solitary_summer: (schnecke)
Um. I didn't mean to disappear off the face of the Earth livejournal so completely, but life got a bit hectic since January. (In an extremely boring and uninspiring way, I should probably hasten to add.) Apart from work there's the bookkeeping class I'm still not very sure about, but have to do homework and study a bit for nonetheless, A. is keeping me busy with Russian and Russian homework and we're working on vocabulary at the moment, which is something I actually am sure about and enjoy doing, so I try to make more than a half-assed, just-scraping-by effort, and L. has been sending me texts to translate that I keep agreeing to do even if before I'd already have said that I don't have time, not even so much because of the money, but because I'm still hoping the experience might come in useful eventually. And although the weather is doing its best to sabotage me at the moment, I'm at least trying to squeeze the occasional hiking tour into the schedule to keep me sane, because the last couple of times I went out with G., alcoholism suddenly started to look quite tempting. (Kidding. There's absolutely no chance I'm going there, but, tempting.)

Oh, and the Meta from Hell (tm), which surprisingly is actually still going somewhere and there isn't even a 'RTD meta draft 5' yet, so, go me.

[Rewatch-status: DW S1: even better than I remembered. S2... a bit meh-ish maybe, because I'm not really into the more blatantly romantic Doctor/Rose angle. School Reunion is still lovely though, the Cybermen two-parter is also very good, The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit has some interesting ideas, and in my admittedly unpopular opinion 90% of Love & Monsters is among the best things RTD has written for DW overall and the best episode he wrote for S2. (The remaining 10% being the actual physical realisation of the Abzorbaloff, and the 'sex life' joke, which personally I still don't find all that horribly offensive, but I hate having to feel defensive all the time for loving the episode, so.) I don't much care for the Cybermen vs. Daleks extravaganza of the S2 finale, and I can't even say I found the Doctor/Rose part particularly touching after the first time I watched it, but Love & Monsters kills me every time, even before the final reveal of Elton's mother's death. You see these people connecting, and maybe it isn't much, maybe it isn't special in the greater scheme of things, but it says so much about how amazing it is that these connections can happen at all when they are so inherently fragile and there is so much that can go wrong, and how important they are. It's starts out as such a light, funny episode on the surface, but it has this strong dark undercurrent that makes it actually quite brutal, and really,'love and monsters' is TW in a nutshell. Human connections in an environment that is fundamentally hostile to them in every sense. There is a thematic connection there IMO, and it's not just structural similarities like Gwen and the Weevil, which is reminiscent of Elton and whatever the monster at the beginning of the episode is called, as well as the forgetting/remembering theme, or Gwen, like Elton, stumbling into something that opens a whole new world up to her in the best and the worst sense, triggering a sort of existentialist crisis. Not to mention that in Cyberwoman 'love' and 'monster' are actually thematic keywords of a sort. I'm not saying it's deliberate, but themes do carry over.

I'm in the middle of TW S1 now, and it's funny, because I always said, and I still do think that's true, that thematically TW never changed as radically as people sometimes claim, but going back, there is at least a bit of a sense of 'aw, they're all still so young and innocent' about it, especially in the first few episodes. Also realised that I have, like, sub-sub-zero interest in pre-Cyberwoman Ianto, although admittedly that might be because the whole coffee-(boy)-angle has been too thoroughly tainted by the post-CoE wank as far as I'm concerned. The character only becomes interesting when you see what goes on beneath the surface, and it's a brilliant set-up that in the long run gives Jack/Ianto some depth, although I have no idea if that was even deliberate, since I seem to remember reading that originally Ianto wasn't meant to survive the episode? Speaking of shipping, though, JB and EM have the kind of off-the-scale chemistry in Ghost Mashine that makes me wonder every time about what Jack/Gwen could have been like if they'd really gone for that angle, and I still don't understand what happened afterwards that led to all those painfully awkward UST-or-whatever-that-was scenes later on...)]

(Also, not that this is particularly relevant, since I'll still be primarily posting here, but since the AO3 officially allows meta now, I got myself an account and am going to upload at least the longer, more coherent pieces eventually...)


solitary_summer: (schnecke)
# I hate January, I really do. Ludmila kept me busy with translations until last week, so I haven't had much time to slip into my usual post-Christmas depression yet, but, gah. We had about 30 cm of snow last week, and now everything is disgustingly mushy, the world is all black and white and greys, and I don't even remember the last time I saw the sun. I finally kicked myself out of the door for a walk on Sat., but even that was more in the spirit of duty than pleasure. Can't it be spring already?

