The family tree and old books as a map of gaps in The Monster Club: palliative geography and the land of the dead.

Rev Apr 11 2014

In two previous notes I have mentioned that the gaps in a family tree, from the point of view of what consciousness can hold in its mind, came to be represented by silhouettes, or by generic representations of the nth degree, which just say, past, all that, in a summary way. I saw this, for example, In Child’s Play 2.

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Previously, in my mythology, I made use of the influence of K Walker to devise for myself an antiassimilationst mythos of the ur nemesis that haunts two feuding German immigrant families in America, completely obsessed with psychotic old business, the German Roamer, which appeared as The Thing in The Portrait Painter and sequels. Now, a second use of silhouettes: or a third, since I also see silhouettes as visual representations of the thinking about you textings that were made only in mind back them, brief reminders, to anchor a type of musing. But now, they also represents the gaps in family trees, and, if there are too many of them, the cursed nature of the whole of the family tree, the part of the family tree more likely to tilt into a representation of the tree felled and undone. The very silly movie, The Monster Club, makes use of a family tree format in the context of a haunted portrait variant in the nightclub that Price and Carradine meet at. It is a very poor property

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Price then explains the derivation: it is a cross-referencing. For you get different types of monsters by the breeding of different types of parents. All of this happens, sillily, by syllable, as, for example, a man and a ghoul mating result in a mangoul, etc etc., We get some closeups

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And then, to build variants of previous monsters covered in previous films, in this one they focus on stories of the hybrids, which is all that the stories of the anthology are. Of these, only one, where Stuart Whitman as a movie producer goes out to scout out a haunted country village for his film, is good. This is good for a few reasons, it translates the gaps in the family tree, to the gaps in the map of rural Britain, two, it captures what life, or rather death, in a gap in the tree looks like, and what happens when one type takes over. All of which is interesting. But two things. One, the names cross-refer on the idea of the family tree because, like historical European family trees, it makes hybrid patterns. Only here rather than devise a combination of family crests, it just combines syllables. That sort of thing also has a life of its own, irregardless of biology, and can also quickly generate its own possibilities. So it is a kind of runaway cross-referencing. Second, the implication is that death eventually takes over, when the line becomes too turned in on itself, and as a result this renders a kind of family tree that extends into the palliative zone between life and death, or in death itself. This is done by expanding the notion of mating over into all other concepts. Anyways, the story is that Whitman goes out on the prolix system of the modern highways,

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Then turns off the main road, and finds an old sign pointing apparently to a town that still exists, but you are not sure

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This is classis lore, of course, as places that have fallen off the map, fallen out of history, become a backwater, etc etc, are notorious as psycho places, see Psycho, also Tourist Trap. Even more interesting, here, is that he crosses over one of those romantic little bridges, and then comes into a fog bank on the ground, both signs of old towns lost in time,

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And then that fog bank sits on the land, and covers him in a highly localized bad weather. It is a pretty spooky place.

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He sees a cemetery at the very center of the town, all but the town square of the town, suggesting that the whole town’s life is centered in it,

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Then when he checks into a hotel, he meets a half human girl, and she tells him what’s what, and how the town lives, the view out of the window of an old hotel, mirroring in many ways the devices of Horror Hotel, is also magically weird

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She says that they everybody is hungry, and want to eat him, because they have lived for years and years on what was in the boxes, and now all the boxes are dug up, from the underground, and are empty, and there is no more food. What boxes he asks, she says the same ones that the carpenter made this chest of drawers from, and we see that the chest is made of three coffins stacked one on the other,

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since he has no protection, and his car has been killed, he seeks retreat into a church, and it is abandoned, again, another nicely spooky spot, an abandoned place inside of a town that has fallen off the map,

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And there the skit gives us a very good book research vignette, presided over by the skeleton of the preacher who died writing it,

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I have noted in The Amityville Horror (2005), extensive use of a book of this sort, with comic book or rather graphic novel type images,

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Then again the same device in Drag me to Hell (2009),

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and the same thing, with the same emphasis on the book simply providing the guidelines for the script in the remake of the Evil Dead (2013),

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Then, in Fright Night 2 (2013), they make use of a tablet for the first time, that I have seen it, and again tell the backstory by way of a graphic novel of Elizabeth Bathory, and in vivid color, almost risking the movie going animated

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In all cases, I conjectured that this convention might derive from current taste among the young for graphic novels. But there is also the precedent of the wonderful drawings on the staircase in Asylum,

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And here is maybe the best example of this kind of image, used to narrate a weird or unbelievable history.  It starts with an image of the town and the cemetery and the appearance of the first ghoul in town

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It is not clear why the ghoul appeared, but at present since he seeks to feed on the dead the emergence of a ghoul in the family tree of a town indicates a surfeit of morbidity in which the life force is exhausted and the life of the town begins to fall into the shadow of the dead and stop leading a new culture but simply live a traditional life modeled on the dead. Thus, a ghoul represents cultural and moral decadence. It is a haunting of a family tree, it is the personification of the gaps in family trees, with the cross representing a robust and life-affirming sexual generation. But then the local Christians wanted the ghoul killed, because they recognized it as evil. But the preacher saw it rather as a child in need and wanted to protect it, so he fights on behalf of the ghoul,

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He takes the ghoul home and bathes it, and imagine what it was like to bathe, to get the smell of death off of it, that would be fun to describe

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And he also gives it a bed and puts it to bed and tries to make a home for it, again, as if it is an orphan, notice too the blank, generic landscape painting, on the wall, symbol of a path to the other world, an opening to spiritual space

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but then he finds out that the ghoul’s appetites are set and cannot be changed. He follows him out one night and sees him eating the dead in the cemetery, a great shot, with comic book intensity,

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And then it has to be assumed that the lore is if you feed one ghoul they will, like homeless persons, like dogs or cats, all will come, all of its comrades and dead family members will come, and so we see the invasion of town,

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And the takeover of the town, looking, here, just like Whitewood in Horror Hotel.

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Still, the question is, why? why is the backstory or flashback sometimes told in this graphic novel way? For one thing, new media represents the present, and that is the present in the movie, the movie in its state of the art being new media, and reality today. Then any older devices in the history of the medium would be haunted examples of the same. But if you then shift to extramedial, to the old media replaced by the old media, you get those styles that precede, or have become dated. In the case of high-low, a graphic novel would tell the tale in a way parallel to sepia tone or other devices used to portray the in-the-mind-ness of flashbacks (the blue lighting in Corman, the use of silent movie style in the original Mummy, so the convention of using old versions of the media to represent in the mind goes back to the beginning of the modern period). And then too the mind is likely to be more immersed in the unconscious and therefore tell the tale in a more figurative, still gorier way. So there is that too.

