Category Archives: Inanimate objects


If you type “uncanny” into Google, the top results will be several references to the “Uncanny Valley”.  This is an idea put forward in 1970 by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori concerning the appearance of robots, and how the more human they look, the more we accept them, but only up to a certain point.  When the robot looks too much like a personal, and yet seems different on a fundamental level, our reaction becomes negative.  It suggests that the distortion of the familiar can be more disturbing than the unknown.Uncanny Valley Continue reading


Do you remember The Judderman?  It was an ad for Metz schnapps drink, aired in 2000 in cinema and on tv.  What a glorious collection of uncanny tropes it is!judderman[1]

The style of the commercial is reminiscent of early European cinema.  It’s shot in flickering black and white, the camerawork is shaky, and it looks as if it’s an old print that needs to be restored.  The background music is discordant, with the flavour of a creepy fairground calliope.  The voice-over is supplied by a lady called Alicia Suszka Fielder, who is half-Polish and half-Czech, and who brings an exotic account to her recitation of the warning

Beware the Judderman, my dear, when the moon is fat.

Sharp of tongue and spindle-limbed he is, and cunning,

With sweetened talk of schnapps and Metz, and the deliciousness of judders.

But schnapps, though sweet, has teeth, my love, and sharpened ones at that.

Beware the Judderman, my dear, when the moon is fat.

Continue reading


Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways, Penguin, 2012

The Old Ways is a fascinating account of some of the paths that Robert Macfarlane has taken during his exploration of ancient byways and strange landscapes, and some of the people he has encountered on his travels.

One such is the artist Steve Dilworth.  He lives with his wife in the challenging environment of the Outer Hebrides – on Harris, where, Macfarlane tells us, they can “live cheaply in a landscape of animal rituals, megaliths, weather dramas and excellent malt whiskies”.  Macfarlane refers to the artist’s studio as the “lair of a demented magus”, containing as it does the materials he finds around the island – skeletons of birds, their feathers, bones of whales, porpoises, and sheep, minerals and rocks, fossilised wood, water, eggs, air and sand.  Out of these diverse elements, Dilworth fashions what he describes as “ritual objects for a tribe that doesn’t exist”. Continue reading


by Michelle de Kretser

Tom Loxley, an Anglo-Indian academic living in Melbourne, loses his dog in the bush, and then, eight days later, finds his dog, but not before de Kretser has taken us into Tom’s inter-continental history, and his mothers’ current failing health and difficult relationship with her sister; his growing obsession with Nelly Zhang, an artist with a secret past; and his developing relationships with Nelly’s circle of bohemian friends. Continue reading