Voodoo Science Park
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Voodoo Science Park started life as a poetic film about the science of accident investigation practised by the Health and Safety Laboratory in the Peak District of England. In the book of the film, Victoria Halford and Steve Beard reveal the thinking that went into the preparation of the script. The Health and Safety Lab is the place where large-scale accidents such as tunnel collapses, fires and rail crashes are recreated to examine their destructive pathways. Halford and Beard explore the connections with imitative magic, drawing on the secret histories of dissident religious sects, miners and shamans as well as the prophecies of William Blake. They rethink the lab’s industrial safety rigs as monstrous emblems of the state, as theorised by Thomas Hobbes, and retrace the steps of a journey the political philosopher took through the hollow lands of the Peak in 1626. Testimony from highwaymen, ramblers and urban explorers is collected along the way. The book is composed in a fragmentary style, which weaves together philosophy, travelogue, history of science, sociology and religious study.
of travelling artisans. It was an annual gathering place for gypsies, where news was exchanged between continents and distant families reunited. It was also a holy place for the Church of Albion, back when it was called “the Devil's Arse”. Castleton used to be known as a mining district. Mineral-rich liquids had forced their way through cracks in the limestone of the Peak, millions of years ago, when the planet was settling itself. The lead ore, the copper ore and the fluorspar (known locally as
the science of mechanics at the molecular level. Instead of being concerned with the large-scale mechanical engineering of bridges and tunnels, they get to grips with the chemical engineering of nano-materials for things like cosmetics and tyres. The lab’s accident investigators take the whole domain of classical mechanics as their operational niche. They constantly return to its founding laws of motion and tentatively probe the limits of their jurisdiction. At the same time, they inhabit a
few thin saplings. This was Eldon Hole. Hobbes characterises Eldon Hole in his poem as a desolate place. This was seen by local settlers as the haunt of ghosts and demons, the beginning of a long, treacherous descent to the underworld, a zone capable of disturbing the minds of those who did not know it. 29 Hobbes describes a visit made to Eldon Hole some years earlier by an Elizabethan courtier. This lord wanted to know how deep the pit was and so paid a local man to be lowered down it in a
WHERE THORNS GROW” 56 Exile of Blake’s “just man” – Gogmagog as a version of Rintrah. HUNTING LODGE 57 HSL’s control buildings – armoured cottages. THIRD STOP 58 Mam Tor’s silhouette against the skyline – the gallows as public symbol of power – highwaymen and bandits – the tarred corpse. “GOGMAGOG ROARS AND SHAKES HIS FIRES” 61 The Druidic warding off of Rintrah – god of revolution. IMITATING THE EVENT HE FEARS 62 Coal mining accidents – miners’ unions – their appeasement
Book of Job– “There is no power on earth to be compared to him.” The dissident religious sects of the English Civil War also loved to quote from the Bible. It was how they preached the case for their own radical politics. It is as if Hobbes were here disputing with the anarchists on their own territory of prophecy and Hermetic magic, conjuring a demon from the pages of the Bible in order to terrorise them. It is perhaps one of the reasons why he gave this devil his own face. In the Book of Job,