Marginalization: the life beyond the frontiers of normality by Cristias Rosas

"Reality" as we consider it, tends to be restricted to what we assimilate as tangible. Inside that territory several norms determine the structure of those visual and touchable elements. Sight and touch as unarguable conditions for a “real” existence. Specters and ghosts as commonly related to most, have the ability of transgressing those "boundaries" and physically appear into the real world. When they do, they are automatically executing an act of re-territorialization: the feared invasion from a foreign space assumed by normality as the occupation of a territory which is only designated for real bodies, for the domination of the flesh embodiment above all else.

To this perception, Ghosts appear as fragments of an original form lost and transformed, dead and deformed, a body without organs, one of limited functions and whose uncertainty and unpredictability awakes horror with the same intensity as it raises a certain enchantment. These sudden and random sprouts of the far beyond through their inherent elusiveness, appear to bend and break the rules and barriers that we assume as inflexible, the rules of the real, the rules of normality.

Specters (or humans in their behave) seem to fight inch by inch with reality for a validation in the “Interiority”: the comfortable core where the sane and normal reside. The transgression of the specter is seen as a major divergence, described as intolerable for the norm. The installation of any alternative notion of reality co-existing with our tangible reality, acts against the established order that normality so jealously protects. Specters suggest a threat to the irreversibility that this power pretends for itself.

Marginalization surges then as an urgent tool to adjust whatever is loosen inside the system. With the perpetual purpose of maintaining in line that that for the powers who structure the world, should never deviate from the core of normality.

“Marginalization towards another being starts to exist when this element becomes dangerously close, it is in that moment when the precaution of keeping threats in a convenient distance awakes”.  

J. Baudrillard.

The motives? Basically safe keeping those distances and maintaining them impenetrable, nevertheless, a constant threat of possible invasions from the outsiders arises.

The danger for the norm and order is always latent, normality reacts expelling any type of outsider to what Foucault described as the space for the excluded: the interior of the exterior. In this territory the specter is no different to the madmen or any other marginalized being; all of them in perception of the norm are relegated from the interior, expelled due to particular deviations. The “stultifera navis”, Latin for “the vessel of the mad”, carries away in it all the exteriorized beings, taking them away from the interior, from normality, from order and in that very moment, igniting the clash between these two worlds. A clash of constant and unpredictable invasions, abhorred by the order.  

Inside this symbolic universe the battle with reality is never massive and always subtle. Territorial occupation is the main motive. While in our structured universe the order fights to keep the boundaries impenetrable, these other beings from the exterior bring within themselves a certain power, a certain fear towards it too: the subtlety of seduction, its enchantment promoting an unexpected reversibility of reality, bringing in new layers and gammas, uncertainty and danger. Their virtues will be rapidly dismissed by the conservative rules of the norm, pointing their strangeness and alien status as a valid reason for exclusion.

The outsiders invade the normalized reality in a surreptitious mode; the "horrific" stampede from the exterior exists only in the interior’s darkest paranoia of losing power and control inside its boundaries, holding desperately to the practices of relegation and exclusion. Its curious then that maybe all this aggressive migration from the exterior towards the interior might not be executed by the specter's own powers and potentialities, more than it is motivated by our own urges for an eternal existence, an extension of our own caducity. Is it us, from the inside, who incite paranormality, are we the creators of it? Is it just enchantment and seduction what we are craving for? Specters never fail when it comes to providing these sensations. Marginalization fails to prevent those feelings to filtrate inside, specters reproduce the cloudy embodiment of an ingrown idea about these beings whose inexact and foggy surface possess in its simulations, as a reality or just as a desire of it, an unavoidable and magnetic fascination.

The ghost and the madman by Cristias Rosas

It is not possible to lose your mind. A mind may change though, may mutate into other conceptions of existence, our own existence deformed. The mind can betray us, the final and most deadly treachery, the cruelest of them all and abandon us, leave us as a ghost of ourselves, a minor animation of whom we used to be, stranded and left to exist in a minimal state of rationality. If there is an image to proof this then it is the picture of cruelty, for even a ghost has, beyond its baleful denotations, also beautiful connotations of optimism, life after the horrific and feared act of death, the survival of this last act, the fatal final curtain re-opened. A ghost overflows all this. The living ghost does not. The only thing that the flesh ghost can grasp is its momentary lapses of reason, lucidity moments that seem as fading islands, pieces of ground in transit of evaporation. Is this the aesthetic of disappearance that Virilio so poetically writes about? A vanishing memory that the mind desperately tries to hold, plunging its nails to it until the motion of decay blows it away?

