yet another cross-cut confrontation between two parties in this strange nexus of psychogeographically-controlled encounters. Reed has invaded the wild space to turn it into a frontier of his fight space, to be on the lookout for his sister, whom he wants back, and to get and maybe kill Carey. This means he is locked in his fight against civilization, and coming out to the wild space is nothing for him, it is part of it; she is part of it, it is anathemata to him, he wants to be the iconoclast, he sees this sort of work as cult work, expressing the glory of the powers that be, so just more public statuary, he hates it.

0 42

This brings him to Freya’s place. Freya has already surprised us by how quickly, instinctively, she negatively reacted in a Mama Bear sense that some sort of goldilocks was sleeping in her bed, ew, and mussing it up, so we know what that means, more ew, then leaving a mess; she feels violated. That is, she views this as her home, it is not a wild space, but her turf; these statues are not, strictly speaking, part of the wild space for her, but an expression of her contestation with the world. She is expressing herself, but in this context that means striving to survive as a woman who wants to be free and openly express her feelings about life. This threatens the status quo, so she too is, as is the sister, in a kind of box held down by the powers that be that endure in the administration space of the town. This is her counterspace. But, that also means, for her, it becomes her reality, and any invasion of it or destruction of it is as if an attack on her self-determination. She knows that as a counterspace her power is mostly imaginary, but she will protect it. So, Reed breaks in on her, and since he is quite aggressive, there is a contentious dispute. Reed immediately catches on why this particular sculpture is by the door. It is a bit more figured out than most art by Frink, it stands guardian at the door, an apotropylonic sculpture, meant, mano a mano, to keep him off. He also encounters it as a sort of forniculus of the door, guarding against any intrusion, as the door is open. This is the most apotropaic appearance of this art in the movie.

0 43then in his debate with her he threatens to destroy the art, and her, he puts his hands around the sculpture’s neck, meaning it is a surrogate for her, or Carey, or just an outlet for his rage. It becomes a scapegoat, which is a compound agency consisting of a votive negated by apotropaic need to pass intercessively out to purify the cult of him. It represents the world that he hates, and hates him, note that it appears to have a Roman type helmet, this also makes of it a bit of a Roman battle trophy, but as a trope in British movies a Roman bust represents power come to and administered illegitimately. So, in fact, this is Reed, in his contra posture to the establishment, fighting that fight, she has nothing to do with it.

0 44in this context, the statue is a mimesis, a cult idol, which he and we identify with her, it is a surrogate her, an effigy, if you will, but the fact that he does violence against it, means, immediately, that he is capable of doing violence against her. It also represents trouble.

Just at this moment, however, the camera does something odd, it separates out to just focus on the art, and in the most existential way, this, then, now, represents HIM, his angst, his anger, it is an embodiment of his aggression, again, a cult statue but with an aggressive, apotropaic punch

0 45in the same sequence, Frink’s bird shows up again, on a work table, but shown with a long shadow, as a monster, that is, as a beast, a familiar, a henchman, at his command, this one in this precise moment again bespeaks his rage and the fact that he has become a threat to her. Henchman in service to a cult lord as votaries, but serving the boss as automatons, so partaking of both guardianship, intercession, and warding off, so monsters of compound agency, but possibly in an exploitational situation.

0 46finally, they square off, one culture against the other, neither getting it, the statue now stands in their interaction nexus as a fender-off, a break-it-up figure, the only thing keeping him from an attack.

0 47she must have sensed this, because she steps out onto her balcony or terrace area, to get some air, maybe to get away fom him. But the problem is, he has been patrolling this turf, looking for his sister and Carey, so he outside reassumes that role, policing the boundaries of his world, so he now, in fact, destroys one of her statues, tears it to pieces.

0 48He then finds out that the statues are much more involved in her identity than she even let on, as per the trope of expressive art, she IS her statues, they are part of her extended self, she takes an attack on a statue as a direct attack on her person, on her body, so she lets loose with a torrent of rage, physically attacking him, she almost gets herself raped for her troubles

0 49but the really strange thing about this attack is that it takes place right at the very edge of the cliff, where so much mayhem has taken place in Cornwall-based horror over the years, this battle has come right to where the intermediary statue stands, to as if negate it. Then, even stranger, he does not rape her, but backs off, then, astonishingly, does not go back into civilization but slinks down out of the wild space across a gap into his surveillance zone below.

0 50so, three, just  cutting a swath of his anger through, crossing over into his surveillance zone below, which is hypnagogic

0 51

and in the context of which it can be said that he replaces the nexus statue, completing a rather nifty circling about of it, to give it weathervane turnstile meaning in the negotiating of these various planes.

0 52now the movie descends down into the nightmare zone which the powers that be have created under the cliffs, extending their turf out through the wild space into the in-between zone and beyond, the horror. Both Carey and sister, and Reed, find their way, wandering in the cliffspace, to this redoubt, all of them then switching over to this plot. It is a kind of mashup break, but I like it.

0 53but, then, the movie says something one last time with the art. It makes it known that this is as if a sandwich formation, five inside of one, the true wilds, where death is, carved out by the extension of mad civilization, it makes use of standard suicide ideation shots to convey this idea.

0 54then it makes as if a Planet of the Apes far off shot of the statue we have formerly seen as the nexus statue, this time as if, in fact, like in Planet of…, marking a boundary, but all but acting as a scarecrow to ward off incomers, and, then, from this distance too, it represents the loneness of the madman with his mad science, apart from the world

0 55but then it also represents, coming at it from below, and from the perspective of the kids wanting to escape out of their nightmare back into the world, that where they get to is not the world, but the wilds. Now, for some reason, I think, the powers that be think the kids might’ve sought refuge in the sculpture studio, she is implicated in the escape plot; this then comes in over the top of this work of art shown at precisely this time which situates each sculpture as if a breadcrumb in the horizon to show the pathway of her involvement in the terrain, and that to the man in charge she represents not only his one connection to the outer world, but also his one Achilles heel, that is, she might help them.

0 56here again the sculptures seem to represent her expressiveness, but in this case her obtuseness, her not cooperating, they are somewhat effaced, as is she, the bird is mum

0 57the agent, carefully watched, is clueless, I think, this one might be the one Reed broke, brought back in for repairs, I like the two slender men either side in his shot.

0 58then the escape takes place

0 59she is now firmly implicated, whatever tolerance he had is gone, the children must be found, she is adamant against it. Now it is her cry of freedom, for them, her expressiveness is proven to be more than just that, but also an ideology, which cannot tolerate the children being treated that way. The statue even seems from this angle to put both its hands on its back as people will do stretching out to the broad meaning of an expanse, as they breathe it all in.

0 60then I think she, in fact, decamps, by way of the statue, that is, circling around it, as if it literally guards the path, for it, as if formerly her jailer, or whatever else it meant, to now be the one to let her out, her statue of liberty.

0 61again

0 62then one more time, maybe once too many

0 63and that’s it, I think the kids are caught, there cannot be a happy ending here, and Losey chooses to just wrap it up with a view of the actual death zone, the suicide zone of Cornwall, the cliffs in all their real, continuous danger, even in civilization, to indicate that this battle is over.

0 64Real life Elizabeth Frink sculpture was,as noted, part of the geometry of fear sculptors. Herbert Read coined this phrase for the 1951 british pavilion at the Venice Biennale, a show that set the tone for British work for a decade. It emphasized the armoring, and the rather aggressive-expressive formulation of the work. This is more or less accurate, most of the work by a number of artists can fairly be considered expressive of some sort of armoring against fear, especially, for example, Lynn Chadwick. But, here, the fear art is made use of in a much more compound, changing way, involving the push-pull between the various characters; but all within the terrain of danger since the studio in which all the sculpture stood and was made in was in the wild space at the edge of the in-between, going from one to the other. So, in this movie, Losey actually “got” the sculpture then made use of it qua art, not art reduced to property and therefore to function as per trope in a movie, a degree of sensitiviy which is, in fact, quite rare, in movies, so that is one of the reasons why this strange movie is of interest.

In dealing with the geometry of fear artists, I also argue that the overall purpose of their work was, in fact, to take up a position in one of the thirteen postures of apotropaia outlined by Faraone in his study of apotropaic art in ancient Greece. At the same time, there is a decidedly neurographic character to much of the geometry of fear sculpture, that is, the geometry part comes from a larger framing discourse in which there seems to be an attempt to all but pinpoint certain incidents of fear excitation in the brain, then locate that, isolate it, and, then, as if the fight-flight mechanism itself, whatever that looks like, neurologically, to figure that out, to create as if a mapping of a homunculus, in the neural sense, in the brain. Rene Girard calls one of these tendencies, or agencies, that is, the “scapegoat mechanism,” a mechanism, which means there is a sense that it is localized, and locatable, and able to be figuratively described in an artistic way that will translate with innate or intuitive sense as “true” to fellow humans, and thus convey “visual wisdom”, as I define it. Since all of my recent work has been specifically about identifying not only all the dream guides of the hypnagogic mind–the number up near 95 by this point–but also to pinpoint where, in fact, some of the dynamic agencies are, as formations, as I call them, the Eldritch Formation, the Night Mirror, the High Light, the High Sky, the Under the Bed, the Hanged Woman, the Village of dreams, etc etc., I am naturally interested in sculpture or painting which seems to be interested in the same thing.

