To all our permanent residents, from Alyssia Fignall & the staff at the Ambiente Hotel!
Tag Archives: the Theory Cadre at the Ambiente Hotel
Learn to exactly mimic having written a story, an ageing science fiction hack once advised me: then learn to write a story in a way that exactly mimics having written a different one. Write each separate sentence, paragraph & chapter of every book as if they’re mimicking some other sentence, paragraph or chapter. Soon there’s this odd, constant sense of implication in the text. It seems loaded. It seems like the alienated echo of something else. That something else is your gift to the reader. Your gift to the reader isn’t a lot of words. It’s to have a grasp of syntax & inflexion that lets you load more into the text than it seems to be able to accomodate. He’s dead now of course, his books passed over as ragtime & illiterate, but I’ve taken up where he left off.
Narrative structure, AE Fennel has always believed, is the trunk route of the spectacle. Free flow of the spectacular is as neccessary to a well-built secondary world as it is to a well-run modern state. Therefore, in every “story” our ambition should be the calculated failure of service, the single perfect interruption of traffic. “Failing that,” AE advises the Wednesday evening workshop in the refectory of the Ambiente Hotel’s Cultural Wing & Conference Centre, “do at least try to dig a pothole in the road.”
[Lecture, "AE Fankle: Interrogating the continuity of human behaviour", to follow. Book early.]
CARS PARKED AT OWN RISK. Ask Mary for the key.
Please do not distribute leaflets.
For some years a sub-basement beneath the hotel’s parking facility was used to store texts generated by the guests. These, ranging from thin volumes of verse to literary horror novels the thousand pages of which might be read in any order, were discovered in predictable circumstances: an immaculately tidy room with fifty years of stored nail clippings & a mysteriously opened window; urgent written or recorded warnings against reading or even turning the pages of the manuscript; the death, wandering-off or unexplained evaporation of the writer in circumstances which suggested they too had been an item in a text. During the pre-war period, the Theory Cadre threw open this library three times a year, but though its contents drew visitors from most major universities, no scholarship emerged & in May 1946 the sub-basement, along with the passage that leads to it, was sealed.Elements of the Closed Architectonics Committee of the Theory Cadre visit Le Tourniquet, circa 1930.
Access the hotel archives.
Elements of the Theory Cadre believe that the structure of the hotel is rather older than appears. Speculation centres on the short corridor behind rooms 121 to 125, which is reached at one end from the rear stairwell & from the other by a flight of five descending stone steps, themselves perhaps the remains of a wider, older staircase. While this corridor is presently windowless, two or three tall, incomplete framelike structures can be detected beneath the plaster of the inner wall. “Is it possible,” Alyssia Fignall asks, in the forty second edition of Wallpaper, the Architectonics Committee Journal, “that the 121/125 stub once gave on to a courtyard ?” Unless this proves to be the case, she continues, the opposite conclusion–that an internal wall once looked outward–is “as inescapable as it is impermissible.”
Meanwhile, within the Architectonics Committee, a closed group consisting mainly of materials-technology students has already begun to discuss the possibility that an entirely different building occupied the ground as recently as twenty years ago.
More on the Theory Cadre here.
While endeavouring to stamp down the cracked & buckled lino in the first floor corridor I heard voices from Mrs Decateur’s old room, number 121. When I put my ear to the door, they stopped. It was Tuesday, & the wind was rattling the balconies on that side of the building, bringing with it the sound of a siren, the faint yellow wail of a saxophone from one of the Parton Street bars. Flipping the cover off my uncle Maria’s tarnished old silver hunter, I turned it so that its dial caught the forty watt light: exactly eight thirty-two. Ah, I thought, so the rumours are unfounded. The Theory Cadre was back.
I made my way quietly down to the lobby & later sent Fleur, the girl who works in the back bar, up to 121 with a bottle of sixty year old British sherry & as many clean glasses as she could find. At midnight the lobby phone rang three times. I let a minute go by, then picked it up and said, “Hello, Alice.”
photo: C Phillips
B writes, of my recent post the Theory Cadre in Snowdonia, “Mike, although a picture is mentioned, there’s no picture here.”
Yes, B, there is a picture. But the Theory Cadre, unwilling to give away anything of itself even in such a deliberately revelatory document, has encoded it as text. Another way to look at this is that while the image exists, but is not present, “AE Fenell” does not, & yet is.
Another correspondent asks the more difficult question, “Mr Harrison, is there a Theory Cadre at all ?”
Evidence suggests that any answer to such a question must be arrived at obliquely. Perhaps the shortest answer would be to say that while there may be a Theory Cadre, there is certainly an AE Fennel.
In 1979 someone calling herself “Alicia Feignall” addressed the guests at the Ambiente Hotel from this location in the old kitchen garden.
In its earliest years, Michael Jackson & Mickey Rourke committed the Ambiente Hotel’s shadowy but powerful Theory Cadre to a regime of Crowleyism, mechanical engineering & systemic self-doubt. This docufictional image restages a crucial moment from the 1948 May Day Phenomenology Camp: an anonymous member of what was then little more than a clique retreats down the Watkins Path from “a sudden organic lurching movement half-glimpsed along the lowering ridgeline”. “Several hanging cubical structures,” AE Fenell was later to recall, “were observed briefly during a lightning storm around the isloated peak of Yr Aran.” On the same day some younger members of the Camp, tragically decoding Rourke’s shopping list as an instruction, became disoriented & committed political suicide by simultaneously immersing one another in one of the deeper pools of the Afon Cwm Llan. [Photograph & text courtesy Alice E Fennel, both from her forthcoming monograph "Actioning the Optimal: The Theory Cadre in Wales".]