“Toad-Road formations” as light sleep dream states and their engagement with “the seven gates of hell” in Toad Road (2012).

Rev., Aug 6, 2018.

This is another “deep summer” piece, deep summer ends midnight, Aug 13-14. The essay makes use of a model of hypnagogy featuring five stages–entoptic, glass onion (symbolic), the lattice, whoosh/wormhole and REM deep dream state. With encircling by further out Ambient hauntings, and, then, even further out, Sentient hauntings, at the level of tinnitus

I am going to declare the discovery of yet another new state of light sleep hypnagogy, which I will call, to emphasize the rhyming nature of the relationship between the two sides of the musing, toad-road formations. This occurs–and I experienced it last night, from about one to three in the morning–after a period of insomnia , when one “falls asleep,” but only lightly, and then without plot or story, there is a visual element, but it consists simply of, in a bookkeeping double-column way, from up front here to back behind there, a kind of mirror image, the eye and mind appraising the image from one spot and then from the other spot, and that keeps up for hours, then one wakes up. As with other forms of light sleep this comes with presque vu as one does keep at it under the conviction that it means something very important to figure out the difference between the front image and the back image, and that is that. Since the internal dynamic of this fugue state is binary, I will place it at the level of the glass onion, with one image placed in one part of the zigzag of adjunct space, and the other in the other.

t 1the circular arrow means that the spacing of it does not swing round, but like an accordion or the twist of a camera lens, it just focuses on the foreground, and then the background, trying, I suppose, to discern difference between the two.

At present, I do not know how much this shows up in the visuality of horror movies. But, there was a moment in Rattlers (1980), where a woman is terrified by what she sees in her bedroom, snakes all over, and then she runs out, and when she does, it is past a picture of horses, a panoramic picture which speaks to the poltergeisting power of the snakes to chase her from the house, but also a power to screw back at them and remove them with horse power. In fact, in the toad road situation last night, I was looking at a large horizontal brown painting of just this sort, looking at it from far off, then looking at it from close up, and hoping that it would reveal a secret

t 2The idea  for calling this the toad-road formation came to me because in the movie, Toad Road (2012). In it, Sara both describes what she has learned of the gates to hell on the internet, as she approaches them; but, then, as they go through them, she describes them again, in more detail, fleshing out what is really happening. That simple before-after reflective structure, also typical of votives of a certain sort, and of all art’s grasp of life in terms of its agency, is what one gets in this sort of light dream state. Therefore, I name them toad-road formations.

But, now, having set up the Toad road phenomenon as happening in a light-dream adjunct space

t 3

this raises the question of where the actual toad road, said to consist of the seven gates of hell, is, hypnagogically (for, their passage is shown in a very dreamy way), and if toad road formations are, in fact, the entry to these gates.

First of all, there is in the movie what I call the “toad road” state of hypnagogy, a simple shuttle back and forth between a sight of a thing, and then a sight of its working out in a more intense way, that is, between Sara’s description, before they head in, of what happens at the first gate

t 4and, then, later, what she actually narrates as it is happening, when they go in

t 6which seems kind of the opposite

t 7except, in the second case, there is a pulling at you

t 8(this pulling at you rings of the H.P Lovecraft story, The Thing on the Doorstep, when the hero complains of some outside force pulling on him). The toad road dynamic is a  moving back and forth, between the one and the other, for hours, like you are examining two copies of the same picture, with changes (see The Ninth Gate), THAT, for hours, is the Toad Road light dream state

t 10but, in both cases, before and after, she describes two sensations which parallel the way that Ambient forces interact with you. They watch you, that is, you are paranoid that there are forces out there circling around you, paying special attention to you (a common trope); but, then, also, they are pulling at you. So, in addition to the basic shuttle formation of reagency in the toad road dream state, this has to be tethered to a watching-pulling mechanism, coming in on you and taking out of you, at the Ambient stage, with the watching being the upper or closer level sensation, and the pulling being the lower or farther off sensation

t 11

in describing the actual feeling of walking through the first gate, profiled her by classic entoptic forest effects, she mentions as well that this pulling at you will tear you to pieces. That is, THIS is a further dimensional pull, and I have located the source of this level or degree of paranoia, to the extent that you think you are being pulled apart, as coming in from the Sentient zone, so, this toad road state is not only pulled at by Ambient forces, but likely attacked by Sentient psalliction (tearing apart) forces too

t 12and the graph

t 13So, that, overall, is the full “toad road” dream state formation, it is a double layer, three ring set up, with the outer rings pulling at, then tearing at the inner structure, as such

t 14and it might be that it is by the pulling, and the tearing, that one’s lightly dreaming mind experience is part of the psychological  momentum that makes the road feel like a road, or a series of gates, the passage through the gates then being the point where it passes from hypnagogy to transhypnagogic. Ambient and Sentient states, outlying it.

But, now, she pauses, and while in both cases here, both in the prelude, and in the experience of it, the second gate is about hearing things.

t 15like this

t 16

this places the second gate lying outside the grounding source of the first gate, in the adjunct spaces of the glass onion; but grounded a further zig zag on, and since this places the action of its reagency entirely out in the Ambient zone, it transforms it into sound. I think the myth of Echo and Pan and Pan hearing Echo in all things takes place out here, where there is Ambient noise. But, then, too, it pulls, as the sentient intrudes as a sound force that takes a wind noise and makes it sound not like the wind, that is, one reads auditory hallucinations into it, arriving at the tinnitus point

t 17

especially important for me is that she says the ground begins to give off voices. I have seen this trope, this summer, in Cthulu Mansion (1999), the plants thrown to the floor, but then screaming; and explored it as yet without determination in myths where so many nymphs are rescued from Zeus’s rapes by being dragged under the ground, and in the case of Pan’s pursuit of Echo in particular, Earth saved her, then covered up the spot where he did that with reeds, which Pan then tore up the reeds and then her voice plaintively echoed in them, for them to become Pan’s flutes. This can only be the line-base of the glass onion zone, on top of the lattice, sound begins to open it up

t 18

this also apparently involves a dive deep into REM dream state where one meets one’s mother and father and what they say about you, and you hear that in this loosening of the soundscape

t 20then, the third gate is when you start to seeing things, and the voices become faces. Where is this? I think this marks a stage where one steps a bit further out into the Ambient, but since faces are involved, and noises converted into seeing things, this means that one has stepped down to a heavier level, centered on the lattice, which I guess is your face, so everything flows from that, and thus an agency develops in adjunct ambient space outside of the lattice where it reaches up to take back in sound to convert that into the heavier currency of face

t 21and especially true detail here as to the entirely visual ambient nature of this cirling, or opening up, is that even if you close your eyes, they are still there, which characterizes them as hypnagogic.

t 22then, importantly, as we are introduced to the fourth gate, we see the ground, the forest floor, and this is the level at which everything begins to die

t 23the leaves die, the trees blacken, things cave in.

t 24and in my system, nothing can get to the deathlike, without going through the whoosh (vertigo spiral, fourth stage), and then being pulled wide in a sentient way, like this, this is where I locate the fourth gate, whoosh adjunct sentient space, pulling all that out

t 25she might even predict a far out trans-sentient space where things freeze

t 26

and her comment

t 27but the interesting part is, in spite of the cold, one still feels warm, and with power, so you can keep going. What THIS means is that whatever this stage does to one’s surroundings, in terms of one’s perception of them, one’s ground in this gate is still connected with the whoosh one is experiencing within

t 30but, most importantly, the movie, in fact, at this point tries to visualize this split. At first, we see an effacement of the usual effects of the hypnagogic trees, now it has all frozen

t 31and then she looks IN from out in the freeze, to where it comes from, and it “breaks,” as if breaking ice, in an affect I have only elsewhere seen in one other movie, it is a disturbing dysmetropsia, in the form of her face looking over him, and over the trees, and the freeze

t 32and this is where they are, vis a vis that moment of break. He is out in the sentient zone, where it freezes (J), and he feels that; she is still in control, warm within herself, and therefore grounded in the spiral of the whoosh (S), but by having to see her and look at her for her to as it were ambiently spin over the freeze he has to look through the spins of getting there and upon the return view this is what cracks and splits and causes that effect

t 34now comes the fifth gate, both before and here, she says no one has ever got past the fifth gate. He, in fact, at this point, drops out, and is bounced back out into reality

t 35while she goes on, but here

t 36time begins to change, memory falls by the wayside, with every step

t 37you get lost, you don’t know where you want to be, there is no present, past, or future

t 38but, again, he drops out, and comes out of the woods at this point, she continues on, This, of course, in my thinking, is where you slide into deep REM dream state, and it is at that threshold, as clarified here, that time and space, which are the coordinates of all stages above and inside that prior to this, now drop away, so you are in an “underworld” where all that is gone

t 39

now, when he comes back in, and up to consciousness, he experiences that “hell,” as times has passed, but not in the way he has imagined it, it’s been months, moreover, the forces of stage five have come in against life and torn the scene he was part of all up, everyone has moved on, then, too, he is circled ambiently by threat, some people think he killed her, and on it goes. Interestingly, there is no sixth gate in this version, that must be the consequences of the fifth gate, total confusion.

t 40or, she might be the sixth gate, the one who had more stuff than he thought, who lead him in, and who stayed the course, but then to disappear; so that might be it, Sara, in silhouette

t 41there is, later, in this telling, a memory he has, possibly indicating that the sixth gate is when the world at last does in fact entirely tear you apart, and you as you disappear, it is a bloody image of, apparently, her, it is unclear

t 42in which case, sixth gate would be trans-sentient, and have to whirl in with violent force, to make her disappear in a bloody way

t 43

and then the seventh gate is like death itself, beyond even REM, death as becomes a reality, in the manner of the Romans, ostensive REM, fallling out through it, into absolute nothingness

t 44and this is, as I have described before (see treatment of Argento’s The Stendhal Syndrome (1996)), the gate that is guarded by Mercury, in Roman sarcophagi

t 45And after you go through that gate, you leave all sense of time and space, and presence and sense, and self and other, and just dissolve into absolute nothingness

t 46and floating in the great black void of the ultimate solitude

t 47So, as I have walked through it here, the Seven Gates of Hell, lying outside Toad Road in back of a mental isntitution outside of York, Pennsylvania, is simply another reiteration of the passage of the mind, though by a more south-southeasterly direction, that is, diagonially, through afjunct space into adjacent space, then slowly sinking out into Ambient and Sentient space and beyond.

It is also the same process, mapping as it does over Roman ideas of death, as the experience of other altered states, which could include my own dizzy spells. That is, I have this month, in deep summer, at last mapped out the Eldritch formation, which is a double-loop of dysmetropsic whooshing through the central spin, resulting in the ability to see into dream (ophthchthony). I, at present, understand the Eldritch formation to be related to an early symptom I had in my 20s, involving late at night my body freezing, as I was reading, then the whole visual plane flipped, like a turned-around telescope, so that the book I was holding looked like it was very tiny, very far away, but then I could look through that distance and read the whole page of a book in one second, and with total comprehension, and it went on like that for a while, then it broke. I now also think this syndrome, which stopped when I was about 29, still set up and indicated that I would have restricted upward gaze-peripheral vision problem and wobbly dizziness in my 60s. That is, I see my dizziness modeled in stages, as a reflection of that. That is, when I go into Stage Two, I experience a complete break in my vergence skills, and fall as if pulled by a hook violently right or left. But, then, in Stage Three, which is, admittedly, in my life as now lived, all but sedentary, extremely rare, I do in fact float in a black void (this also happens in the dark), and feel entirely detached from all connection to earth and time and anyone else and so entirely disoriented in an existential state of the ultimate solitude that I completely fall to pieces in, and have to sleep it off. So, there is a strange parallel between this model above, and my experience of the dizzies vis a vis the Eldrtich formation in the core space.

t 48

which is most curious.

That, then, is my working out of the Seven Gates of Hell, in York, PA, as described in Toad Road (2012), it is, in my view, a standard psychogeographical perception of a place, but, it parallels a process of the dreaming mind emptying out to death, from a hypnagogic state, through Ambient and Sentient space, sinking toward a far out slide into all but the Roman land of the dead.

And, of course, THIS is why the coda to this movie is so horrible, it all but MANIFESTS as stepping out of the fiction into real life, in the life of the actress who was Sara, and is named Sara, it all but makes of her the goddess, that is, Persephone, who goes to death, she dies, making it all real, she passed, for real, through the seventh gate (no other movie can get this seventh gate in this ostensive recoil because it is unlikely a movie will cause them to die, though there is the issue of snuff film). (ie Sara Ann Jones died of a drug overdose between the filming and the release of the movie).

t 49for this reason, in devising motives, and not simply that she died by accidental overdose, I have to canonize SAJ as a kind of psychopomp, or at least one of Diana’s nymphs, in my mythology.

To sum up. According to this model, if read literally, you can only get through the seven gates of hell, then out, if you enter in by way of the oscillation of the toad road effect in gate one and two, in the glass onion stage; then drop down to the lattice for the third, then the whoosh for the fourth gate; and then you must brave Ambient and Sentient space, only at the bottom or most outermost part of that, to slide into stage seven, then, pop out. My guess is that he could only get to gate five, and most people only get there, because, without drugs, human resistance to that state, as we seem to require space and time to maintain our coordinates (this also posits the something that happened in nymph caves, not all benign, which experiencers then wanted to distance themselves from in votive models) was too great, so he popped out. She was likely able to tolerate movement into it, by way of drugs. But, then, it might be that dropping into that, SHE, on drugs, became the sixth gate, trapped, confused, in hell, and it is there that she disappeared, leaving him beached back short of gate five, but to suffer the ultimate solitude of gate seven, that is, missing her, and being with her, grief at loss of her. At present, I argue that THIS SEQUENCE is therefore required, as a lead in, to actually experiencing real death, as experienced, moreover, this could be, that is, hypnagogics plus, could be the model for all intitiation ceremonies and levels, leading to the same. It might also be a model that is reflected when people say they died for a few minutes, and saw heaven–or hell.


Connecting the disconnects in Disconnected (1984), part 2.

Rev Sep 11, 2018.