# On the plus side, it appears that as of yesterday the Meta from Hell (tm) has evolved into an actual workable draft that has structure and goes somewhere, rather than point- & aimlessly meandering around. In that spirit decided to rewatch the whole of DW/TW/SJA in the order in which the seasons were aired and see if that might lead to any further inspirations. I started with DW S1 yesterday, and upon rewatching, The End of the World is actually rather harsh. Granted, there's the 'see how humanity survived' aspect, but how did Nine think that showing Rose the death of her world on the very first journey was the best of ideas? And then telling her almost gleefully that, nope, he wasn't going to save it, the planet was going to get roasted in half an hour, and getting cranky when she realises her mother is mortal. Obviously on a Doylist level the setting has its purpose, paving the way for the 'last of the Time Lords' revelation at the end, but on a Watsonian level the whole trip is something of a Freudian slip, as if he's determined to make her experience at least on some level what he himself went through. Lovely episode, though.

# Also finally saw The Hobbit with G. on Sat. Since I only read the book once or twice as a teenager and never had much of an emotional connection to it, I thought I'd have an easier time with it than with the LotR movies, where I complained about how they Got It All Wrong, Wrong, Wrong after every single part, but... Well. Now, the first 20 mins or so until Bilbo leaves the Shire I adored unreservedly, to the point of even entertaining the idea of giving Sherlock another try, because I loved Martin Freeman's performance that much. The part up until and including the Trolls was also enjoyable, and there were even bits of the Rivendell scenes I liked, although the whole thing still/again looks rather fake. After that, though, IMO the movie completely loses its pace and turns into a sequence of ridiculous and ridiculously drawn-out CGI action scenes (even G. agreed with that in the case of the battle in the goblin caves, and G. is usually very, very easily distracted by shiny action in 3D), although admittedly the stone giants were impressive. This is somthing I'll never understand. They have perfectly serviceable actors that are a delight to watch when they actually get to act, and then bury them (or rather their stunt doubles) in CGI that costs xx times as much. I guess I'm just too old and cranky for this kind of movies.

# Had my first bookkeeping class on Friday. God. God. It's not as if I don't understand it, it's not as if it's deadly boring, but it's miles and miles away from everything I ever thought or dreamt I'd do with/in my life. It's the sensible choice, and I can't afford dreams any longer, even if I still had any, but it all feels so wrong. Wrongish. Eight months, until the end of August, if I sign up for the second part and the exam. And there'll be homework and things to learn/repeat during the week, which will leave me less time for Russian and translations. Am I making a mistake? Should I have picked something else? But what?


solitary_summer: (Anker)
(Tue - Sat) Five songs by Сплин/Splean, picked at random: Молоко и мёд (Milk and Honey), Терпсихора (Terpsichore), Романс (Pomace), Тебе это снится (You're Dreaming This), and Совсем другой (Completely Different).

music & lyrics )

Also stumbled across a DW Rose vid using Совсем другой (Completely Different) which fits the lyrics amazingly well... (Lyrics under the cut above the video.)

solitary_summer: (Default)
Oh DW, I've missed you. Yesterday [ profile] green_maia posted a link to the Doctor Who Cast and Crew Special (the one set to I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles), which everyone probably has seen already anyway), and just now I was having a lazy breakfast and reading lj and [ profile] selenak linked The Ballad of Russell and Julie, with David Tennant (doing an absolutely brilliant RTD impression), Catherine Tate & John Barrowman.

So, so much love. ♥

(Also suppressing the urge to rewatch everything from Rose to The End of Time, because (pun not intended) I really don't have the time right now.)

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I don't really want to write about MD before I've rewatched the whole of it, but this isn't going to happen for a few weeks since I'm busy learning for the ECDL exam and really don't have the time to spend 10 hrs+ (very much + probably, taking notes and everything) watching.

On the other hand, sadly I don't have the patience to sit on ideas for a month either. So... a warning for slapdashness, I guess?

I don't think any amount of rewatching will make parts of the story less clunky, but what I realised during my walk on Sunday is that once everything fell into place with the last episode and the structure became apparent, things... changed, and it definitely made me look differently at the story and see its merits.

# Jack's arc is really well done in hindsight. )

# Once one puts MD in the wider context of RTD's writing, a lot of things fall into place, too. I think in some ways he started to tell a story in 2003 with The Second Coming and has been working on it ever since, and that's the story of how we deal with death.

Vague ramblings about mortality and the religious themes. )


solitary_summer: (Default)
Prompted by [ profile] green_maia's posts about MD and religion, and my own comments there.

