That’s not the voice of god, that’s just a ring modulator

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Jack Graham

Jack Graham writes and podcasts about culture and politics from a Gothic Marxist-Humanist perspective. He co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper. Support Jack on Patreon.


  1. Iain Coleman
    September 29, 2016 @ 11:24 am

    Mediaevalists now say that the feudal system, as described in this post, never existed.

    Overview here:


    • Jack Graham
      September 29, 2016 @ 11:39 am

      You’re overstating, but I’m aware the term is now contested.


      • Daibhid Ceannaideach
        October 1, 2016 @ 4:05 pm

        If we’re nitpicking history, can I put on record – as I’m sure you’re aware from “supposed ancestor” – that the histories Shakespeare rewrote Banquo from had almost definitely completely made him up?


  2. David Brain
    September 29, 2016 @ 5:03 pm

    Whilst I don’t hugely disagree with that middle argument comparing capitalism to games and the notion that only obeying the (sometimes mysterious or downright absurd) rules can lead to victory, it’s worth noting that modern-era board games in particular, whilst they are certainly about systems and winning, go out of their way to try and minimise the level of overt chance whilst also trying to ensure that issues such as the rich getting richer are also addressed. (And, of course, there’s always the side discussion about whether or not even the plagiarised version of Monopoly is still a better illustration of the ultimate flaws of capitalism than a paean to its virtues but that’s a whole different article.) Meanwhile the rise of a major strand of table-top role-playing games in which there are no winners and losers and sometime even adherence to the rules is not the point is surely also significant – heck, there are increasing numbers of collaborative games in which there isn’t even a notional games master “in charge” of the story, or that the position is shared around during the game itself.

    In passing, I will also note that Snakes and Ladders and its siblings are not really games, in that the outcome is predetermined before the exercise begins because the player has no choices at any point. Whilst this is indeed a fine, albeit depressing, metaphor for modern life, it’s not necessarily a good example of a game as such.


  3. Anton B
    September 30, 2016 @ 9:55 am

    ‘the Gunpowder Plot…was immediately associated with darkness, liminality, spectrality, the uncanny.’

    It’s notable how the Guy Fawkes figure itself (as demonstrated by Alan Moore with V for Vendettaof course) quickly became adopted as a quasi-pagan demonic bogeyman figure. Look at the devilish features of the traditional mask, particularly apparent when framed by the crackling bonfire flames. In an ironic piece of psycho-vestism the 17th century hat and cloak also give us a delicious mirror image of the Witchfinder General.

    The most notable ‘witches’ in SF must be the Bene Gesserit in Frank Herbert’s Dune: themselves involved and entangled in prophecy, assassination and plotting against a feudal, hierarchical empire obsessed with succession and power. I suspect Herbert had Macbeth in mind when he created them as they seem to serve the same function at the beginning of the novel as the weird sisters. It’s interesting that Lucas, in his wholesale plundering of the novel for Star Wars, refurbished their mysticism in the Jedi, choosing to make them a masculine band of magic knights. Which rather misses the point I think. Lynch’s film, (strangely, as Lynch is obsessed with the occult and images of the feminine, but I understand his hands were tied) also gets them a bit wrong. Unfortunately by the time of the interminable literary sequels even Herbert forgets the fascinating concept they initially represented.


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