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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Danielewski's Boxes

Mark Danielewski has recently been posting obscure black square photos on his facebook page and twitter. He's one of the smartest and craftiest writers I know, but it is as yet unknown what he means to show us. It follows a rather House of Leaves style, but time will tell if we are eventually given enough evidence to assume much of anything.

The numerical posts seem likely to be edited map locations, parsing the interstitial hyphens as periods for google maps works well (see below). So far, the first coordinate should be taken as negative with a hyphen, and parsing the appearance of an em dash of the second coordinate as a negative sign seems to work, assuming a + otherwise.

The current list of posts are tallied below. While twiddling +/- for other locations would be a worthy endeavor, the permutations are large. Nearest location description and the original coordinates are also in the map and listed below.

The embedded map below is a combined map and interface for all the sites Familiar to us: Familiar Places (may not have all star maps updated; WIP).

Older style google map collections: Danielewski's Boxes & Danielewski's Stars provide raw data.

Embedded maps below.

Raw Data: The spreadsheet of my collected data is here. I've done my best to parse and graph what I think I know. If you have further data manipulations you'd like to make, create a new tab and go nuts.

    Other Conversations:
    • The Familiar/MZD twitter/facebook codes at the MZD forums.
      • Thanks for cross-linking me!
    • A conversation of this and histogram data over at Reddit (r/codes).
    • Another good site to check tracking these: Brian Croxall

    Pictures posted: (I was finding different times and dates depending if I checked it on the facebook timeline post or in the photo album--the photo album date/time is listed, perhaps even consistently. These are the posts/photos that seem to be related... if anything can be assumed.) More over at twitter too; those times seem to be consistent at 11:11 am.
    I remember the times being different when it was first started, the original date too, but in looking back now, whether they were back dated and changed or not, I can no longer tell.

    Other previous posts may yet bear relevance:
    • 11Dec12The Broken Kilometer (Walter De Maria): "As a darkening nears, perhaps a little perspective . . . " 
    • 13Dec12: "As a darkness nears: ego is the sense of self not the self; forfeiting the ego does not result in a loss of identity."
    • 20Dec12: "As a darkness nears: humanity still veers towards credibility."
    • 21Dec12: "As a darkness nears: a compassionate self does not arise out of agreement but by putting into practice a tolerance of personal differences."
    • 22Dec12: "As a darkness nears: don't seek to read what you've already read which in the name of something else you keep reading over and over again."
    • 23Dec12: "As a darkness nears: many of us in an orchard will marvel at a blue apple but who among us will eat?"
    • Enough said.
    • 24Dec12: "As a darkness gathers: art in the world reveals the art that is the world."
    • 25Dec12 2:31 pm : [picture of fabric saying: "December 2012 | Wishing you worlds of possibility beyond even moon and stars..."] {subtext} "Enough shown."
    • 27Dec12: ""Except this stanza does not remain entirely empty." #houseofleaves"
    • 28Dec12: "As a darkness falls: out of (y)our fear she fashions a true prophecy."
    • 31Dec12: "As a darkness falls: "VEM is inevitable."" {VEM?}
    • 31Dec12 8:58 pm : [dark hallway with light through a doorway; a la the House] "As a darkness falls: in the end you will have all the answers and still mystery will be preserved..."
    • 01Jan13 12:00am : [posted black square as profile picture] {no text}
    • 03Jan13: Perihelion, the point in the year when the Earth is closest to the Sun, occurs around this date.
      • curator's notes: a coincidence, 03JanXX is National Suicide Day in Toni Morrison's Sula. She was smart enough to choose this deliberately with Perihelion in mind. Unknown relevance.
      • This back date coincides with the fortnight regularity later established with the MZD posts. 
      • I'm not sure if there's further correlations in Only Revolutions, etc.
      • Go eat a timewave.
    And now for numbers and Danielewski's boxes:
    And now for something new... (picturs of stars, and earth underneath?)... Danielewski's Stars:

    Familiar Places

    Further notes and chronology of mine follow below:

    Metadata ?
    I'm not real sure how to look for in-depth photo meta-data or embedded data, or if they would even transfer through the downloading process. Suffice to say that could be interesting, if unlikely. My initial forays using GIMP to look at files weren't apparently productive.

    Otherwise, the significance of lots of square black photos is unknown. Histogram data would be curious though, as small changes would be hard to see at first glance.

    I'll try and edit this when I have time to delve more. Your comments and participation are, of course, welcome.

    Edit: The Ponds (?)

    So, I was looking at the map again, distracted from work, and noticed the four points we have can be crossed. I plotted them and made the cross in France: (I can't get the links to work, but they're on the map.)
    •  46.102800, 3.983110 (by my calculator's reckoning; seems precise enough)
      • Les Étangs, 42640 Saint-Romain-la-Motte, France
    It appears, from google street view, to be a small farm in the French countryside.
    There is a small hotel with the same address as the farm, but knowing little about French addresses, this could be meaningless, and it's still not the same location, just nearby.