Which means I have to then also decide what this sculpture is, formation wise.

0 65in fact, I have recently, with connection to a formation I have identified with the depiction of eyes boggled at the edge of space, in Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and in Hex (1973), then too even possibly with a trainwreck of forms behind it, this situates at the edge of the Luor, as a form of The Watcher; but, then, of course, it is NOT Eyes Wide Shut, because in this movie we cross over, it changes meaning, and it delves into the mashup other or under side of the crazy movie. For now, then, this is, however, by my reckoning, a version of The Watcher, the boggled eye that can’t believe all the crazy things around it, maybe that is why, in one odd shot, unless this is some other statue, but at one point the deputy departs the art platform, and, like the fourposter post in Regan’s bedroom in The Exorcist 2 (1975), the statue is covered, blind, wrapped up for the season, it is, in fact, blind.

0 66Anyways, I waited a bit too long after viewing to wrap this up, the youtube print was not good, so some details mixed in the end, but, for now, that is my take on how the sculpture of Elizabeth Frink was made effective use of as, in fact, actual art, in Joseph Losey’s These Are the damned (1963).

Manos The Hands of Fate (1966), its hypnagogy as it relates to Manos The Rise of Torgo (2016) and Manos Returns (2018). Part 2

rev., Jun 10, 2020.

This picture of Manos

52is fudged and rationalized in the remakes, in Return it is reduced to a smaller, simpler picture, him made somewhat more expressionistic, and there is more bureaucracy in the cult now too as she, some sort of priestess assistant, now has to pray to him for him to then call up Manos herself up in her unlovely box in the clouds, to help them. The picture is also in her room, near a dressing screen

53a close-up, not quite the same mystery

54the purpose of this seems to be to serve as a visual representation of the fact that this fellow, but now old, is somehow still living as a spirit in the house, trapped or not it is unclear. At another point, over by another suite of rooms, by a hallway, none of which existed in the original house, which was exactly one stage set, there is a classic little boy picture, in fact, by trope, a Blue Boy picture, indicating that he is stuck there.

55she peruses this closely, it affects her (I forget whom “she” is, one of the travelers)


this picture is certainly in the wing of Blue Boy pictures which intersects with such portraits of newsboys and the like by Robert Henri, a good example by a follower of which I saw in a show on Boys Town at the Durrell (sic) museum in Omaha two, three years ago, an Henri


but, then, in a funny, but confusing joke, the couple caught this time making out in the car are not only too old to be doing so, but they somehow belong to the house, that is, while she is (wrongly) thinking this is a strange old photo with weird old people just because the photo technology is different, they seem to be part of the cult, and were simply doing their job in somehow leading the travelers astray, they were wrangling the travelers in, further out on the periphery, in entoptic space

58next is a, ha ha, a joke almost out of doctor Goldfoot, a painting of one of the wives, standing next to a pillar, pretty, but with all but demonic, Goya-like, monstrousness behind her (perhaps hinting at my furies interpretation of them).

60finally, a weird close-up, a blue picture, of a Blue Boy (I would think they were laughing at me if my criticism was at all known in the world), of one of them? being prepared photographically for intake? it is unclear. The form of the fact that these pictures hang altogether in a hallway makes of them a Family Photo Shrine, as seen in Get Out (2018), and then other movies, like the third Chucky movie with Agutter, the trope is that when there is weirdness or disorder in the line, the family will be annihilated; but in the contrasting styles of the selection this makes the trope here more the Strange Picture room where it is each picture is selected for talismanic reasons, for particular meaning, to be worked out almost as if a puzzle, to then help one in or out, as if in a clearing house, or whatever, it is common device that has shown up in Euro art, not so much in formalist America.

62she is nonplussed (my guess, possible shot from the Blue Room, see below)

61since the evil priest in this version is the priestess the activating picture is switched to one of her, with a pedestal with a hand on it, looking more like a Hand of Glory, which I relate them too, nearby, but it seems that tough girl Debbie Ann has been chosen to be the new bride.

63by staring at it, she opens up the portal into the world behind, which is only a waystation en route to the head god Manos, female, above

0 0 80then there is a whole dream sequence, by which her initiation as bride is undertaken, but it switches to make use of the bust sculpture.

The Rise of Torgo makes almost no use of the picture, it is there, but only there incidentally.

65It would seem that what struck later viewers of the movie most, to incorporate it into their movies coming after, is the mantel, which, indeed, is, in the original, the very best part of the house, and one of the best weird mantel set-ups I have ever seen. It consists of a very strange central bust sculpture, apparently of Manos himself.

66at one point, when the guy in the portrait is holding forth in what the daughter called the big place, and he is calling down Manos to validate a spell he is casting, we see a breakaway shot of the statue in a black out zone, so it IS Manos, in the first movie. It is an imposingly creepy statue.

67yesterday I was writing about Theaster Gates’ Black Chapel in the Palace of Art in Munich (see previous) and wondered of the origin of his idea for the spindly twisty Houseberg structures, I was thinking of the ghost of Hitler looking at Nazi statuary, and, in general, the above sculpture does look quite Nazi.

68this picture

69maybe this one too

0 0 0

it is, in fact, very Arno Brecker


it strongly suggests that Manos is a god of day manufactured by the citizens of the self-governing city-state El Paso, in the outer territories, in the land of Mulciberium, hell-on-earth, where in protest at the mechanization of modern life, they go back to favor a hands-based culture of touch, with sculptures of, in fact, a Nazi sort, meaning that Manos is in fact another form of that trope stream of imagery of post-Hitler madmen that rumbled through the genre into the 60s, until that stream ran out (until the internet arrived). The original movie makes almost no use of him, except for that one time of invocation

73it focused on the hands, which ARE amazingly weird, who collects statues of hands? unless someone obsessed.

74the hand theme runs through the movie, it is, sculpturally, a world of sculpted hands.

75Torgo’s problem is, of course, being an outcast, no one will love him, let alone have sex with him, as a result, as per trope, as noted for the Loco Castle tropes that were well underway being explored in Italy at the time, his major violation of the wife is that he dares to touch her on the shoulder. She is a classic Sacrifical Blonde, who holds her value as a beauty very high indeed, you have to bring a lot to the table to get anywhere near her allowing you to touch her (I once joked at the Hamptons, about a man we watched struggling to get a kiss, “poor bastard, he’s going to have to buy her a house to get between those legs”) for a scum like this to dare touch her is an abomination, this is a crime, by the hand, shocking to her, and a horror to woman still living in the Jackie prefeminist formalist bubble of perfect race beauty.

76she suffers the touch as a horror

77but the worst thing, the most nightmarish thing, is that he coming out of a tunnel, he is spindly, that is, a hippalektryonic nightmare personage, he has the affrontery to play with her hair! fiddling his evil hand through her curls! horrifying.

78after this encounter, her look makes very clear, this has been a rape, this complete loser has said the master, presumably through the picture, has seen you, he wants you for his wife (that means, ew, SEXUAL INTERCOURSE); but, now, even worse, I am betraying him, I, Torgo, I want you to be MY wife (that means WORSE THAN SEXUAL INTERCOURSE), it means rape (I am bespeaking what the film is telling me about what it thinks about the rapeyness of this trope as played out here, this is not my view on rape, it’s not 1966 anymore).

79then, in the big room, the shrine place, there is another swell sculpture of a hand

80Torgo has a problem playing with the wives-on-pedestals hair too, so he is a “pervert”

81when the wife strips to her slip in front of the uncurtained window, she has no questions of the “mirror, mirror” sort of how beautiful she is in Jackie terms, but she remains horrified that this evil scumbag dared to touch her and since there are no showers here she cannot wash it off, she is in hell.

82then it gets worse, because he’s peeping on you right now.

84for this betrayal, there is a staff-like hand in shrine place too, Manos takes Torgo’s hand, and simply inserts it

85which he not only cuts it off, but sets it aflame, as sacrifice

86Torgo having his greatest moment on screen, scurrying away, one hand, the offending hand, on fire.

87it’s quite the best moment in the film

88how he uses it is unclear, I think he uses it as a Ouija board to help him decide who is to be sacrificed, when it pops out of his hand, that’s who, so her (but my previous readings of such a hand were 1) as in Terror in the Crypt it lead to a victim’s murderer, it was part of a chain of operations involving sacrifice that allowed for them to have these physical instantiations every now and then; then too 2) it could put them all asleep,as in The Wicker Man, to make all of this sleepwalking).

