Viewing posts tagged social 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 ...

29

Midge walks into the Gym.  You get the sense that it's not the sort of place the old Midge would've visited.  The old Midge would've been scared of the self-defence crowd.

The new Midge is all swagger, in his shades and his shiny jacket.

"Waiting on the Sarge?" he asks the room full of silent, watching, bemused, singlet-and-sweatpants-wearing blokes.  "He's been held up. He asked me to have a little chat with you."

This is a lie.

"I learned a secret today. The secret of success. Thought I'd share it with you."

Midge has been learning all sorts of things.  He's been quarry in a quarry, hunted through a rocky wilderness on another world, stalked by carnivorous beasts.  He chose to survive at all costs.  He killed... not just to survive but for fun, for revenge, for a feeling of power that - one senses - is entirely new to him, a new experience in a stunted and powerless dead-end life.  Of course, in the process, he adopted the viewpoint of the beasts.  The logic of tooth and claw.  The logic of 'fuck you, I'm all ...

50

Lesterson has brought his new toy, his reactivated alien machine, to Governor Hensall's office.  He boasts of how it could revolutionise life in the Colony.  It can end their labour problems, their economic problems... all their problems.

"It can do many things," agrees the Doctor, "but what it does best is exterminate human beings!  It destroys them... without pity..."

He continues.  And the machine speaks too.

"I - AM - YOUR - SER-VANT," it says, an unconscious admission in its strange inflection.  It says this again and again and again.

The two voices overlap, trying to shout each other down.

The tool, the machine, the product, bellows that it is our servant, while one man desperately claims that it's a killer, an apocalypse in waiting.

The two claims merge until they become one contradictory truth.

Later, the Dalek (I choose to believe it's the same one) murders Hensall on Bragen's orders.

It turns to Bragen.

It has a question.  The tool that kills, the dead labour, the mass produced thing, the weapon, the tank, the gothic monster, the repressed thing returning, the fascist principle that mirrors Bragen's own, the social-Darwinist that ...

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 ...

Anxiety Satellite

The indefatigable Mr. Oliver Wake has put together and released the latest issue of the print fanzine Panic Moon.  It can be ordered here.


It contains (amongst other things) a judicious appraisal of the 'Day of the Daleks' Special Edition, a look at the way Hartnell's shade has taken to haunting the recent series, a clever thing about the way Daleks always seem to get some new physical ability in first episodes, an interesting look at the pre-Who 60s Pathfinders serials which are now out on DVD and an excellent analysis of 'The Sun Makers' which identifies some of its roots, going beyond the usual stuff about Bob Holmes being annoyed by a tax bill.

Once again, I've contributed two articles.  In one, I identify a blind spot in the lefty-liberal creds of 'Colony in Space' and try to tease out some of implications of this, leading me to briefly consider something badly amiss with liberalism itself.  In another article, I have a good old ramble about the various ways Doctor Who has creatively misrepresented evolution, often using it was a way of re-encoding mythic themes or addressing political concerns... though there is, I ...

The Real McCoy and the Forgotten (Sacrificial) Lambs

I continue to round up my Timelash II stuff with these bits 'n' bobs about the McCoy years.  There will eventually be separate posts on some of the 'big hitters' left out below.


Paradise Towers

Very Whoish ideas. Lots of clever use of language, from the street names to the slang which incorporates degenerated formal rules, to the Caretaker lingo full of subsections and codes, etc. 

It suffers from 'Mysterious Planet' disease in that the production looks good but nothing looks right.

Mel's apparently monomaniacal fixation upon the swimming pool is decidedly odd.  But, if you approach this as children's television (which is clearly what it thinks it is) then you can enjoy it as a surprisingly sophisticated story about social entropy.

Brings to mind Le Corbusier and his notion of houses as "machines for living in"... which always had a tinge of the authoritarian about it, amidst all the utopianism of early 20th century modernism (which also always had a hidden inner core of mysticism beneath all the pseudo-rational stright lines, etc). The insistence upon a buried notion of virtue (you had to be a certain kind of healthy, high-minded, thin, modern-minded, puritanical ...

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