    14Mar13: Update

    New tweet/fb today, on π Day no less. Same black square. As noted by others at the Reddit blog, the twitters of the same pics have all had the time stamp of '11:11'. The facebook time-stamps vary depending on where you look at them. I'm not sure which allow for more 'tweaking' of the time-stamp by the poster; date would seem to be more important anyway. We seem to be getting one around the middle of the month, one near the end.

    This site, the Albert K. Smiley Memorial Tower near Mohonk Lake is pretty cool looking. I actually found this more by looking for local photos on google maps as the site is otherwise unnamed, a point I'd not noticed for the other sites (yet). I'll include those in the master list above when I get the chance.

    Watchtowers are cool.


    Crosslinking to MZD Official Forum post.

    I liked what was found with the hex colors. Astute!:

    Shondra Moon
    48-371204-9-7265= -378430
    44-881389-0-8905= -890250
    25-9481-32-21191= -(0)30679
    2's complement (because assuming they're hex, don't want negatives) of these numbers are C87BCF, 76FDAF, and FCF986, which are very close to resembling magenta, cyan, and yellow, the true primary colors. Mix magenta, cyan and yellow and you get...


    Sorry, didn't have time to update yesterday's post on facebook and twitter.

    The google map is a bit interesting, putting the point (in accordance with the others above) on the East coast of Belize. The satellite image of the area of the map point appears to be a hiking trail known as Tiger Fern trail, possibly near a Jaguar reserve. The trail ends right at the coordinates. Wish I could go there, looks like a nice view.

    - - - — — —


    Belgium, man... Belgium.

    Looks to be a pasture, some photos nearby show Hoornwork Park. Nice looking church in the background, though I still can't tell which building it is on the map.

    By this pacing, and if the SOS is to be assumed, there should be two more posts, likely in the NE hemisphere, by the end of April and then mid-May. Then... who knows. So many paths in the House to follow.

    Anyone else wanna try cracking date numerology and significance? I'm still working on Only Revolutions, but Mark's got a sense of time like few others.


    It was interesting, I woke up today and during my meditation thought MZD might make a post today, and lo, he did.

    South Africa. Looks to be a rectangularish field or farm land; few photos to go on from the area. Flattish. Near Crocodile Rd. though. Cool name. Most notable is the fact that the residental area of Top Village north of the point has a lot of unpaved roads that google maps does not recognize as existing. Going off the map, eh?

    It's also rather close to the border of Botswana.

    I wish I could say this felt penultimate... though, I do get a kick out of 3x3.

    And I made a destination list map. So  far, not much pattern. It was looking spiral-fit up to about the last two.


    I was on retreat during the last post, specifically having fantastic ideas for my novel writing distracting me from the present moment.

    The Colosseum. Hard to mistake. Iconic for enough reasons to fill libraries. One of the grander constructs of open space of history. The testament of the birth of theatre, or something like it. Impressive google maps tour as well. Looks like the exact point is the north part of the stage, though knowing little about its structure, I don't exactly understand what the under-labyrinth hypogeum means yet. Considering it held animals (e.g. "rhinoceros, hippopotamuses, elephants, giraffes, aurochs, wisents, Barbary lions, panthers, leopards, bears, Caspian tigerscrocodiles and ostriches." as we may have seen references for above) and gladiators—people died here in public view.

    Is the darkness complete? The distress is noted. The labyrinth never ends; is it calling out to us this time?

    If we parse and integrate the information, our time here, we can find some forms of tidyness. It's what our brains do best.

    Do we emerge from the darkness off-stage, find a mask, find a voice, and proclaim the best we are able? Want to play a god, a hero, a foe, or the often wiser chorus? Or are you the stage? Are you the animal or the gladiator, and which one wins? Or are we being staged?

     Thoughts and thoughts, twist and turn, but only the emptiness will have the show.



    Totally missed the 23 of May posting... Government House in Sydney, Australia. SW corner apparently. Can't get street view here, but appears to be a wicked car-port/side-entrance to the house.

    Almost missed it today too... St. Petersburg, Russia. The Hermitage Plaza, to be more exact. Actually, looks to be the entrance to the arch to the staff buildings there, to be more exact.

    Always fun traveling with you Mark.

    Also, someone else with a map of the tweets.


    What's he building in there?

    20th of June posts Appears to be Estadio Victor Jara, Santiago, Chile. My Spanish isn't too good, and translate doesn't get me much with "Arturo Godoy", though it appears to be a street name. It does have some interesting history and a decent date point to work with.



    I was literally on the road when this posted, taking some liberty to leave work and home to be with friends and family elsewhere for a bit.