90in Manos Returns, the sculpture is on a pedestal as well, and negotiates the levels of her initiation

91the statue of Manos seems to be old Manos, so more powerful than the man in the cloak, but less powerful than Manos over all

92it’s given an all but Maltese Falcon close-up

93by its intercessional agency is the marriage approved

94in the Rise of Torgo it shows up only when he gets to the house


the hands are somewhat more rationalized, as if from a glove shop, the small fireplace is placed in the corner.

96the portrait and the bust preside as an epistasis or justice of the peace over his initiation.

97when he passes the hand of the staff in front of him, and over the backdrop bust

98he goes into intense Eyes Wide Shut mode, even MORE of a closeup than in Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) or Hex (1973)

99there is in the reality of the darkness which as a modernist Anglo-Saxon surviving as an enclave about El Paso, there is darkness, where the real force behind the darkness, Manos, like the devil in Antrum (2019), lurks, staring out of the darkness, real, this could also, then, be an example of the Black Sun

100he is enlightened or rather encrepuscularated, his body is becoming a Crepuscularate,

101at the touch, there is a red, well orange shift, after mother’s car, coming for him

102then an amazing red flash

103he now serves the bust. So this movie was in fact really impressed enough to instrumentalize the bust as the very object that profiles, and blesses, even above the manifestation in the robe, his initiation as Torgo.

104all of these objects are glass onion level stage objects, symbols, that then have a power that circulates, and, in the central core, have a spell casting or altered state power to move one into the cult. In these movies, this mantel is the centerpiece of the interest, then, and is three times instrumentalized, to conduct some sort of phase of initiation, though the original is a punishment by way of the ancillary presence of the hands.


finally, this room is obviously also a rendering on screen of the Blue Room. The Blue Room is a room created out of the afterimage of a sharp entoptic blue spot that forms inside the eyes when one is in extreme pain. If in that situation you close your eyes, you will see shooters, or lightning strikes coming in from the side, all sides, then, in the middle, this compressed blue space, that looks like a set in a silent movie, then, even more so, as in a silent movie bad print, it is in such pain that nothing can materialize for more than a few seconds, everything seems to boil away, and disappear. Thus it could be said that the whatisit? and then the hands both bespeak the boiling effect of the Blue Room

106and the room as an emblem of entopty, screams pain, as such. The objects in the room are, in fact, forms of lightning strikes


the Blue Room, only seeable in extreme, plus 7, pain


there are other aspects of these movies I can discuss, but my main purpose here was to point out that the reason Manos The Hands of Fate ended up surviving as a cult classic is not that it is LOL awful, though, from one POV that is true, but because it was iconic in the sense that somehow in some way it had some deep knowledge to bring you out of town, into the country, into the house, then to the big place, in a way that was informed by visual wisdom both in vigilogogy and hypnagogy to make you dream the dream, then experience the nightmare, and that is, in fact, what makes a horror movie a horror movie, so, it has survived because it is, in spite of itself, a hypnagogic gem, which makes swell use of some tropes like haunted pictures and evil sculptures to boot.

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966), its hypnagogy as it relates to Manos: The Rise of Torgo (2016) and Manos Returns (2018), part 1.

rev., Jun 10, 2020.

Here we go again, the same problem with time. A movie is made on the cheap, for fun, or for love, in this case in El Paso, Texas, it gets no run, except locally, then it dies in obscurity; only to then be picked up to be made a laughing stock as a bad movie good for camp laugh at the awfulness of the bowels of horror, and by that zombie resurrection it comes back to life as a cult movie which people watch only because it is bad and to be laughed at as an example of how campy and awful horror movies are. Except, none of this is true. In all cases, the movie that was made was a diligent effort to make a serious little horror movie, and the only reason that parts of it began to curdle and seem funny to those in generations after is that tastes change, technologies development, and whole visual cultures evolve too. The other thing about Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) is that it happens to have what I call a certain “iconic” look because, in fact, it is filmed as if by the intuition of the visual wisdom of a certain fateful dream formation. In my essay on Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) I worked out in detail how it was that horror movies made by Anglo Saxons in the modern period were modernist in that they believed in the reality of consciousness, then that that went dark entirely until you got to deep REM Freudian dreams, and everything else in between, the zones I study, the vigilogogic, or altered states, and the hypnagogic, or light sleeping, did not exist. As a result, the modernist horror movie more quickly came to the Eyes Wide Shut or Watcher moment, boggled before the obscene, literally, unlookable at horror of the darkness within and below. I have seen this syndrome in Hex (1973), and, indeed, the early 70s were the last stand of late modernism in horror movies. The other negative side effect of this perspective on inner dream life is that one fails to see the Big Sleep, when it is that the cinematography seems to be shooting what appears to be conscious, daily, waking life, but is really filming a dream. One critic of Manos I heard hit the matter on the head with this film, rarely has one’s inner demons been so directly splashed onto the screen. The surprise, then, is, that, having worked out the various locales which form in hypnagogic as a result of the precipitation of afterimages from vigilogogy, the movie Manos is a fairly interesting rendering on film of a certain dream formation. I worked this out adventurously in verse first, but now formalize it here.

The movie starts inside the daily life of the family, in the city, I general just call this Ectoptoc, the city of the interstitium, the complex vampire squid of urban life so many of us are suck in, it is a nice shot.

1but, then, as soon as they are out of town, they are out of space too, that is, they have entered into no man’s land. As I put it elsewhere, as Aby Warburg thought awareness of the tropes of images would by comparing the types make the mind more reasonable; as I believe that taking a hypnagogic or full brain view of life in the Big Sleep, as opposed to the little wokeness of the all-rational mind, will make the mind less paranoid, the material-rational view is, in fact, by its misdirection, discounting the vigilogogic and the hypnagogic, inherently paranoid, fearing the darkness way before they actually get to this. This is an example, we have hardly got out of town, when we have entered into no man’s land.

2then, set to music, they are off, and it is off into….nothing.


4and again, the movie reads this as blank outoftown nowhere, I read it hypnagogically as crossing over the Luor, the Luor is that low lying nondescript land just outside of town (you can still experience pretty much the same encounter with the same temporal proportion relative to being in town on the outskirts of Lincoln, NE, for example).

5thus, my thinking is they have, carried by the song too, already in a woozy, unreal, entoptic vigilogogy, the spin and circulation of the land too, they are then crossing over. They then get to the other side when they see a sign at the side of the road, none to prepossessing, but there it is, 10 miles.

6this sign obviously struck new devotees to the cultness of the movie as hysterical, that there was a time in history when establishments on roads outside of town thought that a small sign like that was enough to get the business to turn in to them. In fact, this sign was played on both in the revisiting called Manos: The Rise of Torgo, where it is rather larger, with a bigger arrow, at a crossroads

7and in Manos Returns (2018), where they give it the curveball ha-ha of a gold frame, and make it too large.

8in both cases it would seem that younger people simply don’t believe that a sign could be so simple, but I can attest from visits to a pumpkin patch north of Lincoln that, in fact, there remains a level of establishment that thinks a simple sign set at the turn in the road is plenty good for the hearty adventurer from the city to get to their custom. In any event, hypnagogically, I mark this now as a trope that exists just as at the very moment the dreamer crosses over the Luor, and touches upon sleep. But, then, it is also the point where it is knocked momentarily out of sleep, so that the sleeper elevates to end up lying restive on the far shore of the Luor, back up in vigilogogy more than hypnagogy, ie the colonized other shore of the land of Nod. The Unpromising Sign is a classic trope, and it is the verbal expression of another well known trope, The Turn, except that The Turn, at that spot, near the central core’s circulation, turns down around into, in fact, light sleep, this nods you back up (the sign in its most classic form is rendered in the Friday the 13th movies, all depicting a time when Anglo-Saxon America was firmly picket-fenced against others).


now, how this works is, when you turn at the sign, in this case, to head over in a kind of gerrymandering sort of way (kind of like how the Omaha airport is in a sliver of Iowa over the river), you pass pack on the Luor, but it is more blurry, and the road is less civilized, and the wife is getting more worried, and the fear that one is lost is now growing.

10then, for the Sleeper, there must be, in fact, some presence there, and in my view the fun thing here is that it is played by the almost surreally placed Lover’s Lane Couple making out in the car.

11I have argued that a restless sleeping wrestling with an angel all night creates a sort of vortex of seeing or not seeing; in my usual description at some point he looks back over his right shoulder to then see either a fata morgana, or the Eschatia and the Blue Sun.

