Friday, July 19, 2019

'The Sculptor' accepted for publication in Vastarien

A short story I wrote titled 'The Sculptor' has been accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of the literary journal 'Vastarien'.

'The Sculptor' follows a journalist as he travels to interview a reclusive Sculptor whose work has a strange effect on those who view it. During their interview the Journalist realizes that the Sculptor has either gone totally insane, or is in contact with something much greater than he had originally realized.

The story is concerned with the power of art, the malignant deity and the meagre space that separates dream and reality.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Essay: The Proximity of Horror, and its therapeutic effect

There is a strange memory I have, the sort of memory that is so dreamlike in nature, yet so real in feeling, that I am not sure, after the intervening years, whether it actually happened or not. It's not uncommon to have these sort of things in our childhood, these memories that are likely either dreams, or so wildly distorted by mist of memory as to have taken on the tenor of a dream. But this event happened when I was eighteen, and I recollect it so well that I am almost positive that it happened.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Unpublished Story - The Detritus

[Over the past four years or so I have written a number of short stories. I submitted these stories to a magazines and literary journals but they were not accepted for publication. I figured I would put them up here.]

Edward had surrounded himself with the detritus of many ages. 
Not garbage but tools he did not know how to use yet. Old quiet cat cable and network switches. Fried display systems and half used packets of proprietary documentation stationary. In the bathroom, perched on the sink side: gallon jugs of laboratory calibration solution concentrate, long expired and off-color. Screw top vials, empty and clean. Cast off glass-headed vacuum tubes, chip boards and diodes. Notebooks and binders filled with sketches and observations. Hard-handed and cryptic ink. Obsolete, already transcribed and worthless. 

Unpublished Story - Wendy

[Over the past four years or so I have written a number of short stories. I submitted these stories to a magazines and literary journals but they were not accepted for publication. I figured I would put them up here.]

Nearing thirty, he found himself living a mundane and pointless life out in the forgotten expanse of the country. It was good, and he wasted his days reading and writing and not doing much at all. When he tried to remember how he had come out there, what decisions he had made that led him to that place, he had a vague recollection of escaping some strife, of trying to make a move for the better but these decisions seemed far off now and made by someone else entirely.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Insomnia 13 May 2019

Frequently I'll wake up in the middle of the night and lay in bed for an hour or two just thinking. I have heard this happens to old people a lot.

Mostly my thoughts are negative. This is probably not a good thing, to be stewing in your hatred in the dark like this for an extended period (or at all).

But it is sort of a bad and a good thing. Being all alone in the dark like that reminds you of the base state of life: inaction, solitude, emptiness. It is almost a religious state.

I hated it when this happened what I had a job: it meant I would wake up in the morning and still be exhausted but would have to go through all the motions of the day, push through the commute and work and small talk on reduced rest.

Now - when this insomnia happens - it is still offputting, but I can work with it.

I'll put down some of my thoughts here, thoughts that I had while in that state.

No claims that they are interesting. I figure it is sort of like looking through a kaleidoscope in an unlit room.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

A short Essay on Horror and the Environment

         The wilderness is undoubtedly a place of immense beauty. This beauty may be found easily in a bloom of wildflowers or by watching an eagle soar overhead, but it also comes in a more gripping and challenging form in that sense of grandness and awe generated in us when we experience it in a deep and untamed way. That sense of awe is ineluctably tinged with the edge of fear, with the sense of our utter insignificance and fragility. It is only natural then, that some of the great works of horror fiction take place in wilderness and bring to the fore that sense of fear, seminal works of Cosmic Horror like Algernon Blackwood’s ‘The Willows’, H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘At The Mountains of Madness’, Jeff Vandermeer’s fantastic Southern Reach trilogy along with folk and environmental horror cinema like ‘Stalker’ , ’The Blair Witch Project’ and ‘The Ritual’. 

Generally the source of the horror in these works is one not just located in definable monsters or murderers, not just in creaking mansions or derelict asylums, but in the very land itself, in the gravitas of the landscape and the indefinable characteristics that it holds, in a simultaneous sense of emptiness and immanence, and the precarious place that we have among the landscape. Death does not loom so much as the feeling that, just underneath the surface, just over the next hill or lurking just beneath the water a terrible understanding may reveal itself. Another understanding occurs, one which is immediate and tangible: when we set foot in a place where no human structure may be seen, no easy convenience had, we see that our artifacts, from the buildings we inhabit to the languages we use, the societal rules we follow and the measures we use to mark time are feeble to the point of evanescence. To stumble across something as simple as an animal freshly deceased from no cause discernible to our eye provides inescapable evidence that our own rules and our own rule may end without cause at any moment. 