    Well pointed by Mr. Z as well in our nation's first spaces of budding independence: Phily, PA.


    Space for Peace

    I got a cemetery in Nagasaki, Japan, rather close to the peace memorial there. Research about the location of the bomb dropping would be good, but I've not the time today.

    Also, for further research, the fb post had good commentary from Jae whom had posted a curious picture.
    Jason: it's from Robert Fludd's The Metaphysical, Physical, & Technical History of the Two Worlds. Eugene Thacker talks about it a little bit: "In a section discussing the origin of the universe, Fludd was compelled to speculate on what existed prior to the universe, which he describes as an empty nothingness, a sort of ‘pre-universe’ or ‘un-universe’. He chose to represent this with a simple black square."

    There's an interesting history of black squares in aesthetics and colour theory (Malevich, Tristam Shandy, Reinhardt's squares), but I don't know if any of it's related to what MZD's up to.

    And if the Robert Fludd's not enough to keep you busy, the pending Ken Wilber tome of Integral Semiotics should.

    The plot continues...


    I get Aden, Yemen. While it looks like an interesting darkened spot, it doesn't appear to be in or all that near to the caldera. Oh to have a teleporter.


    Even the House must reveal secrets sometimes.

    Mark's been tweeting a bit about other things, cause, ya know, he's just this guy.
    A brief interlude because life intrudes. Because a slash is a solidus is a solid bridge right before meaning gives way . . .
    Because if The Bridge On The River Kwai teaches us anything it isn’t how to build bridges but to be supple with plans.
    Because knowing value comes from knowing the inconsolable. Because those who know (of) him should know. Because he is still consolable . . .

    But also, sadly, it sounds like his pet is getting old and frail. Sounds like a cat? Hugs.


    First, cat pictures. And various things:
    • // Miles Davis, Cypress Hill, Snow Ghosts "A Small Murmuration", Civil Wars, Inti-Illimani, Odd Future, Circa Survive, Sergey Karapetian, 2Pac. 
    • // Frances Ha, Blue Jasmine, Europa Report, Room 237, The Wire (again), BSG (again), Lean, Van Sant, Coen Brothers, Fellini (allways). 
    • // Roberto Calasso, Ms. Hempel Chronicles, Michael Robbins, The Color Master, Steven M. Wise, Danilo Kis, and every day The Familiar v.1. 
    • Through every window: his cattitude, my beatitude . . .
    Catching up for the month, I missed a post on the 15th of August as well.

    Curiously enough, I've actually been really close to both these places.
    The first, across the river from Phenom Pen, Cambodia,
    and the second, across the Ganges from Varanasi, India,
    have I seen. Something about looking across rivers, eh? They both appear to be floodplains of the river that is largely uninhabited.

    Also noted is the second month with three separate locations. I will eventually get around to spread-sheeting the data and watching time intervals.


    Two! Two! Two posts in one.

    The twelfth of September gave us yet another potential map point that leads us to Ilulissat, Greenland.

    The other post, yesterday, on the fifteenth has only a black square and the post:
    "Two rules and one challenge . . . " #TheFamiliar
    So, what are the rules, and what is the challenge?

    As per #TheFamiliar books he's writing, that's been known for sometime (assuming he's referencing his new series). If the series will in fact be 27 volumes serialized, then can we construe any of the other map-missives to correlate? Is this the end of the black boxes?

    From facebook post commenter Kevin Brown:
    In the old age black was not counted fair,
    Or if it were, it bore not beauty's name;
    But now is black beauty's successive heir,
    And beauty slandered with a bastard shame:
    For since each hand hath put on Nature's power,
    Fairing the foul with art's false borrowed face,
    Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower,
    But is profaned, if not lives in disgrace.
    Therefore my mistress' eyes are raven black,
    Her eyes so suited, and they mourners seem
    At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack,
    Sland'ring creation with a false esteem:
    Yet so they mourn, becoming of their woe,
    That every tongue says beauty should look so.
    --W.Shakespeare, Sonnet 127
    Spreadsheet to come soon.


    MZD post for today has coordinates near Barcelona, Spain. I love saying Barcelona with a Galician accent.

    Any further idea what the rules and challenge are?


    Today's post brings us to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Watsa specifically. Mostly looks like it's in the middle of nowhere Congo. Lots of rainforest I hear.

    In other news, Mark had recently posted pictures of his cat, and I finally got around to
    pasting them back together. Not sure where the last frame that looks like it's a part of it goes though. Also, it is a cat near a hat, and I like that.


    Post today from MZD appears to bring us to Alaska, near or at the Atigun pass.

    Preliminary spreadsheet of collected posts and data over here. Feel free to post process.

