CYBERVAMP is a circular reflection on the dark surfaces of the image of the vampire and its symbolic relevance to the electronic experience. It is a working document, open to addition, and lacking closure. Ideally it sould be read from any point of entry, where themes cross and are defered, where language bounces from feeling to speculation, and from sadness to surprise, in a bricollaging of disparate histories to form an image.
CYBERVAMP is the image of a vampirish entity, the affect of electronic engagement. The mythic history of the vampire depends on a psychic archetype with pre-historic roots, and is active today in our relationship to the production of electronic information. It speaks to our fears and longings, and seduces with the illusion of immortality. The price we pay is in blood as we flee into its cybernet without body.
We are reconstituted in that space by the prevailing forces of capital into images of ourselves reduced to I/O data where smudgy edges are "filed" off and replication abounds. Available to us in simultaneous splendor is the memetic flux of "real" and "virtual" information with which we can construct the facsimile of a lifestyle. The promise of this excess makes us giddy with an appetite never filled, the appetite for love, for body. The more we have, the more we hunger, the more we need.
This work is built by association, analogy, and suggests some routes to take in the exploration of an image. It is built in relation to an image and uses clues and reverses to expose the hidden aspect. The vampire has such a familiar face in our mythology, that a literal reading is inevitable. My chore is to look ever closer, staring at the mask deeply. The videotape, CYBERVAMP, holds the surface images in its intensely intimate frame, and the writing dreams of what they mean. The two pieces delineate the image or its possibilities. Because neither work is constructed as a narrative, or as a propositional theme, the construction of meaning becomes interactive. The viewer/reader must assemble the elements by following an intuition, developing a practice through trial. This methodology corresponds closely to the artist's process which supposes that through the calamity of old narratives, a new implication, a paradigm emerges that addresses the "split" in the world's psyche. This is not to suggest a resolution or a utopian projection, only, to propose a ritual devotion to what remains of image power.
There exists a metaphorical relationship between the blood-sucking vampire and the cyberworld where a mutual feeding characterizes the bond between viewer/user and electronic network. The Living viewer desires the lifeblood of information and energy, and television needs to be seen to make money for corporations, the bargain that Richard Serra spoke about in the TELEVISION DELIVERS PEOPLE piece of the early 70"s. What he didn't acknowledge was the complicity of the viewing audience. Just as the girl in the vampire myth is hungry for the mystery and power of the vampire, the viewer's sense of self is adorned by the variety of worldly identifications provided by television.
The viewer reaches a pseudo-immortality while being treated to the never-ending stream of life-going-on. The viewer can fly from situation to situation, never being implicated, but feeding off its glamour and excitement in a fulfillment of psychological projection. Death itself might be imagined as the unplugging of the viewer from this life-connection.
By implication then the viewer fears loss of electrical power as loss of blood, the blood now seen as the metaphor of this other thickening connection. However, below the seductive offering lies the sinister control of capitalism, and its exploitation of the desires of the viewing public. Pay and stay!
The young woman of the myth is usually virginal, delicate, and passive. She is managed by the men in her life, exchanged by father to son, and clinicalized by expert medical men for her vulnerability. But as the victim of the vampire, she experiences a thrall that grows from her desire for freedom. From this romance will usher no children, no duties, only one final ecstasy at death. He will have revealed his powers, his realm to her. He will invite her to become one of his children, his sychophants. He will appeal to religious awe, and bestial fury. He will touch on feelings that are never acknowledged in polite society. He will introduce her to the belly of her own dark consciousness, and crown her as his princess. This is a lot more than her young husband might provide.
The experience of the young woman "in thrall", as drawn in by death, as passive, the pure victim, is more powerful for her than that society from which she is drawn. When one looks at a person watching television, one sees the same thralled expression. All the things of life seem an interruption, an annoyance. Life is cut off. The important thing is the imagining, the identification.
The victim actually identifies with the vampire. There is something so familiar about him that she can't resist. A kind of mirroring occurs where she sees her own beauty reflected in his staring eyes. And who ever gives a girl so much attention?!
Hal Foster, in the introduction to VISION AND VISUALITY, suggests that " the subject is menaced by its other." Here we have a merging of subject and object, where the separation from the other is superceded by the intertextuality of the blood and the transfiguring gaze.
" It is not that the gaze is not experienced as menace in our culture, but that this menace is a social product, determined by power, and not a natural fact." The vampiric gaze is historically always considered unnatural.
The reliability of "perspective", or a distancing in the siting of the individual is violated by the drawing-near of the vampire. The appropriate distance is not maintained, and so a loss of "self" ensues. The vampire doesn't adhere to the given social spaces. He can be very close or very far away in an instant, defying "natural laws". The result in the victim is a dizzying fall into the breach of catagories, a polymorphous seduction, a chaotic disorientation.
Cyberpunk fiction and criticism deal with an heroic alienation, a non-humanistic bent in the proliferation of machines and the interface between humans and those machines. There is a metaphoric connection between the myth of the vampire (bloodless, inhuman immortality) and the dominance of machines over the human (read humanistic) sphere of morality and transcendence.
The vampire was constructed by the Victorians as a manifestation of their anxiety about science and the industrial take-over of human/natural functions. This mechanization was a threat to the warm-blooded functions of love and loyalty, and social stability.
There is also the function of the woman as the archtypal "human" in her vulnerability, her role as bearer of the inheritance of property (culture), her place. Ironically it is the "doctor" who is willing to venture into the realm of the vampire to destroy it. The male scientist who must in his remaining humaness intercede to control the power of this immortal force. We end up trusting scientists to control technology and nature (read women), hoping that what ever remains of their "human values" will curtail the spinning vertigo of technological exploitation which make zombies of us all.
We still consider scientists to be alchemists of a sort, magicians capable of working in the sphere of the chaotic forces of nature. Yet now we project those chaotic forces into the cybernetic systems of media, and notice that they are overtaking our social contract and shattering it into a fragmented simultaneity, the post-modern profusion of difference.
Television, the most obvious channel for information has already placed us in a field of oppositions which is forever flowing and pushing us to react only to the "thrill" of things coming at us at breakneck speed. We no longer react with empathy, sadness, with the catharsis of the classical theatrical "lesson". We are moved more by the rugged contrast within the hypnotic collage of images than by the narratives of history. There is no time to consider the meaning of things, only a committment to seek ever more information, and to be luke-warmed by a simulacrum of the human condition.
What we used to find in visuality was our sense of place in the world, our standpoint and our individuality. Visuality was at the basis of our rational capacity to decide on meanings based on a trianglation of our eyes with the relationships we see before us. This "distance" is lost in the viewing of television, everything is at an equal distance from us, and so we have trouble differentiating. All living things, the pieces of matter in the "real" world, are deminished by the luxury and plenitude of television, and the subtleties of daily life pale by comparison to the bold outlines of produced images. The glamour! GLAMOUR: mysterious fascination, alluring charm; a magic spell or influence, ; enchantment (alter. "grammar" "gramarye"- occult learning; orig. a spell).
In the Murnau NOSFERATU the vampire is portrayed as a throwback, an alchemist or worlock familiar with the language of spells and magic. As well he seems to have been born from the most perverse branch of a once powerful race, caught in a certain decrepitude, but with access to the power of a great heritage. This gives him the seductive glamour to enthrall his victims even though he is decrepid.
Certainly Bela Lugosi's vampire is a man of society. He wears a tuxedo, he has brilliantined hair, he is soft spoken, a real gentleman, a sophisticate. He has been integrated into polite society, he seems familiar. Yet he carries with him this awful consequence. He would intrude and take away from us the thing we treasure most: our most beautiful and vulnerable humaness. He would intrude on our best-laid plans, he would devastate our particular histories with his repetitions, he would bring social disorder. He would reach below the surface, in the night, into our dreams and suck out our vitality, our sense of self, of ego and control.
Of course another obvious metaphorical context for the vampire is anxiety over psychoanalysis. The shrink is someone who enters into our dream life, to bring us to the land of super-human and sub-human forces, linking us to the chaos of the unconscious. Women in analysis come to an awareness of their sexual power which is a direct threat to the vision of women as helpless and neurotic. Certainly the greatest threat to social order is the freeing of female sexuality which in the mind of the patriarchy is a force to be controlled, repressed, degraded and abused. Of course it is also elevated and inflated in the fantasy production of male-oriented media representations where it is set up for consumption and for the mirroring of male potency.
