This blog is a three-part book in the process of being written, in the form of initial drafts of the sections, posted in the intended order, a project for which the overall name is Explorations. The book is a continuation from Hidden Valleys, Haunted by the Future (Zero Books - 2015), and also from On Vanishing Land, an audio-essay made by myself and Mark Fisher (released by Hyperdub/Flatlines on 26th July, 2019 - https://hyperdub.net).
(two playbacks of On Vanishing Land:
19th October 2019, 2.45pm, Simple Things Festival, Bristol, IMAX.
26th October 2019, 7.30pm (event is Hannah Peel and Will Burns + OVL), Barbican, Milton Court Concert Hall).
Part One: Metamorphics (1 - 18)
Part Two: The Second Sphere of Action (19 - 30)
Part Three: Through the Forest, the River (31 - )
Conclusion, 1. Xenography
the initial ( = deliberate existence on the definitive terrain)
(the place just beyond the threshold)
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the intrerestablishment (the ecumenon / the interiority)
On a first level space is a question of the planet and of nomadisms. But nomadism concerns the definitive terrain, which consists of the planet together with individuals who are waking their faculties.
This leads to the fact that on a second and more fundamental level space is the transcendental-empirical. The transcendental-empirical is the world of the abstract, and is pre-eminently the world of energy and of intent, where the extension of intent beyond the worlds of humans and other animal beings is unknown. On this more fundamental level everything concerns wider realities (beyond those of suppressive, sedentary 'ordinary realities,') and concerns transformations and navigations.
A path is clearly visible, leading away into sunlit, eerie-sublime uplands. This path is the path of nomadism. On the initial level of space this path is different for each journeying, and consists on each occasion of endless turnings-sideways, exploratory drifts, sustained movements-forward, sudden deviations, pauses, returns, improvisatory leaps, and long phases of remaining in one place. On the second level the path does not deviate as it contours outwards by the fastest route, and the deviations are the results of failures to overcome our tendencies to be self-indulgent.
On the first level this is therefore the path of nomadism in a sense which is close to the usual sense of the term. On the second and more fundamental level it is the path of wider realities; the path of Love-and-Freedom.
In 1993 it was becoming clear to me that the Deleuze and Guattari of A Thousand Plateaus were 'onto something' - that they had found a way forward.
At the level of the western world's zone of the trans-establishment this was a time of increasing consolidation - of deepening re-empowerment. Whereas twenty five years before there had been a pervasive view that the establishment in some sense would soon be overcome, there was now the widespread view that this - capitalist - establishment was necessary as the best of bad options, and the equally widespread view that it was the basis and standard bearer for the only virtuous form of society: it had given itself a supposedly anti-prejudice veneer to make the depredations of pro-market deregulation more palatable, and by 1993 it was not only triumphalist, but had managed to re-construct late-twentieth century war as acceptable, overcoming the effects of the war in Vietnam.
However, I was not in fact paying much attention to this at the time: I had been triggered into looking in the escape-direction by the circumstances (the human world is always going up and down, and it is vital to avoid becoming fixated on the ongoing disaster, and its fluctuations). What was helping me to look in the direction of the escape-route was the combination of Deleuze and Guattari, the alternative, anti-establishment sub-cultures of the time (specifically, music-and-dance sub-cultures), and the equally anti-establishment materialism within the University of Warwick's philosophy department.
But of these three it was Deleuze and Guattari who would help me the most. They had indeed found a way forward, one that led to the path.
In our work together Mark Fisher and myself always concentrated on the question of places, in a sense that involved the terrain and functionings of the place being held, for the purposes of thought, alongside the worlds of stories and music which came from the place, or which took it as a location or subject. This strategy, as we employed it in our audio-essays londonunderlondon and On Vanishing Land, was always a way of moving toward the question of the outside of ordinary reality, a way of getting to the energy worlds of the real-abstract through places, and ultimately through space. It is not surprising therefore than when we arrived at a problem that related to time, and I started to work on this idea, the issue transformed itself into something that, once more, was a process of starting primarily from a place.
In November of 2012 I went to visit Mark in Felixstowe - staying at his house for the weekend - in order to work on sequencing and editing the music and voice-recordings for On Vanishing Land.
