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. :)

 

 

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.  ...

You're a Beautiful Woman, Probably

I’ve been thinking about doing another essay on monstering in Doctor Who, especially with regards to Amy Pond, but it occurs to me that this would really benefit in hindsight of a full survey on the show’s conception of beauty.  Which is to say, I think the process of “monstering” is part and parcel of the modern show’s aesthetics, and what better way to explore those aesthetics than to come to some sort of understanding of the place where the Beautiful stands within it?  Well, there’s probably several other better ways, but when it comes to Amy Pond, I think “beauty” isn’t a bad place to start.  Not because Karen Gillan is classically beautiful, but because the character she plays actually articulates a philosophy of beauty that I find altogether more interesting:

WARRIOR AMY: All those boys chasing me, but it was only ever Rory. Why was that?
AMY: You know when sometimes you meet someone so beautiful, and then you actually talk to them, and five minutes later they're as dull as a brick? Then there's other people, and you meet them and think, “Not bad, they're okay.” And then you get to ...

Lost Exegesis (Confidence Man)

Sometimes everything you need to know about an episode of LOST comes from the title.  That’s surely the case here.  Confidence Man is an episode about the art of the con, and the different confidence men (and women) who practice it.  And it’s certainly the case that the episode title is a clue to character connections, or at the very least represents the prevailing sort of relationship at this juncture in the Losties’ adventure on the Island.  In fact, I think we can safely say at this point that everyone featured in this episode is either a con artist of one kind or another, and many of them are simultaneously marks as well.

Obviously, of course, we have Sawyer, both on the Island and in the Flashbacks.  We’ll get back to him in due course, for this is what we’d expect given the episode title.  Instead, let’s begin with some of the less obvious con artists running about.  Because, I mean, it’s not exactly apparent that everyone is a  con artist, or who their marks are.  Some, of course, are obvious simply from what we’ve seen prior to Confidence Man.  Kate ...

Sunday Eggs and Bangers

In a very special pocast (albeit one recorded a month ago) Jane and James discuss Steve Thompson's Doctor Who episodes. At length. Now, mind you, this was at midnight over here in the States, and I was well past my bedtime.  Whereas James was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 6am over in the UK.  So I would definitely go James's version of the event, because my memory is hazy on the point.  I think I kept talking about death.  Yeah.  That seems likely. 

Grab the episode here.

And feel free to mock us to the high heavens in the comments.  :)

The One Word Test

Not sure how we failed to post this yesterday morning. Sorry. -Phil

The following is an essay that will appear in 101 Claras to See, a charity anthology edited by Caitlin Smith.  The book will feature essays, art, and fic, all celebrating the character of Clara Oswald from Doctor Who and the fandom that's grown around her, including contributions from both Phil and Jill.  The proceeds will help the One to One Children's Fund. 

It is a game of wits, of intelligence, of one's ability to manipulate words. To play, to win, one must understand the nature not just of stories, but of conversation, of dialectic... of alchemy.  The One Word Test demonstrates just how much Clara understands the nature of storytelling, not to mention the nature of so many underlying principles.

The game is played in a greenhouse – a kind of Garden, complete with chirping birds (one of Clara’s symbols). This is an inversion – a warm place in the middle of winter, a place of life, while outside the world slumbers in its annual death. This is an important alchemical principal, the union of opposites, and the power of negative ...

Time and The Island

So I recently finished the last couple of Jonathan Blow video games, so curious was I about this developer's work given the interest in it by people I respect. As Phil predicted, The Witness was a bit more up my alley than it was his. Phil is often right.

Not that I didn't like Braid. Indeed, the basic mechanic itself in that game is both fascinating and relevant to the game's overall points about regret and nostalgia, which are entwined with the impetus to "save the princess." The actual puzzles I found very entertaining. Indeed, stripped down to just its mechanics, Braid has a wonderful, enchanting structure. Each section is basically an exploration of what happens when the mechanic of going back is contradicted or expanded in some novel way. Even more so, the way the various levels unfold remind me of certain musical compositions.

Take, for example, the rather well-known Canon in D Major, by Johann Pachelbel, or Ravel’s Bolero. Certain passages repeat, over and over, but with different tones and expressions as they are played by different instruments and with slight variations. This is the sense I get of Braid’s structure, from the ...

Lost Exegesis (The Moth) -- Part 2

You can find Part 1 of the essay here. Usually, the essay is spoiler-free until we get to the “Looking Glass” portion after an intertextual intermission. In this case our selected cultural artifacts are all much more interesting in how they function prophetically, so here’s your advance notice of spoilers from here on out.

Intermission

Saint Jack

SAWYER: Ah, damn. Didn't I tell you? Word from the valley is Saint Jack got himself buried in a cave-in.

Let’s start with Saint Jack, a movie directed by Peter Bogdanovich based on the novel by Paul Theroux. Now, Paul Theroux, we should point out, isn’t just a novelist, he’s also justly known as a great travel writer, thanks to his travels to Africa, Singapore, and Japan. He’s earned the enmity of several governments, largely for bringing to light certain aspects of their countries which they’d preferred to keep covered up.

That said, I think the movie is much more celebrated than the book, so that’s what we’ll be attending to. It was shot in several months entirely on location in Singapore, under the pretense of being a standard rom-com (“Jack of Hearts”) as ...

Lost Exegesis (The Moth) -- Part 1

The moth is the obvious symbol of this story, so let’s start there. Both moths and butterflies are of the same family, Lepidoptera. The species, like many insects, goes through several developmental stages, resulting in complete metamorphosis. After an egg is laid, a larva or caterpillar emerges, which will shed its skin several times as it grows. Eventually it enters a pupa or chrysalis stage, cocooned and stewing in its own juices, and dissolving almost utterly. The imago or adult creature emerges, with wings and antennae, ready to reproduce and begin the cycle anew.

Locke is right: butterflies, not moths, get all the attention. Mythologically, for example, the butterfly is symbolic of Psyche (“psyche” is also a word that means “breath” and “soul”), a beautiful mortal woman who becomes a goddess. In this myth, Psyche is taken by Eros into Paradise, with only one rule to abide: She dare not see his face. Unable to resist, she lights a flame at their bedside one night, and is so taken by the beauty of her lover that she spills a drop of hot oil on him. He wakens, sadly, and asks why? She answers, “I had to know.” Psyche awakens ...

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