Disclaimer: As this movie is a “body essay,” some nudity, some violent, is included.

The previous scene, in Disconnected (1984), see part 1, somehow, because how would she know? (well, maybe she saw the sitte) it melds in upon the separate strand of action consisting of her having her slow nervous breakdown and a “stripping bare” process in her apartment, because one night, tossing and turning, she has a very upsetting dream, in which she hangs up one picture, from over the bed, and one presumes that this represents HER, that is, the older twin

aa 54and then she hangs up the other picture, and this is the bloody picture, representing her kid sister, the younger, evil twin, and it STILL HAS BLOOD ON IT.  In my extensive coverage of picture play, this is unique, more so that it is, in the movie, a dream spun off from a murder sequence she did not see (it might be ophthchthonic seeing, seeing, by way of deep dream, through the confusion, but I am not feeling this sort of vertigo in this telling )

aa 55and the intriguing thing here is that she has blood on the back of her t shirt, and then, having hung it up, she is less interested in the image, and it is the second, less seen image, not the one which repeatedly profiled his killing, that gets focused on, and she is interested in the blood, the prototype physical relic reality of her actual dead twin sister, not the picture, making of this a holy relic, but because of where the blood is, two things, one, it implicates her, is she dreaming that SHE killed her sister, and, worse, is she dreaming that SHE killed her sister because her sister was getting uppity and trying to reverse the pecking order of twinship, oldest-youngest, by taking the highest position, so this is her appeasement of that, even as she protests that usurpation with the suggestion that, in fact, SHE did kill her

aa 56and in a close-up, she gets into the blood, per se, SHE has blood on HER hands, is what she feels

aa 57and THIS causes her to jump up out of a nightmare, the blood, the close-up of it is the splat, this causes the ephialtic leap, to waking up, horrified, cowering in the venetian blinds, lost in shadiness

aa 58finally, then, the Dead Eyes of the World object instrumentation weaves its way into her nervous breakdown situation, and grouping itself with her clock and her phone, the main bone of contention that is torturing her, her own examples of Groucho Marxs come into play to suggest the nature of the force that, over that phone, is tormenting her (she knows it is not Franklin, because the killings have not stopped)

aa 59and again, the Dead Eyes of Groucho gazing on her amazing legs, impassively

aa 60it ends up then with her finally, finally, breaking the phone, smashing it to pieces, exiling it from her collection of objects

aa 61and that, in the strange last scene in the movie, it seems to flush the demon out of the phone. The demon in the phone? That would be the old man who knocked at the door downstairs

dis 1whom she helped in the title sequence

dis 2and showed the phone, for him to make a call

dis 9and then we saw him on the phone, while she is in the kitchen making tea, against the poster of The Trouble With Harry (1955) (which is about a body that just shows up in a town)

dis 11and the objects, the clock

dis 4the Betty Boop, as if assist him in going into the objects

dis 5and then he vanishes, she checking the phone to see if anyone is on it (or “in” it).

dis 7But, now, at the end of the movie, after her breakdown is complete, he walks out of HER APARTMENT on the second floor of that building, and what are we to think?

aa 62what we are to think, I think, is that he is a wordly extension of the killer in, for example, Black Christmas (1974) making his obscene phone calls, he is a man in black, he represents to her and us the pervy world that gloms onto and tortures young sexy women in their lives, to make them miserable about their sexuality. He represents the peeper in extremis, also old age raging at youth simply because they are young. Perhaps he is inside the phone, thus identified with it, much like the obscene phone caller in Black Christmas, at the end, the phone bleeds, suggesting some sort of physical sanguinary force is inside it

aa 63in it and the power of his torture seems to have finally laid her out, I think killing her, scenically, at the end

aa 64and then if he lived inside the phone, causing these disturbances, as if a party line, he also had contact with a long reach to the high sky of the ambient-sentient borderland where cosmic sounds do sound and horrify, and he was able to bring all that in to her world, to haunt her, and terrify her, and, at last, beat her down, by the power of the cacophony of the perv world. Thus, the venetian blinds do in fact indicate that there is more here than meets the eye, that there is something shady going on, and the extensive use of them all but bifurcated the movie in half to press this point home emphatically, that, on the other side of the blind, there was another, alien, menacing force, a kind of nemesis, Erinyes figure, coming to get her. But, by itself, the venetian blind could not get us there, it was only by putting on top of them, in a compounded form, the Dead Eye of the World Objects, with a decidedly old fashioned feeling, referring to the old man himself, that the whole bookending barrier at the center of the movie worked to refer to him, and identify the problem as primarily demonic (only loosely considered her, more accurate later with the help of Burkert). This, then, so often overlooked in the mis en scene, and dismissed as arty by ill-informed viewers, actually creates the central fissure if you will down the middle of the movie, across which the volley of twinfire is felt and acts.

Then, over now in Alicia’s terrain, the movie also exceeds many other examples of similar things in the extent to which it goes to present a body essay of Alicia. Again, a body essay is a sequence of close-ups which involves the viewer quite close to the skin of the figure being followed. Usually, a body essay is about a woman, but theoretically it could be about anyone. Then, the purpose of the body essay is to entirely symbolize the body of the woman as, as it were, a microcosm of the whole movie, and all its dramatic pushes and pulls, and thus it is her gestures, and facemakings, and responses and emotions, that become the very fabric of the movie, determining its success of not. And the fact that Frances Raines did very good with this, in the character of Alicia, makes the movie.  There seem to be as if seven stanzas in this particular body essay. This sort of thing starts early, her apartment is a kind of stage for her. She hears the sounds, and begins to react, she often moves in and around classic standee of Marilyn Monoe in Seven Year Itch, and as such we learn of her eidol, that she desires erotic sensuality in her presentation, but something is bothering her with that (it is oddly also by the radiator and the venetian blinds, made shady)

aa 65then, after the attack, she changes the clock, somehow, it got off, another Marilyn, one of the posthumous photos that appeared in LIFE

aa 66next time, second stanza, we see her circling in her room, she is in her robe, ready for bed, and in response to the phone call noise, she squirms, revealing a good deal of skin, again, her amazing legs

aa 67in a third stanza, this time dressed, but depressed

aa 68she reaches for it spooked, this time she is sitting on the floor, beginning to ground down

aa 69the fourth time is a modern gown prowl, that is, she is called out of bed by the phone, a gown prowl for a modern 80s girls means t shirt and panties, with legs bare, and lots of retro upskirt expression of her increasing vulnerability

aa 70she is more exposed, more at sea, stripped bare, on the couch, after, truly spooked now

aa 71very strangely, in this sequence, she does not like what she sees on the TV, so makes an all but ritualistic dancelike move, pivoting over, on the floor, to it, exposing her pantied crotch

aa 72and even a bit more than she bargained for, as the pantie lifts up off a muscle

aa 73again, I apologize for noting this, but this stuff runs very deep, it is ground into the fabric of seeing in this world, you can’t just wave a magic hashtag at it, and it all goes away, and everyone is moral again, what this extra give of the fabric says, exposing a more readable extent of her inner thigh muscle as it curves up to her crotch, is that she is going to die, even if she is kind of turning us on

aa 74oddly, with Groucho laughing, she all but tries to push the video back into the tv, it’s a strange gesture

aa 75weirder that there is an inference that it is not a movie but by the power of the phone some malfunction has got into her video system for it to videotape her sleeping, so she is deeply intermedially haunted, by exposure her materiality in the flesh being splicdes into a 2D ghost.

For the fifth attack, she is back in her robe, really upset now, it is getting into her head, taking her down

aa 76certainly one of the very best of these progressively invasive sequences, recording her breakdown, begins with the phone ringing in the dark. Amazingly, in the 80s, people would actually run out to answer their phones

aa 77but the door tells us, as does the familiar sound, she is taking a shower. This is the movie’s ONLY shower sequence, she comes out, towel on, but struggling to keep it up and cover her (from whom?)

aa 78the interesting thing here is that she twists around the phone, and its cords, in strange postures, trying to keep the towel on, but it keeps wanting to come off

aa 79she comes very close to losing it a few times, remarkably, she seems obsessed, when alone, with keeping her breasts covered up

aa 80when she answers it again, this time down in the light, the towel almost exposes a full breast on the left

aa 81and, in fact, when she pulls back, the breast is exposed, relative to the towel, but we don’t see it because of the arm of the couch, but, it IS wet, adding to its punch

aa 82and, again, the phone calls have begun to get into her head, and now, with this sharp progress in body essay exposure, her stripping bare is equated with the stripping of her mind, and this is how it goes. Again, a stripping bare is not to be taken quite literally, though it does, indeed, happen, mostly to women, symbolically, as the process whereby the ice cold machinic modern world wants only to strip from you any of your illusions of subjectivity which make you think you are safe, and ok, and somehow delicate, and cultured, and not just a piece of meat or a number or an item or a cog in the big wide awful machine of the modern world. A stripping bare is the process of stripping the self down to a state of defenselessness, so that the horror can have full effect, and take the person down. That stripping bare in horror movies actually often involves the stripping off of the clothing of a female human being is just way it has worked out in the later part of this era, but there will be other forms, but with the same, Dead Eyes of the World rationale, you cannot be saved

aa 83after her kid sister dies, the sixth stanza of her breakdown, she stops caring how she looks (she always looks great), she starts drinking, it’s a bender

aa 84this time when she answers that phone, she is no longer in control, in every shot, from below, her crotch is in full view, all of this accentuating the danger she is in, as this sort of exposure is a sign of death, in horror movies, sorry, that’s the way it is

aa 85this one gets her so upset she ends up on her knees exposed much closer to the ground and to the stage of exposure of MM in her standee

aa 86then she just takes to bed, whenever the phone rings, she comes out

aa 89and it is pure torture at this point

aa 90this long entirely drunk night now leads to her bed and to dreams, She has taken off her t shirt and is sleeping only in her panties, virtually nude

aa 91she tosses and turns, and, in a real good effect, as if kneading the montage elements deep into each other, there is a dissolve out of close up of her armpit, a longer shot of her whole body, turning in her bed

aa 92she is exposed, nude, entirely vulnerable, completely “stripped bare” in the terms of a horror movie

aa 93this turning is then when she has her worst dream

aa 95which seems to wake her up to early morning insomnia

aa 96but then it seems she falls back to sleep, and now is chased out of bed later, carelessly uncovered, in her going to get the phone, she now operates in her life in the nude

aa 97and it is in this context, no doubt also with a hangover, and feeling like shit in general, which is noted by her unsexily coughing, she does her nude scene in the movie, but it is at the edge of being a naked scene, meaning, this is careless nudity, not part of a seduction, as her sister’s nudity was, this is just daily life, on the way to the phone or toilet, seen so often in the naked decade of the 80s, so, she remains, down to the literal rock bottom, stripped bare, extremely vulnerable

aa 98but apparently somewhat saved by it being a normal call

aa 99which resolves into the everyday naked-around-the-houseness that everyone in a relationship knows of

aa 100but, then, that’s that, she catches herself, wakes up, goes fetches a robe, but, then, in that, she is attacked again

aa 101resulting in seventh stanza, her home later that night, also exposing, the final straw

aa 102which pushes her over

aa 103you know, people respond to actors, and the quality of the film, and if it is student film or not, and all those ancillary issues, some people see a movie as nothing but a nostalgic grabbag opportunity to vent about the 80s, or talk about issues unrelated to the film, it seems de rigeur for commenters to need to feel superior by dismissing a film as crap, but, no, this movie makes excellent use, extending from an identifiable precedent, Black Christmas, of two powerful visual tropes suggesting visual sleight of hand, the venetian blinds, and the dead eyes of the world objects, it then weaves those into a series of killings, feeding into that as well quite good use of photography, and art, to then signalize the killing, and then uses all THREE to highlight as the turning point of the movie the killing of Alicia’s kid sister, Barbara Ann, however devious and evil her actions were, which sends her spiralling down the terror created by those strange sentient-sounded phone calls, resulting in a process whereby after seven stanzas of breakdown she is entirely stripped bare and vulnerable, and completely undone by a strange and foreign horror, very possibly hidden from view in the opening title sequence and in the final shot, some sort of perv old demon who commandeers phones to use the sentient noise and cacophony of the world to drive young things crazy. It all but has a Greek dimension, I think of the Dioscouri visiting a house, making their demands; I think of Agave, Pentheus’s mother, driven mad by his blasphemy against Dionysius, no, there is no way this is a bad movie, just because it is technically deficient in nature, it holds up, and, better, it plays out in a very tight, succinct and original way, this is why if you connect the disconnected pieces of Disconnected (1984) it is hard not to give it three stars, as, in review, I have.

Connecting the disconnects in Disconnected (1984), Part 1.

Rev Sep 11, 2018.

Disclaimer: As this movie is a “body essay,” some nudity is included. The author is a second born (sequitur) identical twin.

