20180920

Tested the new WordPress Gutenberg editor. It didn’t work for me. I couldn’t add links as fluently as I like and the block-structure felt awkward considering backward compatibility. It’ll be a the default in the next major release. I fear that when it comes I’ll have to update my website in some major way.

An extract from “Lovecraft : A Study in the Fantastic. Detroit: Wayne State University” (1988) by Maurice Levy.

All my stories are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large. […] To achieve the essence of real externality, whether of time or space or dimension, one must forget that such things as good and evil, love and hate, and all such local attributes of a negligible and temporary race called mankind, have any existence at all. – H.C Lovecraft

A very cynical view (he called it “cosmic indifferentism”). I’m beginning to doubt Lovecraft as an informant in posthumanistic affairs (yet there is an appeal it this coarseness).

I’m struggling my way through The Mountain of Madness (1931). It starts almost as an action story. It’s about a group of geologists exploring the arctic and discovering strange creatures and later a city of “the old ones”. The story plays with the concept of post-truth… The beginning is narrated largely in the form of radio dispatches, that he exposition crew sends from the antarctic (there is even a reference to post-truths’ in the first chapter).

In the beginning there are also very beautiful descriptions of fossils. The structure of the book (every chapter starts by recapping the highlights of the previous) works great for contemporary readers (on a mobile phone, in between replying to emails). The structures and buildings the expedition discover in the antarctic make me think about New York City.

There were composite cones and pyramids either alone or surmounting cylinders or cubes or flatter truncated cones and pyramids, and occasional needle-like spires in curious clusters of five. All of these febrile structures seemed knit together by tubular bridges crossing from one to the other at various dizzy heights, and the implied scale of the whole was terrifying and oppressive in its sheer gigantism.

The way he writes about the culture of the “old ones” makes me wonder how he thought about the Indigenous peoples of the America. The story tells that long ago, someone else (the entities that have a right to the land) knew something we can’t grasp. I don’t know if he’s paying homage or what.. But he is truly scared. The artworks and architecture discovered in the city are described meticulously. Chapters 5&6 are borderline boring but it’s interesting to envision artworks through the descriptions. This could be a method to manufacture public art in the future.

20180709

Got a semi-bad sun burn on my shoulders.

Preparing for tomorrows test-shoots (more on that later).

Met with the July batch of ISCP artists (fun looking people, mainly painters and photographers) and got a breakdown of the “services” ISCP provides for residents. I didn’t write everything down (which I regret as there was a lot to take in). ISCP takes residents on field trips and to gallery/museum openings, organizes various types of open studio events (Open Doors Thursday, Summer / Winter open house events), they organise artist talks (between visitors, residents & staff), third Thursday (of the month) informal gallery tours, critic visits (to which we can book appointments, I booked an appointment with Sara Reisman), aid in productions, some sort of coaching services and there are a lot of tools artist can borrow too. It’s great.. Like a Art-School-Social-Factory-Rehabilitation-Center. Residents are expected to spend 20h a week at the ISCP facilities and to be on location on Thursdays (and to have their studio doors open, for talks and informal meetings). I’m learning to cope with having my home and studio in separate addresses… Constantly forgetting to take gear (hard-disks or flash-drives) with me.

HP Lovecraft’s Racism (2018) Zero Book. A short extract on a longer podcast investigating Lovecrafts political views on others (he’s a racist but it’s complicated).

20180629

Reading Lovecraft The Shadow Out of Time (1934). After this I’ll read The Mountain of Madness and The Call of Chulhu. Lovecraft might be good source for developing an understanding of horses (and other non-human beasts).

The story of The Shadow Out of Time is told by a man called Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee whose mind is snatched to work in an massive archive populated by drones. He is (along other drones) tasked to document the history of the world (and worlds) in the service of the Great Race. The plant like Great Race is in the process of departing our world and set to live in the future (because they fear the “elder beings”). The library is located in the past of our world (between Paleozoic and Mesozoic periods) but drones (some of who have human minds) that serve the archive come from all ages. The task of documenting everything is so enormous that Nathaniel can’t maintain a stable mind. The archive he describes feels like a data center and narrator is slowly turning into some kind of artificial intelligence. The horror of this story is in the description of the various states of self awareness this intelligence is in. The text is very tricky to read.

The text bundles psychology, archeology and geology. The narrator is on a quest to understand a personal experience (a sudden change in his person and amnesia), this leads to a quest to understand myths, which leads to a quest to understand the world that has created the myths. Perhaps Haraway has used this approach to draft her proposal on different scales that should be thought of when facing other species (biological, cultural and face-to-face). The term “post-human” is mentioned (or specifically a “posthuman beetle race”)! Other interesting concepts are “pseudo-memory”, “memory-rhythm” (a choreography for opening a lock) and “myth-born unreality”. The narrator is excavating trough layers of concealed memories (trauma) and prompted to orchestrate a archeological excavation. The researchers discover archeological and geological evidence which confirms that the narrators pseudo-memories from the distant past are real, that his trauma is based on actual events which took place before his birth. The Lovecraftian world feels very similar to the world of the enchanted, which is depicted in ME AND MINE film (2018).

Here is a description of the archives the narrator is forced to work in and his body when it’s in its virtual drone state:

And then the morbid temptation to look down at myself became greater and greater, till one night I could not resist it. At first my downward glance revealed nothing whatever. A moment later I perceived that this was because my head lay at the end of a flexible neck of enormous length. Retracting this neck and gazing down very sharply, I saw the scaly, rugose, iridescent bulk of a vast cone ten feet tall and ten feet wide at the base. That was when I waked half of Arkham with my screaming as I plunged madly up from the abyss of sleep.

Only after weeks of hideous repetition did I grow half-reconciled to these visions of myself in monstrous form. In the dreams I now moved bodily among the other unknown entities, reading terrible books from the endless shelves and writing for hours at the great tables with a stylus managed by the green tentacles that hung down from my head.

[…]

The archives were in a colossal subterranean structure near the city’s center, which I came to know well through frequent labors and consultations. Meant to last as long as the race, and to withstand the fiercest of earth’s convulsions, this titan repository surpassed all other buildings in the massive, mountain-like firmness of its construction.

The records, written or printed on great sheets of a curiously tenacious cellulose fabric were bound into books that opened from the top, and were kept in individual cases of a strange, extremely light, rustless metal of greyish hue, decorated with mathematical designs and bearing the title in the Great Race’s curvilinear hieroglyphs.

The narrator returns to the archive site in a later episode and tells about the same space when he is in human form:

One thing only was unfamiliar, and that was my own size in relation to the monstrous masonry. I felt oppressed by a sense of unwonted smallness, as if the sight of these towering walls from a mere human body was something wholly new and abnormal. Again and again I looked nervously down at myself, vaguely disturbed by the human form I possessed.

[…]

The very prints of my shoes behind me in the millennially untrodden dust made me shudder. Never before, if my mad dreams held anything of truth, had human feet pressed upon those immemorial pavements.

The way a distant creature is described reminds me of being close to a horse when it’s breathing heavily while trotting:

There was a wind, too – not merely a cool, damp draught, but a violent, purposeful blast belching savagely and frigidly from that abominable gulf whence the obscene whistling came.