12it is then almost perfect, and a displacement quite clever, to insert Lover’s Lane at this spot, because they are involved in a kiss, which causes both of them to not look behind them (the source, like in a shower sequence, of urban legends of such young things getting attacked, and likely the reason why he sheriff stops to tell them shush, doing this sort of non-looking-out thing on the side of the road, even this road, is not safe. but the man also turns out to be the traffic cop, because he has local knowledge, he says, Where is he going? everybody knows there’s nothing down that road. So, again, we are in no man’s land, there is “nothing” so soon out of the city, this is a rational formation, facing up to the darkness cast over vigilogogy, and, in fact, right on schedule, the road keeps looking dicier and dicier (again, on the day I saw a fata morgana, coming from a pumpkin patch to Garland, NE, for dinner, with Gen aboard, 2018, the road did at once go dirt, then I think twice went to even less confident dirt, until at last outside of Garland, Tim reading the map turn by turn, we returned to pavement, it was…..oblique and weirdly cozy, as being lost in the country is also, at times, an urban fantasy, even though not in horror).

14it gets worse

16even ridiculously worse, now they are just on a path to a mine, it looks like

18sand too

19then, imagine my surprise when they come up against a barrier, and it is a deadfall, that is, a pile of timber or kindling to block access. Since I learned the word in the remake of Pet Sematary (2019) in February, I have seen deadfalls in almost every movie I have watched, it seems it is a trope that I have simply missed, not being familiar with the form. In Pet it was put up by the tribe to keep those who use the pet sematary from going further into the supernatural place of the Native American cemetery, aka, in horror, Indian burial ground. I then argued that any mano a mano with twitterking trump was engaging in the deadfall, which he and they in their tug of war have in fact created right around Lafayette Square; then realized that it served a function in horror, it is another form that helps one negotiate the passage from vigilogogy to hypnagogy, it is like the dunk tank, and like various trees, a turnstile formation, which allows one to cross over; but in my thinking, as I worked it out, it is a filter through which one sees thantoptically, that is, death, under the blue sun. I cannot say there is a blue sun in this movie, but there is a deadfall, so it is by it that they, having to turn around, come to the house.

20he comes right up to it, just like in Crowsnest

21to challenge it

23only when he sees there is too much of it, does he give up, and turn around.

25as such, if not quite to the ideal model


only now does he see a house that, he says it right there, was not there a minute ago, that is, he has entered into a dream, and this is a familiar construct, what I call Kienholz Cabin, a small structure at the entry to the woods wherein one is initiated into the mysteries of the hypnagogic realm.

27then the woods, also not there previously.

28and here we meet the gatekeeper, the intralocutor, perhaps, as per Rochelle Goldberg, who comes in and out of the door, waiting for people, taking them in, for them to be served up as human sacrifice for the clan. He is certainly in the artist colony garb, and has a strange hand-formed staff (adding to the snuff film quality of the movie, in this movie, like in Toad Road (2012), this actor died, but him by suicide, between the completion of the film, and its limited El Paso release, another fact that closes it all within a microcosm of Texas world, which I am tempted to call a circle of hell, Mulciberium).

29this trope, which I have named on the Great Chart of the 96 dream guides in the mind, is, specifically, the devil’s Butler, who often lives at Kienholz Cabin, which is between the Luor and the Entoptic, heading into the drama of the woods.

30he was played straight and mocked for having “formal garage wear” by the hipsters in The Return

31then played entirely counter to type, but the run really run down, in The Rise of Torgo.

32but what the revisitings miss is precisely that he is unsteady on his feet, seems to move in a disabled way, which, it being 1966, disgusts perfect-body woman, then twitches and sometimes overextends his limbs in a way suggesting almost, to me, MSA, and being off balance because of a brain disorder. This for her makes him all but an untouchable, a being from the ostracized zone of darkness below tidy consciousness, with nothing but a gulf of deep dream unvisited by sane people below

33but, and I am sure no one was conscious of it, they are just exploiting the Igor trope, which was also made a joke of in the Scary Movie franchise, Igor always being part of the Loco Castle repertory company, a repulsive sex addict who tortures any Sacrificial Brides that enter into his realm (that is, his physical disability is an expression of his corruption, as per trope, that then causing him, obviously never having been touched by anyone, to become a sex maniac, to then want her for himself, not for the master). In any case, hypnagogically, however, he is the figure of an actual agentic dynamic, which I have in fact written of a great deal of late, because I think the country has been going through it this June, an excitingly bizarre Midsommar celebration indeed. When, after a long tunnel dream, wriggling through, one at last breaks out, one does so in a spindly, jerky, odd manner, backing off, as in The Shining (1980)


walking crabwise away as in The Lighthouse (2019)


also dizzy

36I have also argued that in a manner not unsimilar to that of the Blindspot, then setting off a vibration of all-over worries, this sort of emergence can also create a vibe where one’s mind walks all over everything all at once, and that is the spiderwalk, which, in fact, is used by Friedkin in The Exorcist, precisely as a device of shock to put Chris over the edge when she turns to cry over the reported death of dennings on the Hitchcock Stairs

36so, here, the couple with kid have been, in fact, if not actually, sort of wandering lost in a maze of roads, which was shot as if a kind of tunnel; more so, if we remember that to a modernist all this is black, unseen, and when they break out of it, to the next part of the plot, what do they meet, but a spindly figure who uses a staff to walk to bring them out, it is “visual wisdom” of a very deep sort, in the Kienholz cabin.


as such. a scirpograph


Road to Manos, 1966.

this is relevant to right now because for over a week I have argued that the breakout of the opening up, incited by a mass protest movement sweeping across the land because of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, there was the events themselves, but there as also a whole lot of action in the margins of it, and in those margins, as in hell, as in Bosch’s Garden, in addition to the momentum of the protests, where are, indeed, medieval manuscript like marginalia, or sfogo, is the word used in Michelangelo scholarship to describe his mutterings on the side, and the presence of this self-talk indicates the high level of discursiveness of the debate nature of a firestorm, that is, everybody has to have their say, so many signs, so many articles, statements, so much magic sending and sharing of good tips about how not to be a racist, or how to be a better white person, all that, endless for a week, all part of the performance of then event. But I also noticed that on the edges, especially since I thought that the level of protesting, without social distancing, without even mention of worry over covid, was “crazy,” I felt it was the most irrational event of protesting ever, in my life, and as such it did in fact, encircled as it is by social media rumor space, generate monsters (as in The Sleep of Reason produces Monsters, the core artwork of my entire life of looking at art.


and I felt that if half of the “monster” of this irrational utterer is like a chicken with its head cut off running around like crazy, then the other half is a horse-head knowitall charging blindly forward, like the horse in Fuseli’s nightmare, which hangs as the Hanged Woman at the door to the Midwest, but with jurisdiction in Minneapolis too

41then monster could well be the most spindly monster created by the Romans for magic talismans, precisely to ward off this sort of contradictory, mob mentality mindlessness, this dissociation of feet and head, the hippalektryonic, which, of course, as a word I have now used like 100 times since I found it. everything is a hippalektryon


and I have seen many, too many, like the Umbrella Man


now, the chainsaw man, who in fact HAS inspired me further, right now, in writing of Manos, to think of Texas, horrorwise, as a separate universe all its own, but now one in which the figurative horrors of fiction are flipflopping by way of ostension to become literal and real, which is a real problem. I see chainsaw man as a devotee of Manos, since he wants to do it all, politically, in his sharing, by hand, and Manos as the presiding god over a whole precinct of the country that has fallen out of civilization and returned to pagan worship in a completely separate republic.

44all, since they negotiate that crossing, are devil’s butlers, like Torgo, all are torgos, his job is, hypnagogically, to fight off, the word he uses, pendejos, or stupid, contemptible persons, so it’s coming back at him, talking about himself (even better, omg, pendAYHO means, literally, pubic hair, so you are calling someone pubic hair, which is apt), still, Torgo is one of these, a devil’s butler perfectly formed for the precise troubling energy of the moment when you bounce out of a tunnel dream and your energy is running too quickly, irrationally, like a chicken with a head cut off.

One final note, I am rereading WP Blatty’s Legion, because now I know of Legion, and how he is a beacon demon who then takes into him several others who can then use bodies to commit his crimes in a quite ingenious way, which is how he does it in the book, but consider this. When Kinderman first visits the man in the cell, who calls himself Gemini (but this only means he has gemini in him), in order to signify his irrationality he 1) crows like a rooster, and then 2) neighs wildly like a horse. Rooster-horse, hippalektryon, no kidding, reading that, night before last, I went into the zone of Avornos, the bird-less zone, everything became quiet, and I worried, what does it mean? I means, dread.

I have also attributed to hippalektryon craziness the extra oomph that the statue toppling is taking, as if this is the Velvet Revolution in the former Soviet Union in 1991. It was an extra punch, that the statue of slaver Colston in Bristol, whom I must consider of my negative pantheon of demons, was knocked into the sea, an apontization


then, by social media, that effect, the dumping it in the sea part, was what spread, as if saying more, in an apompic way, as I commented this morning, of a dunking of a Christopher Columbus in Virginia, as if a dunk tank between waking and dreaming.


for all of this, Torgo is not only a character, but a figure of the dynamic of the moment in the movie, he works quite well.