Thus, the flashback in old media compares to the use of the haunted family tree, because it represents thoughts in the haunted family tree or genealogy of the media itself. Moreover, just as the body is conceptualized as an onionskinned miasma of forces or energies, including body and spirit, in horror movies, rather than the medical body, specular in its miraculous quality, so too time is represented in media in terms of media receding back by phases of obsolescences in time (and steampunk taste would be part of this). As a result, in a movie, you may then indicate, just as blood covering a body means a stripping away of the fastness of current reality, moving toward a more spiritual reality wherein vampires might be believed in, that when the movie goes to tv, or to comic books, or graphic novels, or books, or old fashioned drawings–even if updated to current standards, based on the presentist view of the past in movies geared to young adults (see my comments on this issue regarding Hansel and Gretel)–then this means that the tale told this way is doubly scary and contagious, because it is about ghouls, told in ghoulish media, which can help it break out into today.

But to return: the idea is that if you feed a ghoul, it will only need more, and it will attract others; then, too, the advancement on that thought is, if you let one ghoul eat of the dead in a cemetery the inviolability of the place is violated, and thus the cemetery is now open to and prey to other ghouls, and the feeding on the dead. The invitation of the ghoul to feed has disconnected the power of rite to keep them out of the cemetery. The idea here is that the preacher is holed up in the church, writing his history, because the rest of the town has now been attacked by the ghouls, and the town is now composed of ghouls. And since they are not living being, with creativity, but only undead beings, with destructive power, they cannot produce anything but only feed off of the remains of the former, so that rather than open up a supermarket or a restaurant or find places to find food they simply turn to the same but of death, the cemetery, and feed on that. That is, the cemetery becomes their corn fields, their farm fields, the place from which they harvest food. And then since they subsist on an economy of death, the accoutrements of the cemetery are also used to devise a local economy, thus the furniture made out of coffins, but now their little economy of death has collapsed, and they have become mad and starving. So, he turns the cross against them, to find cover,

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He escapes, them running after him, through the mist shield that keeps him in

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The humegoo is killed, the girl on the right

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There she is,

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And, then, there is no escape, because twisted further into the gap spaces in the family tree are fairy circles, where all associates of the cult serve to ensure that one cannot escape, and every escape circles back in, as we find out that the police who save him just drive him back in and he is eat

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It is just a sketch, but it resounds on a number of rural themes, and is one of the best treatments ever o the nature of a ghoul family tree and a ghoul economy and what would happen if the country were overrun with ghouls, where life is gone, and only the dead are left to feed off of it.

In the mythology.

This is a palliative family tree, and a palliative  geography, and it strikes me that Hartog may exist at the headwater or turnoff point of entering into that sort of situation on my mythological map of Merika, the English country village undone. Since Loughville is ghoulville backwards, another pseudo-genealogical derivation, I will call the town Loughville (aka Masonville), a town of very old school Anglos, English country villagers come over, to die on the vine in Merika, a Lovecraftian theme. I suppose too this is West Sayreville. And resident poet, Margate Muire.

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More rupophobia and bathrooms in recent horror: the examples of The Possession (2012), Stoker (2012), The Awakening (2012) and The Moth Diaries (2011).

February 6 2014

Note: all meditations not directly related to examining art in horror are included on this blog–intertexting with related fictions.

Rupophobia, or fear of filth, it has been established, is the basic premise of most horror of this generation. Fear of filth, and fear of filth in homes, and fear of filth as it might get on clean bodies, and especially into private areas of clean bodies, this seems to be the underlying elemental fear that drives most contemporary horror. The broader reasons for this I leave to a later time. But, to mention, this new paradigm does resituate the bathroom as a site of somewhat different rituals.

In previous horror, the bathroom was the site of one primary convention, the shower scene. In it, a naked girl bathed, showing herself, and then she hears something, and often is killed in the shower. It was a symbol of the ultimate vulnerability, likely grounded in an innate sense of vulnerability had in standing naked in a flimsy enclosure with one’s blind spot open and back and undercarriage exposed. The other site of horror in traditional bathrooms was the bathroom mirror, as it would seem that the degree of concentration combined with a bending of body to attend to an issue of hygiene, whether brushing teeth, washing face, or shaving, left one with an unconscious fear of something or someone coming up behind one (as, indeed, Dracula does, at the very beginning of modern horror), or from below you. This then translated into the sudden jarring dislocation of space, amounting almost to a dizzy spell, of the bathroom mirror opening and closing and moving the walls about so quickly in such a small space.

It would seem from The Possession (2012) that even preteen girls now, standing in their underwear at clean sinks, now feel an anxiety, here as she attends to a hygiene duty, brushing her teeth, a moth comes up and gets in her hair,

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This then triggers a sequence in which they discover that her whole bedroom is infested with moths

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Later still she again convenes at the bathroom mirror, and something goes wrong with the bath or the mirror, either way, the whole of the clean bathroom, and expectations of its cleanliness, means that anything in the bathroom can trigger a rupophobic start

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Which then would trigger an outbreak of horror. It is also to be noted that the weird lockedupness of the grieving daughter in Stoker was signified early on not by bathroomplay, but by the fact that a spider is seen to crawl up her leg and, later, up into her private area, certainly, then, a primal fear for a gender with an opening down there. In this regard, the bathroom as a whole to a body standing and attending to its hygiene as the bed and the bedclothes and the bedroom as a whole is to a body that is reclining in bed. Just as hag attacks and sightings of shadow people and such are the end result of the sleeping body sensing the presence of things around it, and starting, as for example, seeing things in the pillow, as you lie on your side, and open your eyes (a device used in The Innkeepers and in The Haunting), so the bathroom is the place for attacks by creepy crawlers because one’s body is exposed and, worse, exposed in indelicate ways as one attends to its cleanliness.

The only traditional trope of horror that derives from this role of the bathroom is the bathroom as a sight of either purification, or purging of emotions. According to this lore, a shower solves all problems. If you have been raped, or abused in any way, then a good hot shower, not unlike a nice Aryan fire to solve any horror problem, will wash it all away. This goes way back, we see it in Rosemary’s Baby (1969) for example. And then too there is the crying shower, where one goes to make use of the double veil of the shower curtain and the spray and then too the sound of the spray to hide tears, so one can have a good cry (this from a twistedly bad shower sequence in a movie only watchable for its shower sequence, Mangler 2).

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It is odd that moths play a part in horror, as they did in Mama (2013), as all rupophobic horror: they represent the motheaten, the old, the moldy, the dusty and dirty, the attics and the basements, they are the infesting agent of the rupophobic nightmare, a dirty place. For that, they have become newly demonized. In The Possesssion as, ala Silence of the Lambs, a moth ends up down the girl’s throat. In the non-horror movie that giallo-like exploits horror, The Moth Diaries (2011), a nightmare ledge crawl, in bare feet and gown, to see what’s in Ernessa’s room, brings up an infested room of moths (this, in infesting the whole room, oddly, also takes off on The Anmityville movies and their flies).

