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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. Aaron
    May 18, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

    I assume that the xenophobic bullshit story is Tomb of the Cyberman and the buddhist one has Yeti in it? I was wondering what you were gonna think of Toberman.


  2. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 18, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

    Much as I'd love to try to read Tomb as a Buddhist parable, you are correct.


  3. Mike Russell
    May 19, 2011 @ 2:27 am

    Excellent post, and thanks for bringing up (here, your Evil of the Daleks post and elsewhere) connections between Doctor Who and LSD/psychedelia that I hadn't thought of before.

    Though it isn't a fact that "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" was about LSD. True, John was using a lot of the stuff by then, but for the rest of his life, he insisted that the title was inspired by the name of a drawing Julian made for him. Given that "Cold Turkey" was openly about heroin withdrawal, I don't see why John would have lied about "Lucy."


  4. Gonzo
    May 19, 2011 @ 4:31 am

    Hey. Great stuff as always.

    I wounder if you would be able to set up an Amazon.co.uk affiliation as well as your current .com one, for those of us in the UK enjoying your work who may want to contribute? Just a thought.


  5. zapruder313
    May 19, 2011 @ 5:21 am

    Mike, I think the point of John's frequent denials is that the title of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds wasn't deliberately spelling out the initials "LSD", but was named after Julian's painting: i.e., it wasn't a "hidden message".

    The worldview of the lyric, however, is clearly Lewis Carroll filtered through Timothy Leary. Plus, the song is a genuine Lennon-McCartney co-write, with at least some of the lyrics (including the "newspaper taxis" line) being Paul's, who was also taking acid by this point, so there are two LSD-inspired lyricists at work here.

    The title is an accident, yes, but the song is clearly "about" (or rather, describes) an acid-inspired vision of recapturing a lost child's-eye view of the world, where everything looks strange. A very English form of psychedelia!


  6. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 19, 2011 @ 6:25 am

    Also, McCartney has tacitly admitted that, yes, it was about acid. I can believe that Lennon came up with the phrase without realizing that it was a clear reference to acid. I don't believe that by the time the album was being pressed the Beatles were not well aware that they had a piece of classic psychedelia on their hands.

    As for an Amazon UK affiliate, I'll look into it. My assumption has always been that, being outside of the UK, I can't, but I may be wrong.


  7. zapruder313
    May 19, 2011 @ 8:20 am

    I've just looked up the relevant quotes:

    Lennon (1980, Playboy Interview):

    LENNON: (Charles) Manson was just an extreme version of the people who came up with the "Paul is dead" thing or who figured out that the initials to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" were LSD and concluded I was writing about acid.

    PLAYBOY: Where did "Lucy in the Sky" come from?

    LENNON: My son Julian came in one day with a picture he painted about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," Simple.

    PLAYBOY: The other images in the song weren't drug-inspired?

    LENNON: The images were from "Alice in Wonderland." It was Alice in the boat. She is buying an egg and it turns into Humpty Dumpty. The woman serving in the shop turns into a sheep and the next minute they are rowing in a rowing boat somewhere and I was visualizing that.

    McCartney in 1997 (Many Years From Now) adds:

    "John had the title and he had the first verse. It started off very Alice in Wonderland: 'Picture yourself in a boat, on the river …' It's very Alice. Both of us had read the Alice books and always referred to them, we were always talking about 'Jabberwocky' and we knew those more than any other books really. And when psychedelics came in, the heady quality of them was perfect. So we just went along with it. I sat there and wrote it with him: I offered 'cellophane flowers' and 'newspaper taxis' and John replied with 'kaleidoscope eyes'. I remember which was which because we traded words off each other, as we always did … And in our mind it was an Alice thing, which both of us loved."

    So definitely Lewis Carroll, but Paul at least makes a specific link between the Alice books and "psychedelics".


  8. Anton
    May 19, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

    Another fascinating article, so much I want to comment on. There was a peculiar sort of Victoriana psychedelia rampant in Swinging England pre Sgt. Pepper that fed into its imagery. There's an good case to be made that yet again Doctor Who managed to spookily predict it. Look at Hartnell's Victorian Adventurer/scientist schtick. The junkyard the Tardis is found in is exactly the kind of place trendy young Londoners would be finding bits of esoteria to furnish their mews cottages. (See Antonioni's 'Blow-Up'). Ian and Barbara's stumble into the Police Box is totally analagous to Alice's passing through the looking glass or the Pevensey kids entering the magic wardrobe to Narnia. The credit titles alone are probably the first time a mainstream audience would have been exposed to what are in essence psychedelic patterns created by pointing a camera at it's own monitor – which in itself is like like introducing white hot 1960's technology to buddhist meditation.


  9. wwhyte
    July 23, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

    It's basically inconceivable that no one involved creatively with the show dropped acid in this period, and it's a fun game to guess who it might have been. (My money is on Whitaker, personally.)

    Spooner! And Letts, a lot.


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