The Shabogans are the invisible underclass on Gallifrey. The plebs. The nobodies. The skivvies.  They're not the posh drop-outs.  They're not the soup-making rustics.  They're the unseen guttersnipes trapped inside the Capitol. They always leave the room just before you enter it.  They're the vandals who shoot stasers at the Seal of Rassilon. And maybe, sometimes, they do more than that. Maybe they riot. Maybe they erect barricades. Maybe they throw stones. Maybe they daub things like "GALLIFREY WILL NEVER BE HAPPY UNTIL THE LAST CASTELLAN HAS BEEN HANGED WITH THE GUTS OF THE LAST CARDINAL" on the walls of the Time Toilets. Because if there is hope, it lies in the Shabogans.

I'm Jack Graham.  Gothic Marxist.  Advocate of the struggle in terms of the strange.  Shakespearean villain.  Doctor Who fan.  Less an organic intellectual than a one-man morbid symptom. 

And I did this:

 

Meanings, Mirrors, and Modernism (a fragment)

Meaning, as distinct from information, is an entirely human creation. It does not exist ‘out there’. It is an emergent property of human existence, of animals which have consciousness, which is itself a system of reflections of reflections. The essence of conscious human awareness is the experience of looking at something or someone, and knowing that you are looking at them, and thus looking at your own looking. It is the awareness of a hall of mirrors inside your head. And then one becomes aware of the returned look of the other, and the implied hall of mirrors inside their heads. And then one imagines their mirrors mirroring your mirrors. Their infinite regression amplifies your own. And it is this multiplicity of reflections, and of reflections of reflections, that ignites the quest for meaning.

There is something in the very act of looking that entails or demands interpretation. The eye delegates a great deal of the task of looking and seeing to areas far further back inside the head. The interpretation of this inherently incomprehensible chaos of multiplying reflections is going to bring about an attempt at finding meaning, or at least a feeling that meaning must be possible, and ...

Shabcast 26 - Dark City

Shabcast time again.  Listen and/or download here.

This time I'm once again joined by Jane, Shana, and Daniel.  We talk about Dark City, the classic surreal-SF-noir from 1998... which you really should see, if you haven't already.  Trust me on this.

Also, my tetchy, strident, and highly-opinionated Bengal cat Quizzy joins in at several points.  Which kept us all on our toes.

If you're interested in Dark City, TMBDOS also did an episode about it, way back when.  Here.

Oh, and Jane recently did a stellar guest turn on Kit Power's Robocop podcast, here.

Thanks for listening, as ever.

 

Margaret on the Radio

This is post is kindasorta both a Tricky Dicky and a Psychic Landscape entry. It doesn't quite fit into either series, but should - hopefully - be read in the context of them.

 

When Margaret Thatcher died in 2013, so many people downloaded the song ‘Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead’ from iTunes that the BBC were seemingly forced into the position of having to play it on Radio 1, in line with their usual practice of giving airtime to songs that are currently in the charts.  (In the end they copped out and played a clip - of a song that’s under a minute long anyway - with an explanation.  I didn’t hear it but I’d stake internal organs on it involving use of the word ‘divisive’.)  This awkward situation for the BBC, very much not of their choosing, created what is called a ‘row’, or a ‘controversy’, or a ‘scandal’.  This is when the right-wing media, rather than report the facts with headlines like ‘Thousands Celebrate Baroness Thatcher’s Death by Downloading…’, instead publish stories with headlines like ‘Outrage as BBC plans to Celebrate Baroness Thatcher’s Death by Playing…’.  The ‘outrage’ the paper is supposedly reporting is always illustrated with ...

Tricky Dicky, Part 9: Margaret on the Bonfire

The only point having a character in a story make a prophecy is so that it can come true - unless the story is specifically about fake or failed prophecies. 

We talked (a lot) last time about Queen Margaret in the First Tetralogy.  Her main role in the last play of the cycle, Richard III, is to foretell the future.  She predicts, more or less accurately, the fates of all her tormentors.  When she tells Buckingham that he will one day rue his alliance with Richard, she tells him:

...remember this another day,

When he shall split thy very heart with sorrow,

And say poor Margaret was a prophetess!

...which is, of course, exactly what happens. 

