A Pure and Awful Poetry of Fire (Kirby's Dream Land 3)

Moore, drawing from Bunyan, calls it Mansoul. Blake goes with Eternity, while the Aboriginal Australians call it the Dreamtime. Kabbalistically it’s Yesod. It is the world in which the implications of things are made real, their secret histories and imagined futures stretching into the horizon, ghosts and possibilities not haunting them so much as simply inhabiting them, the ordinary and everyday population of the vast and surreal psychic metropolis. When your children asked you where Mario goes when he’s out of lives, this is what you were afraid to tell them.

The peripatetic pink puffball before us may seem a strange psychopomp, but he’s got prior form, with his sole NES game also post-dating that console’s obsolescence. At least in his early days, this was simply what he did, the Nintendo character who appeared at the end of a console’s life to usher it into this glittering and sunken realm of lost nostalgia. And in a sense he’s the perfect guide to this shimmering realm; he is literally a consumer, eating the dream-creatures around him and taking on their essence and nature. This is, after all, how the mass culture of video games works. For years, it’s what we did ...

Permanent Saturday: Something about the presence of a cat

With deepest apologies to Chris Stangl, Permanent Saturday is a semiregular critical exploration of Jim Davis' comic strips Garfield and U.S. Acres/Orson's Farm.

The first level this strip works on is a standard joke about Garfield's ego. We see variations on this joke, just as we see variations on all Garfield's jokes, show up infrequently every so often: Jon will make a quip about how the world does not revolve around Garfield (though he is big enough for it to), or that Garfield is not the centre of the universe, which Garfield will either deny or quip back that if he isn't he should be. Sometimes the roles are reversed, with Garfield opening the strip declaring he's the centre of the universe, which Jon will then proceed to reject.

The impetus for the joke's setup comes from actual cat behaviour: Much of Garfield's personality is derived from taking humans' observations and interpretations of the things their housecats did and anthropomorphizing them: Cats are vain, cats are aloof, cats only care about me for what they can get from me, they claw things I don't want them to claw, don't ...

Pex Lives 2016 Election Special

We are pleased to announce a new episode of Pex Lives, in which Kevin and James forget to watch The Mind Robber and talk about the smoldering wreck that is the 2016 election instead. That's available here for your listening pleasure, or through most standard podcast apps. 

Faeces on Trump 2

The Democrats’ vote collapsed.  Many people who had previously voted Democrat, and many people who might’ve been expected to, didn’t go to the polls for Hillary Clinton.  There is, undoubtedly, a degree to which sexism is involved here. I don’t want to minimise that.  Hillary is the subject of a great deal of venomous misogynistic hatred.  She comes in for loathing more than male politicians with equally grubby histories.  She is often the redirected hate-object for people who have come to hate her husband and his legacy.  The Clintons generally have become obsessive hate-objects for many Americans - particularly but by no means exclusively conservative Americans, despite being both extremely right-wing in real terms.  The reasons are interesting but somewhat outside our scope here.

There is much to dislike about Hillary Clinton her purely on her own account.  Some people might not like my taking the time to go into this at the moment, but I think it’s very important we don’t allow (entirely rational and reasonable) horror at Trump to make us forget the very real horror of the system and its apparatchiks under ‘normal’ conditions.

Clinton has - as those tapes made all too clear, as if it weren’t clear ...

Brave-Ish Heart

Still not a spectacular insta-classic, but at least it’s an episode that stays away from most of the obvious things it could be as well. The double-threat structure means that there’s building momentum at all moments of the plot, which is good. Less good is the no-doubt budget-required decision to have two of the three plot strands consist of people standing in a room urgently discussing the plot. The biggest problem here is probably the strand consisting of Tanya and her parents, which ends up being in the kind of awkwardly stupid position of ineffectually relaying information between the two actual plots. But none of the plots are particularly high on urgency - it’s a significant problem that the flowers plot requires Dorothea to simply declare that they’re running out of time in order to garner momentum, and a pretty big one that Ram and April are essentially left with nothing to do but walk around for most of the episode.

So that’s what keeps it just shy of genius. On the other hand, however, there’s what the show always has, which is a dogged determination to be interesting. For instance, Ram and April’s relationship continues to be pitched well. It’s ...

Discussing Trumpism

I'm sorry I haven't been producing more content lately, either in written or podcast form. I've got a new Consider the Ray Gun about 95% done, discussing Dune with James Murphy, and the next Searching For Fuchal has been recorded, although I haven't even begun to edit yet. I've also got an upcoming Oi! Spaceman on The Space Museum, and it looks like 2017 is going to be the year I take a systematic look at Quentin Tarantino and other 90s-vintage indie filmmakers. 

Jack, Kit, and I had been planning to do a US election podcast for the last couple of weeks, and suffice it to say this is not the episode I was hoping to produce. This was recorded late Friday night, and I think all three of us consider this to be a bit of a rough conversation about the issues discussed here, rather than a nuanced and final opinion on them. We chat about whether Trump's presidency will be truly fascist (probably not), how opinion polling failed, the meaning of the safety pin, systemic issues with late-stage capitalism, and my experiences in dipping into the Fash the Nation podcast. It ...

Faeces on Trump 1

My response to the victory of blithering pea-brained plutocrat Donald J. Trump in the recent US Presidential election just kept getting longer and longer.  So I’ll have to split it up into sections and post them separately.  Here’s the first bit:


There was, of course, the initial opening flurry of Oh Shits and What the Fucks and You’ve Got To Be Fucking Kiddings.  And quite right too.  (Though Michael Moore predicted Trump’s victory, even if his analysis is deeply flawed.) 

Then there were other equally predictable things.  The orgy of masochistic doom-and-gloomery, for instance.  (Again, not unjustified.  It’s gonna be an awful 8 years, amongst other things.)  We can forgive most of the hyperbolic and rhetorical That’s It, I’m Moving To Canadas, precisely because they were hyperbolic and rhetorical.  The sentiment may, at bottom, be selfish and short-sighted, but it’s no more so than a cry of “If my parents find out about this I’m dead!” from a kid who’s been caught smoking weed by a teacher.  (Conversely, the odious Katie Hopkins says she’ll now move to America… which puts me in a horrible dilemma.) 

We also had the spectacle of some people ...

Site Editorial 11/10/16

The Tower, at its most optimistic (which is not very) offers the destruction of illusions. I don’t know about you, but I feel like burning some shit down.

First, then: nobody is to blame for Trump’s election save for the people who voted for him. A failed resistance is not at fault for the actions it tried to prevent. Everyone in the circular firing squad is in the end wrong. The awful truth is that there is nothing you could have done to stop him. Let’s start, then, by jettisoning the illusion that said otherwise. The arc of the moral universe does not bend towards justice. The moral universe has no arc. The moral universe does not even exist. History is a butcher without face or agency - a thing that simply happens to people. There is no individual level response to it. Your relationship to history is not one of subject to narrative, but of meat to predator.

Accordingly, there is no refuge to be found in any of the liberal platitudes offered as possible modes of resistance. There is no benefit to be found in giving him an open mind. There is no point in appealing to the checks ...

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