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 Chair Agenda

“The Chair Agenda” refers to the symbolic use of a Chair to indicate a process of Ascension. But this rather begs the question of what we mean by “ascension” and what, if anything, chairs have to do with it. I mean, it’s not like there’s anything about chairs in of themselves that would lead us to associate them with Ascension, is there?

Which is to say, there’s nothing inherently metaphoric about this association. Unlike, say, the implicit underlying metaphor embedded in our very conception of "time-travel": Time is conceived as a dimension of Space, and our experiences of moving through space are subsequently used to inform our relationship to time—we imagine traveling through time much like we move through space. Not that this is the only metaphor we have for understanding time. We also conceive of it as a Resource, as something to divide up, manage, and use, save, or waste.

Going back to chairs, though, there's no obvious metaphor here.  We sit in them.  That's it.  We can’t even say that the form of a chair motivates an interpretation of Ascension, like an Eye in the middle of a forehead easily symbolizes ...

The Witch's Familiar (Podcast/The Alchemist's Pupils)

Phil, once again atop someone else's post to announce the second episode of the Eruditorum Press Doctor Who Series 9 podcast, this time featuring a conversation between me and Jane on The Witch's Familiar. You can grab that here, and I hope you enjoy. Meanwhile, here's Jane with her own take on the episode in our very own Eruditorum Press version of her famed mirror threads at GallifreyBase.

Jane's Thoughts

First and foremost, I look at the various mirror-shots within an episode as a skeleton key for unlocking my interpretations. So, for The Magician’s Apprentice we start with shots of Missy reflected in her compact, and Clara reflected in the Doctor’s sunglasses; in The Witch’s Familiar we have both the Doctor and Davros reflected in an eye-shaped window in the Infirmary on Skaro.

Given the titles of these episodes, the mirror shots are strangely reversed. We’d expect the pairing of the Doctor and Davros in reference to The Magician’s Apprentice, in no small part because Bors refers to the Doctor as “Magician,” while the shots of Missy and Clara most easily translate to The Witch’s Familiar, both given the contemporary ...

Lost Exegesis (Pilot Part 1)

Hello, I’m Jane, your stewardess for the Lost Exegesis, a flight of fancy that explores the esoteric mysteries of LOST, an American TV show that ran on ABC from 2004 until 2010. It’s a show that had a significant impact on TV at the time, and still does to an extent.

But the Exegesis isn’t going to be about charting any of that, or commenting on the value of individual episodes; we’ll not be diving into fan rankings, outside critical acclaim, comments from the showrunners, or how the show fit into the televisual landscape at the time. Rather, the primary focus will be on interpreting the text regarding the show’s esoteric elements (as you might have suspected, given I’m calling this an “exegesis”) through a thorough close reading. This will include an examination of the show’s intertextuality: if Watership Down shows up in the text, we’ll take a look at Watership Down.

Every few weeks or so we’ll examine one episode from the series, in order. With 121 episodes, we’ll be at this for quite a while. There’s no rush. We might even cover what we need to cover ...

Ars Specula: Humans/Ex Machina (plus Mr Robot)


Artificial
(adj.)

  1. made by human skill
  2. imitation; substitute
  3. pretended; contrived; feigned
  4. lacking in spontaneity; affected
  5. (biology) relating to superficial characteristics not based on the interrelationships of organisms

-- from Latin artificialis, "of or belonging to art," from artificium (see artifice).


Artifice
(n.)

  1. a clever trick or stratagem; a cunning, crafty device
  2. crafty or subtle deception; trickery; guile
  3. ingenuity; skill; inventiveness

-- from Latin ars, "art," + facere, "do, make"

 

As Above, So Below

Ex Machina, written and directed by Alex Garland, is a slick and intellectual film that charts the journey of Caleb Smith, a computer programmer for a Googlish company who’s won a “lottery” that grants him an invitation to the northern retreat of the company’s founder, the grotesquely hypermasculine (and misogynist) Nathan Bateman. Nathan wants Caleb to perform a Turing Test over the course of one week on his latest creation, an android named Ava who seemingly possesses artificial intelligence. Each day, Caleb interrogates Ava in a numbered “session,” made apparent to us through the use of interstitial title cards. Caleb dutifully examines Ava, then reflects afterwards with Nathan, conversations which serve to flesh out some of the film’s themes, ranging from art to human nature.

Humans, on ...

The Arc of Alchemy (Part Two)

(Continued from Part One)
 
Again: Nyssa’s passing through Terminus functions symbolically as a Near Death Experience. She’s brought to the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel by the Garm, a walking dog-like creature whose name derives from the hound that guards the Underworld.
 
Nyssa’s “resurrected” (well, cured) by the light that started the Universe, and which now threatens to end it—she is placed, mythologically, in the light of the Alpha and the Omega, which could only emanate from the Center. And here we should note the importance of Norse mythology, for the Center of the World Tree, the axis mundi, is the place where Past and Future, Above and Below, come together in the Here and Now. The very notion of such a union of opposites is implicit in the word “Terminus,” as the place-name denoted here functions as both the beginning and the end of “the line.“
 
As above, so below—this alchemical principle suggests the repetition of certain structures regardless of scale. The Terminus itself is a labyrinth, as is the ship that brings the Lazars, the ductwork underneath that ship, and indeed the TARDIS itself. A labyrinth is distinct from a ...

The Arc of Alchemy (Doctor Who: Season Twenty)

What is it about anniversaries? We made another circle around the sun, that's all. Well, not a circle. An ellipse. There are no perfect circles in the universe. There is no perfection in the Universe, let alone in Doctor Who’s twentieth season, back in 1983.

But perfection is so much more boring than messiness, than the chaos that lies at the heart of all truly surprising art. Perhaps that's why we love Doctor Who so much, why it even works—the mercurial element of the show feeds on chaos, on messiness, on constant change, which is truly the natural arc of history, not to mention the unfolding of the cosmos.

Back in Season Eighteen, we had something ...

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