Then, they get into the cabin, or house, and it is a classic gem.

47in format it is like a limited camera-range stage set like in a silent movie, so a 60s movie out of cheapness resorting to a crude method that died in silent movies; it is also very clean and iconic. Before counterculture split open the 60s to a higher level of consciousness, primarily with irony and critique to make over American culture, there was the intact Anglo-Saxon culture, which, when Jackie Kennedy became the doyen, lead to a clean, very formal, pastel style of room I call the Jackie Style, you see it in all movies prior to 1967, it was first lampooned in negation in Bogdonavich’s Targets (1968). But this room has the formal punch and puttogetherness of a Jackie style room, but one that has gone over to the occult. The mantel is perfect, of the statue above in bit; the strange object by the door, what can it be, a Rochelle Goldberg sculpture

48or an amazing taxidermy head on a pike torch-lamp

49what’s on the wall? it is unclear, so I leave it as what’s-it

50in my rationalization I thought it might be a torso, but, no, I see now it is, in fact, a head, again, very much like a Goldberg.

51the main event is the picture of Manos, or his priest, but, the really unique thing in this particular movie, not in the sequels, is that we never do find out where it is hanging, we never see it hanging, it is just there, in space, as if to, by denying it being a picture, making him, and the dog, who is roundabout, seem more alive, with that hand embroidered on his robe even coming out of the picture in another allusion

52to be continued, Part 2.


Some “Monumental” thoughts on Theaster Gates’ Black Chapel, Palace of Art, Munich, 2019-20, Part 2.

rev., Jun 8, 20.

Note: This is a thought piece, not a review, having only “seen” the exhibition virtually.

Talking about the inclusion of objects in Theaster Gates’ Black Chapel, at Munich, of course, the next category of objects, African artifacts would’ve quite directly plugged into the above discourse because, though rationalized by the practice of the field of art history and archaeology, and on the humanitarian pretext of being kept safe by museums in the West, because it was thought they were in trouble in unstable nonwestern places, these still living objects are, in fact, offerings to the gods, but, in their current state as “works of art” in a Western museum, in a negative way; that is, again, they are held captive, until repatriated. Triangulated with the neon, the African American beauties and Jesse Owens, they also speak to the use of these objects as the model for early Modern art by Picasso etc, from which developed a taste for collecting the objects and posing them next to the art. Then, there was the counter tradition of these objects as they were used in popular culture in horror movies (see The Witches (1966), for example) as signs of trouble coming, and of the presence of an exploiting person, etc., so this presence more or less contributes to the booty in support of the “presence” but in, as before, a somewhat askew way. These objects do, however, resist virtual perusal, so I pass on.


But, this, now, brings us to the Housebergs. What are they? What they are is the most pressing question of the exhibition, and of the chapel. In order to get to them I must talk about one last object in the exhibition. Off to the side as it were of the chapel, the step up into the chapel per se being to the left, there is a long, luxurious, roomsize, almost horseshoe-shaped red leather couch.

53 (2)

there it is, in all its glory

1 (2)

in the video it is presented that you are allowed to, or asked to sit, and look (I am not sure if the beauty icons are videos or just still images). This couple does.


Red leather, like neon, is a rich material and atmospheric object which speaks to nostalgia for the old days too, the life in the neighborhood. For reasons of which I am unsure I have a “thing” for red leather couches (even if they show up at doctor’s offices). In maybe 2015, when I still in major crisis mode, when my daughter visited us, we ended up at Isles in Havelock, in Lincoln, and I exulted in the 80s décor, unchanged in a generation, and not only took lots of pictures, but made jokes about the red leather making me want to have a meeting, in which I order a hit on an enemy, it was like being, I was saying, in Goodfellas

57even more so, across the street at Misty’s, which really has the big seat-a-family red leather


why the nostalgia? my guess was that red leather reminds me of days when in fact I met in restaurants with people whom “I was doing business with” (even if in the art world), and I made deals, and the like, so red leather represents in a booth form situational power, but in an adjunct space, offset from the mainstream, but in an enclave situation in an ethic world. Of course, there was a ping of this in The Irishman (2019) last fall, at one point at one table there was a picture of the Colisseum, a classic trope picture signifying beleaguered male power, but still powerful, and my son found one and put it up on the wall, for exactly that purpose.

60my latest memory brush with the power of the booth in a nightclub or club or restaurant came by way of Tiger King, a documentary about a strange subculture where everyone had animal skin furniture

61filmed by friend to the stars, Eric Goode, derived from his former ownership of clubs, and in this rare picture of the main lounge on the left between the dogs at MK on Herald Square in the 80s, I actually remember sitting on that couch, feeling like the center of the party, if just for the blink of an eye (though entirely forget the context).


On top of this, red leather was also, for all these reasons, part and parcel with blaxsploitation movies, and a fetish of the style, so much so that in one movie red leather spread to the walls as well. Red leather then, informed by blaxsploitation, which is a twisted sort of camp, because Black audiences are going to movies where they get to laugh at the stereotyping of black people in them, I think, this then represents a peculiar sort of consciousness, agency wriggling round the exploitation, that is even more involved than simply hosting an enclave meeting to arrange a murder.

In dr Black and Mr Hyde (1972), Bernie Casey plays a very civilized sort of doctor, who turns into a white Mr. Hyde at night, full of rage, thanks to a potion


the movie was given the whole treatment, but, alas, I wish I liked it more.


in any case, when he goes prowling at night, he knows exactly where to go, there is a classic African American bar (old timer neon)

66there are fights, of course, a man goes flying over red leather (and damask)

0 0 0business as usual is black women at the bar, cleavage welcoming

67amazingly, even the door posts are covered in red leather, something I have never seen in another movie


for regulars, these posts make you feel like you are busy, or doing something of import, they also act as a portal, as signaling in some way, this bar is for black custom only.

69finally, as I must, because most of my reading is in the new Greek scholarship, post-Burkert, viewing ancient Greece not as the font of Western civilization, but as a magical, ancient culture, traditional in many ways similar to all traditional cultures, when a hecatomb was to be holocausted up at the Parthenon during fest days, a theoxenia was held, in imitation of their favorite sort of drinking party, a symposium

70this consisted of setting out on the steps of the Parthenon, couches, yep, actual couches


for the accommodation of those gods that wanted to come down from Olympus to witness the sacrifice to them, I like to imagine red leather couches

72The Greeks imagined the gods as, in fact, taking a seat, and bearing witness, which made their offering of 100 bulls (a hecatomb) more intense. Here is an example, of my favorite genre of art for a few years running now, votive tablets left at sites of worship, an offering in the form of a little vignette of one’s epiphany, that is, meeting with the god, to, as an “iamata” left at the site, let others know coming after that it worked for you, it can work for them (in incubation the god only came to you in dreams; in, however, the incubation of Zalmoxis, he, in fact, came to you in person).


so, the red leather couch serves to invite the viewer to participate from a divine perspective, that is, in later times, looking back, taking in the complexities, relieved that those bad old days might be over, but also nostalgic,  they put you in a cult POV, so that one can feel the full symphony of feeling orchestrated by the site.

And, this, then, brings me to the housebergs. I was disappointed that were given short notice in the formal official pictures of the exhibit put out by the museum. One could not get one’s bearing. One large one seemed to bestride the red leather couch, at a distant, in, as if, a foyer or waiting room (ie cella), leading to the holy of holies; then there was one other up on the platform in the chapel itself.


when I saw this shot, from the back of the chapel, the steps leading up on the other side, it became apparent that a houseberg was also the central cult image of the chapel, the thing you approach to interact or inosculate with (any touching of a sacred object at a sacred site is called an inosculation, you are linking yourself to it, as if two gemels trees joining, also, by inosculation, a favorite word of mine of late to signify intense agentic response: I also now consider all culture to be, at first, inward-looking to tend to one’s own health, thus inosculative).

