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. :)

 

 

Lost Exegesis (House of the Rising Sun) -- Part 1

It’s been a while since we had one of these LOST Exegesis posts! So sorry for the delay. It couldn’t be helped. And not just the nearly two months since the last one of these -- I had trouble accessing Eruditorum Press last night.  Anwyays, enough excuses.  It's been a while.  As such, please remember that Part 1 of the essay is spoiler-free. For those who’ve seen the entire series, the second part of the essay, titled “Through the Looking Glass” (and appearing next week in the second part of this massive post), applies foreknowledge to the episode at hand.

So, on to the episode at hand. House of the Rising Sun is complex. Not to say that it’s difficult to understand; on the contrary, it’s rather straightforward, at first glance. It’s here we discover that whatever preconceptions we had about Sun and Jin, they were a bit wrong – these characters are not crass stereotypes – she’s the spoiled rich girl, he’s the poor nice boy corrupted by her father, who would have guessed that? It may have been Walkabout when I fell in love with the show, but it’s House of ...

Let's Kill Hitler Again

Hi all, sorry about the extended time away. Think of it as a winter hiatus, a polar opposite to, say, the summer hiatus preceding Let’s Kill Hitler. Anyways, I'm back!  And I've six thousand words to share.

I just happened to rewatch Series 6 recently with very good friends, so it’s on my mind, esepcially Let's Kill Hitler. It’s one of those episodes that, for me, gets better every time I watch it – it’s very amenable to esoteric exploration, and being so familiar with all its beats, I no longer notice the tonal whiplash and the jarring pace. “Plus, she’s a woman” still sticks out like a sore thumb, but still, that’s a relatively minor complaint compared to all the wonderful stuff going on in this story, and even more so in the context of its production.

For those unfamiliar with the production schedule for Series 6, many of the stories were shot or placed out of order. Black Spot, for example, was repositioned to the first half of the series, switching places with Night Terrors. Let’s Kill Hitler, on the other hand, started production after they’d already filmed ...

The Other Side of American Ritual

So, a short while back I discussed the mainstream American ritual cycle, and it was so much fun I thought I’d do it again, but from the other side of the looking glass. Because there are many other rituals available to us that are not a part of the mainstream, and which are frankly much more interesting than the ritual most people are talking about this year, namely New Year’s Resolutions.

But since we’re here, let’s use that as a template for unpacking some of the more interesting implications of “ritual” in of itself. In the last essay I quoted my favorite academic definition for ritual, “the more or less invariant sequences of formal acts and utterances mostly not encoded by the performers.” And I certainly think a New Year’s Resolution fits into that. The timing of the Resolution is pretty invariant, coming on the coattails of a the latest Gregorian calendar. The Resolution itself is a formal utterance, that of a pledge. The curious part is the “not encoded by the performers” bit, because at first glance it seems the Resolution is entirely encoded by one’s choice for what to put into that ...

The Feast of Steven

For you holiday pleasure, I gift to you this little lovely essay on The Feast of Steven. Which is neither a reference to the current showrunner, nor to the marvelous Steven Universe, despite their similarities. No, this is the seventh episode in the epic The Daleks’ Masterplan, and quite possibly one of the best therein. See, at this point in the show, as Phil so eloquently inscribed back in the early days of TARDIS Eruditorum, Doctor Who had swung away from its counterculture ethics and aesthetics, and Masterplan was certainly a part of that swerve, an insistent undermining of the Doctor’s efficacy and the show’s overall optimism. But for one shining moment on Christmas Day, 1965 (despite a singular dark splotch within that moment) this was most certainly not the case.

The Feast of Steven is perhaps most memorably known as the most blatant case of the show breaking the 4th Wall, when at the end the Doctor turns to the camera and wishes everyone in the audience a Merry Christmas. In some dreary netherparts of our fandom, this is considered a mistake. Apparently the showrunners at the time, producer John Wiles and script editor Donald Tosh ...

