Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Particles of deep topography - 22

Dead places

Text: Teatro Grottesco (Thomas Ligotti)
Text: The White Hands and Other Weird Tales (Mark Samuels)
Text: The Concrete Grove (The Concrete Grove Trilogy) (Gary McMahon)

Illustrations: Photographs from the Dordrecht art museum (Hans Broek, Colorado Blvd, 2004)

Dead places, ghost towns and derelict places are like the biblical desert. Places to retreat to and confront God, confront yourself. In cheap movies the hero's family dies at the beginning and then he's free to go on his quest. Going to dead places is a better way to shake off your chains:
It specifically announces that this is to be an excursion, and I quote, to a “dead town, a finished town, a failed town, a false and unreal setting that is the product of unsuccessful organisms and therefore a town that is exemplary of that extreme state of failure that may so distress human organic systems, particularly the gastrointestinal system, to the point of weakening its delusional and totally fabricated defenses – e. g. the mind, the self – and thus precipitating a crisis of nightmare realization involving . . . ,” and I think we’re all familiar with the shadow-and-darkness talk which follows.
Confronting your own dead organisms can lead to catharsis and regeneration:
The point is, Grossvogel promises nothing in this brochure except an environment redolent of failure, a sort of hothouse for failed organisms.
Dead places can lead you to new life:
This tower was vacant: a void. ... So completely abandoned, it seemed to me a consummation of a terrible beauty. For what was it now but a vacuum, an oasis of nothing, where all else around it was but the maddening whirl of asinine human activity? I viewed it as a vertical desert, closed off from the outside, a region without the distractions of the commonplace.
But dead places can also lead you to ruin and tragedy. It's not easy to see the difference:
These openings bled darkness; they provided small, square glimpses of something black, unhealthy and rotten. If she allowed herself, Hailey could imagine things moving in there. Strange things. Dark things. Things that lived in such forgotten places.

About this series Over the years I've collected many place descriptions. It's a waste to keep them on my harddisk. So I'll publish them from time to time. I will add some pictures when suitable.
Enhanced and amplified topographies can be found in a broad range of literature. The best ones link to metaphysics or mysticism and (pre-) load the landscape with unexpected layers, sheets, slabs and strata of meaning. We can appropriate all this work to enrich our everyday surroundings.

Previous posts are 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, 14:Addiction against emptiness, 15:Suggestive vagueness,  16: Ominous places and books, 17: Military technology, 18: Ominous telephones, 19: Observation, 20: History distortion, 21: Spy stories.

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