In this series of epistolary exchanges, artist Lito Kattou and writer Penny Rafferty share with each other – and consequently, the reader – thoughts on thin skies; Frankenstein; the Other; and ancient deities.
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You speak of cardinal materiality, with Kaha I can’t help but wonder if you’re also talking about something more paternal, as when a human resurrects/creates an Other. It’s the common trope in horror literature, Frankenstein is perhaps the most famous but also we see it in the signature notes of Kafka, albeit in a more animalistic automated way. In a sense, we could also see literature as science, the first steps to the idea becoming “lived”.
Today, I was listening to an interview with William Gibson. Back in the early 80s, if you don’t know him, he was an acclaimed sci-fi novelist. Anyway Gibson spoke of this idea, in the interview he called it “a consensual hallucination”. He is best known for his novel “Necromancer” which inspired a generation of cyber punks and I personally think he envisaged a potential future which we now live through. His fictions are a Silicon Valley landscape – complete with plug ins, downloads, and a fascist surveillance state…. Perhaps this hits this in-between-ness status again, which we spoke of earlier but with a longer durational time span.
Anyway, listening to him describing his vision of immersive technology in the 70s feels as if he is a crypto soothsayer spouting clickbaitable oracles – the truth, however, was that he was merely a forward-thinking literary figure, he never touched a computer and typed by human hand all his novels. He had a potentially progressive daydream that became the fabric of a revolutionary social novel (I’m trying to remove my binaries hence I say revolutionary but I do not wish to claim it as my personal revolution nor what I see as a “good revolution”). Saying this I do not want to discredit him as a thinker as I think the concept of “a consensual hallucination” is important to revisit today when thinking about the relationship we have with technology and any tangible object of desire.
Perhaps I am rambling here, but the point I’m trying to make is by you creating this evolving hauntology of Ido, Kaha, Emlet, they, they could in fact, could become literal and active when enough energy is poured into them or enough people believe in their lived state. You could conjure them with others.
So…Is the mind the first steps towards automation of the inanimate or?
….It’s interesting you mention the god Hephaistos, I was thinking about the idea of a new Technological Eros entering the scene lately. Eros was the greek god of sexual attraction, his roman counterpart was Cupid who was also simply named “Desire” in some places. Some myths make him a primordial god, a god without ties – an original, whilst others depict him as the son of Aphrodite. He was however always a winged god lounging in the cloud above the mere mortals, twirling his amour. This cloud-like weightless space is an interesting setting, when we are thinking of the origins of an ideas and its lustful counterparts, this trips me back into this paternal conception.
It’s my last days on top of this mountain, Mont Serrat. I’m looking forward to going back down. 3 days ago on the 11th April, I took a ride around the other side of the mountain to meet a group of people who have been waiting since 1977. A jarring ledge cut into the mountain, they wait one night a month, for aliens. That night it was cold and dark, threatening rain perhaps twenty people huddled together, exchanging spiritual ideas on contact. I was told one, I had to look out into this endless expense of black, and relax my mind to their signals, I would not be abducted but at this spot, the sky is very thin they told me and the other dimension is just behind its surface. They hover close to the other side and if you ask them a question they will answer. The followers/believers also told us not to talk about banal or mundane things as the aliens would not come, why should they when the party chat is lame? This was an interesting lesson as far as contacting an Other. I couldn’t help but think of us.
Flight to Cologne, Spring 2018
Literature as science and cyber-teratologies bring several paradigms to my mind. The Other is assimilated within the general category of “difference”, which facilitates a deep empathy between women and aliens and also favors exchanges and mutual influences. And there lies a very gendered approach to the different processes of becoming and the metamorphoses that mark science fiction genre. Sci-fi horror films often have driven explicit parallels between the woman’s and the alien’s animal or insect bodies.
For example Cronenberg’s “The Fly”, displays the Kafka-like metamorphosis of a scientist. The film draws parallels between the woman and the fly, which are enhanced in the nightmare scene where she gives birth to a giant maggot. The technological body gets a metaphoric and a paradigmatic function in representing the human organism. At the same time it also fulfils the role of sexual metaphor, the technological or lets say the mechanical other represents a connection, a link or an in-betweenness.
In such transition zones we can find Mary Shelley’s “Frankestein” and Fritz Lang’s Maria in “Metropolis”. The first can be read as a female projection of an inner sense of inadequacy. In this perspective, the monster fulfills primarily a specular function by playing a major role in the definition of female self-identity. The monster is perceived to be the masculine, monstrous, powerful and kind-hearted. The later one captured as a “modern” utopia represents technology as embodied in a female robot. This machine-vamp, Maria, embodies a fundamental ambivalence towards technology. On the one hand it stresses its destructive potential, on the other its progressive and euphoric force. It is the other, like woman and nature, the lunatic and the evil that is firmly under exterior control and fully subjected to desire.
And of course there will always be somebody expecting the Other in a ritualistic environment. Minds do the first steps towards automation through the construction of objects of desire. And there in weightless spaces as you beautifully describe a couple of beings, our personal “Soft Incalculable Souls” lets say will be waiting to “solve” things out. All this characters could be our own mediators between thin nuances of becoming. In Platos Symposium, Diotima bravely enough, characterize Eros as a Daemon. A construction or a metaphysical being between humanity and mortality. He is not a god, he is a facilitator, a mediator between the tangible and the non ever grasped.