Over the past two decades the use of public lands in the US has skyrocketed. Hordes of giddy city dwellers have flocked to these places to to escape the suffocation of sedentary life, many of them ill-equipped and with little understanding of  those hazards to be found in the outdoors, even those common ones. As we sink ever further into the horror of the mundane we seek out these far places in order to find some escape and instead face the horror of the unknown, the horror of the immense and unthinkable. Some, confronted with the immensity of nature, retreat immediately to what they know: some cocoon themselves within massive air-conditioned RVs; others take endless nature selfies, confining their view to the four square inches of their smartphone screen. For those able to face nature head on the thrill of experiencing the wild is invigorating and life-giving but with this increased use has come an increased number of injuries, deaths and disappearances, some of which occur in circumstances so unaccountable that the supernatural seems the only possible source.
We are in the midst of an exiting and terrible time, where out concept of nature, as something to be revered, respected and - to the extent our meager efforts are capable - protected and restored, are rapidly evolving. Parks and educational centers at the edges of these wildernesses do a wonderful (and sorely under-praised) job at showing the public those aspects of nature which are easily digestible: the plants and animals, the geology and history. But the true heart of nature lies within and beyond these places. No park Ranger is going to attempt to teach a class of children about the thousands of acres of wild land that churn with terrible life beyond the edges of the interpretive trails, no pamphlet can contain the millions (or in some cases billions) of years of tumultuous and violent history that formed these places. Even most adults choose to pass through our public lands in the safety of their cars, not setting foot off of pavement, taking the same pictures as thousands of others, rather than walk a few yards into the park to see it up close and gain a true sense of what these lands hold. Gazing up at the stars at night can be a fun and educational pastime, until one understands (as Lovecraft did, and attempted to convey in his work) that the celestial dome we see is not some flat projection just beyond the edge of our precious air but a theater of such staggering depth that the mind reels when attempting to process it. 

Even the finest pictures and paintings of an unlimited desert plain, or a documentary film of a mountain ascent or benthic dive fail to capture the reality of these places. Factual accounts of wilderness and nature are of great importance, but the true heart of our relationship with nature exists in our symbolic and mythical conception of it. As our literal and existential distance to - and our correlating ‘recreational’ use of - these lands grow so will our need to process them, to analyze them, to make some sense of them. Fiction - the transcendent capabilities of the imagination and the words which spur it on - serves as an unusually efficient method to pass on that feeling of being stranded on a marshy island in the midst of a wind storm or among the world shattering crevasses of an antarctic sweep, to document and describe the ineffable qualities of nature, like the proverbial finger pointing at the moon. As with all things that we fear and fail to grasp fully, the sense of horror - and the existing and potential methods we use to express horror - serve as among the most worthy tools we posses to process that ineffable part of nature. It is up to the brave, the ill-advised and the truly honest thinkers to step out into these places, to fully grasp their terror and awe, to step beyond the comforts of the cozy cabins and OHV tracks, and to return with some truths: that there is something out there and that it doesn’t give a damn what sort of fun we want to have on our long weekends, that as we push out further and further the bounds of our technological hubris we are playing under the nose of a sleeping deity who may awake at any moment and swat us like the flies we are, that the true heart of nature is not kind or cute or logical but acts on a set of rules we could never hope to comprehend. It is up to the myth makers of the present and future to, if not save humanity from the illogic and devastation of wilderness, as least offer a clear-eyed account and warning of its capabilities. Somewhere along the way we lost these useful myths and need new ones to fill their place.

Should the average person hold an irrational fear of a wide open or wild place? Should they be afraid to spend a night in the backcountry or (god forbid) drive a few miles to take a walk in their local state park because they read a horror story or saw some sensational account on the nightly news? Certainly not. But a healthy fear, that is: a genuine understanding of the true nature and depth of the wilderness and a respect of those qualities, is sorely lacking in many people who visit these places. Perhaps a more accurate sense of the horror and power of nature could serve to do the best thing we could possibly do: keep us at a respectable distance from it. We do not agitate that which might destroy us. We do not attempt to conquer or subdue that which we fear. A reverence and respect for something much greater, much older and much more powerful than not only the individual but the totality of the human race (and its artifices) could only serve to make these places better for us all and help avoid the sort of catastrophe that prevents us from visiting them forever.

Monday, March 4, 2019

EarthWorks Sounds: A series of field recordings of monumental land art in the US

I am currently working on a series of field recordings of monumental land art in the US.

This project will be ongoing for at least the next year but I will be uploading recordings as I make them which can be found as a sound map on Radio Aporee 

So if you ever wanted to who what it is like to lie in the middle of Robert Morris' 'Johnson Pit #30' (distant jet engines and car noise) or Michael Heizer's 'Levitated Mass' (cars honking and teenagers taking selfies) then you are in luck.

I originally conceived of this project as a way to structure visiting these works. It has (sadly) turned into a study of encroaching noise pollution and the loss of the serenity and solitude that many of these works once held. Nevertheless, as bad as the anthropogenic noise in these recordings is now, it will almost certainly get worse and worse as time goes on and hopefully these will serve as some sort of documentation of what these works are now.