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But The Moth Diaries is surprising for not including any bathroom scenes involving the haunted girls, only the memories of two former suicides, first her father, then the memory of Ernessa’s in 1905

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This, in this regard, we are reminded that the bath, not the shower, has another whole vocabulary in horror, often related to suicide. With many examples.

There is one theme that sometimes came out in these scenes, usually in B movies, and that was sexual awakening. In having to deal with one’s bodies, one is likely to have to face up to one’s sexuality. Sexual awakening likely first occurs in the context of the bathroom. The potential for this has been exploited in the worst sort of horror, such as the Toolbox Murders (1981). It is also true that in classic modern horror masturbation is linked to an altered state of consciousness, leading to madness. But normally the two devices did not overlap, well, no, they did, in Peter Proud. In any case, this raises the issue with regard to two recent examples where the meanings of the bathroom and the shower had been twisted about in interesting ways to reiterate traditional values in a slightly modernized form.

In the largely unsuccessful ghost story The Awakening, the lovely Rebecca Hall plays uptight oh so repressed super educated nonwomanly if extremely bookily sexy Florence Cathcart, come to a country house to solve a ghost story. As she enters the house, mention is made of a copy on the stairway of Artemischi Gentileschi’s Judith and Holofernes, she knows the picture, presumably because she is educated

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But then she looks through a peephole and sees the male teacher get up out of the bath naked, and this seems to turn her on. She then has a bad experience that gets her all dirty out in the woods so she comes back to bathe it away. Here, then, the bath is a purification bath, washing it away, she is at peace,

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But then she feels more comfortable, and, musing on what she has seen and experienced, seems to have more awareness of her body and its desires. At this point, the hand drops down her body, under the water, we see it linger there below the surface for a bit, and then it drops out of sight, so that she can begin to masturbate. So, it turns into that kind of bath: a bath of awakening. But at just that point, in keeping with a rather English sense of sexual guilt, she hears a noise on the other side of the peep hole. She instinctively sits up (which is rather odd, because in doing so, she exposes herself, but she is getting up and out fast)

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But then, realizing that there are only three people in the whole house at this point, she puts him in her former position and now thinks he is peeping on her, she talks to him, and turns, to show herself, so it is that kind of thing (going way back in my memory to at least the Garden of the Finzi Contini, except to say that when Dominique Sanda showed herself there it was to signify to the peeper look what you can’t have: this is clearly to interest him, to entice him, it is a show for the purposes of seduction. Interesting enough, this sort of show is signified, in contemporary movies, by a side show of one nipple, it is even a half a nipple, an almost not showing of it, it being tastefully done, it is an odd convention that is developing

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But now she goes toward the hole. If you are in the other side of the whole, you get a full on view, if this was a 70s exploitation movie, same thing, but here, we follow her, as she approaches the discrete gloryhole

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but then when she crouches down, remember she is naked, to look through, rather than get a dick in the eye, she falls back, she sees a ghost with a twisted face (which does not make sense, really)

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This then causes her to start, run get her robe, throw it on, run after the ghost, and run through the house. She is barefoot, robed, so this is another one of those fragile walks. She ends up coming into an empty room that only has one item in it, a strange stately dollhouse, she looks through the windows, and these are the next peepholes, as she sees in it set up scenes of the drama being played out, in doll form

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Even to the point of seeing her in her robe, just a few seconds before, looking through the peephole,

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And even into the house

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Such dolls, such scenes, at small scale, in theaters or dollhouses, in traditional horror, such as in The Creeping Flesh, they mean madness, and they more or less mean that same thing here as later on she finds the real dollhouse in the basement and the scenes in it bring back her blocked out memory of witnessing her father kill her mother etc.

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In any case, it is the bathtub that triggers all this: there is even still a whisper that it was masturbation, and the need during it to more intensely imagine something so that it will be strong enough to physically turn one on, that leads to the altered or expanded state of consciousness that then unlocks her, and leads to the awakening of the title. It’s odd, to see such an old fashioned convention woven in.

Then, even odder, the same device showed up in another orchestration of the same devices in the thriller Stoker. This too in some ways stinks of indie movie plotting, as in the indie universe, the only sure thing in life, and the only meaning in life is got from, sex, sexual awakening, and being who you are sexually, that is all that counts. No matter how arty you get, no matter what the movie is about, it always, in the indie universe, comes down to the God sex. In this one, also, as in all the other movies mentioned, a very uptight 17 year old girl, just turning 18, who is mourning the death of her father (same plot, oddly, as in The Moth Diaries, how does this happen?). She is decidedly odd, and very weird. And then one night she sees her Uncle Charlie making out with her mother and that somehow gets her going so she goes out and picks up local nice biker Whip and takes him into the woods. When he begins to make a move on her she at first responds but then rejects so Whip will not take a no and goes after her, at which point Uncle Charlie comes in over the top and takes care of Whip. It is quite a traumatic event. She returns then to her bathroom. Because she was in the mud, and because a murder was committed on top of her, she is covered in mud and blood

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She stands on a superclean towel, and strips it all off, everything on her, she leaves it all in the pile, then steps off the towel, naked

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And so commences a shower sequence: a standard shot, repeated for the millionth time, a naked girl behind a patterned blurry shower door or curtain

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The conventional expectation, if this was a horror movie, would be that we would now get a POV shot from the outer hall, and perhaps Uncle Charlie would be seen coming in against her, to either join her or kill her, because she now knows wha’ts up with him. But this is not a horror movie, and the convention does not play out like that. We now go inside the shower, and she is not even bathing, ie no soaping, no raising arms, so sudsing, etc. she is crying. So, it is a crying shower, a shower of silent sufferingrup 20

But then the movie surprises us a bit, the camera drops down her body, this is the first time, in this extremely buttoned up girl, we are acknowledging that she has a body

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And then we see that she is masturbating: this is a shower of masturbation, likely more common in real life than a masturbation bath. (but in a horror movie this would then set up for a quick curtain pull at right this moment, and punishment from God in the form of a Psycho style slash

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But it doesn’t go that way either. Once again, a surprise, the camera goes up to the spray head level, and looks down on her. We see her enjoy her episode of self arousal, her discovery of her sexuality,

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We stay with it,

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this now turns into an almost “pornographic” depiction of the build up to an orgasm, in masturbation, as registered by her noises and her face makings. And then we see some dissolve and overlay, nurtured by the spray, we see what is turning her on, and what is turning her on is not sex, is not having had or almost had sex with Whip, but murder, the tightening of the belt, the pull of the belt, the throttle, the jolt of death in his body, on her, and that, that is, that, murder, not sex, is what causes her to come

