Of old books & cultural synthesis

Wednesday night I attended a lecture at the State Library of Victoria by Professor Michelle P Brown, entitled Art of the Islands, Celtic, Pictish, Anglo-Saxon and Viking Visual Culture, c. 450-1050, based on her book of the same name. The evening was sponsored by Monash University Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Professor Brown is also in Melbourne for SLV’s Rare Book Summer School, which is something I am sorry to have missed.

Book and lecture

Professor Brown spoke about how Land’s End in Cornwall was once really “Land’s Beginning” for trade routes in all directions of the “known world.” But her overall thesis is that the Lindisfarne Gospel and like achievements, represent cultural synthesis after centuries of exchanges, contact, colonisation, assimilation, and war too.  Thus readers and interpreters then (and now) can see such ancient texts emerging from Scotland, Ireland and Wales as combining elements of Roman, Greek, Syrian, Coptic, Pictish, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Viking elements. Apparently, to the untrained, spiraling organic patterns and animal symbolism may stand for a kind of ‘generic Celtic’ but they are in fact regionally diverse and specific. According to another book, Brown calls the creator of the Lindisfarne Gospel (Bishop Eadfrith) “one of the greatest artists of the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic worlds” for his artistry, technical achievements, and his innovations.

Top: Roman Uncials. Below: Angular Viking influenced Rune-like text.

In the above page of the Lindisfarne Gospel we can see the influence from Rome with the Uncial script, with the lower more angular script, evoking Viking Runes.

It was invigorating, hearing an expert convey their deep knowledge and clear passion for their work. It makes me want to try to recall here everything I learned. But anything I write will be a pale imitation. And, as Professor Brown wrote her book, I don’t need to repeat all of it.

Lindisfarne Gospel “Carpet Page”.  Each page features a different style of cross. Named for the carpets they resembled, there is evidence carpets were used as prayer mats in Eastern churches as well as for Muslims.

But I certainly appreciated how she applied fairly recent notions of intertextuality to ancient works. Thus, for instance, depending on who you were, you would read images of cats as representatives of sin or the dangers of hell, or, sacred protective beings. Similarly with ducks, once sacred Celtic birds are later used by Christians to symbolise the holy spirit.

Germanic art, chip carving from Mercia. Note the human faces.

This is the kind of thing I could hear about, or attempt to discuss all day. It makes me question the choices I made and how I missed opportunities to study this. It also makes me think about the benefits of being able to luxuriate in a passion when it is also a career. How rare this is to me: to travel the world, write books and teach people about something you have studied deeply and obviously love.

After watching the super blue moon turn red last night I thought about time. Could that Bishop more than a 1000 years ago have predicted people half a world away would be interested to learn about how he invented a dye for his pages to imitate the colour of lapis lazuli that he lacked on his island?

Imagine that Bishop making his book to commemorate St Cuthbert, only for his art to outlive the fame of the man he wanted to honour.

Imagine making something that survives 1000 years. The Lindisfarne Gospel escaped the destruction of the Viking raids, then centuries of further invasions and wars, the rise of Protestantism and the dissolution of the monasteries, and times made desperate by plague. Its survival is remarkable, but that we can still read its script and interpret it symbolic art is due to the same impetus towards cultural interpretation and synthesis that continues today.

An Anglo-Saxon depiction of Weyland the Smith, who on the carving becomes a part of the Christian story.

My last thought is that those who imagine previous peoples and times as neat, discrete, clear-cut sovereign, ‘pure’ entities are buying into a superseded 19th century mindset. Professor Brown was clear: hundreds of ago, Cornwall was famous enough for Patriarchs as far away as Turkey to raise funds for famine relief. People might have travelled for missionary work or to trade for tin, but where ever they went they took their beliefs, faiths, myths, arts, and their DNA with them. This cheers me immensely,  alone, on the other side of the world.

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A palpable hit

Last night I had my very first German Longsword class, with Fechtschule Victoria. It was two hours of tentatively and ever so gently prodding at sparring partners in a primary school gym. Until we got more comfortable handling very real, very steel, practice swords.

None of us looked like this. At all.

Slowly it became easier to tap my sparring partners on their (protected) heads, even as my arm began to tire and my feet got mixed up. Turns out sword fighting is a bit like dancing and boxing in that what your feet are doing and how you balance are everything.

We will become Amazons! Maybe.