The vampire promises that the newly "made" virgin vampire, his creation, will have the autonomy to seek out her own victims, thereby loosing on the world a power, that of the independently sexual woman, which, it is feared, is great enough to topple any rational, political or social construct. This sexuality is a metaphor for the chaos of Nature that has always loomed as a threat to the rational, male order.
The cybervamp doesn't provide the same kind of thrill of loss of self that the original did. This is not a depth experience. This is not about life and death, but only representations. We are boiled (as in a surfing accident) by the wave of brutality that sweeps up at us from the media. We see ourselves represented as having lost control of the social, and yet we bathe in the plethora of representations of that loss. We want to see more and more of it, in more detail, in more instances all the closer each day to our own doorsteps. And yet somehow, like Zeno's paradox, it never quite reaches us. Living in this field is living in a state of nervous anxiety, awaiting its arrival, and yet never quite being able to bring the two spheres together.
The seduction of media is that if we see more and more, closer and closer, we will finally see the "reality" in it. We will get to know by proxy what we are afraid, or incapable, of knowing in a direct experiential way. What we get too is the over-simplification of resolutions that media provides, to move things along, and, to make problems seem easy to solve, we don't reject the conspiracy of capitalism that keeps us desiring. underlying function of scientific capitalism is to exploit the population and technology for power and wealth. The notion of progress as fostered by this alliance is a myth that keeps us fascinated and hopeful (akin to the Christian promise of a better world after death). Of course, it is in direct opposition to the Christian after-life which defers fulfillment. The capitalist utopia is to come here on earth, but of course is always relegated to the future. Hence the promise of a "revealed" truth and justice through science and technology which is forever defered in order to generate desire and the attenpt to fulfill it.
Our need for so much death-on-television is a compensation for our fear of actual death. If its happening all around me and yet not to me, then I'm O.K. Reassurance through simulated fear. "Scare me to death, man, scare me to death!"
There also has to be a place to put all those dark things like sex and death if they aren't to be played out in living. Ancient rituals sought to honor the chaotic forces of sex and death in order to preserve the light forces of vitality and plenty. If those things are not honored, not given life, then they manifest themselves in outbreaks of disorder, violence, brutality. The rationally based religions of the enlightenment have sought perfection on earth. They have led to the materialist belief in the capacity of reason and science to overcome death.
The death of the vampire is a ritual killing, performed by the brave scientist who risks his own life in a carefully prescribed series of actions ( only after dawn, wooden spike through the heart, exposure to light) to bring the monster of sexual perversity and psychic thrall in check. In witnessing this exercise we acknowledge our fear of death (and its dark companions) and celebrate our ability to overcome it through ceremonial science. This is our contemporary myth, and the oldest human myth around. Ulysses after all faced untold mysteries in order to celebrate the human capacity to reason.
Naturally these are male myths. The role of woman here is as object par excellance . She is never the actor, she is only acted upon, and is saved from the lonely position of being an actor. Given autonomy she would upset the "natural" order, toppling all institutions based on the myth of rational superiority. She would loose havoc.
From a woman's perspective the vampire represents something trans-sexual, an androgynous being, partial to the "female" of intimacy, sexuality, and irrationality. Historically he represents hysteria, a Freudian concept for women with identity problems. He is an hallucination of both freedom and capture. He is the worst of men who would control women, and the secret dream of women who would be released from the servitude of family life. And he is the male fantasy of woman's bloodiness, her lack of will, her flightiness, her lack of control, her susceptibility to nature's forces, her darkness.
He is old world, out of the mountains of Transylvania, prone to magical tricks, and menacing attitudes. He is the tribal European, antecedent of the Enlightenment, mediaeval aristocrat , mixing Eastern inscrutibility and Western decadence. He is a tyrant, an oppressor, a feudal lord, inbred, hemophiliac, pre-Christian, pagan. He is fascile and erudite, knows alchemy, and has not yet broken apart science and magic. He understands psychology, but not to help. He uses it to seduce. He has no conscience, no guilt. Something women are accused of always. His powers are very like those of the femme fatale who is also depicted as a vamp(ire). She is someone who is unafraid to use her wiles, her "powers" to disempower men, to steal their vitality (blood), to kill them as individuals and make slaves of them. He is frightening more than she because he imposes an order of things that should be hers, a woman's atmosphere, something claustrophobic, fascinating, other worldly, certainly not "business as usual". He is what a woman would become if left to herself.
Recently I met a young woman PhD candidate in Philosophy with a specialty in Kantian aesthetics. I learned she was a fan of semiotics. In telling her about the vampire piece, I suggested the connection with AIDS. All that blood, she said!
The exchange of blood is the m.o. of the HIV virus. The violation of the skin, coming from the phobias about individuality and victimization. There is a religious awe in the moment of piercing, having almost as much ecstasy in it as the resulting "high" of IV drug use and sharing, and its pleasure/pain of self-abuse. The vampire is the degraded immortal, a sign of the degradation of European Christianity, and the constant threat of the pagan thrust.
Drugs are the vehicles of pagan experience, venturing out of the rationality of Western materialism, and into a field where distinctions aren't clear, where contradictions abound, and where the mood is dark, luxurious and forbidden. The call of the vampire is to enter into a dark world to experience release from the predictability and set roles of organized society. The cost is not extiction, but expulsion from the activities of the day, the light, into the world of dreams, drives and unconsciousness. This is a chthonic experience, driving down into the soil, being buried as an ego, living among the rejected beings of the psyche.
I can't look at this HIV problem as somehow redeeming. I don't want to have to resolve the question of its worth. I don't want to say that one should experience the bite of the vampire to really understand life (death in life, life in death). That has a protestant guilt quality to it, as if in the end one would be all the better person for it. Again I think this is the position of much of the New Age, "fire-walk" thinking which would bring people to a new plateau of detatchment. But this is only a re-vamped pschoanalytic rationale which would place the patient in touch with fears and fantasies in order to expand the parameters of the ego and make coping easier. I don't think AIDS is about coping, but mostly about learning to live with death. Coping suggests a resolution in life, a route to happiness and fulfillment. The end of AIDS is always total loss. AIDS is a reminder of our fate, that just to be alive is to die.
The bourgeois order attempts to preclude death with its regulations, institutions, and technology. Death is before us all the time, but capitalism will protect us. Whatever logic directs capital only eats death for breakfast. We may die, but capital goes on forever.
AIDS defies capital and social order. It is entropic, a check on capital run amok. Desire created by capital has its short term needs met in the sex and drug culture, the free-wheeling terrain of the social underground. AIDS reminds us that we are accountable for our gratifications. Freedom has its consequences.
The uncured disease, the one that foils technology, is the ongoing human check-mate. It is the natural balance to our hubris, our belief that we can conquer death. When a cure is discovered, then another scourge will emerge that will be suited to our sophistication in that it surpasses it.
The vampire certainly can be seen to have evolved over its history from Indo-european throwback, to sophisticated maniac (Svengali genius), to ennui ridden aesthete. The vampire responds to the level of sophistication of society. So do diseases! The further away from primitive life we get, the more powerful our ability to control the ravages of nature, the more nature responds with ever more subtle ways of dying.
Fear has its fight-or-flight responses. But a third possibility is the entranced response. In Nature the victim, the prey is often stricken by the gaze of the predator. The gaze stills the victim in a rapture of self-sacrifice. An inevitabilty surrounds the passified creature, a surrender. SURRENDER: to yield to the power, control, authority or possession of another; to cease trying to retain or control and agree to yield; to give up completely or agree to forego; assent to loss of possession or exercise of or power or control over; abandon or devote (as oneself ) entirely to something without restraint,reservation, or further resistance. RESIGNATION, ABANDONMENT. TRANCE: to be in great suspense or extreme fear; to hold benumbed, immobile,or unnaturally still; a state of partly suspended animation or of inability to function; a somnolent state such as thatof deep hypnosis appearing also in hysteria and in some spiritualistic mediums and characterized by limited sensory and motor contact with the surroundings and subsequent lack of recall; a state of profound abstraction or absorption accompanied by exhaltation.(Webster).