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And the really fascinating thing is, introducing us to this conflicted sequence, is, just as in The Awakening, when Hall tossed her hat into the ring, by instigating a complication, signified by showing a nipple,

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So here, exact same convention,

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Very strange indeed: partly attributable to the mandates of artiness, the distributor hesitation to get too explicit in sexual matters anymore, at least in terms of show, but likely a new convention emerges, the nipple, the signifier of twist coming, a purple moment, when things will twist. And the twist here is that she is a sadist, she has that problem (lust murder, or erotophonophilia. frequent among serial killers) that the woman in Deviation (1971) has, she gets turned on only by murder, not by sex. She now will, it is presumed for a bit, become Charlie’s love interest, not the mother, but then she also finds out that Charlie is mad and kills him and goes off to begin a career as a killer. Thus, what started as a bathroom scene of purification, what appeared for a moment to be a scene of silent suffering, turned into a scene of sexual discovery and arousal, but, then, the final twist, revealed itself as a the complete solution, the full revelation of what she really is. While I thought the movie Stoker as a whole was impossibly arty and overly obtuse this at least was an interesting twist on a well-worn horror movie tradition, and even exploited recent rupophobic uses of the bathroom to twist out of it a surprising outcome.

In the mythology. TBA.




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Hartog Backstory: The Ouijan trilogy (2011-2012)

The European counterpart of Hartog makes an appearance in The Ouijan Trilogy, a three-novel exploration, by Inspector Larpour of Castle Garden, Brooklyn, of his hitherto unexplored continental roots in Europe. In particular, Larpour has developed, in his age, a strange theory, to explain certain temperament issues in his personality, and certain odd, almost paraphiliac attractions he has, that there is, what else could explain it?, the blood of a werewolf in his family.

‘Mith Street (2011), the first novel, is a translation to Brooklyn of the 1931 classic movie The Werewolf of London, repurposed as a religiose-medical folk tale retold to explain a rash of murders that swept through Smith Street, Brooklyn, in a recent summer. In this novel, Inspector Mustela of the local precinct works with Larpour as well as a local barber, Vito, and florist, Paul, to chase down a Smith Street werewolf, who ends up to be their good friend Heidenjagt, who is killing many of the lovely young ladies on the street.

The sequel, The Beast of Ouijan (2012), involves Larpour laying out a fear that the werewolf accused of the murders in the first volume, may be family, leading him to return to the eastern Moselle-Rhine borderland of France and Germany, centered around Trier, Germany, where in the haunted town of Ouijan, near the equally haunted town of Hartog, he hears both the history of the beast of Ouijan, set in the 18th century reign of Louix XIV, around the estate grounds of his ancestor, the not-very-nice Duke de Larpour, and investigates its modern reoccurrence, in Hartog.

This volume is drawn from my own conclusion of research into the famous French folk tale of the Beast of Gevauden, the subject of many a film (The Brotherhood of the Wolf) and documentary, coopted for the sake of family history (I have in recent years determined that on my mother’s side my family came from a nearby town, with its own werewolf folk tale).

Finally, Arma Christi (2012), the last volume of the trilogy, involves Larpour, with less clear mind, and another theory, other than that of werewolfism, explaining the family disability or curse in a more medical way, but also having to do with travelling back to France to uncover the history of his 19th private investigator predecessor, and a family secret. It includes not only a 19th century Paris crime investigation in the world of the salons and artists studios, who makes use of the Catholic arma Christi translated into steampunk implements as the tools of his trade, to discover how his father and mother died during the Revolution, but also a flashback, after a visit to Larpour’s uncles country villa near, again, Ouigan, told my Quignet, the family dwarf, of adventures in New France, where Denis Marquette meets Oua, an Indian maid, and bring the Piasa monster back to France, securing it in an abandoned lodge in forest just south of the Larpour grounds, creating still another theory of the origin of the Beast.

This novel also includes Goetz Kreuzregen flushing a monster out of a coastal Mexican town in the 1950s and Baron de Quemaderos, executed in Mexico by the Inquisition, magically revived to fight the mythical Piasa in New French Illinois—all of which Larpour weaves into a fantastical tapestry explaining his genealogical character. More later.


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Hartog (of Europe) and proxemic problems.

Noted, September 26, 2013

The issue of proxemics is important because it strikes me that Hartog, the Euro version, memed from the early Orloff movies by Jess Franco, is a haunted place because there is just something not quite right about the proxemics of the town.

The original town, as dreamt, appears to be an atavistic memory of its ancient rendering, as such, in Lyall

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The hill near town, could be construed as a Neanderthal cave too

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This would segway into the lore of the Neanderthal in the mythology (touched upon in story in Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks): at present, the connection is made through the phrase “the funk of 40,000 years” (from Thriller) which refers, I believe, to Adrienne Mayor’s thesis (The First Fossil Hunters) that Cyclops was imagined from the Greeks finding the bones of mastodons

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Then at a much later stage, there was an original sin in town, a burning (this from Russell’s The Devils)

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But perhaps it would be more in keeping with the history of Hartog to make of an iconoclastic orgy

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(and, it is likely that this practice persisted because of primitive forerunners who
worshipped the axis mundi, the meshkeftiu, the spooky stick (this from One Million AC DC)

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As described earlier. As a result of this, all the rich families had make a show
of their presence at such events, and built ever more elaborate balconies and
boxes to watch the proceedings from. This accounts for that aspect of Hartog
that originally caused my head to turn, and be attracted, its small town scale,
but with its grandiosity

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it is as if the town took the small space proxemics it had, and made it more
crowded, by building up and away, vertically, to improve oversight. This then
backfired, in the modern era, with everyone, now that the original purpose had
died, colonizing these excrescences, and living in these balconies and such,
and then, for that, feeling like they lived too close to everyone else, and
finding ways to in their imaginations restore some scale to life. This is why
to antiquaire is the leading merchant of town

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He mostly sells paintings

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He sells a very peculiar genre of painting that Hartogians put all over their walls, nondescript genre scenes, reduced almost to the pure sign of “painting,” but in fact serving as a window to look out on the neighbors they imagine to live or be on the other side of that wall. So the painting opens up the space, and puts a window where there cannot be one. And the scenes are not very edifying everyday scenes, they do not seem to help

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In addition to these pushaway, distancing pictures, the Hartogians make tremendous use of mirrors, every room has walls full of mirrors, even if blocked by the plants

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For this reason, though Euro, the Hartogians are really more like, proxemically
speaking, the Japanese, and early developed an interest in that culture,
recognizing the relational similarity. It is for this reason, that they live in
mirrors, that they become fixated narcissists, and this is why Orloffs original
goal to restore his daughter to her beauty seemed perfectly logical, and
killing others for that logical too. As for nudity, nudity is not nudity, it is
not exposure at all. It only lets one in, and amounts to an entrée to intimate
space, if you violate it, and so stripping, and cutting, this is pretty normal,
a kind of “sex’ that developed in the proxemics algoritha of life

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Another crazy thing about Hartog is that, a small town, it nonetheless cultivates the
pleasures of life like it is a miniature Paris. But it does not have room to
have clubs on streets, in normal relation to the passing public, they are
hidden away in the third floor of office buildings, they are always a surprise
when come to, they are never expected.

