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Tag Archives: erotic

Silent Hill Nurses

The Body as Negotiation and Horror

Halloween is coming, and much looked forward to, time for a rumination on the mechanics of flesh (and horror), amid questions of salvation and social critique.

[click here to be able to view clip fullscreen]

What is it that is so engaging about this terrific horror scene? My suspicion is that it is the articulate collaspe the erotic into the horrific. These manikin’d figures perform a rhythmically spasmed ideal of the female body as autonomous machine, but one that is imagined to be inert until stimulated. They are faceless, breasted, high-heeled, and jerk with a movement somewhere between impulse and gearing. And it is their powderiness, moths that captivates us (like their day counterparts, don’t touch their wings). They have a dusted eternity about them, like statuettes put into a tomb, awaiting the next life for a king; the expression of desire that is not vital, not succulent, not verdant, but thin, spare, starved…like crysallis-paper. And their very stiffness expresses their phallic nomen, though they move like dancers, affected, against their anatomy, strung between a marionette wire and gravity, and tugged forward only by the light.

They are nurses, those uniformed, regulated images of maternal instinct, put into office. Condensations of nurture and erotic formulized power, here gone bad. Ever at their station, they are like tin soldiers to serve a moral war, atuned to battle. The growing political and economic freedoms of women in the world become anamorphically projected, down across these canal “types”, so as to create a kind of “astral body” for those concrete freedoms, one that can move through our imaginations, communally. (Some would say that this subverts, attempts to domesticate, enphantasize the real power, but that would be to lose the dimensionality of powers…minds act.)

And the protagonist of Silent Hill is a woman in a woman’s space. The lone substantive male figure is Triangle-head, the demon, who mutely can only disrobe or stab, or verminify with incredible violence. But this violence is lunar, it cycles through. His head is consubstantially strapped-on, castrated or chastity endowed. He already is a feminine expression. The Law, and the Father is locked outside. She, the mother who in the film is not a mother, or, only a mother-IN-law, must negotiate this bend of nurses, this last stage of female fantasy condensations. In fine mythic proportion, she has gone into the underworld with a lone tool, a magic lamp, a beam of consciousness. But natural laws do not function equally well down here. The light of the eyes certainly illumines, but it attracts (how many women have faced this, fundamentally). It shines and ensnares. Her spectral dopplegangers, the full-figure expressions of her imaginary transport become homocidally activated by her strong beam. They cluster and jerk, showing her their ways.

The stillness of their bodies, frozen in postures unreal for any human thing, it is their human form, their mockery and simultaneous paragonical perfection of female beauty that is so horrifying when they lurch into erotic-mechanical animation.  Response to their movement is to be petrified in horror, bearing still and breathless witness to their writhing bodies as they parade toward their desire – the light, you, the holder of the light.  And the light shuts off, and the bodies seize into stillness once more, shuttering in final violent spasms as they come to rest in even more contorted postures than before.  She is like them; in our nightmares we cling and long for the light to save us from our fear and we are petrified without it.  But she is more clever and her desire is stronger, for she can move without light, she can walk among and indeed walk like her fear.  It is in that darkness that they are pacified, without desire, and in this darkness the protagonist can move toward her desire, pulling and winding her  frame – blind like they are – through the maze of inanimate bodies. 

Paradoxically, she must shut off her magical implement, the darkness producer that it is. She must become one of them, a near-frozen articulation that can only feel, sense…proximately. She, a gear, must pass through those gears, without turning them. And their recursive ethic, their imbricated network, when she brushes too close, sets the whole desiring-machine into production. The slashes come in wide arcs, woman on woman. Model bodies mechanicize, and necks open up into mouths. The scalpel, the most discerning instrument, the sharpest refinement of perception, the critical tool, flies. But what is produced in this imaginary space is not death, it is a vortex-work of living, intense lines of red, until the “subjects” can huddle about the light again, like toddlers.

What is one to make of this gauntlet? A woman devoted to her duty as a mother (to an adopted child) must penetrate the fictive space of female power images, the automaton sources of gendered capacity. These images are not just projections of real relations, but are real relations in their own right, I suspect. That is why they terrify. Progress sometimes includes the faceless.

One might say that the mother here must negotiate the Field of Being, the historically determined imaginary manifestations of her real power, as real, and just do so as a Body. 


[The above is written with the help of my, of course, horrific wife]