More than 30 women attended the first lesson last night, from all sorts of backgrounds and ages. And little bespectacled me didn’t feel so very out-of-place. It was a matter of introducing ourselves to each other and then attempting to stab newly met people in the face. It sounds a bit Lagertha but it wasn’t. Mainly because we were so polite, it being so new and all. It was fun but oh I am sore today, not from being hit in the head, just from the work out.

Or we too can be Minerva. 

We learned some phrases, like cut and parry, and void and what they referred to and put them into practice. And we will be learning more about the teachings of Johannes Liechtenauer. Yay for 14th and 15th Century German expertise!

I might need to crack open a book or two.

At the end of the class two of the teachers (in full safety regalia) sparred. The sound of steel on steel of the swords echoed in the hall and it was real. This wasn’t playing, it was attacking with intent. There was grappling, and the use of the pommel, and hits to each other. It wasn’t film like.  It felt as if the gym was a Danish court, when suddenly the nephew of the king must duel his enemy. Unlike Hamlet however, it all ended in happy, exhausted smiles and applause.

So now I am a Historical European Martial Artist, or I will be eventually, after much practice.

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Over the edge of the world

Farewell and vale Ursula Le Guin. Thank you for going down a left-handed path, and showing the likes of me a way. Even if I am late, and lost, and have not yet tapped all the stories stored in the container of my imagination.

Wild carrot or oat. Doesn’t matter.

Thus, I am reading, again, your essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction“. It holds, (pun intended) all it ever was, and more. It remains clever, insightful, and apt. I will hand over this snippet.

Science fiction properly conceived, like all serious fiction, however funny, is a way of trying to describe what is in fact going on, what people actually do and feel, how people relate to everything else in this vast sack, this belly of the universe, this womb of things to be and tomb of things that were, this unending story. In it, as in all fiction, there is room enough to keep even Man where he belongs, in his place in the scheme of things; there is time enough to gather plenty of wild oats and sow them too, and sing to little Oom, and listen to Ool’s joke, and watch newts, and still the story isn’t over. Still there are seeds to be gathered, and room in the bag of stars.

The bag of stars is full, and I have my own seeds to plant.


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Writing the dark side

In a writing group a member explained she had been criticised by a teacher for creative writing which featured a bleak theme. She was told no one reads dark stories. This is clearly wrong. I think her teacher meant “I don’t read bleak stories.” Of course our group came up with examples that contradicted her teacher beginning with Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe. It is fine by the way, not to like a theme or genre: we all have different tastes. However, the tutor should have been honest: there is a lot of dark in the world and our art, entertainment, and stories use it. Some even revel in it.

Of course I agree with Nina Simone: artists are a prism through which our vision of the world is transformed, (for better or worse).  Artists often have things to say about how bleak the world can be, in order to offer  the contrasting joy and hope. Yet many stories begin from a point of darkness and head into bleaker territory. Because sometimes life is like that too. Yet, there is a larger point to be explored here. If we think about the most enduring stories; our myths, our legends and fairy tales, they all explore violence and war, murder, enslavement and rape, theft, loss, revenge, physical and psychic pain. Darkness is thus an ancient story telling tradition, perhaps even our oldest one.

Those who say art & darkness don’t go together haven’t seen all the skull & book illustrations around.

Modern interpretations of ‘fairy tales’ calling themselves ‘dark retellings’ are wrong, because ‘dark fairy tale’ is a tautology. Fairy tales are vessels that convey layers of meaning and are thus already light and dark by their very nature. If you think a wolf eating a grandparent isn’t dark that’s a reflection on you, and that’s just for starters. Even if you argue they are symbolic, (and they are), why do they seem to depend upon such gruesome imagery? Are humans just naturally better at remembering terrible events?

You don’t have to read very far into whatever version of the Greek myths you have to see humans get horribly punished for espousing opinions on which the gods differ (like who is better looking Hera, Aphrodite or the other one). The gods can be seen as egotistic versions of humans, mostly behaving badly in response to the things humans do, or for reasons of their own.

But let’s look at Homer. He argues the Greeks will stage wars over a messy divorce (battle of Troy) and use human sacrifice to ensure their safe commute (Iphigenia). You may survive the 20 year trip back home (The Odyssey) but  your crew will be turned into pigs, or otherwise die. When you get home, you find your wife (Penelope) is preyed upon by dude-bro wannabe island kings who you have to fight, but not before you execute all the palace staff first (for reasons). Even if these epic poems are symbolically charged works that delineate important lessons on the soul’s relationship with the body, and the body’s place in the cosmos (as I was taught btw) they are nonetheless brutal.

