In a 1929 short story entitled “The Hounds of Tindalos”, Frank Belknap Long envisioned an entity (identified as a multiplicity, as “them”, but always acting in unison) that gave the story its name, and which was the terrible side-product of the origin of the universe, an abyssal concentration of whatever lurks in the seams of what we firmly believe is known. They find the main character, Halpin Chalmers, who manages to travel through time, at the impossible edge of its curved shape, which in its breakdown starts to produce angles. In every corner of Chalmer’s Paris apartment the Hounds await, right where the rationality of architecture is revealed as mere connective tissue, as the fragile gateway not to irrationality but something even greater, even more powerful in its inhuman implications. After all, fantasy is also built upon the function of the self – what Chalmers has glimpsed, at the very end of the organicism of the curved form, is the impossible, an existence unfiltered by our own.
Hecker’s recent work has dealt with the articulation of intelligences de-centered from the stubborn humanism that pervades discussions of AI, and Inspection II continues the project of capture and redirection of the sounds that dwell within the corners in which the truly, absolute other can be found. A recording of a text by Robin Mackay was made using a synthetic voice, which is then heard by a machine whose algorithms replicate human hearing. A relative ‘self’ speaks to another ‘relative’ self, and the communication is then reconstructed with the intent to do away with the ordering schemes that rule Enlightenment subjectivity: what do you really hear, when you shed centuries (even millennia) of language and understanding? What is it that your mind attempts to hide when it reconciles with “the real”, rendered intelligible through a perceptual and psychological collage that is monstrous in its too human accumulation of processed data?
The attempt to listen to the abyss between your senses and your surroundings pushes the stability of many a definition into altogether eerie terrain, like Chalmer’s awesome transition from the safety of curved time into the place where it, too, can no longer exist as such. While half of it sounds like pure noise, the album is in fact a dialogue, in which the more recognizable ‘self’ of the voice (since it sounds like us) tricks us into thinking it as an anchor for the human. However, it is the corner of this music, it is the gateway through the mirror of our stardust, into which we find something truly new: the void of an experience unmediated. The reconstructed voice is not a self, but an other, an actual unrecognizable other whose beauty is mired in horror, whose warmth is the endless expanse that separates us from the real. Its message is unavoidably heard as noise, its reproduction a disturbing reminder that we are not alone, accompanied not by a supernatural entity but by the outside limits of a psyche that cannot – would not – correlate all its contents, as HP Lovecraft wrote. Its synthetic quality strikes deep at the heart of our own philosophical self-centeredness, in the sense that it suggests that there is nothing natural about our selves, that in everyday communication we are conserving the status quo of simultaneous denial (of a true other) and self-projection (as humans).
Thus, that terrifying, often even petrifying noise that communicates to us in the jagged edges of fractals all across the album provokes yet another question: what if we got rid of that monstrosity of the human? What if the unconscious is the gateway within, the corner at the limit of every flaring neural network? As the electronics weirdly transform and mutate, Inspection II leaves the surrealism of dream states and unobserved linguistic paths behind, entering an uneasy obscurity that does not necessarily lead back to the self. Mackay’s double-processed words could very well be our own, and that reconstruction of the voice as inexplicable shadow of itself could very well trace the trajectory of our thoughts, of those neurons running black with lightning. There is an other within, but it is not Rimbaud’s “I am an other”, so full of selves and world-making poetry; it is pure loss, its poiesis a black hole, its infinity unbearable… it is the site of an inhuman potential, its generative dimensions cosmic in scope. The unease and the terror spring not from musical association, not even a dream logic of sound, but from the experience of something that seems to lack any and all anchors to the image of the humanist self. “To attain a definitive image of oneself”, state the liner notes, “would be to face one’s own death”, because it is from the unbearably infinite movement of the real that this other emerges, fully armed with the abeyant creativity of nothingness. To control all these selves, to define them, to represent them as an image would mean to conserve their energies, to banish them to the static categories of the human, to constrain them to the point of stillness. Unmediated, as Hecker attempts to present them, they allow a true us to flourish and deconstruct the deadly tendencies of the false I.
Chalmers’ story ends with an excerpt from a book he’s written, in which he suggests that there might be a form of life that knows no death, and which constantly grazes our own. Inspection II is a short dip into the horror and the strange pleasure of the they that constitutes said life, and which might actually reside already in the crevices of our own minds. Don’t dare to know – dare to un-know! (David Murrieta Flores)