Lights, apparitions and other strange phenomena. The otherworld has many faces. It is said that the darker forces seem often to manifest itself in something akin to fire and electricity. This is a force the magicians believe they can use.
Electricity is a common medium. Perhaps there is more than meets the eye. It could be a medium for many things.
Fire is the symbol of transformation. It is important to survive. It can destroy. If it appears in the sky it heralds the coming of supernatural beings. The chariot of fire in the Old Testament is both threatening and awesome.
The images we see in moments when we are close to the otherworld are often something more like a riddle. It is not like in the folklore stories. In visionary encounters, we see things which could have many meanings. Sometimes they are like symbols changing the course of people’s lives, sometimes they are like the dangerous lights seen in some forests.
It is maybe not what it seems but this force which is like fire and electricity can inhabit an evil spirit as John Milton said:
“Hope elevates, and joy Bright’ns his Crest, as when a wandring Fire Compact of unctuous vapour, which the Night Condenses, and the cold invirons round, Kindl’d through agitation to a Flame, Which oft, they say, some evil Spirit attends”
Stories about the other world often explore the origin of evil. My work is no exception. The question about the origin of evil lies at the bottom both of philosophical work as work of art. In philosophy and theology, the question is often discussed as “theodicy”, which also implies the question why is there evil in the world?
Season Three Of Twin Peaks, already mentioned in the latest post “Ontological Shock“, is not only an example of a visionary experience but also a breathtaking meditation about the origin of evil by David Lynch in episode 8 of the outstanding series.
Episode 8 led to many discussions and became a milestone in modern TV, its central sequence of a nuclear blast turning into a surreal trip compared to Kubrick’s Odyssey 2001.
Along the convincing creative work of David Lynch there are a couple of remarkable things: on one side there is a near-literal visualization of gnostic ideas and also neo-platonic philosophy where things getting transformed from the world of ideas into the material world. The gnostic dualism has never been so obvious as in episode 8. On the other side, it evokes a feeling of a cosmic evil without explaining too much. On some level, there is no explanation necessary.
I wouldn’t even say this is an explanation of evil or the creation of evil (the appearance of Bob – the later killer-demon triggered that interpretation).
There could not be an explanation where there is no real explanation. There might be belief-systems or philosophical systems but episode 8 let us feel a darkness which can’t be understood in an intellectual way. There is no explanation. The atomic blast might not have created evil but perhaps it was something like a door-opener. If we imagine a universe full of life, full of conscience there are always elemental cosmic powers waiting in their otherworldly realm for an invitation.
Todd VanDerWerff is right when he writes in his article on Vox.com, “you can try to evoke evil in the audience”. What we can do in a movie or a series is that kind of meditation which let people remember something which they do know but what has been forgotten.
Furthermore, words fail to explain what evil is. What David Lynch does brilliantly in his work, is to make the invisible a visible and palpable thing through an atmosphere, through stories told in pictures and the interplay of actors who can express something which works like a virus and can possess you completely.
We get it that the ancient gnostic idea is true that the material world itself carries the energy of evil, that is is always around us and looking for expressing itself in horrible manifestations. You can show how it is always at work and be shaping our lives if we don’t care.
It always finds a way into our world, and there are endless forms or masks or ways of deception. It needs chaos to prevail and tempts us in ways we don’t imagine.
In the Forest Dark Movie Project, I will present my own vision about the origin of evil. I believe there is something we all know about this, but the definition is also a thing of individual belief and experience in life. A problem I see at the core of this question is that words fail to describe precisely what it is. As we have seen in “The Demonic Principle” even Goethe struggled with appropriate definitions.
Maybe there is even a relationship between creativity and the origin of evil. Longtime creative work is often also an attempt to express what is unspeakable, and it can be a gift or a curse to deal with certain things – it can mean for the artist to undergo his own dark journeys or he risks to become the sorcerer’s apprentice and gets abused in the cosmic battle between light and dark. Even more, the artist might be chosen a long time before by higher forces without knowing himself and given the task to communicate and to give us insight into the real order of the world.
Paul A. Green said the subtext in Nigel Kneale’s “The Stone Tape” (A BBC Play) “is the insinuation that a dark force still pulses like an ancient sub-sonic rhythm in the mix of our everyday lives”(Mcourt).
This is a very good definition for some force which is there but can’t be known exactly as what it is, but can be experienced in a certain way.
“The Stone Tape” is a mix of horror and sci-fi offering itself theories about the nature of the supernatural phenomenon demonstrated in the play . The apparition is seen as a recording in the first place. The (ghost)house is the recording medium. The house has a sinister history. People committed suicides and there had been failed exorcisms. The scientists in the movie see the “premedieval stonework of the room (where the moments of terror happen) itself as an organic recording medium” (Paul A. Green). The ghost-hunters then try to record the voice of the ghost but fail, however the recordings are played back directly to the brain.
This is an interesting theory and the play-writer Nigel Kneale took inspiration from real speculations and theories during that time (70s), which are still around (like from Konstantin Raudive, Breakthrough).
The legendary TV-Play does a very good job to pinpoint one mechanism and fundamental problem which lies at the core of visionary experiences: Scientists fail to record unexplainable phenomena still people have very serious experiences and make convincing claims about what happened to them.