My reaction to Immortal Sins in comparison to [ profile] green_maia's, as well as other people's, made me remember a blog entry by Ricardo Pinto, where he talks about the Catholic themes he noticed in his writing despite being an atheist, and how differently Portuguese readers and readers from English speaking countries react to the violence in the Stone Dance of the Chameleon books (*). He remarks on the prevalence of the crucifix in Catholic countries as opposed to the plain cross used by Protestant Churches, and goes on to ask, 'How profoundly is a culture shaped, the minds of its children shaped, by the difference between these symbols? The contrast between the abstract instrument of torture and execution, and the instrument being demonstrated in use, viscerally, by having a man depicted on it suffering?', and concludes: 'And it seems that I am Catholic enough to have portrayed a unity between violence and redemption, between violence and love, that is immediately understood by people who have grown up with the crucifix and causes much more of a problem for those who have grown up with the plain, bare cross….'

I have no idea if this would hold up to scientific analysis, but I do find the idea interesting, and it made me think.

My personal religious history, Catholicism, and the religious themes in TW and DW. )

(*) Which, btw, I cannot recommend enough. They're not flawless, but IMO deserve more recognition than they got.

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I wasn't really planning on getting into this discussion, in fact I was planning to keep out of discussions about SM's DW entirely, but. (Why does there always seems to be a 'but'?) IMO it's not so much what happened, it's how it happened. I don't think anyone is seriously trying to argue that Nine or Ten never killed anyone, considering that the fact that they did was a huge leitmotif during both their arcs.

But as I see it RTD tried to make a point of giving every death a certain weight, even if it was the death of the villain. Ten especially almost always had a moment where he found something beautiful even in the monsters trying to kill him. You were always aware that what ended was a life with all its possibilities and complexities, even if it was a life with a lot of wrong choices and few chances to get it right to begin with. Margaret Blaine was probably the best example of that, and going by The Writer's Tale he originally tried to put more of Davros's backstory in Journey's End, making the parallel between him and Ten, the war background in both their lives, more obvious. Almost every death was accompanied by the regret that things hadn't gone differently. Even with enemies like the Daleks, who don't have free will or individual thought, and no purpose but to hate and to kill, killing was never entirely off-hand or without consequences. Of course Nine and Ten killed. But they also both struggled with the consequences of that throughout their arcs. Nine in some ways recalls Stephen Bannerman from RTD's The Grand, coming back from the trenches of WW1, struggling with what he'd seen, the guilt of what he'd done, the guilt of having survived, and how killing had changed him; incapable of just picking up the life he'd known before the war, incapable of leaving the war behind. Dalek was all about the danger of becoming what you're fighting, and so was Boom Town and The Parting of Ways. Ten, and this, I think, comes out strongly especially towards the end of his arc, was so extremely distrustful of guns and violence because he didn't trust himself. He'd seen what the Time War had done to the Time Lords, how it perverted them so much that he had to kill them all along with the Daleks, and consequently he saw the seeds of that everywhere, especially within himself.

Sometimes there was no other solution, but it was very obvious that killing should not ever become something one should get used to or desensitised to. As far as I remember it was never portrayed as cool or stylish, or used as the butt of a joke, and I don't think that over the run of RTD's DW it was ever treated this... casually. If anything, RTD took it to the other extreme. The Doctor kept getting pitched against creatures like the Racnoss, the Carrionites, the Sycorax, the Daleks, or the Sontarans, who were determined to destroy or enslave the entire human race, had basically no individuality, very little complexity and very obviously absolutely no interest in the Doctor's offer. But even so, even then, there was a moment when you pitied them, when you were supposed to pity them, where you were supposed to realise that this might have been necessary, but was nothing to be applauded. It's probably no coincidence that even on the less family-orientated TW in CoE Jack, for whom killing had become something of a non-issue over all that time, is confronted with what exactly it means to take a life when it isn't someone nameless or faceless.

Which I think is a good thing. The older I get, the less fond I am of the casual, aestheticised violence we get in movies and on TV all the time, and the occasional break from that was nice.

Spoilers for 6.01 & 6.02 )

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My sister originally invited me to celebrate New Year with them, but since we're all sick to various degrees we decided to call it off, which is why I'm sitting at home, sipping herbal tea, blowing my nose every two minutes, and randomly surfing the internet on New Year's Eve. All of which isn't exactly newsworthy, I know, I know. However, in the midst of all this aimless surfing around I stumbled across this:

[ profile] green_maia writes here:

I think I've figured out why I dislike Steven Moffat's writing.

In RTD-verse, the universe is bigger than the Doctor.

In Moffat-verse, the Doctor is bigger than the universe.

I'd have commented there, but she disabled comments on this entry; I hope I'm not breaking lj-etiquette quoting her here, but I really love this thought, because I've been trying to figure out why S5 left me feeling so meh, but without much success so far.

