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:

 

Season Finale

So, the Chilcot Report, end result of ‘The Iraq Inquiry’, is finally out.  I understand frantic, cosplaying fans were queuing up outside bookstores at midnight, desperate to get their hands on a copy.  People were getting seriously worried that Chilcot (or TRHSJCGCB, as fans call him, for ‘the Right Honourable Sir John Chilcot G.C.B.’) was getting too old, and would die before finishing it. 

Personally, I won’t bother.  The TV series overtook it years ago.  The most recent seasons have been especially good, what with all the stuff about the rise of ISIS.  The finale to the series just gone, with the bombing in Baghdad, was very shocking, if not entirely unpredictable.  I was less impressed with the comedy storyline about the attempted Blairite coup within the Labour Party, happening right the away across the other side of the map you see in the opening titles.  It was disappointing that the TV series gave so much space to the keystone palace revolutionaries within Labour, and so much less airtime to the storyline about ISIS terrorism against Muslims, but I guess they know their audience.

I don’t need to actually ...

Psychic Landscape 2: Ladies' Night

This post is based on a true story.

 

(SPOILERS for various films)

The Conjuring movies are about good and bad women.  In the first movie the central antagonist is the spirit of a dead witch who killed her own baby and then herself, and whose spirit subsequently possesses every women who movies into her house, or onto her former grounds, and makes them kill their own children.  The ultimate evil then, for a woman, is to pervert the virtue of motherhood.  In the story, a mother of five daughters finds herself in the home of this dead witch, gradually possessed by her.  Her ultimate salvation, the thing that enables her to defeat the witch who is possessing her and trying to make her kill her daughters, is a memory of a perfect family day at the beach.  Yes, that’s right - in the end, all it takes is for Elaine Warren (psychic investigator) to touch the woman’s head and enjoin her to remember family values.  Ed Warren’s attempt at an exorcism fails, but Elaine is able to connect with the possessed woman directly, via their mutual motherhood.  This connection allows the possessed woman ...

Psychic Landscape 1: Conjuring the '70s

This post is based on a true story.

 

The Conjuring movies are interesting for various reasons.  There is, for instance, the way they use the 1970s themselves as a source of horror.

Actually, this sort of thing has been happening for a while now.  As far back as The Sixth Sense, 70s clothing has been pulled into the mix.  Moreover, Sixth Sense borrows heavily on the detached, clinical style of certain 70s and early-80s horror movies, such as The Exorcist and The Shining.   You know the kind of shot I’m talking about.  Steady or static shots of carefully framed tableaux, often in deep focus, usually with something irrational or horrific intruding matter-of-factly into an otherwise domestic, mundane, or banal – perhaps even aggressively banal – setting.  The resurrection of this stylistic tick is in marked - probably conscious - contrast to other styles of horror filmmaking which were on the rise at the time, most particularly the ‘found footage’ style, the early phase of which was exemplified by The Blair Witch Project.  Both styles were probably, in their different ways, reactions against the styles predominant in the late 80s, which tended to be very ...

Shabcast 21, Part 2 - The Stern Section

Join me and Josh once again for the back half of our huge natterfest

Find out why the Titanic sank! 

Find out what Josh and I think of The Dark Knight movies, and Jared Diamond, and narratives of the end of the world, and the sociology of disaster, and the relationship between the rise of agriculture and the rise of hierarchy/patriarchy!  (Form an orderly queue, kids!)

Hear Josh's thoughts on the fall of the sacred feminine, and the Aesir/Vanir war, and dazzle ship-camouflage, and Mad Max Fury Road (here's my stuff about it... and more here) and loads of other nice things!

Here's a link to the article Josh mentions about resilience vs. collapse and paleolithic mysticism.

*

And once again, some pertinent links about the Olympic liners:

Here's the website for the Titanic - Honor & Glory game project, complete with a chilling computer animated video of the ship sinking in real time.  And here's their Facebook page.  And here's their Tumblr.  And here's some info about the Olympic, Titanic's sister ship, as a war ship.  And here are some more photos of Olympic ...

