The Nintendo Switch Presentation: The Beginning and the End

Here's the thing about cycles. The wheel turns, but that does not imply that history will repeat wholecloth. Time, of course, does not exist. History doubly so: History is a patriarchal fiction. There are endings and new beginnings as the seasons change. Recognisable archetypes reiterate and reincarnate, but each spin of the wheel is an event of its own. Impermanence is all part of the cycle.
We in video game journalism appropriate some of this truth when we use terms like “hardware cycles” to describe the passing of the console generational torch (“generation” and “torch”, of course, both being metaphors taken from patriarchal master narratives). Video game consoles do not so much go out of date as they get supplanted. A history of invasions and conquests, or a season for everything?
Were I to do this normally, I would go through my notes and recap the Nintendo Switch Reveal Event Presentation beat-for-beat. But on this occasion, normality doesn't seem appropriate. Nintendo did indeed flip a Switch with this event, but I doubt highly it's the Switch they wanted to flip. Over the course of about an hour, my entire world was turned on its head ...

Build High for Happiness 7: The Witch (2015)

wandering in subterranean catacombs forbidden to the public

Many roads lead here, but we are unmistakably off the map. Like High-Rise, Robert Eggers’s film is firmly rooted in both place and location: the edge of a New England forest during the Puritan era. This in turn situates it a mere step away from A Field in England. Other distant reflections will flicker through the trees as we progress. Make no mistake, however, Whatever this belongs to, it is not our comfortable hypercube, with its cool brutality. This is somewhere else. Somewhere the land is cursed. Where the crops wither, the hunts fail, and the beasts turn against their masters. Where the sky is as stark as the muddy, useless soil. And that’s outside of the forest. Within its canopies there are even more horrors to be had.

At the heart of this malaise is the eponymous witch, a fact that led to an easily dismissed but frustratingly widespread reading of the film as somehow concerned with validating Puritan anxieties. It is tempting to dismiss this by asking whether this logic applies to all horror movies, or to point out that for all the film commits completely to the presence of ...

The Final Problem Review

I know, I said this wouldn’t be up for Monday. But then my weekend plans got spoiled by a stomach bug and I ended up home and watching Sherlock anyway. So it’s entirely possible that I’ve got a sour mood to match my stomach. Nevertheless, what a complete and utter disappointment this season of Sherlock has been.

The crux of the problem is one that plenty of franchises have fallen afoul of, which is thinking that you can introduce a character like Eurus and have her matter to the audience purely on the mythic weight of who she is instead of having to develop her. But it doesn’t work. She’s a distressingly one-note character whose characterization consists entirely of Mycroft asserting things about her. More to the point, her supposed powers are all bizarrely undersold: we’re told that she can effectively enslave someone by talking to them, but nothing about her comes off as particularly persuasive or charismatic. Mostly she sits around talking like a Markov bot fed on mediocre nihilist philosophy. And this is a real problem - the episode depends on her being the unholy fusion of Sherlock and Hannibal, but instead she’s just a generic megalomaniac. Which makes ...

Pex Lives 38: Power of the Daleks

Very quick and somewhat late, as this has been up for a bit and I just forgot to post it cause I'm dumb, but there's a new episode of Pex Lives out in which Kevin and James talk about Power of the Daleks, celebrity deaths, and The Return of Doctor Mysterio.

Get that here.

Faeces on Trump 6

This is the final part of ‘Faeces on Trump’... which now seems a peculiarly poor title for this series… all the worse for being so nearly right.  Still, I daresay I shall have more to say about Trump and related issues in the years to come (if I’m spared).  But this first line of thought draws to a close.  This post is, as a result, a kind of ‘summing up’.  (God, I sound pompous, don’t I?)  Further thoughts, or lines of thought, will have to stand alone from now on - and so I’ll be able to retitle for more relevance when I arrogantly shit them all over the internet, as if my opinion matters.  But anyway, this is the last squirt of diarrhea from the bellyache that Trump’s victory gave me.  Further dyspepsia will doubtless cause more and different effluvia to rain down upon you, because clearly I can’t help myself.  (And you’re not even paying me!)  Watch this space, you poor doomed motherfuckers.


Fuck it, let’s not bother with any more piss jokes.  Let’s have some Lenin.  We might as well, in a world in which making a Ghostbusters film with a female main cast is ...

Hyrule Haeresis 5

Patriarchy is built on epic time. Learned male history requires exhaustive documentation of political kingdoms and dynastic successions. The Chosen Warrior-Hero God-King must come of age, become anointed, take a throne and lead his people to victory in battle before retiring and passing his crown on to the next generation. Rise, fall and rise. In our language, we call this canon, and the canon of the aristocratic literate patriarchy stands in stark contrast to the cyclical deep time of the feminine and feminine understanding. This is, in fact, the true first war in the world, and its battle scars have played out across the visage of our ideaspace since the start of all time.

And so, deeply fraught and conflicted is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Like the Celtic mythology from which it draws its inspiration, the tune this Ocarina plays is a melancholy one, a lament for a world that was lost before history began. Its story opens as if a folk tale (perhaps a fairy tale). The narrator speaks in the voice of a storyteller relating events to an enraptured audience, presumably comprised of children. Ironically, or maybe inevitably, this is a story about having childhood ...

Build High for Happiness 6: A Field in England (2013)

Wandering in open country is naturally depressing

A Field in England is a precise antipode to High-Rise, a fact acknowledged by Ben Wheatley, who has spoken about the way in which he is inclined to make one project a reaction against the previous one. But the thing about the alchemical union of opposites is that it works largely because of the similarities. Just as “up” and “down” presuppose movement in three-dimensional space and “left” and “right” presuppose neoliberal democracy, High-Rise and A Field in England presuppose a director doing sci-fi/fantasy inflected period pieces rooted in the psychogeographies of English spaces. In some understandings of conceptual space this is how the hypercubic prison works - through the systematic construction of axes bounded by opposites that, when multiplied sufficiently, create a territory that is at once infinite and contained.

This is in essence the problem that faces Whitehead, who winds his way through a recurrent series of at best gradual enlightenments in pursuit of no obvious goal or trajectory for escape. More to the point, his problem is heavily location-dependent, in both spatial and temporal senses. Spatially he is confined to the eponymous field, a setting we’ll unpick momentarily. Temporally, however, he ...

The Lying Detective Review

Well, this was certainly better than The Six Thatchers, though a season of Sherlock (or indeed anything) in which the Moffat episode is not better than the Gatiss episode is difficult to imagine. In comparison with the three other straight Moffat scripts for Sherlock, which is to say to the three best episodes of the series this is… possibly not actually in fourth place overall for the show. Nah, I’ll go with definitely not - I’m comfortable putting The Sign of Three ahead of it.

Let’s start with Mary, since she’s certainly the biggest issue inherited from last week. First the good: we’re not done with Amanda Abbington yet! In fact, she’s credibly the best thing going for much of the episode, with her snarky side-comments routinely being the best gags in it. On the other hand, the narrative reasons for her death are by and large still inscrutable. The most obvious choice - that Moffat wanted to tell a story about grief and fatherhood - is clearly not where things are going, what with Rosamund not actually appearing in this episode. Nor does anything particularly follow from Mary’s death, or at least, nothing that couldn’t have been done anyway. Sure, the specific ...

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