I don't agree with her post only insofar as for me the point of Waters of Mars is that Adelaide kills herself to stop someone who really has the power to fundamentally subvert the laws of the universe and change the fate of humanity; if Ten merely had delusions of grandeur, then her death would be rather meaningless. For me the parallel that is too obvious to ignore is The Second Coming: Stephen Baxter isn't a fraud, he really is the son of God; it's precisely because of that that Judith convinces him to kill himself in order to give humanity responsibility and freedom.

So IMO Ten is only morally wrong in Waters of Mars, not factually wrong. I'm not a hundred percent sure this is entirely consistent with the way RTD wrote the Doctor before, because right until the end of S4 the Doctor struggling with and against a universe that has Daleks and death and loss and generally doesn't work according to his wishes is such a big, recurring theme. The idea that he actually could change that, not because of something like the solution of the Skasis Paradigm in School Reunion, but simply because he is a Time Lord, only creeps in at the end of S3 when the Master says he has the right to change history, and the Doctor concedes that.

But regardless, for me the premise of Waters of Mars is that what he claims is true, that there really is nothing he can't do any longer, just as the Time Lords would really have abolished time if he hadn't stopped them. Ten's arc at this point effectively becomes something of a theological problem. RTD built up Ten as a sometimes genuinely benevolent and helpful, sometimes wilful and capricious sort-of God not to replace God, but to deconstruct the concept, to show that even being saved is too high a price to allow someone to have power over life and death.

The story of The End of Time is that Ten acknowledges this and voluntarily gives up this power again for the benefit of the universe, and for his own salvation.

In the end [ profile] green_maia is absolutely right, the underlying idea of RTD's DW is that even if the Doctor can be bigger than the universe, the universe absolutely should be bigger than the Doctor. And while I'm not sure I'd describe Eleven as a God in his tiny universe (I've watched S5 so cursory that I'm reluctant to make any definitive statement about it), she's also right that in S5 the universe did feel a lot safer and more controllable. Memories can be rewritten and time can be changed to achieve a happy ending, whereas in the RTD era the fact that time could be changed wasn't a guarantee for safety—rather the opposite: 'Nothing is safe' (The Unquiet Dead).

And I miss that. I miss the sense of wonder at something big and mysterious and essentially uncontrollable that for me was still absolutely there in the 'Everybody Lives' at the end of The Doctor Dances, but wasn't there any longer when the ghost of River Song was resurrected on a computer HD and we were being told that this was a blessing. Death, of course, is part of the uncontrollable. Death is still the ultimate uncontrollable. In The Doctor Dances Nine says, 'Everybody lives, Rose. Just this once. Everybody lives!' and the 'just this once' made all the difference. That's why, even though I only wanted to write about the deaths I also ended up rambling so much about life and being human, because it's part and parcel of the same thing. It's in DW, and it's also in TW, although there the balance between the wonderful and the terrible is even finer and more precarious.

And there's something else that I think is very, very true and that hope [ profile] green_maia won't mind me quoting:

Sometimes it seems like people don't choose their stories, stories choose their people. When a story takes over your imagination, it doesn't exactly give you a feeling of agency. The story swoops down and grasps you in its talons and flies off with you and all your frantic struggling is for naught. Or, the story takes off with someone else and you watch as they sail away, scratching your head and wondering what, exactly, they see in it.
solitary_summer: (Default)
I actually wanted to write/post this last week, but most of the time I was so tired that I was happy if I managed to reply to comments in a semi-coherent fashion instead of just sitting there and blinking at the screen cross-eyed and brain-dead. There was a very interesting discussion about Ten and death, what kind of an impact John Smith's death in The Family of Blood had on him, etc. in [ profile] elisi's journal here and here and [ profile] sensiblecat's journal, here, and it got me thinking about other things too, because what also came up was the persistent and deliberate ambiguity of RTD's writing, his equally intriguing and frustrating refusal to deliver neatly tied up, immediately satisfying endings.

I keep coming back to Elton's speech at the end of Love and Monsters, which I think in many ways sums up the quintessence of RTD's DW. The brilliant and the terrible, painful things, how they're mixed up until they can't be separated any longer, all part of the same thing—life—, and the question of whether it's worth it in the end. (The end of the Casanova mini series is much the same: 'the seducer and the monster' and 'that stupid daft man and all his adventures', and of course it's both true, both are part of the same person, the same life.)

