✍️ GARDEN OF FERNAL DELIGHTS - Otto’s Dream

in writing •  last year

GARDEN OF FERNAL DELIGHTS - Otto’s Dream

A strange place


Indeed. Strange and wonderful, with a peculiar language that, when one listens to it spoken, it resembles the talk of whales and dolphins.
What may not be apparent at first is this: left and right are reversed. Not a big deal really, but if you are left handed and felt out of place in the ‘outer world’, you would feel perfectly normal here.

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But there are other peculiarities as well. Travelling due North, one eventually arrives at the shores of a great sea. If you haven’t checked your compass for a while, now is the time to do so again, because you will find that now, it is pointing in the opposite direction! After some turning and walking about in circles you begin to realize: it is not pointing North, South, East or West, but it is always pointing towards you! And then, my friend, the real journey begins!

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This is not where it all started


I am sort of meandering around in my head recalling episodes at random, but it would be more instructive for the reader if I at least retold how my journey began.

Excruciating Pain


I don’t know how and why it started, but I felt a tightening in my back muscles for some time now. By the time I went to bed, it got so bad I could not even turn around - no position was comfortable. The pain got worse, so I decided to get up. Trying to get out of bed proved impossible. Severe spasms followed my every move. I let myself fall out of bed, hoping that I could then pull myself upright on the bedposts. It was then a searing pain, never before felt with such intensity, shot up my spine and exploded like a bolt of white light in my brain........

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“Take this ….”


a tiny voice beside my left (or right?) ear said. At first, I couldn’t really make it out, since it sounded more like the chirping of a cricket. I tried to look, but all I could see was a thing that looked somewhat like a gnarled root, or dried up carrot, with long tentacles undulating from it.
One of the tentacles held a sort of marble or pearl at its suction-cup end and dangled it in front of my mouth. The pain had made me gnash my teeth so bad I could barely relax my jaw enough to open my mouth. I don’t know why I did anyway - it all looked rather suspicious. I also realised that I was no longer in my room or beside my bed, but laying stark naked on a meadow, my body covered with tentacles that sort of held me down like the straps on a hospital gurney. “‘Come on and take it” the voice chirped again. My lips had parted, and the orb dropped into my mouth. As it touched my tongue it felt like tapioca or something like it. Soft and squishy. When I pressed it up on the roof of my mouth, it liquefied. There was no discernible taste and I swallowed. Almost at an instant, my pain disappeared, and the gurney straps (or tentacles) fell away.

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“There is more …..”


the voice spoke to me again. Now that I stood up without any problems, the little carrot was at my feet waving its tentacles in a comical way, sort of like a conjuror trying to coax a rabbit out of a hat. “There is more of this found at certain depths around the reefs of Bogomil’s Island” the voice said in its melodic fernalese chirp (don’t even ask me how I understand - I have no idea).

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“You must take one of these every 48 fernal hours to keep the pain away. But you have to find it yourself.” “‘Where, pray tell, can I find this island?” I asked. My voice sounded rather untrained and gruff - my tongue not accustomed to twisting itself around the fernalese sounds, which made the carrot chuckle with amusement at my clumsy attempt to communicate. “You find it true North, at the great sea, but do beware of its depths: there are renegade Fomorii Refugees from the time of the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh; they are a rather ornery bunch.”

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I just stood there, stark naked.....


checking out the scene. The meadow was on the side of a hill overlooking a lovely valley and bordered by some very peculiar looking fauna I had never seen before.

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In the sky there hung an orb that, unlike the sun in our world could be looked at without hurting the eyes. It was sort of yellowish-orange and everything was bathed in its golden light. The sky, which seemed a normal azure at first began to shift almost imperceptibly through the entire spectrum, like the play of northern lights. From the edge of my field of vision, I could sort of see a couple of smaller orbs, bright blue and red, but when I turned my head to look at them, they shifted away. They seemed to move around rather quickly, but always just about out of sight, while the yellow sun just hung there high in the sky without any apparent movement.

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Nearby, there were some white rocks that looked as if elaborately carved into anthropomorphic shapes, but what caught my immediate attention were the shadows: they too would alternately shift from a reddish hue to blue, with the edges shimmering in rainbow colors. I began to walk towards those rocks to have a closer look. They felt like marble, smooth and polished, without sharp edges, just sensuous curves that were inviting to the touch. I could not stop running my hands over it. The perfection of form was a pleasure to experience.