Disconnected (1984) is another good twin-bad twin movie, with the bad twin, of course, being the “kid” sister, Barbara Allan, of Alicia, the main character, both played by the fabulous Frances Raines. The movie is quite binary, as it makes a clear distinction in outfit, manner, makeup, behavior, and even lighting, almost in a Jekyll-Hyde way, between Alicia, who is a real girl living in a kind of just OK apartment, dressing casually, and all that.

aa 1while Barbara Ann is all dolled up, curled hair, red dress, ready to party

aa 2this does not mean that Alicia is not sexy, she most certainly is, especially as she is more straightforwardly and completely, without costume or makeup, Frances Raines, and she is free with her sexuality in an 80s way, and walks around the house a lot without pants on, so that is not the problem

aa 3but, there is a binary structure to the movie, and the extent to which it operates, it could be said that like Dark Mirror (1944) it functions in twinfire, in a bookend universe. But, then, plotwise, this binary quality is figured out by a behind the back factor that stretches credibility, showing severe jealousy or complication in the twin relationship. For, everytime that Alicia begins to sleep with someone, like Michael, Barbara Allen comes in behind her, and wants to sleep with them too. And since she is more or less just riding on the coattails of an attraction already established with the twin, the sequitur or second twin gets sloppy seconds in a more provocative, and she thinks, maybe, sexier way, so in one scene Barbara Allan really lays it out

aa 4in fact, later, this becomes a major twist point in the plot. Franklin is a serial killer, who seems, remarkably, to be able to pick up women at the local bar, and, just like that, take them home and fuck them. He then increases the ew factor by not only knifing them after fucking them, but leaves them to sleep with him, for him to wake up next morning to talk things over with them, before he, somehow, gets over it, wasting a lot of clean sheets in the process too

aa 5and in another scene, on his side of the movie, he does it again, amazing

aa 6then he penetrates them, then stabs them

aa 7Amazingly, Alicia goes out with him once, and she falls for it too

aa 8but she gets away by waking up before him next morning, and leaving him a note. But, then, no sooner does Alicia get with him, than he gets a secret visit, unannounced, by Barbara Ann in her red “fuck me” dress

aa 9while Alicia was all normal 80s girl, take off your clothes, go to bed, no biggee, Barbara Ann is the seductress, with the whole sultry show

aa 10it is by her seduction that Frances Raines offers us the movie’s first nudity of her

aa 11then, even more provocatively, she administers oral sex, in a scene I will write more about in a bit

aa 12but, then, because she is too much into the sex, and not looking out for herself, and is, in the terms of the day, a slut, she dies too

aa 13now, in a movie which features a good twin and an evil twin, for the evil twin to die two thirds the way through the movie is quite strange. What it means most of all to me is that this isn’t really a twin movie, but that the twin device was simply used to mask some other subterfuge taking place. And, there is a lot of visual subterfuge communication in the movie. That is, the movie is telling us, what you see is not what you see, there is something else going on here. These sequences of subterfuge split the movie in half, and communicate to us that we are in the dark, that things are shady, that we are not really seeing what we need to. In most movies, the notion that there is a shadiness to the proceedings on screen is communicated by the use of the venetian blind trope. In this movie, the venetian blind trope is used in an all but entoptic hypnagogic way, far in excess of its use in any other movie I know of. That is, in this movie, the venetian blind effect is instrumentalized to speak to both the fact that there is something else going on here, and, then, later on, that the walls are closing in on Alicia, and she is having a nervous breakdown. Second, there is extensive use here of the Dead Eyes of the World trope. This trope, as I have indicated, is instrumentalized by, after a murder, the camera switching over to a shot of, for example, a Raggedy Ann doll. The blank, cretinized expression of the doll, makes a po face at the viewer, and speaks of the world not caring, not reacting, being cold, to the killing on screen. Both of these tropes are painted with such a broad brush in this one, I thought that the movie was taking me to a place similar to that in Dressed to Kill (1980), or Sisters (1973), both by di Palma, which would lead to the conclusion that, in fact, there was no other twin, Barbara Ann was just Alicia playing out the other role, for a twin that died at birth. But, no, there are clearly scenes early on where both Alicia and Barbara Ann are present together in the scene, in the flesh, so the movie makes use of a visual technique that promises one thing, but then ends up not giving us that. In fact, the answer is only gained if you take all the venetian blind play and then leave it blank but to give it mean superimpose upon it the Dead Eyes of the World trope, and that will tell us something of interest.

So, first, lots and lots of Venetian blind effects. Several times, close up, as Alicia stands at her window, almost with agoraphobia, the camera peers through, to look out into the world, why

aa 14then the camera pans down as in a screenwipe or an entoptic hypnotic effect, to wave something shiny in front of our eyes, to blind us to something

aa 16later, as these are paced to her breakdowns, the shadow on the blinds shows the outside world being cut off, she begin reduced to a silhouette cypher

aa 17next morning, another peer through the close-up of the blinds

aa 18this one is so searching, I looked carefully, thinking I would see someone on the street, stalking her

aa 19it really amped up the instrumentation, to, indeed, offer evidence of her shift to a surveillant view o the world, wary now of some killer who might want to come after her

aa 20after she sleeps with Franklin, for god’s sake, there is glare, indicating, perhaps, that her blindness is getting worse

aa 21even the stairs to her place, bringing the murderer up for dinner, are strafed, to indicate a warning, something—he—is shady here

aa 22at another point, after the funeral, I think, of Barbara Ann, we, or the camera, POV at her, walking back from the funeral, odd shot, POV from some other entity

aa 23her continued battle with the escalating obscene or sentient-noisy-interference phone calls are paralleled and profiled by the venetian blinds, the aural equivalent

aa 24when she has a bad dream, now getting deep in, and I will trace this downward trajectory in a bit, she cowers behind the venetian blind, in the shadiness itself, lost

aa 25later she is striped as if by a whip by waking up all but comatose from a night of terrible tossing and turning, and drinking too, so with a hangover, and the venetian blind on her back signals that all of this shadiness had got INTO it

aa 26later, in a strange montage at the end, she is seen more explicitly, holding down the venetian blind, to look out

aa 27and on it goes. Folks who just watch the movies, watch the movies, and hardly recognize the art that is being set up to manipulate their responses. The instrumentation of tropes is, however, at the very heart at the art of the horror movie, and small indie horror movies only make it with me if they find a way to make a special use of and instrumentation of a well-worked trope. The fact that this movie makes excellent and progressively plot-contributing use of the venetian blind effect as borrowed from film noir adds greatly to its atmosphere of fear and claustrophobia, and the world closing in on Alicia, it really works. So, for now, that is that, great instrumentation of the venetian blind effect of casting a sense of shadiness on all things seen, warning us to look elsewhere for the truth. In a bit, I will parallel this progression with her descent into madness due to the obscene phone calls.

If the venetian blind effect was utilized alone in the movie I would have more likely thought that the movie was trying to tell me that there is a classic twinfire, Jekyll Mr Hyde split here, and Alicia was in fact a schizo who was making use of the Barbara Ann impersonation of her dead twin, I suppose, to break free of her own personal inhibitions, by being more sexual. But, it didn’t play out that way. And it didnt because the movie from the very first title sequence interspersed in the venetian blind trope, another trope, the Dead Eyes of the World trope, as expressed through collectibles in the apartments of those involved. Quite often, a look through the Dead Eyes of Betty Boop

aa 28is part and parcel with peering through the venetian blinds. It happens as if part of an ensemble of objects, including a strange, old-fashioned, large, loud-ticking clock she has, in the black and white sequence at the end

aa 29these collectibles as an ensemble are also linked, as in the above shot, with the movie memorabilia and posters, plus standees, that she has around her apartment, mainly cast off from her job at a video store. But I think those artifacts more precisely bespeak the stages of her breakdown, so will discuss them there. But, the artifacts are definitely related to the photos that Franklin has, and these photos are weirdly related to the perspective or POV on his murders. In one scene, he has the murdered girl in bed, rolling her off him, but then the camera starts to crawl up his cheap, ugly, 70s wood-pannelling, now depraved walls

aa 30and the two photos are hung as if twinned like eyes over his bed, major works of art, given a lot of room, the piece de resistance of his décor, for what it is

aa 31but, then, even more bizarre, and I also love these cheesy decors, there is an outcrop of the wall above, with lights installed above the photos, but then on the overhang, at the very top of the room, is hung a crucifix, with Jesus aboard

aa 32after the first show of this, which indicates both that he might be a holy killer, killing off whores because they are immoral, he is at last, the movie says, influenced by the local Waterbury, CT culture, because that’s where Holy Land USA is

aa 33oddly, however, with the next killing too, the knife coming out of the bedtable, the killing is related to an upward pan to these black and white pictures

aa 34it is hard to say what this signifies, it is in the modernist Robert Frank, beat generation mode, a bleak picture of a figure on a bridge approaching the person with the camera, maybe it is a personal picture of him committing a crime, hard to say

aa 35but, then, it is against that picture as backdrop, that his hand rises, with knife in it, to stab, so the picture profiles the kill

aa 36this weaponizes, but also, as it were, ritualizes the picture, as they are related to his sacrifice of this woman, for being a slut

aa 37and this is made even more insistent by the fact that there is a hameissen in this ritual, showing the evil gods what he has done, as the blood has splashes up against the plexi cover of the pictures

aa 38so he, rather deadpanly, has to use windex to wash it off, it’s part of the ritual, he seems to like it that way

aa 39this second picture, by the way, is even less makeoutable

aa 40and so, we leave him under the cross, in the POV of his two magic pictures, making his art, as it were

aa 41interesting enough, however, since Barbara Ann is making all the moves, and making this way too easy for him, and going way further, in matters of sex, and of the importance of this conquest, since it is devious, and he is free to kill an evil bitch, having sex with the kid sister the night after having fucked her older sister, so catching Alicia in the same dilemma, this calls for a major production and in leading us from her first baring of her breast, in sex

aa 11the movie then takes us on one of the strangest instrumentations of the Dead Eyes of the World trope as fed into and through the sex and the pictures and the rest of it. After this shot, we are nonplussed, because the movie makes faces at us, as if to mug the sex being had, which we are not seeing, two of those weird ethnic heads that were popular in the tourist market back then, these in relief, on the wall, one Irish, one a biker, both speaking to the depleted kitchsy cheapness of her easy sex

aa 43and then the Dead Eyes make an even deader eye at us, and mugs a longer face, these I think the goonies from Popeye, but made even worse, in terms of kitsch, by apparently, playing a visual joke, as a book end, with the shelf, truly not tasteful

aa 44then he has a little cigarette lighter with an African dancer figure attached, looks more valuable, and kind of 1920s style collectible

aa 45and, then, in the movie’s oddest shot, but, of course, the kind of thing I love, a full shot of the weird lamp he has in his room, it is a double lamp, showing one shade inside the other, as a Strange Object it speaks to not only there lightless embrace, but the fact that both of them are acting at cross purposes, just to get even with god or with her sister, and, really, they have no interest in having sex per se with each other, it is just to get at others, by way of it

aa 46and, this, then, as if framed baroquely as in a scene in a gothic movie, modelled on Sardanpalus by Delacroix, she is shown, Frances Raines is shown, bare back to the camera, on the floor, on her knees, giving him a blow job.

aa 47what this means is that the extra punch of a Dead Eyes Sequence featuring a winking figure, a moping figure with a long penis-like nose, an exotic dancing figure, and then the double-helix of the lamp, maybe even referencing the hand motions up and down the shaft, all this was mugging to prep us, subliminally, and play out without showing us, oral sex, which, usually, in current pornography, includes the original latch on


The face making


The handmotion on the shaft


The choking, more facemaking


So, it is an early example, in the abstract, of a ta-da introduction to oral sex, but, by way of objects which speak to its meaningless, as the Dead Eyes of the World watch impassively, they do not care. And then, having shown him lean his head back, accepting the blow job, we shift to a view of his Groucho Marx doll

aa 48Alicia also has strange old Groucho Marx or other old time dolls, they were interpreted by one viewer who actually tried to figure them out as indicating a character lost in the past, of the heavy weight of the past on these 80s characters, but I think the age of them speak to the joke of it all, Dead Eyes of the World, BUT, also to the age of a pair of prototypical Dead Eyes preceding all these eyes in the movie, as we will see. At this point, the movie dissolves, but in a montage way, the pan of the objects continues to the crucifix over the bed, what this means is that too is Dead Eyed, it is depleted, and emptied out, and if it being skied up near the ceiling was not enough of a statement of its remoteness, then it being montaged with a lamentation at the cross consisting of Raines giving him a blowjob, certainly drives the irreverent point home, all crucifying here has gone to the perverted zone

aa 49and then the montage swings round to show them, but from the door, having sex, her on top, in the bed, the shot split between the photo and her body, moving up and down, and this too is profiled by the crucifixion, as if she is in fact being nicely impaled, but in a pleasureable way, however, it will cost her her life, the fact that the cross descends almost as a reminder of the slashing knife down through the photo to her body and backbone on to her butt is a very nice effect, for the director

aa 50Anyways, now things shift into montage-dissolve mode, and Raines does the whole cowboy routine, including bucking backwards to show her happy upside down face to the sex gods. This is free of montage, a clear image of orgasm achieved, successful sex, in the pornographic world (but one notices now this is the photo and the sex, fractionalized by being seen reflected in a mirror, so a dematerializing which predicts movement into the 2d space of death

aa 51but then it keeps spinning, this time to, oddly, two porcelain china baby shoes, as if to communicate the attachment theory fact that when he has sex he reverts to being an abandoned infant and for that lashes out at the partner, who, because she is a slut, is just using him up, and draining him of his energy, and for that must be punished

aa 52and then we come to as it were the sacrament shot which fuses the pictures and the murders, by way of the Dead Eye objects, shockingly, the sister is a slut, so she does not escape, he stabs her as the finishing touch of sex, and she reaches up, bloody-handedly, to the picture, to then get blood on it

aa 53To Be Continued.

“That was the bogeyman”: the web of overlapping POVs in Halloween (1978).

Posted in observance of the 40th anniversary of Halloween (1978).

Rev., October 14, 2016.

It’s about time that I try to tackle Halloween (1978), one of the two original or ur horror movies over horror as a genre  understood in the time since. The occasion for this consideration is that, once again, as it has since 1996, AMC introduces its Fear Fest with a daylong marathon screening of Halloweens 1 through 5, meaning that, in addition to the movies being what they are, they serve a threshold, or initiation function, as intercessionary art, on the calendar, leading one into Halloween’s time of nexusing between body and spirit. This would tend to place an emphasis, in screening the film during this time, on doors in it, and on the doors of the houses of Haddonfield as the doors that open that lead to the time of the crossing over. This theme, I now see, also comes up in Halloween 3, which I have formerly considered to be the worst sequel ever made, since it had, according to my previous reading, nothing in common with the prequels to it, but a strange thing has happened, it has become all but the key initiation threshold movie for the season, and has risen greatly in my estimate, primarily I now see that it represented an attempt to recreate in the abstract, or displaced to another site, the initiatory stages of the original Halloween. So, then, I would have to go back to the original, and review its initiatory structure, to get at what it is that makes it remain a classic in horror (and entirely justifies Carpenter’s recent lament that Rob Zombie’s remake was a mess). Onto this I will superimpose Burkert’s idea that a Mannerbund gains its sense of itself by a communal defense against outside attacks, and death. So, this is all about Haddonfield, and then the victims of the town being its representative deaths.

