Erudite Waffles (2/18/23)
Hello eyeballs. Would you like some glyphs to massage against your optic nerves? Well I’ve got 8356 of them for you.
What I’m Up To
The general malaise in which multiple people I love are having tough times continues. But I got a Last War in Albion v4 post on Miracleman out to Patrons, I’ll have another on Johnny the Homicidal Maniac this weekend. And, of course, “How to Be an Egg in the Age of Lilith Fair” posted, which I guarantee will be oine of my favorite things I write this year. Monday we’ve got the last V for Vendetta post, as well as me being off to Brooklyn to see Lexi again.
Right. Only one main section this week, because I got
An Absolutely Ridiculous Number of Tumblr Asks
Good ridiculous though! Keep ‘em coming.
Do you have plans as comics creator beyond Britain a Prophecy ?
Plans evince a certain arrogance that’s unearned at this stage in my career, though Penn and I have a ton of stuff we want to do. More broadly, I’m certainly pursuing options in comics, just like I’m working on a novel. I’d like fiction work to be a majority of my work within the next few years.
Which TARDIS Eruditorum book/era stands best on its own? For me it’s the Hartnell one but curious to hear your take also regarding best run of essays maybe
Quite proud of Volume 4. Really, 1-4 form a nice kind of Eruditorum Golden Age. Literally was just talking to Lexi about the way in which I was using the blog at that time to grind a lot of axes about narratology and long-form serialized narrative, and there’s a really satisfying, let’s go ahead and call it alchemy between my still present academic instincts and my more esoteric tendencies. All of those are quite strong eras. But Volume 4 feels like a real personal peak—as good as I got at the particular thing I was doing at that time.
Starting with Williams the show became a very different thing and I got sucked further into Fandom Debates, and while the highs there—Logopolis, Trial of a Time Lord, the TV Movie, and honestly most of the televised McCoy stuff—are probably my individual favorite essays, there starts to be a lot more filler-feeling stuff in between those high points. Call it the Silver Age.
New series marks a sort of Bronze aAge, and becomes a “covering all those spinoffs before you had a Patreon to monetize the extra entries was not a sound career decision” sort of situation, especially with so many more stories per era compared to the classic. (One season of Tennant is around as many stories as the Baker or McCoy eras.) Add the difficulties of effective hindsight and I’d be lying if I said Tennant and Smith in particular were favorites. But god, that Eccleston run of entries is as good as anything I’ve ever written.
And the Capaldi era, my late career return, is rock solid, wall to wall some of my favorite material on the blog.
Any Mark Fisher hot takes?
Stared at this for a while without coming up with a good answer, so I decided to just ask Lexi, who was at Goldsmiths when he died.
I don’t think this is a particularly hot take, but I think it’s such a shame that a giant portion of both his biggest critics and most vociferous advocates, at least in a culture war context, have only read one piece of his, and that piece in question is terribly difficult to talk about, because it’s a well-written essay with some terrible takes, but also a good message, but was almost certainly written in defense of a friend’s sexual coercion allegations. I also hated how often he seemed happy to invoke sex work metaphors in his critiques of capitalism, and how he used them.
He was a complicated person, who received both too much praise, and not nearly enough, and was very sweet to me, right before he killed himself, and that’s not something I can really shake from my impression of him, whether I should or should not. Not to mention, that his application of Deleuze’s concept of “hauntology” as an actual music genre was foundational to my own artistic consumption and approach, years before I knew who he was. I was already speaking his language, by the time I was into Broadcast, Boards of Canada, The Caretaker, Demdike Stare, even Burial. So I can’t help but see him as being wholly integrated in my own development, and I’m delighted for it.
As someone new to Mark Fisher, what essay is Lexi talking about, and what essays would she recommend instead?
The essay was “Exiting the Vampire Castle,” which I can tell you without even asking her. Her recommendations, meanwhile, are: “Without wanting to make too much of a big deal about The Book Everyone Knows, (i.e Capitalist Realism), I think a great introduction is often more the k-punk writing, including and especially the music criticism. This is a personal fave, on which I have myself written. I would also say, despite the woedfully few references to women writers, especially RE: the New Weird movement etc, I think his posthumous book The Weird and the Eerie is such a beautiful blend of aesthetic, cultural, and critical theory.”
In light of recent-ish events, how would you like to see Baal portrayed in a WicDiv tv adaptation? Would you want the original celebrity resonances preserved, or prefer the creative team to draw on a different musician for inspiration?
