Hereditary (2018) and the dream structure of a failed attempt to defeat evil, Part One.

Rev., Jan 12, 2018.

In writing of Hereditary (2018), there are various themes to be worked through. Yes, it is about witchcraft; yes, it tracks pretty closely over the plot of the Paranormal Activity movies, with WASPy grandma being the head of a coven who wants a woman’s child; yes, all that is true, and more, but I will start with an aspect of a movie that might well be its secret formula of success. Last summer, reading Jennifer Larson’s Greek Nymphs (2001), I asked, seeing pictures of the genre votives consisting of Caruso cave models (400 BC), why? why would people having made a night’s incubation in the cave not just leave a regular votive, but go to the trouble to have the artist at hand do a small scale dollhouse model of the cave? I was, for a time, nonplussed. The economy of exchange of a regular votive is well known: you have a disease, you go to a site of incubation either to have a dream or an epiphany contact with the god, then, you are cured, and if you are cured, you have the artist make a simple votive depicting the relevant body part and place it there, with testimony, to let others know this whole system works. It is a simple tit for tat

her 1that is, subject with diseased body part encounters the agentic array, with the focus on converting the diseased part into a wish, which is made to the cult god, for him to cure it; and if he does, you then have to have made a votive to make this result concrete, to thank him, and also to tell others, it works, it worked for me, it will work for you. This is the votive path to the god, an indirect epiphany.

But, at Caruso, and at present I assume there was incubation there, same thing, but a different structure.

her 2that is, incubation in a nymph cave is an “experience,” framed in whole by the cave itself as the embrasure of an entire agentic array. You have to, therefore, concern yourself with initiatory events or demands, then you can go in and make your wish, but then the encounter with the nymph or the god they serve might have a strong element of fear, meaning that some apotropaic impulses block things in your mind. At this point, contact is made with the god, an epiphany happens, as Platt defines it, and it is THIS, not an even tit-for-tat trade, but a whole experience is measured as to whether or not it was of any good to the self, and then you leave. It is at this point that you have a votive made to thank the nymphs, but it is a “genre votive”, a miniature cave model, which speaks to the whole experience, and since some aspects of the experience were scary, its miniature status, outside looking back in, as I have worked it out, serves as a precipitate of a push-pull dynamic, you thank them, but you also say no thanks to any more of that, that was enough; you are grateful, but you also say that some of it was a bit much, no more of that, so it forms a nexus.

her 3The complicating factor is the involvement of sleep and dream, things that the nymphs did to you in your sleep, whether or not you saw the god in your dreams, if you remember any of it, and, then, coming out. The uncertainty is involved in the passage of the experience of the array of agency from the vigilogogic, an altered state but still conscious, to sleep and dream, or unconscious. This means that the whole experience is bifurcated along the passage from waking to sleeping, so the array reforms itself in mirror form on the other side of the gap, and a model fashioned there will help you cope or deal with what happened that you can’t quite remember. Thus, a genre votive actually is rendered as the miniature cave in full so that it can as a model include the events but also acknowledge all that was forgot, say thank you for the good things recollected, but say no thank you to the possibly terrifying things you would rather do without. And that is why it is, in keeping with a mental characterization of the nexus space between vigil- and hypnagogy, the wobbly line between awakeness and sleep, this is a model of the gap

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what this nexus insertion into the model made me realize is that there is a twisting dynamic in the experience of dreaming, and as it relates to life, and this thus involves turning of the nexus, or flipping, to make things happen. And I also now also argue that it is  this little circulation, that, like a buffering-loading symbol on the computer, BUFFERS the experience and in that space creates a little wiggle room for reflection–which is the essence of a more mature, deep seated and thoughtful art. Indeed, I have argued that a kind of doubletalk is part of art, you are making your art, but always, at the same time, though never consciously or self-consciously, commenting on the making of your art, and the commentary often runs counter to the making, and it is the push-pull in that nexus that gives to the work a certain irreducible human quality that makes it art of the highest kind. Thus, reagency (or exoreagency, if advanced) is the element that suspends the art and makes it feel like an experience, and it is this quality that elevates art to a higher level. I have been looking for ways to articulate the little something in a space that makes something alive and agentic, as opposed to dead and rationalistic,  reflection might be the most basic one, below even the uncanny, or the frisson, or any of the other words I have used to characterize the special buzz of life of agency.

In addition to this, and following from this, I began to ferret out the turned-around telescope formation, and the triple loop spin of dysmetropsia by which nightmares can lead, in sleep, to seeing the truth, with what I call “ophthchthony”, but I also saw that this very structure is physicalized in good horror movies by a certain Nexus room, or Strange Picture Room, and that this room in effect becomes the clearing house of the haunting, as in Cthulhu Mansion (1992), and I also saw this form in Aline Bouvy’s installation (see previous posts).

So, it is almost fortunate that I was not able to see Hereditary last summer, because, seeing it at the same time I was trying to figure out why genre votives manifest as miniature models of caves at Caruso might’ve caused me to lose it. But, now, my memory is such that I didn’t even put two and two together until later in the movie. But, here, this is what I want to cover. I believe that the movie stepped up to the higher level of contemplation by creating a nexus structure in which to reflect upon its movement from dream into a nightmare new reality.

