Mutating Gender in The Circular Ruins

Earlier this year, psych rock band The Saint James Society (named after the religious group that mailed packets of heroin to combat morphine addiction) and director/media artist Juan Azulay took to the Mojave desert to rewrite the way road movie archetypes are mapped onto a landscape seen as a time-folding canvas. Slutist is pleased to reveal their aesthetic outcome below, along with writer Benjamin Woodard‘s accelerationist exegesis on mutating gender.

Ariadne’s Garrote
by Benjamin Woodard
(Cinematography by Katelin Arizmendi)

The southwest has a pre-post-apocalyptic charm to it. Everything seems already bombed-out, rusted through, and sunned halfway to oblivion. Yet, at the same time, the landscape stubbornly maintains the colonial openness long ago inserted into it while openly baring the old forms it was working on before any pair of eyes happened upon it. The cluttered remnants of failed attempts sit alongside formations of sand and stone that wormed their way up millennial-slow from the broadest kind of flatness.

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The wanderer in the dessert can see herself as a folded up path that can branch and fork across the horizon. One of these paths have been taken or speculated about, the wanderer can pull back on one or more of them and bunch up what was once a too-broad horizon into a mobile site of knowledge. But these can only be carried so far, and only mean something if they are applied, carved out in the form of consequences. Any figure takes shape as it wanders and a romance of that wandering alone will not issue any instruction to know what it has become or where it is at any given moment.

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A body is a packet of nature that has folded itself up for better transport while a mind is an efficient origami blob of mental processing power that works as a navigator. When a wanderer or a navigator encounters another they can try and unfold one another in more or less asymmetric or violent ways. It is not particularly helpful to assign certain bodies or natures passivities or activities in their own right, but as landmarks informing different possible directions each with their own costs.


Trudging through the sand, sheltered by a glare, a fixed-eyed woman is suddenly in view. Even with a hand over the wander’s eyes she can hardly make out any details: a sun-burnt ribbon of hair waving behind a small ear, a dull arrowhead ring on her left hand, a fold of red cloth tucked just below her neck, and, more worrisome, the glint of a razor thin wire tangled from her wrist. The woman points to something behind the wanderer and there a familiar glint sprouts from the middle of her back.

She allows the wanderer these last few thoughts:

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The landscape and the landmarks (more or less alive) can seem frozen in their place and only ever waiting for an investigation. An investigation is either to be foiled by its initial fogginess, or completely claimed by its purported passivity. Again, these failures should not be equated with the formalization of a journey, with the making of a map. From Borges’ Murdock to Hammett’s Flitcraft, one may take up stakes and leave but you find yourself fixing some other location before long. The rub is that when the wanderer pulls on her length of Ariadne’s thread to depart, it may very well cut what it is wrapped around to pieces, as its yarn has tempered to steel in a progress one might have believed long since ceased.


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2 thoughts on “Mutating Gender in The Circular Ruins

  1. absolutely phenomenal! this film will surely inspire others to expand their artistic visions regardless of the medium they choose to express themselves in. i really look forward to seeing future work from these visionaries.

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