Hi, I'm Jane, regularly publishing on Tuesday mornings.  Expect to find commentary on Doctor Who, LOST, and a variety of other stuff.  My focus is primarily on esoterica in science-fiction, a strange blend given the competing value systems of those different aesthetics. Such is the nature of alchemy. :)

 

 

Of Spaghetti, Myths, and Donuts

No, I'm not going down the rabbit hole writing an essay on spaghetti, myths, and donuts.  It's just a clever title to cover up the fact that I haven't had time to write in a while as I've been whipping The Last War in Albion: Book One into shape, and it's finally given up and submitted to my ministrations.  It looks like it's clocking in at 237,000 words and 210 pretty pictures, covering 760+ pages.  Whew.  So that should be coming out pretty damn soon. 

In the meantime, though, I was able to squeeze in some rather lovely conversations with some rather lovely people.  A few weeks ago I sat down with James and Kevin of Pex Lives to discuss some Westerns and some Doctor Who.  We've got three Sergio Leone flicks on tap -- A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.  This "Man With No Name" trilogy (which, by the way, totally applies to LOST) is juxtaposed with the fan-favorite Tom Baker classic, Underworld, which I chose especial for this chat. "What on earth ...

The Circle in the Square (Doctor Who)

(Content note: This post references childhood sexual abuse, the objectifying male gaze, and the repression and processing of traumatic events in general.)

Given that, let’s start with something really abstract.  A symbol, and a pretty basic one as far as symbols go.  A circle, circumscribed by a square.  Simple geometry.  And the Circle in the Square is by no means a hugely important or influential symbol in Western esoterica – it’s minor enough to take some digging to uncover, and what’s uncovered isn’t exactly consistent.  Which, you know, is kind of part and parcel for abstract symbols. 

The first thing that might come to mind is a problem of geometry – “squaring the circle” refers to creating a square of the same area as a given circle, using a finite number of steps with only a compass and a straightedge.  It was eventually mathematically demonstrated to be an impossible problem, which is actually kind of delightful given the subsequent esoteric usages -- for if such fusion is technically impossible, its success is necessarily transcendent, pointing to Ascension. Anyways, in basic symbolism, the Circle represents the infinite, the cyclical, the eternal, totality and perfection.  ...

Resurrection (memoir)

Dawn creeps across the ragged field, quiet and diffuse.  I've been looking out the window, waiting for my long dark night to end.  Am I still dead?  No.  Flushed with relief, I cross over to the kitchen.  I make coffee, strong and dark. The bubbling echoes in our small loft, but still I have to rouse my carpenter, Harley.  Make breakfast.  Scrambled eggs, sausage patties, buttered toast.  Wake up!  Barely containing myself.  Everything changes.  In the flesh.  I made it. 

Some day, I will go back again, but not today.

We take the dogs for their morning walk.  Damp softness beneath my sandaled feet.  It rained last night.  Three hearty squalls, as promised. It’s warm for early December.  Unlike the carpenter, I don't wear a jacket, just a long shift.  

"You're not cold?" he wonders.

"Not at all," I say.  I'd just as soon wear nothing.

The dogs are all over me like cheese on pizza. The bulldog drools, his slobbering maw agape and panting.  The rat terrier runs around in circles, rubs against me as ...

Lost Exegesis (Solitary) -- Part 2

In the first part of our Exegesis of Solitary, we explored the mirror-twinning of Sayid and Danielle, the meaning of do-overs or “mulligans” in golf, and the principle that “names are important” when it comes to decoding LOST in our discussion of Nadia.  We now enter the second part of theses essays, an Intermission where we dive deep into the intertextuality of the show.

 

Intermission

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

With the introduction of Danielle Rousseau, we get our second invocation (after John Locke) to another Enlightenment-era philosopher.  Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778) was born in Geneva, Switzerland, and his mother died nine days later due to complications from the childbirth.  His personal life was, frankly, a mess.  With his semi-literate seamstress, Thérèse Levasseur, he sired five children, all of whom were deposited at a foundling hospital soon after birth, which Rousseau later regretted.  His early writings on music were published in an early Encyclopedia, and he even invented a new system of musical notation based on numbers, but those works were never considered very important.  He alienated every colleague he ever worked with, from Diderot to Hume, and his antagonistic writings against religion forced him ...