It starts early, as we find out that Annie makes her living as an artist in miniatures, or in making models for architectural firms. Her house is filled with her vision.

her 5but right away, the movie zeroes in on the model, to full screen, to create a visual equivalence between the house and the model.

her 6only, then, also from the get go, this is not the model, but Peter’s real room, Byrne walks through the door

her 7and the fact that at the funeral she has nothing nice to say about her mother, and is even confused as to who all the people at her funeral are, indicates right away, but I did not make the connection, that even if her art is autobiographical, it is also an escape hatch zone, where she buries her feelings about her real home life, because at life size, things are not going so well.

her 8And it is also to be pointed out, that, as in keeping with a visual trope going way back, now, more than 60 years, the dead space between her at the podium and the picture of her mother is marked as depleted and ersatz by a French impressionist painting of Paris

her 9and signifying that the daughter, Charlie, is even more out of it, more depleted, she stands at back, with an Utrillo, and, maybe, a witch

her 10and it is Charlie alone who sees the amulet on her grandmoher’s chest.

her 11and Charlie alone who sees strange gestures being made to her grandmother’s mouth (some argue that Charlie is possessed by Paimon at this point, I am not so sure).

her 12It is also by way of Charlie’s alienation from the family that we are first introduced to the odd treehouse right out front of the house

her 13And Charlie is sleeping in it, even in the ice cold, without heaters.

her 14back home, the home life-size begins to come apart, as Annie sees a strange graffito on the wallpaper in the corner of her daughter’s room, this is a clue that I suspected, seeing it, It turns out that, according to the internet, ‘Satony’ is a word used in a Ritual of Necromancy (communicating with the dead), ‘Zasas’ is a word used by famed British occultist Aleister Crowley when summoning a demon called Choronzon and ‘Liftoach Pandemonium’ is a combination of a Hebrew word meaning ‘open up’ and the familiar word pandemium, which in the context of Milton’s Paradise Lost referred to a place where Lucifer and the fallen exist.

her 15then she gets the usual Posthumous Surprise trope, that everything in her life was more than meets the eye (by Satony it seems that grandma even inducted her granddaughter into the cult without Annie knowing about it).

her 16then in her workroom, she sees her mother, but only in the dark (I forget what other movie made it so that you only saw the ghost in the dark)

her 17at that, in a move I simply associated on first viewing as an incidental “arty” element of the mis en scene, without even really thinking of the dollhouse trope, which is quite common, going way back, as a place to nexus the reality of things, we see the grandmother in a slightly less haunting, but still haunting form, but coming the other way at us, in a model so real is makes one think she might come back to life, in an autobiographical model that Annie made in love, but really to work out her negative feelings and push it all back into the past, the nexus emerges

her 18(in the more specific scene, after she sees the ghost, she sees the model

her 19the two portals suggest seeing through the darkness, that is, continuing nightmare

her 20the vignette seems to be set at a time when she was a girl, and lived there, the mother saying goodnight to her

her 21but she turns it to the wall, and leaves. And then the next time there is a nexus shift is when Peter and Charlie are at the party, and it is profiled and reflected upon by this shot of the grandmother in model form, in the door of a room in the model, but with light coming through her legs, even to her crotch, to as if make her haunt as on a gown prowl in the years of her youth

her 23at this point, Annie is well aware of the fact that there is something strange going on with all this

her 24The fact that Charlie can’t breathe, at the party, it is implied, by synchrony, that this is a spell

her 25this then leads to the accident which finally destroys their family life, and it is soon after, after the brutal way in which Peter let his mother discover the truth of the situation, by not dealing with it, just like she did not deal with it, we also see that Annie is much more likely than anyone else to use the in-between zone created between the house and Annie’s models, no doubt modelled by her model, she has rather selfishly created a grown up heated treehouse for herself for her to sleep in if she needs to get away from everyone in the family, now, she needs to get away, THIS is in fact the nexus room, comparable to the nexus room in Cthulhu Mansion (1992)

her 26she sleeps in grief, in the red light

her 27but, even before the accident, and the shock of it, extraordinarily, we find that the accident too was somehow planned by a controlling force, as the sigil of the cult is inscribed on the phone pole, in the middle, so this is also part of it

her 28later, after one of her first sleepwalk nightmares, in fact, sleep paralysis, we see in passing that there is also a “work of art” based on Annie’s profession, at the bottom of the stairs

her 29and there is a house on top of that, this is seen a few times, always to signify distance between family members (profiling the bannister slats house as prison trope)

her 30then see how much more crazy Annie is getting with the model making

her 31as she has made a model of the accident, including the head

her 32Steve says, Jesus, Annie, and walks out.

her 34and the magic words are even penciled in small on her exact replica models

her 35so, up until this point, we have had a constant oscillation between what Annie is experiencing and what she is thinking about it, reflecting on it. She is a woman who tends to express herself obtusely and silently in meticulous work, and not in the open, with people, so there is her problem, the building pressure. But what has been slowly happening is that the movie is sinking down into hypnagogy, the borders between wakefulness and dream are becoming, in their grief or their haunting, which is it? blurred. The emphasis on the wallpaper in the models tends to increasingly blur them with the dreams, entering in by way of the entoptic zone, so you don’t know first off which is which, the nexus is breaking, settling down into to become the lattice form in hypnagogy.

her 36the movie strangely makes use of the age old trope of the séance, though in a self-service form, to I suppose communicate in a traditional way that the cult is of old people. But the structural thing about her attempts to stage it at their house is that by this point she is thought to be mad by the family, Peter takes it as torture, and, even more disconcerting for that line between dream and reality, everything that happens in the sleep paralysis sleep walk she just had is recreated in the séance. Byrne protests because she is given a script that is in no known language, which gives another element of disorienting glossolalia to the proceedings, further spinning things into the daemonic. In this shot, in the nightmare, she is making Peter cry, a fire is coming up at her, and she is wet, that cannot only be sweat.

her 37In the séance, the flame shoots up, so there is the fire

her 38and Steve or Peter throws water on her, she is confused, but it breaks the spell, so there is a recursive, back and forth dynamic taking over the house, she is the medium for this.

her 39and then, with a phone call from her gallerist, whoosh, she breaks, it all crashes down

her 40as we see that her modelling has been increasingly contaminated by her dreams,

her 41that is, she is now documenting the dreams, which is mad.

her 42Charlie, as a spirit, then, returns to the house, to serve as the trouble-maker that will further close the gap. She comes in in one of the oldest tropes in horror, the Bounced In Ball, she is now here, causing trouble.