Late on the Saturday evening we watched the 1978 TV adaptation of Pinter's No Man's Land, and the next morning we watched the one hour TV horror drama, The Ice House, also from 1978. After this we had a conversation in which the exploratory idea emerged that there had maybe been something eerie about the year 1978. We were left with the term 'Eerie 78,' and the thought that we could perhaps work on a project with this name.
This idea was another way of arriving at an issue which Mark and I had been working on for years - the perception that at the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s there was a fundamental drop in intensity in the 'western' world, a multi-aspect collapse which was visible as such, but which was also marked by specific (largely temporary) forms of intensification and innovation within certain, generally quite minimally-impacting areas of cultural production. Evidently the change that occurred was one that involved both the shift to the neo-liberalism of post-Fordist economics, and the degeneration toward very pervasive 'postmodernist' modalities of cultural production, but we both felt that there was something fundamentally deeper involved in the shift.
I liked the idea of approaching this issue from the perspective of the point where the change had not yet occurred, or was only starting to happen. And for some time I had been working on a way of thinking about the 'eerie' that would change the concept so that its main form was partly directed toward intensely positive but anomalous aspects of the world (I felt that this shift was very much a 'bringing out' of something that was faintly in effect, already, within the concept). The idea of 'Eerie 78' was powerful partly because of the dark aspects of the world being seen in the two TV dramas, but also - most importantly - because the term eerie in this context was to a great extent about something definitively positive - the views toward the Future (no matter how obscured or distorted) that were easier to reach before the collapse. And evidently this was not about a change in a use of a term: what was striking about the second aspect was precisely that it concerned a way of thinking about the Future - existence at a higher level of intensity.
I finished editing the first draft of The Corridor around the end of January / the beginning of February, 2013. A few weeks afterwards - it would have been March - there was a point when I started thinking about the 'Eerie 78' idea, and I started to think in detail about my own experiences in 1978. I had already attempted to do this, shortly after the visit to Felixstowe, and had been left with the feeling that there was something there. I had got as far as thinking about experiences in a specific area of North Yorkshire - this area being Ryedale and the North York Moors, and in particular a town to the south of the area, Malton, along with another town, Helmsley, which is in a hill-surrounded corner to the northwest of Ryedale, a few miles from the start of the moorland.
It was a sunny afternoon, and there was sunlight coming into my room. I started to think about experiences in 1978 when I had been staying at a hotel called The Talbot, in Malton. Initially everything was being viewed from above in a very wide perspective: in the distance were the valleys and moorland ridges of the North York Moors, and in the foreground there was Malton, as if being viewed from a mid-air vantage to the south of the town beyond the river Derwent. The Talbot looks out in this direction: it is on the edge of the town-centre facing toward the countryside, at the top of a fifty foot rise in the ground on the north side of the river.
At some point in the spring of 1978 I read The Shining while I was staying at the Talbot Hotel (my mother was looking for a house, after a return from living in New Zealand, and we were staying in hotels). I had my own room, and I stayed up through the night reading the book, occasionally having to go along a hotel corridor to a toilet. I was 14: I loved the book (I hadn't realised that horror fiction could be like this), but reading it through the night in a hotel was an intense experience. Then, about a month later, when I was again staying at the Talbot, I had the dream which I recount in Hidden Valleys - a dream which didn't seem to connect up with any of my experiences at the time when it occurred. I dreamed about a small, very inspired, and ultra-advanced community of people who lived in a town high in the Andes thousands of years of years ago (the place was somewhere in the latitude area of Peru), which, one night, was completely destroyed because of the bursting of a dam which they had built further up the valley. There was something sublime about the lucidity and kindness and ingenuity of the people of that community, and the affect of the dream was partly this feeling, and partly the shocking sadness of their being destroyed. As I woke I had a phrase in my mind that had come from a narrator within the dream (the dream had been a bit like watching a documentary, although I did not remember any other phrases). The statement was "one night it rained and rained." It was an overwhelming feeling of sadness that came with this phrase.
Thinking about this in 2013 I felt suddenly that this had been a lens looking toward a way in which something valuable within the world of human beings had become an ultra-damaging force - a natural-world incursion had taken place under the cloak of darkness in which people had in some way been devastated by their own energy supply.
But it was then that the first real jolt happened. I remembered the dream in Kyzyl, from eighteen months before, where I had been walking south over the Derwent, in Malton - a dream which had had its own, very unusual way of being about rain. (see Section 45).
