Annihilation

Much of the bi-associative strangeness of the book’s descriptions of Area X is preserved: blossoming branches act as antlers on deer, human limbs are melded into the root systems of trees, concentric rows of teeth occur inside the crocodile-like Monster that attacks the women as they explore an orchard of humanoid bushes. “A religious event? An extra-terrestrial event? A higher Dimension? We have many theories and few facts,” admits Ventress. “When you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you,” says VanderMeer’s protagonist in the novel. “Desolation tries to colonize you.” This is, perhaps, the most important attribute of the New Weird – that it replaces human delusions of self-importance with deeper and more mysterious truths. From the Space Opera scope of M John Harrison‘s Kefahuchi Tract trilogy with its pointless repetitions of people and the monstrous haunting of humanity from the Time Abyss to the Drugs and crime (see Crime and Punishment) and photography sequence of the Cass Neary novels by Elizabeth Hand – both series of novels display their authors’ facility at counterbalancing Postmodernism with a deep comprehension of genre – the form must go beyond its delivery mechanisms to achieve its emotional payload. More often than not the weird does this by combining the real and the uncanny and making the uncanny seem more real than the everyday delusions of human assumption. Symbolism and surrealism is very often important to this process, as is a central scientific metaphor. In the case of Annihilation, this is cellular activity and its connotative capacity for communicating the implications of EvolutionClimate Change and Medicine:-

 

Annihilation entry

 

SolarisGif

 

Six Great Films (about the Patriarchy by the Patriarchy)



  • 1. The Dark Knight Rises
    One of the most unsettling films I’ve ever seen. My partner loved it. “I like his car,” she says. “But… it’s about the supremacy of fascism,” I splutter. “Yeah,” she smiles, “I like his torso too.” That old Sylvia Plath line from ‘Daddy’ comes to mind: every woman loves a fascist. Scary but instructive.
  • 2. Destry Rides Again
    Ooo, it’s Jimmy Stewart in a tight-fitting cowboy suit. But hang on, he won’t use his gun. What does his gun symbolise? Yup. Meanwhile, Marlene Dietrich’s singing: “See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have”. I think we know, don’t you? It’s gayer than Top Gun.
  • 3. Get Carter
    Michael Caine’s niece is raped on film for the purposes of pornography. (Try not to cry.) His response is to fight the patriarchy with the tools of the patriarchy: violence, intimidation and murder. Then he dies. John Osborne mooches about in an unconvincing neck-beard. One of the bleakest and most truthful films ever made.
  • 4. Solaris
    Planetary scientist Kris Kelvin is haunted by his suicidal girlfriend. What does she represent? Guilt, an imaginary family, the epistemology of science itself; he’s separated subjects from objects, thoughts from feelings, in pursuit of data. Men are like that. He gets found out.
  • 5. Blue Velvet
    Masterpiece: I dare you to disagree. If you have to rape your mother to get it up, we’re all in trouble. And yet… all those robins together at the end: and those firemen at the beginning. Is that the patriarchy getting it together? It’s clear we’ll need a woman’s help to achieve that.
  • 6. Mad Max: Fury Road
    A film that wears its symbolism on Charlize Theron’s sleeve: bullet farms, corrupt bloodlines, threatening baroque skies. The leads underplay their roles to bring the background into the foreground: the old family structures have broken down and the big guy makes no sense anymore. Slow down: this is home.