A friend gave me a piece on vampires from the Wicca community. Their approach is a psychological one, describing the personality type, what one should do if one meets such a person. This seems like such a behavioral take on the question, not a metaphoric or symbolic one. It isn't surprising that the witches are following along in the New Age manner of abuse protection. Defense isn't a bad thing, only it doesn't take into account the complicity of the victim or the implications of the relationship as a model for greater psycho-social dynamics.
I am interested in it as a model for the interplay of perceptions in the cybernetic interface. I am interested in it as a gender problem, a political problem, a visual problem, even an economic problem. I don't care who's good or bad. I don't see it as a morality problem.
Video is the signal and image of live television, an electronic, often digital mapping of produced or spontaneous experience in real time. Videotaped recordings of this process of television have been carmera fed, and often film footage is edited into existing taped material. Conventions of pictoriality have prevailed retaining the frame of film within the television monitor, and the theatrical conventions of time and catharsis still call the viewer to suspend disbelief.
The medium was explored early by Ernie Kovacs and Steve Allen for the properties of live coverage and time/space distortions. All along, however, these two and others have abided by the cult of personality. The human performer as a reflection of the viewer is paramount to the "identification" sought by the producers and sponsors.
With the introduction of the 1/2"porta-pak in 1968, the artist was able to explore the frame (of reference) to free television from corporate domination and theatrical conventionality. As well, the general consumer has come to treat video with the same sense of intimate familiarity that photography has had, giving people access to their individual lives in the medium, and freeing video from the content restrictions of broadcast practice. Concurrently, Television has become more and more central to the social imago, displacing the older media (books, newspapers, theater, painting, etc.).
Video is powerful psychologically, operating on the eyes and head directly without the space/distance of theatrical films or plays. Its electronic pulsing runs close to the rhythm of the brain's own processes. Video's fascination is built on that close correspondence.
Because the convention of television has always played to the viewer directly and not to a fourth wall, the aspect of relationship is heightened. You are not a witness as much as a participant. You are addressed. You must linger or leave for personal reasons, according to your likings, yet never paying the penalty for rejecting the service.
People learn how to relate through television. Not from the stories themselves, but in the way the viewer is able to love `em and leave `em without consequence. With the introduction of the remote control, the viewer has ultimate power of discretion and with it the infantile seduction of being able to walk away when bored or annoyed. There will always be another show, another image to give a sense of well-being. Everything is alright because the temple of television never ceases to put forth the appearance of life.
Our relationship to the world of objects, the physical world, can aften go grey. It can lose its meaning, get dry like dust, and reflect all the misery of the lonely soul. It can point up so starkly the illusions of life when all illusion drops away.This world of objects has its beauty, but we've been persuaded of that beauty by centuries of historians who had no other screen to project upon. Now the ubiquitous screen is not the night sky (which most of us can't see in the city glare and haze), but the raster of a video image, rendering for us the electronic, light-fast, replication of our lives and imaginations. The constellations are now reconnected into scan patterns, digital grids, which remap the fates from the old astrological heavens, into the multi-plex channels of the video matrix.
Ultimately this network will create its own kind of fate for us. We will lose will to it. We will have to become very clever and insurgent in its midst, adapting to its expanding control of language and images by learning its tools and rules. We will use them in a refreshing dialogue which may become a battle.
Ours is the mind of this machine. But given more time the machine will develope a mind of its own based on our experience. Now it gives us light and movement, sound. It operates a replication process that reinforces the availability of commodities and information which model our lives. For that process to be available to us we must be to it. So it requires attention to distribution, networks, social grid, grid oversight. It is about the flow of goods and services, it is as Paul Virilio suggests the route of military control ("Speed and Politics"). Certainly control of the roads and autotraffic would be profoundly impacting on culture (now in sanctions and blockades of Yugoslavia and Iraq).
Still that control is only a "meat" problem. William Gibson says travel is a meat problem. More devastating is the control of information held in the networks of electronic communication which interweave military, commercial and political interests.
Of course there are subversive axes that can intrude on these systems and loosen their avaricious hold. Forcing some chaos into the programs, video/hackers might preserve the organic force within the mathematical order. These systems will grow like aging parents to the point of yielding to these intrusions on their authority by merging into a meta-personality created in the freezone of cyberspace itself, and not modelled on the family.
Video has come a long way. It now begins to be realized on its own terms. The technology has already been merged with computers, and soon the old linear tape editing process which felt so comfortable with the narrative, is to be supplanted by non-linear, more circular, editing. The idea
being that at any time you are at the center of a circle of choices which, when you compose them, will be experienced in time, but may be experienced in a space that is circular as well (virtual or cyberspace). In other words the piece surronds the subject and allows the subject to move at will to construct the perceptual sequence.
This is of course exactly what people do now with the remote controller while still remaining external to the perceptual field of the images.
The position of the virtual reality viewer is at the center of the space, where any turn of the head, hand or body reveals another angle of view. This draws that old psychological connection right inside the brain. No space but its space.
Gilles Deleuze in "Cinema I" posits a concept of movement in early films based on Bergson's "priveleged instants" where the movement comes from within the frame and is of objects as parts of ideal sets (Bergson, "Creative Evolution"). These are sets that consist of "poses" or special moments vis-a-vis the narrative, which are linked together to produce a sense of an ideal whole.
Later film became concerned with duration, with a flux of incidents shown in the time/space conventions of moving camera and montage. This time continuum in turn relates to the infinity of any-instance-at-all in the universe. The notion of the "whole" (seen here as always a dynamic) is still, however, not adequate to contain the electronic simultaneity of current image/information processing.
In Deleuze' there is a challenge to the narrative conventions of film-making in the "subconsciousness" of montage. Yet he retains a spiritual identification with transcendent aspirations, a reflective moment where a distance can be achieved, and a choice still made. In the current information climate, technology cannot trouble over the reality/virtuality dilemma. It takes movement for granted not as something leant from reality to be reflected more elegantly. Live transmission exists as much in the real flow of time as do the trees. It is its own reality. In the most scrambled association of images, there can be a thread, of nothing more than the attention of the viewer, and some kind of relation to all things visual.
What can the artist tell, if not a story. STORY: from latin historia, ME storie. Connected narrative of important events esp. of events of the remote past. A work of history. A fictional work that recount objective events or a stream of thought or interactions of these. A narrative thread upon which a composition is based. A widely circulated report or rumor.
So if not story, what? There is a thread that winds through my works, but it is not narrative, not objective. Can I say non-objective narrative. No because I am not recounting a life, but rather the life in the medium, the drive(s) in the conjunction of stories. Does a story become apparent when the eyes see similar things. Connections for meaning from the look of things.
Yesterday I shot some footage of TOUCH OF EVIL, Welles, 1954(?). I shot all things in slow mo, jerking images of things changing so very awkwardly, so very little. I became interested in the peripheral images, a bottle in the medicine chest, a face reflected in the deep distance of a mirror. These things so blown up. The vampire eyes always behind me looking. The experience goes beyond seeing into a place of pure visuality with bare resemblances of familiar things remaining in the overtaking grid of the raster. I come closer and closer hoping to penetrate the field to reach a receding object.
The woman as the object of desire is the powerful recepticle of a projection. As soon as she succumbs to the seduction (or wins herself), she becomes another subject and is prone to all the failings and deceits of that position. The object revealed is the object judged . The desire for transformation, to become the object of desire is the drive of seduction, not the sum of orgasms; to know what the other is feeling, to imagine oneself as the other. When I look at that bottle, that face in the mirror, I am searching for the light and the mood in the room beyond the image, that connection to nothing-in-partiular piece if the cosmic dynamic that begins as part of a priveleged frame.
A set is dressed to activate memory, to surround the actors with the appearance of history or at least culture. There is a code of sorts written on each object and detailed in the clutter of its appearance. But what I find as I look ever closer is the code of video, of digital replication as the predominant one. What I have learned to know as the things of my life, and known them with readings filled with sentiment, is receding into the blue neon of the video rendition. Like DREAM ON I'm interpreting my life with images from television. Although the "matter" of things is atomizing in the digital matrix, I still carry with me the memory of older meanings, called intrinsic, transcendental, even spiritual. At least I carry the aura of those meanings as a memory even if I've lost the lust to have them as possessions.