    So in my preliminary looking at the data, all the posts seem to be 14 days apart. However, in my above links to the originals, the day and time I have written down (usually from facebook, later crosslinked with twitter) seem to be different than what is currently available on facebook and twitter date and time stamps (hence my tab of old data and refurbished data that fits the 14 day pattern). Not remembering exactly what happened earlier in the year, I can't tell if it's a typo/misread or that dreaded feeling you get when someone changed something on the internet and edited history and there's nothing you can do about it but go crazy with self-doubt.

    I'll think more about the Familiars of all these places later, as has been suggested. Till then, roll on.


    November's Posts take us to the heart of Dubai's high real-estate district, and the near-wilderness Turkey. Could not have had stranger bedfellows there. Or could we?


    Quite a nice day today, the post takes us to a garden park in Essaouira, Morocco dedicated to Orson Welles. He had been in the town there working on Othello apparently. His plaque graffitied.

    This is the 24th black square missive. Should we expect to see 27 for each of the books of the forthcoming The Familiar series? The rules and challenge linger in my head but refuse resolution.


    Presumably Mark's cat's last place of corporeal semblance, the Cal Pet Crematorium. There the familiar is lost.

    Another post previous on the 14 December about his cat as well.
    I have a house but no longer a home. Mon semblable, my familiar. Carl goes. . . 
    Holidays are hard without our familiar. May you and yours be connected in the returning light.


    Whoops, thought I blogged this already, but only put the map point in.

    The cold of Antartica. Not much to google there. Curious place though, strange photos go to live, or arguably die there too. The oubliette of photos, or souls?

    And also, I got one of these lovely cards. Thanks Mark!


    Is this the last of the Familiars? There were to be 27 I hear, an auspicious number of fortnights, though still slightly over a year's time. Hrm. In any case, we've reached a year in mostly darkness... what will come of tending this vigil?

    This missive brings us to the Havenhurst apartments, an apparently somewhat rundown complex in Hollywood, West Hollywood.

    Or maybe just looking out towards the Ardmore.


    3^3 = 27
    27^6 = 387420489 = 19683 x 19683
    Takes us to pretty much the middle of nowhere Egypt. Google maps does have a relatively nearby oasis like photo listed.

    I still haven't had much luck on the puzzle further, but I'm still open for conversation and thoughts. I'll go check out Reddit.

    From r/codes: Kasey Carpenter has not one, but two interviews with MZD that prove interesting about The Familiar. The television like serialization should prove interesting.

    Also, the number itself is a palindrome, which actually doesn't make me feel any better.

    Also, 27 is one letter more than the usual English alphabet.


    And then there was more...

    Wasn't really sure if we'd hear more from MZD about, well, anything. I've been busy trying to make my life work than getting back to the enigma of the previous year's posts. And writing.

    But, today we are given another missive, less black, but no less problematic. It appears to be a star field, and if we are adventurous to parse the numbers again for celestial coordinates, we could construe them to be charted now in the sky (google sky search wasn't working when I wrote this).

    In this case, and in light of The Familiar, we are given a decent view of Pegasus, centered around the β star, Scheat. The chart and the picture seem to match up, though the magnitudes are hard to tell. MZD's pic also looks blue and red shifted, or those are the actual star colors. The large objects on the edge of the upper left corner look like M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, if blurry, in MZD's pic, which makes me think it's not a far off correlation.

    Pegasus. There's a good familiar to have as we embark into the skies.


    More Stars

    Sorry. Was busy for the Equinox. Also, star charts are calibrated to the vernal equinox.

    A new post on fb and twitter that appears to take us to... well, somewhere in the southern sky, assuming that we are still looking at the sky.

    I'm having trouble deciding what field of view to look at for the pictures. RA and Dec are easy enough to parse from degrees of the code, but field of view can be important to make my view the same as the picture. So, still not getting that.

    Crunching other numbers, there was a gap of 35 days (as opposed to the other fortnights between previous posts) from the last (28th black square) from the previous set since the star pics started. Would a field of view of 35° make sense?

    The previous post with Pegasus looked optimal at around 45°, but it's really hard to tell from MZD's picture which stars actually correspond.

    Anyway, the three constellations that are closest in this selection seem to be Triangulum Australe (aka Southern Triangle), Circinus (aka Compass), and Apus (aka no feet, a bird-of-paradise).

    Google sky on the web seems to be broken still, and Google Earth in sky mode seems to be not great either. Stellarium is working okay (and often poorly--can't zoom well), and with the coordinates, seems to be in a viable ballpark with MZD's picture. Coordinating TA-gamma seems the best bet, and while not the central star, the closest in both pictures.

    Still working on translating both previous map points and current star points to each other to see if that yields anything.

    In other Familiar news (from the forums), MZD is apparently responding to some of Giorgio Agamben's work, The Open, in The Familiar.