I began to feel a sort of tingling in my feet....


travelling up my legs. It was not strong, almost imperceptible, but very pleasurable, like the soft touch of butterfly wings. At the same time, the curves of the stone started to feel warm under my caressing hands. The butterfly wings started travelling up my legs and the feelings intensified somewhat once they reached my groin. I looked down to see. Here she was again, the carrot, its tentacles entwining my limbs and lower body. “Did you follow me here” I asked. “No” the carrot chirped, “I am everywhere!” As later I would learn, this was indeed true: the tentacles were more like rhizomes that spread throughout the garden, and into its furthest reaches. The nerve strands of fernal Gaia.

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“Stop it” I said....


“I have a task to complete, and I still don’t know how long 48 fernal hours are!” The tentacles withdrew, but I could sense a sort of disappointment by the way they first curled onto the ground and then disappeared just below the surface. “You should take time out for pleasure” the carrot said, “you have time enough!” I tried to look at the watch on my left wrist, but there was nothing there. “First of all, we are on fernal time here, so your watch would do you no good, and secondly, nothing passes through from the other side other than the way you were born. You can’t bring anything with you into the Fernal Garden!” … before I could say anything, she continued: “besides, fernal time is relative, it is what you make of it, and if you enjoy pleasure, it seemingly stands still. There is no Tick-Tock Man that rushes you along, and a day here may last forever, if you let it!”

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No watch, no clothes, no belt


…. I could get used to that. Except maybe for my belt. It’s sort of a utility belt that has everything I need for survival: my cellphone, camera, swiss army knife, a tin cup and camping utensils, a small frying pan, a lighter, fishing gear and hidden zippered money compartment as well as an emergency blanket, an astrolabe and a compass. “You are hopeless” the carrot said, apparently having read my mind. “Everything you ever need is here, at your disposal!”
“ Maybe so” I said, “but first of all I need my compass to find my way North - how do you suggest I get one?” “Just think it, and it will be” the carrot said, sounding slightly annoyed, probably because I am so slow in understanding what is sort of ‘normal’ around here. Holding out my hand, I thought compass, and - oh wow - there it was. Not really mine, but a rather peculiar looking thing; steampunk brassy with a strange dial and curious (fernalese) symbols. I assumed that the larger black needle with the spade-like tip pointed North (there were also two smaller needles, one red and one blue, bobbing about randomly it seemed). I noted the direction to take and began to walk. As I lowered my hand, the compass disappeared again. So I raised my hand again and thought compass, and sure enough, there it was. Works for me, I thought. The carrot chuckled: “you are getting the hang of it!”

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to be continued …...


The artwork shown are details from my paintings, drawings and digital work based on those details . You can explore the images in larger size by right-click and select 'open in new tab'.
The story is continuing with another chapter, Babe in the Woods, but both are part of a larger work that so far resides only in my head, begging to be written down .......




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Der Text ist wundervoll - trägt meine Gedanken in eine geheimnisvolle Welt und erinnert mich auch leicht an Lovecraft. Die Bilder sind auch Wahnsinn (in allen Bedeutungen des Wortes ;)), wobei ich die Bleistift-Zeichnungen am liebsten mag. Was war zuerst da, die Geschichte oder die Bilder?

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schwer zu sagen - bei manchen die Geschichte, aber einige Bilder sind schon älter.

Wild! It's one of the most curious artworks I've seen in all of Steemit so far. I feel almost scared to enter into imagery and the words, and it brings a certain thrill. I think you've got something really special going on here. Looking forward to seeing where you go next.

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thank you - it's coming .... it's just that I am very busy right now, there is one short episode written, the rest is still just in my head. The artwork: some are details from paintings and also unfinished work.

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thanks, I try that, following (both you and ocd). Followed the hash tag and discovered some interesting posts.
also voted for witness.

Again awesome. @thermoplastic, @leoplaw, @gric, @reinhard-schmid, do you know if there's any tag/discord channel/curating page that artists like "us" (surreal, biomech, sci-fi, dark, cyberpunk,... ) shall use? (sorry I don't like to define but...). Tags like cyberpunk or dark-art looks rather unused so far and big tags like art or steemartists are just too vague. Shall we agree to a new tag and try all together making it grow? How can we boost "our" community?

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@haedre agree with you. Even I belong to kind of neo surrealism style..Some new interesting tag might help.

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thanks @satisart. I think no so many people like to be define by one style/name/tag, so it seems actually good that it works with tags here as one might stick more to one or another. Hopefully the more and more we use tags that trend less, they could eventually get their way up.

