7 thoughts on ““Landscape With Intruders,” by Jean-Claude Dunyach”

  1. That sure was different. Not in a bad way, though.

    The human characters in this story are sketchy. That’s okay because the focus on Jay’s very particular experiences makes him individual in a way that extensive telling of his backstory wouldn’t. His reluctance to interact with other people is obvious in the scenes with the pilot, the only other person depicted.

    Is Jay an intruder in the landscape? The incident with the microscopic visitors certainly presents obvious parallels (as well as differences) between his body and the land around him, with the fire tower dropped down in the middle of it. Though of course the land isn’t a sentient, active being. What’s most interesting is the depiction of Jay considering his body as both alien and intimately accepted. He is (or grows) comfortable with himself and his relationship to his surroundings.

    One thing puzzles me: I thought the racist pilot going on and on about "Indians" would be picked up somehow in the story, but it wasn’t; there was no trace of any human inhabitants of this landscape. Why insist on that so much, then (other than to show how different Jay’s experiences are from the pilot’s ideas)? The pilot’s preoccupations are alcohol, sex, other people, "large mammals" — so human-focused. The local humans, if any, don’t figure into Jay’s thoughts at all (though maybe they ought to, as people who’ve figured out ways to live happily in this place full-time). Instead Jay is suspended between the preoccupation with his own body and the sky, rain, and lake water. Alcohol is, to him, a means of seeking alienation, and though he’s vaguely interested in porn, his erection isn’t domination but only the most absurd part of his landscape.

    The only false note, I thought, was the aliens’ being able to paralyze Jay with what he thinks is an injection — why would they have developed a drug that would work on humans; that clashes with depictions of them exploring Jay like an unknown region, and with Jay’s ideas about being an all-powerful god compared to them.

    I didn’t love this story but I liked it. Thanks for finding it, Ziv.

  2. I’m excited about Blind Spot as an ongoing publication because I’m hoping for perspectives and storytelling modes that are new to me. This story certainly delivers on that potential!

    Enormous creatures, and landmasses turning out to be creatures, are an established trope. This flipping of that trope is a major shift of perspective – we, humans, play a fundamentally different role in the universe than we’re used to. Humans are unknown terrain.

  3. And… that awesomeness, the power and ineffability, stand in sharp contrast to Jay as we comprehend him. He doesn’t have any goals, or desires, or fears; he just wants to be left alone, and once left alone, he has no purpose or comfort. He drinks, not even because he wants to in particular, but only because that will make time pass more quickly.

    There’s something to that, I think – especially as the experience leaves Jay wanting to re-connect with humanity.

    1. Yeah… I think he’s feeling less alienated — his previous experience as a friendless orphan left him expecting to be ignored, completely insignificant. No longer feeling insignificant at the end.

  4. In the full issue, the author mentions in an interview the allusions to stories from the Book of Genesis. The one that really stood out for me was how Jay’s clearest recourse is to wash the intruders off – a great flood. That *works* for me – again be re-contextualizing stories we already know.

    (I could see Jay’s morning glory as being some kind of parallel of the Tower of Babel. Which, ummm, stands out in a rather different way. But I don’t think the parallel there is nearly as good…)

  5. The early focus on Indians bothers me too; it doesn’t seem to fit neatly.

    I’d be willing to chalk this up to just a mis-step during exposition; anything getting focus in the first page of a story is going to be read as important, but the story structure doesn’t have us reaching the meat of the story until we’ve already gotten familiar with Jay’s "normal" routine.

    There could be some thematic observations to be made here, but I’m not seeing anything clear enough and significant enough to make me go, "Ohhhh, *that’s* why the Indians were *important.*"

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