We see that very often when so-called “proof” is presented. Neither photographs nor videos or audio tapes with recordings of “ghost voices” look convincing. These things happen on another level and the human brain works in an unknown way like a receiver or antenna.
In the end of “The Stone Tape” the main characters discovers an ancient (alien) demonic force as the source of the apparition when it’s too late.
Nevertheless it seems that the concept that the old building was charged with some kind of dark force and that these force can also perform phenomena which look more like videotape-loops is not ruled out.
Wouldn’t such a concept apply very well also for our haunted forests? Isn’t the ancient soil we are living on loaded with unfathomable energies? A form of (sometimes dark) force which can generate an endless variety of phenomena, a power which can make people do things at certain times in the forest?
This is something which lies perhaps at the bottom of all folk horror. In folk horror nature (or the forest) is “no longer content to be background. It has power, agency, in folk horror” as it was said in a brilliant article by Dawn Keetley about the “Resurgence Of Folk Horror” (horrorhomeroom.com).
“Things happen because of the landscape”. Jane Bennett put it this way: “fleshy, vegetal, mineral materials are encountered not as passive stuff awaiting animation by human or divine power, but as lively forces at work around and within us” (Jane Benett, System And Things).
Of course this is what my movie project and the Forest Dark is also about: Folk horror where things happen because of the landscape. Forest Dark is a folk horror project.
And I think folk horror is a great chance not so much for “some story based on true events” but for stories revealing a deeper truth in images. It’s a genre revealing to us something which is very real.
The idea of an “ancient subsonic rhythm” might come close to what it is. It might not actually some sort of sound but more kind of a radiation which we feel in certain landscapes. And there might be a rhythm, maybe a rhythm which encompasses different timespans as we would usually apply to a rhythm.
It would be an interesting question if we have series of events in haunted places like the freetown fall river forest happen like in Stephen King’s It where the monstrous events happen nearly every 30 years.
And “sub-sonic” is great as a description for something which is there but couldn’t be heard or seen directly most of the times. This is what’s “in between the trees” in the forest.
In the movies and in horror-stories we try to extract that “ancient sub-sonic rhythm in the mix of our everyday lives”. We attempt to make it visible, to let us see what we normally shouldn’t see and face that hidden force in our lives.
“ROSLIN Things. The forest is showing me… Things…”(The Forest Dark Screenplay)
People getting lost or people losing their wits after they entered a dark place in the forest. Are there supernatural traps hidden in certain places in this world?
In fairy tales the trap is a very prominently motive. Writers were fascinated by these folclore stories. There are famous works particularly in the period of romanticism. An example which was described earlier is the “Runenberg“.
Another well-known trap is the court of venus, “Venusberg”. These traps lure the wanderer into another realm. The man who can’t resist will finally lose everything.
These kind of “erotic traps” use temptation. Of course, this is something which works very well in a number of stories.
However it’s indeed primary a literal motive not a very realistic one.
We don’t expect a beautiful fairy queen tempting us to walk straight into a rift in time and space when we enter the woods.
Otherworldly traps are perhaps something which works in a more subtle way. Nevertheless these kind of traps could be very powerful and dangerous.
It seems that there are places in this world were people lose their orientation or get depressed. The perfect description of this kind of otherworldly trap could be found in Algernoon Blackwood’s “The Willows” where two wanderers get maddened by a supernatural force and one of them is close to committing suicide.
“The Willows” is also a fictional supernatural tale but what happens could be closer to what’s really going on. Every year a number of hikers vanish mysteriously. In most cases there are very rational explanations for what has happened with these persons, but some cases remain unsolved. There are areas which have a reputation for this like “The Bennington Triangle”. According to the Indians the woods are cursed in this territory in Vermont.
I think there are two ways to make you losing your wits. If there are forces which could look deeply into the soul of a person these forces will find the weak spot. They will hit you on the most personal level. The other way is showing you disturbing things, things which are somehow not right, something like H.P. Lovecraft’s “Color From Outer Space”.
These kind of phenomena exist. There were described for example in “Dangerous Lights”. Obviously, they act more on a psychological level. They are happen in a realm somewhere in-between the physical world and the inner-life of a person.
Getting into the mind of a person is the most efficient way how a trap could work. The purpose of the trap it to break somebody’s will. Without a strong will we are an easy prey for whatever lurks in the forest. As soon as we are depressed and disoriented we’re lost. Sometimes the victim returns but is changed forever.
Peter Weir’s famous movie “Picnic at Hanging Rock” describes the mysterious disappearance of a group of girls in the Australian outback. One of the victims returns but cannot describe what happened. The girl is changed and cannot remember anything.
The movie is based on a novel which is fiction but played around with the “based on a true story” pattern. The ending was left open for interpretation but the otherworldy quality of the “Hanging rock”, which exists, is a dominant motive. There are hints that it is the special quality or power of place itself which is responsible for the events.
This story is a very good example for a supernatural trap. It’s like a paradigm. We find similar stories surrounding other notorious place like Freetown-Fall River State Forest. In this case the forest itself seems to be the trap, like the famous woods in the Blairwitch-Movies.