Can desire remain only with the flesh? Must we "know" one another as meat to get to life fully. For isn't it true that the remoteness of the machine image only points up the remoteness of human relationship. It is obvious we can't merge into the "other", and also can't exist inside the medium. Still, we could get a lot closer if seeing priveleged us to know better. Our capacity to mediate our perceptions through technology gives us a more intimate view of others and ourselves than ever possible. But in the end we may love the machine more than the object of our scrutiny. All objects will fade in the face of the electronic dynamic.
The objects of film and television ( already mediated by earlier, more primitive frames) remind me of the personal chioce, over-looked nuance, trace of history, and the profound leveller that television is. I use archaic eyes (and archival too) to seek out the last vestiges of life "as we know it" in the medium that has catapulted communication into the sub-atomic sphere. These are border objects hovering on the brink of dematerialization.
Reading MONDO 2000, a magazine for the cyberage, I am aware that up to very recently, I've been caught in the humanist trauma, the Freudian loop, which seeks to define meanings in terms of filiation, history, and seeks to restore a moral ground for human interaction. This morality, based on duty and the social contract, is giving way to the "simulated landscape" of cyber-actions. These actions exist in a virtual world, unfettered by death ( unless being unplugged is death), and so stimulate behaviors not possible in the old consequence-laden Judeo-Christian ethos.
In that old ethic, I, as a woman, have only a few consequences to worry about. But these are located deep within my identity, and have been formed by a "liberal" family. Although I have never been discouraged from doing what I thought interesting, I have not been encouraged to venture full force into the active world space. In the end, I like language more than anything else, the images I can dream of and the words that can bring me to grasp their meanings; to create the meanings really, or at least to remove them from the stultified ground of the family.
I feel the mirror bouncing back and forth, first showing what I seek and then the fear. As if, in the cosmic infinity, I will have to account to them, and their assessment of me. A kind of ancestor worship, but a continuity as well. I fight it less. But on the other mirror is this land of possibility, vision, optimism, ground shaking change, where inevitabilities are plunging ahead without regard to reservation.
The vampire is the ubiquitous viewer, a terror in his obsession. He cares not for life, but only for its never-ending river, blood. He wants more, and preys upon the innocent object of his desire, that almost lost object, the electronic ghost of a substantial thing made insubstantial, almost invisible, hovering in the amnesia of video haze.
We identify with the lost object, feel its fading charm. We see in its ectoplasm a haunting reminder of our own lost materiality. Its as if we're already dead, and life had been relegated to the machine.
The camera's mediation is a once-remove. And we've come to understand the physical world through the eye of that camera. But the camera only alludes to a greater depth in the machine, cyberspace. All images on television are in cyberspace already, but just as it transforms from the "real world". These are the outskirts, the first hairs on the web, where, after a complete dematerialization, one might slide into electronic homebase, the heart of the spider.
Spider wove the web that brough humans the first picture of the alphabet. The letters were parts of the angles of her web.
"Earth's children are growing more complex, and their future generations will need to know more. The ones to come won't remember how to read the petroglyphs."
Spider's dream of the physical world.
Spider's body is made like the number eight, consisting of two lobelike parts connected at the waist (brain lobes), and eight legs. Symbol for the infinite possibilities of creation. Fours winds, four directions.
Spider weaves webs of fate. Humans get caught in the web of illusion in the physical world, and never see beyond the horizon into the other dimensions.
If we are not decisive enough about changing our lots in life, we may end up being consumed by our fears and limitations.
Create,create,create. Look for alternatives to current impasse. Something you have woven has born fruit (on the outskirts of your web).
Find pleasure in the ideas you receive from her eternal web ( a synchronous reading from Sams & Carson's MEDICINE CARDS, Bear & Co., Santa Fe, 1988).
Magnificent! How beautiful an image for the brain and its model, the computer matrix (ma). What a model for the psyche, pure mind. We are tapping into electricity, into the matter/energy matrix, where cellular catagories like bodies have changeable characteristics, and everything can be de- and re-programmed to "morph". The evolution of bodies is only a slower and more primitive morphing job, where time was the sole engineer. Now, or almost now, we can reconstruct ourselves within a digitally replicated field of elements which are measured in nano-degrees, and become "other" ( genetic engineering ).
Technology has been a device for reaching beyond our bodies. It has been a tool to manipulate nature. Now, however, technology leaves nature behind, or nature as we know it, or have learned to know it, that perspective that measures things by our bodies. There is an alternate nature, micro-nature that lives in the flux of electrons, protons, neurons, quarks, etc., etc. In this world we are always divisible by the other who slides beyond our weather-resistance, our membrane of self, into the greater mind.
The fascist implications are terrible to consider. That mind is always susceptible to takeover, and each of us as habitues would find it hard and unpleasant to go back to Nature at that point. To go out on your own ( E.M.Forester foresaw the conflict in THE MACHINE STOPS ).
The whole thin(k)g may be a psychotic projection, a notion of an absolute equivalency, an exact map, a righteous rationale. But what else can we do. No where else to go, no physical frontiers. Hence, the notion of the cyberpunk. A person who knows the system and uses it to foil the power in the center. The need for a seduction and sedition. The attraction of the "hero" who keeps the system in place by challenging it to change. The old avant-garde ethic. High modernism. Except in this case there is no redemption. Payments are made, and cleverness is the survivor. Odysseus.
Recently I spoke with my father about his study of Galileo. He is interested in what characterized Galileo's genius allowing him to move beyond the Aristotelian scholasticism of his time. This was a paradigm based on the harmony(music) of the spheres, wherein all phenomena fell into a uniform theory of knowledge and perception, and all physical phemomena were colored by a metaphysical participation in this siderial plan. The Church certainly maintained the position that all things are held under God of whom they are a part, and God as the Church could maintain its power and influence.
There were some who followed the writings of Euclid, the geometrist, who found a new logic based on mathematical measurement and practical experiment. The world of phemomena were liberated from the speculations of ideologues, and defined through the practice of mathematical analysis. Galileo, the rebel, was the architect of the rebirth of this scientific impulse in the Renaissance, and, needless to say, was branded a heretic by the Church and stripped of his status. Those paradigm shifts are hard to take.
I see my father's interest as one to justify his long-standing devotion to logical method in his own pedagogy. He glowed saying how magnificent it was to know that the most basic physical observations were well defined and stable. That, indeed, this was the brilliance that has been the last 500 years.
I would certainly not disparage his faith. Surely the scientific and technological revolutions have been born from that committment to quantification. We have grown in our understanding of Nature to such a degree that we no longer need to exploit it. Our position of being "other" than nature, superior or dominating of it, is becoming untenable as we see even ourselves dissolve into the cybernetwork. We have created a mind much greater than ours, greater even than our collective mind, a mind that encompasses all eco-psycho-systems with a subtlety that none of us as individuals could command.
What mathematics did for observing the natural world, it has now created in and of itself. The medium is the message, in that all things, physical, psychological, imaginative and electronic are made of the same stuff, the same language of electrons. The nuclear structure reflects itself at all scales, micro and macro, and theories of indeterminacy leave open the creative growth of these systems. Where mathematics seemed to offer a stable model for knowledge of our own perceptions of Nature, it now gives us the mercurial nuances of cyberspace. Nothing separates real and imagined, potential and actual, except our insistance on making a separation between ourselves and technology ( on top of the old split with Nature).
As long as we see technology as an entertainment or service, we can distance ourselves from its power over us. We can continue to seize on Nature and the Spiritual as healing alternatives to the loss of our subjectivity. We can seek to debase technological products and procedures as in-human, and fail to see their evolutionary inevitability.
We are only the latest manifestation of the "world mind". Madam Blavatsky in her SECRET DOCTRINE reveals the evolutionary plan of the ancient Buddhists. The Earth had as its first being, a monad, a progenitor, VIAVASVATA MANU. This being was not physical, but had all the knowledge of itself. As manifestation became more differentiated, the Titans ruled the world, huge beings yet unsuited to the growing heaviness of gravity. These gave way to the long-lived ancestors of the human race, and then to the many species of animal and finally to us. Darwinian evolution resists this history of "mind", and follows the demonstrable evidence of physical manifestation alone.
