Iris is the title of a film relating Iris Murdoch's last years suffering from Alzheimer's in parallel with the story of her courtship with her husband, academic John Bayley. Judi Dench and Kate Winslet play elder and younger Irises, and Jim Bonneville her aging husband.

Critical opinion is divided over this film. Is it a touching, understated, tender and moving portayal of a transferal of dependance in a couple? On the other hand, is it a study in manipulative, formulaic, and platitudinous cinema? It is generally agreed by critics and audiences alike that more emphasis should have been placed on her actual books, and less on the onset of Murdoch's illness. Each camp of critics have their points, but much depends on your dispotions to films of this genre. For once Kate Winslet is not embarassing to watch, and Dench is magnificent, but Broadbent gives the best performance as a husband struggling to cope with his wife's deterioration into incoherence.

The Goddess

In Greek mythology Iris was the daughter of Electra and Thaumas and was the personification of the rainbow. Like the rainbow, she mediated between the heavens and the earth: her principal role was to act as messenger of the gods and goddesses in their dealings with humans. She's usually pictured with golden wings, like Hermes, and she holds a pitcher in one hand and a herald's rod in the other. Many ancient sources have her serving as Hera's personal messenger, though Homer tended to have her serving in a similar capacity for Zeus. Another of her duties was to lead the souls of dead women to the Elysian Fields, and as a token of this Greeks planted iris on the graves of dead women.

The Flower

Iris is a genus of perennial plants of the family Iridaceae, which also includes freesias, crocuses, and gladioli. Irises are popular with gardeners because many types bear attractive flowers. Characteristically, the blooms have three petals called "standards" and three outer petal-like sepals called "falls". The "bearded" varieties of iris - mostly native to North America - have thick bushy beards on the falls, while the beardless varieties - mostly Asian - are cleanshaven. The irises I grew up with were tall with long sword-shaped leaves and large majestic purple flowers with yellow beards, but irises are a varied lot; some grow high and have big showy flowers in a range of colours, while others are dwarf varieties with small delicate flowers.

In general, irises are tolerant plants which grow well in their native habitat; they don't need a lot of fertilizing, but do like well-drained roots. Irises can grow from seed, but are more usually propogated by separating the root or rhizome into chunks, which you can do any time your irises seem to be getting crowded. Just pull up some of the rhizomes, thinning out the clump of irises, and plant them somewhere else.

Cultivated for thousands of years, iris rhizomes (orris root) have long been used as medicine and as perfume. Orris is a fixative which keeps colour and scent in things like potpourri. The iris may also be the origin of the fleur-de-lis, which does look kind of like a stylized iris.

The iris is the coloured part of your eye. It serves to control the amount of light that gets inside, protecting the sensitive retina. It is a thin (~1 mm), donut shaped ring of muscle fibers that change the diameter of the hole in the center of it, called the pupil.

Operation of the iris is simple. When light levels increase, it will constrict the pupil. When light levels decrease, the pupil will dilate. The objective is to keep the amount of light entering the eye as constant as possible.

The iris' colour and texture are the result of pigment cells. To be more specific, eumelanin produces black, and pheomelanin produces red. These two pigments combine in varying amounts to form wicked cool patterns that are unique, like your DNA or fingerprint. The pupil is black because the retina, at the back of the eye, has pigments in it that absorb light.


in one flash, I am returned again
it's just something you can't see

* * * *

Iris is an on-again/off-again synthpop¹ band from Austin, Texas. They first came into being in 1993, when they were known as Forgiving Iris. Members at the time of the band's formation included Reagan Jones (all vocals, synths) and Matt Morris (synths and everything else). As far as synthpop goes (and the relative ease with which one can produce it), Iris took a long, long time to get off the ground. This can be blamed on America's disinterest in synthpop as a whole (it's infinitely more popular in Europe), and on the fact that the band members required day jobs to keep themselves financially solvent. As a result, their releases have been sporadic, and when they do release new material, it's often years after a previous release. The long production times lead to an extremely polished sound. Unlike a lot of other synthpop bands, Iris sounds crisp and clear, and doesn't rely on lead vocal effects other than various noise reduction filters and the occasional reverb or delay. Reagan has a lofty voice that wouldn't be out of place in a boy band, but he uses it to good effect and sings with an earnesty that is hard to ignore.

From the band's formation in 1993, it took them three years to produce a single song called "Annie, would I lie to you?" The song was released as a single and was featured on an obscure genre compilation CD called Electronic Fields in 1996. Other than a few club DJs and genre afficionatos, nobody noticed. The band, however, was undeterred, and after another three years, released their first full-length album, Disconnect, with "Annie, would I lie to you?" as its centerpiece. With it came the current form of their name after they dropped the word "Forgiving" to become simply Iris. Released on the Different Drum record label, it was a smash hit -- as far as American synthpop goes. "Annie" became a heavily played dancefloor staple and remained so for a couple of years (after which it seemed everyone got sick of it due to overexposure). Three other songs on Disconnect were released as singles, "Saving time," "Lose in wanting" and "Danger is the shame," which pushed the album to its greatest success -- #8 on the Deutsch Alternative Chart in Germany. As a result of all this, the band went on a tour of the USA and Europe in 1999, which did pretty well. I saw them at the Limelight in New York City, and they seemed quite enthusiastic to have finally "made it," with Reagan bouncing around the stage as he sang, Matt bopping to the infectious beats even as he was creating them. It was a fun show to see, something you wouldn't normally expect at music that is largely aimed at goths.