    Catching up on MZD, his latest post for that date has us in the vicinity of both Eridanus and Cetus. In my chart, gamma Eridanus, or Zaruak, is known as The Boat. Alpha Ceti is also near by too, and the nose of 'the whale' is not a bad Familiar to mark.

    Since I'm not getting great hits from the star charts, I am wondering if there's some RA adjustment that might get a better target. The views actually still seem to have enough correlative stars that I think we're in the right vicinity, but I'm still a little edgy about what story is actually being told, or if we're still just treading water off in the deep end.

    Another good possibility to consider is that we are not using standard [Western-Arabic] constellations. The wiki entry on Cetus mentions other systems (Chinese and Brazillian) correlating to the and a Jaguar, which I still have to run against comparison with the map locations and Familiars. Yay, more levels to look at.


    Here I am wondering where March went and then April is flying by...

    Post today. I'm still not so sure of the match. Still feeling like the time's off. I would also like to find the same star-chart that MZD uses for comparison sake. It would work better than a virtual chart.

    Someone on the facebook post compared the image to this over near Leo. The pictures line up well for the front of the major poof of the star. Reconciling what to do with the coordinates now.

    The MAST archive of astronomical data looks promising. The Spitzer images are also nice, but incomplete of the sky as they focus on the milky way.


    Happy Beltane

    By my current reckoningLacerta (one of the 88 modern major constellations) is the constellation in the reticle. The Lizard. Good enough for a Familiar in my book. Though, to be fair, more than half of the constellation in the sky are an animal--'cause that's just what happens when you stare at the sky and you have animals around.

    I still haven't had enough time to find better map software. The above notes still serve though. is also promising, but putting in coordinates seems to be poor.

    The continued discussion on the forum and the facebook photo is still intriguing. MZD's puzzled up photos before, so that's a good potential. Zack apparently did this for the photo matching. Thanks, that's awesome.
    Zack Warren Method: I put the flickr image into Google Image Search: and found the whole picture being used on a TED talk. Put that background image into TinEye: [...] one of the links was a JPL gallery:

    That ends up being the CW Leo runaway star.

    I have finally made the google map of the star charts coordinates on the world map. Correlation is, we must remember, not a valid assumption with MZD at the reigns. We'll see what we can actually make of the locations here as well.

    There is also a collected map view. I'm not sure I like the interface yet, but we'll work with it.


    The stars under Venice Beach

    This post takes us to Venice Beach, CA, 610 Venizia Ave. to be exact, if we're looking for an Earthly map point.

    The star coordinates look like the head or tail of Centaurus. Closeness to Circinus noted.

    What I'd like to do later when I have the time is to decode the pattern to the star chart appearances as Zach has done above.


    Ishikiri, Japan. Near Osaka. Looks like Japan.

    Update for today, real quick. Bootes? the herdsmanHigashiōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu, Japan? More questions.

    Well, for the last two posts I've been using the second set of numbers as declination, which doesn't seem to fit so well anymore. It should probably parse to RA, and the first part of the numbers to Dec.

    That gives me Lynx instead, though perhaps Cancer too. Hrm. Must find some time to figure this out.


    Here there be dragons

    I don't know China much, but I think that's right around the corner from the Forbidden City complex... though there's a lot of it and this is merely the tip.

    Starmap points to part of Draco's tail. Seriously, China & Draco in the same numbers... even if it's wrong it's working nicely.


    Map point is near Samarra, Iraq and looks to be the last natural zoned section of the Tigris River before it enters suburban Baghdad. There is a World Heritage Site for its rather iconic Malwiya Mosque and Minaret. Just south of Tikrit, Familiar for its news recently. What strange familiarity indeed.

    Still not sure that the star map correlates to the numbers, but looks to point near Almach (the caracal or desert lynx), γ Andromedae in the constellation Andromeda. Reminder: avoid tying up women to be eaten by sea monsters. Further Wiki surfing reveals the star made a brief cameo in Foundation by Isaac Asimov.


    Quick snippet as I am off to Fair.

    Back again. The map points to some fair wilderness in Norway. Not really much close by and looking at the lakes nearby hasn't turned up much yet.

    The star map points to Lambda (λ) Tauri, a curious constellation involving an eclipsing binary star system, resulting in a variable magnitude visible star. The star also looks to be the heart of Taurus in this picture. But, see below.

    So, I may have been confusing and confounding the starmap when I put the numbers from the posts into my star chart. I've been parsing them as Declination, Right Ascension as per normal nomenclature, but my chart sometimes has RA first and then Dec. Looks like I'll have to go through them again and check them.

    As such, the Dec, RA for this number set is instead in Cassiopeia.

