September 22nd marked the beginning of fall, so I think now is a good time to talk about fear. Some of you may know that I get really excited when I talk about the brain; I find it completely fascinating. I won’t go into detail listing all the reasons I love the brain because this recommendation would quickly take multiple days to get through. We will simply move along to perception, and the reason for the first half of the title. Your brain is wonderful at creating illusions and it’s able to do it so well that we often don’t notice. It’s usually small things like filtering our nose out of our line of sight. However, it can also lead to weirdness. In 2010 a study was published about illusions created when subjects looked at themselves in a mirror in a dimly lit room (Caputo, 2010). Skipping over my issues with how the study was reported, I am intrigued in how the subjects responded. The subjects reported new faces with a “strangeness” or an “otherness” to them, along with some experiencing the images becoming that of monsters or animals.
I find it fascinating that our brain can easily create a situation where we feel we are in danger, like those moments where we are getting ready to go to sleep and all the lights are off, but for some reason your eyes keep coming back to the corner of the room. The darkness seems to be more pronounced there, darker than the rest of the room. Almost like it’s alive. So you quickly turn the lights on, only to find that there is nothing there and your room is the same as it has always been. I like horror that instills this type of fear, that feeling of unnaturalness from what could be a very ordinary thing. This week’s recommendation does this wonderfully.
I Am In Eskew is a series of audio recordings made by David Ward about his experiences in the strange city of Eskew. Later, he is joined by recordings from Riyo, a woman who comes looking for David. The city of Eskew is filled with streets that lead nowhere, buildings that might be alive, and a surrounding area that is endless grey subburbs. In each episode, David helps listeners become more familiar with the strange city of Eskew.
I Am In Eskew currently has 14 episodes between 20 – 50 minutes. I will give a few content warnings since they are missing from the episode descriptions: most episodes will include body horror; especially note that episode 4 includes child abuse and episode 5 includes suicidal ideation.
There are so many things that I love about I Am In Eskew, and it’s really hard to explain them without also spoiling the episodes. In the effort of not giving away any creepy spoilers, let’s talk a bit about the Cronenbergs. There is a movie by Brandon Cronenberg, son of David “Creepy AF Sexual Allegories” Cronenberg, called Antiviral. The movie is about a world obsessed with celebrities, to the extent that they are eating lab-grown flesh, and infecting themselves with whatever illnesses the celebrities contract. The movie ends with a celebrity dying, but a company fuses her body with a machine so people are able to watch as a virus is injected into her and tear through her organs. It is so horrifying because she couldn’t escape the objectification even in death. I think that I Am In Eskew portrays that type of horror, the kind that crushes your hope, but in a less misogynistic way. There are many points in the story where you don’t get that nice conclusion, in a way that mimics real life. Not everything has a reason to it, and not every ending will be happy. The city of Eskew dishes out the harsh realities of life to its inhabitants.
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I Am In Eskew cover image taken from iamineskew.com
Caputo, G. B., (2010). Strange-face-in-the-mirror illusion. Perception, 39, 1007-1008. doi:10.1068/p6466