Which brings me to the (apparently slightly paraphrased) Stephen King quote about how 'salvation and damnation are the same thing.' Now I stopped reading Stephen King a long time ago (the last novels I read were Needful Things and Gerald's Game), so my perspective might be skewed because of that, but somehow this is not a motto I associate with King's writing. King tortured his characters too relentlessly for my taste, and was too busy scaring his readers. I eventually quit reading him because his brand of horror felt ultimately sterile to me; it didn't open any doors in my imagination. When I think of Stephen King, 'salvation' isn't a word that immediately comes to mind.

On the other hand the damnation/salvation equation is something that very much reminds me of Clive Barker's novels, where the lines between humans and monsters, good and evil, reality and imagination, so often blur, and the world really turns out to be a place that is 'so much stranger than that', 'so much darker', 'so much madder', but in the end also better, or at least richer, than it was before. There are a lot of differences, of course. Clive Barker is much more spiritually inclined, whereas RTD is much more realistic, and ultimately concerned with writing stories about humanity, rather than venturing into the truely alien and fantastic—which incidentally I think is the reason why Ten always was so very human; I'm not sure RTD could have written a truly alien Doctor, or would even have been interested in writing one. But there are some similarities, although I can't quite put my finger on it. I think. Which isn't saying much, because my brain still refuses to think very clearly and isn't actually going anywhere with all this, except hopping from one tangent to the other.

Lastly, on a still somewhat related note, I bought this small book with a couple of short stories by Anton Chekhov a while ago, at the end of which there is an appendix with excerpts from some of Chekhov's letters where he talks about writing, and there's one that I liked particularly: You are right in demanding that an artist should take an intelligent (*) attitude to his work, but you confuse two things: solving a problem and stating a problem correctly. It is only the second that is obligatory for the artist. In 'Anna Kareninа' and 'Evgeny Onyegin' not a single problem is solved, but they satisfy you completely because all the problems are correctly stated in them. It is the business of the judge to put the right questions, but the answers must be given by the jury according to their own lights.

(*) The German translation says 'bewusst' ('conscious', 'aware'); the Russian word can mean both.

solitary_summer: (Default)
Still alive and rather better, as in, I can actually move and use my right arm again unless I'm trying to lift it above shoulder level. Tired and lethargic though, my stomach isn't happy with the medication, and M. sends me home a lot to rest the arm while I still can, which makes me feel guilty and useless.

I'm also going to see a physiotherapist friend of Ch.'s at a disgustingly early hour in the morning on Friday before work. *sigh* This whole thing really couldn't have happened at a less opportune time. I'm starting to rethink using the bike when it gets dark this early.

~ ~ ~

Decided I'm going to watch the HP movie with my sister after all. Everyone seems to rather like it, and it's only the first part, so. I'm still extremely sceptic though, after they failed so badly with the last one, essentially completely gutting the story. I'm not the woobifying apologist kind of Snape fan, but I think his arc is fascinating, and erasing all of his childhood also erased, at least in the movie-verse, the parallels between his and Harry's (as well as Tom Riddle's) stories. Having Snape dramatically declare out of absolutely nowhere that he is the half-blood prince at the end of the film was extremely pointless bordering on the ridiculous.

I guess I am, at least as far as fandom is concerned, the odd person who absolutely and without reservations loved DH. I loved the complicated moral ambiguity of Dumbledore's and Snape's arcs, the conclusion of Harry's story, the King's Cross chapter is maybe my favourite thing in the whole series, and I simply don't trust the people who—intentionally or not—sacrificed everything that was fascinating and complex about THBP in favour of teenage romance and yet more teenage romance to handle this well. I don't really trust the actors, either.

It's strange, I haven't really thought about the HP books for a while, but now I'm almost tempted to reread them (*), especially after spending so much time writing about death in DW and TW. I still vividly remember watching The Lazarus Experiment and being rather bored with it, because the accept-your-mortality-or-else! message seemed a little repetitive after I'd just finished DH. I wasn't watching DW very attentively at the time, and didn't really notice just how pervasive the theme was and certainly couldn't know how much more pervasive it would become in the later seasons, but looking back I still kind of wonder about that. There were these two temporarily overlapping pop culture phenomena, and in different ways they're both very concerned with death and the acceptance of mortality. It's more relentless in DW, because the world of HP includes at least a vague idea of an afterlife and love is a force that can not only redeem someone, but also effectively defeat death, whereas DW is much less idealistic, and love, while it still functions as an important counter-weight to the death-theme, is also much more complicated and nowhere near the kind of central driving-force it is in HP. Essentially, in HP love wins, in DW death does.

Is this death/mortality motive actually an incredibly common trope that somehow I managed to miss because I read/watch the wrong books/shows? Coincidence? Influence? Or am I simply too obsessed with death and it isn't actually as strong a theme as I think it is?