    Some other discussion from the webs:
    Good quote from Kevin Brown on the facebook pic comments:
    "What is familiarly known is not properly known, just for the reason that it is 'familiar.' When engaged in the process of knowing, it is the commonest form of self-deception, and a deception of other people as well, to assume something to be familiar, and to let it pass on that very account. Knowledge of that sort, with all of its talking around it never gets from the spot, yet has hardly any idea that this is the case..." —G.W.F.H. [sic]
    And from James Sherwood: #Defamiliarization
    “And art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stony. The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects “unfamiliar,” to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is no Ostranenie (2, 3)"
    —Victor Shklovsky, from "Art as Technique"


    This map point seems to be in the foresty lands near Xalapa, Mexico. Pretty lands.

    Starmap looks to be Hercules.


    A familiar unicorn in our midst?

    The map point is public enough that you can street-view it to see the copse of trees that the coordinates point at. Too blurry to make out any other inferences. Looks like a nice place to hang out for an afternoon--or be a king.

    I'm busy and kinda waiting to amass more of the star-photos to research their sequence. I'm generally hopeful that means something, but otherwise, hmm. 


    Today's post brings us to the lovely foothills of New Zealand, just south of Heron Lake. Looks quite idyllic there.

    Starmap is mostly in-between a bunch of different southern constellations, Centaurus and Antila. Leaning towards Centaurus being a better familiar than a pneumatic pump. Yes, there's a pump constellation.


    The Lake of Cleansing

    As has been suggested by others, we could take a cleaner, closer look at things using some curious tools of stenography. I got a version of OutGuess for Mac and was trying it on some of the photos from the posts (which, incidentally, all source to Hazel's flikr account).

    We could also use SecretBook (with a Chrome widget) on the files as well. Fun passtime if you want to send embedded messages through facebook. My initial results trying the codes and common MZD terms hasn't worked to unlock anything yet though.

    Also, don't forget to post your cat photos! MZD and the forums announced a call for your cat photos and handwritten accounts of them. Sign your NDA and submit.

    Today's post brings us to the area in Chascomús, Argentina near Laguna La Limpia, the lake of cleaning. The Stars barely point to an area of Sagittarius.


    Post brings us to the Mongolian mountain of Bogd Khan, near Ulan Bator.

    The Star map points in the vicinity of Lynx by my reckoning.

    Also, Google changed their map interface yet again, and while prettier, seems to have lost some of the functionality I was liking. Embedded photos is now harder or impossible to find on the map, which was a fun pastime above. Photos are still available, but localities are hidden until you mouse-over. Can't find the button to turn it back. Progress is un-familiar making.

    Also, a post from 15Sep14: The Familiar is coming soon, March 12 on Amazon to the public. At 880 pages... whew. (Edit: Looks like the new publication date is May 12th... might have been my mistake).
    Tonight: two rules and one challenge. Here & Later: maps of darkness past to voice the stars . . .
    And there will be academic discussions for those with advance copies, and then continuing with the first publication in March.
    Cross-institutional reading of Mark Z. Danielewski, The Familiar, volume 1, beginning Jan 2015 @markdanielewski
    P.S. From the fb posts, Kevin Brown had a nice quote:
    "The outside, 'spatial' and 'objective' exteriority which we believe we know as the most familiar thing in the world, as familiarity itself, would not appear without the grammé, without difference as temporalization, without the nonpresence of the other inscribed within the sense of the present, without the relationship with death as the concrete structure of the living present. Metaphor would be forbidden."
     –J. Derrida in W&D
    See also ergodic literature.


    Today's post points us to Inarajan, Guam.

    Star chart points to the middle space of Pisces.

    The anticipation of publication grows in me. And yet, two rules, and a challenge remain.

    P.S. - Puzzling About

    So, I diddled around with what Zach had been suggesting so long ago (well, April at least) now that there were more photos about and things to work with.

    I took the photos from facebook that MZD had been posting. It was easiest there than going through more elaborate means on flickr or twitter. Edit: Turns out they're cross posted on the forum as well, which is likely the most pure form the pictures can be found.

    Popped most of them into Photoshop, found the original photo of CW Leo that had matched some of the squares posted that Zach had used TinEye to find.

    In Photoshop, of course, the MZD squares didn't scale correctly to the original CW Leo from the site (which was 8000x5000). After a fair bit of resizing, I eventually found that the original 720x720 MZD squares, when scaled to 888x888, matched the original CW Leo picture. Edit: The pictures on the forums are originally 1000x1000.

    Then, resizing all of those photos (thank goodness for batch apps), matching the layers of MZD squares (now at 888x888) was actually pretty easy. They make a bit of a puzzle.

    The main grid, outlined, is 9x3(=27). Dates and order of appearance. There's more picture to cut up, but I'm guessing there'll only be 27 pictures of stars. The original image is a bit big so a small few pixels get cut off here and there, mostly on the left side. And the scaling might be a little off still, or alignment, or problems from the batch convert, so the alignment of some pixels isn't perfect on #12, etc.

