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Annihilation

Artwork for Annihilation (by Eric Nyquist)

Our local bookshop has Dr A and me hooked on the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer.

The series is set in an unspecified point in the future, with the first book following a team of scientists as they enter the dangerous and carefully controlled Area X.

The landscape of Area X is dominated by lush vegetaion, but the ruins and remains of peoples lives and actions are to be found there too. Although she is a biologist, the narrator’s knack for observation and description would have made her an excellent archaeolgoist.

Near the start of the book, the team of scientists come across a structure – an inverted tower. Down the spiral stair case they find traces of living words written upon the walls.

The narrator describes  the writing and traces of former writing:

” there existed a ghosting of prior words…It was hard to read them – there were several overlapping strands that started and stopped and started up again. The number of such ghost scripts faded into the wall suggested this process had been ongoing for a long time.”

This passage made me think of Dr A’s paper on Irish passage tomb art. Discussing the art found inside the tombs he notes the “intense degree of superimposition” of images inside the tomb at Knowth, with primary images “providing a visual trace for subsequent reworking”.

Given a choice, I’d far rather take my chances with time travel and meeting the artists of Knowth and Newgrange than venture into Area X and risk meeting the author of the words in the tower.

Dr H

 

 

 

 

About Hannah

@hannahksackett

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