Shabcast 21, Part 1 - The Bow Section

I'm delighted to be able to mark Josh Marsfelder's addition to Eruditorum Press with a mega-Shabcast in which Josh and I chat about some of our mutual obsessions. 

Listen and/or download here.

Josh is awesomely informed and passionate.  We talk about Star Trek and Josh's blogging project about it, Vaka Rangi, which is now archived and ongoing here at EP.  We talk about Aliens and Avatar and James Cameron generally, and especially about the Titanic - film and reality, and the differences between the two.  Josh is really into the Olympic liners generally, and knows a ton about them.  Suffice to say, the real story of these ships is more complex and resonant, more utterly imbued with the tang of history, than the myths.  I had a great time listening to Josh talk about this stuff and I'm confident you will too.

I should probably warn you there are spoilers for 90s Star Trek.  And also for Titanic.  (Psst - the ship sinks, ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaa!)

Our loooooong chat will continue next Thursday in Shabcast 21b - The Stern Section, in which we ...

White Screen

First - welcome Josh!

Second - I was recently a guest on the Oi! Spaceman team's new(ish) Red Dwarf podcast 'Searching for Fuchal', chatting about the Series 1 episode 'Balance of Power', here.

 

It's the 22nd of May 2016.  Jack has no idea what's in the charts.

Jack’s at the movies… because, for all the snark, Jack loves big SF movies, even when they’re also superhero movies starring good-but-ridiculously-overrated British actors who unfairly monopolise jobs in the industry.  Jack has also always had a soft spot for the X-Men movies.  For all their flaws, Jack likes the way they try to engage with material politics and history.  They do so far more successfully than the Watchmen movie did, though Jack wouldn’t want to comment on the source material as he’s never read it.  (Jack plans to.  Jack read From Hell at Phil’s insistence, and loved it.) 

Jack’s waiting for the movie to start.  Jack is only mildly irritated by the routine discomfort of the seating, and the less-routine smell of someone’s dirty feet from somewhere else in the theatre.  (Jack’s irritation at the latter will grow throughout the ...

Tricky Dicky, Part 7: Vanilla History

NOTE: This article has been amended to remove factual errors (please see the comments).

 

It used to be said that Englishmen got their understanding of history from Shakespeare and their understanding of theology from Milton.  These days, they get their understanding of history from Simon Schama and their understanding of theology from Richard Dawkins.  God help us.  In practice, this means middlebrow television and middlebrow publishing.  Which could, at the moment, with a little stretching, be boiled down satisfactorily to one quasi-word: BBC. 

Shakespeare, meanwhile, has gone largely from being a purveyor of an idea of history to being a bit of history that is itself purveyed.  It’s no secret that he’s an industry all to himself.  Of course, what that actually means is that he's become an idea people sell - and part and parcel of this idea is a whole complex of other ideas, some of which are still about the history he supposedly tells or implies.  Like any industry, the packaging is as much ideological as it is plastic and cardboard.  And when it comes to the ideological packaging of isolated, decontextualised, atomised, rendered, pulped and puréed ...

Shabcast 20

As part of the promised avalanche of Shabcasts, here's another.  This time I'm joined by the dulcet tones and clever thoughts of James Murphy of Pex Lives, City of the Dead and (formerly) The Last Exit Show, for a mammoth chat about the Bible, anti-Semitism, Labour, Brexit, the Tories, the May elections and Sadiq Khan... taking in Lee & Herring, Terry Pratchett (I get told off), Stephen King, fame, podcasting, American history, the psychology of Presidents, and Hillsborough along the way.  Trust me, your ears will thank you for subjecting them to this pleasant ordeal.

I didn't clock the fact that this episode would be going out on the 100th anniversary of the murder of James Connolly - Irish Republican hero and one of the greatest socialists, internationalists and revolutionaries of the 20th century - by the British imperial state, so I failed to raise the topic with James (which would've made for interesting listening, and a two-part podcast... because we pushed the envelope as it is). 

So here are some quotes instead:

State ownership and control is not necessarily Socialism - if it were, then the Army, the Navy, the Police, the Judges, the Gaolers ...

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