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Because of proxemic problems, Hartogians need portraits to come closer, in order to
make a point. A portrait is more like a window that the sitter has stuck his
head through

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Also, since they do not have room for all the relations of normal life, they often
enact fantasies of these, by situating portraits next to each other. In this
case, the man is not married to this woman, but makes a claim on her, and
imagines it to be real, by hanging her portrait next to his

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But really they prefer suits of armor,

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Or, better still, three dimensional, realistic sculpture, based on talking heads
reliquaries of the Rhine valley

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For the same reason, other people incorporated as a part of the furniture is
another way to culture their closeness, so it is common to have little rooms
off of which naked woman are chained up to the ceiling

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These same curious proxemics can be seen in Orloff
and the Invisible Dead
, surely one of the oddest doctrines of their spatial
philosophy. Here again you are lead down narrow halls to small rooms that open
up into the main parlor, and you are surprised by how out of the way it is, a
room through a door of a hall, how small they are, how not set up like parlors
they are, and they always have too many mirrors

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Chandeliers, large chandeliers are hung in small rooms, they are like a hundred mirrors, meant to make things seem bigger, only making things more cramped

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The chandelier is the fundamental, archetypal image of the lattice, that internal
mental fixation in dreams that one bears down on, that carries one down into
dream, and these things are always pressing down, squeezing the life out of
everything. Portraits, again, even in the bigger houses, are a problem. It is
impossible to hang one, crowded in space, without thinking the person it refers
to is in the room, or watching you, it is alive. As a result, they throb on the
eye, as in the movie

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If you iris in on them, they can indeed seem to come alive. Again, this is caused
by the fact that the room is pretentious: it is too small to hold such a cache
of large portraits, so the place is crowded with them, and you feel the sweat
and the closeness.

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One very odd in which Hartogians fought back against this inheritance was to cause the mirror to revert to a mirror. That is, they might buy a classical painting, but then they would have it repainted with the head of the owner on it, so that when he looks into it, he looks out into it, as in to a mirror, and it opens up space, not closes it down (I interpret this odd picture, not unlike the picture in Dr Phibes, to be Orloff superimposed on a classical scene)


The claustrophobia of the space causes all artifacts to recover their original agency, a cross rises up, it becomes again a blessing or a warding off of evil

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But the most extreme form of Hartogian proxemics problems is that they spend a lot of time scouring, visually, the wainscot and molding, listening, hearing sounds, others, it is all too close, no matter how much they have tried to imagine for themselves more space.

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This strange tendency to pour over the architecture has lent itself to the development of some additional oddities in the architecture. But then the most advanced case of proxemic anxiety is felt in the case that they believe in invisible beings that move through the rooms, and are always present, and threatening them. When, that is, they scan the perimeter, they are not just idly passing their eyes over space, they are scrutinizing it, hearing, yearning for a sign of presence

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Women often have episodes of strange possession, where they imagine, perhaps while
pleasuring themselves, that they are being raped by invisible beings

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Hartogians sprinkle powder on the floor, to catch footprints

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Women imagine that they see a kind of gorilla like beast in the forms of the portraits, in the spaces between the curtains

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And for that reason, stack up in front of them, lots of chairs, and often toss them
about. Also, they often find their clothing stripped from them

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And for that reason spend a good deal off their time in the nude. Also, in terms of
grooming, they allow themselves to be very shaggy below, to ward off the beast,
to perhaps get it lost in the forest on the way to their privacy

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The above picture is a favorite, but its punctum is likely in the glitches of the old film, scratching the girl, and then the fact that she seems to have three red fingerprints on her abdomen, below her navel: possibly marks from the assault, possibly self-administered, in any case, curious

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I have to say, I do love this picture, it’s a hoot, but it captures perfectly the mindset, the character, the morality, the care for modesty, the bravery, the precaution and the culturing, the becoming accustomed to creativity of the Hartogian girl, nude, but not nude, exposed, but not, defensive, even when, in every other town, in this state she would be an emblem of vulnerability.

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Notice here, too, she is defensively backed up, into a space between the furniture, as if to become part of the woodwork, she is trying to draw herself back into the art and the painting behind, she is trying to be as real in that room as that painting of that scene is real in that room: she is trying, in defense, to remove herself from physical reality, and crawl into the glass onion of the protective woodwork. It is typical of the Hartog response to its fears.

This fractal xray reveals, again, a formiphiliac underpinning here, comparing her to bust and porcelain, to give us a sense of touch

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I only wish I could figure out what this was, is it a grotto? The twisted candle implicates

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But then this fractal reveals the deep punctum of the scene, it calls out a fundamental, Magrittean physiognomy: the invisible beast she fears is herself, and her sexual longings for the male who has entered the house, which is why she invented the monster to find a reason to strip for him, and be rescued like a damsel in distress

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In any case, riffing off Dr. Orloff, and then, one of my favorite strange Euro movies, Orloff and the Invisible Dead, this is what I imagine. Hartog caught my imagination, some years ago, because of the odd in-between France-Germanyness of it, but also because of the odd proxemics of a small town that still seemed large, cultured, like a little Paris; and then too because of its claustrophobic proxemics—all of which, as I have only previously noted in Japan, results in a different culture. This reading at least gives me some basis for identifying why Hartog is the dream city in the mythology. It is the city of the glass onion, with some dark lattice below. 

PS It may strike readers as strange, how easily I cruise by full frontal nudity these days. For one thing, on one level, compared to contemporary display, such girls are not, strictly speaking, nude any more: they are covered in their hair. Also, however, I have worked out how nudity and especially its signs, in the modern era, pubic hair, was confabulated in culture by the overcast of it by a lattice of metaphors, and the presence of this lattice in a sense “dresses” the nude in the conventions of the genre that traffics in the convention, so they are not, really, nude, once you get it.

For another thing, once you gain deeper insight into the instrumentation underlying the mis en scene of a movie, and nudity emerges as a strategy, as here, of proxemics, then nudity per se, as an uncultured thing, in puritan mindset, vanishes, and becomes cultured and almost invisible in many ways.