In a recursive moment - which anticipates the way the witches in Macbeth turn cause-and-effect into a moebius strip - Buckingham fulfills Margaret’s prophecy by quoting it from his own memory, while waiting in one of Richard’s cells to be executed.  The comparison with Macbeth’s witches or weird sisters is apt as, in her role as a prophet of doom, Margaret takes on the role of a witch.  Richard calls her “foul wrinkled witch” in response to her accusations.  This is ironic, given Margaret’s ...

Tricky Dicky, Part 8: Margaret on the Escalator

In Richard III, the deposed former queen, Margaret, widow of Henry VI, though notionally banished, continues to haunt the new Yorkist regime of Edward IV.  She has no role anymore, no status.  (In most theatre productions she literally has no role - she is cut from the play for time reasons).  She is a defeated enemy.  An enemy, moreover, who is directly responsible for the death of the new Yorkist king’s father.  Even so, the Yorkists are content to let this relic of the defeated Lancastrians carry on perambulating around the court, snarling at them, cursing them, and wailing of her unjust plight at their hands.  They occasionally grumble that she should be gotten rid of, but nobody does anything about it.  Not even openly taunting and cursing the new queen, her replacement, can earn Margaret more than a verbal rebuke.  Margaret haunts the outskirts of the play like a bad conscience, the bad conscience of all the other characters.  That’s certainly how she thinks of herself: as a living rebuke to those whose triumph is also her desolation.  And it’s hard not to think that they see her that way too, despite the fact that she has plenty to ...

Stay Off My Side

So, this meme got itself onto Twitter, and has been retweeted by people who should know better:

Nick Robinson is no longer the BBC News political editor. It's now Laura Kuenssberg (who is an issue all to herself).

It's true that Robinson is palpably right-wing and has a long history of involvement with the Tories.  He rose through various senior positions in young Conservative organisations through his younger years.  I can't find out for sure (without doing more than the cursory google search I just did) if he's still an actual "paid up" member of the Conservative Party.  He may well be. The BBC allows its journalists to be non-active members of political parties. But if I can't find out from a cursory google search, I'm sure the person who created this meme didn't do any better.

He didn't go to Eton.  He went to Cheadle Hulme.

It's true that he and Cameron both went to Oxford but they were in different colleges, presumably in different years.  Robinson attended University College; Cameron was at Brasenose.  Robinson is three or four years older.

It is not ...

A Citizen Reviews a Misunderstood Classic

The following review is a guest post by Eye-Patch, a reviewer and columnist for one of the most respected arts and culture magazines in the Terran Federation.  In addition to his writing, Eye-Patch is a veteran, teacher and citizen.

 

It is now 19 years since the release of the motion picture Starship Troopers, directed by Mr Paul Verhoeven (non-citizen) and based on the book by Mr Robert A. Heinlein (citizen).  It is a film that was controversial upon its initial release and remains controversial to this day.  Upon its release, the film was accused of distorting the original intention of Mr Heinlein’s admirable original story, of representing an example of the film industry’s liberal and unpatriotic bias, of being insidious anti-government and anti-war propaganda, of being covertly pro-Bug, of being out of touch with the opinions of the vast majority of right-thinking people in the Federation.

In this appreciation, I want to argue that much of the controversy about the film stems from the fact that its message has been severely misunderstood, as has the nature of the media in the Federation.  Far from being dangerous and subversive, Starship Troopers is in fact a deeply patriotic film, dedicated to ...

Shabcast 25 - Phil and Jack talk about High-Rise

Hello again, my fellow muggles. 

First, apologies: I wanted to provide you with some written material this week, but I was unable to get the next bits of either Psychic Landscape or Are You Sitting Comfortably? ready in time, so you're getting yet another Shabcast instead.  It's a good one though.  I'm joined by Phil again, and we chat about High-Rise, both the Ballard novel and the Wheatley/Jump movie.  In the process we veer wildly off topic at times (I can hear your gasps of surprise), touching on subjects such as Phil's upcoming Build High For Happiness project, 'Paradise Towers' (of course), The VVitch, some other movies, Stranger Things, and whether or not Robert Holmes read J. G. Ballard.

Download or listen here.  (Beware Triggers and Spoilers.)

ADDITION: I forgot to link to a couple of relevant documentaries.  I posted this one - a dated but still-excellent account of some of the hidden history of Modernism - at my own YouTube channel recently.  (I'm slowly working my way through a huge stack of old home-recorded VHS tapes.  When I encounter a good documentary that I can't find ...

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