76this becomes clearer with another view, where the neons now seem to hover about, almost in the way of guardians, above and behind

79then finally this shot, where the houseberg dominates the site


again, this from the video


interacting with some sort of structure on the back left of the chapel platform, or off to the side


finally, then, the frontal approach, coming up to the throne position


Gates explains that the Houseberg is a “stand in”


for Owens


but he wanted to represent Owens aniconically in a synaesthetic way as a visual representation of the music over which as an epistasis he presided


which means, with this blurring of glare and images, they are devices.


to represent black music


especially, which I guess is what is in the collection, disco, which fits with the neon, the red leather, the beauties of times past (the 70s)


for all this to be a “conceptual club environment”


but, there is more, when this couple in the video look at it, it shines, it is that, but it is more than that, it is, in fact, a synthesis form, combining all in abstraction, but for a particular reason of impact


The video for the exhibition gives us some indication that the housebergs are intended to have a dynamic quality, like a disco ball from which they are descended. This one it takes up this side

101in another shot, it goes to the other


Gates himself poses in front of one in the center

103then it goes back


then forth


so, there is, it is inferred, an intended wobble-wobble effect, meaning that somehow they act as a conveyor from one state of mind outside the chapel, to another inside the chapel. Then, too, there is a series of close-ups, so they take us in, one

107two, with reflections



107What all this means, vis a vis the whole of it, is that the housebergs are more than side supports, but, in some way, the central ushers, as it were, of the event, if the central one equals an aniconic image of Jesse Owens, it is an embodiment of speed, and, since that was a highlight of his life, a bright moment in a life, for that reason, it acts as a beacon at the very center of the exhibit which is positioned hypnagogically inside the vortex of the central core to then spread out and come in in entopic and glass onion efforts from far to near to continually involve you in the experience of it, kind of like, in fact, a disco ball.


this is, then, a glass onion formation (of course) but it circulates entirely inside the core vortex of the spinning center of consciousness as it spins down from vigilogogy, altered states, into hypnagogy, light dream. And in that passage over the gap between, it as if hypnotizes or incubates the viewer so that he or she might feel the whole ambience, with the help of the music, form into a vision of the recent past when in some communities there were moments when joy was obtained.

Now, the interesting detail here that I would not have been able to add prior to this month is that david Lewis-Williams in The Mind in the Cave (2002) argues that the brain that made cave drawings both in Europe, and then rock art through history since in Africa, his case study being the San people of South Africa, is exactly the same brain as every human being has had since, and for that there is a central vortex of intensity, then adjunct spaces spinning out, where figuration emerges. Remarkably, he argues that the central vortex is primarily invisible to us, then not. His map is more or less the same as mine, but with a slightly different construal


then from his remarkable reading of “navicular” (boatlike) forms, he argues that the center of the form is abstract because it is invisible, but, then, for that, out of it emerges not exactly narrative figurative forms, but symbolic figurative forms which are piled up on the side as if marginal, and emerging from the invisibility.


this is a central core, which is abstract, with then a whole numeration in schematic sequence of figurative forms, present, but not given narrative picture space. This is more or less exactly what results when I make a scirpograph, or spin graph, from my graphs, as above.


are the housebergs invisible? no, but they induce a peering into, that then must be come out of, you see some of the chapel before, then some more after, with the wobble-wobble in between, to draw you in. They certainly seek to move you into an abstract state of mind.

This raises the issue of why Gates chose to use the iceberg as the symbolic form. On one level, this has immediate bearing with me because I have of late begun to read Bosch’s hell as occasioned in a situation in the future when, in fact, the river of hell being frozen, “hell has frozen over” (I do not know if that expression existed 500 years ago in Europe, though). But, along the same times, the iceberg is a common graph-oriented or expression symbol of something where a small part of it is above the surface, then the most of it is below the surface. There were some icebergs that popped up in the online tutorial for white people about their racism in the past week, pointing out that most of racism is below the surface, like on an iceberg. It seems, in fact, online, in the world of insta-education, and the using of graphics to spell out things in a rule of thumb or rubric short-cut way, as a hermeneutic, a new norm, I mean, there are icebergs for everything.

115it is, of course, entirely germane, but likely a reach, that the search for a Northwest Passage through the icebergs of the North Atlantic, with the Franklin expedition, was a convenient adventure story of the wowish sort to distract people from the fact that in the middle Atlantic the middle passage was shipping slaves to America (note: at the beginning of the modern, super-charged art world, which emerged in the early 80s, I saw Frederic Church’s Icebergs sell for two million dollars at Sotheby’s at Park Avenue and 78th street, everyone in the room thought it astonishing, unbelievable, now….it is chump change). (Church would have also exhibited this singly in a “chapel”formation with stanchion, red curtain, admission, on tour).

116Finally, when Girard talks about why communities made use of surrogates for sacrifice, as opposed to someone deeply ensconced in the cycle of violence that is afflicting a community, the surrogate had to be different enough, but, also, more importantly, alike enough, to the original ideal object of the sacrifice, so that by a “sidelong glance” one’s mind can “see” if not a literal then a distant figurative “resemblance” (as opposed to a lookalikeness) between the original and the surrogate, and the result of the sidelong glance was the arousal of a sense of the uncanny, that then made all think the sacrifice was worthy. If that frisson holds, and everyone thinks the original has been sacrificed symbolically in the surrogate, and satisfaction is arrived at, the cycle of violence will end, peace will return; if the frisson fizzles, then the cycle of violence continues (Girard, Violence and the Sacred (1972)). In San drawings, the uncanny comes out in the slightly abstracted nature of the flywhisks or cows legs on the periphery of the invisible image, as such

119rather than draw each cattle, they simply indicated the presence of cattle there by way of their horns and heads, all lined up as if in jugate (a convention in Euro medieval Euro art too), and that created the frisson. It is apparent in some pictures that in addition to the immediate selfie-close glitter effect of the disco ball like housebergs, there is also a field of looser, more ambient light cast upon the floor, these, then, the sidelong glance zones wherein, in passage above, you come to consider why all these things are related to each other to create an overall effect. These might well be the uncanny moments that make it all “work.”

120two more splashes here

121which I, of course, want to make over into Corposants, Blue Angels, connecting one to final encounter

122which is appropriate, as that was the primary light disco balls, but Gates would not want to go all the way over to total presentist celebration, like Olaf Eliason, which quickly leads us by way of kusamasploitation to wow art escapism.


as in African American life, the disco ball sun definitely set some time ago. For this reason, I think the housebergs are devices by which Gates both avoids being too literally attached to a specific past, but keeps a sense of the past in a holistic way, with many an overlayings of propentive chains, to create in the mind a kind of spin that in the abstract simply signifies passing time.

Yesterday, when I commented on Bansky’s latest, about George Floyd, I at first mistook the figure in the picture as a bogeyman, but then I saw that he was dressed as if a superhero then too he was carefully pictured in a frame; then too he presided over candles and flowers of the momentary memorial all out, but then a Christmas candle lit and burning, and from that I read it as Kairos, the god of the opportune moment, who is also the god of getting carried away, of making demands that are fantasies; but then the god that took advantage of an opportunity to in fact make a mark in time, for it to be carried on into a future (like a meeting one’s future wife story), Bansky then hoping by his presence that all the promises of alliance by white people will not evaporate come Christmas.


for me, that is Kairos, a rare time god, the Greeks had several (I use Greek examples only because I know the body of mythology best, Africans certainly had comparable gods). I think there is a connection in time management between Banksy’s Christmas candle and Gates’ disco housebergs. From this, then, I posit that the icebergs are, in fact, abstract representations of Kronos, and that is passing time, and memory, that picks up things as you pass through time, forgetting some, remembering others, and by that means it develops a propentive culture in time which forms the various threads of the filter through which you see the world at any given time (thus, for example, during the two week public seminar on race in American commentariat culture this month my racial engagement pings with memories of my childhood, the riots, Fr Groppi, the curfew, high school, then it becomes a nonissue, I thought, when I walked away from it by walking into a world of many races, NYC; that, at least, is how I construe it). Gates places it as the aniconic image of Jesse Owens to elevate one’s contemplation about him above a single Olympic event, to force one to consider the Olympian ramifications of time itself. The Houseberg, with its vectors and reflections, both allows one to pull together as one will all the various threads of narrative in the symbols and artifacts presented, from African art to Owens’ record collection

125but then to spin back down in to the momentary selfie moment too, if that is where you want to take it.

107one last word, then, about aniconic symbols. They exist in all even figurative religions. In ancient Crete, I was always fascinated by the so-called pillar crypts, strange basement rooms where large squat square pillars to the ceiling were squeezed in and Evans with his wild fruitful imagination imagined devotees descending on certain off days into the dark crypt to hug the pillars (according to Evans’ theory, much disputed)


aniconic cult images infer a more intimate contact, in a strange way; by being less clearly figurative, they allow of a physical contact, in a more direct way. They imply intimacy, primalness, they might even exist, relative to the figurative representations of the image, in the prototype space, a more primal space, where one has full, immersive contact with the god or ground of reality you seek. For that reason, then, ritually, the iceberg form with its sheer sides and jagged angle changes is in fact a standing vortex which allows the mind to spin from taking it all in to taking just one detail in, it welcomes intimacy, even as it is aloof. As such, the housebergs really are the “house”, that is, they embody the spirit of the place, and the chapel, allowing one to experience it in a somewhat altered state or hypnagogic experience without falling into the trap of answering the forms they critique, the rituals of Nazism, in a direct, one to one way. For all of this, I think the Black Chapel by Theaster Gates, built in response to a site, a history, a larger history, his history, then the whole experience of all of that in the whirlwind of time, is an excellent evocation of living both in the moment and thinking back on long ago times past as they might predict a future–all to live in the fullest possible moment.

