Viewing posts tagged darwinism

16

The Doctor is confusing an angel to death.

Light came to our world to count and quantify all life, to create a set and definitive catalogue.  Light sent its Survey out into the world to sample each form.  But our world corrupted the Survey with the delicious possibilities of evolution.  Light was locked away so the Survey could inherit the Earth.  It became a Victorian gentleman, a man of property.  It enacted a ruthless Darwinian takeover of the house above Light's ship.  A colonizing mission.  A merger and acquisition.  This being Victorian England, the wife and daughter and maids came with the house like fixtures and fitting.  The Survey locked its secrets away, just like any Victorian gentleman, and set about dreaming of empire.  It adopted the cultural logic of its new society and new position: the ideology of 'the survival of the fittest'... meaning, supposedly, the dominance of the best.  With its inbuilt assumptions about the place of 'lesser races' and 'lower orders' and women, Victorian social-Darwinism was perfect for the Survey's purposes, as it shed its insectile and reptilian skins and became Josiah, the pink ...

Out of Eden

From the October 2011 issue of Panic Moon.  As ever, lightly edited and titivated... 'cos I just can't help tinkering.


When Doctor Who talks about evolution, it doesn’t usually bother getting the facts right.  'Evolution of the Daleks', for instance, seems to think species change when genes mutate morally because of lightning bolts.  Such ideas go right back to 'The Daleks', in which the two races on Skaro have changed totally in mere “hundreds of years” of mutation, with the warrior Thals becoming natural pacifists in the process.  (Incidentally, it’s ironic that this supposedly anti-Nazi parable speaks of blonde, blue-eyed, athletic specimens as “refined” and “perfect”.)

Real evolution does involve mutations, but they’re not sudden and drastic as depicted in, to pick another example, 'The Mutants'.  Instead we’re talking about tiny replication errors in genetic code which are preserved or rejected by natural selection, leading to big changes over very long periods.  This creates staggering variety on our planet alone.  However, most aliens in the Doctor Who universe look like British actors, which (accidentally) implies that the humanoid shape is a universal pinnacle or goal of evolution.  ...

Monkey Business

On 'Ghost Light'.


Let's leave aside the aesthetic beauty of the production, with its pattern of oppositions - light and dark, day and night, madness and sanity, stone and wood, feminine and masculine, dead and alive - which alternate until they start to bleed into each other and mingle until we are left with no certainties.

Let's leave aside the willfully abstruse script; the wonderful way it is deliberately constructed as a jewelled puzzle box; something to be studied and pondered and interpreted rather than just passively enjoyed.

Let's leave aside the scrumptious bevy of literary references, sly self-referencing jokes, puns, double meanings, allusions... all of which show an intense and highly self-conscious (though not glib) awareness and playfulness with language, text, genre and storytelling tradition.  You want an example?  How about the use of the word "wicked", which - with wonderful irony - appears in both the Victorian usage and as 80s teenspeak.  It's the last word of the story - the last word spoken by the Doctor in the last-filmed story of the classic series.  And when the Doctor uses it to describe Ace, he sounds like a Victorian moralist (of times past or present ...

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