We have, in our self-awareness, suffered a great loss, that of the immanence of the world and ourselves as part of that immanence. We have been forced to find a distance, that of science, to provide us the comfort-illusion of being in control. This has given us the power to exploit the earth and eachother for our own gain. Ironically it has also given us the knowledge that we are implicated in the forces of Nature (Earth), and are, symbiotically linked and mutually engendering.
Out of this ironic knowledge, we have begun to tie together the observed systems, for the sake of the whole. This tying-together has come in the form of electronic information systems and digital replication. The mixture of physical, emotional and imaginative information within the electronic matrix is the new nature, much larger than our perception of Nature, the old classical "other". We can be simulataneously in it and outside it. We are modified by it, and our singular minds are enfolded into its greater mind, the mind of the Monad, the Earth-mind.
If A, then B. If A>B, and B>C, then A>C. I remember studying logic in my rhetoric class. I could never get my brain to follow ideas that way, for what my experience taught me was that "knowing" defies logic sometimes, and that logic can provide a rationale for ignorance.
My father behaves as any responsible scientist would. He spends vast amounts of time "in his office", gathering data, and collating it in notebooks. He is looking with an historical eye. He is allowing himself to dwell in the sure reflections of other writers and researchers, and reading the seminal texts of the scientific movement. This is good education. It looks like knowledge. It even feels ecstatic to him to have revealed the bases for all knowledge as it has been accepted in the modern era. He is corroborated.
This is historicity, a love of the past for the sake of security. For me history can only be relevant as a metaphor for the present. The correspondence between eras or roles allows us to divine our parallel fate, as well as the way things have changed. I am interested in the Galileo work for the sake of understanding from where we have come, and how much we've stayed the same. To think that Einstein worked at the beginning of this century, and in only 80 or so years we're living the cultural reflection of his calculations. So when I speak of a shift in the paradigm, I speak of the last, large cultural shift, not the initial steps. How long it took for Galileo's ideas to become the right of the masses. But ideas move very fast now, and we've only begun to articulate the cultural implications of Relativity.
Nature is like the Tasaday. It is losing its independence, and our desire to protect that independence, that autonomy, is an act of simulation. By trying to return the Tasaday to a state of primitive isolation, we acknowledge our responsibility to keep them that way. They become the image of themselves as "pure", an image we have devised.
In our custodial function we have taken on the responsibility for Nature, have come to see it as the petulent child who might be destructive and contrary, but whom we need to survive. It's a tricky parenting job. Mother Nature has become our ward. She has been raped and humiliated by science which would understand her in order to control her lethal effects. She has become a specimin, a laboratory rat. She has been named.
In the New Age there is a quest for relationship, seeing the interconnectedness and simultaneity of things, real or imagined, a return to fantasy, magic and a balanced self. But even this "self" is a sad thing. This ego, id and superego has been tamed by analysis and politics. The celebration is late. The "wholeness" achievement binds people to themselves in a self-conscious anxiety. The magic is filtered through therapeutically oriented jargon or psycho-babble, and the icons rarely, if ever, carry sacral weight.
The sacral is the totem connection to the Earth. A holy location, the sacrum. A place with power of fascination, a vestige of natural or supernatural action; a location (object) that creates a psychic knot, a binding of mind and matter before meaning. All things are now measured, and what remains unmeasurable is the indeterminate matrix of cyberspace. This may be the only remaining mythopoetic realm, all others being resuscitations of older totems.
The real is now only a picture of itself, even as we move through it. We see it in comparison to its simulation and it pales. Our sensory competence seems less in the face of the complex delivery of cybersystems. We are tired of our bodies, and only exercise them as we might an exotic toy. It seems unthinkable that the body should wither and die, betraying our hook-up. As William Gibson suggests perhaps we can find a way to enter the c-system at death, and preserve consciousness (quite a different consciousness) indefinitely.
I am just a transitional girl at the end of something and the beginning of something else. I love life, genuinely. But I always had a fantasy, even as a child, especially then, that I could easily lift off this ground, and be dispersed into space, into the planets. Those planets may just be the clumsy matter distilled from so much movement. Physical form as a precipitate of the electro-chemical magnetosphere. I am already there, and always was. Finally coming to realize that my composition is quantifiable in an exchange, and the "I" of my senses only a temporary passage.
I dream of a time when what I am might be remembered in a machine system, remain creative, developemental, available for work. If all work finally comes down to digital replication and its uses. I could be free of affect, released from the impediments of will. Is this heaven?
Andy Warhol's vampire (BLOOD OF DRACULA) is sickly, in a body way. He needs the blood of virgins to keep going. Joe Dellasandro, the evolved socialist worker and stiff-prick, declares that vampires are vestigial remnants of a Mediaeval religious sect that practiced human sacrifice and blood-drinking, the blood of virgin girls.
In a scene with the father, the family learns of the Count's proposed visit to their pallazzo. The women play audience to the father's performance of unxiously fawning ambitions and opinions about the Count. The marquis calls himself a "name tester", an aristocrat down on his luck who searches the land for the richest of the old stock of European patricians for his daughters to marry; he , of course, benefits by association with a fortune, being able to gamble all the more.
The father muses that the Romanian is a mixture of "the Count of Monte Christo and Sinbad the Sailor...just the right amount of orient and occident, reality and fantasy." In accommodation of the Count's needs, and accepting of his delicacy as a sign of aristocratic purity, the marquis insists that the count should be "kept preferably on a horizontal plane away from the light." And,"He is a gentleman, you might say, aged in wood, of excellent stock."
In this story the vampire becomes a victim of "modern" greed (the time seems to be turn-of-the-20th Century). The whole system, of aristocratic exploitation, decadence, classism, the foundation of the old order is destroyed in its last effort to regain station. The young socialist(communist) hero, the child of serfs, is freed as the last servanton the estate. He is well-read enough to have good instincts about people, but still somewhat brutal (sexual- he lays his seed all over the place). He is strong enough and loving enough to try to overcome the deadly ordination of fate. He wins and gets the child-bride, the innocent with whom he can build a better world. He kills the older sister who has become a vampire, and although he frees the other two, he thinks they're whores, they've definitely seen too much.
This is such an American story. Joe Dellassandro IS the ugly, wonderful American, but he's also a socialist. Pretty hip. In the Brando tradition, like Kowalsky.
So this Vampire is Warhol himself. He was, after all, Polish, quite catholic. Not so sexual himself, but very interested in the Sexual. He kept lost young people around him whom he exploited visually, vicariously. He embraced pop media as his source and often as his medium, a true cybartist. He invaded the lofty cultural landscape with a barrage of proletarian methodologies. And he enchanted society by feeding it back to itself in an advertizing package.
In all the pretty colors though, Warhol painted something fiercely sad about us, signing us as symbols of ourselves. Something hollow, spent, dying of replication. He must have looked lustily at communism as the sign of vigor, at Joe's pink, dimpled bottom. Looking like that, who wouldn't.
The Vampire is dismembered, one limb at a time ( I couldn't help but think of the Black Knight in Monty Python's HOLY GRAIL), continuing to hiss like a insect beast. I think of 20th Century history, and the dismemberment of the old Ottoman and Holy Roman Empires. The Balkans sit at the crossroads of that diaspora.
Blood: Udo Gier is drenched in blood. He has digestive convulsions. His body cannot absorb blood that has been tainted by combination. The virgin. A body, never entered by another's fluids. She would restore him. Would she die? Ann Rice suggests that vampires can drink from eachother, but only to receive special powers, the "dark drink". So he would have to seek another. He can not be redeemed in love. Who is the virgin? As yet without contact. A religious woman committed to purity and chastity. An unmarried woman devoted to a deity in a celibate life of service within a religious temple.
Perhaps the virgins of a rival religion were sacrificed in the sweep of the mother religion by the warriors and priests of the sky gods. Before the indo-european hordes rode across Europe, a religion of the goddess prevailed across the world. Read Robert Graves, WHITE GODDESS for the story. Certainly, ceremonies of conquest called religious might have used human sacrifice in such bestial times. The believers must have gotten a taste that wouldn't stop!
The placement of the Count in Romania, at the heart of the interface, makes him a relic of repressed differences that rage even today.
