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. :)



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 ...

Jessica Jones

* trigger warnings: rape, child abuse, post-traumatic stress, suicide, controlling asshole fuckheads, and, you know, if you have triggers, they’re probably here, sorry *

I could probably add more to the list. A spoiler alert is warranted, but painfully banal. No, this isn’t an easy essay to write. But maybe it’s time, time to at least start a conversation about all the myriad ways that our lives are enmeshed in systems of control and abuse, in desperately inequitable power relations. And what that really fucking means.

Because that’s what Jessica Jones is ultimately all about. Now, to be plain, I highly recommend this show. It’s one of the most strikingly feminist works of art around, and it’s certainly the most feminist work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The wonderful diversity of the cast and roles, the plethora of female interactions, and the subversion of certain hyper-masculine tropes, this is all window dressing. It’s credentials. They’re not perfect, but they’re still excellent. That out of the way, let’s get to the nitty gritty. At its core, Jessica Jones metaphorically examines the dynamics of controlling relationships, primarily personal relationships. Which is just a starting ...

Lost Exegesis (Walkabout)

So I guess we were right, back in the Tabula Rasa entry, about Locke’s first name being John, an invocation of the historical John Locke. We must be, like, psychic or something.

A brief history, then. John Locke was a very privileged white man, born in 1632, England. He went to Oxford, studied with such famous scientists as Newton and Boyle, and determined to become a doctor. By 1666, Locke had teamed up with Dr. David Thomas to run a laboratory, probably a pharmacy. Through Thomas, Locke met Lord Anthony Cooper (one of the richest men in England and later the Earl of Shaftesbury) and became his personal physician. Lord Ashley also helped secure a government job for Locke, and for the next ten years or so Locke lived at Lord Ashley's estate. Locke eventually went back to Oxford and received a Bachelor of Medicine and a license to practice.

But Locke isn’t primarily known as a physician so much as a philosopher, indeed a founder of liberalism. Mind you, we’re talking about the 17th Century. Locke isn’t a “leftist” in the modern sense of the term. Rather, his philosophy forms part of the ...

Who Are You? (The Star Wars Trailer)

So, yes, my ears perked right up when the first words of the trailer asked, “Who are you?” (Thank you, Carrie Fisher.) And as the trailer unfolded, I got very excited for this movie. And, perhaps, a bit reticent.

Trailers tell stories, of course, mini-condensed stories that act as hooks to get us to actually fork over time and money to watch them. This one (the American release) promises, by virtue of its structure and focus, a certain kind of story. It has to be a story that answers the Question, the oldest Question in the Universe, hidden in plain sight. Who are you?

The trailer doesn’t actually begin by asking the question, though. Not aurally. Visually, though, yes. We see a masked figure. Alone. In a world that’s post-apocalyptic, what with all the broken architecture, dead technology, dust and sand. And when the figure is most alone, most distant, it’s the most natural question in the world. Who are you?

“I’m no one,” comes the reply to the older woman’s question. Which is actually a poignant answer, alchemically speaking. It can come from two different places. One place (the more likely, given this is ...

Genre Competition (Kill the Moon)

…and Zygons.

First, Kill the Moon. No, wait, first, what do I mean by “genre competition” and why in the world would anything like that matter? So let’s go back and review what’s already been established via TARDIS Eruditorum. Most readers here should be familiar with the term “narrative substitution,” which is what happens when we’re toodling along, all genre-savvy and boned up on TV Tropes, and suddenly the rug is pulled out from under us and the story we think we’re watching turns into something else.

Phil coined the phrase in his review of A Good Man Goes to War, where the “male revenge for his hurt woman” story trope is rejected for something quite different – instead, it turns into a story of Grace, which is delivered not by the Doctor, but by River Song. Or we might look at the “epic season finale” of The Pandorica Opens and how the fulfilled narrative collapse is supplanted by a small, intimate story of one family.

What we get in Kill the Moon is something similar, but it is structurally different, not to mention ramped up to 11. Rather than giving us one story, and then substituting ...

Lost Exegesis (Tabula Rasa)

One of the problems with Pilot episodes is that they’re made specifically in order to hook people (almost like fish) not just into watching a TV show, but to actually sign off on it being produced. As such, they tend not to be as representative of the series as a whole. So what a TV show has to do after its pilot is to kind of hit the reset button and start playing its cards, showing us what we might expect on a weekly basis going forward. As such, Tabula Rasa is a rather aptly named episode, given that it’s a fresh start for LOST, employing a number of techniques that we did not see previously.

For starters, we get a “Previously, on LOST” segment. It’s the sort of thing we’re all familiar with, nothing new under the sun in terms of TV, but just its very presence indicates what kind of show we’re dealing with, namely something that’s serialized. The vignettes in this segment briefly depict: the plane crash; the man wounded by shrapnel in his gut and Kate’s apparent interest in him; the fact no one has come yet to the ...

I'll See You in Hell (Alan Tudyk's "Con Man")

Alan Tudyk’s crowdsourced Con Man just finished releasing on Vimeo OnDemand. The web series comedy (comprised of 13 ten-minute episodes) tracks the ne’re-do-well sci-fi actor Wray Nerely, who was part of the critically acclaimed TV show Spectrum (cancelled after a half season), and who now makes his living on the sci-fi convention circuit. He’s a “convention man,” or “con man” for short. And he’s in hell.

His hell, mind you, is not mine. I’ve been to a few science fiction conventions. It’s not like I’m a die-hard regular on the con circuit, but they’re fun, and perhaps a bit more than that. My first was a Doctor Who convention in Detroit in the mid-Eighties. I just went for the day. Cosplayed the Fifth Doctor, because it was easier to get a beige trenchcoat on the cheap at a thrift shop than Romana’s pink one. Borrowed one of my Dad’s panama hats, used a twistie-tie to affix a sprig of celery to the lapel, and I was all set. Cosplaying wasn’t so big back then, but quite a few people had long multi-colored scarves. Sadly, I had to ditch the ...

The Eyes Have it (Doctor Who/The Girl Who Died)

So I was wondering what I was going to write for this week’s essay. I knew it would be on Doctor Who symbolism, but what? The TARDIS as a Religious Object? The Circle in the Square? Eyes? Something on Mirrors, perhaps? I eventually decided I’d let Saturday’s episode decide it for me. As such, I was rather taken with the fact that the opening image was a close-up of a singular Eye. Upside down. In an episode which features a Mirror reflection and an invocation of the TARDIS as a vehicle of the gods at its emotional climax (which was distinct from the Faux Resolution of defeating the Mire). But the Eye came first, so the Eyes have it.

It turns out there’s a wealth of Eye imagery to examine in The Girl Who Died. There’s the aforementioned opening image—the first time we’ve had an Eye closeup turned upside down. There’s a closeup of the wooden dragon’s eye, we’ve got Odin to cover, and of course the cleaving of the Sonic Sunglasses such that they become like an eyepatch.

Interestingly, there’s plenty of context to choose from. I mean ...

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