in search of the ordinary

by uzwi

The difference between defamiliarising the ordinary and glamourising the unglamourous: it’s to do with how many directions at once the process is facing in. Glamourising only ever really takes up one position, only works in one direction. Defamiliarising—finding the strange in the ordinary and the ordinary in the strange—is a conversation, zipping backwards and forwards between states to produce oddness rather than an enchanting sheen–although an enchanting sheen might well be a by-product. Defamiliarisers know they’ve hit the motherlode when what they do is rejected more angrily than seems necessary. That’s the response you want: a kind of huffiness and ruffled feathers. A certain amount of “But… but…” But audiences get over that. It’s time to move on when your original defamiliarising measures have been accepted and absorbed and are being applied by others like a coating to something else. You’ve been gentrified. Your surfaces, which were a byproduct of a specific process, have been detached from it and are being used to signal to another kind of customer. So you move on to the next undesirable location. At the moment, I find that the way of ruffling most feathers is to flatten things off. For instance, the only real lesson it’s possible to take from Robert Aickman is that life is generally dull; so the strange is probably a little bit dull, too. Don’t you think? I’m also interested in the idea that you might miss it altogether. Not “until it’s too late”, or any of that horror bollocks. Just that you might miss it altogether.