Pounded in the butt by dialectical materialism.

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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. BerserkRL
    January 9, 2015 @ 8:30 am

    Another work inspired, albeit complicatedly, by the French Revolution was William Godwin's 1793 Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. Godwin — best known today as the husband of feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft, father of sf pioneer Mary Shelley, and father-in-law of Percy Shelley — is often described as the founder of modern anarchism. The specific inspiration for the Enquiry was Thomas Paine's argument in Rights of Man that social order is primarily the result of voluntary interaction rather than government. Godwin actually met Wollstonecraft at a dinner party to celebrate Paine and his book, though they(G & W) didn't initially get on. Blake of course had connections to all of the above people, and illustrated one of Wollstonecraft's books. Both Godwin and Wollstonecraft defended the principles of the French Revolution while decrying the violence with which it was carried out. One American fan of both Godwin and Wollstonecraft (he actually carried Wollstonecraft's picture in a locket, and raised his daughter according to Wollstonecraftian principles) was Aaron Burr.


  2. BerserkRL
    January 9, 2015 @ 8:39 am

    Some related trivia: Godwin (like his wife and daughter) was also a novelist. His two best novels are Caleb Williams, which gives a political twist to the problem of other minds, and St.-Léon, an sf/fantasy work about a man who discovers the secrets — and pragmatic downsides — of both eternal youth and turning lead into gold. Byron was a fan of these early novels and asked why Godwin's later novels weren't as good. Godwin replied that writing his early novels had drained him of energy, and it would kill him to write another like them — to which Byron answered "so what, if we could have another St.-Léon?" (a response Godwin could hardly resent, given his own severely utilitarian views).

    I've written about Godwin's Caleb Williams here and his philosophy here.


  3. BerserkRL
    January 9, 2015 @ 9:04 am

    As long as I'm in Godwin-Wollstonecraft trivia mode: when Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France came out, attacking not only the French Revolution but the very notion of human rights not based on tradition and social authority, many of the leading lights of British liberalism rushed into print to answer him. The most famous answer was Paine's, but the first answer to be published was Wollstonecraft's. Her book was Vindication of the Rights of Men, its title prefiguring her later and more famous Vindication of the Rights of Woman (the switch from plural to singular supposedly being inspired by Paine).

    It's often forgotten that Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population was originally a hostile response to Godwin's Enquiry.


  4. Neo Tuxedo
    January 9, 2015 @ 9:53 am

    Ultimately, one suspects that Moore is not entirely willing to commit to the idea that the searing radiance of spiritual enlightenment need be consensual.

    "Thou shalt not dose thy neighbor without his/her consent." — Timothy Leary

    "Skinny-dipping in the waters of the paranormal can be CREEPY…" — Rev. Ivan Stang


  5. Elizabeth Sandifer
    January 9, 2015 @ 5:57 pm

    You will not be surprised to learn that more than one of these names will come up before this chapter is done.


  6. Jarl
    January 10, 2015 @ 1:24 am

    Byron was a fan of these early novels and asked why Godwin's later novels weren't as good. Godwin replied that writing his early novels had drained him of energy, and it would kill him to write another like them — to which Byron answered "so what, if we could have another St.-Léon?"
    I've always loved that exchange. As someone with complicated feelings about his own ability to both create and consume, it hits me from both ends. I'd just forgotten who it was directed at XD


  7. Matthew Blanchette
    January 10, 2015 @ 6:41 pm

    I unashamedly love Wollstonecraft. She needs to be known more.


  8. John Seavey
    January 11, 2015 @ 7:59 am

    I always thought that this was answered very interestingly (if bleakly) in the Babylon 5 episode, "Intersections in Real Time". Sheridan is put through horrible torture, is driven to the point where they tell him he either confesses or they kill him, and like Evey, he answers that he'd rather die. They acknowledge that they have no hold over him after that…and then wheel him into another room to start the exact same routine of torture at step one, showing that even death is not an escape for him. That it will continue forever until he breaks, or until he kills himself. They refuse even to give him the satisfaction of murdering him.

    JMS has indicated he wasn't inspired by V, but there seem to be strong parallels. Anyone else have any thoughts?


  9. Neo Tuxedo
    January 11, 2015 @ 8:27 am

    I didn't think of that, probably because I try not to think about "Intersections in Real Time" more than circumstances actually require me to. Now that you've opened the floodgates, however, I have plenty of thoughts.

    "Intersections" is what TNG's "Chain of Command" wanted to be when it grew up. When I imagine it airing as the fourth season cliffhanger, the way JMS would have done if he'd known going into the fourth season that there would in fact be a fifth, "lab-quality freon drips into my veins" as Spider Robinson once put it. I have literally only ever been able to watch it right through, in a single sitting, once, the first time it aired on TNT. The only thing that made it bearable was the knowledge, through the network already being into season 5, that Sheridan would be freed, just as "Chain of Command, Part Two" was made bearable by the Status-Quo-is-God assumption that Picard would be freed by episode's end.

    On the V comparison, the difference I see is that V was aiming for a mystical experience; the Earth Alliance was just aiming to get a false confession and inflict physical, mental and emotional pain, not necessarily in that order or even that priority.


    • Aberrant Eyes
      November 1, 2015 @ 2:02 pm

      “V was aiming for a mystical experience”

      As I reread the blog with an eye to annotating my ePub copy with the figures and epigraphs, my brain elaborates on this. The EA, and Dennis, and Gul Madred, were only seeking to destroy their subjects’ personalities; at best, they were planning to rebuild them to exact specifications. V shaped Eve’s enlightenment* as much as he could, but he wasn’t foolish enough to think he could guide it exactly and still get something worth having. Ordering people to be free never really works.

      (* Reference to Alice Miller’s “Evas Erwachen – Über die Auflösung emotionaler Blindheit”, published in English translation as “The Truth Will Set You Free: overcoming emotional blindness and finding your true self”. I don’t know if Alice Miller’s work was available in English when Moore was writing, but it picks up where Wilhelm Reich was forced to leave off.)


  10. BerserkRL
    January 11, 2015 @ 8:33 pm

    The (or a) common root for V, B5, and TNG here is the end of 1984.


  11. Alan
    January 15, 2015 @ 10:28 am

    Such an extraordinary episode. Though it probably sounds like faint praise, it is easily the best thing Bruce Boxleitner has ever done. The absolute best part though was the revelation that the Drazi was working for the Alliance. That was an absolute gut-punch.


  12. Daru
    February 14, 2015 @ 6:08 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  13. Daru
    February 14, 2015 @ 6:09 am

    "This night is yours. Seize it. Enricle it within your arms. Bury it in your heart up to the hilt. Become transfixed. Become transfigured. Forever.”

    After reading this scene for the first time I wept, utterly. Great to see Blake appearing again.


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