her 43this then causes a full on hag attack on Peter, trying to choke him, it might be Charlie, but he thinks it is Annie, his mother, so there is more of her being spun around in her crazy mood, we no longer know what’s what

her 44and this means that now things in the house are as in the models haunted through and through, and she finds out that she is now living in magic space, but in a magic space turned against her, where everything she does to try to fight the magic comes back at her, against herself, so the scene in the fireplace, when in fact she burns herself, not the book, this is a quite rare rendering of this state, the whoosh circulation, in fact, of the first dream state.

her 45but now she is aware that things are turned upside down, and so begins her second nightmare, she goes tries to find the woman who put her into a séance situation, realizing now that she had been duped, she is pictured, as, perfectly timed, all upside down

her 46at the bottom of this nightmare is the realization that all of this is black magic to, for some reason, try to get Peter. There is, in the woman’s rooms, a whole ritual set up, and picture voodoo, a spell attacking him

her 47now the witch calls to Peter at school, really a shocking coming out of the situation, trying to explicitly drive him crazy

her 48this second nightmare scenario starts with the full on assault of Peter (it did for half a second occur to me that the strange contortions of his body in the attack in class was also recursive, a revisiting upon him of the elements of the crash that killed Charlie)

her 49This nightmare section ends with a nicely staged, and perfectly placed, Research Section, also as a crisis eureka, telling her the truth, and this is what opens up her eyes to the nature of the threat, and to the fact that her mother was a witch, she reads this

her 50it lays out the whole thing, it opens her eyes, they are after Peter, to make him the host for Paimon

her 51she sees, in a very strange shot, the riches that will come to whomever enacts the conjuring required (this prefigures her in the attic in the last scene she is alive in)

her 52then, she sees down through, to the truth, is this ophthchthony? well, I am not 100 per cent certain. She is clearly awake, though maybe in a highly haunted and suggestive state, she might be hypnotized and made less clear in her rational judgements by all this, but she looks, with a close-up

her 53if the photo album shows her that this nice woman who was befriending her was part of it, a good friend of her mother, if this is the gaze of truth, it amuses me that it is paved in its descent in really terrible landscape pictures, symbolic of depleted spirituality

her 54another one

her 55another one, framing her taking a more leadership role, she wasn’t just a follower, but part of the leadership

her 56and then the splat of shock at the end of this is seeing by a picture that her mother was the queen of the coven, and she was lavished with riches, which probably accounts for their nice big house, and all of Annie’s life, which is why she felt so alienated from it all, this MIGHT by the truth shot

her 57but, more likely, this is it, that her mother, in order to accept all this power, had to sacrifice her family to the cult, and also, however, set aside one of them to become the next queen or king, so they focus on them at some meeting, this is all coming clean with the bargaining. I feel fairly certain THIS is the truth shot

her 58occulty placed, hidden in incidentality in the bottom of a box in the bottom of the movie, like this

her 59and, in close-up, I cannot help but see this as a descent through a funnel lined with landscape paintings bespeaking spiritual depletion, one

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and ending with the mother showing the nonsplat successful passage into dream, and then the “truth shot” at the bottom of this, the family shot, on the wall of a gathering, projected as a slide (this is very well done, even if unconsciously done).

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I, therefore, tentatively believe that this triple loop nightmare structure, if rendered a bit more discursively in the mis en scene of the movie rather than as simply a series of three nightmares experienced by a dreamer, can serve to give logical form to the haunting

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And in an effect little noted, a camera pan effect when the school calls to tell of Peter’s latest incident–which echoed on an event in my parenting life, so it was uncomfortable–the camera pans across the house, behind the walls, this is a shot that I saw in Get Out but prototypically in Frankenstein (1931), and it signifies that there is no safety anymore in the house, the horror resounds now through the whole of the house

her 66Now, all this is swell, and you stop now, and you have a solid, if somewhat formally conventional horror movie.

But, then, the movie has more in store for us, and this is where the last reel comes into play as one of the most unnerving bottom-drop-out sequences in recent, or perhaps even all horror. But, what is the structure? End of part one.

Marguerite Humeau, prehistoric caves, brains, dreams and a blackout: Birth Canal exhibition at the New Museum, 2018.

Rev., Dec 7, 2018.

Note: this Fusion analysis based on five stage dream model, entpotic, symbolic (glass onion); lattice (fixing); whoosh (spiral), and REM deep dream state. Interior to this, a model of the functionality of nightmares is made use of.

This past summer, I picked up a figure-eight movement in the depiction of nightmares in movies. I ended up analyzing the form which they take in the mis en scene and decided that there were two bounce outs from nightmare, once falling down the whoosh, then you bounce out, but are still in hypnagogy, so that is night terror; the second, however, a worse looking down in, and you bounce out to being awake, except you might be in sleep paralysis, or sleep drunkenness, a kind of aftereffect state of dream.

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but, then, things do not end there. The dreamer, usually a woman, goes back for a third time to try to see things and figure things out, but it was only in this third attempt that she was able to see down through as if a turned around telescope to see into the truth of REM dream, and open up the blockage that twice rebuffed her. I have seen this in Bethany (2017), and in Still/Born (2018), and in other movies, recently, too. And I call that ability to see through the darkness, ophthchthony,

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but, then, in other moments, I saw that one still might bounce out from that, but not vertically again, but just hit splat, the gate closed again, and you are either bounced off left, or bounced off right; and if that is the case, to the left you are in the light, or white-in, I call Opthonos (half of ophthchthony); while on the right, you are in the dark, in a black out state, I call  Chthonos (the other half). Both of these outside hypnagogy, in much more open-ended ambient psychological space

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in my treatment of the work of Aline Bouvy, recently (see post), I believe that I detected a bounce strategy, struggling with making sense of the white cube, which ended up her making a White-in, Ophthonos, in the gallery space. I also suspected that the black wall counterpart that concluded the exhibition at least recognized the counterbalancing opposite, Chthonos. But left it at that.

