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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

14 Comments

  1. Jarl
    January 31, 2020 @ 10:16 am

    the dangerous clown
    What are we to make of Whitaker’s decision to position him at the top of his system, transcending all its oppositions?
    In the end, we must return to our observation that this is a story about television. The Doctor reigns supreme because he is aligned with the medium in which these stories exist.
    Oh… oh no… o h n o o o o o

    Reply

  2. Christopher Brown
    January 31, 2020 @ 4:57 pm

    You’re being quite hard on this Sandifer person 😉 though I can’t argue too much if it’s toward this productive an end; it makes sense that DE would find a different thesis than TE did.

    Reply

  3. Aristide Twain
    January 31, 2020 @ 6:12 pm

    I am curious what you would make of DWM’s “Children of the Revolution” comic, especially in the context of such a series as this, for all that I know that it’s way too obscure for a full post about it to happen.

    Also, allow me to present a weak defence, but a defence all the same, of Kemel in the context of your argument: the fact that Jamie manages to befriend Kemel, rather than remaining opposed to him, not only refutes the idea that it is his contrast with Kemel which allows the human factor to be distilled, but it implies that Jamie and Kemel’s ability to understand and befriend each other is in fact part of the Human Factor.

    This, obviously, does nothing to excuse the broad stereotypes with which Kemel’s character is, in practice, drawn. But still. Every mirror has a silver lining. Or something.

    Reply

    • Ms. Robot
      January 31, 2020 @ 10:34 pm

      The Doctor does not extract “the Human Factor” by watching Jamie and Kemel on television. That’s what he says he’s doing, but he’s lying so that he can outwit the Daleks.

      He extracts 3 qualities: Mercy, Instinct, and self-preservation coupled with self-sacrifice (this pair is the only true Alchemy shown in this story). So that his experiments will contradict Dalek programming and fight. He says it’s the Human Factor, but this doesn’t tell the whole story of what it means to be Human. And it never will.

      Humanity can’t be distilled. There are no essences. And there is no gene for the human spirit.

      Reply

      • taiey
        February 1, 2020 @ 2:40 am

        Is that in the episode, or a theory you devised to make it make sense to yourself?

        Reply

        • Ms. Robot
          February 1, 2020 @ 7:47 pm

          In episode 4, the doctor extracts three qualities into three vials. Those qualities are Mercy, instinct, and a sense of self. And we know the doctor lies, look at how he manipulates Jamie. It isn’t a stretch. And of course, in the real world, there is no human factor.

          Reply

          • Aristide Twain
            February 2, 2020 @ 9:37 pm

            “And of course, in the real world, there is no human factor.”

            Well yes, but there aren’t any Daleks either. Or a Doctor. Or qualities of Mercy, Instinct and Sense of Self that can be distilled into handy vials.

  4. Ms. Robot
    January 31, 2020 @ 10:24 pm

    Hello friends.

    We wish we could say that Evil of the Daleks represents alchemy, but we cannot. Here, alchemy is performed at a distance. It is something done by someone to something else, or someone else. The desire to turn lead into gold is external. It misunderstands that the “lead” in the equation is one’s own self, and the same goes for the gold. The Daleks want to change humanity, and the Doctor want to change the Daleks. This is closer to the work of Josef Mengele than anything else.

    We might be inclined to point out that Whitaker has a basic understanding of alchemy, especially with respect to in marrying “opposites” into a whole, but again we cannot. First, Daleks and Humans are not opposites. We cannot say that one is, say, “hot” and the other “cold.” An alchemical union maintains the qualities of the opposites, so that the crucible of the self is both hot and cold. Be not lukewarm, hear hear. Maxtible doesn’t become a Dalek, just a corrupt human. Omega doesn’t become human, just an incorrigible Dalek.

    As El points out, everyone and everything that has even a bit of Dalek in them ends up being destroyed. With Kemel provided as context (and The Crusades in the background) we cannot help but think of the racist trope of the One Drop Rule. Whiteness is conceived as the absence of color, and way back when it went so far as to consider “blood.” If you had one drop of Blackness in your heritage (or one drop of Jewishness) you wouldn’t be considered white, or Aryan. Purity was demanded. We see this conception applied by Whitaker in EotD.

    The alchemical process consists of three stages — nigredo, albedo, rubedo. Black, White, Red. Purge, Purify, Perfection. Whitaker never gets past the albedo, and falls back to nigredo, but his experiments were already doomed to failure. This is black and white television. We will have to wait until we’re in color before a proper alchemical attempt to wed Human and Dalek is transmitted.

    Mistakes do not exist.

    Reply

  5. Richard Lyth
    February 1, 2020 @ 10:34 am

    This is all getting very meta. At this rate, I’m expecting the final entry of this series to be a version of Twice Upon A Time in which El meets the grumpy young First Sandifer and they have a big argument to explore all the ways her views have changed over the years.

    Reply

    • John G. Wood
      February 2, 2020 @ 6:55 am

      “And this is not Sandifer’s first version of the Eruditorum—the ‘Philip’ figure observing the winding arc of history. This is her second, madder and more dangerous version—the mischievous and at times fundamentally apocalyptic vision which flits about the underside of things…”

      Reply

  6. (Not That) Jack
    February 1, 2020 @ 9:49 pm

    Oh wow, dunking on Whitaker and alchemy. Truly we are in the Dalek Eruditorium.

    Reply

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