For this, there are a few layers of POV in this movie, which interlace in each other in a complicated way. At the farthest outreach from the self, are Dr. Loomis’ baleful predictions that “he’s come home” and “death has come to your little town,” meaning exactly that, that prior to the movie the town did not experience death, and everything went on as normal, and, now, it is not that way, a problem has developed, and the problem is that Michael Myers has violated the circled-wagon sanctorum of little town life, and brought trouble. This is a fine idea, but, how, cinematically, does one convey that? This is done on two levels, the first is the most obvious, and obvious to any viewer, that is, Michael Myers’ POV, everything seen through him, him watching. There are so many examples of this I hardly need to detail, but, two points. I will describe how I think Carpenter worked to make Haddonfield itself feel like a maze, and Michael Myers in his car is the instrument of haunting that maze, of spreading anxiety and paranoia through it all. But, the thing is, as he follows the cars, he eventually comes to a place, and when one sees the shot, one is like, those are the houses, that is where he chooses to act, and so, by his action, he reaches in and takes something in the maze and by pure chance makes it momentous and ceremonial and sacrificial, a place of offering, not so much a sacred place, as a sacred circle where things happen. This happens when we get this shot, him following the cars until they arrive at their destination

aaahw 1then, immediately, we get the drive by, or rather, he thinks, having latched on, this is as good a place as any, so he parks, to begin his mayhem

aaahw 2with all the Michael Myers POV shots, then closed down at the end with this arrival-at-destination-of-mayhem shot the ethos of the bogeyman is conveyed. As I used to say to my kids, “your’e right, nothing will happen……..(pause, wait for it), until it does”. This maze effect, then zeroed in on, so unlike the all over mayhem of Jason Vorhees, is what makes Michael Myers a truer expression of the haphazard roadkill incidentality of life today, where life is so expendable, and whether or not one makes it through the maze of modern life is purely a crap shoot, luck, fate, destiny, there being no other logic or reason or whatever to blame. So, this is one thing. The MM POV sets up the sacrificial spot.

Then, there is a second thing. The MM POV is also the peeper POV, and this is also a gaze that shreds off the substantiality of everyday life, and its sense of material security, and reduces it to a thinner tissue, which can be violated at any time by any outside force. This is beautifully conveyed, with regard to sex, and the need for sex in the peeper, as a trophy of belonging, when he does not, in his peeping on Annie, in fact get sex. He comes round the house, and sees her in the kitchen, making popcorn. But then she spills butter on her clothes, and, rather fastidiously, immediately changes (meaning that her hyper nervousness is expressed through cleanliness). As a result, with back to the camera, and no nudity, per se, not even a side boob shot, he gets a POV glimpse, as do we, of her nudity

aaahw 3and, this is the important part, in the world of the peeper, where most of the time you peep and nothing happens, this is not a 10 in terms of sightings, that would be full frontal nudity, and then even more than that, full frontal nudity engaged in showering or in sex, but a 5, a full on shirt removal, and her bare back, and her bare back, in the logic of completion of every part that rules in the peep world view, all her nudity, by that means (that is, all peeper nudity is metonymic nudity). And then too by this trigger, all her nudity is woken up, and he is also given license, in his mind, to have sex with her, or engage with her body in a way he would, equivalent to sex, ie murder. Then she makes it worse, though of course she is doing nothing, and in fact being remarkably modest about it all, immediately getting herself covered up, by showing us her panties

aaahw 4for the rest of her time in the movie we now see her after having had to strip, and get dressed again, and with the knowledge that she is not really dressed again, but only has a shirt thrown over her nudity, and, most of all, since we have seen her partially nude, the knowledge that she is nude under there, just one fabric away from us, turns us and the peeper on. This slices space very thin, as it is sliced in the peeper universe, to allow him to move in on her disregarding the normal barriers and hindrances of everyday sex life in the circle-of-consent. The fact that he is to violate this, and that he has a sense, now, a total license, is conveyed by the fact that the apotropaic dog now does his job out in the bushes, by barking at Michael, but then Annie hears him squeal, and thinks he has a hot date (projecting her drama onto him), when in fact it was not sex he got, but death, and death sounded to us in a whimper, interpreted by her as a squeal of love, and then visually by his tail and feet, a trophy

aaahw 5(this is doubly odd since back in the day, a slang word for the vulva, covered, at the time, in hair, was “tail,” and so a hairy tail is a trophy symbolic of sex. Later, as if to lampoon this, in the story, but, give it up to Michael in the ritual, and mark her as dead, she gets stuck in the window and for that gives us a full on tail shot, from behind, a shot that bespeaks violation (but she is stuck from the front).

aaahw 6(I just want to mention in passing an odd subtext, rarely observed, in this, is that Lindsay is the cause of her cockblocking, and it is Lindsay, that night, who gets the best view of her sex, and dressing in a sexy way, and being a sexual being. Later, when Bob and Soles arrive to have a babysit fuck at Annie’s house he makes a strange joke that maybe I’ve never heard before, after he says he’s going to tear her clothes off, and his clothes off, he says, then we’ll tear Lindsay’s clothes off. What can it mean? I think it, and the placement of cared for kids on babysitting jobs in the picture, infers another deeper level of POV which is the next one I will discuss, and that is, kids being exposed to things too early, kids being exposed to grown up things in ways they should not be, and then the trauma that that can cause. This is a theme that is almost never covered in horror, but should be, as it is a recurring problem.

But, just about Jason POV, it is about 1) having made a space sacrificial; and 2) about having dematerialized that space so every little thing is a giving of the whole of it, and leads to the whole of it, in murder. It is a totalist space, but entirely dematerialized.

But, then, the second POV to be discussed involves the kids, Tommy and Lindsay. Laurie and Annie are babysitters of different caliber. Laurie plans a night of activities, and it is always, what should we do next? While Annie just leaves Lindsay watching TV and carries on in her life, saying at one point that Six hours of Dr. Dread (sic) will do it, she won’t know what hit her,” or something like that. But the strategy for both is that lots of TV is watched, and, oddly, on a night neither kid will go out on Halloween, which is strange (or maybe his astronaut costume meant it happened earlier, so this is the party after, here is his costume, still on. The candy party after is when the trick or treaters come back to then count up their take, and exult in the bounty. Since the purpose of their rounds was to extort an offering of safety from the houses, what candy they have signifies how safe they have by ritual made the world. For this version of the tale to then posit that during this offering of thanksgiving for a successful outing the bogeyman can still break in and destroy it, and reverse all the ritual, is pretty hard core. In any case, the movie Halloween is situated and takes place during the candy party after Trick or Treat, projecting a notion of the night where the hours between return and midnight are, in fact, the scariest hours, where, by the logic of the magic world, one deserves to be punished for having done such a good job—or something like this).

aaahw 7and this is Laurie seeing the Trick or Treaters earlier, and wondering, oddly, about superstition, and the like (the habit of daytime trick or treating swept the country in the late 70s as we were in the grip of a panic about child molesters and stealers, and even about crazies putting razors in apples for trick or treat, urban legends all, but they changed the way people behaved)

aaahw 8Now the thing that syncs the two houses, where Laurie and Annie babysit, across the street from one another, is that they have the kids watch the same movies, and in the same antiquated set up, that is, in the house’s one TV, and that would be downstairs in the main or living room. In reality, TVs were far more likely to be in bedrooms and in kitchens, and there were many for the family, and no one turned the lights down anymore to watch TV, all such ceremonial was gone. But, here it is, as if brought back to life by a director in tune to the ceremonial nature of this human sacrifice ritual. The movies they watch are strange choices, evincing a totally different ethos in horror back then, if a late night movie show would situate the horror in sci fi scares (which was a 50s thing, so likely out of Carpenter’s own memories, projected onto the 1978 present). So, they watch The Thing, and at one house we see the titles

aaahw 10then over at Lindsay’s house, it is well on an hour later in the movie, when they form the circle to see it is a circle under the ice

aaahw 11later still, the movie is Forbidden Planet, also from the 50s, not quite in black and white

aaahw 12and for this we also get, and one does have to ask, why the dwelling on these shots of intermediation, the remote other planetary views of the outdoors

aaahw 13though these movies sort of backfired, in that they were blamed for the kids seeing the bogeyman, and then they became part of an alibi formation whereby Laurie could talk down Tommy’s sightings of the bogeyman as real, it is also true they formatted the turned around telescope aspect of the kids’ POV, seeing the world between the houses as a wide open space, and other houses as all but different planets, far, far away. I have discussed this before, but it is one of the most wonderful logics and truths of the movie, as this is in fact how kids’ see other people’s houses. So, from the MM POV we get a view of the house across the street, he’s watching from behind the tree in the front yard

aaahw 14but then from Tommy’s POV the house across the street is way far away, and lit up oddly, so that on that planet he sees things, it is a foreign place, or rather, a familiar place, suddenly estranged by nighttime, and then totally occupied by terror as a result of his heightened state of fear, so that he thinks he sees the bogeyman

aaahw 15the wonderful thing about these shots is that they are perceptual images, and also examples of all but physiognomic perception, as the sighting of the bogeyman is turned out from the contours of the scene itself without him so minimally, it could be easily read as a “what am I seeing”” and then rejected as “I was just imagining things.” Suspending a POV in an alibi zone is one of the key effects of great horror, and this above shot is terrific, and then, too, when things ratchet up, when WE, not Tommy, see Annie, in her dishabille, march around the house to get the keys, in her loopy drive over to get sex with Paul

aaahw 16and then Tommy again sees both of them again, him carrying her body, and really cries wolf over a bogeyman sighting

aaahw 17this latter shot comes so closely behind the above shot of Chesley Bonestell effects of another planet, that it could easily be construed as a delirious fantasy boiled upon one’s fear and paranoia, but then all the more shocking for it being real. The really cool thing about this sighting sequence is that its plausibility AND deniability is enhanced by the fact that Tommy at first tries to relieve his boredom watching that movie by crawling behind the curtains to scare Lindsay, then, when doing that, he looks back out the window, and sees it, so HE is the one who gets scared and causes a big deal

aaahw 18(I want to point out that the main room of the house, which not common at all in the 70s, is veiled with venetian blinds, which always represent compromised and conflicted vision, a vision that knows nothing, and cannot seem to see what is what, really, but I have written about venetian blinds in the context of Film noir and will not pause for it here). There is a certain devilish pleasure when an urban legend becomes real, and the space in which one lives is actually activated by a horror, and you are made afraid by it. This is conveyed by the silly look of joy on Loomis’ face when he scares away some kids from the Myers house, to make sure they did not enter. He is smiling not because he prevented them from entering, but because he made their bogeyman fears as applied to that space come alive in the form of his voice in the bushes

aaahw 19(I feel like I am saying that this play with alibi formation is the equivalent of Burkert calls the “comedy of innocence” or who me? bullshit that must set the anything-can-happen tone of sacrifice in all ancient culture). So, therefore, the way in which the movie wobbles between the MM POV and the Tommy POV is quite good, and cause for much haunting, as it breaks down the space between things into unreal and even supernatural space. Certainly, if this is valid, the notion that other people’s houses on a block like that seemed like other planets to kids who grew up in them (and this parallels my experience in my childhood, which was the only real life I ever lived) is one of the movie’s most tour de force secret logics.

Then then next POV layered in over is, of course, Laurie POV. Laurie is a bookworm, she is popular and cool enough to hang with the cool girls, but she does not behave like them, is a good student, and very behind the times when it comes to sex, there is no doubt that on Halloween night she is a virgin, and therefore the movie is also about a sacrificial virgin event. Her POV, perhaps because of her inexperience in sex, or being behind the times in it, means that she too sees the bogeyman, as she does in the sequence with the bush

aaahw 20of course, this accounts for some of the movie’s most famous shots. When she sees MM in the bedsheets out back, then disappear, she freaks, and is now truly spooked

aaahw 0we should also notice that she has a James Ensor poster on her wall, of a man, seeking protection, but nervous enough to be open to the macabre, maybe a little depressed

aaahw 21this then makes her all filled with the willies, and afraid too of the phone, then no one is on the other end (today people simply do not answer, this was possibly even before message machines)

aaahw 22When Annie blames her for not going dating, the look on her face is one of hardly making it, in teenage life

aaahw 23she is responsible, when she is confronted by Tommy’s POV, at the venetian blinds, she has to talk it down (the movie traffics in a very weird notion of Halloween, that it was on that night that the bogeyman came out to get you, and I suppose for that reason trick or treat would ward him off).

aaahw 24but later, at the blinds, playing their part as view-confusers quite well here, as veils that question what one sees through them, she gazes on the house opposite and for her it is place where both of her girlfriends are getting well and truly fucked tonight, “everybody is having a good time” she rather awkwardly says, and she is not, so it is view of alienation. She is distanced from the house in a way greater than Annie or the others

aaahw 25So, tightly knit in the core of the movie, and at the core of the visuality of the initiatory phases leading up to the crisis of the killing sequences, the winding path, as it were, before the sacrifice, as we are lead into the sacred space, and the kills, it is tightly knit overlapping confabulation of the POVs of Michael Myers, Tommy, and Laurie, with each loping in over the other one as we movie along. It creates a strange sense of reality as entirely porous and permeable, as space as open ended, and of the world that night as entirely vulnerable (themes that Loomis them looms in on us constantly).