And, now, I see another installation, but, again, not so much an installation, as an incubation, in so far as it exists in the gallery like a dream, like something inside the head of the artist, given physical form. It exists in a hypnagogic realm, not anywhere near minimalist literal space, or even postmodern neominimalist cultural spin space. It is a dream and a nightmare, and this is the stupendous installation by a new favorite, Marguerite Humeau at The New Museum in New York (I am fairly certain that New York having its ingrained formalist-minimalist prejudices most of this is going to pass right over their heads). First of all, the space is black, or dark, with tiers irregularly arranged, that is, it is prime candidate to be termed a visualization of Chthonos, the ambient black out space outlying the last bounce out of Ophthchthony

hum 4but, then, the question is, this sort of exhibition space is not entirely unusual in natural history museums, so it has to have some sort of justfication as a physical expression in the space around the focused objects, as somehow the “space” of that object, as projected from its program and form. That is, these spaces are not random, but mean something. This one

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and this one

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And this one

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and this one

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and this one

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and then, since this is the work that captured me, to want to write about the show, the Venus of Kostenski, this one

hum 10that is, in all cases, the object had to have a hypnagogic quality, and then the space around it be an adjunct hypnagogic space, to “clear” it (that is, quartering the space to block out rationalization)

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I think this IS what is going on, as in this piece that I liked so much, it is sort of put up in the corner, but, then, at the edge of a precarious, and none too polished, edge

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but, then, what are they? And why do they look the way they do? In her statement, Humeau makes this clear

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what this means is, there is a process by which people by way of a shaman got to psychotropic experience, through eating the brains of certain animals. That would be an engine of inducement for hypnagogic effects, or visions. This means that this installation is not an installation, in a gallery, with art, entirely taking place in consciousness, or in a hypnagogic look from it either, but a dynamic agentic movement into altered state hypnagogy in ambient realms. The first element that separates the art from the everyday is: 1) shamanic women; 2)then,  they ingest animal brains; 3) then, they are in a trance; 4) then, there is, from various brains, paths to different trance states, and 5) that information is inscribed in what appear to be brains, or women, but are both, maps disguised as sculptures, recipes to get to different places in dream vision. That is, we are not in the objective, materialist, minimalist, literal world; we are in a dream world. This complicated, five-step entry into the material brings the entire exhibition out of the gallery into the hypnagogic states that I study in movies

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This leaves the states of particular trance to be studied. I would classify those as, if they are bright and colored, a dysfunction of the deep dream entry, and a splat out to Opthonos (the white-in). But, then, even more remarkably, it seems that they ate the brains of several animals, and maybe even in certain combinations and sequences, or “recipes,” and, somehow, that information had to be kept somewhere. And Humeau argues that that is what the Venuses were, physical-visual recipes, guides, to tell shamans which way to go, to get to a certain type of dream.

Now, to conform this to my way of thinking. I mentioned in my treatment of Cthulu Mansion (1992), that given the turned-around-telescope nature of Lovecraft’s original description of the Cthulhu and other monsters, it is possible that for him a monster was nothing else but the physical representation of a certain psychodynamic twist in the mind whilst dreaming, or in a state of terror, something like this

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that is, a “monster” is just a physicalization of one of my charts, a figuralization, for mneumonic purposes, of the dynamic agency of things moving about in one of my graphs. This is precisely what Humeau seems to be saying: each form of a Venus, with its various permutations, of a somewhat labial quality, is a visual recipe, which tells the shaman yet another way to get to the vision dream state.

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I subscribe to the school of thought that sees Venuses as instructive objects held in the circle of posession of women, and not eidols or goddesses in shrine sites. I was particularly charmed by a theory that floated around about 20 years ago which described them as models to help young woman know what to expect in the stages of pregnancy, scholarly articles which included POV views of female bodies looking down from above onto their growing bellies. While this theory had a bit of a problem of literalism, theories like it abide, and I tend to see the Venuses as instructive, agentic objects, not “works of art.” For that reason, I am more likely to right from the start not view Humeaus’ statues as modernist-like Brancusi variations in vulval form on ancient Venuses, that is, little statues of females (which they are, nonetheless); but as, in fact, the physical representation of the recipe, telling the person who looks at the thing, a shaman, what a certain animal brain associated with this form will lead to, in altered states mapped out on the form, or the path marked out like on a map, in terms of taking a psychotronic trip. For that reason, I tend to see these objects as “things” in the manner of the thing in the house of the movie Paganini Horror (1988), where an hourglass serves as some sort of conductor of the haunting of the place, this usually placed in a nexus room, where everthing turns

hum 17I will, however, place each one of her visual-recipe objects in the nexus itself, they are the equivalent of the “turned around microscope” effect, or the sleep paralysis effect, that, in passing from vigilogogy to hypnagogy, raise the possibilty of various sorts of visionary insight. Though I do not think the gallery as a whole is meant to be visualized as a nexus space, it is possible that each clearing of object and the cantilevered space about it is meant to be read that way. So, for example, this

hum 18would graph out, for instance (I am just improvng here),

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that is, its narrow head indicates lack of immersal in deep hypnagogy, its emphasis on bifurcated buttocks indicates that the sightline goes down through her spine to her buttocks, but, then, on those large cheeks, splats off to left and right into Ambient hypnagogic zones, with some push from an oversight derived from a splat out from the prominent shoulder blades. And so, this “recipe” calls for some brains, of particular animals, that bring one by way of vigilogogic entopty into hypnagogic entopty, but then to gently bounce out in kaleidoforms either side, to experience a light dream Ambient encounter of some sort.

By contrast, this much more intense and even labial form, with echoes of Judy Chicago’s literalism, but on the other side of the universe, this is a Venus carved in such a way as to offer a recipe for a much more powerful, and deep, path to a far more intense vision, resulting from an intenser animal brain effect.