After the spotlight had faded a bit, Matt left the band, leaving only Reagan. He promptly brought in Andrew Sega, whom anyone familiar with the demoscene would know as Necros, world-famous module tracker and maker of music discs. He's also a member of Stromkern, as part of their live line-up. After a further three years of no new material, Awakening, Iris's second LP, was released in 2002. Andy's production was immediately noticeable and really tight; the sound was better than ever. The album's lead single, "Unknown," was a minor success and got a bit of club play, but not much else. After its release, the band disappeared from the radar again, although Andy has kept busy with his side project, Alpha Conspiracy, and also as a remixer and a composer of video game music -- the best known of which is probably his work on Unreal and Unreal Tournament.

In summary, Iris makes highly accessible synthpop, the kind of songs that could be played on the radio if only people were more interested in beeps and beats. When they inevitably pop up from the shadows with a new album or single, it's guaranteed to be worth a listen. Die-hard fans are plentiful among lovers of synthpop, despite having a few Iris songs hammered into their heads by overeager DJs, and if you're curious about the genre but don't know where to start, this band is a highly listenable place to begin.


  • Annie, Would I Lie To You? / CD single / 1999 / A Different Drum
  • Disconnect / album / 1999 / A Different Drum
  • Saving Time / MCD / 1999 / A Different Drum
  • Danger Is The Shame / MCD / 2000 / A Different Drum
  • Lose In Wanting / MCD / 2000 / A Different Drum
  • Reconnect / remix disc / 2000 / A Different Drum
  • Unknown / CD single / 2002 / A Different Drum
  • Awakening / album / 2002 / A Different Drum
  • Wrath / album / 2005 / A Different Drum
  • Disconnect 2.0 / album (re-release) / 2005 / A Different Drum
  • It Generates / CD single / 2006 / Vision Music
  • Hydra / remix disc + DVD / 2008 / Diffusion Records
  • Lands of Fire 2008 / CD single / 2008 / Vision Music
  • Closer To Real / MCD / 2010 / Infacted Recordings
  • Blacklight / CD / 2010 / Infacted Recordings
  • Radiant / CD / 2014 / Dependent Records
  • Six / CD / 2019 / Dependent Records


1. Using the modern (post-1980s) definition of the genre.

I've seen this band live once: (New York City, July 1999)

In the television show Stargate SG-1, the iris is Earth's first line of defence against an attack through the Stargate by hostiles. Originally composed of a large number of titanium plates housed in the outer ring of the Stargate, the iris slides closed over the event horizon in the event of unauthorised incoming 'gate activity.

The iris is situated a mere few micrometers from the event horizon, meaning that matter travelling through an incoming wormhole and encountering the iris is prevented from fully reintegrating, causing it to cease to exist in a reverberating thud. This rather final end happens to all objects impacting the iris, whether they be living creatures (humans, aliens and other space-related things) or solid objects (bombs, rocks, bullets). The only known exceptions to this are radio waves (and likely most of the rest of the EM spectrum capable of passing through solid matter), near-light-speed particles and gravitic fields and their associated temporal distortions.

In order to prevent friendly incoming travellers through the Stargate from ending up as a smear on the iris1, it can be deactivated both automatically by a computer upon receipt of an authorised code sent via radio through the 'gate, or manually using a palm-scanner in the control room. When the iris is deactivated, its component plates slide back into the outer rim of the 'gate.

Following an incident involving a black hole, the Stargate, and the whole host of temporal and gravitic problems associated with such things, the original iris was lost (torn from its housing and sucked through the Stargate to be more specific). This was replaced with a new iris composed of a trinium/titanium composite material, making it much stronger and able to withstand a lot more punishment.

An interesting fact to note about the iris is that when the 'gate is activated with the iris closed, the energy vortex normally produced upon 'gate activation is contained behind the iris. This is likely due to the proximity of the iris to the event horizon - normally the energy vortex tends to vaporise anything in its path before it settles down and the wormhole stabilises.

1 - Please note that things impacting the iris after travelling through the Stargate do not actually smear across it. They are prevented from reintegrating fully. This means that when they impact the iris, they are only partially 'there' - ie: only a part of their matter has appeared, so very little, if anything, is left as a residue on the iris.

I"ris (?), n.; pl. E. Irises (#), L. Irides (#). [L. iris, iridis, the goddess, Gr. &?;, &?;, the rainbow, iris of the eye, the plant Iris. Cf. Orris.]

1. (Class. Myth.)

The goddess of the rainbow, and swift-footed messenger of the gods. Shak.


The rainbow. Sir T. Browne.


An appearance resembling the rainbow; a prismatic play of colors. Tennyson.

4. (Anat.)

The contractile membrane perforated by the pupil, and forming the colored portion of the eye. See Eye.

5. (Bot.)

A genus of plants having showy flowers and bulbous or tuberous roots, of which the flower-de- luce (fleur-de-lis), orris, and other species of flag are examples. See Illust. of Flower-de-luce.

6. (Her.)

See Fleur-de-lis, 2.


© Webster 1913

I"ris, n. (Zoöl.)

Inner circle of an oscillated color spot.


© Webster 1913

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.