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Horror Hotel (1960) and the proxemics of haunting

In discussing dreams, it has been noted that the nightmare largely consists of a startle effect caused by dreams moving from the acceptable middle range of distance from the mind’s eye, to up close. The same is true in waking life, people moving in too close, their hands coming in too close, is one the essentials horrors. It occurs to me that space constructed by architecture can also result in proxemic violations. I learned this well when moving into my current apartment: for a time, I set up my desk, as would be expected, in the outer room, the main room. But I never could get comfortable there, it was too close to the front door, and too close to whatever traffic occurred just outside of it, and in the parking lot. So I relocated to the backroom, restoring the distance between my setup and the door that I had had in my previous apartment, and all my fears went away. Therefore, another source of terror, just beyond violations of personal space, are violations of the proxemics of the built space. Any such violation, any such oddity, or eccentricity, can be the source horror.

I felt that this idea was worked out nicely in the movie, City of the Dead, or Horror Hotel (1960). In the prologue to the movie, we see Elizabeth Selwyn burned at the stake, in the town square of a 17th century town

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And then, after Nan Goldwin checks in to the Raven’s Inn, she sees a sign behind
the desk

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That means that the hotel came to cover up a place that was formerly at the center of the town square, or at least the site of witch burnings. This is a haunted proxemics, being the spot of. As it is worked out here, the place where the pyre was set, has become, in time the front desk of the hotel

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In this regard, the front desk is, proxemically, a memorial, but also a reenactment. This coincidence in space gives an added dimension of meaning to the lamp, burning bright at that hour

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It also gives added meaning to the fire in the fireplace, a vestige of sorts.

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In any case, oddly, the rest of the hotel is booked up, but there is a room available, just off the lobby. In this, the movie indulges in its most egregious violation of proxemics. In most hotel rooms, one would want to back with all the other rooms, off of a hallway, far from the central gathering areas. One would never want a room off of a lobby, it would be too noisy. If the bathroom was not adjunct to the room, then going to the bathroom would involve some rather embarrassing walks through the lobby (It is because of a violation of proxemics that I remember some of the curious hotels I stayed in when a traveler in Frommerland: including showering in a closet just off a hallway in a hotel in Coburg, Germany—an oddity I have never got over). Normally, such a violation of space would make one uncomfortable. But it is also possible, if one is seeking some special meaning, that such a violation would be interpreted as “neat” and “cozy.” That is, things are packed together more closely, and, because of that, there is an odd feeling of overlap that lends to the present a kind of quaint or historical quality. Since Nan is involved in studying books, and witchcraft. The fact that she is right next to the lobby might be of interest to her. In any case, she has other proxemics worries. As she lies in bed, she hears chanting. It seems to be coming from under the floor. The proprietor assures her that under the floor there is only earth, but she hears the hollowness

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In essence, what this does is place Ann, in her robe, directly above the site of a modern reenacting sacrifice. That makes all of her bed and the floor the kindling on which she will be burned. She has not only come to the spot of the burning, but she has stepped into the reenactment of it. The only problem one might have with the movie is that Ann is not the brightest bulb in the package. She reads a book to the revived witch, about how witches cast their spell, and then does not put two and two together. She reads that book, too, on her bed, looked over by the green man, the witch’s god.

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At one point, the proprietor tells her that there is dancing in the lobby, and she might wish to join. The dancing is, of course, a spell, to get her out of her room. It is a proxemics relationship she might know: typical of college dormitory rooms, for example. There, there is a door, and there is often, on the other side of that door, partying.

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Then the instant she opens the door, they all vanish: indicating it was a spell, designed to get her out. It is also possible that the spell was cast in order to drown out the chanting she heard, so it is a cover. But it does cast the proxemics in a more positive light: it is the kind of distance that might excite her, and make her want to get out and party. And, indeed, that is what she does. She has been studying in her robe, but then we see her strip. This scene has never made sense to me. She is underdressed in this whole regalia of fancy lingerie in the style of the can can, garter belts and all. It just doesn’t make sense, that a college girl would be wearing all this underneath

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We even get to be sexually aroused by her, spying on her dressing, as she lifts a leg, and drops a breast. What does it mean? It again signals that, on the spot of sacrifice, over the chanting, in a room, now, marked by the witches, she is being prepared for, she is falling under the spell of, witches, and will be the sacrificial lamb. This is her getting herself up, unconsciously, in her fanciest things, a requirement for sacrifice. And maybe she thought that she might score at the dance, but then it is gone when she opens the door

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It is also possible that Candlemas is figured out thus, she is a human candle, and
then too as a variant of Februarata, the hot days, an erotic ancient festival
of release

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And there is only that lobby

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All in all, then, her room is a domesticated, furniturized version of the site of the burning, the pyre (the bed), the fire (the lamps), the chants (under the floor), the spells (her reading), the stripping (her underdressing). It’s quite odd: to have fallen upon the target spot of a proxemic relation to the past. There is a bird in her drawer, just as she read

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And a sprig on the door, she is to be the one.

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And then the window gives up a handle on the curtain pull, it is the key to the
opening in the floor (not unlike the latch in The Little Girl who Lived Down the Lane, so these ways of getting into cellars must have made their owners uncomfortable over the years, to generate a negative lore).

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(by the way, it ought to be noted, though tangentially, that just as the space she stays in is a glass onion recreation of the burning place, so she is a recreation of the burned witch, her blonde hair is a torch, her breasts are flashlights, her body, her eyes are lights, she is all a searching thing, perhaps in her intensity and light, blinding her to her immolation in the thing she seeks. In any case, the sacrifice now occurs. This happens in the caves, not unlike in Witchcraft. Earlier, in the antique shop, where a girl has moved to help her grandfather, she sees painting of the scene which happened right outside that window

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(I would like to think that the art director thought through this well enough to make the image of the burned witch in the picture look like the girl looking at it here, but I am not so sure

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(still, in presenting us, in effect, with an art direction study, which became the set, returned to serve as a work of art, in the movie, is an odd sort of infinite regress that symbolizes, as staircases do, the twisted inevitability of looking into this sort of thing).