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this sinks in much deeper, into the hypnagogic

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it posits that at the top there is a twist, like in a twisted neck, where the vigilogogic elements of the nexus overturns into a negated form in the hypnagogic, with this movement causing ripples out into adjunct space, but not quite to the Ambient; then, it keeps moving down to take up a place on the lattice, as a cavity of central concern, to then open up in a whoosh below, to slip into deep REM space. This, the above form, in its greater complexity, maps out as in a recipe that the animal brain associated with this object, whether by stone or material or whatever they associated with it, is a much more powerful brain eating experience, and results in a full on drop to a lattice, a dive by a whoosh through the spiral, down into, even, represented by labial form, the REM deep dream, where the vision will take place.

And, then, one by one, that’s what they are, that’s why they vary, there is no need for me to speculate on what each means, because I am just matching graphs with forms here in a random way, but the principle holds, each form is not so much a “form” as a “–phorous”, that is, a carrier, a gateway, a path, mapped out on the Venus, still a Venus

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and one of these is so placed on its clearing space, its adjunct support in hypnagogic space, that it suggests a whoosh down to the gate of REM dream, but, then, a splat out to the side, if vision, Ophthonos, if black out, Chthonos. I think this might do

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this is how might it all work out, without getting too schematic here. I have recently been trying to map out in vigilogogic-hypnagogic space, assuming that an encounter or epiphany with the gods, as per Platt, is an experience of an altered state kind of consciousness nature. This happened in a state partitioned by the assemblages of attributes and powers that each of the Greek gods had, and how by that pattern of attribution, they had certain precincts, then rubbed up against others, then sometimes overlapped on others, but to catch something the other god missed, and that eventually, though I have only mapped out Zeus and Apollo thus far, come up with a map of attribute formations, framing dynamic agency functions, which cover the whole of it, like a pieces of a jigsaw puzzle

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I would suggest that this is the same thing

hum 25you are looking at a mapping out of all the paths, and the space around each one is like that piece in the jigsaw puzzle which supports the objects not as a pedestral supporting a work of sculpture, but like an altar supporting a sacred object with cult meaning

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It is true that Humeau goes on to argue that each Venus represents one of the women, too, for it is women shamans, in a trance state, part brain, part Venus, and that in their lament they prophecy the future extinction of mankind, all well and good. That is a “cover” story, however, to hide the code under a veneer of normalcy. But, in their structure, they “work,” that is, as works of art, because in addition to being figures of women shamans, they are brain homunculi, with very close assocation with “monsters” in the sense of mapping out the effect of the particular brain eaten to get to the trance state they are in (again, one thinks of the physical distortions of body in Altered States), and so I view the “trance” more as a vigilogogic or hypnagogic state, with insight in deep dream or Ambient Ophthonos or Chthonos space. As such, these are intercessional works of art, for the intiate. So that is my analysis.

But, then, if this is a hypnagogic space, where are we, exactly, in the gallery? Well, Humeau added in sound and smell, the smell was linked to birth, perhaps by a relation to placenta and its meaning, as a souce of an idea that the brain of a different animal might have the power to direct one on a particular trip. I think we are in a semblance of the caves where these objects functioned. The women are sitting around, having their trances, they forsee the end of mankind, it is a dark place. I mentioned, partly in humor, as my FB page is much more “for entertainment purposes only,” that it reminded me of the cave space of One Million BC, and that that space hosted indeed all sorts of social and sexual struggles as whole tribes, according to the movies, would sit about and stew.

hum 27even though a more accurate picture of what this shaman ceremony was like might be seen in Altered States (1980).

hum 28but more to the point

hum 29In any case, the problem is, time. And, experience. That is, this is a theory about objects, it confers upon them a neurological, psychotropic power, that each, as a work of art, not as a figurative sculpture describing a woman, but as objects that sit at the nexus and like an hourglass often appearing at that juncture function to by the reaction of the mind to the effect of its ingestion go on a trip of a particular form, and depth, and extent, whether in hypnagogic, deep REM sleep dream, Ambient or even Sentient space (and so-called psychotronic spaces related, but I would place these up in zones adjunct to vigilogogy), and that all these visions must be guessed to be taking place past Ophthchthony, because of the radical nature of the altered state, in the Ophthonos (white in) realm.

hum 30

that’s what a trip is, though in horror movies this final splat, after two previous nightmare splats, is often characterized as entirely psychotic, the depicted scenes share with vision trips the notion that over the eyes is cast a screened, superimposed, other visual plane, which one experiences as not a dream, but a vision of another waking life, but you are in the Ophthonos zone (but in that case moving back up in ambient-vigilogogic space).

But, the problem is, practically, Humeau could not depict those zones, at least not yet (maybe she will do Pippolitti Rist type videos to try to link a certain kind of visionary experience to the particulars of each stone, and form, and recipe, that is, dynamic agency path, and so that is in the future). But to introduce the idea, and perhaps to comment on the nature of art, she can only show a dark world opposite the realization of what these objects are, a place where we see these objects and do not know what they are, where they might lead. She can only in the art represent the fact that they consist of lost knowledge,, and for this reason she can only bring us into the cave, where the objects might’ve sat, unappreciated even by those not in on the secret shaman knowledge, and show us that dark world. In other words, while in theory the dynamic leads to Ophtonos, or to deep REM space; in practice in art, all she can show us is Chthonos, the dark black out space where we encounter these things, but know not what they are

hum 31

that is, I do think that Humeau has created in the gallery an Ambient adjunct space of hypnagogy, derived as a result of a triple loop of meaning having to do with Venuses, animal brains, shamans, and paths to enlightment by way of particular trips, of multiple forms, brought us to a third splat at the bottom of nightmare, or a looping like it; but given us a bounced out Ambient form, where the curtain is pulled across the vision, to say something about the unseen nature of that which art represents, that is, we are given a view of the cave, the state of Chthonos (black out), deep in the lightly dreaming brain, but as a screen of Opthonos, the white in, which is where the shamans go. For this reason, I think this exhibition serves as a counter to Aline Bouvy’s white-in space (see post), by showing us what things look like in a highly theoretical but remote world that we can only encounter by way of the autistic limitations of art seen in the glass darkly of the Chthonos world lying outside of failed dream resulting from a nightmare (Humeau did execute an Ophthonic space in London last year, however).

