Less organic intellectuals than morbid symptoms

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. jane
    November 4, 2013 @ 3:16 am

    zombie season! zombie season! well, half-season.


  2. Iain Coleman
    November 4, 2013 @ 6:40 am

    Zombie!Owen is not my favourite storyline, but at least it shows that the production team have realised that "Give Burn Gorman lots of different stuff to do" is a good strategy. He is a very fine actor who is, frankly, slumming it on this show.


  3. Alan
    November 4, 2013 @ 6:42 am

    But, of course, Davies would never be one to give up the ability to do a plot about how Jack is immortal and will have to someday watch his lover die, and so this wasn’t going to work.

    And yet, when he finally got around to doing that story, he cocked it up so badly that it provoked massive fan outrage and ruined what, for me, had been a very enjoyable series (TW:COE) up to that point.


  4. Stuart Ian Burns
    November 4, 2013 @ 6:44 am

    Will you be doing the radio episodes? I'd like to see what you think of House of the Dead in relation to some of the above.


  5. Adam Riggio
    November 4, 2013 @ 8:31 am

    I'm also interested in your take on Lost Souls, Torchwood's crossover issue with the opening of the Large Hadron Collider, so you can explain whatever the hell that was.

    When Burn Gorman is good, he's really very good. Apart from some of his better scripts (like the wonderful Out of Time) and the up-to-11 crazy he can lend to storylines like Zombie!Owen and the Fight Club pastiche of Combat, Torchwood really hasn't made the best use of his talents, sticking him with a very programmatic character whose idiosyncrasies seem to be his own contribution to what on paper is a standard supporting character on CSI: Cardiff Spacetime Rift.

    Gorman needs a role where he can play a strangely eccentric and unpredictable figure with the potential for a diverse approach to the character as he encounters widely different situations episode to episode, able to stick out but also fit in to the context and world the story demands.

    Wait just a damn minute!


  6. David Anderson
    November 4, 2013 @ 10:48 am

    Immortality is a metaphor for death obviously. Or being-towards-death. Or for not being-towards-death. I say metaphor, but it's not actually a metaphor. Call it an ironic synecdoche: it stands for that whole of the human condition of which death is an omitted part.
    Actually, I think this ironic synedoche, rather than metaphor, is the dominant mode of symbolism in most sf. Thus, Budrys' Rogue Moon is about personal identity and death, Canticle for Leibowitz about the myth of progress, Left Hand of Darkness about gender, Light of Other Days is about loss, Blink about objects staying where they're put when you're not looking and having a future.

    (The problem with metaphoric interpretation is that the interpretation always risks moving away from the specificity of the symbol towards some more abstract concept supposed to be primary. There's a risk of using other people solely as symbols for one's individual philosophical categories.)

    The question isn't whether two immortals can represent anything; it's whether they cast any interesting light on what they represent.


  7. jane
    November 4, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

    Synecdoche, New York.

    Owen's predicament is an apt dramatization of what it's like to feel dead inside. Obviously we aren't really dead when we feel dead inside, that in itself being a way of describing a numinous experience or an existential condition. Just having that portrayed is valuable, I say, and a great direction for Torchwood to take.

    And it's a very different condition than what Jack has. As much as atheists might cheer when Jack reports that there's nothing on the other side, or darkness, void, what have you, that's just a little bit too on the nose. Jack's position isn't to comment on what it feels like to feel dead, but what it feels like to be reborn, over and over again, kind of like being on that perpetual wheel or cycle from which Buddhists try to escape.

    There are other numinous experience that "immortality" may dramatize. One is the ego's desire to avoid death altogether, and hence of being permanently rooted in ego. The other, more figurative sense, is the annihilation of ego, and finding eternity in the here and now, in the Present. (Cue up the Xmas music, and hook up the Wardrobe.)

    I'd have to watch Dead Man Walking again to remember more specifically what I really liked about this episode.


  8. ferret
    November 4, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

    "feel dead inside" – the scene of Owen trying to pick up and realising his corpse is incapable of having an erection made me think they were going to explore the issues and effects of depression in men. As far as I can remember they only touched on it superficially rather than using it as the underlying theme, which is a shame.


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