And then, almost immediately there was something else - I remembered that the house at the centre of events in The Corridor (See Sections 16, 26, 27, 43, 28) had straightforwardly been 'transplanted' from the house in a forest from the dreams in Leamington in the mid 1990s - the house which in the dream was five or six miles to the southwest of Malton, and was surrounded by a large forest which does not exist in actuality. I had written The Corridor over the course of four years, and the point where I had changed the location of this house (Malton becoming Melford, and many aspects of the terrain being the same, even though everything was covered in forest), was now four years in the past, and I had not given any thought, for a long time, to the initial location of the house within the dreams.
I had no idea where this might lead (and it was certainly not clear that it would help in relation to the questions involving the receding of the Future around the year 1978), but as with the stretch of coastland that is the basis for On Vanishing Land, I felt that this other terrain of eastern England should also be explored, even if a new method of writing might need to be developed, in comparison with the one used in the audio-essay.
Arriving at the issue of my experiences in Malton/Ryedale/Helmsley was therefore a process of arriving, once more, at the problem of places. And this problem, in turn, is inseparable from the problems of the planet, of haunt-ology, of space, and of the transcendentally unknown which is knowable (the issue of time is most fundamentally blocked by Hegelianism, and the issue of space is most fundamentally blocked by Kantianism).
If the problem of places is encountered with sufficient comprehensiveness then the process of thinking in detail about the local and the singular will very rapidly lead to the planetary and to the abstract. The fact that the dreams I had in Malton and Leamington happened in these specific places is something that remains as an element of the local, and yet the dreams themselves, in different ways, were either about somewhere else in a straightforward way (a small town in the equatorial Andes), or about a disguised 'somewhere else' that suggests not a place, but a modality of places. There is also a second way in which the abstract can become an aspect of responding to this problem, in that taking up these places as intensive terrains to be assessed is in fact a process of using lenses to see modalities of intent that are not crucially at the level of the local, though they are of course instantiated at this level.
In relation to the starting-point of Malton/Ryedale/Helmsley the account of the terrains in question is to be found in Hidden Valleys.
But in the context of this current writing the key initial point is that the dreams about the house in a forest near Malton took place in Leamington. And the next point is that there are no forests in the places where I dreamed about them. The modality of place is the town (as opposed to the city) and the powerful affect of 'house-in-forest-near-town' resolves itself into a kind of pragmatic problem, one which has multiple solutions, but where neither Malton nor Leamington have surrounding terrains which provide a solution.
Because of the very disturbing state of the planet in relation to forests there are many areas where there are almost no solutions to this problem (especially if the forest is large, and is on flattish ground, as opposed to it being remnant, steep-slope forest, left to prevent erosion). There is of course a very large number of solutions - however, the only place described in this book which would provide solutions is El Bolson in Patagonia.
The other way in which the problem of an individual place can lead to the abstract concerns what can be described as a process of seeing a differential at the level of intensity. Through taking a terrain around - and including - Malton and Helmsley it became possible to see, on the one hand, an openness and joy and adventurousness (fundamentally active, and with a charged, sublime serenity), and, on the other, a haven-domain of serenely reactive safety and kudos, in which the unknown is encountered on condition of safety and on condition of it being conductive toward prestige - toward benefits arriving from enshrined power.
But none of this is about going over the ground of the whole of Hidden Valleys. Over the years just before the arrival of the idea for this book a whole series of experiences took place which indicated that there was something to be explored in relation to Malton and Helmsley, and the area around them. Amongst these circumstances was a near-completion of a very wide circle of journeys and dreams. In Patagonia I had dreamed about Siberia, and in Siberia I had dreamed about Malton. But having completed Hidden Valleys there was only one place where the process could go next - it could only continue by returning to the starting-point, the place where I had had the dreams about the house near Malton.
It is now possible to ask, in relation to all of my experiences since 1995, what, in an impersonal sense, has been the tutelary?
The answer is in three parts, which delineate aspects that ultimately are not fully separable from each other.
The first aspect is journeys in semi-wildernesses and wildernesses; visits to countryside and scurfland terrains; and all movements along a gradient leading away from the maximally urban, in the form of cities.
The second aspect is dream, semi-trance, and envisaging experiences with a quality of joy and with a high degree of focus, with this focus involving attention being directed toward depth-level and wide-level aspects of the world.
