Mark fired up his thinking cap straight away, and earlier today I go this email:
I had a few rumbles of associative thought upon waking considering the natural properties of what’s happening in the ruined villa. Maybe, possibly, some of it will trigger further associations in your conscious/unconscious imagination.
The natural world behind the villa continues to grow as normal: the land that the ruins of the villa is “moored” to (the border fragments of the villa lingering about on dry land, like bits of shattered pottery) exists in a natural time stream. Grass grows, trees bloom, the seasons pass as normal. This is the normal realm of change, where worldly events transpire and everything is the norm for you, me, and the people of Argentina.
You can see the line where time starts to become influenced by the touch of the salty floodwaters. Before and above that line, the preserving (and therefore killing, because frozen time is death, in relative human terms) influence of the salt is being undone by the effects of normal time: growth, rainfall etc. A field of smooth white trees which have been permanently altered by their subsuming in the formaldehyde sea stand posted like terra cotta warriors around the fields on the approach.
From the pictures, as seen from above, it almost looks like the whole villa is a tooth loose in a socket that, were it jostled too hard, it might tumble loose and float away on the ocean current.
Then, as the eye progresses downwards, we enter the muddy “beach” strip that runs along the edge of the water. This is where we approach the lasting calcification effect of the salt. We’re between two synergistic, but functionally incompatible, states of natural order: land and sea. Both places have their own sense of time and change. This intermediate strip is a visible function of their mingling: where they touch, little distinctive to either place grows. It’s a strip of non-change. Borderland. Liminal? Maybe.
Then we step out into the influence of the water.
Everything still growing from the sea, even within the stabilizing influence of the jetty (or is it a dyke? i forget the difference), has been put into a visually distinctive state. Everything stone looks calcified, ossified, fossilized by white (cleansing?) salt. It looks preserved, and as I mentioned before to be preserved is to be dead in human terms, or at least locked outside of everyday human drama and change. Metal has undergone it’s own calcification through rust buildup, which has locked formerly functioning machines like lawnmowers and washers into their own form of rough, bumpy amber.
The further out you go, the more frozen in time the villa seems. The ocean has its own sense of time, it’s own life cycles and its own forms of change. Objects foreign to the sea, if thrown at its mercy, are unavoidably changed according to oceanic time and natural law. In this case, the farther out we go, the more and more fossilized the buildings appear. The trees are caked in salt deposits, as if they’re suffering from a strange tree keratosis, sealing them into place, like mummies stood on public display.
Oceanic time is vaster than human comprehension. And, to humans, it has an unconscious association with the roiling unknown, chaos, and voyage into the unknown. As evidenced by the progression of the villa’s timescape from muddy, mundane transitory time outwards, across the bounds of the flooded seawall, into long-lasting oceanic time, the villa is a gradient of human experience. Visually speaking.
A thought: what animals are around ? Natural life is a very significant indicator of environment and of time-frame.
Possible themes: different perceptions of time, wanting to escape the mundane, avoiding present truths, people on different time streams, wanting to preserve something that has died, denial, acceptance, shifts in understanding of the ways we perceive our pasts, discovery of fossils and relics, seeking escape.
There’s an open call on visitation to the villa. People coming there to meet, for the landscape to have associative significance in their human reasons for coming there, seems wholly appropriate. People can be drawn to environments that reflect their inner world without realizing it.
Or maybe, on a completely different tack: it’d be a cool place to set a showdown. Pistols at Epecuén. A thoughtful, melancholy gunfight? Is that even possible?
If you haven’t read The Voices of Time, or any of the vermilion sands short stories by JG Ballard, I highly recommend them for helping stir up thoughts. Themes of time are very strong in his work, and feel like good material to touch base with for a story set in this kind of environment.
NONE of this covers the close-ups of the villa, the details of the ruins or a focus on ghostly remains or evidence of former habitation. I can see by the blog notes you’re keeping that you’ve got a firm grip on the details of the setting so I won’t comment on any of that.
As you see, Mark is a deep thinker. I’m probably going to use a coupe of these ideas. The suggestion of investigating what animals would have been around is a great one, and I intend to research that later.
Now, I need to decide what central conflict I want for the story, what the MC’s story arc will be, and exactly when the story is set