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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. James Mullins
    March 27, 2017 @ 11:47 am

    Have you seen Manhunter and what do you think of it?


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      March 27, 2017 @ 2:01 pm

      I watched the first 20 minutes or so, but wasn’t in the mood and never went back to it. I’d considered doing a thorough review of the literature so that I could be all tricksily intertextual with these, but decided against it/didn’t get around to it, and am instead running on ebook versions of the Harris novels and the iBooks search function for that sort of thing.


      • James Mullins
        March 27, 2017 @ 8:48 pm

        It’s one of my personal favourite films. I love how like Graham and Dollarhyde in the film imagination of the audience is used as horror much like Fincher’s Seven. But fair game to you. I know people who don’t like it either. Thanks for your response, Dr. Phil!


  2. Austin Loomis
    March 27, 2017 @ 1:07 pm

    If the empathy that he brings to crime scenes is an act of imagination then the resulting sense of design must belong to Will, not the killers themselves. Will creates a higher structure out of the tortured meat before him, and this structure proves more real and more powerful than the killing on its own.

    At the risk of spoiling your design: “Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose.”


    • Sean Dillon
      March 27, 2017 @ 2:19 pm

      Rebuttal: “I think everything that happens in the vicinity of a murder has some significance: the flight of birds, the shape of the clouds, the positions of the stars, items discarded by passerby. Nothing can be overlooked. If I find a match, I have to know where it was made and from what tree it’s wood was taken. Nothing happens in a vacuum. When things are isolated, they lose their meaning.”


      • bombasticus
        March 27, 2017 @ 10:01 pm

        “I made it all up and it all came true anyway. That’s the funny part.”


  3. Sean Dillon
    March 27, 2017 @ 2:26 pm

    Nice Start. I look forward to the themes and interests driving the blog slightly mad much like the show’s themes drove it slightly mad. The Blake set at the end is just going to be amazing.


    • Sean Dillon
      March 27, 2017 @ 3:18 pm

      Ellaboration: This blog series, not the blog as a whole. Sort of like going from Brief Treatise style analysis to The Three Doctors post like work.


  4. Kyle Edwards
    March 27, 2017 @ 4:39 pm

    Not to be that guy, but…


  5. Lauri Franzon
    March 28, 2017 @ 1:35 pm


    And noe to actually read the text…


  6. Aina Kos
    March 29, 2017 @ 7:24 pm

    I was just embarking on a Hannibal rewatch and my Google feed recommend your article out of the blue, as it does. Could not be more thrilled. This is the kind of close reading and analysis I’ve been craving since the show aired, and I kind of want to roll around in this delicious literary dissection. Definitely went hunting for more—loved this paired with your “Meat is Murder” (and True Detective needs to be a necessary re-re-rewatch too).

    [empathy is perceptual, imagination creative]

    And boy don’t they know it. Or Hannibal does. Will as well, or he comes to understand it. This is a series where death of the author is literal, and only a few are capable enough to kill. And artists make some of the best critics. Will’s “empathy” lends him an intrinsic capacity to see (“See?”) that Hannibal recognises in some way, and so commenses the sculpting of circumstances, psychology, and chemistry to coerce/encourage participation. Hannibal is preparing Will for consumption, which also remakes Will to consume. “consumption is also pointed at both ends” is one of my favorite lines here.

    [If the empathy that he brings to crime scenes is an act of imagination then the resulting sense of design must belong to Will, not the killers themselves]

    Essentially this. This is the truth Will is forced to face, that Hannibal wrenches out of him. We see Hannibal take an interest in cultivating the aesthetic in others, yet Will is the special one, the only one who can, as it were, gaze back. And what established (narcissistic, sadist, cannibal) artist doesn’t I want, deep down, to be truly understood and consumed in turn.

    Anyway, thanks for giving me some thoughts. Loved them. You’ve my attention and readership!


  7. mr_mond
    March 30, 2017 @ 12:53 pm

    “If the empathy that he brings to crime scenes is an act of imagination then the resulting sense of design must belong to Will, not the killers themselves”

    This, along with the following conclusion that therefore Will is capable of acts of cruelty equal to the murders he investigates, is an aspect of the show I’m most struggling with, mostly because it doesn’t really correspond with my experience. Now, I’m not a super-profiler, but, if we accept that the murders Will investigates are texts, I can reach to my own interactions with fiction. Very often when encountering depictions or descriptions, or even mentions of violence, my mind immediately starts imagining all the fear and suffering the victim must have gone through, causing me a considerable distress. It’s a little like intrusive thoughts, only where those seem to be born out of nothing, here they are planted by a text. If Will goes through something similar, I find it hard to accept that he would be capable of cruelty – because he can feel on a quite visceral level the distress that suffering causes.

    Maybe I’m thinking about it wrong, though – I will openly admit that I have no knowledge of psychology, so maybe what I’m describing is a process other than empathy. Or is the difference that Will gets into the headspace of a murderer, not a victim?

    Either way, I feel like the show is fearing empathy – the implication seems to be that if you are capable of understanding a deplorable act, of imagining the motives for it, you must condone it.

    But of course the whole world of the show is created by the satanic demiurge (an interesting conflation of the two usually opposing roles), Hannibal – so maybe it’s just something that he would like to be true.


  8. Rrr
    July 27, 2020 @ 5:49 pm

    Regarding the perception vs imagination, the answer regarding their connection instead of their opposition is highlighted in the beginning of the novel Red Dragon, in the Bertillon quote: “One can only see what one observes, and one observes only things which are already in the mind.” Implying that even to perceive, we need to look, and need to have things to look for.


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