We’re all for praxis, just not for going outside

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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. mr_mond
    May 30, 2017 @ 9:46 am

    So this is only tangentially related to Hannibal, but I figured it’s as good a place as any to post it.

    “The fundamental nature of his experiment is to use Will’s encephalitis to explore the furthest reaches of his empathy.”

    I’ve been re-listening to the Neoreaction a Basilisk podcasts recently and they gave me one idea for what the monster at the end of that book is: empathy. There are two ways in which it can be threatening: the first (and bearing most relation to “Hannibal”) is that we cannot deny empathy towards everyone, and so we are forced to empathise with bad people as well (murderers in the world of Hannibal, racist assholes when dealing with neoreaction).

    This does not, of course, mean accepting their perspective and actions as valid (although I think “Hannibal” features a considerable amount of anxiety towards the idea of empathy rooted in precisely that: if Will is capable of empathising with the killers, that means he is a killer himself), but it can be a challenging and harrowing experience in and of itself.

    The second aspect of empathy’s monstrousness is that it opens a person up to experiencing other beings’ suffering, as Josh Marsfelder expressed beautifully here (http://www.eruditorumpress.com/blog/permanent-saturday-axis-mundi/), in his recent Permanent Saturday essay:

    “Those who feel deeply their connection to the myriad other souls in nature may also find their feelings of suffering and loss to be magnified as well. Especially in the West and Westernized cultures, where collective institutionalized violence and depersonalization have become so normalized.”

    (The solution, to me, and in keeping with NaB’s proposition to conceptualise the erotic, would be masochism – deriving pleasure from the pain that comes with connection to others, although I’ve yet to figure out how that could be turned into praxis).

    “But Hannibal also seeks to accelerate a fever – to expose Will to some sort of transformative experience via his imaginative faculties.”

    Just one more reason for my unwillingness to accept Hannibal as an aspirational model: he’s an accelerationist!


  2. Joseph
    May 30, 2017 @ 1:37 pm

    “Fiction, being the product of authorial design, rarely supports the thought experiment of “what if things had gone differently” with anything other than the erosion of dramatic unity.”

    Perhaps, but isn’t that the basis of all franchise/serial media? What if the captain of the Enterprise was an older diplomat, not a young adventurer? What if the Doctor was a clown, or a fop, or a Northerner? What if Hannibal was a borderline-supernatural figure at the centre of the narrative, rather than a malicious advisor kept to the fringes?


    • Daibhid C
      May 30, 2017 @ 8:41 pm

      I think those are broader “what ifs?” than the word “counterfactuals” implies. “What if the captain of the Enterprise was an older diplomat?” is a different kind of question than “What if the captain of the Enterprise had been an older diplomat during the events of [original series episode]”, which in turn is a different question to “What if Kirk had made a different decision?”

      (Which isn’t necessarily to say I agree with Phil here, as I’ve enjoyed Marvel’s What If?, Star Trek: Myriad Universes and Doctor Who Unbound. In several of these the answer is “the storyline collapses”, but since it’s done intentionally it’s a controlled collapse and still interesting to watch. In others, the author successfully sets up a different narrative. After all, even historic counterfactuals frequently add narrative unity to their version of events.)


      • Daibhid C
        May 30, 2017 @ 8:43 pm

        Oops, the italics should have stopped at the close quotes.


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