While I work on Nosferatu, Dracula, and The Blood of Dracula, I feel the affect of the story, the mood of fascination, peril, lust, disgust, horror. Something pernicious in Nosferatu transforms to something perverse in Dracula, and then to something decadently outworn in Blood of Dracula. The horror becomes a burlesque of itself.
Something nearly mystical, out of the depths of decadent mittel-european folk-lore, evolves into the threatening immigrant, and finally into the last vestige of the old European imperialist empire. At first, naturalist in its appeal to the primal forces, the depiction becomes propagandistic for scientist heriocs. And in Warhol, Dracula is the exhausted old order, sick from its indulgences and superfluous in a world of socialist justice.
Women are not worth much in these productions. They are, either totally helpless and innocent, or greedy and promiscuous. The feminine in this story is only liberated by the "gentleman", "scholar" or "proletarian hero". She can't seem to find a point of view of her own, a distance. She is always the property of men, albeit the spirit of their adventure. She is the anima projection of the masculinist who must be protected from the darkness of his own nature by projecting that darkness onto the vampire-other. He then can save his soul through her, save the patriarchal order, by returning her to her prescribed social station. The social overtakes the sexual. The battle with the vampire is the battle to separate darkness and light, to shine the light upon the corrupt repressions lying beneath the mask of bourgeois propriety, to release the gaze from its fascinations, its desire.
Television is the vampire that feminizes the viewer in a polymorphous profusion of desire. The force of those who would control t.v. content is like that of the controlling scientist, the humanist, who needs to secure the "reality" principle in order to maintain power. The "reality" thus created is, however, only the fiction of the prevailing power structure.
The claim that television delivers us into the hands of multi-national corporations misses the fact that the viewing habit of most Americans defies the interior logic of any content, creating its own syntax within the available array. Thus the effect of any propaganda internal to the programs is dispersed in the discordancy of their juxtapositions. Of course, the services and images of the cybernetwork are ultiumately controlled by the syndicate of hardware and software producers. However, that network is expanding exponentially to include more and more nuanced contents over a widening horizon.
Let's say that television is a temple, a temple with two gods. One capitalist god, one anarchist god. A body with stresses, and suffering a pressure to resolve on one side or the other. This is a place for modelling culture. The myth would have it choose, the practice enjoys the play. It models our psychic dilemma, and our changing plane of reference. It threatens the established social, political, sexual, and psychological order, and creats an epistomology that dispenses with the serious differences surrounding the "reality principle", allowing a thoroughly irrational admixture.
All dramas are subsumed by the spectacle of the medium itself. Conflicts are resolved not in outcomes but in relational coexistence. All conflicts seem to fall into place in the on-going display of information, and in an acknowledgement of the stream-of-consciouness nature of experience. There is no right/wrong axis, only the play of signs of moralities taking shape in the mind-simulation matrix.
There is a threat to social order because the cybernetic relationship neglects the consequence of death. The vampire does not kill, only calls people to join in his world-beyond-death, where dying is impossible unless someone pulls the plug. The image of the woman, lying in bed, watching t.v., eating bon-bons describes the slovenly, sickly, ennui-stricken viewer ( my step-father saying, when he saw me watching t.v. as a kid, "Jane, they will write on your tombstone, `may she continue to rest in peace'").
I have close footage of people, mouths, eyes, hands, distant objects and faces (blown up). All, or most, of it very grainy and slow-mo jerky. I would like some quality difference, different looks, and yet I don't feel comfortable with full-frame images (samples). I see using color (Paul Sharits) frames and tints to tone images as to affect and I have thought about black spaces too, building up a series of sections, perhaps based on the three versions of the story. Eyes, hands and mouths, faces, animals, objects. The men and the women. The sex. The blood.
Certainly some of the dialogue is useful, and perhaps some reference to the social reading of the story as printed text. I don't exactly want catharsis, and identification per se, but I want to envelope the viewer in the method, and deconstruct the myth of victimization of that viewer. I want an emptying out of the frame of belief until there is a barely discern1able field of representations, and the result is the projection of affects within the remaining, abject signs.
It might be an attempt at a-historicity, where what remains of history is so thin, so pale, that our ontological readiness must be called to the future, to the unknown field of pure thought-in-the-machine.
The old vampire is the out-worn paradigm. He sucks on the living to sustain his life beyond its natural limits, hoping to touch pure innocence, the new audience, for one last gasp at viability. I feel this in the re-emergence of religion which, returning to its fundamentals, seeks to harness the innocent source of social zeal in order to re-establish dominion of the old, masculinist order.
The Cybervamp has no such agenda, however. He is not only at the service of the users, but begins to regain some of his mystical justifications. He is the closest thing we have to the spirit in the machine, a god of sorts, to be acknowledged in his basis as image. A dangerous icon for powers beyond our control. A descendant of the gods who have been repressed by humanist enlightenment, a throwback to the chaotic Mother.
In one historical scenario the vampire is a relic of the practices of the hords of barbarians that sacked the matriarchy of Europe. The priestesses of the old religion were virgins (as a sign of autonomy, purity and faith with the Mother), and the barbarian conquerers made blood sacrifices of them. I refered to the WHITE GODDESS as an explanation of the exile of these peoples to Ireland and Wales to escape from patriarchal domination. These incursions happened in the transition from Neolithic to Bronze Age culture in the Mediterranian basin (refer to the migrational atlas of the Mediterranean for evidence of these parallels).
On Sardinia, the nurage, the circular stone towers that dot the island, are either the last vestige of the "dia madre" (mother goddess), or the first vestige of what would later be the olympian host. There is much evidence of similar even earlier structures in eastern Europe. The circularity is a sign of the Mother.
The vampire works as a cultural icon, especially since the Industrial revolution, as the priest of a god or goddess threatening to undermine the progress of reason. A pagan force, perhaps the Mother's priest gone all crazy for lack of attention, having to resort to killing his worshipers, starved, perverse for being repressed.
In the Romantic tradition it was familiar to tell the stories of the gods, the old myths, reviving a pagan longing for the mystical affect. Ecstatic, transcendent, transformative passion. This passion can only be achieved by surrendering to a great power, merging in an oceanic way, losing personal identity, looking on in fascination. Television.
Television is a post-romantic medium, filled with discontinuity, chiaroscuro, pleasure, while witholding virticality, hierarchy. It bleeds with great drama, but gives its dispensations post-haste. It reverses feeling in an instant. Endless lives are sacrificed as in the Cenote at Chichan Itza, a black pond of immeasurable depths. It consumes all souls offering back only replications, reflections on the "surface".
Those "made" by the vampire are automotons, animated by his life-simulating blood. They go on living only in shadows, seeking evermore to create more shadows.
Pagan sacrifice: PAGAN: fr. L for civilian, country dweller, contract. Heathen: a follower of a polytheistic religion; one that has little or no religion and that is marked by a frank delight in an uninhibited seeking after sensual pleasures and material goods; life of sensual vulgarity (not believing that a life after death exists- being caught up in the finality of "this" world).
In the pagan practice people and animals were sacrificed in order to balance an endebtedness for the life of the tribe. The "gift" of immortality, given by the vampire, is taken with the understanding that life will be sacrified. To live forever, one must die (the message of the Church as I recall). As a sacrifice to the vampire, the virgin represents the purest form of life, the flower of life with which he can go on living, the pagan force satisfied for a generation.
Jung, Symbols of Transformation, THE SACRIFICE, p.419
"... Against this `other' urge the animal in us fights with all his(sic) instinctive conservatism and misoneism -hatred of novelty - which are the two outstanding features of the primitive and feelby conscious individual. Our mania for progress represents the inevitable morbid compensation."
"The real point is that the regression goes back to a deeper layer of the nutritive function, which is anterior to sexuality, and there clothes itself in the experiences of infancy. In other words the sexual language of regression changes, on retreating still further back, into metaphors dervived from the nutritive and digestive functions, and which cannot be taken as anything more than a `facon de parler'. The so-called Oedipus complex with its famous incest tendency changes at this level to a `Jonah-and-the-Whale' complex, which has any number of variants, for instance the witch who eats children, the wolf, the ogre, the dragon, and so on. Fear of incest turns iunto fear of being devoured by the mother." The vampire fits nicely into this infantile nourishment complex.