In sum, I argue that Humeau’s work is being thought through on the level of vigilogogy or hypnagogy; that dynamic agency forces are at work to arrange its ideas in various forms or assemblages; that there IS in her work a kind of ophthchthony, if not strictly speaking, formally, a full formation, then at least some degree of it, involving brains, trances, women shamans, prophecy; that this leads to an encounter with the difficulty of dreaming, resulting in bounces out from splat falls, into either adjunct Ambient space I have called, if white-in, Opthonos, or, if black out, Chthonos. I think that the inner dynamic agency is there, I believe this is ballpark correct. I believe, then, that Humeau, in this incubation, has created a vision of the black out we live in, Chthonos,a world of darkness where secret knowledge lies.


On the micro level, it is also clear there is an underpinning of crystal magic in the work, and the idea, shared by many in the ancient world, that different stones lead to different responses by the universe, so this piece made out of, it is said, a piece of rare alabaster Humeau found in England, the Venus of Kostenski eating the brain of a marmoset, so a more descriptive-narrative piece than the the more abstract ones, in this one the alabaster also counts, as it did in the ancient world

hum 33

and, indeed, I did notice that in his selection for his Mummy kunstkammer show in Vienna, Wes Anderson showed an interest in the various stones by which Romans made household gods of an intimate sort, perhaps to aid in dreaming of a particular thing, in a form of portable incubation.

Footnote 2

Then, too, it is a possibility that the brain caused the person to lapse into sleep, and the visions were got during sleep, in which case, this might describe the inside of a space where incubation took place, and the nature of the stone would again, as the skin of an animal, have a role in which to direct the dream, by being related to a certain guide god, to by its functional assemblage piece of the jigsaw puzzle, lead to better results. I posted on this today.

hum 34


hum 35


hum 37

The end.

In a Dark Place (2006), Presence of Mind (1999), The Innocents (1960) and the dream machine of Turn of the Screw on Film.

Rev., dec 20, 2018.

In an another note, written to be quoted in other texts, I worked out the possibility that Bly House in the various tellings of  Henry James’ Turn of the Screw might well be James’ version of a map to the underworld of hypnagogy and dream. I imagined, in fact, that when you left the house, you entered upon an entoptic world, then, went through the Land of Nod, there, there was the Hanged Woman, and behind her the Black Bog, and, then, beyond that the Village of Dreams (Demos Oneiros), and in that little colony were other things. Vaguely, like this

jam 1

that is, you leave the “house of vigilogogy” to enter into the hypnagogic realms of the grounds, the idea being that an English country house in a movie is, in fact, a rendition of a map of hypnagogy, a state of light dream. So, first thing you have to edge around is the Hanged Woman, who announces to you that you are entering into dream state, this is at the front of the Land of Nod. Then you come round the edge of the Black Bog, just a black expanse in which blue dots bubble up in the entoptic field. At the far edge of that might be seen a Conjure figure, and then eventually you come round again to the Village of Dreams, a little colony of forms. If you get there, there is also a way out of there, the Toad Roads, that can lead you out and down into the lower stage of the lattice stage, but if you stay up in the Village of Dreams there are forms like the Parking Lot, and other binary bookend forms like the Ping Pong table. The important thing is that as you move out from the center even in the Land of Nod, and then drop down to the Glass Onion state, the adjunct space gets more spread out and complicated. This leads me to think that an area of development outside of the Parking Lot would be, in fact, where, at the entrance into the Ambient Zone, out of town..

So, does this fit with the layout of the land in the movie In a Dark Place, and in other versions of the telling of the story? In In a Dark Place the house is depicted as a waking dream, all formal, all framed

jam 2then its insides made playful and modern by modern art, to make the rooms lighter

jam 3but, interesting point, in another note on light dream states, I propose a state called the Basement Window, and it is of interest that we spend so much time looking out of the window in this version

jam 4in the Basement Window, from a fixed POV, you try to negotiate the eye shuttling from one level of near or farness to another, usually circling it from three directions. At present, I will argue that this is here, meaning that the primary purpose of the house is to look out of its windows, to the dream formations beyond

jam 5

that is, the art in the house circles us round to send the vibes out of the house; then, the house immediately comes into play as a structure with windows, its primary purpose is looking out of the windows. Thus, the Basement Window structure–hypnagogic, glass onion stage, looking out–comes into play, there is a lot of looking out, trying to parse an object.

Often, moreover, when Veigh looks out, she is partially exposed by a loose robe. On a purely scopophiliac level, she is wearing too little, signifying her lack of professionalism and her already being weighed down by her role, incapable of doing it (symbolized by the exposure, no less, of her navel); but the ancient meaning of this trope of body display means a passionate heart who will fight for love, so it could be a power gaze, trying to understand; but then the third thing is, she is not happy it is Grose she sees, she is wondering exactly how she stands vis a vis Grose and the master, so, it is a shuttling vision, a Basement Window trope effect.

jam 7The house is early depicted as a full-scale English Country House, that is, a house that is at the center of a whole grounds, which are littered with built objects and locales, which have historical meaning, but also present the possibility of danger. I register nothing with this postcard shot, however, except to reassert its role as the awake house, in a land of Nod.

jam 8but, then, Miles and Flora go out to play. The effect of the snow is that it makes nature less restful, less a locus amoenis, looking for a place to rest and relax, and more a place whose surface you scurry over, have fun, then go back in.