Some “Monumental” Thoughts on Theaster Gates’ Black Chapel, Palace of Art, Munich, 2019-20, Part 1.

rev., Jun 8, 2020.

Note: This is a thought piece, not a review, having only “seen” the exhibition virtually.

Theaster Gates’ Black Chapel (2019) is of interest for several reasons, mostly having to do with his use of, as at a National Gallery exhibit last year, and then his outdoor work in Minneapolis, the chapel structure as a framework for an installation. Time moves on, quickly. At present, the cutting edge of my interest is in the “scenographic” set-ups that have taken over Euro galleries, seemingly lead by Veit Laurent Kurz, and spreading. These are self-contained hypnagogic events which are staged in a gallery, but in no way “installed” with consideration of the space of the gallery, to create a dream sequence that takes one into a zone of wider mind space, a counterworld, a reverse world, a reagent world, etc etc, then too Ambient and even Sentient worlds, that are all in the brain. By contrast, Gates continues to make use of an installation ethos dreamt up in response to a particular space, the Munich Palace of Art where Hitler staged his anti-art shows, then makes use of world agentic structures to give point to it.


For Gates, his is a fine line. Twice previous this season I have had to address Hitler as he relates to art: there were numerous Hitler references, of course, in the Sebaldian flights of Lars von Trier’s The House That Jack Built (2018), which I watched last month; then, previous to that, examining the trope of Mary of Egypt as it spanned from Balzac to Rochelle Goldberg, I came in contact with Nolde’s series on her, and then had to deal with the fact that he “out-nazi’d the Nazis” in his belief in primal man, apart from the rationalizations of modern culture. In that research, a picture of Hitler perusing the Nolde’s pictures, which gave Nolde cover in the postwar era when he created a myth of his persecution, but now we know he was pro Nazi, well, this is Goebbels


Of course, Jesse Owens is the nexus point between African Americans and the Nazis, and in popular culture, in the movie Get Out (2017), Jorden Peele’s breakout, the whole story is based on a cult of harvesting body parts from a lesser (ie black) part of the population so that old Anglos can live forever, and it was started after the father lost out to Jesse Owen’s in the 1936 Olympic trials, dean saying to Chris, in the movie’s best line, “He almost got over it” (and the devilish part of this attribution is that when I was being raised Jesse Owens was seen as the quintessential ‘American’ who proved to Hitler that his race theory was bogus, representing the openness of liberal America to all peoples).

3there is, in fact, a Jesse Owens element in the exhibition as it turns out Owens was something of a dj and had a major album collection which Gates purchased upon his death. It is in the adjoining room, presumably available to be listened to.

4then there is a video, which addresses the Olympic moment, it is a rebuttal, if in a somewhat “obvious” way, of the evil spirit which haunts the palace still, Hitler’s race theory.

5However, the extent to which Owens is included in the actual chapel part of the exhibition is the question.

By far the most interesting objects that are activated in the exhibit are the “housebergs” as Gates has called them. They are shaped like icebergs, but surfaced with disco-ball like glitter, and reflectivity. What can they mean?


In getting down to this question, first we must consider that Hitler by no means considered the Palace of Art a holy place. The famous/infamous anti-art exhibit was an exhibition that meant to pillory in public art that Hitler did NOT like. That is, he is not attending an exhibit of art that he liked, which I think is in this picture

7he is touring a negation of an art exhibition, apompically by his comments as he went through banishing this art from his eyes because it was the output of decadent and Jewish modernists. The exhibition is also famous for having as if marginalia of sfogo, mutterings of self-talk, as one moves through, instructing you to hate it and laugh at it, and think of it as a circus


it is, indeed, an example of pillorying, but it is the art that is being pilloried


since the art was to be deplored one had to go through it and see it with a will not to be infected by it, by apotropaically laughing at it as one goes through. Pillories left the victim to the public, who pelted him with various objects, all to ridicule. Thus, this is a form of relic-taking, but in reverse offering ridicule from a cult source, but by the victor of the defeated, so also a trophy in the classic sense.


but, while there were judgmental moments either way, seeing art that one wants to make holy, expressive of the values of the Reich; or to present trophies of a defeated enemy, for the purpose of glorying over them, or ridiculing them, there was no chapel of any sort in the Palace of Art.

The chapel part when it comes to Munich is, of course, connected, by way of Hitler, to the site of a bogus shrine he created in Nazi cult to the dead of the 1926 putsch, where he annually went to pray and praise, a well known place in Munich, the temple to the fallen Blutzeugen, the blood witnesses, mere thugs given the Valhalla treatment.

11it was an open space, with the coffins of the sixteen killed

13the whole bit, with all the empty regalia

14even the guards

16Hitler did the whole thing up, in an exploitational imposture of a cult, including touching new Nazi flags to the original Nazi flag from the 1926 event, the blood banner, to magically transfer the power of one to the other, in a deeply regressive, essentialist gesture


The presence of this precedent triangulated in Munich with Hitler and the Palace of art, when you talk about art in Munich, presented Gates with, it would seem, a problem in terms of the discourse of the antimonument or the monument. The mainstream of art world thought since a least the 1970s is that confronting monumentality with more monumentality is not only futile, but, in a strange way, reaffirming, as you are using the language of the monument to critique the monument which only ends up purifying the monument paradigm of misuses to let it linger on. For the art world, the solution was the antimonument, a monument that negated the monument tradition to mark the site or the event to be memorialized in an apophatic way, that is, in the dark. Though I have praised a number of antimonuments, when they became conventional I began to wonder. As a result of research into monumentality, I came to dispute the necessity of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” in terms of the monumental tradition, finding in my study of the use of monuments, for example, in the era of the French Revolution that the monument tradition per se within itself had enough agency to twist and turn critiques to negate itself if need be. Also, thinking of the Velvet Revolution, and its largely nonviolent nature, in 1989, I was struck by the fact that in seeking a place of centrality where they could gather up enough presence to communicate clearly to the status quo that some big change was happening, the protestors gathered around, then climbed atop the statue of Wenscelaus in his Square, which made me think, traditional monuments often sleep in cities, for a century or more, but, then, they can be woken up, and made use of again; though I also covered extensively the toppling of statues in the Soviet Bloc in the revolutionary period, this fact impressed me the most.

18Still, for that, I ended up arguing on behalf of “world space”, in the early 90s, a multilayered tissue of history that invested a complex space in a central capitol city, a metropolis, with a somewhat negative monument conclusion, because in my thinking the complexity of a site so spliced up by multiple past events made direct reference impossible and one could only represent the wide complicated rotation of change on the site through an abstraction, which is why Daniel Buren’s installation in the Palais Royal, which I wrote about in essays published in Europe twice in the early 90s, including at the Viennese Seccession, was my beau ideal of the period.


Then I let it go, but then was surprised in a Rip van Winkle way when a few years ago the monument per se, that is, the monument of history, became an object of contention again, when my thought was that time had depleted meaning out of them by its own osmosis, when protestors began to make use of toppling of monuments to symbolize regime change in terms of racial policy in various institutions. Still, when Kehinde Wiley did Rumors of War (2019) this past year, which I have not written on because it raises too many issues, I was flummoxed that he would think that within the brackets as it were of monumentality itself he thought that reversing the figure but not the triumphant mode would effectively rebut the monument of the Confederacy

20Though first set up in Times Square, at a time that now seems like a million years ago, it was to end up in Richmond to directly, mano a mano, challenge the statue of Jeb Stuart (it is also a bit of a theoretical issue with me that the statue, on another plane of reality, that is, the online, is virtually a meme trolling of Jeb Stuart, whom I am sure no one knows who that is anymore). (note: as recent protests have arrived at the after-point when only the “anarchists” are left, the police this week stepped in to prevent the toppling of this statue, but mainly most likely because its size and height could kill someone in the topple, June 23, 2020)

21But, now, in the latest wave of protests connected with BLM, this time sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, word is that the Robert E Lee statue in Richmond is to come down.


even though it served, very much as Wenceslaus once did in Prague, as a rallying point for recent protests, with graffiti on it, and also projections, to protest against the current paradigm of policing, which I like to see (though working with 30 year old art ideas)

23But still, while I accept topplings, they still seem to me to be less critical when not connected to a sweeping regime change, and I guess I suspect them of being “performative gestures” rather than reform if they do not bring with them changes in actual policy, and therefore the lives of African Americans in America, or in this case, African Brits


then too I supposed that this toppling in Bristol seems less hopeful, more provisional compared to Greek examples of aponticization (the statue was fished out the next day to be placed in that favorite dead zone, an “undisclosed location” (see my treatment of Oscar Murillo for this).