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@satisart and @haedre: idk - I have a hard time with pigeonholes. I actually identify with a group of Austrian artists, called "Vienna School of Fantastic Realism" - but a tag "fantastic realism" would be a rather lonely tag, since even a internet search does not bring any relative results (some, but otherwise, all over the landscape). If interested, you may check my essay THE VIENNA SCHOOL OF FANTASTIC REALISM - related, but different would be "Magic Realism" or "Imaginative Realism", but there you may find mostly illustrators from the tradition of Frazetta - check ILLUXCON for that. I am not too fond of the tags pop-surrealism or neo-surrealism. Sounds as if one tried to re-animate a dead corpse (and the "expert critics" had declared Surrealism dead multiple times over). I use surreal the odd time as a tag. Other tags such as steampunk, cyberpunk, sci-fi, biomech etc are too restrictive. I do encourage you to read my essay - the Viennese are not easily described, but have one thing in common: the balance between inspiration and reason, i.e. Apollo and Dionysus, and this separates them from the Surrealists.

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Thanks for the instructive reply @thermoplastic. Yes, when writting the upper comment, I had momently forgot that no one wants to be defined. Altough, even as having quite a various range of works, from dark to not dark at all, space stuffs, cyber stuffs, B&W and coloured, illustrations, "art", "comics" ,... I need sometimes, in order to reach a very world scattered clientele, to slightly narrow, for example for correct website's keywords or when writing presentation texts for gigs. For platforms and curators it also need sometimes narrowing definitions in order to drag decent amount of viewers. So it is a bit of a never ending contradiction. Besides I can't agree more about the pop-surrealism, neo-, post- and other, like you called them "dead corpses-reanimating" tags :D . Aswell with biomech, sci-fi being restrictive, even error inducing (google sci-fi and you get a bunch of super-heroes stuff - What the hell? Is "Heavy Metal" dead :D ). We're all an amalgam of various influences and that's what makes us unique. So yeah the tags are maybe a quite good system and we just need to use the ones we want to see grow. I will definitely read your essay. Thank you for the links!

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try googling Surrealist News - I once had it embedded on one of my blogs, but deleted it for all the crap that swamped that feed. But what is worse, is "Visionary Art" ....... OMG, how many unicorns, dolphins and fairies, in the style of "my little pony" with rainbows can you take before gagging.
To define Visionary Art, check out Blake. https://www.vagallery.com/a-vision-of-the-last-judgement.html

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rofl, hmm, unicorns ...
That Blake art is great tho, maybe very religious.. still what a work.
Thanks for all these links, got a pile to read ;)

Fantastic, this is one of the best posts I've seen so far here! The story is amazing, and it seems to unite all your art-series (fomori, bogomil, fernalese, etc) into a dreamy amalgamation. The concept of a protagonist finding him/herself in an alien environment, with radically different physics and ethics is perfect for exploring the inner self and thoughts, without the boundaries of common sense and accepted practices -- as shown in many works, from Thomas Moore's Utopia to Carroll's Through the Looking Glass.

The story is an absolute fit to your great art, it feels to me like reading a story set in a version of Lovecraft's Dreamlands, where everything is mutable and liquid, taking psychedelic forms, with faces appearing in distorted shapes. And the hints of subtle humor (the utility belt, heh!) make the reading even more enjoyable!

You've got to write the whole story down, it is very good from what you've showed us here. I've tried to do a similar story in the past, inspired by Lovecraft and a bunch of fractals I created, but in a much smaller scale than yours:

The Shoggoth Cycle:
#1 - The Hunt for the Shoggoth is Over
#2 - Discovery of the Living Fire
#3- Infusing the Fire Agent to Shoggoth Matter
#4 - The Evil Church
#5 - Empowering the Fiery Agent

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@nyarlathotep thank you for your great insights and the links!
I will have to set aside some special time to read your Shoggoth Cycle in peace, without distractions! It seems we are moving around in the same transcendental universe, drawing from the same well. Perhaps we meet as these stories develop.

super story my Fernal 'frere' I will post lots of fernal stuff too , once i finish my totem series. xoxo

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cool - looking forward to it. After seven days can't resteem, but if I have related posts, I will link to the ones about it. So I made a folder on my computer within the Steem folder to collect all the posts.

This makes the mind stir; I wonder if our bodies are trying to talk to us through our dreams. I wonder if the dreams speak a lauguage we once knew but we long since stopped listening.

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I live alone. I listen to myself talking ..... awake and dreaming, sometimes at the same time.

i like the black & white versions most!

Fantastic post Otto!! 😁
👏👏👏 🐋🐋🐋

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thank you very much

@thermoplastic amazing drawings and textures..kind of mysterious..and the story to match..

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thank you