Then they go running on the fields. As blank slate, the snow-covered field would be entoptic, of a slick sort, like a field conducive to fata morgana sightings, or a formation of clouds. In this case they fall into line behind the age old trope of the Silhouettes in the Distance trope, and for this, that trope is, I figure at present, a Hand of God trope, it is simply an appearance of an index of a figure reduced to a momentary sign, without full humanity

jam 9

and the dream image

jam 10the curious thing is that as things retract to Veigh’s POV, she watches the children playing at the top of the horizon line, and they have made a figure, a snowman, and they circle about it, playing a game; then, Miles destroys it

jam 11this causes her to startle, as it seems like, in that dream world, there is some animus against figurative manifestations, as if in fear that they might recall things. And, then, this is confirmed by her by a drawing Flora makes soon after which re-sees the scene from her POV and for her there are two other figures on top of the hill, as if, as I imagined it in treatment, Brocken spectre ghosts of their reflections in the snow. I equate this with the traditional entoptic phenomena of the Grays, or a Hag Attack, a figure just standing at the end of the bed, and here they are

jam 12so, this is what happens, they move out into the space, and have a hag attack

jam 13

I am also going to equate the Hag Attack in this format, that is, projected onto a waking scene in a movie, and not seen as in a bedroom haunting, as an example of the Hanged Woman trope, this I place pretty early on in the entoptic zone as it represents all the blue dots or occlusions of the entoptic field that coalesce to block your way, and which you must move around (I have also more poetically repeatedly placed a map of the further turf on the bottom of her foot; I suppose this is also the dream spot wherefrom mandrake plants come)

jam 14now we go through the woods. I have not entirely worked out where woods are in the travels in the entoptic, but as birch trees are traditional entoptic dream forms, and as it is said they are the ghosts of trees that are by the river Acheron, and I think I have posted in my treatment of the underworld that a shadow of Acheron flows here, they bring us up to the Black Bog, and so, at the lake, she sees Flora, and all seems fine

jam 15and with that, we now come upon the lake, and there is a Conjure Figure on the far side. First of all, the lake is gray, the woods are gray, the scene is monochrome, this is, no doubt in my mind (and at present I forget the 40s movie I have borrowed the title of the Black Bog from, it lay on an estate, and was not to be ventured in), this is the Black Bog

jam 16the Woods are a screen of shadiness, acting as it were as Venetian Blinds and Bannister Slats do, to strafe the scene, and make it 2D on the eye, so we peer in, to see the Black Bog

jam 17and, then, on the far side of it, just as the appearance is made of Jessel in other versions, there is a figure, a Conjure Figure. At a distance, as seen in the movie, it is hard to make out, it could be a figure of a person there, a fragment of a sculpture, or a ghost, three readings are in play, as seen in the movie. But then, when you close-up on it, one drops away, it is either a fragment of a sculpture or a ghost.

jam 18Then, if you look really closely, a surprise, it looks mostly like a fragment of a figurative sculpture of a woman doing something, or holding something, in a position relative to the pond, and for that, it definitely feels like a sculpture, and, even more so, it is a Crouching Venus sculpture, symbol that we are entering the word of the dark female (that said, its pose and its whiteness is so pale and ambivalent in the shot I nondiegetically wonder if they didn’t paint up an actor and have him play the part).

jam 19a Crouching Venus, usually at a bath, indicates that you are to come in contact with dark female power, that something bad, done by a female, is about to occur. I saw another one recently in Paganini Horror (1989), it is a well known trope. But how this works out is, again, it is winter, much of the functionality of the lake site is under wraps, and not being used. Nor is it articulated when going through it, a lot of the amenities are gone. If the figure had other elements to contextualize it in summer, it might not seem so queer, but, out here by itself, it is hard not to think of it as a Conjure Figure, that is a materializing ghost, as I think she first does; but then as she moves, it readjusts into a statue, so it is an alibi formation too, and in that posture it is suggested it is really located nearer some structures which in the summer are supportive of liesure and bathing.

jam 20

the reason why this is important is that in this version, the wintryness of the settings removes the lake from its pleasure pool context. All the gazebos and structures that are on the lake, are not here, in this telling. A set up of pleasure structures at the shore of a lake would create a hypnagogic assemblage, which I locate on the far side of the Black Bog, the Village of Dreams (I like going there a lot). For the most part, most of the versions of the story in the movies have gone there, in The Innocents (1960), the gazebos become significant presences, as Capote et al make of the grounds a true Dream Village. The first thing Kerr sees is the gazebo by the lake, the whole setting in bloom

jam 00this occasions flowery, benign sightings, upskirt of Flora, first in reflection, an angel of the entoptic

jam 22they walk on an isthmus between, in the Village of Dreams

jam 23but more to the point, it is from a Village of Dreams posture, in structures of a slightly more Glass Onion form, tending then down in that direction

jam 24that they then look across the lake, to see, not a Conjure Figure, uncertain, ill-formed, queer and misshapen, but a Hanged Woman figure, Mrs Jessel in her black dress amongst the reeds

jam 25there is absolutely no question of this figure being a statue, they have been adequately differentiated and mostly enlisted as usher or concierge figures in the garden, this is a figure of a woman, the only question is, is she really there, or is she a ghost

jam 26now the interesting thing is versions of the story having the choice, most, I think, went with working from the developed and populated elements of elegant liesure structures. In Presence of Mind (1999), this moment is folded into Flora’s “burial at sea” of her bird

jam 000but the pool is quite aquarmarine, and very much a pool of pleasure, surrounded by formal garden structures, a Village of Dreams

jam 28and the strange part here is, its sighting of an odd nature, more intrusive, is that Jessel is seen as a blot upon the water, floating above the water, perhaps to infer it as the soul of the bird just gone under

jam 29later, as I have in a note on the Hanged Woman associated her sighting with The Hanged Woman, she is shown hanged in the classroom

jam 30and then later back at the pool-lake nicely folded into the alibi formation of the tree branch, it was just a trick of the eyes

jam 31but what this means is, that differentiates In a Dark Place from others is that in this version she comes upon a true Black Bog, and looking across it, can only make out a Conjure Figure, that is, she is at a very light stage of hypnagogy, and unsure of what is what

