The Tiny Pressure of My Thumb, Enough to Break the Glass, Would End Everything

Boys in Their Dresses will be around later this week. For now… something new. You may find yourself wanting a link to my Patreon for this…

A critic once, in a moment of naiveté that hovers between sweet and pathetic, once asserted that “as long as there are stories, there are Doctor Who stories. When the stars go out and the universe freezes, around the last fire on the last world, there will still be Doctor Who stories to tell. And when we are done telling them, at long and final last, in the distance will be a strange wheezing, groaning sound. And out will step an impossible man, and he will save the day.” Perhaps it’s true that Doctor Who will last until the end of stories, but the reality is that this threshold is very likely a couple of decades away, and will happen right here on this planet as manmade climate change triggers a civilizational apocalypse. In which case there’s really not a lot that an imperial adventure hero with a busted-up time machine is going to do for us.

Nevertheless, Doctor Who provides a fascinating record of the fall. The 20th century, particularly the global industrialization of its latter half, is where humanity’s missteps sealed its fate. Doctor Who is a snapshot of British anxieities during that time. And as a fading colonial power that, at its hubristic height, had played the leading role in establishing the ideological preconditions for armageddon as global hegemony, Britain had a lot of anxieties during that time. Where an American franchise like Star Trek would offer a series of delusional fancies about the bright future of liberal capitalism, Doctor Who offers something altogether more interesting—a culture that is half-aware of its self-destruction, murmuring cryptic hyperstitions of its demise into the ears of its children as a means of entertaining and pacifying them.

Dalek Eruditorum is the story of this. Snapshots of a culture as it teeters on the brink, then off it—a record of the things it knows without knowing that it knows. Visions of the end with a thin veneer of “but our heroes will save the day” plastered implausibly on top of it. A fifty-six year chain of contradictory and jumbled prophecies from a mad seer in a strange and magical island at the center of a dying world. It’s a tale of post-apocalyptic hellscapes and the monsters that breed within, of eco-gothic terrors oozing up from the earth, of machines gone so insane they do what they were always meant to, and of hopeless fantasies of rebuilt civilization.

More practically, Dalek Eruditorum is a proposed blog project. If the Patreon hits $650 before December 15th (which right now it already has!), it will begin in January as a thirteen-post run, covering one story from every Doctor. Each story will get a twisted mirror of a TARDIS Eruditorum entry, looking at it with much the same critical approach, but a very different understanding of what sort of world it exists in.…

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