So apropos of a couple of interesting conversations I've had recently (and by "conversations" I mean "people who don't mind me gushing about the weird shit I love"), I am moved to once again refer you to k-punk's tantalizing account
of the uncanny in Sapphire & Steel
, which I am desperate to watch (as one of my unfortunate correspondants put it, "that sounds like either the best or the worst TV show ever"). Thinking and talking about S&S
, as well as things like the old Dr. Who
shows I grew up with, The Stone Tape
(more terrifying to me because I haven't
seen it, on which more in a second), other old BBC stuff I didn't get to watch, the Radiophonic Workshop
, etc etc gets me excited in an odd sort of way; there is very little that I enjoy as much as wallowing in a particular kind of the weird, at least one branch of which is summed up very nicely by Mark. But note especially one thing he says about S&S
:If the series is remarkable for its cryptic refusal to pander to the audience's demand for explanation, that is partly because it is attuned to the unconscious, to the submerged knowledges that children still possess but which adults have forgotten. On the level of the unconscious, no explanation is necessary.
Everyone knows there is something disturbing about clocks.
Everyone knows that nursery rhymes are sinister incantations.
Everyone knows that paintings contain worlds you can fall into.
Everyone knows there are realities a hair's breadth away from our own into which you can step.
Somewhere in here is the connection between my love of the esoteric and half-glimpsed (see also, for example, Morrison's The Invisibles
(or even his superhero work*, where the reader is given just enough information to follow along with the madly rushing narrative - Morrison would much rather give you an evocative name for a device so that you craft what it does/is by yourself, see Batman's "Science Fiction Closet"
), Philip K. Dick, H.P. Lovecraft, Illuminatus!
, The Prisoner
, The Crying of Lot 49
, hell, Spinoza! - and here you see how this all gets me thinking in such a way that I babble) and my deep, reassuring belief in the power and beneficial effect of the weird (or discomfiting/confusing/uncanny/etc) on the young, which I discuss more fully in a Seconds piece on, of all things, Crowded House's "Into Temptation" that should appear in Stylus this week or the next. Which will be linked to and I'll probably try to make this make more sense then. For now, I'm content to spend time reading up on old ghost stories and strange, internally consistent story-systems (or is that story/systems? - and now we're into hyperstition...).
But, something came back to me as I read about/told others about The Stone Tape
last night, or recounted the same stories to Aaron today in the comfort of his office; there is no possible way the actual program could effect me more
than it already has in my encounter with the telling
of it - in fact, I'd argue it would probably effect me less. Call it the Borges effect - just as he found writing about a novel he could
have written more interesting and less taxing than actually writing the novel, telling the stories of these stories are just as effective as experiencing them yourself, in a way. Perhaps even more so. I am as close to certain as I can be that I will love Sapphire & Steel
when I finally see it, but also that in some ineffably crucial way it will not measure up to my conception of the story now. There's something here, and it's linked to myth as opposed to reportage, and Camus' contention about the distinction between living and recounting, and also to the efficacy of being distubed by art as a kid - but for now I really need to get back to work and so will leave this thought strewn all over the page.
*Grant Morrison: My DCU is a day-glo, non-stop funhouse, where the world is threatened every five minutes and godlike beings clash in the skies like fireworks