(*) Actually I am rereading the first volume right now—in Russian, which I realise is a bit beside the point since there certainly isn't any lack of Russian authors, but it caught my eye a (longish, way before I was ready) while ago in a bookstore and I bought it on a whim, because at the time it seemed a good way to start since it's easy reading and I already know the story...

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# Merlin 3.06 wasn't just repetitive, but also insultingly stupid, and infantile even on the standards of this show. Also, if Lord Whatshisname is that forgiving of Arthur basically standing his daughter up at the altar before the entire court of Camelot, that alliance didn't need strengthening through marriage in the first place, unless the idea was snapping her up before someone politically inconvenient might.

Elena's story wasn't as bad as it could have been, what with her amazing riding skills, but Grunhilda chasing after Gaius and he being OMG!horrified at that, was cringeworthy. There were a couple of Arthur/Merlin moments that might have been cute if the whole episode hadn't annoyed me so much (the intimacy of the pillow throwing, the destiny speech), but OTOH the Arthur/Gwen scenes were too weak, especially for such an episode. I have absolutely no problem with Arthur/Gwen. But make it count. Make it an important part of the story. Make me care. Write it consistently, don't just stick the odd scene in here and there. Don't make her and Arthur's relationship secondary to Arthur and Merlin's.

# 3.07 was slightly better, I guess, at least in some respects. In others, not so much. I've always hated how Morgana's character and arc were handled this season, but before this episode I also had quite a bit of sympathy for her situation, annoying evil smirks notwithstanding. Now, though... )

# SJA: Death of the Doctor

I don't actually watch this show, or maybe more precisely, I tried and watched a few episodes back in S1, and it's cute and everything, but really a bit too children-orientated for my taste. I guess I was secretly hoping that RTD would make me like Eleven, but that didn't really work either. There were a couple of scenes I vaguely enjoyed, but in the end it wasn't enough.

And what I found really... unsatisfying, plot-wise, is how there are these intergalactic undertaker vultures-aliens who have presided over so many funerals and seen so much death and pain and suffering that they want to use the Tardis to stop death ('to halt the endless, endless weeping'), which is the kind of storyline that would have fit right into Ten's arc, but there's no connection at all to the Doctor, no acknowledgement that this is exactly the thing that made Ten stumble in the end, or that Eleven might see things differently. Odd. There's also the strong implication that the UNIT lady lost someone (or several someones), the way she says, there's nothing left for me here on Earth, not any more'. But that's never clarified either, unless I missed something. The whole thing felt a bit like a left-over idea that didn't quite make it into Ten's arc...
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I don't even know why I'm posting this since it doesn't make sense unless you speak German, and probably not even then unless you're familiar with the song and the musical, but I'm completely in love with the idea. Russian vidder vids Doctor Who to a song from the Austrian/German musical Tanz der Vampire. It's so utterly unexpected, and works so utterly perfectly. The Time Lords and eternity.

She has a version with English subtitles here; they're apparently taken from the US version of the musical, but they are a loose translation at best, and have nowhere near the same impact as the German lyrics.

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New Merlin, and not only a) do I still have a (probably irrational) soft spot for that show even after S2 ('In a land of myth...', and there suddenly was a stupid grin on my face that I couldn't quite wipe off), but b) the first episode was, minor quibbles notwithstanding, rather impressive.

Merlin 3.01: The Tears of Uther Pendragon pt. 1 )

Switching fandoms for a moment, on the whole I'm trying to stay away from all TW S4 related interviews and discussions because I want to get spoiled as little as possible, but I read this interview with John Fay yesterday, and leaving aside the whole killing-of-Ianto issue, there's something he says about Jack that I found interesting:

In my mind, I was always aware that Jack had gone through this situation many times before, and that was really interesting to me. How do you have a relationship and fall in love with someone when you know – absolutely know – you will be around to see them die? That’s a real tragedy that Jack has to carry around with him, as well as a fascinating weight to hang around a character’s shoulders.

Becasue, really, this. And not only because it's always nice to get a bit of (unintentional) validation.

Obviously authors are dead, there is no right or wrong way to read a story, &tc., & so forth, but the acceptance of mortality is the central struggle in (RTD's) DW, especially for Ten, and although TW approaches this from the other side where death is a already a given, and the problem is to find meaning in life, the issue of mortality is equally important there and it's absolutely central to every aspect of Jack's story. Without this, nothing makes sense. S2 was maybe a bit deceptive in this respect, since Jack came back from LotTL so very determined to be as human as possible, but CoE picks up again right where S1 left off.

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[Hu. I still can't quite believe that I'm actually, finally, clicking 'post' on this entry.]

