The Proverbs of Hell 34/39: The Great Red Dragon

THE GREAT RED DRAGON: After thirty-three episodes named after food, we change gears abruptly to episodes named after works of art by William Blake. This episode does not designate a specific work but rather a series of four paintings in a larger series of water colors illustrating the Bible completed between 1800 and 1806 four of which have titles beginning “The Great Red Dragon.” Thankfully we still have food to illustrate this episode as part of the delightfully barmy decision to let Hannibal still cook in prison, and we can get on to the Blake works starting next episode. 

Although Time has on a few occasions in its history had articles on Blake exhibitions, he is not generally considered cover material, and if he were it seems unlikely The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun would be the image gone for. But for all its mild silliness, there’s a certain logic to having Dolarhyde encounter the Great Red Dragon in a print magazine, given that Dolarhyde exists in a constant tension with modernity, as we’ll get to.

The first thing to be emphasized about Dolarhyde is his intense physicality—he is, as they say, a ...

Saturday Waffling (January 27th, 2018)

Morning all. The Kickstarter for TARDIS Eruditorum Volume 7: Sylvester McCoy will, unless something goes weirdly wrong, start on Thursday. I'm finalizing the list of stretch goals, which will be the added essays for the bolume, and I wanted to solicit input on McCoy-era stuff I've not covered that you're hoping for in the book version. It can be Virgin or BBC Books novels, Big Finish stories, other media, Pop Between Realities stuff, or larger questions you'd like me to wrestle with. 

Nightshade is already on the list, and will be the lowest stretch goal, so you're almost certain to get that. The final stretch goal will be "force Phil to read The Pit." There are others I'm pretty sure to have on there, but I'll leave it vague for now and let you suggest what you will.

Also, due to the existing number of McCoy entries and the fact that there's some definite chaff in there (both Pop Between Realities stuff that only exists because I couldn't keep a pace of three novels a week and novels that just didn't work out as essays), there's a very high ...

Trot On, Hayek!

Another little detour, away from both the recent starwarsing (which will be continued) and from the main line of all this Austriana.  Once again, this is a long version of a section of the essay 'No Law for the Lions and Many Laws for the Oxen is Liberty', co-written by myself and Phil for his new book Neoreaction a Basilisk, which you - yes you! - can purchase for non-gold backed fiat currency.  Buy a copy today - it's the only rational calculation!

 

Ludwig von Mises - founder of the shittest cult of personality since selfhood itself was invented - famously declared, in an article published in 1920 which was subsequently developed into a book-style object, that socialism - by which he meant any society in which the means of production were commonly owned - was impossible, unworkable. The timing of publication was undoubtedly tied to the fact that, in 1920, it looked to most observers as if the infant Soviet Union was about to expire a mere three years or so after its birth. Mises was positioning himself, with gleeful anticipation, to be able to dance on the grave of the world’s first workers’ state, shouting “told you so!”  Unfortunately for ...

An Increasingly Inaccurately Named Trilogy: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi

The obvious starting point is the dualism that creatively defines the sequel trilogy, with J.J. Abrams’s faithful recitations of iconography on either end of Johnson’s far weirder and more difficult approach to doing a Star Wars. Neither director needed to do Star Wars, but for very different reasons. Abrams had already defined himself as a classically minded reinventer of classic genre tropes, and the franchise was merely a bigger version of what he’d already done with Star Trek. Johnson, meanwhile, was a rising indie visionary with ideas of his own and while jumping over and doing a big genre film would no doubt open new options for his own work, he was doing perfectly fine.

There is virtually no way of describing the two where Johnson does not come across as the more interesting filmmaker. He is, frankly, a bizarre and unprecedentedly brave choice for the franchise—to put it with maximal uncharitableness, the first time a Star Wars film has ever been helmed by a real director. And it’s no surprise that the result is fundamentally unlike other Star Wars movies. We might start with the end, noting that the final shot, in which Star Wars merchandise becomes the ...