Note: together, these first two aspects function to transmutate - or correct - the idea of the unconscious, so that it becomes an idea which relates primarily to the planet, in a specific sense which involves the planet as intensively and extensively wider than the human world, and as separate from the blocked, deluded systems of (non) thought that are endemic within the sphere of the human, even though these debilitating systems do not in any way define this sphere.
The third aspect is a series of works which can be set out in an order which is primarily chronological in relation to their composition:
The Theban Trilogy, Sophocles
Tao Te Ching, Lao Tsu
The plays of Shakespeare, in particular: Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida, As You Like It, Richard III.
Ethics, Baruch Spinoza
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche
The Waves, Virginia Woolf
The King of Elfland's Daughter, Edward Dunsany
The novels of Ursula Le Guin, in particular City of Illusions, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Lathe of Heaven, and The Word for World is Forest.
Picnic at Hanging Rock, Joan Lindsay
The books of Carlos Castanda, in particular The Power of Silence, The Art of Dreaming, The Teachings of Don Juan, The Eagle's Gift, Tales of Power, The Wheel of Time, and Journey to Ixtlan.
"The Image of Thought," Chapter 3 of Difference and Repetition, Gilles Deleuze.
Surfacing, Margaret Atwood
Memoirs of a Survivor, Doris Lessing
"The Erl-King," Angela Carter
"The Story of the Telescope and the Abyss," Pierette Fleutiaux
Picnic at Hanging Rock (film), Peter Weir
Horses, Patti Smith
The novels of Octavia Butler, in particular Wild Seed and Dawn.
Shabono, Florinda Donner.
A Thousand Plateaus, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari
Fanny and Alexander, Ingmar Bergman
Sapphire and Steel, P.J. Hammond
The Witch's Dream, Florinda Donner
The Sorcerers' Crossing, Taisha Abelar
Being in Dreaming, Florinda Donner
Note 1. An account can now be given of what is in effect within these works, at different degrees of intensity, and different degrees of comprehensiveness - a principle or force of Exteriority.
(The concept of immanence is not enough: immanence forms a horizon which continually challenges the dogmatic images of the world and of thought, but on its own it is inadequate for the overall purpose of escape from ordinary, deadened reality, and for the specific purpose of effectuating itself as a mode of abstract perception).
The principle of Exteriority has eight main aspects:
1. A primacy of the faculty of perception - that is, of sustained attention in relation to the spheroambient outside that arrives continually into the world of a perceiving being; and, inseparably, from this, a primary focus on the body, and on energy.
2. An effectuated functioning of the faculties that form the outside of speech and reason: perception, lucidity, dreaming, intent and feeling.
3. A primary focus on the planet as a whole, rather than the human world or a specific country, with attention in particular being given to wilderness, semi-wilderness and countryside/scurfland terrains.
4. A primary focus on women, and on becoming-woman.
5. A primary focus on non-state societies, in particular nomadic and semi-nomadic social formations: this being a focus which concerns not so much the fabric of empirical details of these societies, but instead involves giving attention to these societies insofar as they involve a higher degree of awareness in relationship to the definitive terrain - which consists of humans waking their faculties, and of the planet.
6. In relation to modalities of expression, a primary focus on the world, as opposed to concepts and established forms of writing (new concepts and new forms of writing will emerge, but precisely through the issues involved in creating them being secondary).
7. A centrality of attention in relation to the transcendental-empirical, as opposed to the empirical (see Section 34).
8. A centrality of attention in relation to groups, and all micropolitical issues, as opposed to the domain of state politics.
Note 2. In A Thousand Plateaus Deleuze and Guattari say "...we cannot speak sufficiently in the name of an outside." And they also say - "There is no difference between what a book talks about and how it was made." Insofar as the works concern Exteriority, it is also the case that they were produced by Exteriority.
In the first terrain, from Hidden Valleys, the map, seen the other way around from how it was presented earlier, has Malton and the Talbot Hotel at the top, to the south, and then it has Helmsley and the Black Swan Hotel toward the base of the map. Extended, below Helmsley, in turn, is the North York Moors.
There is some degree of similarity between this terrain and the terrain that has been central to the current work. At the bottom of this second map is Coventry and twenty miles away to the south is Leamington, at the top. To the top left of the map is Harbury Lake, six miles southeast of Leamington. (and, instead of the North York Moors, extended across the base of this second map is the Birmingham/Wolverhampton conurbation).