But then the movie steps aside, as it were, and lets us, the viewer, participate in the POV of all involved, and sometimes it also steps beyond the plausible diegetic POV inside the movie, to let us as watchers of the movie see things that are perceptually ambiguous, and most of these having to do with sightings of Michael Myers. His sighting is in fact based on a deep legacy of the face at the window scares that go way back to the 1920s, and to silent movies. These play out, visually, the best during the circuitous route by which, by way of sex, or rather almost-sex of seeing her backside naked, MM latches on to his first kill, Annie, and thus shadows her every action. Here we see him as a possible sighting of face easily alibi’d by moonlight and the curtain

aaahw 27then when she is locked in, and she looks out, now around on the other side of the laundry shack, he has run around to the far side, and looks back at her again from in another window, again in alibi formation ambiguity

aaahw 28he is even at the backdoor of the house, left open, because she is, in heat, so careless (and worse, he hears her be most explicit in matters of sex, obviously chastising him down, when he hears she is naked, she is like is that all you think about, but then she retorts with a flat out invitation to do it, this is how girls fought off the pervs in 1978).

aaahw 29and then she calls Laurie for her to take Lindsay, so she can run over to Paul’s for some quick sex, deciding not even to bother to get dressed, as it must be sexy to know a girl is coming to you without her clothes on, but this is a weird shot, it is an all but unseen inference of Forbidden planet, her shirted body reaching, and a picture over the mantel (I will get to this), she is now on the move, making a manipulative stratagem to make her evening work out sans cockblocking even as she is babysitting

aaahw 30and as part of this stratagem we see her step over the barriers of MM POV space and Tommy POV space and enter into both, as she is now taking Lindsay to another planet, and she is as spacey as a being on that planet doing so, and then she is walking right into MM POV space, as we saw earlier when she walked through Tommy’s and MM’s space going back to get her keys

aaahw 32and, of course, it is the getting of the keys, between trying to car door earlier, and then going back and coming back to it a second time, that she makes her fatal mistake and is killed, noticing that the car interior is now all fogged up, but being so spaced out and preoccupied in her little love gambit that she did not know

aaahw 33All of this allows us to walk into the scenes, as it were, or look over the shoulders of the embedded POVs in the movie, to experience the movie as a movie, as defined by Belting as a dream, but, then, there is an odd posture to our POV in this outing, and this brings us to the wider circles of POV that encompass the proceedings.

One thing that is so archetypal, and yet little noticed, is that the events of Halloween night take place in that classic place of teenage life in the 60s and 70s, teens trying to have sex in houses that are vacated by parents, in the context of babysitting. Going over to visit a girl babysitting, and then, when the kid is put down, try to have sex with her, is one of the staple experiences in teenage life in the era ( I have no idea if this is still done, I did it to make out in the eighth grade). What this means is that no one is on home ground. That is, this is an away game. All the spaces are unfamiliar, and not theirs, or empty, they don’t care that much about the space, are briefly, and noncommittally occupying it, and everything is slip sliding away. It is to convey this feeling, that Carpenter puts us through the intricacies of Annie’s first killing, and why he plays this game of haunting between houses, and why there is the play in the wobble space between bogeyman belief and sightings of MM. But this is also conveyed by the décor of the house, most of which is darkened, and most of which, most of the time, is emptied out. This is conveyed by the décor, which is strangely not there. Right from the beginning, in Laurie’s job house, we catch a glimpse of a black panther sculpture, which embodies both her and them pacing the room, and the menace of the night pacing around them

aaahw 34like most houses back then, there are formal areas not used in normal, everyday life, and their occupation of the living room is seen as an allowed concession due to the nature of the job. There is also a large floral picture over the mantel, floral in this context meaning that the house is empty of meaning, and full of vulnerability and weakness, a depleted place (this goes way back in horror)

aaahw 35the curtains are ugly, but able to be used as people hiders, so creating a zone of uncertainly between in and out (just like in silent movies)

aaahw 36when Laurie talks down the bogeyman, though, the black panther is there again, to belie her words, with fears revived in spite of them

aaahw 37we only see that above the mantel in Lindsay’s dark viewing chamber is another odd landscape painting

aaahw 39when she brings Lindsay over, Tommy answers the door, a rather oddly abrupt front door, with a black panther, and then a landscape painting spelling trouble coming from without, and giving it room to roam in, right by the door, which is very odd, no vestibule

aaahw 40and when Annie makes her appearance, she does so in the frame of the landscape, or seascape, and with a blanket over her, then the shirt, then nothing, in a floozy way, shushing everything every which way, in a way that is constantly tempting us with spyings on body parts below, especially her black panther panting below (the tail in this shot is actually affixed to the back of her arsenalled body)

aaahw 41then when they talk she stands over by the adventure painting while Laurie stands over by the nothing doing depleted life painting, at the doorway to the living room

aaahw 42and then the shot returns the kids to playdate watching, which means things will calm down, but, then, there is not only a floral over the mantel, but a fruited still life, watermelon, coming in from the dining room, meaning that the taste in this house is seriously depleted, and no one here is safe, all is draining away

aaahw 43it is only when Annie goes back to get the keys in the house, after she has first violated her death chamber, that we get a decent glimpse at the picture over the mantel in Lindsay’s house

aaahw 44it is hard to make out

aaahw 45It could be a Turneresque storm scene, or a pure abstraction, or an abstracted landscape. The important thing in this shot is that it has turned on, while the TV, the conveyer of scares, has turned off. Then we get even a better view of it when Bob and Soles come by for sex, they get right down to it, the picture lit in the moonlight

aaahw 46which in this view does not reveal its meaning either, except as a projected upon art version of the lighting off the moonlit windows back at the house, Laurie ceremonially brings the completed pumpkin to its assigned place (again, makes no sense, its late on Trick or Treat night, and everything is over with, really, so this is quite late in the day), but she parades her apotropaic charm against the bogeyman across the watermelon picture in the living room meaning that this is a kind of food offering to keep him at bay.

aaahw 49in this procession, even the tv plays its part as all the art is offered up, against its nature, because it all means it is a depleted place, to ward off evil

aaahw 50then they cant think of anything else to do, so go back to watching the tv, so Laurie now joins in this shot which seemed earlier to promise everything will calm down, and be as boring and as empty as life in that house usually is

aaahw 51but back in the house, after a call, Soles discovers that they are alone, and will be alone, and that Lindsay is over at the other house, and so will not cockblock them, so it is time to unblock the cock, and to do so they fold up camp downstairs on the couch, to retreat to the bedroom to have sex. During this quite decamp her leaning over again profiles the wildness of this painting over the mantel in that house with her nature, suggesting it, with a Turner reference too inferred, as possibly another sacrifical maiden picture, it is ambiguous

aaahw 52then Bob ends up crucified for his rude act of having sex in some one else’s bed in someone else’s house

aaahw 53and Soles is haunted by the feints of curtain sightings of the white mask now made literal, the ghost at the door

aaahw 55then she thinks it’s Bob and is for that mistake killed. This is just a note inside a note to say, then, that the décor of the houses is also remarkably ritualistic, and unreal, when you think of it (but we don’t), it is knocked down to properties which bespeak the emptiness and sliding-signifier open-ended nature of the spaces as being Potemkin villages as it were in appearing to offer the security of home, but it is not home, and does not offer that security. The momentum of this POV is increasingly narrowed down and ritualized, as soon after MM POV makes a ritual display of the dead girl laid out on the bed with the tombstone of his mother above her, and then in Laurie’s fight against him, as I have noted before, the fact that she was actually able to contend against him is dreamlike, and in keeping with the dream notion that, in dreams, bogeymen can indeed be wished away, leaving all this with his disappearance at the end, and Loomis asserting, “as a matter of fact that was the bogeyman,” and all of that final interplay set up in its intimacy and magic by the interlocking POVs before that.

Finally, then, the widest circle of POV is the Mannerbund haunting of the town of Haddonfield as a whole. And this too, Carpenter thought of, both in the wonderfully weird haunting by car earlier, where nature is too lush, and still too green for Halloween afternoon, menaced by a car that to them suddenly looks suspicious (or she saw it earlier from her classrom window)

aaahw 56then there are walkaway shots that sometimes are given to MM POV but sometimes tossed back to us, or even back behind us to just the POV of the impassive and uncaring world

aaahw 57then Carpenter even caught on, relevant to the later theme of the interplanetary scale of neighborhoods like this, so much apparent neighborliness, and then, it not being that way, he made use of bushes as feints of sighting and not, then fed that back through the walkaway shots, very nicely done

aaahw 58this is the broadest POV of the movie, and I am tempted to give it to Loomis’s view of the world, as pure evil come to the town, a supernatural or extraterrestial force, outside even of our POV, fate, destiny, chance, which makes of us all roadkill, or not, and this POV-beyond I represent by way of the removed tombstone of MM’s mother

aaahw 59and Loomis’ classic remark, “He’s come home”. When regular movie goers dispute over this or that version of a movie, or which movie is better, or not, or scarier, they usually do so over explict and plot-related reasons, or based on screams, not a deeper overall sense of a fear inducement. But when I look at a movie, I watch how well it instrumentalizes the horror, and in this classic Carpenter not only instrumentalized the haunting of the town in general, but he created between several characters and MM and then the supernatural bogeyman as seen by a child a push-pull of an elaborate byplay in which by a series of alibi shots and sighting shots, suspense was built up into fear, to create a wonderfully tense movie. Adhering closely to the instrumentalization of devices themselves—cars, houses, yards, the like—rather than souping it up with action, also lends an entirely iconic, but which I really mean effigic, or herm-statue oriented solidity and classicness, deepness in simplicity, which gives great natural gravity to the proceedings, as one of the things that is most surprising about Halloween is that, for all its overlooked artifice and questions, it is most effective because it seems real.

Lin May Saeed and the possibility of the genre votive relief in contemporary art, with mention of The Devil’s Tree (2018).

Rev., Jul 27, 2018.

FUSION byline. Fusion byline covers connections noted by author between elements in contemporary art and popular culture, with a focus on horror movies. Connections made are those of the author, and not the artist. As I did not see these exhibitions in person, this is a musing only, not a review.

The popularity and enduring potency of the decorative sarcophagus as a funerary receptacle must lie partly in the nature of relief sculpture as a medium, which can create three-dimensional forms that assert corporeal presence while simultaneously confining them within a series of shallow planes that must ultimately be experienced as a two-dimensional image. Platt, Facing the Gods. P 377.

In a previous note, I guessed that the reasons the Caruso votive shrines, consisting of perfect little models of the Caruso Cave, were not to thank the nymphs for healing a particular body part, but to thank them for accommodating them overnight, presuming the visit was an incubation. But, then, since the incubation inevitably, as to be expected, had some moments that might’ve taken them out of their comfort zone, and maybe some of it was experienced in dream as a kind of nightmare, the votives were also made in a state of mind of vigiligogic sleep drunkenness in which, by way of a tingling paralysis of body, the onset of a migraine-like dysmetropsia, the hourglass-flip of one’s sight, in the vertigo, so that one sees things upclose as far away and small, thus micropsia, and then in that narrow iris can see through the veil between dream and waking, and recreate the dream in all its fullness. From this point of view, the votives are “works of art” completed by artisans assisting clients as they describe what they went through, and the reason they are small, and very accurate, is that they are meant to be distancing devices as well as thanking devices, to resolve any fear engendered by the experience in playful remembrance, to as it were close off and ward off any chance of that energy coming out into their lives further. That is, this sort of votive, which I guess I have to differentiate from simple anatomical votives, by calling them genre votives, are self-reflective works of minor art that try to recreate by reportage the particular donor’s experience with the god, including a clear documentary description of who he or she saw, or what they did, then it is all small to push it back and distance one from it, but, then, accurate and detailed to resolve in waking life to a playful state in which one is not traumatized but enlivened by the experience. Thus, they are reportage, documentation, algamata (rendering the god as much as one saw of him or her, pleasing to them), apotropaic, and cultish, but in miniature. They as a result consists of a suitcase or miniature toolkit consisting of a number of agentic responses that swirl around the experience of an epiphany. For this, I would also call this specific type of reportage-based document a post-epiphany type of votive.

What this also means is, in relation to other art, such genre votives are both more immediately related to the cult, in so far as they describe one’s encounter, just as they distance, and serve in a subordinate role to circle the wagon and ward off evil from it. Platt shows an astonishing votive from the Asclepius sanctuary in Athens, fourth century BC

aaalm 1in it, not only does the client instruct the artist to make a full document of all the gods or personages he or she saw in incubation dreams, but they record the custodian and guardian figures, and then they give a very good picture of the holy of holies, and proof that they saw and had an epiphany with Asclepius, but, that, they are not quite clear about it, he was in a large temple enclosure, behind some pillars (the fact that the god is here represented as behind a pillar is awesomely human), and kind of hidden half seen up in the dim darkness. But I did see his robes, just as I saw a lot of robes, and the whole experience in waking memory kind of resolves into a memory of the levels of entablature and fluting of the pillars, and all the folds of the robes, that is, this memory of a dream characterizes the approach to the sacred zone as entoptic, and then the sacred zone is depicted as in front a glass onion formation of things, a chair, a twisted serpent rod, a man, perhaps the medium who will interpret what the god says

aaalm 2and then, behind him, the god himself, here as the lattice-form behind the pillars, the sighting of which, that is, looking up under the pillars into his space, to see his face, causing vertigo and deep sleep

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It is such a cool work of art. Literally, a dream report, as at a doctor’s office, rendered carefully, as to the stages of approach in the epiphany, relative to waking. After it then satisfied the client as an accurate description, without superstition, that is, claiming too much, and that it was true, thus algamata, pleasing to Asclepius, then the client cast it away by leaving it at the outer edges of the shrine, to keep it there, praying for him, but also to leave it there, in miniature, to keep any of the experience of the encounter from splashing back on them in life. If it be placed at the foot of the chair where the medium sits in the cave, as shown in a terrific Caruso votive by Larson, then it serves as well an alexikakic function to ward off any splash back from the glory and horror of an epiphany of the gods.