Lost Exegesis (Solitary) -- Part 1

We now begin what I consider to be the second act of LOST's first season.  The basic tenor of the show has now been laid out – our principal characters have been introduced in some detail, as has the mysteriousness of the Island, and the general tenor of the show’s approach to episodic serialization has been established.  Overall, it’s been a story of how these survivors of a plane crash have adapted to living on an island in the South Pacific, touching on issues of social organization through intense characterization.  Now the show begins to shift focus, adding new dimensions: not only will some of the mysteries introduced early on be revealed, but it starts exploring the implication of the fact that our survivors are not alone.

Which is ironic, given the title of the episode. And yet, in some ways the title of this episode is perfectly chosen, given the extent to which it explores the various connotations of the word and some of its metaphorical implications.  We have Sayid, of course, who has shunned his fellow survivors out of his own shame; we have Rousseau, who lives the life of a hermit; we ...

Extubated (Poem)

Hi all.  Busy working on edits for The Last War in Albion, Volume 1, which we're planning to get out in August.  Also, the next installment of Lost Exegesis (Solitary) is taking quite a bit of research, but this is par for the course, as we'll be venturing into the Quran, several philosophers, and a long-defunct TV show.  In the meantime, here's the poem I read last Christmas for the Eruditorum Christmas Spectacular Podcast, but never got posted.  So here it is.  It's about a man coming out of a ten-day medically induced coma after contracting spinal and cerebral meningitis, complicated by pneumonia, sepsis, and a mild heart attack.  It's a poem about my dad.

 

The cough is a gong, laden with wet
Uncanny strong for one so feeble
Rattles his chest like windswept shutters
on an ivy-choked wall, a decrepit
          cottage late in autumn
 
The hands askew in twisted palsy
Dervish fingers fly and shudder
His trembling arm rises high
Palm spread wide
          to catch the sun
 
The face a mask for Hallow’s Eve
Furrowed brow, sallow pallor
Wax paper skin loosely wrapped ...

Esoterica, Power, and Dick Jokes (The Time Monster)

No essay today -- instead we bring you a fabulous podcast!  Shana, Daniel, and I discuss the very weird Doctor Who story called The Time Monster, as a part of Shana and Daniel's ongoing Oi! Spaceman podcast series.  It's a hoot. 

Well, not like a hooting owl, which can screech terribly when flapping its wings in the glaring sunlight as it struggles to free itself from its crystalline prison. Hey, actually, now that I think about it, feathers aren't entirely dissimilar to flower petals.  Maybe I make this into some kind of a "jewel in the lotus" motif.  Nah, that would be ostentatious.  Certainly not appropriate for a gem like The Time Monster.

Anyways, you can get the podcast here. Enjoy.

Creature from the Black Lagoon

Last week we talked about the expression of the Beautiful throughout the history of Doctor Who, and gleaned different kinds of aesthetics employed by the show in the process – from awe at new, strange places… to the banal objectification of women… to an almost ritualized praise of monsters in the modern era.  And it’s this latter sense of beauty that I find most interesting, given how monsters are now used in Doctor Who, especially in the Moffat era.  Because monsters are no longer just villainous plot devices for generating scares.  Quite often they are secret protagonists, and weighted with symbolic value, especially when juxtaposed with our main characters such that they become telling metaphors.  This latter process I call the “monstering” of a character, and of particular interest to me is how Amy Pond becomes consistently monstered during her time on the show.

But what does it mean “to be monstered?”  What does that look like?  And how unique is it to the modern era?  To answer those questions, I’ll step briefly back into the past, to The Android Invasion, aa 4th Doctor story with Sarah Jane in Season 13.  ...

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