After reason, way beyond that point, things are just about travelling around in time from the past to the present and back to the past, like a passenger in transit of a journey with no beginning and no end. The madman sets sail to spaces visited before or maybe never even seen. They move around as a ghost does, just appearing with no further notice, convinced they stand there as their mind undoubtedly processes the never lived experience. No other mechanism is more powerful and effective to create reality than the mind. But also, at the same time it creates it destroys, completely annihilates the conception of one valid reality by multiplying it into countless scenarios where “the real” occurs.

It is in this intersection of realities that the living ghost and the ghost from beyond meet, they start greeting themselves, distant relatives long gone reunite, gently haunting the house and the madman sees them, but the sane do not, the sane sees nothing, grasps nothing from this encounter, just an empty space and the profound sensation of loss. The sane is not invited to this gathering, it is only reserved for those who linger in-between worlds and all that remains for us is the consolation that the photographic visualization of that moment can offer.

Picnolepsy: about disappearance by Cristias Rosas

Paul Virilio’s esthetic of disappearance:

"During breakfast the absences are frequent, the cup spilled over the table is a well-known consequence. The absence lasts for just a few seconds, begin and end without notice. Senses are still awake, but do not perceive the impressions from the exterior. Due that the return is as immediate as the departure, the frozen spoken words and the gestures revive from the point of interruption. The conscious time welds automatically forming continuity with no apparent cuts. These absences denominated as “Picnolepsy” (from the Greek “pycnos” frequent) tend to be constant, as much as hundreds per day and generally unnoticed for those who surround the subject. But for the Picnoleptic nothing has happened; the time away disconnected did not existed. Only that, without noticing it, he looses in each crisis a small portion of his existence".

It is possible to live long enough to see these sporadic moments turn into a regular state of mind, those moments of absence phagocyte (as cells engulfing smaller cells), the entire existence of this being. Then its time for the “age of disappearance”, only that at this point there is no return, nothing comparable as before when after the absenteeism the absent revenues to its original being. The chance for a “rendez vous” fades away in a brain with senile dementia, the mutation is constant for it is clear that a mind cannot be lost, it can change though and it will until the decaying and disappearing process is fulfilled.

Until that moment it sets the madman and the sane that surrounding him into a strange sail: In one time is no longer chronological and so happenings from distant days can be processed as if they are occurring in the present. Space mutates too, it dissolves and links inside the decaying brain so it can fit whatever it wants it to be. A hospital can turn into a hotel; cities into different cities and home can be a prison, an unfamiliar place the madman longs to escape.

For the sane, the process is slow, the fading is felt even slower, its loved one evaporates gradually but still faster than what we can understand. The random momentary lapses of reason, where everything seem to be so clear and normal become more and more scarce. Clarity vanishes until it never returns again. The passing into an absolute flesh ghost is complete. Even the otherworld starts to show itself in the house, as images of long gone relatives who start to walk the place, figures that the sane cannot see but the madman clearly does. For the rational, there is nothing to grasp but the profound sensation of loss and the expectation of the final mutation, that last hope for existence and our final life insurance: a ghost.

About Specters: The illusion of mirrors and reflections by Cristias Rosas

Specters act not only as reflections of humanity, they also function as our illusion of endless existence. They stand high, as one of the most precious inventions “reality” has ever created: The final life insurance for mankind, the masterpiece that allows us to resist the abominable sensation of death as a culmination of all rational life.

By themselves, specters and all their paraphernalia do not posses the ability to sustain as a valid platform of existence, to exist they need imperatively to appear in our reality; meanwhile, they are just emptiness.

When the ghost manifests by briefly showing its foggy embodiment in our domains, they ignite a certain flirting action between these two worlds. This entanglement is about the illusion these phantoms provoke in our reality, not necessarily produced by the shock their apparition generates, but for the reach theirs reflections extends in us.

As references of mirrors and reflections in popular culture, two particular tales stand and link to the specters scenery: Lewis Carroll’s character of Alice (“Alice in Wonderland” and “Beyond the looking glass”) and the legend of Narcissus. Any specter has in its composition these two elements. The transgressor vibe of Alice whom in contact with the mirror, started to merge while the glass dissolved in her hand as if it was clear silver haze. Narcissus tale narrates the story of a man that looking at his reflection in the water, tried desperately to fade into the image of her dead sister. This very same effect turns on humanity when approaching the notion of specters.

While we observe the ghosts scenarios we stand still in front of a mirror that diffuses fervently in that reflection our own illusions, not only the ghost itself  (the one we try, as narcissus, desperately to relate to our long gone relatives) but also that superficial abyss we see in the mirror’s glass that absorbs us into the creation of a scenery in which this ghostly characters exist and invade us. This is purely seduction, we identify in a mimetic manner with that that we have lost, right in front of a mirror which operates as much more than a reflecting devise, it actually is overflowing that reflection, it exceeds its common purpose to one more intense: the production of specters, our own illusions.