And then Platt also demonstrates that such genre votives differ as to their record of the appearance of the god, depending upon the overall record of how it is expected that god shows itself, thus a Hecate is shown lightly etched behind a scene of worship before her that the client staged, and now remembers, in the shrine. Thus, in addition to its bowling pin format, to give entoptic authenticity to the remembrance of a dream or vision, and it careful division of dream spaces, from light to deeper, with the epiphany being the seeing of the god, that is, deep REM state, it is also true that the very carving, or art, of the genre votive is important, as depending on which kind of relief is used to copy “that’s it!” in terms of a record of how the person saw the god, there is also a differentiation in that. Thus, I place the rendering of the votive in the prothyriac space in front of the cave or shrine, and taking place in the waking space after one has woken up from and left the incubation. It is a telling one’s dream therapy. But, then, once made I think it is reintroduced to the alexikakis edge as one moves from the outer zones to the holy of holies zone of the cave or shrine, and is placed there to ward off any harm that might come to the devotant approaching the god, but also buoy up their spirits by reporting that it can be done, you can see the gods. Thus, it has a powerful agentic responsibility, both as an intercessional guide, and as an apotropaic object. And it is this compound agency that perhaps accounts for the fact that in the previously mentioned votive, there is also, as there will be on coffins, carving on the side, or end. That is, as an object, the genre votive is about as big as a suitcase, it has a certain overall left of relief, though no more than 18 inches. But, that, then creates, as with a book, a binding space, which provides another opportunity to beef up the security by showing both a Hecatean guardian goddess, to stop any interfering evil coming into the space beyond there, and, often place near the former in a Greek home, the herm, an actual herm, marking clearly the boundary between profane space, and sacred space, outside the cave, and inside, in incubation, and woken up from it.

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this means that the genre votive relief really is a grabbag suitcase consisting, as you turn it, almost like a rubik’s cube, five or six shifting agencies, depending up which element of it you focus on. It almost could serve as a mediumistic device, if brought home (and I do not know if these were brought home, I would certainly have misgivings of saving by voice instructed the cave artist, the equivalent to a chalk artist in Central Park, leaving it there, Id want to bring it home), it serves as a kind of 3D ouija board, the manipulation of which, in terms of touching or concentrating on this or that part, of turning it over and around in one’s hand, that one can call up a memory, or keep it off, but, in any case, remain connected to one’s incubative epiphany as a key moment in one’s life.

Once again, in this time, I think of Van Heemskerk’s Luke Painting the virgin, is it not also a genre votive relief version of the scene?

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it is clear to me, being a good Romanist, that VH saw a genre relief votive, and thought that would be a good model to create an involving work of art, about a work of magic art. Thus, the easel is replaced by a herm, Luke sits on a chair with the rape of Europa relief rereading the nature of this theft of supernatural beauty to natural art, the herm separates profane from sacred space, the fire indicates that the image might come to Luke only by way of a miracle zapping that is not unlike what four hundred years later would be called photography, then, she is sitting on a gorgon chair, to ward off any evil, and to fend off all the oncomers who want to get too close to her baby. It is also true, it is said that the horizontal canvas that Luke worked on was really a miraculous surface, a dinner table that Jesus, as a carpenter, actually made, so the implication would be it is magic, and might take images into it in an acheiropopetic way, it is thus very much the kind of graded recollection of an encounter with the divine, as reported by Luke to VH, for him to render the genre votive in a manner that, with herm and gorgon/hecatean, wards off evil, also separates with herm sacred from profane space, inferring the whole thing is a vision, and that Mary might be a dream, and then Luke’s rendering it in paint a profanation underscored by the rape of europa. It has the same dream structure, in a truly odd, but very accurate genre relief style painting.

But, now, the interesting thing is that, in contemporary art, as I continue to try to pry art loose from the headlock of formalism, I seek out space between works of art that have a dynamic agency. I like picture play, and I like it when gradation of the charge or purpose or meaning of a work of art, vis a vis other works of art in the exhibition, have a differentiated posture, and an agentic punch, as activated, in terms of where it is placed, in the gallery. In that way, if this space is woken up with agency, then walking through a gallery installation is like experiencing incubation dreams in a temple or a shrine.

And I do find these vibes in the work of Lin May Saeed, a German-Arab artist who has impressed me by shout out a lot in the past three years. The main feature of this approach is to deconstruct the fixed formalist space of just, I am in a gallery, I walk from work to work, looking, face to face, at a work of art, then move on, to an agentic array where not only the nature but the purpose of the art in terms of working its meaning into you, changes every step you take in the gallery. And what I like about Saeed’s work is that there is clearly a picture play going on here

aaalm 6moreover, as she works in a common material, she can go from high power cult image to lowly votive, quickly, along a continuum, and when I see the carved reliefs, which various levels of relief, like on the one to the right above, it reminds me, exactly, of the genre votives that Greeks once left at shrines or caves to leave a record of their experience. In the above set up, rhymed with the above genre votive, from the sanctuary of Asclepius, it is clear that the black drawing is the cult piece, with some deep sense of it being closest to what LMS wants to get at. But then, it is copied, at a distance, in the gallery, re-presenting the image in a more approachable way, almost as if this might be a votive left from a previous visitor, to record in the past tense an encounter with that form, relative to reporting on one’s reaction to the black drawing. And, then, by this model, the gener votive piece would be the farthest out from the cult image, not intercessionary, but votive, left in a prothyriac posture nearer the door. And the amazing thing to me is, LMS seems to be describing the encounter with art in a figurative-allegorical way (which is another way of doing it), and it is taking place in a cave

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this, of course, echoes on the Caruso cave genre votives, and, thus, they might well serve as well as, as I mapped out in a previous note, a dream votive, recording a dream, and one seen by way of the eldritch nexus as described earlier. What this also means is that while some of her works are meant to be viewed woke, she just as quickly shiffts to the dreamy recollection thereof in the genre votives. She also understands that this sort of work of art is a suitcase-to-unpack, and can host several agencies, expressed by variation in the level of the relief, from low to high. I do not know what this depicts, but it loks like two women, tourists? This a selfie? Coming out of a cave, then the one with the red hat points out something to the one with the blue hair, and the whole simple sketch of it keeps that moment

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the previous was at a show she did at Lulu, in 2017 I think. Her show in 2016 at Krupp was more about animal species. But, here too, a simple manipulable material, is made use of as if a votive carver working for the public coming out of a shrine or cave, to tell the stories of encounters.

aaalm 9 (2)here, there is a painting of the animals, which, one assumes, is the fullest, most formal, cult image of the issue, if it is about worship of a species on the verge of extinction. But, then, in as rough and knockddown manner as a pinata, she presents a 3D votive image of the animal, then leaves it on a crate, as if waiting to be shipped somewhere. I could read this as a creation of the moment of reflecting on what the cult experience was like, and if it helped to make a totem of the black panther, to encourage one to act on its behalf. This also reminded me in its knockdown, limited exposition (when you are describing dreams, best to limit craft entirely to the level of one’s remembrance, even if sketchy) of such things in the tomb of King Tut, which were not placed there in a formal way, but just tossed in, but, still, for that, had magic function.

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Of course, circling back to my previous engagement with the tomb space, care of my interest in the flying sacred beds of the night sky gods

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Then, from the other angle, it exists almost as a model used by light and shadow as the tracing model for a drawing of it on the wall. This too is a relationship between picture and sculpture, it is a kind of picture play. In this set up, if the painting, swinging round the other side, is the innermost opisthodomic prototype form, then the wall drawing in its simplicity is more like a ‘kilroy was here” territorial marker indicating that the panther-drawing people live past this point, or inhabited this part of the cave, and drew simple images of their totem protectors, to ward off attack. And then that simple territorial or herm aspect, combined with an element of herm-based apotropaia, relates back to the black panther being shipped, as the everyday manifestation of it, the ensign of epistatic presence, related to, but drawn out from the cult image, to then leave the central image to represent a more pinata form to be used in major ceremonies, on special days. Thus, routine apotropaic-hermic marking, and storage for cult use in cult events.

aaalm 12and then, having set up the core spatial arrangements, one can scatter on the perimeters palimpsestic evidence of other presences in the area, graffitos or mere scratches.

aaalm 13In this case, then, a small black painting above, just reinforces as another votive, not a cult image, entry into the zone, then, further along, same material, same throwaway simplicity, same opportunistic material culture, but a totally different style, reflecting either a different artist on site that day, or a work from a time of great age or another culture, when the control of the area was different

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and then, again, more votives, and each one, according to this model, is small scale, suitcase size, and, depending on the reportage of the experience of the client as they tell the story of their incubation and dream to the resident artist, him to then inscribe it, the agencies can be all mixed up, telling all sorts of different stories. But the key thing here is that this work of art exists in a supportive, reflective role, relative to the main event pieces, and in this way have a personal element that is highly appealing, relative to the other works.

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in this show LMS also created a large mural like work, as if the holy of holies for sure, and I do like this work by her, as microcosms of her spatial value system, full of agency

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but it remains her effortlessly scattered about genre votive relief works that are the most appealing

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and there it is. I might be, by formal similarity, be imposing a reading of the spatial dynamics of a LMS installation on the work, but it is more the vibe I get from art being created on several channels but in one easy workable material, which can move quickly from epic to intimate, and from grand formal sculpture to small genre votive, that I think that in her installations thus far there is a vibe of awake agentic space, with certain powers given to particular works in a distributed function, with one or two being cult pieces, a few being intercessionary, then lots being genre votive reliefs reflcting on the whole, all the latter with strong apotropaic impulse too.

Are LMS’s works of genre relief created in the eldritch zone as I have mapped it out in dream sequences in movies? I do not know. But it is true, that even in out of the way movies, when you get a dream sequence, something comes alive, there seems to be a common knowledge. For example, in The Devil’s Tree (2018), after visiting the tree, the visit entirely hypnagogic

aaalm 20then being told from a survivor mom, what happened to her daughter there, so this being basically a reflective flashback genre recreation of the scene, that is, a genre votive relief, also a looking through block of memory, to the thing itself

aaalm 21that the woman who is investigating takes a shower, but this is not a normal shower, for this one does not let her get rid of the troubles of the day, she is thinking about it, and the spray and water, and perhaps even her nudity, having heard of the victim stripped naked, and, thus, body to body, thinking about how terrible that must’ve been

aaalm 22she is thinking of the horrible description told her by the mother

aaalm 23and as the hot water pours down on her, she cringes, thinking of the blood of a boyfriend spilling out all over her chest, and in a body that she imagines looks pretty much like her, so, she is relating, in sympathy, but also terror

aaalm 24and then she goes to bed. The implication here is that the shower has purified her, and she will sleep well, calmed down. But then she mistakenly brings a small black cat she’s found to bed with her, to cuddle with, not a good idea (in a horror movie)

aaalm 25and then she sleeps, but, then, is woken up, and she looks over at the clock

aaalm 26and the clock tells her the time, like it does to an insomniac

aaalm 27but, then, it turns out, she is not awake, but in a state of sleep drunkeness, or sleep paralysis, so she is startled, thinking she is awake, to see the clock change color, and then its hands move back in time

aaalm 28that backward movement of the hand represents the spiral down to dream. She is now at the top of the hourglass formation of nightmare and reexperience of it through dysmetropsia, and now she grabs on to lattice elements, and, oddly, they are presented, the ceiling fan, a classic example

aaalm 29then, rather nicely, a good moment in the movie, the age-old trope of the jiggling of the intruder with the doorknob is used both as a spiralling device increasing the fall into waking nightmare, but also might even mark the threshold when one, peering down into this, one passes from waking to reexperience of the nightmare, to see it all

aaalm 30and, then, another good moment, on the “other side,” for her mind has now crashed back down through the reality of space surrounding her waking paralysis, back into the ophthchthon seen nightmare as was that she has repressed for so long, and so the lamp serves as the relay point on this side of the divide, comparable to the ceiling fan on her side, a lovely effect, to use a lamp indicating inside intimate conversation, as a dream transition Romero

aaalm 31and then, just like in a genre votive relief, we pull back to an image of her, when a young girl, vis a vis the lamp, which was the instrument by which she got back into this dream place, but then also relative to the deeper cult of it, the TV cartoons

aaalm 32and the TV cartoons, like crude carving in genre votives indicate the limited nature or pull on reflection when facing up to repressed memories, it is a wild, foreign, scary, old-evil world

aaalm 33and then she remembers that she had been abused, and running from her father

aaalm 34which wakes her up, and makes her afraid that someone by contagion the contact with that tree and whatever dream power it has has rubbed off on her, so that she too is beginning to bring up her demons, which can cause trouble

aaalm 0 1indeed, then, in a scene we never see resolved relative to her, that is, she never finds out about it, but it is being sold here as happening parallel to her dream, as if she is, as the most recent visitor to the tree, the medium of its evil power. And so sleeping on a couch, under a picture of a rearing horse, perhaps wild bill, the girl who had been left mute and mentally impaired after the treatment described by the mother, wakes up

aaalm 37and as if a zombie, completing, because of the extent of her receptivity, the richochet effect of the vibe brought by contagion to her by the reporter, gets up to kill her mother

aaalm 38for her to end, in her starry jammies, repeating the pose of what should have been her death under that tree years ago

aaalm 39 so, it is not unlike, in sequence, the reporter reports of her experience, and it opens up a votive genre scene, seen by opthchthonic vision, or turned around telescope, characterized by epiphanic remembering of her abuse. But, then, tracking over that, by contagion, her dream now wakes up the other girl, who has darker trauma to work with, and so her genre votive scene reflection on the events at the tree entails murder-suicide. Then, even weirder, to wrap up this sequence, the man who has helped the reporter a record a dream, and he is back at the tree itself

aaalm 40and his bed is out by it, he is incubating at it, and he experiences this as being awake, with an enargeia derived from the waking start of the eldritch zone

aaalm 41and then he moves through the woods, but sees creepier things than in real life, like hanging animals, then finds the reporter lying on the ground just like the other, as if a preomonition that she is in danger of ending up there too.

aaalm 42and then he is just left with the tree, and begs off any further involvement, because he recognizes this as a psychological invasion by a contagious force related to the tree, so he begs off

aaalm 43anyways, then the movie backs out of the dreaming aspect of things, and moves on into paranormal investigation, less intersting. But, the point is, two dreams, with parallel sleepwalking event, all shown to be influenced by the cult site, the tree, two dreams, two recollections, two reflections on what the experience of the tree was like, each comparable in visual art to a genre votive relief, with its only recollective-reflective character and relief, emphasizing this or that differently. And while I am not at present ready to impose upon the placement of reflective peripheral agentic objects in a ritualized gallery space as taking place in the Strange Picture room nexus space of an eldritch effect 12-step nightmare recovery and return to see it through sequence, as in my articles on Cthulu Mansion, it would seem to me at present that one can only offset the power of formalist-materialist sense of space as production or business space by drifting off into a counterspace whereby arraying of agencies one can bring art and experience of art back to life, and ward off the evil of the exploitation world.