(I also think this is an example of that subgenre I call witch art, or conjure art: used by Ed Warren, for example, to conjure ghosts. That is, it is art, but it is magic too: here, it is held in the antique shop, not for sale, but to symbolize the raison d’etre of the shop, to keep a vigil over the burning place, and wish for this sacrifice to be completed, in time. It is an act of conjuration). (Just as the book got by her in the shop became a record of her interests, and mind, and so the illustration of sacrifice in the book, communicated what had happened to her, by intuitive of putting two and two together,

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Earlier, looking out the window of her hotel, she saw the acolytes in the cemetery, under hood. The town is always enshrouded in fog. The place, then, is a burning place, and it is permeated, from top to bottom, inside and out, with the memory of fire. Why is this important? Because there is to be another sacrifice, in the foggy cemetery. And this is resolved, in favor of saving the second victim, by the fact that a dying boy picks up a cemetery cross, and uses the shadow of the cross to cause the witches in their monks cloths to incinerate

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What this means is that the burning place remains a fiery atmosphere, by the
friction caused by the refusal of the church to leave, so that it really is a
battle against the cross and the opposite of the cross, of the hands of clock
at the thirteenth hour,

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Then friction, the fact that the town is locked in the burning time, is what gives
the cross the power to incinerate: to reenact the burning by the casting of a
shadow. It’s odd, not entirely believable, but possibly instrumental, in that
the witches remained, what, emanations of burned forms, a burned race, a nearly
cinder presence, living in fire, close to fire, easily returned to fire, fire
demons, per se. This then leads to the finale, when the heros wander back into
the hotel, and find Selwyn sitting under the plaque which declares this is
where the burning took place, they spin the chair around, and in chair spin
shock (I mentioned in review how much like Psycho this movie was in structure),
she is burned, returned, then, the magic spell off, to her burnt state.

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Now, the very curious thing about this scenario, grounded in fire, and burning, is that it communicates the fact that violations of proxemics toward closeness is communicated to the self as hotness, as being too hot.

A month or so ago, we went down to H, and saw a parade. As part of that routine, we visited the H Hotel. Coming in the door, the lobby was taken up by a ticket table. In back, the dining room was crowded with bins with cooked meats. But I had a moment of “eureka” bolt through me, when I glanced upstairs, and then read a sign, posted on the newel post, Upstairs for Miss C—- Days Contestants only. As I expressed it in the car, as a joke, wouldn’t it be funny if a contestant came down from Wisconsin, and was just sleeping with every guy in town, a real whore. But what I got, that whooshed down that architectural cunt of a staircase and railing, was, it was hot: for all that girl, all of their changing, and preparing, and partying, and nakedness, and all that to be up there, in such close confines, it was too much. I felt a blast of heat come down the stairs, in my instant grasp of it. And, then, passing by, all that passed away, and was extinguished. As I worked out it occurred to me that the only figurative way to express my mixed feelings for such a perception, for taking in that whiff of all of that, in one sniff, was to imagine a series of mystery murders upstairs, in which all the dead girls in their rooms were dead by cases of spontaneous combustion, caused by too many hot girls fractioning up against each other, further activating by the imagination of men in the town that night, and so they all spontaneously combusted, without the need of a torch or a burning.

And the missing detail would be that this was able to occur, because this was the site of a burning and curse, from the burning, so things heat up too quickly.

And then in turned out that there were pictures of John Hess, and he is the very saint of burning. So, it is that.

The H Hotel also inspired me to open up my Hartog House blog: and I want to have a Hartog House page too, same sort of everyday Pardon my etc, but fictim.

And there is the same image

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A woman, who, as an avatar of a burned witch, is, in effect, a fire demon, and made of fire, and, when negated, in cross shadow, she spontaneously recombusts, and is left like this. I argue that all such figures are symbolic ways to work out the fact that by a violation of proxemics in which too much hotness was placed too close to each other without protection, such a friction of horror was created.

In this case, then, the pictures, on the easel and in the book, only serve to illustrate a modern reality that has evolved in the arrangement of space itself, over the site of an ancient crime. For this, the staginess of this movie does not detract, but contributes to the spooky aura of the scenario.


Having discerned that as a result of the town having been the scene of witch burnings, the survivors remains, but as fire demons who could easily, with the shadow of a cross, incinerate, it was then amusing to here soon after the tale in the last part of Fellini’s Satyricon of a beautiful witch cursed by a wizard to provide the town all of its fire, from the heat coming out of from between her legs. And so the charming scene of the local townsfolk sticking a handful of thatch in between her open, birth positioning thighs, and it catching fire

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And then the beautiful witch suffering pain, not orgasm, at each act of firing up, so much so, that, held there, in duty, of necessity, as a day in day out job, she is cursed. It’s a nice counterpart (added Oct 1 13)

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Small towns and travelling shows: Something wicked……. (part 2), November 2013

The exoticization of the fantastical is deeply rooted, as these movies indicate, by the culture of the Arabian Nights. The orientalist construct of fantasy, in old Anglo/colonial culture, was circumscribed by the exotic fantasy world of that book. This is why China and Arabia, without a concern about the real middle east in the colonial period, were the alpha and omega lands of this vision of the world. Seeing Something Wicked, of course, made me think of Dr. Lao again. I saw Dr. Lao as a young man, I never saw Something Wicked until I screened it last year. Dr. Lao, as mentioned, reminded me of Valley of the Gwangi, the last great movie done by Harryhausen. In it, a dinosaur is found in an isolated valley in Mexico, and made the main attraction of a—circus, a local affair travelling the second rate circuit, from town to town, hanging on. In it, James Franciscus, looking for a gimmick, visits an odd circus

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That shows a tiny pony, he wants it,

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But a gypsy woman, presumably a Mexican peasant, a soothsayer, roaming the west borderlands, tells him of a valley, lost in time

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So he goes out there, and it is a mystic valley, a fantasy valley, very difficult to get into, through chinks in the rocks, and the instant you are in there, the movie had done its way in estranging us about it, as it chills, and you see pteradactyls with wonder

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The valley is a wonder valley

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Filled with admittedly not great stop action combined with rear projection dinosaurs

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They then find and trap Gwangi and bring him back in to a local rural Mexican circus and give him the King Kong treatment,

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Even having him fight another, with predictable results

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There are other pleasures of the movie, but two things, the travelling circus, with wonders, on a rural circuit, and then the fact that its wonders were found in a mysterious valley (with elements like any other fantasy geomythic place of the time, and even up to today, with Jack and the Giant Slayer) (I also note that in those old movies women were primarily figurative, to help along the psychological acceptance of the wonder of the valley, as all such valleys were maternal, in form, both upper and lower half of the body, nourishing and birthing, and when I ask in review what must a ten year old boy have thought of the wonders of Gia Golan, wet, then slipping behind the dressing screen to change, one is obvious, or not so much, the other mysterious

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In any case, by this detour, we link up a circus to a mysterious landscape; this is how a circus becomes the gateway threshold to the mystery and wonder of the wide world. At that time, this wonder, as here, was expressed in mysterious vallies. In addition to this one, there was another enchanting valley in Harryhausen’s Jason and the Argonauts

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But by far the best of these was the valley of the Cyclops in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad,

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Which represents many things, including monocular vision down that valley, a space entirely filled, uncannily so, with its presence, its artifacts, hints or intimations of what it might look like, danger, and then it is real.

