Blood Swamp

On Silent Hill 2’s Swamp Monument.

In the town there is a stone monument. When we first encounter it, in Silent Hill 2, only some of the words engraved on it are legible. From this jumbled, fragmentary narrative we can infer that there used to be a swamp here, that it was known as Blood Swamp, and that somebody – who? butchers? executioners? – used to pour water into it. The name tells us that it was not just water, but water mixed with blood. Was it water used to clean the tools of their trade?

While the full text on the monument can be easily Googled, I want to focus on the effect the lacunas had on me. First, I had a vague sense of history in its embryonic form, a bare structure of a narrative not yet embodied in any concrete events. There used to be something here, then something happened, and now there is something else. They used tools to kill; they didn’t do it industrially. But then, tools are used even now. Who, when, for what purpose? The questions of cause and effect, agency and passivity, the perpetrator and the victim – all were as blurry as the words on the stone.

Then I saw in my mind’s eye – or rather felt in the sensorium of my imagination – the motion of a hand pouring liquid into the swamp, like a libation to an unknown god. The image of diluted blood, mud, and stagnant water mixing hit me viscerally. It was the very opposite of storytelling and worldbuilding, based on the progressive accumulation of facts. It was the dissolution of narrativity in human terms, as history was engulfed by the realm lying at the origins of myth and poetry. The realm where movement strikes as uncrystallised energy, and matter undergoes constant metamorphosis.

By Bartłomiej Musajew

Bartłomiej Musajew lives in Poland. Sometimes, he writes about videogames. He has published at Kill Screen and Haywire Magazine. You can read his work here:

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