The other uncanny aspect of this screening of the Devil’s tree is, it echoes on my analysis of the three-pronged tree adorned with masks to serve in a plus-minus, offensive-defensive, Janus nature to control as well as call forth the demon in The Devonsville Terror (1983), but then I also saw this same pronged formation on the front lawn of the haunted house in Mother Krampus, and, then, here is an actual tree that first took root from a fallen comrade, then grew up sideways out of that, creating a built in blephobic face, undoubtedly the source of local legends that the devil lived in it

aaalm 44and as a sort of received, achieropoetic image, this visual is linked to a rich tradition of such demonic visuals going way back, recently I saw, for example, in Egbert van Heemskerk’s Luther in Hell.


Twin Peaks: The Return (2017), part 6, final: Destiny or Deus ex machina?

Rev., May 21, 2018.

Note: This is the sixth and final part of a six-part analysis of the dream structure of Twin Peaks: The Return (2017).

We now have brought “Dale Cooper” but actually Mr. C all the way back to Twin Peaks.

aatw 59and then they all greet him, joyously, as Dale Cooper, but, of course, he is a counterfeit

aatw 60there are few loose ends that might get in the way of the finale not working out so James and his English friend, who earlier, in a long interview, confessed to also having been visited or had an encounter with these forces, which left him with a powerful fist for punching, we have to get them out, then Chad has got to be put under control, and so it goes

aatw 61then, weirdly, it is almost as if everyone has to assemble in the office, to welcome back Cooper

aaatw 119but, then, the real Dale Cooper shows up, that is, formerly Dougie Jones half, and the room goes black, like in the woods when he was shot by Ray, Mr C is knocked back

aatw 63once again the supernatural Watchers or Homeless Men or Gas Station men come to tend to him and take him off

aatw 64and, then, once again, as before, in the woods, the Evil Bob bubble comes out of him, that entity of his alter ego, and floats menacingly in the office

aatw 65and then it would appear that the random English bloke has the fist to get this thing, so there is a fight

aatw 66and it shakes everything up

aatw 67it catches fire, then descends, apparently, depleted, into the floor, perhaps the Jowdah defeated

aatw 68at this point, everybody, including the Mitchums and Candy and, everyone, are like wtf

aatw 69but then Cooper removes the green ring, another green ring, I guess, from Mr C

aatw 70and Mr. C at last fades away into the carpet

aatw 71and the stone or gem that represents his “soul” or his motor drops down to the floor in the Red Curtained Chamber

aatw 72and that’s that, Dale Cooper is back, he explains that Briggs told him that Sheriff Truman would have the key, though I do not exactly see how that worked out, except by way of Hawk

aatw 73everything should be done (oh, I forgot to mention that it was Lucy who got to take the shot that prevented Mr C from killing the sheriff)

aatw 74Candie and the girls even serve sandwiches and drinks, it’s a party

aatw 76Cooper says farewell to some of those who helped him get back, including the lady without eyes

aatw 77she then dissolves, her face becomes as the room in the Red Curtained Chamber, poof, gone

aatw 78I suppose she, or someone, turns into this, meaning she was the nymphlike expression of the voice in the oracular tree?

aatw 79then, somehow, what appears to be the REAL Diane, not the counterfeit tulpa, is there, for a reunion

aatw 80all is good–in a Shakespearian play, this would be the end. All’s well that ends well. It has been a long return, the whole of the Return dealt with the return of Dale Cooper from 25 years of unjustified exile for having worked hard to solve a case he did not solve, and this involved an elaborate cosmology where his fate was ruled over by the zones outlying this world where robots and tulpas and doppelgangers are made to interfere with human life, sent here to corrupt mankind either by Judy, or by Bob (according to one interpretation), and in order to get back the half of him stuck on earth in the form of Mr C had to be compromised so they sent him back but because Mr C was already there his path was deflected into Dougie Jones so now we have to segway into those two bifurcated courses of his halves slowly coming together by a series of good fortune and hard criminality and finally when the coordinates are learned and the time 2:53 is used to get the information Mr C is brought in, and then brought down, and Dougie Jones survives to at last be undone, for then Cooper to reemerge through him to come up to Twin Peaks to clean up that last loose end and rid the world of Mr C so he can be entirely and completely himself in this world once again, even though, like a prisoner unjustly imprisoned a generation ago, he has lost a lot of time. One would not be faulted for thinking, that’s that, we’re done, to rest easy on those laurels.

But, there is a problem, and, I concede, I was so set on this previous reading of how things went up to just then that I was rather nonplussed when it…kept going. For the first bad sign was that all those scenes of reuniting and resolution were seen through a screen of a close up of DC’s face, what this means in movies is that it is all in his mind, or even memory

aatw 81it suggests, the doubleness of the above shot, that something is still not entirely put together. It also suggests that these scenes might be happening, but they are not doing it for DC, even when Candie comes to him, she has an odd look of something not being right, looking at him (remember, she is a bit of a chorus soothsayer)

aatw 82and, then, even worse, the fact that, like his first entry back into this realm by way of the floating castle, as told him by the blind nymph, and like the sheriff and Bobby and crew having to meet up with the nymph at 253 in the woods on a certain day, and as Mr C also found out the importance of 2:53, and even Cole figured it out, it is, again, at this moment, 2:53

aatw 83and, so, rather surprisingly, and a surprise to all involved, who now leave the stage of the series for good, he announces that he and Diane still have work to do. Really? What work could that be?

Well, they have to go off to a certain room in the Twin Peaks hotel, DC’s room, though that room now seems to be in a basement corridor, which is strange, maybe this is where the vibration heard by the boss and secretary was emitted from (and still notice this is all happening with a face over of DC)

aatw 84he opens the door, but it is NOT the room in the hotel

aatw 85the one armed man has come down into this realm, or into a crawlspace of this realm, a room off a basement, but now, he, not the sooty men, lead him up THOSE STAIRS, which we saw in Cole’s vision in Episode 11, and in Mr C’s visit to that phantom gas station transference to the entoptic dream state, and now we are back, and, where is it?

aatw 86this approach is much more vertiginous, and shaken

aatw 87and meeting up again with the bell-like container with the voice, so an oracle, of sorts, he is told that he can find judy, or jow dah, back at February 23, 1989

aatw 88and so he is sent back, right back into the original series

aatw 89now, at this point, the series runs back the entire scene when Laura runs off in the woods, into the Black Lodge down there, where she dies, no, this is not the series, this is in Fire Walk With Me, and I do not think DC was in that, in this scene, this is not the original actress (Sheryl Lee) portrayed as young, but simply a clip from the old show

aatw 90but then she screams when she sees DC

aatw 91we go right back to the origin of the whole mythos, the body of Laura Palmer in its plastic wrapping on the shore

aatw 92we relive the today of its finding, we even get Joan Chen back

aatw 93and the fisherman heads out, to find the body

aatw 94at this point, I was thinking, of course, DC might have come back together, but he could not let rest an unsolved case, nor could he have peace if he did not go back in time and erase the event which caused all the trouble and chaos in the world of Twin Peaks since, the original sin, as it were, of that mythological universe. This also is an old trope, to erase the original crime, deeply retrogressive, it does, in fact, seem like that is where this is going, but, I wonder, did it? We now get a somewhat less positive appraisal of all the time that was been “wasted” grieving this girl, as the mother, back in her house, in present time, one imagines, takes a knife at last to the picture of the saint she has idolized because killed all these years, an act of iconoclasm which I think she thinks will release her from the spell of it all (one good reading on it says that sitting around for years she had begun to harbor alibi theories whereby Laura seduced Leland, rather than being raped by Leland, or the more extreme idea that if Laura had never been born, she and Leland would still be together, and she not so lonely, both good points—and both, by the way, rationalizations of a dissociating sort which the same reader reads as evil, the influence of judy, splitting people off from loving)

aatw 95but then there is a broad sentient scream that wafts through the woods

aatw 96and now, in the final episode, we seem to have more reckoning to do, Mr. C is now getting his treatment up in the Red Curtained Chamber

aatw 97and he gives up his “soul”

aatw 98but then, wait a tick, so is DC as Dougie up there?

aatw 99and somehow, maybe the scriptwriters thought it was too cruel to let DC abandon his family as Dougie entirely so they took what was given up by Mr. C and put it back into Dougie and sent him back to earth in the form of a better Dougie to complete the circle, it was a twist rather too tight for me, I think I might have preferred this door left closed

aatw 100then the part of DC former Dougie still up in the Red Curtained room, this gets confusing, like I said, still has to get some instructions from the one-armed man

aatw 101and more insight from the tree, somehow the one armed man says he is the tree, and this is the story of the little girl who lived down the lane, or something like that

aatw 102then Laura shows up to whisper a few more things, tell him he’s still on earth

aatw 103she then once again screams off

aatw 104then when he wanders back through the curtain maze he as it were meets up in reverse with the first encounter with the curtains that Hawk had in the woods and this brings him back into the woods

aatw 105where he meets up with Diane again (or one of the Dianes)

aatw 106and now it seems they have a mission, to drive 430 miles to a spot

aatw 107and this entails them staying in a motel and they even make love

aatw 108but Diane’s troubles, it seems, will never end, as when she should be smiling, at orgasm, the tristus comes too soon

aatw 109and she grabs his face, which is a very odd way to express orgasmic excitement

aatw 110even to efface him, wondering, perhaps, who exactly he is

aatw 111and next morning he wakes up alone, with a Dear John note at the side of his bed, she is gone, but the note is from Linda to Richard

aatw 113now, I confess, I know Richard and Linda have been mentioned a few times, but not that much, in fact, they have played a rather minor part, and I do not understand where this has all gone at this point. Why would this not be Dale Cooper and be a guy named Richard? I don’t know. In any case, he continues on his mission, which is to find in this Texas town a woman, whom he thinks is Laura Palmer, but has another name, and after an incident at a coffee shop, and some information, he finds her, she happens to have a murdered body in the house, so is like, sure, if you want me to be her, I’ll be her, let’s go, to get out of town, so ANOTHER long cross country drive, from Texas to Twin Peaks

aatw 114and so they show up at Laura Palmer’s house, I guess, Richard is thinking, let’s reunite her with her family, but at the door is a stranger, and they do not know any LP, and when he asks who lived here before them, that is not the name either, so, he is deeply confused

aatw 115and has one last stumble, asking, What year is this?

aatw 116and she screams, so she IS Laura, because we have heard the screen-wiping screen before

aaatw 120there are a few ways to read these final passages. Maybe the DC who emerged from Dougie Jones was not the complete one either, and he made a mistake in the working out of the sequence of events he required to get back to being whole. Maybe the point of that would be that once as a person you are taken apart by the world, you can’t be put back together again. Another idea would be that it being 253 he has to pass over into still another world, in this universe, a part of the world we have not seen, and that part is not Twin Peaks America, but the America at large lying outside the twinfire world of Twin Peaks, that is, present America, where no one is who they once were, and all lives have moved on, and so on, and in that Richard and Linda are just two generic names like John and Jane Doe to speak to the smallness of life and average people who settle for being who they end up with and no one is the destiny of the meant to be it is all incidental and circumstantial and that’s that (all of this relating the dissociative impulse of Judy to my critique of exploitation and rationalization). Or one might flip that and maybe Lynch has swung it round back in time to a time BEFORE the events of the series occurred. Maybe the woman at the door of LP’s house is the person who lived in the house BEFORE when the Palmers moved in, or even before that, the house is the kind of house that I saw in my neigborhood when I lived in a similar house in the 1960s, the events of Twin Peaks did not happen til 1990, the heyday of the world of those houses was suburbia of the 1960s, they set down the template, and the lifestyle, and generations since are just living in reproductions of those lives, so maybe they overshot the mark on his return and went back to a preexistent state, even to 1956, and basically they got lost in time. I confess to being stumped, it does not seem like, in the logic of the telling, this last epilogue which casts doubt on all the resolving tropes of most dramas, where everything is wrapped up, is warranted by the text, or the momentum of the mis en scene. This “world” at the end, is a world of Twin Peaks which has imploded in a way, where does it exist?

