A tenebrous paradigm shift raises all rafts of measure
July 27, 2020 10:36 AM   Subscribe

The kids in the playground whirled faster and faster around each other. By the time Eric and Sandra caught a break in the traffic and made it across the street, the game had turned ugly. They were moving almost too fast to see, but from the glimpses he got, the kids had already begun catching one another. Each had sunk at least one arm into the back of the child in front of them, their bodies fusing haphazardly. One poor girl’s leg seemed to have melted into that of the boy she followed, and their stumbling gait made the whole kid-circle wobble unevenly. "Everything's Fine": a short story by Matthew Pridham to encapsulate a year of collapse.

Pridham not only writes weird fiction, but writes quite a bit about weird fiction, particularly cinema. Here are some of my favorite reviews, grouped as a theme.

Cold Comfort: Larry Fessenden’s “The Last Winter”: In our search for optimal ways to use natural resources, human beings have discovered subtle connections between the ecosphere, the raw materials comprising our world, and the fate of our own species. The fragility of this planet’s living environment was a concept all but undreamt a mere century ago, when the Earth promised to supply an endless stream of resources for our use. Now, horrific possibilities beckon to us in the shape of global ecological catastrophes.

Knowing the Alien: René Laloux’s “Fantastic Planet”: The sensation it gives is one of watching a bizarrely illustrated storybook coming to life. Humans, here, resemble gaunt, often haunted paper dolls, scrambling through a world too massive to take much notice of them. On this weird planet, humanity occupies a place not much higher than ants do in ours. Giant birds, insects and even plants threaten their existence. Watching tiny humans picked off, swallowed whole, or crushed by massive aliens disorients Laloux’s audience, reminding us that our own ecological niche, secure as it so often seems to be, is far more fragile than we’d like to think.

In the Zone: An Excursion into Andrei Tarkovsky’s Film “Stalker”: The Zone, however, is lush and green, an organic profusion of growth and chaos which creates a stark contrast to the decaying rigidity of the city. Old and abandoned mechanisms litter the fields of the Zone, remains of the human habitation which were displaced by the bizarre catastrophe two decades ago. Clearly, the authorities attempted to evacuate as many people as possible: what look like tanks and other implements of war are strewn throughout the Zone. Oddly, though, the sight of these hunks of metal rotting in bucolic glades and valleys is serene, even calming, rather than dispiriting. An undercurrent of eeriness underlies these scenes, certainly, as we do not know what sort of force could have turned back such power. And yet, the impression of nature absorbing back into itself the most brutal of devices dreamt up by humanity lends a peaceful aura to the Zone.
posted by Lonnrot (10 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
This was super inventive--thanks for posting it. By chance, Rajiv Moté also has a recent story where the 'weird' (more conventional but also less bleak) is normalized and functions as satire: "The Old Ones, Great and Small."
posted by Wobbuffet at 11:15 AM on July 27, 2020 [2 favorites]

A Balthus knot? In case of Lovecraftian apocalypse, wear an Eldredge knot (how to tie). It's ostentatious, but serves as an Elder Sign ward.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:45 AM on July 27, 2020 [2 favorites]

“Gravid benchmarks, Eldridge, undertake your overlay. Squamous synergy everlasting, Eldridge, our grainy gouts of capital.”

Honestly, I've had less lucid annual evaluations.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:13 PM on July 27, 2020 [5 favorites]

Also, that story in the link that Wobbuffet posted reminds me of something that Laura Miller wrote in Salon a while back: how horrifying can Cthulhu be if you can get a plushie of him?
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:48 PM on July 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

A little too on the nose to what living next to the US feels like right now. I am glad that he has such a good friend, however.
posted by Phalene at 3:13 PM on July 27, 2020 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I mean, it really does feel like this. But hey Hamilton's on Disney Plus still!!!!! It's fine. Everything's fine!
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 3:31 PM on July 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

This reads like a Cyriak video.
posted by Token Meme at 3:46 PM on July 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

It’s a good life!
posted by Robin Kestrel at 5:39 PM on July 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Balthus Knot, in case a meeting with the regional managers is on your schedule.
posted by otherchaz at 12:58 AM on July 28, 2020

Lonnrot, thank you for linking to this. Horrifying in that incisive way.
posted by brainwane at 4:28 AM on July 28, 2020

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