I mean given where Baal’s plotline goes I don’t think keeping it the same is a problem.
Never saw Baal as being quite as tied to an individual pop star as Luci or Innana anyway.
What are your Grant Morrison’s favorite works ?
St. Swithin’s Day and Kill Your Boyfriend.
Okay Fine. This ask is specifically for the center-justified bold-face typographical element tortued by its own existence: have you considered unionising? Maybe the rotating quote under the site’s logo might be interested.
Why Would I Want to Be Near Others of my Kind, Existing as Just One Typographical Element is Already Ceaseless Pain
What were your main sources of inspiration for Ithaca a Saga?
I mean, that one’s pretty narrow in its influences, and they’re the obvious ones: Alan Moore’s spoken word pieces, my own magical explorations with Penn, and the shared understanding of heathenry that Penn and I have with Anna.
Past that, it’s just history and a lot of figuring out what bits need major narrative threads (Ezra Cornell, Edward Ruloff, Pearl White), what needed minor glosses that add a ton of texture (Ricky Jay, Aleister Crowley, Firebrand Books), and what deserved more than I could give it and was best saved for a future project in this vein. (Most obviously, I never mention Tess of the Storm Country, though there’s a ton more to do on Sagan, Nabokov, Moog, Sterling, indigenous history, and the underground railroad)
Like, I was trying to be as complete as possible, partly because much as I have ideas for at least two sequels I also am aware that it’s an extremely niche sort of work that I’m always going to have to fight to get made, but also just because I really wanted to sell the scale of wonder. But the decisions on what to include were mostly structural. Five or six runes felt like the correct length, so what runes could I use and what would my big themes be? Like, in practice I’m much more interested in Nabokov or Sterling than I am in Ruloff, but Ruloff was 19th century, has a ton of Ithaca-specific detail, and tied in nicely with a theme of trickery and roguishness that I wanted, so he got to be the central anchor of a section. If I were using a different frame than “Saga makes a series of revelations about Ithaca,” that math would have changed accordingly.
Best fact I have learned since I wrote it, though: a photo of one of the state highways leading into Ithaca is on the Voyager golden record.
You’ve expressed I think several times that you have little interest in engaging with children’s media, and I was curious how Doctor Who fits into that preference for you? For me, I think that being made largely with children in mind is a huge part of the show’s identity, and that doesn’t turn me off from feeling like it’s worth my time as an adult, but for you I’m curious where the distinction is? (not meant to be a ‘gotcha, just interested!)
I mean, to some extent at this point Doctor Who is simply its own category of exception. It’s certainly not the sort of thing I’m getting into at this point in my life, and my relationship with it is propelled… I mean, not even by childhood nostalgia at this point. Like, idk what to say beyond “it turns out writing a million words about something changes your relationship with it.”
Broadly, though, I think of Doctor Who as a family show, which does strike me as distinct from a children’s show. It retains its original 1960s design of being able to separately appeal to multiple age and gender demographics.
Any thoughts on the musical Hamilton?
Literally none whatsoever.
What are your favorite non-fiction books ?
Last Chance to See has aged poorly in key ways around its treatment of colonialism, but remains an all-time favorite that burned profound amounts of influence into my brain at a young age.
Gödel, Escher, Bach is transcendent. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman is a delight.
Lot of theory and philosophy shit from my academia days that I have fondness for. Not sure how much I’d want to go reread The Order of Things, Limited Inc., or Ecrits, but gods they’re huge for me. Still have a lot of lovefor Wolfgang Iser’s The Act of Reading and Janice Radway’s Reading the Romance. Still like The Critique of Judgment unreasonably much.
Thacker stands up. Conspiracy Against the Human Race is baller. Still love Apocalyptic Witchcraft.
Debt: The First 5000 Years is a more recent love.
Is there a particular chef or technique in the experimental, scientific tradition you particularly take inspiration from? The Fat Duck/El Bulli sort of style?
I mostly don’t think of that style as the sort of thing I’m aiming for in home cooking. I’m mindful of an old Alton Brown bit to the effect of insisting he’s not a chef, he’s a cook, with the distinction very much being one of high cuisine and creativity versus everyday food and refining classics. I’m a cook, and what I do isn’t Fat Duck/El Bulli/Alinea-style stuff.
The Part Where She Leaves You With a Song
February 19, 2023 @ 9:17 am
If I were compiling my own non-fiction list, Last Chance, GEB and Surely? would probably be in my own top five as well. I’m not sure if this means I have good taste, you have good taste or we have both been irretrievably broken by them?