It can be asked at this point, what is the equivalent of the Black Swan Hotel / Helmsley in the new map? And here, despite the ancient buildings of Coventry, the answer is that it is a further point on the map, just above Coventry, in the form of that aspect of the University of Warwick which consists of this place being a 'haven-domain' in the specific sense of a zone of reactive but creative safety (it should immediately be added both that this aspect is found in all universities and is not constitutive of them, and that the equivalent in relation to the Black Swan and Helmsley is, of course, just an aspect - a modality which is largely in the form of an affinity or a deeply emplaced 'affordance,' one which pertains to the hotel and the town, but without in any way defining them).
It is the time between the autumn of 1995 and the summer of 1999. There is Coventry, and on its southern periphery there is the large campus of the University of Warwick. And beyond these in Leamington and the area around it there is a movement-forward - a going into effect of Exteriority. It will in fact end with a departure from the area, but this is a contingency, and what is most important is to see that it was a Departure from the beginning.
The different zones and forces need to be given some thought. There is the differential between city and town - which was not there in the map from Hidden Valleys. And the town appears in conjunction with zones that are not urban in any way (the micro-place here, Harbury Lake, again has no equivalent). Also, the movement-forward is, on one level, not at all separable from the world of the university that is below it on the map. However, this ultimately disguises something else - this is that although those swept up in such a movement-forward are likely to have the capacity, in principle, to lodge themselves in academia, the force of Exteriority is something intrinsically different from any of the forms of functioning which together make up the fully actualised modes of the institution-system of the universities.
It will be seen that the terrain dissolves into a world of forms of intent.
On the horizon, immanence, and escape-groups.
And making up the foreground is the nomadism that pertains to the definitive terrain, together - inseparably - with the force of Exteriority. As with what is on the horizon, these foreground aspects belong to the domain of the transcendental-empirical. But they - unlike immanence and escape-groups - are fully effective and discernible, in the sense that everything that is involved is discernible and straightforwardly available to be part of a pragmatics of Departure from ordinary, deadened reality. Functionings that appear very much as 'on the way to being' escape-group modalities are part of this pragmatics - specifically all forms of project-collaboration and reciprocally intensificatory alliance; and the same point can be made about the immanence-worlds of the human, as with the deeply powerful domain of the oneirosphere, and the relationships between humans and other worlds of animals. Nonetheless, immanence and escape-groups remain as hazy, enigmatic features of the horizon.
However, it is vital to point out that in departing from the dogmatic image of the world (Section 18) the non-immanence view of the world is left behind. And furthermore, the in-between that follows the overcoming of the dogmatic image must emphatically lean toward immanence, both because of strong indications, and because, for exploratory reasons (and for reasons connected with having to counteract the presuppositions of the image) it is necessary to create explanatory accounts of the world along the lines of immanence, in a process of discerning what is taking place, and simultaneously of envisaging what could be taking place (see 3, in Section 44, for an example of of one of these accounts). It is necessary to be maximally active in bringing the horizon into focus. And it can be added that a main aim of the whole of this three-book project (and particularly of this third book) is to set out a detailed account of this kind.
A return to the south view from the forest edge in Tuva. Having briefly considered the issue of place, what remains are the issue of women as alterity (which most fundamentally concerns women as explorers into the unknown), the issue of the atmosphere, and of forests, and the issue of the abstract.
The wilderness and semi-wilderness forests of the planet are currently being destroyed as part of a global process which has the concentration of human beings into cities as another aspect. Devastation of the environment and 'concentrationism' are two primary features of the current form of the ongoing disaster (the phase of this disaster that can accurately be called capitalism). The forests which have been shrinking more slowly are taiga forests, or are mountain forests which are not far below the treeline in low-precipitation areas (the Sayan forests are an island to the south of the Siberian taiga wildernesses), or, are forests growing on very steep mountain slopes. (this is not in the least to predict that these forests might soon be safe, instead it is simply to point that the economic pressures toward the destruction of lowland equatorial rainforest are greater than the pressures toward the destruction of taiga). Other areas where the rate of destruction has been slowed a little are those where conservationism has been assisted by the vested interests of tourism, though often what is taking place in fact is ring-fencing of what are likely eventually to be tiny national-park remnants (however, it cannot be said in advance what will happen in these areas - for instance with the Valdivian forests in Patagonia)
There is a slight countervailing tendency (one which affects different areas) for semi-wilderness terrains near heavily populated regions to have increasing populations of wild species, as human populations are condensed into the cities. In effect there are fewer and fewer people living in the countryside, and in mountainous areas there are fewer people living off the land, and hunting animals for food, with this decrease being alongside the fact that many of those who remain have a vested interest in conserving wildlife because they are involved in the tourist industry. Another - associated - tendency is the current decline in near-subsistence farming for wool, because of competition from synthetic fibres (there are relatively large upland areas of the countries to the east and southeast of Turkey which recently have stopped being farmed). (This decrease is contingent on the petrochemical industry's domination of fabric production, so it is connected to environment-damaging processes).