Author's note (sort of): Massively tl;dr, sneakily disguised by fake lj-cuts; don't say I didn't warn you. Looking at the deaths seemed like a good starting point since they're such a persistent theme and especially once the last three DW specials turned the entire story into a struggle with death and the acceptance of mortality, and it... kind of got out of hand from there. A little. A lot. It still feels like an awkward and unsatisfactory compromise in far too many ways, but it's the best I can do at the moment and after six months of turning this over and over in my mind I'm tired. Camus quote notwithstanding, no philosophers, living or dead, were harmed mangled quoted embarrassed in the making of this post, but I'd never even have found the courage to write this without the inspiration from Rüdiger Safranski's books, most of which I read while I wrote & watched & wrote & rewatched & rewrote & edited. I hope he doesn't self-google.

Final note: TW (abbreviated) refers to the show, Torchwood (written out) to the institute; DW only to the RTD era and 'The Doctor' only to Nine and Ten, because everything else, even if I'd watched more of the old series than I have so far, would be completely beyond the scope of this post.

You think knowing the answers would make you feel better?

Death, life, and what it means to be human in Russell T Davies's Doctor Who and Torchwood

There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.

~ Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus ~

For the sake of goodness and love, man shall let death have no sovereignty over his thoughts.

~Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain ~

'Who said you're not important?'

~ The Ninth Doctor, 1.08 Father's Day ~

I. Doctor Who S1: Everything has its time and everything dies. )

II. Doctor Who S2: We forget because we must. )

III. Torchwood S1: It's just bearable. It has to be. )

( IV. Doctor Who S3: Rage, rage against the dying of the light. )

( V. Torchwood S2: That's what I come back for. )

( VI. Doctor Who S4: We always have a choice. )

( VII. Torchwood Children of Earth: So, tell me, what should I have done? )

( VIII. Doctor Who 2009/10 specials: Lived too long. )

solitary_summer: (Default)
# *yawn* Tired. Braindead. Another ten days until my holiday.

# It's a good thing I don't have children, because playgrounds are so not for me. More precisely, playground conversations.

# Saw Die Frau mit den fünf Elefanten with my Russian teacher last week, which I probably would have missed otherwise, because sadly I apparently need people to more or less physically drag me to places, or nothing ever gets done. It was very much worth seeing, though. I'm always vaguely fascinated by the process of creation, and there's this 87 year old Russian lady, dictating her translations to an old German lady typing on an old-fashioned typewriter, and a musician who then reads it out loud to her, and they argue about the best expressions, commas or semicolons... it's really fascinating and all kinds of wonderful. There were of course also interesting and touching bits about her family, her life & history, as she travelled back to the Ukraine for the first time since the war with her granddaughter, about languages and the differences between them and the love for language and texts, but this is what really stuck out for me — these three old people between them recreating Dostojewski in a different language. Lovely.

(Trailer on YouTube that gives at least a bit of an impression.)

# Watched The Second Coming a couple of days ago, which IMO is brilliant with a very powerful ending, but also came with a bit of a déjà vu, because some of the ideas have totally been reworked in Ten's arc; very obviously in the last three specials, but it probably goes back much further than that. *thinky thoughts*, or rather when I'm a bit less tired, because right now my brain is more like *- - - - ? -*. And really, everyone who said that Adelaide's death in WoM is somehow rooted in RTD's alleged issues with women, older women, women in a position of power, or whatever it was people were complaining about at the time, should maybe watch this. Personally I always thought it was evident that she wins, that even if she dies, in the end the real power in that episode is hers, because she's standing up for free will, for human dignity and human autonomy in the face of someone who's in the process of taking that away, but the comparison with Judith really clarifies this beyond a shadow of doubt.

# On a maybe slightly related note, I think the reason why I'm so completely unsuited for fandom is that I'm never very interested in characters. I talked about this with my Russian teacher this week because one of the question in the textbook was about favourite literary figures, and I couldn't come up with one. I have favourite novels, favourite authors, but no favourite literary figures; for me it's almost completely impossible to separate a character from their story. What I most notice is ideas and authors' voices, not so much in the sense of writing style, but in the sense of the worldview and philosophy behind the books, and how they speaks through the story and characters; my bookshelves are full of (more or less) complete works by favourite authors. And it's the same for TV, really; I've never really identified with a character. If anything I connect to the characters and/or relationships that are most emblematic for a show's ideas, which also makes it really hard for me to keep watching a show for a character or aspect of the writing, when it doesn't work for me on a more profound level. And I guess this is also the reason why with maybe one or two exception the most fanfiction I've ever read was for fandoms where I've seen only a few episodes of canon, if that, and never really cared a lot about it. When I really like the original text, I stop being interested in alternative takes on it, because in my mind they're just... jarring, somehow, no matter how well they're written, no matter how canon compatible. Maybe especially when they're canon-compatible.

solitary_summer: (Default)
*sigh* Question, because I'm really stuck here - in Journey's End, assuming what Dalek Caan says about the Doctor's soul being revealed isn't just insane gibberish, what exactly is being revealed?

