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

Redacted.

The face making

Redacted

The handmotion on the shaft

Redacted

The choking, more facemaking

redacted

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

aaalm 17 (2)

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.

Footnote

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.

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