    Dosen't look like a codex or key yet, or a magic square, but my code breaking could use more help.

    Tried briefly with overlaying the constellation Leo from other sources. Couldn't quite get that to work yet.

    Also, looking ahead a bit, MZD's birthday is on March 5th, the last posting of the 27th star pic in the current pattern.

    Other ideas?

    Today's post brings us to Abidjan on the Ivory Coast of Africa.
    The stars above it point to Aquila, the Eagle, carrier of Zeus' bolts.

    So, I read T50YS again last night. Great creepy ghost story for pending Hallow'e'en. How to stitch the wound? What could possibly hold it? I still lament not being able to attend the performance a few years back.

    I did find the lines bearing relevance to The Familiar (T50YS p78):
    "'At first I went to places I knew.
    "'Familiar Places.
    In more good news: I finally tried a bit harder to get my stenography software working. Looks like it installed poorly the first try. Also found some extra spaces in my spreadsheet that were throwing me off of cracking.

    Mar 6
    One by one our skies go black. 
    Stars are extinguished, collapsing into distances too great to breach. Soon, not even the memory of light will survive.
    Mar 20
    Long ago, our manifold universes discovered futures would only expand. No arms of limit could hold or draw them back.
    Apr 3
    Short of a miracle, they would continue to stretch, untangle and vanish — abandoned at long last to an unwitnessed dissolution.
    I kinda don't want to spoil your fun... so I'll leave it at that for now. Some number swapping is needed. Gimmie a shout if you can't get it working. The rest are posted.

    Ok, just one more...

    Oct 16
    What haunts us now and will allways hunt you.
    T50YS has a line about allways (p136):

    "'Nor was that the last time. On the
    contrary it was the beginning. Climbers
    began to
                  "'pop up all over the
    always on a different 
                      "'away by mist before reappearing
               somewhere else.

    That allways is also uniquely the only word that gets four different colored quotes in the entire text (by my reading at least). If a stitch in time saves nine, there are nine colors listed in the catalog page, and for of them are around that allways, the other five being the children, of course.

    The stars are cracked. Even they are breaking. What will hold the light from escaping to the ends of the universe? Who or what could possibly tie that knot? And yet, there remains evidence.


    Today's post brings us to the border of Transylvania in the small town of Vračev Gaj, Serbia. Looks like a backyard. Not sure about the specificity there.

    Stars point near Cygnus, and close to M39.

    It occurs to me this late that formatting this whole blog in another, forum like way would've been wise. Who knew it would go on like this.

    Extraction Oct 30:
    The first reveals how the promise of all our postponements, ever longer, ever more secure — what we eventually mistook for immortality — was from the start a broken promise.
    A nice post by Heartbreak from the forums produced this re-textualization of the stars.


    Post today brings us to Ryan Gulch, Loveland, Colorado. Not sure the significance here.

    Stars point near where the head of Hercules should be, and also near M92.

    Our missive:
    Entropy suffers no reversals.  
    Even now, here, on the edge of time’s end, where so many continue to vanish, we still have not pierced that veil of sentience undone.


    Many Thanks to all your Familiars
    A pilgrim is a wanderer with a purpose. –Peace Pilgrim
    Post today brings us to Plymouth Rock Massachusetts.

    Stars beneath them are mostly near Lyra, between Cygnus, though also just in deep space.

    Though, a cryptic and tale will begin to be told with the Outguessing of the picture:
    The first of our common horrors:


    Today's post brings us to Dalton Hwy (11) near Atigun Pass, Northern Alaska, USA. The highest pass maintained in Alaska.

    Stars point near Ursa Minor, but mostly α Draco, Thuban.

    From Wikipedia:
    Thuban (α Draconis) was the northern pole star from 3942 BC, when it moved farther north than Theta Boötis, until 1793 BC. The Egyptian Pyramids were designed to have one side facing north, with an entrance passage designed so that Thuban would be visible at night.[2] Due to the effects of precession, it will once again be the pole star around the year 21000 AD. It is a blue-white giant star of magnitude 3.7, 309 light-years from Earth. The traditional name of Alpha Draconis, Thuban, means "head of the serpent".[1]
    Quoth the picture:
    The temples in Angkor are arranged to mimic star patterns, specifically the Draco constellation.[9][10]
    #novels #codes #thefamiliar #markzdanielewski #houseofleaves


    Happy Christmas came to me by far. Thanks Mark and Hazel and Pantheon! I wish you all a good one as well!

    Post today takes us to the north pole. Oddly enough, regular google maps has a cute Santa on it, but will otherwise not display or locate on the curated maps, yet.

    The stars point, obviously, near Polaris, and Ursa Minor, the little bear.

