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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