Saturday, 17 April 2010

Another Day, Another Barred Window

Hi there again from a blindingly bright sunny London where the sky, once again, remains free of the blemish of contrails or vapor trails or whatever folk call them these days. As you may or may not know, all thanks to a volcano in far-off Iceland there are still no flights in or out of the UK – we've pulled up the draw bridge. You find me once again comfortably seated in my local Wethespoon pub. Well, to be honest, its not the closest geographically speaking; it just the closest branch to my home from which i am yet to be barred. See what I did there? A whole different usage of the word 'barred'. The latter brings me full circle to the unfair, undeserved and exploitative symbolism I would usually attach to the word; I'm thinking narrow high windows cringing behind sinister black steel bars here of course. Saying that gives me the excuse I need to present a lovely little piece of 3D-rendered art sent to me recently and apparently inspired by my first two books – thanks, 'Snoozz'.

When first I set eyes on this little composition my first thoughts were that in the world I have attempted to evoke that window would have been covered over or at least whitewashed, surely – there is far too much scope for our young lady to distract herself there. So is allowing her an attractive panorama to gaze at compatible with the imposition of a regime of strict discipline? Well it's worth reconsidering that viewpoint, especially considering the direction I have recently – and coincidentally – been exploring in the section of the new book I have been working on.

Perhaps we can permit our heroine this one small distraction, particularly when that distraction is both ephemeral and - through it being her only avenue of escape – has the potential to assume an importance to her greater even than food or drink, however bleak or mundane the vista. Perhaps a few months, perhaps a year or more, who knows? Maybe it becomes necessary to transfer her to a new room – a windowless, bleak, despairing space. Then again; maybe a new security edict necessitates the fitting of a tough, plastic opaque security shutter. Maybe it's left more overt than that, perhaps it is an issue of discipline, a privilege than may be withdrawn or reinstated as thought necessary...Of course there is a cost attached to reinstatement. Perhaps that cost is extracted physically, in the form of a tough leather belt, folded double and laid vigorously across her plump bare behind. Then again, perhaps the cost is of a psychological nature - the latter entailing her being coerced into cooperating with some therapy or procedure she knows full well is intended to ensure she is drawn ever deeper into the web that has been set for her. Well; what do you think?


Hunter said...

I agree with you, my first reaction was -- why does she have this nice window to look out of all day? Paint it over. Besides, she should be standing rigidly in the corner, while the security camera supervises her unrelenting tedium.

summertime75 said...

The idea of introducing a view is interesting, but rather than a view from a window wouldn’t it be more interesting and offer greater opportunities for manipulation?

Each “volunteer” could be moved to a derelict cell to allow further modifications to their own cell. The derelict cell, although containing many of the familiar features has a crack in the wall which allows a limited view of the “outside world”. Naturally the image is controlled and suggests a time that corresponds with the perceived time of day. Access would be allowed through the numbered circles on the floor which they are already familiar with. There could also be a slight feeling of a breeze or the warmth of the sun through the crack, perhaps even the occasional sound – would they try to call out? That would be interesting to see whether their fear and conditioning overrides their desire to communicate.

If each “volunteer” were rotated to the cell the seasons could also be manipulated giving the impression of a longer period of time. The scope for further manipulation is endless and offers the opportunity to oppress them further.

Whilst reading both volumes I have wondered whether you would introduce psychiatric problems associated with long term confinement. Having read several accounts from former Guantanamo detainees it appears to be common with individuals confined under a strict and harsh regime.

I have taken the liberty of posting a couple of pictures of Lavinia, before and after dietetic control, hope you like them.

Toyntanen said...

I have to say that I do like the idea suggested by ‘Hunter’. Perhaps she could be allowed to keep the view, but as a privilege with punishment being to be made to stand or kneel in the corner as he suggests. On the other hand, if all that could be made out was an unrelentingly tedious blue swage of sky and the only feature of interest were the ever-changing orange and red hues of sunset; then she should be made to kneel in the corner, facing the wall with her hands on her head, at that time of day as routine, day in day out. It all depends on what one is trying to achieve with the subject. As I said, I favour the idea of her being allowed to become totally fascinated with some distraction or other, totally dependent on it - then one day, the therapist enters and knocks that final prop away, locking away the young woman's final connection with the outside world behind some form of opaque shuttering.

The ideas put forward by ‘Summertime75’ I find intriguing also. The seasonal manipulation of the environment occupied by the volunteers is an idea more applicable to volumes 1 and 2; the main character in the new book is no longer strictly speaking a volunteer - although she does take part in a form of experimentation, the procedure carried out has a very different aim than to satisfy any scientific curiosity.

He wonders whether some of the forms of close confinement described might introduce psychiatric problems. The answer is of course; short-term perhaps not permanently - and the original form of experiment as outlined in volume 1 was never intended to extend over more than a short period, perhaps a matter of weeks rather than many months. But absolute power corrupts absolutely and very soon subjects are being coerced to sign up again and again and for longer and longer periods. As for the effects long-term confinement; we briefly meet a character in volume 1 who is five years into her residency - the period originally planned to be just three months - and we're given an insight into her mental state. And of course, if you read one of my more recent postings then you realise that for one particular character the induction of psychiatric problems appears to be the whole point of her treatment. Whether she can prevail you will have to wait and see.

I'm quite keen to avoid the impression, though that the new book - and even the previous two volumes - is purely focused on various forms of institutional incarceration; there is plenty dealing with domestic discipline also. This is particularly the case in the new volume I'm working on, wherein we gain insight into one of the character's previous life under the domination of her aunt - a woman who believed in strict discipline, petty rules and restrictions…and in the imposition of a strict and restrictive uniform for her charge as an aid to her achieving those aims. We learn more too of the subtle forms of psychological manipulation the woman - along with her psychotherapist acquaintance - employed in bringing the girl under her control.