What about the frisson generated by a spooky story? 

If the works of Homer are not dark enough, let’s look at other texts that the western world claim as foundational. Like the Pentateuch or Old Testament. The world barely existed before the members of the first family are killing each other because their god prefers meat over grain. Other crimes included eating meat with cheese, turning back to look at a city, and combining different kinds of textiles in the same outfit. Things that are not crimes include kidnap, rape, and selling your daughter as a sex slave.

Ok, different groups of Christians argue these books have been superseded by (a small selection of the) Gospels of the New Testament. But the world it is set in features Roman occupied cities full of poverty, political disenfranchisement, disease, and endorsed slavery. Its world is where justice consists of mob support of capital punishment. And this story sees the hero betrayed and denied by his closest friends before a prolonged death. Then the method of his torture becomes the symbol of this weird new death cult, as the Romans deemed it.

Things to terrorise your very soul.If the above doesn’t convince you that the darkest parts of history and myth aren’t somehow popular, with care taken for their transmission, I don’t know what will. Sure, some of it is about context, and ‘in groups’ and ‘out groups’ – ie those who are enslaved are outsiders. Yet I rewatch Pan’s Labyrinth and think about how violent its world is, and thus how far we haven’t come from stories of how a son could be stoned to death for being an insolent teen.

This darkness is infused in our religions, our moralities, our behaviours, our politics and our laws. Ancient traditions in story telling seem to teach us life is conflict. Then, we live like it is, and therefore our stories aren’t stories without it.

What it would take for a different way?

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UnReview: Triennial

I’ve visited the National Gallery of Victoria’s Triennial twice now and I can firmly say I’ve not experienced everything. There is so much to see some art is skipped, but on the other hand, the scale of many works means that much is simply unmissable.

This is unmissable.

So yes, reclining Buddha, check. Giant skulls filling a gallery, check (after a long wander). The darkened room filled with Guo Pei’s dream-like impossible dresses that I call Gowns of Wow. Yes, I found them. Twice.

Pictures are good, but can’t convey the scale of this.

Because of the immensity of this exhibit I’m less inclined to attempt to sum it up or theorise in a meandering and ultimately pointless review. I mean even the book of this event is huge.

Even the details are epic.

But I can share a few impressions and some pictures. Plus other things continue there, like the Language of Ornament too that is worth a look.

Painting on glass to illustrate a point about glass, painting & illuminated books.

Impression One: messing with your head

A central idea to some installations is how they mean to induce a perspective shift. By playing with colour and line, darkness, light, movement and sound, they are basically messing with how you look at and feel about the environment you inhabit at that moment. And it works.

Is it crinkled foil? No. Is it digital? No. A painting? No. Look closer. 

It is dizzying and amazing. I will cite the a giant embroidery that looked like a digital picture of a metallic substance, and a painted room of coloured wool thread.

Perspective shift

Other works don’t make this intention a prominent feature but it happens any way because of the how they are presented in the space they inhabit.

Let them haunt you.

Glass sculptures like the heads of aliens or slices of brain matter presented in perspex are in a darkened room and encased so that you don’t just look at one piece, you see them reflected and refracted under spotlights, and lined up so they are echoes of each other. Let them haunt you.

Let the works haunt you.

Impression Two: Materiality

There were many fine works, many framed sketches, or large paintings, but the works that had the most effect on me were sculptures, like the giant mass of microphones – a deep-sea blob squatting in a black room, towering above all viewers.

Most of the sculptures were completely arresting and overwhelming and yes I mean the room of skulls by Ron Mueck, but also the hanging figure after the microphone-mass, the faceless suits, and the aforementioned alien-organic shapes. And of course the Greek figures scampering over the reclining Buddha.

Interactivity old/new.

Then there was the luscious and detailed landscape carpet you could lie on and become a part of, weird sculptures out of everything from artificial flowers, buttons and bronze, as well as thread and wool.

Carpet landscape interactivity.

Again, I will mention the costumes (not mere dresses) by Guo Pei. Ecclesiastical, ephemeral, and over the top, the effect of the gold tinted mirrored back drops, in the darkened space with a whirling projection made the entire room into a fantastically dressed dream world.

Thirties inspired moodily lit gown.

Or, each bejeweled dress represented an aspect of a nightmare-scape of entitled consumerism fused with a vision of religious awe of the physical indicators of ridiculous wealth. Depends. See above on perspective.

Gowns of wow.

