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:


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 ...

Regarding J.K. Rowling's Recent Ridiculous Comments on Twitter...

... it's old news.  I don't condone any abuse she recieved, but (and this isn't one of those 'buts' that really means 'ignore what I just said') her stated views are terrible... and, despite the apparent surprise of some, predictably terrible.

Rowling wrote a book about how dangerous it is for softy governments to ignore terrorism - in 2003!

Rowling put the following into her books:

  • Gold-obsessed Goblin bankers with big noses and a nigh-communistic inability to comprehend or respect 'human' notions of private property.
  • A race of willing slaves with brown skin, huge rolling eyes and 'pickaninny' speech patterns.
  • Giants who are born savage and thick, and who live in 'primitive' tribes.

In her Potter books, there’s only one political extreme and it contains both the Right and the Left, both representing an evil and illegitimate challenge to the mainstream and the established, which is legitimate whatever it does and however unaccountably it works.  So of course she thinks the ‘far Right’ and ‘far Left’ are essentially the same.  She’s already told us this.  As the above adumbrations illustrate, she’s horribly insulated from the implications of her own privileged position.  It shows in ...

Shabcast 24, Part 2 of the JFK / Nixon Conversation

And here it is at last, Part 2 of Shabcast 24. 

Rejoin the conversation between myself, Daniel, James, and Kit.  We talk more about Oliver Stone's grandly bad, silly, outrageous, audacious, irresponsible, febrile, fascinating epics of 90s political cinema, JFK and Nixon

(Part One here.)

This episode concentrates more on JFK (man, myth and movie), and moves to a wonderful final act in which the awesomely well-informed Daniel, under Kit's adroit questioning, dismantles some of the more pivotal parts of Stone's conspiracyballs.  (And it is balls, by the way, just in case any of you were in any doubt.  I speak as a one-time believer, as does Daniel.)


Here are some links for you:

Generously, Oliver Stone and the Mail Online (brothers under the skin) have been helping to promote this episode of the Shabcast, with a new 'news' story - here

Here are the two parts - Part One and Part Two - of an excellent TV documentary about Nixon, which picks at the scab and uncovers some of the pus Stone doesn't let you see, including the factual conspiracy on the part of Nixon and his people to commit treason and ...

Shabcast 24, Part 1 of the JFK / Nixon Conversation

It's Shabcast listenin' time again. 

This time I was joined by James and Daniel again, and - for the first time - by Kit Power.  We talked for as long as you'd expect about Oliver Stone's insane, brilliant '90s political movies JFK and Nixon, thus helping to remedy the desperate online shortage of white guys talking about movies about white guys made by white guys. 

This week you can listen to the first half of our conversation, here



Are You Sitting Comfortably? - First Movement

Stories belong to all of us.  Sounds like a trite, sentimental truism, doesn’t it?  So let’s add a vital corollary: Because we make them

Let’s put it another way: the wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails (and probably any form of class society, if you ask me), presents itself as an immense accumulation of stories.  Our investigation must therefore begin with the analysis of a story.

In the original lines that I’ve just travestied, Marx is actually talking about commodities, but he recognises stories as commodities, as – in other words – one of the things that are made for the market in capitalist societies.  He goes on to say that a “commodity is, in the first place, an object outside us, a thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort or another. The nature of such wants, whether, for instance, they spring from the stomach or from fancy, makes no difference”.  Here we shall concern ourselves with those that satisfy fancy.

Just as surely as the material products of human labour should be controlled by those who produce them, just as surely as the ...

Shabcast 23, Part 2 - New Atheism is the Opium of Misogynists, Islamophobes, and Imperialists

Yes, I use the Oxford comma.  I use it because it is sensible, stylish, and clarifying.

Oh, and this is Part 2 of Shabcast 23, featuring the continuation of my latest chat with Daniel Harper.  I think the title is pretty much self-explanatory. 

That's my thing now.  Self-explanatory titles.  And Oxford commas.  They're my thing too now.  And irrelevant commentary on my own style.

Self-explanatory titles, irrelevant commentary on my own style, and Oxford commas.

See, they're nice aren't they?  If that comma hadn't been there, before the 'and', it could've looked like I was saying I now make irrelevant comments about my own style and about Oxford commas. 

And clearly I would never make irrelevant comments about Oxford commas.


By the way, here's a link to Rebecca Watson's video (referred to in the Shabcast), in which she mentions (in passing) that a guy tried to chat her up in a hotel elevator in the wee small hours, and that, guys, it's probably not a good idea to do that.  That bit starts around 4:30.

Further to the discussions about ...

Shabcast 23, Part 1 - The Ruling Class Thinks Idiocracy and Democracy are Synonyms

Please find attached the latest Shabcast.  It's the first part of another long chat between myself and Daniel.  In this episode we talk about the 2006 Mike Judge movie Idiocracy, which is 'relevant' nowadays as loads of people have jumped to the wrong conclusions about the Trump phenomenon and clambered aboard the everyone's-an-idiot-nowadays-except-me bandwagon, using Idiocracy as a cultural touchstone.  (Seriously, google the phrase 'Trump Idiocracy' and behold the avalanche of sneering, purblind, elitest drivel.)  Daniel has little time for the film and isn't shy about saying why.  And nor am I. 

Download or listen here.

The rest of this Shabcast will be available on Thursday, and will feature Daniel and myself moving on to the broader (and connected) subject of the New Atheists, etc.  This little mini-arc of linked posts will then conclude on Friday with Daniel's new written piece about... well, wait and see.


Psychic Landscape 3: Properties of the System

This Post is Based on a True Story


Let's start on familiar but seemingly irrelevant territory.

In the Doctor Who story ‘The Satan Pit’ (and its interesting that this happens in the most openly Horror-inspired story of the new series to that point), the Doctor fights against the possession of the Ood by the Beast, but not against their possession by the humans.  He implicitly sees one form of possession – psychic possession by an alien force – as sinister and illegitimate, while seeing another – the reduction of an entire race to owned things, to property – as normal and acceptable, or at least a non-urgent issue.  (In a relatively rare example of the new series really doing what it claims to do all the time, this ‘mistake’ on the part of the Doctor does actually come back to bite him later, and he does actually seem to learn from it.)  This sort of thing is not unique to the new series, or even to that story within the new series.  But why is it that one form of possession is recognised as evil while the other is seen as legitimate, at least ...

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