Forward, to the Past! 2 - Episode 2: First Order of Business

Spoilers

 

Even as it complicates the Star Wars universe in some ways, the sequel trilogy clings close to the old liberalism vs. fascism dichotomy that dominated the politics of the original trilogy and prequel trilogy, and which dominates fantasy narratives generally. (See this by Phil, for instance.) The First Order’s politics is essentially contentless. They hate the Republic because reasons. They wear black and grey uniforms, and have red and black banners, and rallies, and they’re therefore fascists, and the fascists hate liberal democracy because they just do. This dichotomy, which is pervasive throughout stories of this kind (look at Harry Potter for instance) tells us something about the permissible horizons of ideology in the capitalist mass culture industries. It is this which gives rise to the syndrome I talked about in my villains essay, in which I point out (amongst other things) that villains are usually the only people in stories like this who are trying to fundamentally change the world. 

Actually, the original trilogy scores slightly better on this than many other such narratives. It is set in a period when the fascists have already won, and the people trying to change the world are the ...

The Proverbs of Hell 33/39: Digestivo

DIGESTIVO: An after-dinner (and after-coffee) drink such as grappa or limoncello. As we’ve completed the actual Italian portion of our adaptation of Hannibal in order to return to the US, this is on the whole sensible.

JACK CRAWFORD: Hannibal Lecter, il Mostro di Firenze, narrowly escapes the Questura. That how the story goes?

INSPECTOR BENETTI: Missed him by that much. The good Dottor Lecter is once more in the wind. But he left one last victim. Open him the way Lecter opened the other one. Open him all the way.

Something of a rarity in Hannibal, Benetti is an utter shithead who gets to display this act of staggering and monstrous corruption without any consequences. He disappears from the narrative entirely, having nothing to contribute past this point. Indeed, this is the last scene to be set in Italy, and there is essentially no unfinished business there, this dickbag excepted. 

CHIYOH: You're sitting at Hannibal's table. You know him. You know Will.

JACK CRAWFORD: I know them. They are identically different, Hannibal and Will.

This is a deeply odd time for Jack to lapse into gnomic hedging, even if it is generally his default state. “Identically different” ...

Forward, to the Past! 2 - Episode 1: Mind Tricks

Spoilers

A note on formatting: I refuse to call the movie Star Wars "A New Hope" or "Episode IV", so when I put Star Wars in italics (like just then) I mean the first movie they made, the one with Jawas and Greedo and Mos Eisley, etc.  When I put Star Wars without italics (like just then) I'm referring to the series or franchise or meta-text as a whole.

 

*

Having finally seen The Last Jedi, I was free to take a look at what others were saying about it. I’d been aware that the film was proving controversial... by which people seemed to mean that almost everyone liked it apart from a tiny sliver of white men whose disapproval was creating the artificial impression of controversy, and who – paradoxically enough – probably also deny the existence of privilege.

I won’t go into the objections of the tiny layer of voluble fanboys who decided to hate (or rather angst over) Last Jedi. I’m sure all that has been well covered elsewhere. But I will just point out one thing: the tendency to point to moments when the film took a stance or expressed a viewpoint and to ...

The Proverbs of Hell 32/39: Dolce

DOLCE: Dessert. Nobody particularly gets their just ones here, so let’s call this a case of running out of both course names and titles in this phase of the series. 

The bath has been a fragile refuge for Bedelia over the first half of this season. Here she sacrifices this safe position, turning it over to Hannibal as she cleans his wounds after his fight with Jack. This, however, contains its own form of power, as we will shortly see.

WILL GRAHAM: Jack  .

There is an odd understatement and contrivance to this reunion - Will pops up in Florence with improbable speed and simply arrives by Jack’s side, with their reunion almost entirely underplayed. But for all that this violates scads of normative rules about how narrative functions, it’s tremendously effective. The reunion between them that mattered was in “Apertivo." The significance of this is simply that it allows the plot to move forward, and so it does.

JACK CRAWFORD: And Hannibal would slip away. Would you slip away with him?

WILL GRAHAM: Part of me will always want to.

JACK CRAWFORD: You have to cut that part out.

A simple and moving confession on Will’s part. Jack’s response ...

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