Impression Three: Digital/Interaction 

It wouldn’t be a cutting edge, new works art show without technology. Art commenting on technology, art using technology and art consisting solely of technology.

Trust me, you have to be there for this.

There are films and photography, but a (dark) highlight was the room of swirling light. It is a visual and interactive wonder. It is nothing but a blackened box of a space, with mirrored walls, but people stay and walk and skip around it in circles. Most importantly the light is interactive. People change the projections streaming onto the floor. You can speculate on the meaning for art, humanity and tech if you like, but this is deceptively simple and quite magical.

Yeah, I don’t know either.

Impression Four: Art together

This is big. I’ve never worked so hard to cut people out of my photos.  I’ve not  witnessed so many people willing to hang around a gallery on a late Sunday afternoon, as the food truck vendors outside sold out of items and the street market closed. People wanted to stay. They wanted to interact with the art, the gallery and each other.


Drop by Drawing was full. I had to wait for a seat, which didn’t happen last year. As an experience of itself it was overwhelming. People don’t call Melbourne the cultural capital of Australia for nothing. And the NGV is the most visited art gallery in the world by local inhabitants.

Probably a local.

Other galleries may get more tourists (as they should) but Victorian locals love their gallery. Sunday proved it. It was positive to see so many people wandering casually, or walking with intent, families replete with prams, couples, all ages, all walks of life, from any background you cared to name.

Then there are people who are art.

Writing is usually a solitary, alone time thing, and art often is as well, but the enjoyment of it doesn’t have to be. It’s why classes work, even the one on Sunday, amid the frenzy of the busy gallery.

Want to call this: Angel Escaping Carbonite.

Everyone is either looking the art, or admiring the sketches of those in class. Then again, much of the art, especially the digital creations, only work with people, much like a drawing class only works with attendees.

Oops, looks like I did kinda review the Triennial anyway.

Go see it. It is free, and there will also be events, music, lectures, performances, and plays as well for Triennial EXTRA.

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Review: Aboria

A week ago I had never heard of it, but that’s how Melbourne and my social media feeds work these days. Huge art installations appear for a month in Federation Square and we flock to them like moths to glowing bulbs, while they loom in the city-scape like dawn hot air balloons over the inner suburbs in summer. So that’s how I happened upon ARBORIA (their capitilisation) while on the way to the National Gallery of Victoria’s Drop By Drawing afternoon of sketching.

Exterior: temple to colour on a dull Melbourne day.

ARBORIA is a luminaria by Alan Parkinson of Architects of the Air, which their website can tell you if you visit.

Temple to colour, looking at the ceiling.

It will also tell you about its audio inspiration from Ecuadorian rain forests and its visual cues from York Minster. But they are rather dry words that don’t convey the intensity of the actual experience.

Being inside this air-sculpture is like swimming in pigment. At times it is overwhelming, especially in one room that I couldn’t decide whether it was red or orange. I know that sounds weird.

Swimming in colour.

This sculpture-building consists of bits of coloured plastic zipped together like a series of tents but constantly inflated – a grounded cool air balloon.

Outside is dull but inside is weird bright, colourful dark.

The entire structure is an organic shaped labyrinthine, cave-tunnel cathedral-temple to…nothing. There is nothing inside except its wanderers.

Cathedral space.

The source of the colours of each room is from filtered natural light through coloured panes of plastic. All the work to make each space inside happens outside. The only things inside are the preconceptions we bring.

Organic structures of the green room.

Thus, the colours are intense as a say Kel Kathryn Barton extravaganza  but there is little detail draw focus. It both meant more and less than a painting. Or I was an virus introduced to a neon psychedelic trip through a soft but inert alien body.

As weirdly intimate and womb-tomb organic as any Barton work.

As a space it silenced some, and sent some small children screaming and careening off the curved rubbery walls. Throughout the tunnels and off the main rooms there were nooks I could stand in (so about 150cm high) that gave the illusion of privacy for many couples.

Which way to go?

The central area was a large high ceiling-ed ‘temple’ space, while there were the smaller ‘leaf ceiling’ rooms in green, blue, and orange, off other tunnels.

Leaf ceiling detail above a red nook, like an open flame beneath a hot air balloon.

Some probably found it easier to process through filming it through their phones than otherwise experiencing it. Can’t say I did much different. We all need filters for experiences.

Blue shadows and a glimpse of something more.

The sound-scape of natural forest noises ebbed in an out of consciousness depending where you stood or sat, and fed into the general enchantment and stimulation of the space.