The movie’s space is also instrumentalized in other ways. Inside reality, is a second reality, a wonder reality, in the lamp

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It is a miniature world, that models the spaces of circus tents in their Americanized form. And then a force can break out of them, in the form of light and smoke, as a genii, a djinn, a spirit, sometimes eveil, and I think all storm, wind, lightning and electrical rendition of the appearance or action of transforming wonder, is derived from the fact that the force comes from within or afar to a real place. So, this is a kind of imagination that moves from the micro to macro, to assume power, and moves from the far away to the near at hand, the end of the vallery, to close up, with the micro then having the power to cast a spell that creates a barrier. This palingenetic depiction of reality, engendered in the Arabian Nights, became perhaps the substructure of the imagination of these Anglo fantasy circus-comes-to-town model.

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And then it has the power to restraint the monster, by erecting a magic barrier, depicted here as a kind of wobbly wall that one cannot get through, this is a classic example of gateway theory embodied in space, it showed up Earth Versus Flying Saucers, also Harryhausen, and also in, way before him, Chandu the Magicien, where, on the island of Bubasti, they are within a magic veil, later on that

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Part III to come.

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Notes: The Gowanus canal of Brooklyn, in the VH mythology.

I first passed in front of the Coignet building at Third Street and Third Avenue in Gowanus, Brooklyn, in, must have been 1990, to visit the studio of an artist, just across the avenue.

I thought it was the house at the end of the world. It had an abject-stately haunted film noir aura. Reminded me of the isolated house at the end of Staten Island in Sorry, Wrong Number. This painting from 2012 by Brooklyn artist Kara Smith kind of captures the feeling I’m talking about, though in my version the clouds would be dark and the story scarier.

And then I moved to Brooklyn and twenty years pass and for all that time it remains a haunted ruin which I populated in stories for my kids with all sorts of eccentrics but now with Whole Foods coming in all around it the strange little bit of classical architecture in cement is being given the plaintive piano sepia tone preservationist dipped in formaldehyde treatment in a documentary video, At the Corner of Third and Third, by filmmaker Max Kutner, screened last week at the Greenpoint Film Festival yet, see info on the Kutner website.


Wild space is a concept from psychogeography. A wild space is a space adjacent to civilized space, where the imagination of the civilized go, to run and indulge their fantasies. I extracted the term from an article on urban geography which lamented that with the onset of video game culture, now the predominant entertainment industry, kids have internalized and mediated their wild space, and do not go roaming in those adjacent side places, railroad tracks, ravines, cemeteries, empty lots, empty houses, valleys, no trespassing zones, etc etc, which have been the haunts of kids seeking adventure for generations.

But the concept also works on a broad cultural level. Other wild spaces in the mythology are the Valley of the Kings, relative to Deir el Bhariah on the Nile, west of Luxor; the German cliffs of the Rhine, relative to France; the cliffs of Cornwall, relative to ‘civilized’ England; the bluffs of Kleinschmitt, relative to a block and a half inland—and then the Gowanus.

Wild Space in the mythology

Among the various ways in which the neighborhood of Castle Garden “reminded me of where I grew up,” even though they were quite different, the psychogeography was in fact similar, and it struck me as odd that I ended up living a block and a half from the wild space of the Gowanus, when in my childhood I had lived a block and a half from the wild space of the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan, in both cases the block and a half on a west-to-east orientation. Odd, indeed: it occurred to me that that convergence mystically inspired much of the writing in that place and time.

In the mythology, related to Castle Garden, is the Gowanus. The Gowanus in the mythology is routinely depicted as the wild space, where monsters dwell. This is a reflection of what the author found was a general perception of the area, in the minds of those who lived ‘up the hill.’ The social topography of the old neighborhood was, clearly, up the hill, good, down the hill, bad. Though that line blurred over the past fifteen years, the ideas persist in the place and time of the stories. As a result, these confabulated geographies are latticed over the real Gowanus. Examples of the use of the Gowanus:

In an early adventure story, likely Fleece, the Gowanus is fantastically linked to up the hill by way of Marco Polo Restaurant (before it was renovated).

In Drucilla, a retelling of The Vampire Lovers, in the context of the Riemenschneider family mythology, Drucilla lays at rest as a vampire in abandoned buildings along the Gowanus.

In the story about the Michelangelo, based on an actual four feet high Isis lamp found, then smashed on the corner of Smith and DeGraw in summer 2006?, and the hand of which I still keep in storage, the site of the makers of the plaster lamp was the Guffati brothers on Carroll just off the canal, where there was in fact an actual maker of decorative plaster busts of Elvis etc.

Another early story, name uncertain at present, is a retelling of the movie The Grasp of the Lorelei, placing the monster in a girl who lived on Carroll Street opposite the canal and would on certain nights turn into a monster that lived in the canal. At several other points, the Gowanus is compared to the Rhine around the cliffs of the Lorelei, this partly having fun with developer visions of it as another Venice.

In Wax House, or the Thing in America, Gowanus in the 1850s is imagined, as is a wax museum opened up in the upper floor of a saloon at the corner of Carroll and Bond Street. In Merinanka (2009), if I recollect, she too revisits 19th century Gowanus.

In Mith Street (2010), the main characters set out in the beginning of the story to seek the magic maraphasia plant that grows in the Gowanus, and it is there that they encounter a werewolf. In this, the Gowanus is a translation of the site of the Tibet episode at the beginning of The Werewolf of London.

In Pillar of the Moon (2012), Rhys, her dealer, and others come out to visit longtime resident artist “High” Highsmith who operates a defunct forge at the twist of the Canal by the concrete factory past Third. This then becomes a translation in story of the forge in Cornwall held by the mad artist in Crucible of Terror.

In this story, Jack Dracula is High’s factotum, and he lives around on Third Avenue, in the Coignet Building, where he does his business as a tattoo artist/vampire, possibly as a squatter, this part of the Gowanus imagined as in the settings in the movie, The Witch Who Came From the Sea. This is partly a response to my rainy walk back from Third Avenue Extra Space Storage as one of the final walks of my frantic exiling in March, 2013; and partly a memory of almost buying Gen a black guitar at a guitar shop on Third up by Carroll, in 2005?, putting $50 down, and then never coming back for it.

We also made a place of pilgrimage in ‘daddy camp’ of the pizza place there, and I always pointed out that we came very close to living in the block at Third Avenue of Carroll Street. Finally, in later years, the spooky stick was harvested from the streets of Gowanus, and the second spooky stick, which was then made use of from 2008 on, and only destroyed with the move out in March, 2013, was found broken off of a tree on Third Avenue near Third Street, within site of the Coignet, on a rainy day run back from getting ink at Staples at Third Street and Fourth Avenue.

Therefore, it might be said, the Gowanus runs through the Von Hohenheim mythology.

Final note: though Hartog, in its Euro and in its American forms, is the pole city of the mythogenetic zone in which the VH storying is situated, all of the stories were uncovered or told from a base in what is termed in fiction Castle Garden, located near the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NYC.

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