    Quoth the picture and forum:

    Yet we believe and accept that there is grace and finally truth in standing accountable before such an invincible unknown.
    The new MZD holiday card is lovely, and best viewed as a portrait. Though, if you look at it horizontally, it looks more like a dragon than a cat, a bit draco-ish.


    Today's post brings us to a remote mountain lodge of Papua New Guinea, Karawari Lodge. Could be a fun place to hang out.
    The stars point near α Hydra, Alphard. Curious connection that.
    Alphard appears on the flag of Brazil, symbolising the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.[16]
    Quoth the picture:
    But we are not everyone. 
    Cover comes out on 15.01.13. Yay! I expect some pink on it. P.S. ➟


    Today's post brings us to the site of the Charlie Hebdo headquarters and recent shootingJe suis charlie!

    The Stars are between Cassiopeia and Andromeda. More of an afterthought it would seem, though rather close to M31, which was in the news recently with a nice big pic.

    Quoth the picture of the day, no less salient:
    Death, it turns out, is the mother of all conflicts. 
    There are some who reject such an outcome. There are some who still fight for an alternate future. No matter the cost.
    #novels #codes #thefamiliar #markzdanielewski #houseofleaves


    Nearly the middle of nowhere, a field near Itaberaí, State of Goiás, Brazil

    My stars show near NGC7293, The Helix Nebula, aka The Eye of God, within Aquarius. Also δ Capricorni, Deneb Algedi.

    Still some time to get in on the galley giveaway.

    Only two more posts... (?)

    Picture was delayed due to congruence issues, and Carl.

    Here then is the second of our common horrors. 
    What not even all of time will end. 
    What plagues us now and what will always plague you.


    Today's post brings us to Mindoro, Philippines.

    Stars point between Cancer, Canis Minor, and Gemini. β Cancer, Altarf, is interesting:
    Also known as Altarf, Beta Cancri is the brightest star in Cancer at apparent magnitude 3.5 and located 290 light-years from Earth.[5] It is a binary starsystem, its main component an orange giant of spectral type K4III that is varies slightly from a baseline magnitude of 3.53—dipping by 0.005 magnitude over a period of 6 days.[6] An ageing star, it has expanded to around 50 times the Sun's diameter and shines with 660 times its luminosity. It has a faint magnitude 14 red dwarf companion located 29 seconds away that takes 76,000 years to complete an orbit.[5] Altarf represents a part of Cancer's body.[1]
    Quoth the stars:

    #novels #steganography #thefamiliar #markzdanielewski #houseofleaves 


    Happy Birthday Mark!

    Sorry for the delay on final update. Got too distracted day of by the wonderful The Familiar v1 Galley discussion and online conference with MZD (potential spoilers).

    The final (?) post from today brings us the whole field that is the runaway star in Leo.

    This location brings us to Manhattan's Central Park Sheep Meadow, an iconic spot if ever there were.

    Stars point to the constellation Lyra.

    Quoth the picture:
    VEM 5 Alpha System
    Planck Epoch 10^-41
    Encryption 1/5
    (I still haven't finished all of v1 yet at this time, so I'm hoping VEM gets explained more... looks like we should hear more soon though as it's only the first part of five [?].)

    Here's a helpful guide to the star pics. Not sure that the re-ordering will make more sense than the given chronological order. Let me know if you see anything of note.

    I've also updated the Familiar Places so you can see all the terrestrial map points. Still working on getting Google Sky or something to collect the star points.

    #thefamiliar #markzdanielewski #a0 #GNUTerryPratchett

    . . .

    What will the future bring us? The Familiar v2 is already on it's way for fall. What portents will MZD share with us? Numerous lines and interactions beckon from the online discussion. What will become more familiar as we delve, and what distance will that make elsewhere?

    See you in May, at the very least.


    Official release date for volume 1 of The Familiar! "One Rainy Day in May"

    From Amazon:
    From the author of the international best seller House of Leaves and National Book Award-nominated Only Revolutions comes a monumental new novel as dazzling as it is riveting. The Familiar (Vol.1) ranges from Mexico to Southeast Asia, from Venice, Italy, to Venice, California, with nine lives hanging in the balance, each called upon to make a terrifying choice. They include a therapist-in-training grappling with daughters as demanding as her patients; an ambitious East L.A. gang member contracted for violence; two scientists in Marfa, Texas, on the run from an organization powerful beyond imagining; plus a recovering addict in Singapore summoned at midnight by a desperate billionaire; and a programmer near Silicon Beach whose game engine might unleash consequences far exceeding the entertainment he intends.

    At the very heart, though, is a 12-year-old girl named Xanther who one rainy day in May sets out with her father to get a dog, only to end up trying to save a creature as fragile as it is dangerous . . . which will change not only her life and the lives of those she has yet to encounter, but this world, too—or at least the world we think we know and the future we take for granted.