The theme of gender horror is explored by Carol J. Clover in MEN, WOMEN AND CHAIN SAWS: Gender in the Modern Horror Film (Princeton U. Press, 1992) and reviewed by Cynthia Freeland in March '93 AFTERIMAGE. Freeland accuses the author of inadequate historical references especially in the dichotomy between male "white science" and female "black magic". Here she sights DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN as seminal examples.
Freeland also refers to the author's use of Thomas Laqueur's MAKING SEX (1990) in which he proposes a "one-sex model" for Western culture from the Greeks to Freud where..."an earlier world construed the sexes as inside versus outside versions of a single genital/reproductive system, differing in degrees of warmth or coolness and hence in degree of value ... but essentially the same in form and function, and hence ultimately fungible versions of one another."
Also, on the gaze..."on the one hand there is what she calls the `assaultive gaze' of the camera, which is `figured as masculine' (`A hard look and a hard penis mean the same thing'). On the other hand is the `reactive gaze' `figured as feminine, of the spectator.'"
Clover suggests that violence done or threatened to women instills a sympathy, even a pain in the male viewer which makes him vulnerable, thus feminizing him. The "horror" experience balances the extreme masculine ethos of "hardness" with its play to extreme sympathy and masochistic pain. The girl is sacrificed in order to preserve male "heart". The white scientist is the one who restors order, however, and re-confirms the "reality principle".
I challenge the naming of the "gaze" of the camera a "hard penis", setting the aggressive posture in the hands of the filmaker. As the "female" camera, I transgress the certainty of the frame, and become immersed in the field, reacting to the "distance" of the original by seeking a hyper-intimacy with the image. I seem to become the viewer with a camera, an aggressive viewer, one actively seeking the loss of self in the cyber-Other of the image. My camera is a seducer, a transgressor of boundaries, a symbolist.
My experience of the raw footage (lots of slo-mo CU passages where nothing distinct is apparent) is that it lingers, it takes a lot of time for gestures and attitudes to unfold. Rather than being about surface glitz, it is about hypnotic fascination. It chugs away at its jerky tempo creating tension by refusing to unfold quickly. The "horror" is being out of time, in a timeless environment, a mythic concentration, a face-to-face torture with nothing but the eyes to get you through. One must "wait" in a time when no one will wait for anything. Everything must be evident instantaniously, readable and qualifiable in order to sustain the rapidly retreating "real". We must look more carefully at the goblin in the box who is stealing our "realblood" and giving us his which is virtual.
We are being washed clean in this exchange, clean of the illusions we've had of the concrete difference between reality and fantasy, and compromised forever in the exchange. The compromise creates a new being, either the cyborg or the cyberzombie. If cyborg, then there is a creative possibility where human and machine cooperate for the sake of growth. If cyberzombie, then the human dies to the world and to the notion of personal autonomy, and is reconstituted as an automoton serving the powers of media capital.
Donna Haraway ("The Cyborg Manifesto") and William Gibson ( "Neuromancer") place the cyborg at the edge of media society, where incursions into the seamlessness of media domination can be performed. They both acknowledge the need to be immersed in the technology and its affect in order to move creatively in such a cultural construct. I remember a cyberartist remarking once that all artists have the dream of creating a world of their own, and that therefore "virtual reality'' is the ultimate medium for such designs. I am interested in the magic of such spaces, but find myself not so interested in creating new worlds as reacting to the ones that already exist. And from what I've seen of the entertainment products in VR up til now, much of it is juvenile and cliched. The "gothic" myths of the silent film are being perpetuated in an arena that provides variation by its nature, and not simplistic, unitary narratives. As yet the cyber-world has not come into its own.
If the vampire represents the terror of paternalistic capitalism, then where does the myth find its roots in historical practice. The vampire is seen as the complete undoing of all that life stands for, all reason, moderation, loyalty, civility, good sportsmanship, cleanliness, all the values of civilized society. He comes as a pestilence that would live by stealing the souls of young women. What is this ritual sacrifice for?
Robert Graves' WHITE GODDESS makes the case for a Mother goddess culture that existed prior to the invasion of the Indo-European Olympian patriarchal order. All religions practiced human sacrifice at that juncture (evolving to animals eventually, and then to the "double" in the form of bread and wine). The sacrifice of the ego prize for the sake of a larger good, the potlach gift of the flower of life.
I speculate two scenarios: either the vampire was originally the priest of the invading horde performing a sacrifice of the virgin priestess of the Mother to cement victory; or, he is a relic, a degraded version of a repressed practice of the cult of the Mother wherein priests of the Mother ritually drank the blood of the virgin priestesses to bring them all to an immortality, a death-in-life. There is a perversion in the Christian Mass when the priest drinks the blood of the sacrificed god(dess) in order to partake of a life after death, saying that if one drinks the blood and eats the body, then one will live forever in the kingdom of heaven.
The redemptive and transcendent aspirations of the Mass deny the pagan darkness of its origins, the terror, the horror, underlying the sacrificial promise. Instead of being a celebration of light, the mythic encounter with the vampire is a celebration of the dark richness of the imagination, of dreams and the life of the psyche. There is no room for these forces in the Christian setting, except at the time of the "passion", where death is present, palpable in the face of the coming spring.
A young woman's susceptibility, suggestibility, her capacity to be enthralled is diverted from the controlling effect of the strong men around her (especially at the full moon when she might be menstruating). She can be drawn into fits of imagination, moods (hauntings), and is definitely out of the reach of normal exchange. Her use value as a server, and her exchange value as a wife are disrupted. If she falls into a romance with a phantom lover, a psychotic manifestation, she may cease to provide the suitable container for the emotional projections of the men around her. If she responds to the ancient rhythms of the blood, she will be "out of life", contaminated, and contaminating. The fear of the vampire is a fear of female blood.
So, no matter how much emphasis is placed on being critical of the Media for seeking to promote the patriarchal agenda, I believe that the hyper-visuality of television especially, trans(c)ports the viewer into the position of the the young, virginal, bleeding woman. S/he floats in the immortal state of suspension beyond property and laws, free to haunt the dark spaces of the imagination, and free of the demands of men. S/he is sacrificed to life, she is made to lose so the "reality principle" which is constructed by the patriarchy can be maintained. The more we are lost to the vampiric blood of the double, the more fervently we argue for the "real" and seek to represent it, reconstituting the dilemma over again. The myth is a reminder of our pressing need for the construction of "reality", and for the destruction of forces that lead us away from our duty as citizens of history.
Ann Rice ("The Vampire Lestat" et al) places the origins of the vampire in an encounter between a difficult, chaotic spirit, and a queen and king of ancient Egypt. This spirit is known to the twin witches of a distant matriarchy. The spirit which is annoyed because of its habit of inflicting wounds on people it pursues, has a hunger for embodiment and for blood. At that time according to myth, spirits were, for the most part, disembodied, appearing in psychic form but having little physical effect. When the spirit takes the body of the queen, it immediately reaches out to spread its longing to the king, and thence to humans throughout the ages.
The spirit seeks, first, grounding in the body, and then replication. Doubling. It's survival becomes all about doubling, the cultish and totalitarian obliteration of difference. Each "individual" is sacrified to the tradition, the historical imperative, the omnivorous hunger for control, and the longing for immortality.
Each singular living entity is initiated into the bloodless imagery of the copy, where "living in the flux" is transformed into a sybolistic ritual, the ritual of consumption and replication.
The vampire is the ultimate mirror and yet refuses to be seen in a mirror, refusing its own "image" because it is already only and image. There is the real horror of no original!
The double for me, however, is like a long lost friend. I rely on it as my help-mate, my alter-ego. It creates a sense of possibility for me rather than becoming a threat. My autonomy is not what's at stake. More my capacity to move in the world with a sense of "right". For me that has only been possible by means of the double.
The immediacy of electronic communications retruns us to a reactive state, soon to be interactive, from the distance of writing and reading (ironic how the Net is so bound to just that). Our participation is in a "living" ritual, in a "now" of choices, and not in the reflexivity of an analytical perspective. We engage in the mystique, we are implicated in the moment, we don't have time to think anything through. As we search through the options to communicate, we construct unconsciously, a dream scenario, a depiction of the flow of our desire as it is reflected in the collective iconography.
Raven magic is powerful medicine that can give you the courage to enter the darkness of the void, which is the home of all that is not yet in form. Great Spirit lives inside the Great Mystery (void), and emerged therefrom. Raven is the messenger of the void.