25then I linked it up to the slaver, Colston, and the discourse of haunted portraits, notice his hand.


but was impressed by the British sense of the need for a hamassein stage, the show the gods what we have done phase (according to Burkert’s model of sacrifice)


by arranging all the signs in a circle around the statue, which I don’t think I have seen done in the USA. This also nicely aligned with my sense that as the protest zone builds into an almost counterreality it can go “periacqueductal” (ie becomes less material) in the Ambient space, thus my theme that, strangely, in such places, cardboard has revived as the sole signage, I think the world is turning into cardboard in a way, in that zone, dreaming of new ways of living


but then I also linked Colston’s portrait to Pinkie, daughter of a slaver, which brings me right on up to my treatment of the Blue Boy theme this year with Joker (2019) and other movies, since, all revived this year (this also converging on my Horror of Rococo…. book).


so, it seems I am unable to go back entirely to think the Wiley mano a mano approach will ultimately work, I think it momentary, a more deep-searching address to the paradigm must occur.

Therefore, and he mentions this part was to have been curated by Okwui Enwezor, Gates’ chapel is centered in a black platform, in a pavilion, a gazebo. It has a few steps which you walk up, to a platform, to a “statue” or shrine object, the cult object of the worship. Even if it is only a chapel for intercessional purposes, the intercessional agent would have to be present in some form. But, in a city where Hitler made grotesque use of quasi-religious rites to glorify a putsch by a group of thugs, Gates could not very well have indulged in a straight maximalist religious shrine to blackness, he had to step back, and make some use of abstraction to make the point, to sidestep the mano a mano shadow of Hitler’s charades. For this purpose, he first encircled the chapel with three types of artifacts: large billboard-like lightbox reproductions of goddesses of African American beauty that were part of his Black Madonna show on this theme in Basel last year; some examples of old neighborhood store signs, in neon; and then some African art from the collections. Each have their own agency.

32 (2)


The large icons of beautiful black women is of limited interest to me, black beauty was, in fact, a fairly strong presence in my popular culture 60-70s upbringing (conflicting reports in one reminiscence in the NYT of a black model who said that they were much desired at the time; then the attacks on Anna Wintour for rolling back that rock). I never thought that black women were not beautiful


my inclusion would be denise Nichols, who starred in room 222, I had a serious crush on her. This is her in desparate women (1971)


I still adore her in Blacula (1973)


along with the amazing Vonetta McGee, a little known actress who was also terrific in Sergio Corbucci’s spaghetti Western masterpiece, The Great Silence (1968).

36In the logic of chapels, going to the temple in prototype space, the placement of these images circling about make of them votives, but with particular petition, so that people know that these women contributed to the power of Jesse Owens. For example, Hatshepshut’s consort, Senenmut, at del el baire (sic), to build Hatshepsut up, but also to claim for her child by him consideration in the royal family, then too his relative power based on his supposed inimate relationship with her, set up very fancy votives in the mortuary temple to communicate to all visitors a connection to power, from supportive others. These testimonial votives, then, are like recommendations at the site.


The use of the neon signs is also of interest. I assumed at first that they were collected relics from his Chicago neighborhood. One of the aspects of Gates’ “practice” that likens him to danh Vo is that in additional to picking up collections of records from Jesse Owens, Gates collects relics of his old neighborhood. I was especially impressed with the almost Greek temple grandeur of his reliquary keeping of the tiled roof of a church in his neighborhood that had been torn down, in an exhibition at the National Gallery, his claim being that every little bit that disappears tears at the fabric of the neighborhood, inching it ever closer to collapse of the social order. (This remains one of my top tens of the decade; the fact that it includes works of art with other agency also made it seem like a Greek temple as described by Mayor or Pausanias, that is, as grabbag pre-museums with lots of votive offerings of odd sorts, including dinosaur bones thought to be the leg of Orestes, who lived, they thought, in the time of the giants, most temples had all four agencies going at once).

38Yet still, here, Gates is working with straight up direct agency, that is relic-keeping of a cult item, for the purposes of “worship,” but doing it in a neoconceptualist postminimalist way, that is, he leaves it in the abstract, to let one dive in and form one’s view of it.

Of the signs, this one


or this one


were relics, they would have been riding on the same razor’s edge, that is, they are relics of a neighborhood that Gates is watching being dismantled year by year, and that in itself is bad, EVEN IF, if being of a liquors store and a fried chicken outlet they speak to race stereotypes and “inner city” businesses exploiting the black community (or are sources of intra-minority strife as noted in an article in the NYT on “nuance abatement laws” which basically force stores to become “third party policing” by mandatorily reporting, for example, the counterfeit $20 that George Floyd was caught with in Minneapolis). But, then, it turns out, these were not relics, but made by a sign maker in Munich from drawings, so, they tilt more to the nostalgia for the ambience of a lost neon world as a result (and in his video he does talk of joy), they open up the space, to facilitate intercession.

Of course, store signage played a role in phobophotos of the Minneapolis protests last week. In this one it is the Minnehaha spirits store, which is strange, afire, contrasted with a US flag in distress signal position, see throughable to the fire (though read by some as solidarity statements, the sensationalism also makes them propaganda to incite fear).

41though, really, most of the looting was of stores that count, franchises

42there are so few examples of the look of the neighborhood that we keep coming back to Minnehaha

44These signs did play a part in the depiction of the looting, and the misunderstanding of it in the media of the 21st century. Ilhan Omar and others argued in a positivist way that there is no way that blacks, or especially blacks from the neighborhood, would’ve been involved in looting of stores which have been invested in in recent years as part of an effort to bring business to the neighborhood.


This hair-split contributed to the false dichotomy that the media played ping pong with all that week, or two of them: were these protests or riots? so there were parsing signs about that, or were these peaceful protests or violent lootings? This division became the basis for a split to favoring the protests, deploring the looting (and in NYC it certainly looked like there was a great deal of exploitational looting, that is, professional looters coming in over the back of protest-involved looters to loot simply for the gain of it). This parsing space even lead to urban legends developing that there was a secret army of white supremacists in Minneapolis who were doing all the looting; and, of course, my favorite figure, emerging almost as a phantom from this discourse rationalization, the Umbrella Man, believed by some to be a cop (he was not), which I posted about (alas, the story stopped, so it was obviously a delusion of the moment; I believe umbrellas emerged expediently as an easy way to protect oneself from projectiles).


but this discourse, that is, either/or, misunderstands the nature of looting in such protests turned riots (and I guess by the terminology, when the fires break out it becomes a “riot”). That is, as noted above, a lot of stores in poorer neighborhoods are exploitational, and while people shop at them, resentments build up. Hell, this is the VERY theme of Spike Lee’s classic, do the Right Thing (1989). The kids loved his pizza, patronized the store, but didn’t understand why he didn’t move out when the neighborhood changed like everybody else did, and why can’t you have a black man on the Italian hall of fame wall, either, Sal? we know how that ended.

47Then, too, even if there is not this dynamic, and the similar dynamic linked to liquor stores and fried chicken stores (towns around Native American reservations routinely are criticized for having liquor stores said to feed the alcoholism rate of the tribe), then there is the deeper nature of rage itself, that simply loses its sense of reality, disgusted at having to “live like this” and thus destroys one’s own world, to be rid of it once and for all, to force life to start clean (I once lived in a NYC building where an old man torched the “shithole” that he ended up his life being stuck in). Then, too, with the franchise stores, the problem is, they have so much, but your average working shopper can afford so little of it, in a moment of lawlessness, they give in to their pent up woes. It is all, however it works out, except in obviously exploitational situations, but a votive-based different means of expressing grievance, but by a taking, not a chanting or a sign.

I will, however, keep these signs in Gates’ chapel on the razor’s edge, they are meant to serve as if trophies, to enhance the overall look of the place, to give praise to the place, to impress viewers that the “god” in residence was worthy of such honoring. Again, the agency is relic, a relic is a compound agency. A battle is fought, there is a victory. The Romans then would find the turning point, thus the word, in greek, tropae, there they would make an offering of thanksgiving to the gods, a pile of the armor collected off the bodies of the dead enemy, once a formidable arsenal of threat, now booty, spoils, to be traded in for cash or glory, kept at home as a relic of one’s great achievement. The Romans even made scarecrows of this sort of regalia


The Greeks then took most of their tropae and shipped it all to Olympus, where it must have, over time, begun to look like an overstuffed variety store (some objects were heaped up as is, many were melted down to be made into “anathemata”, strange display-oriented works of art made out of booty, like the remnant of a serpent still in Constantinople).


which must have looked like this, all the spaces filled with reliquary statues, offerings to the god.

50Thus, I think the neon intends to add ambience and a convincing awe factor to the chapel, it enhances the presence of whatever it is that is present, that one is meant to commune with or pray to or ask help from in the chapel.

51which will be explored further in part 2.