Unsettling Dioramas. From Canada. I Know, Right?

5 10 2016

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Have a look at Patti Normand’s work. She says her intention is to show how nature and humanity coexist with indifference, and how that creates an unsettling expectation. I note that characters make drastic choices without presentation of a context. Why the moosehead? This helps with the unsettling.

Is there a victim? Is there a criminal? Sometimes lives veer away (as in the woman fleeing the relationship in “Gone With Dear Trevor” on her website) and we cheer despite the resultant anguish of Trevor left behind, or sometimes the dinner becomes diner (see the recipe for “Lake Monster” accompanying “What Lies Beneath” the bottom image). Part of weird fiction is pulling the camera back so far that the idea is in the forefront of the emotion.

When framed in the trappings of bygone times like 1960s Ontario, the unsettling becomes even more cerebral. This is how “Stranger Things” and “Twin Peaks” and “X-Files” can take child murder and make it palatable.

I think right now horror is chasing “unsettling”. Times are pretty horrific, true.  Unidentifiable horrors and serial killer antiheroes distract us from our frightful obligations toward tribe and nation. How can the faceless or inaccessible pay for their crimes? The police are ineffective, the lawyers too smart, the Gospel too clear. Let Cthulhu, Hannibal Lector, or the rogue FBI agent handle it.

I am disappointed by contemporary society. If the evangelicals are correct, all the nice people I know are going to Hell (which should always be capitalized). If there is no God, then I am part of a failing justice.  I can’t be the only person feeling this. I’m sure this is why weird is doing so well and that low-budget horror is in another golden age.

Touch the weird stuff up top to see more, or just go here:  http://www.pattinormand.com/





“Body Horror and Psycho-Sexual Transcendence”

12 12 2015
 

CHAPTER TWO: THE MOTHER AND THE WORM

We were in our places, Olivia at the door and I in the wicker basket. The windows were concealed with heavy curtains to keep out the afternoon sun, but oil lamps pushed back the gloom. The lady who entered our study first was the old friend of Olivia’s family, who embraced Olivia, then introduced her guests. The other matron wore black; she was the hopeful patron. The men were young, one balding and mustached and the other dark and intense. They were surprised by her frank smile, by her firm handclasp, and smirked to each other.

The basket that hid me was a cubit square. Within it, I sat naked on a thin cotton mat, waiting for my cue.

After brief pleasantries, Olivia bade everyone sit at the mismatched slat chairs around our worn table. Slowly, not without drama, she turned the gas lamps down.

“Everyone take hands, please. This afternoon, we speak with the spirits. I need for everyone to speak these holy words of the Hindu. Om mani padme hum.”

Her resonance and theatrics gave the others confidence. The older ladies intoned with Episcopalian reserve. The men seemed strangely comfortable with the trappings, and joined in.

The chant rose in pitch.

This was my cue, as thespians say. I lay back and breathed deep, humid air inflating my months-old lungs. As I inhaled, I imagined the proper yantra symbol. I exhaled my own mantra to release my spirit from my misshapen flesh.

“Come to us, Alecsandri. Come to us, spirits.”

I continued my chant and let myself drift, imagining myself in warm black oil. As she implored, the study was swallowed by the warm oil. My spirit rose from the basket. My hands glowed, my fingers lithe.  My spirit body shone golden and tall, like before I had forced myself into Thomas Spalding’s brain and was reborn in the manikin shape.

The bodies of the attendants glowed with auras of life. Rainbows flared along the older women. The bald man’s was a healthy bronze. The young man’s was odd. The flares were violet and tight, like a gas burner pressed by a weight. Olivia’s lavender opened and extended across the room as she entered her trance, so that she could communicate with the spirit realm.

Unseen by the others, I drifted to Olivia and caressed her neck. Touching her spirit was like touching soothing wool on a winter day. Feeling me, her head eased back and magenta sparks streaked her neck after my fingertips.

She said, “My spirit guide is with us. Are you ready to help us, Guru?”

Her head fell forward and she affected a deeper, thicker-tongued man’s voice, an impersonation of me when I was human. “Olivia, I am always pleased to make new acquaintances. These are charming people.”

She sighed and rolled in her seat, as if buffeted by forces within. In her voice: “I sense a presence with you, Guru. Who is with you?”

I had been too distracted by Olivia to notice. A disembodied glow had appeared by one of the women. It was the size of a grown man, and boiled red. It pointed to the older woman.

 

“I love ‘The Flesh Sutra’!” – Nancy Holder, NYT Best Selling Horror Author

My debut novel was on the preliminary ballot for the 2015 Stoker Awards.

“In this excellent novel, the writing is crisp, the characters sharply drawn, the plot engrossing; as a result, this tightly written and propulsive narrative addresses postmodern angst about humanity and spirituality in the context of body horror and psychosexual transcendence with literary flair and at times deeply disturbing imagery.”

Order it below.

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