jam 32

in The Innocents the sighting is placed in the context of a summer outing for pleasure at a pleasure pool in a formal garden, and they look across the lake back at a Hag Attack episode, the sighting of a Hanged Woman

jam 33

In Presence of Mind, Veigh has already seen the first ghost, Kosk, this happened in the garden, indirectly, taking in an oddity in the setup, the fountain (not at the lake) had heads under the water, a unique formation, she looked down in, and the implication is this is a Narcissus pool, she is seeing, she thinks, her reflection

jam 34but when it turns out there really is a face under there, it kind of surprises her, she starts, something in the water moves

jam 35and then it bounces up to a tower window, where she thinks she sees a figure

jam 36back in The Innocents, Kerr is mired deep in the entoptic zone of the flowers

jam 37then, she too, is startled by a face in the flowers, a statue, a false positive startle effect

jam 39but then she is creeped out by the fact that a beetle comes out of its mouth, implying what, animation where there should not be, the desire of a stone figure to talk to her, its aggressiveness, it coming at her

jam 40as per the symbolism of hair that was obsolete by later times, this knots up her brain, in the back

jam 41which states she is in a hypnagogic state at this point, she looks up

jam 42and sees the figure, the ghost, her first “haunting”

jam 43and then she is shown “splat,” cast into a zone of dream, pulling a long shot back away from her

jam 44What these two sequences imply is that having seen the first ghost first, and now Jessel, in a more pronounced form, as a full on Hanged Woman, not just a Drop In figure, even a slighter sighting than a Conjure Figure, the Jessel sighting upsets because it ups the ante, it accelerates the crisis, it takes thing to a new level, confirming the haunting in her mind.

jam 45by contrast, Veigh in In a Dark Place, a modern telling, is less susceptible, so her first haunting is out in the less absorbent atmosphere of a winter landscape, she sees a Conjure Figure, she is more skeptical about it, but haunted, but, BECAUSE we know from the formation of a Basement Window complex externalizing the house to the grounds, she is more weighed down by a discursively revealed trauma, she is more easily triggered. So, the second sighting, if you will, also generally minimized, is folded into this first tour of the lake. She is coming back, and does not quite feel right, she is unsure what the Conjure Figure was

jam 47then, she looks back up into the house, that is, shuttling back through the Basement Window formation, and sees something

jam 48And just to show how careful these things are worked out in movies, the figure is all vague torso, the only identifiable thing that is human, is, in the light, and lit up, the arm

jam 49and it primarily was in the movement of the arm, making the Conjure Figure into a Crouching Venus, expressive of the dark female, that a question was raised in my mind that, that sure is odd, maybe they had a stunt man dress up in pantomime and strike that ambiguous pose, where the ARM is the thing that raises the question

jam 50and then, because this triggers on her memories of trauma which have previously been shown, and which locks the core of the drama inside her head, in the house, to make a Basement Window of her gazing out into the grounds, this, this alone, makes her have a full on panic-vertigo attack, she falls and is now out of service for the next part of the movie

jam 51the displacement of this version to the outside is further reinforced by her response to Quint at the window, she runs outside with a knife, making her the intruder from without

jam 52and, in the final sighting, which I have more or less decided is filmed as an act of witchcraft on Grose’s part, she again has, in terms of seeing Jessel, not moved any further toward confirmation of what the Conjure Figure of the first sighting is, so we relay to this station of the cross, to see it again

jam 53but this time, she sees the full figure in the trees, the Hanged Woman

jam 54and, then, even more interesting, in this telling, they bring the sighting in on her, to make it merge with her triggering dreams of her childhood rape, when she wore a coat of that color, by coming close up to her by way of entoptic reflection in….the Black Bog

jam 00001and then, in full, almost as a coat of arms of the Hanged Woman, her upside down body, in that color of coat, crossed by a branch, yep, that is a very intense encounter with The Hanged Woman

jam 56and since this sighting is also interspersed with Grose’s act of masturbatory witchcraft, topping off with her breasts in full double-handed embrace, there is an interference from her lust for Grose superimposing over this sighting, to make this, just as the Conjure Figure, a three-headed hecatean figure, with three levels of meaning, all smushed into one abstraction (looking for Flora interfered with remembering her trauma but also thinking of Grose), so that is what, I guess, the director was after in making in this one the sighting of Jessel almost an incidental obligation to the tradition of the Hanged Woman sighting, but then to make it, by way of circling and immersing its reflection in the Black Bog, come up to her like a grabbing, attacking ghost, to scare her

jam 000001and then this sets up the traumatic Flora sequence, in which she is haunted Ambiently, on all sides, as she spins and whirs through the woods

jam 59and even if this Its Right Behind CYou shot, ANOTHER classic form which the Hanged Woman takes, with some suggesting of stab-in-the-back shower scene proxemic fears

jam 60her sudden case of raccoon eyes says that she is now seeing, but, the very opposite of ophthchthony, not seeing through, but only seeing in the glass darkly, in the reflection of the Black Bog

jam 61and she has a complete psychological breakdown

jam 62only to repeat the sighting of Jessel with a branch through her by not seeing Miles go under, slipping off the branch, to conclude with him being pulled down in the Black Bog.

jam 63Though my graphics here are pretty scenic, rather than schematic, it is interesting, a version of the tale which eschews the rural playground pleasure palace motif of the Village of Dreams of which so much is made in The Innocents, and other tellings, to restrict Veigh, by reducing her power or leash over the grounds, by the interposition of the Basement Window trope, speaking to her self-obsession, pulling her back, so she develops a much less physicalized notion of the ghosts, mere Conjure Figures, for that however to then have them mix up in her mind with other issues weighing on it to in the Black Bog merge and not only see Jessel but go mad from the sighting so that it is also in the Black Bog that she kills Miles, more out of malfeasance than accident. But, it is I think then arguable that the grounds of Bly house do in fact map out elements of hypnagogy on the Entoptic and glass onion level

jam 64

The end.