Like Gandalf in Moria, I have no memory of this place, but I took the picture.

Looking back at the pictures I took, which are unfiltered, the colours of one area bleed and fuse into the next. Blues turned into purples, and I can’t remember where the yellow was. Thus, what seemed so certain in my direct experience at the time, is now hazy in my memory.

Colours are intimately linked to how we see (if we can see) and therefore how we think. I’m not just talking about people who see Bach as green, but how our language is littered, or rather, saturated with colour and the meanings we ascribe to them.  Thus, this space is as meaningful and emotional as any piece of art. The sun brings the light, we bring the meaning, an artist created the shapes of the space.

I want to know what it would be like without other people, and waited longer in some areas for groups and families to pass through.

It was strangely calming while also verging, at times, into anxiety inducing, which is why the nooks were welcome and comfortable spots to rest while contemplating this weird, artificial-natural bubble world.

It was like wandering through the ventricles of a massive empty heart, but there are so many metaphors and similes for what this experience was, you can imagine your own if you go.

In the end, it was itself.

From the outside it was as structural and engineered as any bouncy castle, all spikes and naff trickery, and air pumps and exit signs. The art was inside the artwork, which was a nice change from reading surfaces.

Mundane exterior hides the art. Insert metaphors for people here.

Tickets are from ACMI and include discounts on the Wallace and Gromit gig there if you purchase both. You must remove shoes before entering. It is open until 8pm at Federation Square and ends on January 28.


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Review: Double the hot takes

Here’s your two for one review of The Last Jedi and Twice Upon A Time Doctor Who Christmas Special. Because, to quote the classics, why can’t we do both? If you think, like me, too much about these things the themes of each converge on memory, life and loss, and decisions in quiet moments that change the course of everything.

In space no one is surprised by an interrobang.

I was ready to be disappointed by both, but came away satisfied by TLJ. Not quite elated (because so much loss) but confident about sequels. I finally felt like the writers have gotten a better handle at demonstrating what Jedi means. Sure, it includes mind control, weapons training, and ‘moving rocks’ but it’s also something else. We got to see that something. As a special bonus there were no mentions of midichlorians.

I want an Ice Fox but this will have to do.

Speaking of the Force, while TLJ felt long, and could have ended at least three different points, there was a balance between Rey’s identity quest and the war bit of Star Wars. I thought Mark Hamill got the arc (sassy) Luke Skywalker deserved, and it was a nice counterpoint to Carrie Fisher’s Leia getting to exhibit her Jedi heritage, while both got to explore the cost of the Resistance. I thought Rey’s plot held its line between Skywalker and Kylo Ren that gave us enough answers.  And it wasn’t a copy of anything else seen before.

Luke Skywalker: Where are you from?

Rey: Nowhere.

Luke Skywalker: Nobody is from nowhere.

Rey: Jakku.

Luke Skywalker: Yeah, that’s pretty much nowhere.

At several points I thought Leia’s arc could have ended. And obviously (and sadly) it has. Then again, this film kept throwing up contenders for odd changes of fortune, as well as the most elaborate chase sequence in space. It all just kept going and going but the noble sacrifices, tricks and last-minute saves also kept coming. It was a great to see Poe become so wrong-footed about his commanders, compared to the high cost of his heroics, but I like how he developed enough because of the example set by Vice Admiral Holdo to recognise Luke Skywalker’s gambit for what it was.

I see the Millennium Falcon come to the rescue but hear ‘the eagles are coming’.

The long goodbye 

Speaking of war and long goodbyes, the burden of saviour-hood, and the stuff of legends, most of the above I can say for this Doctor Who episode. The Doctor of War gets to save himself by being utterly himself, pursuing a quest to find out the villain is not even a villain. Plus, there was genuine emotion, and, snow.

The random Captain appearing at the South Pole with the Testimony Glass Woman was baffling for a while, but like Rory and Amy landing in the cemetery in New York, it turned out to be significant and meaningful. It was an ah moment for those in the know, and thus the result of The Doctor tweaking the Captain’s time line on that battlefield even before he knew who he was, was quite affecting.

I liked that the Doctor’s quest was basically to restore timelines by sorting his own s**t out. As an episode, it was a meandering detour between world saving events, and that feeling is right, given it was crammed in between a past self adventure he can’t remember, and a future self he is yet to become, plus landing in the middle of a peaceful moment in the middle of a battlefield. It was, as he said, a moment of grace. And The Testimony, kinda like a benevolent Missy scheme, also provides the grace.