Experience of a change in consciousness. "You have earned the right to see and experience a little more of life's magic."
Black can mean the seeking of answers, the void, or the road of the spiritual or non-physical. Irredescence as the magic of darkness, and a changeability of form and shape that brings awakening in the process.
Guardian of ceremonial magic and in absentia healing. Brings in a new state of wellness, freedom from dis-ease.
Raven is the messenger that carries all energy flows of ceremonial magic between the ceremony itself and the intended destination.
Can you accept it as a gift from the Great Spirit? Or will you limit the power by explaining it away.
It may be time to call Raven as a courier to carry an intention, some healing energy, a thought or a message. Raven is the patron of smoke signals or spirit messages represented by smoke. So if you want to send a message to the Blue Road of spirit, in order to contect the Ancients, call Raven.
Never go beyond that which you have prepared and trained for. Ground the energy.
The vampire is the devowering eye/I, a symbol of consciousness' final falsity, the profound lack that images represent. Still there is a glory in him, for, to image is to kill. What is the land of the dead if not memory. And memory is the realm of images, the storage of signs, the host of lives already lived.
In the land of memory lies the unconscious. Two spheres are there - that of the repressed and that of the archetypes. The vampire gets us closer to the deeper parts, beyond our familial (cultural) taboos, and into the forms of "mind" essential to our psychic structure. We have predilections. Within the dance of our attention to the array of electronic stimulations, is a pattern. An old pattern, made of tracings in our brains, reaches out like a "strange attractor" giving continuity to the chaotic stimuli around us. It is more lucid than the narratives of social continuity our histories provide. It defies ideologies, and tends to linger fleetingly on the nodes of a more primal intuition. Its gaze is ecstatic and hypnotic feeding as it does by an ancient instinct.
This suggests an "immanence" to images. Something immortal. It is exactly images which are immortal, and not life. Poetics defy the (de)terminations of the "system", and we are thrown into a space too flexible for the (body of)law. Things are moving so fast that we are returned, almost,to the state of living-in-flux characteristic of more primitive human/nature interchanges.
The psychological projections of early tribal peoples took the form of totems where the transference of archetypal patterns was articulated in ritual sacrifice. There was no translation, explication, rationalization, no objective triangulation, no "self" outside the ceremony. In fact, psychotropic drugs played a big part in removing circumstantial interference from the rites, setting the celebrant directly into the trans(c)endental mystery. A world beyond circumstance and consquence.
The vampire is the "god" of cyberspace, the eye/I of an unconscious, archetypal transference. Something chthonic in the otherwise light-filled field of information exchange.
I am driving down Middle Street at night, it may be winter. Suddenly I find myself running, quite well and a distance from Middle Street. I see a man and ask how to get back. He obviously thinks it's wierd that I'm there. Then I see how strange it is too. There was an exhilarating feeling to the running.
The man's complicated directions confuse me and I worry I'll never get back. His startled reaction brings me out of the "rush" of running. This rush is akin to a mental "inflation", the psychotic break, vision. This an artist's experience, a feeling of being free to move without a "vehicle" into the interstices of the "grid" (the mind) - the straight patterns of the cross streets like the cool, night-running of cyberspace. Moving freely in intellectual space.
The man speaks of rational continuity and laws, of expertise and social order. With a superior attitude, he looked at me as if I was a crazy woman. This is the battle in my psyche between intellect and imagination where intellect is the voice of judgement about smartness, rightness, credibility, responsibility, etc., and imagination is a libidinous image movement where libido is assigned to ideas.
The affect of this dream is twofold, and changes radically. It is the experience of being "high". First there is the leap out of consciousness into body and its simultaneous perceptions. Then there comes a moment of doubt, a questioning of the impact of this affect on practical decisions. The beauty and courage of the "running" phase gives way to the disorientation and guilt of the "asking" phase.
For now I am caught by the "romance" of the electronic highway. And the movement of the vampire as a god of this space. He is my symbol for a certain price-to-pay in which the blood is sacrificed for the sake of a cool, dark immortality. This darkness is pierced by the "light" of his fascinated gaze.
The ease of electronic simulation, a seamless movement, nerve to nerve, is in the replication that surpasses the friction of physical space/time. The staring eyes are symbolic of the unobstructed distances of electronic pathways. A sight that reduces distances, that betrays personal boundaries, and comes in close and direct for the seduction. In the instantaneous connection, there is a fall-out, a left-over element, a promise unfulfilled, a betrayal, a sacrifice. It is of the body and blood, of the human, of the natural, even of the ethical for the sake of speed and universal coverage.
People are in an unstable relation to one-another when some have access to the system and some don't. So it is in the vampire stories where some people go over and join the immortals while others depend on the natural consequences of life and death in the physical alone.
There will no doubt come such a time when cyberspace will be pitted against real space in a "back to the Earth" movement where encampments of "naturalists" will build alternative life-styles outside the network. The balance has shifted from the panic of the industrial revolution and its loss of "humanity", an evil seen to be redeemable through heroic and moral science. Now we are coming to love the mind machine too much, and seem to be willing to forsake our humanist heritage for a new kind of order made of electronic replicants.
All that is left then is to treat humans like all other constiuencies on the planet, like endangered species. Controlling populations, all kinds, is of the first order. Only with birth control can such an overview be possible, and only with the ready information of the cybersystem can the relevant factors be monitored. So this fabulous vision which is so like all other "frontier" visions will become more articulated, differentiated and useful.
Last night I watched the PBS documentary, THE LONGEST HATRED, a piece about the history of anti-Semitism. It drew me to deep feeling and fear, for my own life and the accident of birth that found me in America. My father, even as an American, narrowly escaped the brownshirts, and quit Berlin in '33. I was born just a little too late to enjoy the noteriety he had attained as one of the Schnabel geniuses. My brother, born there, was shipped off to Argentina along with his mother.
So here I am, an American with an anglo mom, protected under the Church, having clambered through the gene pool, like the underground railway, to be born free of the taint. And yet, of course, I am divided. Seeing the documentary with its persistent horrors, and having felt within myself the battle that has raged in Christendom, I am shocked at the persistence of the response, and its growth today. History and myth don't function on the same level of consciousness. We can only live in the now, and are driven by an unconsciousness that forces us to relive the myths as fate. History is only the recounting of the consequences.
So we have a myth: the Jew kills children and drinks their blood in a ritual sacrifice. The Jew prays upon the innocent, takes more than he deserves, is a thief, and a con artist. A swindler. The Jew is dark, exotic, foriegn, other. The Jew comes from the East, and the Jew killed Jesus.
And the other myth: the vampire lives by drinking the blood of innocents (virgins). He is dark, Eastern, foriegn. He is cunning, greedy, And the other myth: the vampire lives by drinking the blood of innocents (virgins). He is dark, Eastern, foriegn. He is cunning, greedy, seductive, tricky. He is associated with rats, vermin, uncleanness. He is afraid of the cross. He carries the evil eye. A Czech friend Milan suggested that the Vampire myth grows out of an ancient practice of drinking the blood of enemies, and a mediaeval ritual practice in Eastern Europe and Russia. He also acknowledged the presence of the myth of the blood-drinking Jew.
Even if the two myths don't originate in the same climate, they are irrevocably linked in the Christianizing of Europe. Both figures are merged in the psychic darkness to represent the presence of an anarchistic element in nations. This ancient being, either Jew or vampire, represents a loss of the vitality of an older order and a confusion of values. It is manifest in a consolidation of the conservative, nationalistic forces in nations, which seek to redeem the chaotic social condition. Both figures call for a surrender of blood or money, and take advantage of the most gullible and impressionable people (children, adolescent girls) who are representative of the native culture.
This is the black hole, the void, social surrender, anarchy. The seduction of something for nothing that only increases the debt. The desire for one's dreams paid for in blood. A deal with death. Maybe the figure is a reminder that life has consequences, some kind of wake-up call for those whose power is waning. A shaking of the "reality principle" or a shifting social paradigm. A threat to the rule of law and light. A devil to soak up all the negatives, and something that can be purged. A baser memory, and a reminder of the baseness beneath all height. The joke is that in order to remove the negative element, baseness and brutality are employed. This is the master projection.