Because I don't believe that it's all about the Doctor manipulating people into getting killed or killing themselves, not at the end of a season that is all about humanity's agency, decisions, free will, etc. Especially not after Midnight, where the Doctor can't even save himself. It simply doesn't make sense, and for the moment I'm going to pretend it's supposed to makes sense on some level. Jenny's death was about her choices, River's about her wanting to keep her future, Luke Rattigan was trying to redeem himself rather than let someone else die for his arrogance, and the LINDA people were an unfortunate case of life being just not fair. The rest, though? Jabe, the Controller, Lynda, Sir Robert, Mrs. Moore, Jack/The Face of Boe, Chanto, Astrid, the hostess, and there are others not shown in the flashback, all died as heroically as possible, trying to save other people, just like Harriet Jones, and if you take that away, if you reduce all that, including Martha, Jack and Sarah Jane's actions in the finale, to the Doctor turning people into weapons, the whole thing becomes really rather dark and depressing.

Davros says, referring to Harriet Jones's death: "Already, I have seen them sacrifice today for their beloved Doctor." In Harriet's own words this sound rather different: "But I stand by my actions to this day, because I knew - I knew that one day, the Earth would be in danger and the Doctor would fail to appear. I told him so myself, and he didn't listen." and "But my life doesn't matter. Not if it saves the Earth."

Davros is an unreliable narrator with an obvious agenda, who isn't even seeing what is happening under his very eyes. He's obviously pushing the Doctor's survivor's guilt buttons very effectively and with lasting impact, but in the end there really is no reason to take his accusations at face value. Why should one trust him, rather than (e.g.) Rose, who two episodes earlier talked about the Doctor making 'everyone he touches' realise how brilliant they are or can be? At the very least the truth has to be somewhere between these two statements.

Dalek Caan is insane, but OTOH he is, sort of, the voice of truth in this, the most he does is call the Doctor 'Dark Lord' in the beginning; he never judges and condemns him along with Davros or the Daleks. He has recognised the truth of what the Daleks are and betrayed them and Davros. When a Dalek can do that, does it make sense to assume the Doctor's companions are without a mind or will of their own?

So, what is being revealed?

I think in the end it once more comes down to what is the red thread running through Ten's arc, that he simply can't accept that death is a part of life that even a Time Lord has no control over, that life is painful, messy and complicated and will force you to occasionally compromise your lofty principles, that in the end you just have to live with that, and the fact that he just can't, which would be a good transition to the specials, where he decides to travel alone, and the conclusion of Ten's story, but this isn't much of a reveal, is it?

The only other option I see is that Davros's perception is so distorted that he is missing the point entirely, just like he completely misinterpreted the rest of Dalek Caan's predictions, and we're really supposed to go with Rose's statement in Turn Left, which would make the reveal simply about the Doctor inspiring people to be heroes and saving others and being a force for the good, even if it's unavoidable that they sometimes do get killed. After all, before they stepped out of the Tardis he was still telling them, "It's been good, though, hasn't it? All of us, all of it. Everything we did," telling them how brilliant they all were. It's just that every time the subject of death comes up, it automatically eclipses everything else in his mind.

solitary_summer: (Default)
Amy's Choice )


In Old New Who news, still writing, and what drives me kind of crazy (mostly in a good way, except when I'm actually trying to analyse the text, in which case it's really annoying because it makes me feel so stupid) is the scope of ambiguity RTD's writing sometimes has. The moral dilemma of the S1 finale is still relatively clear, although the implications of the Doctor's decision are still problematic, but (I think) intentionally so, in order to balance the deus ex machina solution, and S2 is even less complicated, because it's all about the Doctor and Rose. But the S3 finale already confuses me especially with its use of religious themes (Good? Bad? The conclusion of Ten's arc certainly suggests the latter. And can forgiveness be wrong?), and as for the S4 finale, while the whole thing with the moving planets is a bit over-blown and ridiculous, I've already changed my mind at least a couple of times about the implications of Davros's words about the Doctor's soul being revealed and the all the deaths. Am I stupid? Or am I for whatever reason missing something crucial that is obvious to everyone else? These scenes work incredibly well on an emotional level, probably precisely because they evoke such complex feelings, but once you try to untangle them logically... *sigh*


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March 2013

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