Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Particles of deep topography - 14

Right after starting a this series I realized the title was wrong. There are two reasons for this:
  1. "Deep topography" is a much better title. The major theme in horror is "the appearance of the previously invisible". And horror landscapes have to provide for this. The author must pre-load the landscape with premonitions of unexpected layers, sheets, slabs and strata of meaning. And we can exploit and appropriate all the hard work of the author to enrich our everyday surroundings.
  2. "Horror" is the wrong category. Enhanced and amplified topographies can be found in a broad range of literature. The best ones link to metaphysics or mysticism. One day I will want to add quotes from the Bible or from Ignatius of Loyola. And you could hardly call that "horror literature".
Note: “Deep topography” is a phrase discovered by Nick Papadimitriou. It looks and sounds like this. I like it very much.
And not only is the title wrong, the numbering is wrong also. Previous posts with quotes from horror literature are here: 1:The paranoid method, 2:Rooftops and sacrifices, 3:Oil and electricity,  4:Sewing machines, 5:Rooftops and apparitions, 6:Woods, 7:Mushrooms, 8:Formlessness (2d), 9:Formlessness (3d), 10:Autumn, 11:Monsters and mad scientists, 12:Empty spaces, 13:Stars and planets. Most of these mix art, literature and Rotterdam.

Below is a quote from an article that I read this morning. It is not "horror literature". But it has the same "look and feel" with its mix of possession, metaphysics and religion. It would fit in modern horror and also in political landscape writing - the emptiness of late capitalism:
Addiction is different. Addicts resist known cures—even to the point of death. If you do not reckon with why addicts go to such lengths to continue suffering, you are unlikely to figure out how to treat them.
In 1993, Francis F. Seeburger, a professor of philosophy at the University of Denver, wrote a profound book on the thought processes of addicts called Addiction and Responsibility. 
“Something like an addiction to addiction plays a role in all addiction,” he writes. “Addiction itself ... is tempting; it has many attractive features.” 
In an empty world, people have a need to need. Addiction supplies it. “Addiction involves the addict. It does not present itself as some externally imposed condition. Instead, it comes toward the addict as the addict’s very self.” Addiction plays on our strengths, not just our failings. It simplifies things. It relieves us of certain responsibilities. It gives life a meaning. It is a “perversely clever copy of that transcendent peace of God.”
The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous thought there was something satanic about addiction. The mightiest sentence in the book of Alcoholics Anonymous is this: “Remember that we deal with alcohol—cunning, baffling, powerful!” The addict is, in his own, life-damaged way, rational. He’s too rational. He is a dedicated person—an oblate (*) of sorts, as Seeburger puts it. He has commitments in another, nether world.

The deeper problem, however, is at once metaphysical and practical, and we’re going to have a very hard time confronting it. Addicts, in their own short-circuited, reductive, and destructive way, are armed with a sense of purpose. We aren’t.
(*) From the Latin "oblatus" - someone who has been offered (to a monastic order). A lay-person who is committed to follow the monastic life as closely as possible.

American Carnage, by Christopher Caldwell, First Things
Rotterdam Gallery window - Rodenrijselaan
Gouda building site inside a chapel - Patersteeg - Jeruzalemstraat

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