- Uncategorized

Big Other

What’s happening in this image?

The leftmost light bulb is exploding.

Why would it do that?

Perhaps it wanted to? It’s the suicidal counterpart to Gravity’s Rainbow‘s Byron?


Well then it simply overheated?

No. Please note that it hasn’t blinked out.

True, true.

Ah, looking a little more closely (after—what?—twenty-one months?), I can see that a bullet has passed through the light bulb, is still busy passing through the others.

Why a light bulb? What are they doing there in the first place?

In lieu of what else?



But why should anything be anywhere?

It has to be an allusion; John’s a classicist. “A light bulb went off over his head.” “My Aunt Marie had a light bulb moment.”

“Saint Paul got walloped off his horse by a damned bright light bulb.”

That he did.

Caravaggio, “The Conversion on the Way to Damascus” (1600).

Then there’s a pantheon: there are five gods!

We’re witnessing deicide in progress.

An old-fashioned concept.

They’re old-fashioned light bulbs—incandescent, not the newer, helix kind. Is this a reference, then, to the systematic phase out? I think it has to be.

How come there are five?

John‘s making a pointed Star Trek reference:

Few know that he’s a raving TNG fanatic (and played the Cardassian in that episode).

But why a bullet?

In lieu of what else?

Why not a phaser?

Why can’t a phaser fire a bullet?

I don’t think they can. Recall that scene where they want to kill Borgs, but the Borgs have shields that block the phasers, so Captain Picard has to trick the Borgs into pursuing him onto the Holodeck, where he proceeds to gun them down.

It’s precisely like that. But here Borgs are bulbs.

When one goes out, they all go out?

Out of fashion, perhaps.

…You know, I don’t remember that scene that way. I think it went more like this:

No, it went more like this:

No, this!

We could be here all day.

The Internet’s true nature lies revealed.

Meanwhile, I’m still hung up on this bullet.

What is a bullet?

A little bull?

More like a little ball.

I prefer my balls big.

That video’s appropriate for a post about electricity.

Two points to Malcolm and Angus. Meanwhile—

—that small ball keeps whizzing on by.

And breaking glass.


Let’s return to that glass.

I thought we went through that already.

Let’s do it again.

Perhaps the bullet’s passing through your thoughts? Your own light bulb moment.

Just my thoughts?

Your thoughts, and the thoughts of many others. All four persons to your left.

So in other words, what some would consider inspiration—



—Big Other shatters.

That line of thinking suggests—


A contrarian approach.

It also evokes a comics image: one character blowing away (with their mouth, or with a fan) another character’s thought balloon. But surely somebody’s already done that? Already sketched it out, I mean.

No doubt.

There should be a word for when that happens.

A word for what when?

For when you think of some new thought, but then know right away—you can rest assured—that somebody else, somewhere else, has already thought the same thing.

Can you give an example?

Gladly: When I first heard about Twitter, I instantly thought of the pun “140 Characters in Search of an Author.” And of course someone else had already thought it, and used it—many someones.

It’s not a good thought.

No, it’s not. It’s an instance of the culture thinking through me. Which is why other people thought it.

Is this bullet moving faster than the culture?

Nothing moves faster than the culture.

Is the culture moving faster than the Flash?

Nothing is moving faster than the Flash.

The Speed Force doesn’t disturb the Flash’s thought balloons.

Oh my, this is cute:

Are you referring back to that bit in “Big Balls,” when Angus doodles the cartoon?

Everything’s a reference to Angus. And to balls, big or otherwise.

This speeding ballet. Where did it come from?

From the left.

And where’s it going?

To the right.

And what will happen when it reaches the edge of the photo?

It never will.

Silver bullets are used to kill werewolves. What type of bullet kills a light bulb?

A concrete one?

What about this website’s name, “Big Other?” What is that?

Well, it’s a clear reference to Big Brother. Few know that John’s a raving fan of that show (and played the Cardassian on it).

Do you find it depressing that a Google search on that term returns first and foremost links to that program?

The internet is not a moral force.

Why’s it spelled “Other”?

Not enough B’s and R’s?

Might it be an allusion to Continental Philosophy?

What isn’t, these days?

The Other (difference) has replaced the Brother (filial sameness). So it’s an allusion to foreign fascists?

It’s clearer than ever that this is a Next Generation reference.

It’s an allusion to the alienation we feel from our governments, even as we can’t think outside their authority. And how we live with that contradiction daily.

This subject makes me uncomfortable. Let’s look at the About page:


BIG OTHER is an online forum of iconoclasts and upstarts focusing its lens on books, music, comics, film, video and animation, paintings, sculpture, performance art, and miscellaneous nodes and sonic booms. We will explore how we are made and unmade by images, language, and sound; examine computer-mediated worlds; and dance along with various tumults, genre- and other border-crossings, trespassings, transgressions, and whatever, nevermind.

I see a Nirvana reference.

Note, too, that there’s only one lens.


Now you’re getting the spirit!

[With apologies to Donald Barthelme.]

  • A. D. Jameson is the author of five books, most recently I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING: STAR WARS AND THE TRIUMPH OF GEEK CULTURE and CINEMAPS: AN ATLAS OF 35 GREAT MOVIES (with artist Andrew DeGraff). Last May, he received his Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the Program for Writers at UIC.

5 thoughts on “Big Other

  1. This is the coolest post I’ve read in a long, long, long, long time. Too long.

    AC/DC and Bowie? Byron the Bulb? You had me at hello, brother.

Leave a Reply