In my way of thinking, systems theory wise, there is the elan, or center of life, where the mind is alive, one lives in the present, and things move and are creative, it is the fire of life, and it spirals up and down, this is where agency is, and where, in Twin Peaks The Return, the intuitive trails that are spread out through the 18 weeks are. Then, there are, if I make use of this same graph to map out the phases of hypnagogy, charactetrized by five stages, entoptic, glass onion, lattice, whoosh and deep REM dream sleep, as you spin down, hypnagogic states now preferred as more conducive to intuitive thinking, in an era where waking life is so polluted by rationalization (the Trojan Horse syndrome of social media where so many formerly personal communications have now been materialized and mediated into symbolic-mechamically-reproduced forms). But, then, on each level, there are also adjunct spaces, and I have worked out the horizontal splicings of that space too, but not here. But, then, back up in either vigilogogic space, waking but just waking, or in waking life, there are the workings of Civilization, many good, but many, in the proliferations of ways of deceit, by rationalization and exploitation, bad, I mapped this out at the beginning of this exegesis, as I thought that Lynch began things by commenting on how it was so diffuclt to make contact with any of the intuitive part of the universe, to get through the thicket of exploitation in modern culture, I repost that first graph here again

aaatw 118My guess then is that he ends as he begins, he laid out the plot of reunion, and the coming together of some serious doppelganger problems in Twin Peaks (and I have done this whole preliminary reading without wanting to delve back into the tv series, I have already written of an aspect of Fire Walks with Me), but then, at the end, pulls back again, to let us know that as we depart it, so Cooper will get stuck, it is hard to get to these places, thus, I have mapped out the dream space of Twin Peaks the Return. I have navigated its whooshes and its many zig zags in adjunct dream space, I have found that, in fact, Lynch’s imagination seems to dwell on the incoming all-over Ambient nature of fears, and for that does a lot of circling and whooshing, and so I have located the Red Curtained Chamber, not in a supernatural place, but in an Ambient zone located in the brain just outside the adjunct space of the entoptic level of hypnagogy, got to by that route; then I have located the scenarios presented in the broader cosmology as also mainly taking place in the Ambient Zone, the Floating Castle, where Cooper had to fall from the Red Curtained Chamber, floats by my reckoning over the Ambient sea, far out from mere hypnagogy, more toward the unconscious, and at the level of the lattice; and then down in deep REM dream space, that was mapped out in Episode Eight, the Ambient Sea is found to in fact be on the far sie of the Ambient Desert, this world is entered into by way of the Ambient Desert Gas Station, which will then now and then in compositing of dreaming be transferred back into the hypnagogic event zone, and then the village there too, and, surprisingly, the Theater Lighthouse structure where so much processing takes place, this is located, since it seems to invite in Sentient spinning forces, some of which are dangerous and scary, that is Judy or Bob, at the borderline between the Ambient and the Sentient. Again, hypnagogy talks about the nature of the various phases of light dreams, it characterizes the nature of those states of dreams. Ambients are those thought patterns in waking or dreaming states in which one feels things are circulating, but not in the way of the whoosh, downward, but by a sense that the world is encircling you and closing in on you, negatively, most commonly represented in movies by the shot of a circle of people standing over one looking down, that is, this is another class of fears, I think emit at present from the cingulate or the membrane that holds it; and then Sentients are those figures that are the equivilant of tinnitus in the brain and if they do get too intense they can and do cause people to go crazy, they spin wide but very hard in upon you, and their spin can also have bite, and kill, as in psalliction, and we did see, early on, in this whole saga, some tearing apart situations. The plot is moved forward in Twin Peaks the Return by waking people surrendering their certainty in the rational world, letting intuition guide them down into a vigilogogic zone thence to hypnagogy, where they open up locked mysteries. Those who got killed or caught got caught up in the rationalizations and exploitations of the cruel world, or by the action of Judy or Bob’s forces against them. Twin Peaks The Return is therefore an allegory of how to get back to dream, and wisdom, to follow one’s intuition, to put oneself back together in a way that does not let the world tear you apart. But, then, it also does end on a note of caution, that in the end even those who think they do it, can fail at it, and get lost in the struggle, it happens. So, at the end, after travelling through this universe, even DC gets caught up in the world, and the traps of rationalization and exploitation, until he does not know where he is

aatw 117Overall, when I watched Twin Peaks, the Return, I was still only working with a simple hypnagogic model. Only after November, 2017, but, I think, inspired by the spinnings in the scenarios, did I begin in earnest to explore in more detail the working of Ambient forces circling round the hypnagogic zones in the head, and, then, only quite recently, in 2018, did I also realize that horror movies were also spending a lot of time trying to visualize wide harsh spinning but invisibly destroying forces, and that these abstract, nonfigurative spinning forces can only be represented by a further outlying spin, the Sentients, and, it is true, there ARE Ambient and Sentient forces in the dream visualizations of Twin Peaks the Return. Does my reading have anything to do with what was on the mind of David Lynch when he thought all this through? I do not know, I have not looked into it, I have not even delved into the whole “solve the mystery”of it caper aspect of online reports and other theories, I have not linked this yet to the series, I am not, in that way, a groupie or in want of being an expert to “figure it all out,” all I wanted to record was a more extensive reading of what about the series so excited me, and that was its mastery of hypnagogic space, for I believe Lynch has a pagan dream theory imagination, its wisdom in positing that you can only get to the answers in life by way of intuion, not reason, all of its funny situational and circumstational and even genre scenes evoking America in chaos right now, but most of all because for 18 weeks its entirely absorbing realism, its warmth, its agency, describing a place where real people live life, however horrible, was very, very different from what we too often get from TV series, cardboard and poster people representing “issues”and doing all sorts of fantasy posturing to make the viewer only feel better, not more human. Twin Peaks: The Return exists, if nowhere else discernible, though I have tried to place it, on a whole other level.

John Latham’s SKOOB works, an approach suggested by a movie in passing, Still/Born (2018).

Rev., May 14, 2018

FUSION byline features explorations of similar trope development in contemporary art and movies.

I’ve made a strange discovery of a hypnagogic dysfunction, in my treatment of the nondescript movie Still/Born (2018). In this one, the mother has twins, but only one survives. For that, in grief, mixed with job, she keeps the dead second twin’s crib in the nursery, allowing it to become a doorway to let a haunting presence in. So, what is this?

Consider the baby monitor, which has been made use of as a supermedia almost since its inception, years ago (see Signs (2002)). It is placed in one room, and monitors the sounds coming from another room, which could not be heard by ear alone, if not for it. Thus, it creates a vis-a-vis situation between two rooms, it bifurcates the watching space. Then, for that, because of the limits of the technology, there is static, and it is in that static that she hears not one crying child, but two. So, by this it is assumed that in a device which exists to place two rooms either side of it, the static also divides the reception quality in two, and this splitting results in the haunting.

What this suggests is that the baby monitor is a glass onion formation, a filtering object designed to admit sentient or ambient spirits in to consciousness, but in such a way as to filter them as split, or twinned, that is, it creates twinfire as an existential state, bifurcating reality, much as a kaleidoscope in its early stages does. This splitting, however, I have to consider a dysfunction, as the glass onion itself would not get you there. It would just oscillate, in order to split and bifurcate, that would require a whoosh, thus, I would think that the splitting effect of this glass onion is the result of its bottom dropping out in an adjunct zone, and dropping down to the whoosh state there, this IS a dysfunction, a creator of paranoia.

aaas 1

this is a much more controlled, and paranoid, 2D space than the one in the mainstream, which drops down through the chandeliering effect of the lattice to a full on whoosh spiral. It is inductive, that is, it helps to induct the person into whatever paranoid state one is to end up in. And, then, the odd thing is, though here I will not mention that they branch out to visual forms of the baby monitor, the thing that really gets Mary in Still Born into it is books. And it is not just books. It is a book given to her after she makes a long ride, down a road threading the needle through two wildernesses

aaas 2She is in the woman’s haunted house, because she cannot get over it, under a strange lamp, bespeaking strange possibilities, she listens to a tape that sounds an awful lot like hers, that is, a prototype of which hers is the copy, validating the reality of what she think she heard, making it, by a single example, real

aaas 3and it is at this stage that a book comes into it, and we see Lamashtu, in this context, in the context of her moving down through the static of the baby monitor to a reality where those two voices are real a book serves as the bookending device to as it were pull the splitting together into a new obsessive whole, that is, it functions as an adjunct sort of lattice, to create and validate a new reality

aaas 4and by, now, a simple feedback loop, a loop of pointing, there being only ONE documentary source, in ONE binding, word and picture bind, to become a reality

aaas 5then, surprisingly, the woman allows her to take the book home with her. This is ill-advised as it has now become the lattice of binding that creates as real the twinspin reality of her identification. Now, each line is underlined and reinforces the reality, verifying the reality of it for her

aaas 6but what really struck me here was that she SPREAD OUT the books, as it to take them all in, and this is the version of the whoosh that occurs in this adjunct descent into paranoid twinfire. As she pans, the contagion spreads over all reality, as she pans, she goes down the rabbit hole, into the world of books

aaas 8and then she points at Lamashtu

aaas 9and then replays the baby monitor, and hears her, and puts two and two together, and that is what happens in the twinfire twinspin state

aaas 10and the spiral downward in goes on, more shuffling, and mind-boggling

aaas 11more immersive close-ups

aaas 12it is in this context, that, the book being now identified in this construction of the haunting with the vent over her bed from which she first heard noises, and feared them, this is now animated by the book, and in a dream she goes up to it, and it looks out at her with two eyes, so she has now by this means brought the demon in

aaas 13but there is one more thing that surprised me, and I thought to myself, in terms of a movie like this, not a good idea at all, she spreads them all out again. And they are more spread out than before, and the problem here is by this point a book is no longer a book but a bookending doorway so that every time in this haunted silo you open up a book you basically reinforce the bifurcate nature of the real to allow a demon to jump over from there to here and thus you open this reality up to another entry by an entity from that reality. So, she is allowing a lot of demons in. Even worse, book to book, she allows them to jump from one book to another, she is creating a veritable witches Sabbath of hysteria in her researching, the whoosh of this particular representation of a haunting

aaas 14and, here again, it all comes down to Lamashtu, named as the ultimate emissary of that world who has come in

aaas 15but the detail that really shocked me, and I was like, boy, that is a VERY BAD idea (again, thinking in terms of the haunting of the movie, not reality), is that she did this spread out, in the presence of, right in front of, the baby, him in his bassinet right there, almost letting the content of the book, the being in the book, the book’s reality of bifurcate haunting come in against him, terrible, terrible idea

aaas 16so, weirdly, this rendition of the classic research section of any horror movie, which is, most of the time, only about information, here takes on a formal or structural purpose, as it would seem that having started with the baby monitor, the haunting will now occur by pulling Sentient spirits down through it into another object equally able to split the atom of the real and let a ghost in, and that would be a book, which, then, becomes a bible, and, as such, validates the reality of the thing, and then for that spreads out and takes over as an authority creating reality that allows the demon in. As said

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so, this is of interest.

But, then, the fun thing here is, this month John Latham (d. 2006) is showing some of his Skoob paintings from the late 50s at Lisson. And while they seem illegible or simply expressionistic in the most jejune way from the point of few of painterly aesthetic formalism, if we read his backward spelling of the word Books as real, and take it at his word, then it is apparent that he is not using books, so much as books turned around, and become not mere object, but conveyors of content or spirit in a way reversed. Going back to before baby monitors, but still in consideration of the notion that some objects of a certain form can serve as filters to allow Sentients into conscious life in certain patterns or shapes, the book then could be seen as the primary mechanism by which meaning is conveyed into art in a bookended way, that is, split. Let’s see if this works out. First of all, it is apparent, he saw books as a formal device only, but which split space, that is, as bookending entities, regardless of book content

aaas 18then he saw that if they serve as a filter, or a “glass onion” form of introducing one to a different state of consciousness, they can also “go down” from that and not only take on a lattice form, as if a chandelier of books, but also populate the very air of the whoosh down into a dream state induced by the presence of books

aaas 19then back “up top” that is at the level of the symbolic interactionist, the glass onion, he saw an armful or handful of books as a conveyor of knowledge, but as a kind of device that served as a rotating crystal ball of sort into a world of abstraction

aaas 20then in spaces adjunct from that, he could just spin out other likesize objects which bespeak the “leading” nature of books as they carry you off into a labyrinth of suggestion and knowledge (I don’t know what this state is, but it is centripetal. I often get it when I run across a title of a movie, of a certain sort, then want to “run the table” on it and all movies like it, to just watch them all, to have that reality back again, this an adjunct movement, so, this too, he is trying to capture here the movement of mind by way of the bookending form of books)

aaas 21but then, as he dropped down to a lattice level, where the world of books bifurcates into a simple bookended reality, then the form that the books took were, amazingly, like fish tanks. Fish tanks, in movies, universally mean that one has dropped into a two-dimensional palliative state where everything is bifurcate and mirrored, and you are basically living the life of a fish tank fish. It is a very common symbol in horror movies, but in movies in general too. Since I do not want to claim that Latham was working with hypnagogic states, though it would be of interest to see if any of these ideas occurred to him as he was coming out of such states waking up in the morning, I will only at present say that he seeks to create vigilogogic states of simplified mindset where reality is bookended and, by that, one finds a way to some meaning. It is really rather remarkable that as part of this, he somehow dropped down to the level of lattice, and found the use of glass to frame books in a way that mimics the fish tank trope in movies, is quite amazing

aaas 22and then he sometimes spins out from that because just as one looks at fish in a fish tank and wonders at them and imputes into them an oceanic meaning and fantasy life when in fact they are stuck in a very limited terrain so too with books you can, sometimes, perusing a shelf, open a book, and feel a whole world open up, and you want to go there, and go into it, and you want to read the whole thing, but, then, you hold back, it does not happen, you put the book back down, and move on. This, I think, captures these situations in the mindset of the lattice derived from the bookending of reality

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in his imaginary abstract world and then this completes with the most abstract of these, showing the whole adjunct plain of the vigilogoic state of openness to all ideas and the whole of it when encountering perhaps a whole library and it all becomes as it were a tidal wave of Sentient imaginings, and a single book is the one you choose, realizing that there is really very, very little of the whole of it you can ever get to

aaas 24I know how Latham’s books have been reviewed: formally. Like Julien Schnabel’s plates, they are viewed as simply raw material that he expressionized and then put into paintings as a kind of collage element to create an overall Clyford Still like visual space, that was of interest. But, I believe that Latham was part of the geometry of fear generation, he included books because he had thought about their reality as physical objects vis a vis their content and how that basic bookending relationship changed with every content and element in the book, resulting in a book shelf full of books even in the abstract to emit a feeling in itself which participates in the gap between the content and the form and the whole of it as it relates to your capacity to take it all in, a kind of bookmania that I suffered from many times in my life, and still do, and still am, and I think Latham felt that, why cant I make art about all those feelings? are they not exactly parallel to the feelings that abstract artists are trying to evoke through paint alone in art? and isn’t the panoply of feelings that broad fields of bookended reality create filled with all sorts of fears too? I can make art out of that. I will not at present claim that Latham saw a book as a binding filter to allow entry into this world Sentient spirits; nor will I claim that a book in a work of art by him functions as it does when Mary comes across it after a pilgrimage and a haunting, for her to by its form conceived in paranoia make whatever is in it the prototype to her new haunted reality, and by her pointing and her connecting the dots making the book the bible of her state of being; I will not argue that Lathan saw books spread out as a kind of whoosh of spiral down into dream, though that seems arguable, and that this spreading of books formally also spread the contagion of their content out over all things–that is, I will NOT in this note secure the FUSION-oriented inference I am making, because I have not done the research, but, really, when John Latham called his books SKOOB, the fact that he put it backwards is a signal clue that at last I am on the right track when it comes to figuring out his work.