Are You Lena? – Self and individuality in Annihilation

April 4, 2018 § 1 Comment

This isn’t a review of Alex Garland’s Annihilation, based on the 2014 novel by Jeff VanderMeer, mainly because, to a large degree, I didn’t think it was particularly good as a film. The characters felt inconsequential and poorly portrayed, particularly Jennifer Jason Leigh’s unhinged leader Dr Ventress, as opposed to the specifically blank canvases in the original book. It also delved overly-long into needless flashbacks, long after any normal viewer had got the full point of those sojourns into the past, when the book made them part of a fluid and bewildering timeline.

I’m also, despite those two cross-media comparisons, not particularly interested in delineating the differences between book and film, something I think is often required in movie adaptations.

What I do what to talk about, however, are some of the concepts the film itself whispers about behind the scenes of the apparent narrative. Who we are and who we were. How we think of ourselves and others. What happens when those distinctions begin to break down.

Annihilation 1

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Geogramancy

December 19, 2013 § 1 Comment

Whilst many Citizens never leave their Borough, let alone pass beyond the common environment of stone and brick, a not insignificant number gird themselves and press out into the oft-unknown lands of the Suburbs. It is to these doughty adventurers that we dedicate this meagre work – nought more than a collection of their experiences – and to whom we offer thanks in the name of those brothers of Science; Knowledge and Exploration.

Many Citizens will be aware of the area known by most as the Fen and its reputation as a mist-shrouded place of sickness and isolation is not unfounded; the creatures known as Fen Dogs stalk this land and even more fantastical entities – various species of carnivorous tree, bloated King Leeches and the ghastly, howling Katterjack – are said to lurk in the furthest reaches of the Far Fen. Yet, for all its reputation, The Fen has been travelled and, to a degree, mapped. The few landmarks that exist on the undulating moorland serve to direct those wise in its ways and it is these that we will discuss in this work. The silent lake of Glassmere, looming Pinstack, the stone pillars of the Fat Man and his Son; these and many more are elucidated, often with fine prints, in the opening section of this compendium.

Fat Man & Son

The latter part of the work concerns itself with those far less visited areas beyond the hinterland of the Fen; the Sleeping Cliffs, the Scatter, Aden’s Height and the Glimmersee. Whilst far less information exists for these places, some no more than names, their peculiar features make even the most vague impression of great importance. The Author notes that this section also contains a number of fictional works that relate to the locations in question. Some readers may bemoan this recourse to tall tales and hearsay but it is the Author’s most humble opinion that the greatest works of fiction can, in hindsight, be proven to contain grains of a higher truth.

N.B: The Author and Publisher, in this Second & Re-Authorised Edition, are bound by both Honour and Law to make warning to any Dear Reader who may take this work as an exhortation to transgress the boundaries of the City and adventure into the realms beyond. Paying only a small amount of attention to the tales of those who return from these places, let alone the lingering silence of those who do not, should prove sufficient to dissuade any neophyte wanderer and restrict them to the less perilous environs of the City Library.

An excerpt from the introduction to ‘Without Within: Journeys Beyond The Four Walls‘ by Leonora DeVere

The Fen

There lies, far East, a nameless fen/didst Man last tread I know not when/but beasts there are/and worse by far/things that yearn for foreign stars/things as shy from mortal ken/but dance and howl on the nameless fen…

H. Devlin Weard (attrib.)

(Fen vista by kind courtesy of edgeplorer and occasional oculist, Capt. Oaklaw)

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