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:
Today's image is of Magneto killing some Nazis. Because I like that.
The exciting conclusion to Shabcast 19 is now available to listen or download here.
Here are some links to things referred to in both parts of the conversation:
And here's Susan of Texas on the awful Ross Douthat.
Also, here's a link to Kit Power's new piece about Hillsborough. It's excellent.
And here's Norman Finkelstein talking some much-needed sense about the so-called anti-Semitism crisis in Labour.
With Shabcast 18 vanished into the ether, this week we move straight on to Shabcast 19. My now-frequent-interlocutor Daniel Harper of Oi! Spaceman stepped into the fray and helped me bring something in.
We had a looooooooong chat about all kinds of shit, including (but not limited to) Prince, Chyna, sex and gender (of course), Marxism, neoliberalism, intersectionality, voting,Trump, lesser-evilism, Bush, the invasion of Iraq, strikes, the romance of revolution, TV you're scared to go back to, and the exciting future of Dan's own project - he and Shana are branching out to talk about other shows, such as Red Dwarf and Firefly.
The conversation was so long that I had to split it into two parts. (It ends on a cliffhanger.) Part Two next week. There is, perhaps, some hubris involved in chatting for three hours+, recording it all, and then releasing it for strangers to listen to, and being so enamoured of almost everything you said that you basically refuse to edit... but hey, if I let things like that bother me I wouldn't be here. And that'd be a shame, because I think we all agree that ...
…their sovereign’s dominant role is to inspect
Row after row of the state’s armed forces –
Broken down in training, reconfigured from scratch
And then programmed to kill on command.
The sovereign is crucial to the lubrication of Britain’s wars
By its gulling soldiers into dutifully dying;
Then, after paying homage to such victims of state carnage,
By its encouraging arms-trade profiteering.
Arms-makers and their customers are brought together
At Windsor Castle to be honored with fly-pasts –
Monarchy and military business being intimately connected:
The UK’s ‘Defense Industrial Base’ is a royal brand.
A landowning cabal with its heraldry denoting privilege
Still forms an elite network that stakes out the land,
And retains monarchy as its god to deceive those living here
Whose Common land they once stole and enclosed.
The monarchy’s militarism echoes a time when royalty wasn’t flouted –
When to criticize royalty was treason and when those threatening
The status quo could be seized, and their limbs tied to horses
Which took off in every direction as they were whipped.
On seeing royal victims torn to shreds while still alive,
Royal minions sliced their hearts into sections
Then dispatched them across the country for public display ...
You were supposed to be getting Shabcast 18 this week… but it vanished into the ether, owing to a malicious and inexplicable failure of my recording software. The Mailer Daemon collected it and conducted it to internet Hades. It was great too. I had Gene Mayes and (at last!) Jon Wolter in, and we chatted about Umberto Eco, Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, etc, in a podcast that was a lot sillier, funnier and more ribald than the subject matter really warranted. But, as I say, it is lost forever, doomed to live on only in the memories of the three men who experienced it… which, in a way, makes it all the more precious. One day, it will be the most sought of all lost Jack Graham-related media, and take on a near-mystical reputation, rather like London After Midnight, or Orson’s cut of Ambersons. I actually remember very little about it, as I was somewhat drunk and we were recording in the wee small hours here in Britain, and I spent most of the discussion in a haze of fatigue and mild inebriation. I seem to recall that we talked about the ...
We are now in an odd, reversed position when it comes to William Shakespeare and Richard III: all of a sudden, and for the first time, we seem to know where Richard III's head is, but not where to find Shakespeare's.
I’ve written in previous instalments of this series about the relationship between Richard III (the man), Richard III (the play), William Shakespeare, and history.
Essentially, my argument is that William Shakespeare was, for various reasons to do with his class position, his family, his career, and the historical moment and social milieu in which he found himself, peculiarly well placed to dramatise social energies, feelings, anxieties, and vertigos, which still speak to us today. He was writing at the dawn of modernity, during the years immediately following the end of the medieval, in the immediate aftermath of the English Reformation… all of which is related to the fundamental fact that he was writing during the transition from feudalism as the dominant economic form of English society to capitalism. We still live with the energies and dystrophies of modernity, since we still live in capitalist society. Indeed, Shakespeare has in some ways only become ...
Bit of a loose collection of bits and bobs this week. I've been both sick and very busy.
Firstly, I was recently a guest on the excellent They Must Be Destroyed On Sight! movie podcast, chatting with hosts Lee Russell and Daniel Harper (who is also, as you all must surely know by now, the co-host of the Oi! Spaceman Doctor Who podcast, and an online mate of mine). Check out my episode here (and check out TMBDOS’s other episodes because they’re worth it). In my ep, we chatted about the 1983 Coen Brothers debut Blood Simple (thus making the podcast kindasorta another bit of Eruditorum Press’s now recurring but irregular ‘Minnesota’ series... even though Blood Simple takes place in Texas) and the 1986 David Lynch masterpiece/freakshow Blue Velvet.
Blue Velvet is 30 years old this year, and a restored print is currently enjoying a limited theatrical re-release. It’s almost as worrying, baffling, and brain-frying as it ever was, though obviously it now exists in the context of three decades of subsequent American cinema at least partly shaped by its impact.
On that subject…
Blue Velvet (Just Some Stray Thoughts I Wish I’d Been Able to Develop ...
I am often asked about Shabogans. People want to know whether this or that person they’ve seen could be a Shabogan, or whether this or that group they’ve seen could be Shabogans. I generally reply that if you’ve seen them, they’re not Shabogans. As with elves (at least of the household chore performing variety) the quintessential trait of the Shabogan is that one does not see them. Castellans will sometimes speak of arresting, detaining, charging, and imprisoning Shabogans… but this is simply how Castellans talk. They certainly spend a great deal of their time doing all these things to other gradations of the plebeian masses on Gallifrey, but Shabogans are never caught. At least as far as we know.
There are, supposedly, Shabogan legends about one of their number being caught drawing a moustache on a portrait of Chancellor Tavia, and subsequently being exhibited in chains in the Panopticon for the Time Lords to gaze upon with excited curiosity and thrilled loathing… but as with all accounts of what Shabogans think or say, we must treat it with suspicion, as it comes to us via the Time Lords and their genteel curation of ...
This should be read as, in some ways, a continuation of the previous instalment.
I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deform’d, unfinish’d, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me, as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time.
Richard III, I, I
Used as the epigraph to Ben Aaronovitch's novelisation of 'Remembrance of the Daleks'
In Richard III, as I started to talk about last time (in Part 4), Richard draws upon his ‘deformity’ for an identity. As noted in a previous instalment, Richard is a narcissist (hardly an original observation) and a vital part of his narcissism is expressed in his concentration upon what he sees - or spins to us, the audience - as his own physical monstrosity. He concentrates on his physical ‘defects’, talking them up, poetically riffing on them and exaggerating them (if he were as monstrous as he says he is nobody would be able to look at him let alone accept him as colleague or husband) until ...