Clara Who: The Impossible Narrator

I was not as entranced with Series Nine as I’d hoped, but that may well be due to events in my own life and the kind of work that’s been on my plate this fall. I realize I haven’t written nearly as much about the show as I have in years past. So, this is to kind of rectify that, somewhat, and to encapsulate my thoughts on the series as a whole, and particularly in the context of Clara’s overall arc in the show.

This is in large part inspired by a conversation on Tumblr the last day or two, where Caitlin (abossycontrolfreak) properly tore apart the problematic Claudia Boleyn’s objections to Clara in Series 7. Mind you, there are other dynamics in this interchange involving Claudia’s style of critique, which erases or belittles countering views, and this is really the least of my concerns; both Caitlin and Julia (tillthenexttimedoctor) have effectively addressed this already, imho. At the heart of the mistake, though, was the belief that Clara wasn't properly characterized in Series 7.  But I've seen this a lot.  It has more to do with the storytelling than the stories ...

Lost Exegesis (White Rabbit) -- Part 2

Part 1 of the essay can be found here. Unlike that part, this one will have spoilers of future episodes.

Alice in Wonderland

Next up in the Intermission is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll, and directly referred to in the dialogue and as well as being referenced by the episode’s title. Before we examine the manner of the title’s use, let’s take a brief look at Alice. Her adventures cover two books (the other being Through the Looking Glass) and are often issued as a twinset. LOST will certainly play with the Alice story in future episodes – the Season Three finale is titled after the second book, and Jack will read from the “Pool of Tears” chapter in Season Four.

Alice is ostensibly a children’s fairy tale ruled primarily an aesthetic, one that’s largely surreal and operates according to dream logic, what with all the talking animals and such. But the aesthetic is not completely arbitrary – rather, it relies primarily on finding new and strange meaning within the familiar, and in teasing out and secondary meanings for words that it can muster. The famous Jabberwocky poem, for example, is loaded with ...

Lost Exegesis (White Rabbit) -- Part 1

White Rabbit really does represent a rabbit hole for the series. The Pilot was, well, the pilot, the story to get you hooked. Tabula Rasa was what an ordinary episode of Lost television might look like, and Walkabout showed off all kinds of technical and emotional chops. And all of them played with certain intriguing aesthetics. This episode plays off each of the previous ones, demonstrating a certain structural and thematic continuity, while continuing to broaden the chasm gaping open upon the show’s Mysteries.

We should start with the Flashbacks and the Mirrors. Two episodes in a row now, we’ve begun with an Opening Eye in the focal character’s Flashback. This is an example of continuity, a way of visually juxtaposing two characters, in this case Jack to Locke. It also makes three of five episodes opening with the same image – this is now a part of the show’s overall language, a language that is largely symbolic or at least unspoken (which we’ll get to, I promise).

We’ll get to the Locke/Jack stuff in a bit, but first let’s take a longer look at these Flashbacks. Jack’s first is when he ...

The Spectacle of the American Ritual Cycle

“…the existence of a conventional order is contingent upon its acceptance; in fact a rule or understanding cannot be said to be a convention unless it is accepted. In ritual, however, acceptance and existence entail each other, for a liturgical order is perforce accepted in its realization, in, that is to say, the performance which gives it substance. Since obligation is entailed by acceptance, and the breaking of obligation is per se immoral, the existence, acceptance and morality of conventions are joined together indissoluably in rituals; they are, in fact, virtually on and the same.” -- Roy Rappaport, Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity

“When a more complex society finally becomes conscious of time, it tries to negate it, for it views time not as something that passes, but as something that returns. This static type of society organizes time in a cyclical manner, in accordance with its own direct experience of nature.” -- Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

I was already thinking about an essay on the US ritual cycle, what with our recent Thanksgiving holiday and all. Then I got Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle for Black Friday (thanks, Phil!) and a mythological story ...

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