Our Imposter Syndrome cancels out our Dunning-Kruger

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Jack Graham

Jack Graham writes and podcasts about culture and politics from a Gothic Marxist-Humanist perspective. He co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper. Support Jack on Patreon.


  1. liminalD
    March 27, 2014 @ 9:04 pm

    Did you throw this together just now, based on that brief bit of facebook silliness? If so, I'm impressed 🙂

    I agree that the way RTD's companions' development into social actors is undermined is a betrayal. And I think your observations about the Ponds and their daughter are pretty much spot-on. I'll have to have a think about what you've sad about Clara, cos I don't think I'm quite getting what you're saying there – it's less to do with your writing than my comprehension. Are you saying that Clara becomes the quintessential modern worker because she fully and unquestioningly embraces the necessity of the fractured self to meet the various demands made of her?


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  2. Jack Graham
    March 28, 2014 @ 5:30 am

    I might not use the term "quintessential" myself, but otherwise I think you put it well.


  3. Anonymous
    March 28, 2014 @ 6:13 am

    I'm not quite sure sure what your argument is here. That it's impossible to be a 'social actor' with a spouse and a job fighting aliens?
    Oh, and could you point me to the essay where you explain what you mean by social actor? The meaning isn't made apparent in this context.


  4. Jack Graham
    March 28, 2014 @ 6:28 am

    By 'social actor' I just mean someone who intervenes, as part of a collective endeavour, in wider societal conflicts, with societal objectives. Definitely possible to be a social actor with a spouse. In fact, the most obvious objection to what I've said about Amy is that she does just that. She continues to have adventures after marriage. But I think there's a marked difference between what she does and what, say, Rose does (before the character of Rose goes wrong). Listen to Rose's statement of priorities in 'Parting of the Ways', for instance. To be fair to Moffat, the idea that there's some kind of antithesis between being a social actor and having a domestic life is not his alone. Indeed, the idea of such an antithesis is part of what goes so horribly wrong at the end of RTD's tenure… though even when Martha and Mickey get together (so, so wrongly) they are still out there, actors in the world, fighting.


  5. unnoun
    March 28, 2014 @ 8:00 am

    Fascinating. So, is this your conception of what another critic might have called "The Problem of Susan"? Of course, as you pointed out, Amy's role as a "social actor" (in the sense of having adventures, which is odd as a definition) doesn't end at The Big Bang, but I'm not sure to what extent we can assume it ended as of The Angels Take Manhattan either. The previous episode indicated that she became a journalist, and afterwards we have indications that she adopted and became a writer.


  6. Jack Graham
    March 28, 2014 @ 8:28 am

    I wouldn't define being a social actor as 'having adventures'. Indeed, the distinction is crucial. And, sure, Amy is active in the world after her departure from the TARDIS. But here we're paying far too much attention to diegetic information which is provided to us, as opposed to what we actually see characters doing in the texts.


  7. encyclops
    March 28, 2014 @ 1:26 pm

    I would really love to see just one companion on the new series who had an intellectual passion of some kind and travelled with the Doctor at least in part in order to satisfy it. Archaeology would have worked. Botany would have worked. Even medicine would have worked. Biology? Geology? Anthropology? Even linguistics, if you could shut off the telepathic translation feature from time to time. Picture it: they visit strange worlds and strange times because the companion wants to check out their microbes or their eyebrow-based language, and gradually the companion becomes just as engaged by the social issues they encounter as the intellectual pursuit.


  8. Peter Wood
    March 28, 2014 @ 3:29 pm

    Rose with Nine fits that description as an agent of social change. Rose with Ten is more interested in giggling with him about werewolves than helping people, and suggests that she wants to settle down back into her domestic life (though perhaps moving up in class) dragging the Doctor along with her, an idea he finds abhorrent, because he can't stop moving. Her relationship with him is the most important thing in her life, and so she presents a problem never seen in companions before or since: nothing will make her choose to leave him, so the only option is to rip her away from him for major drama. But then so strong is her drive to rejoin him that she tears holes the multiverse in order to rewrite this narrative, and is only appeased by getting a carbon copy of the Doctor for her very own. Her happy ending is the return to domesticity she wanted, along with a version of the Doctor permanently separated from his TARDIS, with only her and her domestic happy ending in his future.


  9. Jack Graham
    March 29, 2014 @ 4:49 am

    There's some truth to that, though I would say that the arc in Series 2 is supposed to be about Rose and the Doctor's thinking going wrong in various ways, leading to them getting to their comeuppance. Of course, they don't really. I won't stint on complaining about how RTD bungles it, with the appalling end to Series 2 in which Rose is forced back into a domesticity that reunites her fractured family, thus rendering meaningless all the growing she's been falteringly doing. And don't get me started on the Doctor-shaped lovetoy she acquires at the end of Series 4. Or the end of Series 4 generally.


  10. Jack Graham
    March 29, 2014 @ 4:53 am

    You get glimpses of that with Martha, even with River. River (more-or-less) as she appears in 'Silence in the Library' is a character I'd kill for. An older woman archeologist who keeps meeting the Doctor in the course of her own investigations? Wow. Just jettison all the rest of it.

    TBF, we don't get much in the way of intellectually-engaged companions in the classic series, beyond occasional portrayals of Ian and Barbara, Romana and Nyssa. But the potential seems strangely more present, even at the worst of times. Even Peri occasionally gets curious about local flora.


  11. Brightcoat
    September 6, 2014 @ 1:26 am

    Of course, Evelyn Smythe is incredible.


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