Concentrationism concerns cities, but in a different - though ultimately inseparable - sense there is also now a concentrationism in terms of activity in relation to industrialised-world communication systems. This problem is evidently new in its current form, but in fact simultaneously is ancient: the oldest and still implacably pervasive form is the inability of human beings to stop verbalised thought and enter into sustained perception of the - planetary - world around them; and the human world still very much has a fetishised relationship with writing, even though the situation is now not as dire in this respect as it was at the time when only the priest-caste could read. Concentrationism here is the opposite of being expansive: it is inspansive. It may open up a vast space (all of the different modalities of the internal voice of declaration-of-view, justification (etc.); the domain of a religious book claiming to be the book; the interactions and assessments of the internet) but at the same time it is a closing down of the Outside. This of course is evidently not to criticise language or the internet, but is to analyse forms of fixation - forms of fixated concentration of activity into specific, limited modalities.
All of this is to say that the ongoing disaster is at the level of the transcendental-empirical, and fundamentally involves blocking-modalities in relation to the faculties. It is vital to see that humans are being concentrated into the cities (where new inspansive developments are at their most pervasive and powerful), and to see that the planet's wilderness terrains are being devastated - but this is not enough on its own.
A question can arise: confronted by the concentrational and destructive forces of capitalism, isn't it necessary to walk away from the values and ways of living which are involved - to set out immediately by shifting to a form of existence where it is possible to be expansive while at the same time 'touching the ground lightly'? Necessary to shift, in fact, to a form of existence where you touch the ground lightly as part of a process of escaping into a wider world of perspectives and actions (from which it might be possible to reach a greater understanding of the plight of human beings).
(It can be seen that such a departure does not in any way preclude being in a city, even if it is likely in general to be best to leave cities behind as places to live).
Two terrains or vantages can now be be overlaid, and the virtual-real can then, in turn, be laid across them.
You are looking southward from Malton across the River Derwent. Ahead of you is a long ridge of the wolds, with here and there a few trees on the horizon. To your right, three miles away is the start of the narrow, winding valley through which the Derwent flows, a valley which often has has trees on its relatively steep slopes, particularly on the steepest slopes to the south. Behind you, eighteen miles away, is Helmsley.
You are also looking looking southward from Leamington, across a zone of its streets, and out beyond these to a horizon of fields and occasional tiny patches of woodland. Just behind you is the River Leam, and six miles to the southeast is Harbury Lake, with its extremely small areas of less agriculturally devastated terrain (a miniscule fringe of scurfland on which rare species have survived). Behind you, fifteen miles away is the centre of Coventry, and two miles nearer, and a little to the west of the city's periphery is Warwick University.
It is 1978. At the Talbot Hotel I have the dream about the community of people living high in the Andes thousands of years ago. The people are at the centre of this oneiric/virtual-real experience. The terrain is mountains, and a lake created by a dam. There are no forests in this dream.
It is 1997, and I am living in Leamington: I dream about people living in a house in an area of forest a few miles to the southwest of Malton. The forest is quite large, and extends across an area south of the steep-sided valley of the Derwent (because there are trees on the slopes of this valley, and because I did not know the area very well, at one point I checked an ordnance survey map - but the area in actuality has nothing at all which corresponds to this virtual-real forest, which extends across land that is relatively flat, although it is elevated above the river). The house is by a lake, and the feeling of the dream is that the people living in the house have in some sense crossed a threshold, which has taken them away from something oppressive or constrictive about ordinary reality.
In the summer 2005 I am in the Sierra de la Demanda in northern Spain. The idea comes to me of a story in which there is an emergent parallel world where the whole planet is forest, and where the overgrown ruins of human cities and towns are everywhere (as if the planet has been 'dreamed forward' hundreds of years, but almost entirely without humans), with only a few places left unchanged. Everything is seen from the vantage of Leamington, which in the parallel world is unaltered, and from the vantage of some of the seventy or eighty people who wake up in a sunlit, depopulated Leamington, surrounded by forest. The view of the forest which I see is from a road going south out of the town, as the last houses come to an end there is a hundred yards of road, and then a wall of forest.