Kill the telling

I liked how TLJ demonstrated Jedi, and in contrast was thus was annoyed by The Doctor being so didactic in announcing his rules when he could’ve just got on and regenerated. I don’t care if The Doctor and Bill had a student/professor relationship, his last speech was too much of a lecture to us, especially since for most of his early run he did not live his values, but was a rude, cranky, arrogant and patronising dude who pulled stunts like the one on Kill the Moon (my most loathed episode).

The problems I have are not with this episode, but with how the previous one ended. Cyber Bill is dead, but was somehow saved by Puddle Alien Heather, and both were able to get The Doctor back to the Tardis. But how? No. Really. How? There maybe errors with the Captain’s time lines, but there are so many more with all the gaps between an almost dead Doctor getting aboard his Tardis through the auspices of dead friends and Bill not remembering anything as her Testimony self.

Let’s point out familiar plots, like using this picture in yet another blog post.

Writing cheques but never paying bills

It annoyed and saddened me that Bill’s potential and back story came to nothing. What was the point in giving her a dead mother, and house mates, and a replacement mother figure, if they were never referenced ever again? Rose returned after one adventure (after being missing for a year) and her mother was distraught and police were called on Mickey and hence forth her mother featured in her every decision for all of Rose’s adventures. There were consequences for the world for Rose. What are the consequences in Bill’s world for her death? I say the same for Clara. Her boyfriend died and there was a memorial and mourning and phone calls, and it led to Clara manipulating The Doctor and other reckless actions. When Clara died what happened to her father, her grandmother, her school, her students? What happened to Danny Pink and Clara’s supposed future time travelling descendants?


Why so many mothers dead?

Poe-tic justice

In TLJ certain sequences (Rose and Finn) delivered poetic justice, and set up a kind of future, while other aspects of the world building were either light on, or a bit mockingly self-referential. Too much fun was made of General Hux for instance, by Snoke and Kylo Ren. While the focus has always been on Ren as the big villain, this film gave him plenty to do, even if the psychic exchanges were awkward. The other ‘baddies’ are almost one-dimensional in how they are portrayed. I say almost, because they are mostly there to reflect others; Ren reflects Rey, while Captain Phasma’s sole purpose was to reflect Finn in her shiny helmet. Of course in Doctor Who, the Doctor is reflected by his former self, and the companions, by the memories of themselves.

The humour

Poe Dameron had some great lines but there is yet more humour scattered amid the detritus of a failing war. I loved how General Hux was teased by the Rebels and how he back-peddled against Kylo Ren taking over from Snoke. However, I feel Hux needed more moments to demonstrate his own leadership.


Poe Dameron: Hi, I’m holding for General Hux.

General Hux: This is Hux. You and your friends are doomed. We will wipe your filth from the galaxy.

Poe Dameron: Okay. I’ll hold.

General Hux: Hello?

Poe Dameron: Hello? Yup, I’m still here.

General Hux: Can he hear me?

Poe Dameron: Hux?

Com Officer: He can.

Poe Dameron: With an ‘H’? Skinny guy. Kinda pasty.

The exchanges between The Doctors lifted the mood. Their confusion and embarrassment also revealed the extent to which The Doctor (and also clearly the program itself) has developed. Some wonder if his ‘you can’t say that’ exchange was real awareness or a device to set up the next Doctor, which seems a bit ungenerous to me. Either way it highlighted how Peter Capaldi’s own incarnation has developed from cranky old man who rejects hugs, to one willing to embrace the glass memory containers of long-lost his friends, and thus his core values.

Same but Different

Clara died and lived left because she was rescued at the moment of her demise by the intervention of highly evolved Time Lord technology. The Captain lived because of The Doctor almost makes the same decision twice, while The Testimony was using their moment of death intervention tech. Same but not. Interesting that the Doctor didn’t really notice, and he jumped to ‘evil scheme’ conclusions when in fact, the Testimony was trying to fix a problem he caused.  TLJ has been accused of riffing off old themes but I think this film is less guilty of this than the first outing with Rey and Ren. TLJ finds a better balance. Ren is not Vader. He is not all evil. Rey, in the quest for herself, finds she is not all goodness and light. Luke’s story, told from two perspectives, shows he was just as troubled as Ren. I like this shifting from absolutes to nuance. It makes each character less cartoon-like and it feels fresh compared to earlier films.

Any way that’s all I got.

Happy new whatsits and season’s thingamy bobs.

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