claire 👁️ diane’s review published on Letterboxd:
(archiving my Beacon writing)
“The time is so little, the time belongs to us!”
The Alchemist Cookbook is a nightmare vision of demon summoning in the Michigan woods. Carried almost exclusively by a captivating performance from Ty Hickson, Cookbook on its surface asks us to determine on our own what is really happening. Is Sean summoning a demon? Or is this a portrait of accelerating mental collapse? Potrykus says specifically, “I wanted it to be in his head or actually there - you’re never quite sure.”
But perhaps its more urgent and implicit question is what might drive someone to seek occult power? The goal of alchemy, after all, is gold. We never quite see what Sean is fleeing, but it isn’t difficult to infer. Whether by contingency or design, modern capitalist life offers little support for those on its margins. Gold means independence, survival, rest, the promise of peace -- the only escape from a system where productivity determines worth. Turning to the alchemical or the infernal might seem reasonable in a culture of privation and isolation.
Because even if you give everything you have, it might not be enough. Even if they give you nothing in return for what they take, if for any reason you refuse or can’t keep going, then you can be forsaken. There is no system built-in to protect, support, or care for those who don’t fit. Nothing certain.There is the very real fear that there will be no one there for you. You can die starving, body and mind, in a land of abundance. If you are left in this wilderness, literal or figurative, and begin to weep for help or howl execration, sometimes only demons will listen.
The humblest desires for safety and comfort can seem like madness to this world. Can seem like a distant heaven: inaccessible but for supernatural intervention. If God is silent, you may turn to the devil precisely because you have dreams of the divine, the heavenly home -- safety, rest -- with endless doritos for celestial munching and endless food for your cat. A blasphemy confirms the dream of the sacred and repudiates the world.
Incipit Lamentatio, void punk and black magic,
Everything for everyone: Incipit Vita Nova.
“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.”
FFO: Paradise Lost, black horror, horror movie cats, The Blair Witch Project, the desolate Midwest, Otsegolation, hardcore, Flipper, the eternal nobody, Mad Max, the post-apocalypse of the mind, slacker comedies, homemade SOV horror, the Ars Goetia, Austin Osman Spare, one man bedroom black metal, DIY youtube tutorials, DIY experimental theology, The VVitch, universal reconciliation, the rainbow bridge, blowing things up in your backyard