In 2009 I start to write The Corridor, a novel which is intrinsically about groups (although this was just what happened in writing it - it simply followed from the initial ideas). And in starting to write it the novel's six protagonists initially arrived in the parallel world (five years after this emergent world came into being, within the story) at the house southwest of Malton, from the 1997 dream. This dream had stayed in my mind: after a few years of only thinking about it occasionally I had started to return to it as a setting for both stories, and processes of envisaging. But now, I did not want the setting in the novel to be somewhere from my past, and after an initial process of oneiric tension, I succeeded in relocating it to an area of Suffolk which I did not know at all, eventually succeeding so well that for a while I forgot completely that the house had ever been anywhere else.
From the point of view of the two terrains, there is now a complex virtual-real. In its first form there is a house surrounded by forest to the southwest. And in the second form there is forest everywhere: it has spread around both towns and has gone not just to the horizon but all around the planet. And from this second point of view the house and the group to the southwest has been doubled and relocated. The people from the Corridor story are not the same group, and this other virtual-real zone is now primarily to the south, in Suffolk. The constant, however, around all of this, is the forest, which now encompasses the planet, and covers the horizons of the two initial terrains.
It appears as very much a line of oneiric thought, one that began in 1978, and picked up speed nearly two decades later. The line of thought is evidently to a great extent about forests.
However, if you go back to the beginning of the thought-process, in 1978, it becomes clear that although forests are central, what is even more fundamental to it is the idea of groups. And if you look at its final phase it becomes apparent that what is most fundamental of all (for the line of thought, and at all levels) is the locus and matrix of both the forests and the groups - the planet on which they exist.
In looking at the superimposed terrains an impression emerges that there is a threshold -line that runs across both of them. From the first of the two vantages there is the River Derwent: the house by the lake is on the opposite side of the river, and, as well, the dream in Tuva involved crossing this river, with the eerie, ultra-intense figure of the woman standing in the distance on the opposite bank (Section 45). And in the case of the second terrain the threshold-line is the wall of forest seen from the road on the southward edge of Leamington (and in connection to the forests of The Corridor it is worth remembering that in relation to the encountered figures who have escaped further from ordinary reality, relative to the protagonists, it is women who are very much in the foreground - and it is Miranda who says "I am human, but I am human-across-threshold").
Having opened up this space of differentiated forms of intent - or forms of being - it is now possible to look over your shoulder, perhaps with a degree of trepidation, at the strange composite zone that is Helmsley/Warwick University, together with what only appears in one of the two terrains, a city, in the form of Coventry; and it is possible to wonder, what are they? And most importantly of all it is possible to look southeast to the other feature which appears on only one of the terrain-maps at the level of actuality - a specific place which is beyond the urban, Harbury Lake. With Harbury Lake, if it is taken up at the level of forms of intent, what is it toward which we are looking?
(the question will come to mind about the connection between actuality and the other level involved, and all that can be said at this point is what has already been stated: the zones within the terrains appear very much to have have different degrees of affinity for the different forms of intent, without it being possible in any way to define them in terms of these forms - there is no intrinsic connection between universities and the Deep Hotel, or the 'adjacency,' as it can be called. There is just a higher degree of affinity for this specific modality).
At the level of forms of intent the map is shifting toward the impersonal - toward it being a mapping of a terrain of the abstract (the abstract-real). But it should be said that the line of oneiric thought being delineated is also profoundly impersonal: the overall impression is of a process which I did not perceive at the time, and which was like an impersonal current that was both beyond me and running through me, a current which it seems should be thought of in terms of energy and in terms of the planet.
The threshold-crossing on the map needs to be brought into focus, both so that it is shown to be intrinsic to the line of thought, and - far more importantly - so that it reaches the point of having validity as an idea, even if it can only in fact be verified, by each one of us, as a result of a process which is as much a pragmatics of intensification as it is a process of thinking. For both of these reasons it is now necessary to return to the starting-point - to 1978. But it is necessary to do this in relation to all of the issues involved: it is a question of looking more closely at the initial dream, and then at other events which took place in the months afterwards. The oneiric map must be given more detail before it can be transformed.