random thoughts

  • I get all the news I need from the weather report. – Paul Simon.  This probably makes me a bad person, but over the last year or two I have found myself more and more often actively turning away from the news; and when I do turn on NPR or pick up the paper, I just get overwhelmed with all the crap that we’re doing to each other and to the planet and have to switch off.
  • It occurred to me the other day that Doctor Who is more [edited to add: consistently] concerned with the transformation of the human than any work I can think of since the ancient Greeks [edited to add: and Romans] (who were rather obsessed with the subject, to judge by the surviving writings. Metamorphoses, anyone?) The Cybermen are the most obvious example, of course, but there are several others I can think of as well. I’d love to follow up and expand on this thought, but I probably won’t.
  • Happy Vesak! Today is the day that many Buddhists around the world are celebrating the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and achievement of Nirvana. I’ll celebrate by going to Aikido training tonight, since O-Sensei was partly inspired by Buddhist teachings, and if I have a chance afterwards I will try to fit in a short meditation session. Or I may just work (mindfully, of course!) on the new piece I’m making for my Quan Yin shrine. (I’ll post a picture when it’s finished, promise…)
  • I will have a couple of pieces appearing in the forthcoming Persephone devotional from Neos Alexandria; submissions are being accepted through the end of August, so you have plenty of time to join me! (Details at the link)
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About Erik

Husband, father, biblioholic, singer, drummer, Pagan, UU
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6 Responses to random thoughts

  1. Kullervo says:

    I get all the news I need from the weather report. – Paul Simon. This probably makes me a bad person, but over the last year or two I have found myself more and more often actively turning away from the news; and when I do turn on NPR or pick up the paper, I just get overwhelmed with all the crap that we’re doing to each other and to the planet and have to switch off.

    Gods, me too. The less I bother with politics and current events, the happier I am.

    It occurred to me the other day that Doctor Who is more concerned with the transformation of the human than any work I can think of since the ancient Greeks (who were rather obsessed with the subject, to judge by the surviving writings. Metamorphoses, anyone?) The Cybermen are the most obvious example, of course, but there are several others I can think of as well. I’d love to follow up and expand on this thought, but I probably won’t.

    1. Ovid was a Roman, no?
    2. Isn’t transhumanism a pretty common topic in science fiction? I can think of tons of sci-fi novels that are explicitly about the transformation of the human just off the top of my head. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke or City by Clifford Simak, for starters.

  2. Erik says:

    1. OK, I’m actually going to edit that because it was incredibly boneheaded… [insert Homer Simpson sound effect here]

    2. Yes, overall – but I can’t think right off the top of my head of any other body of work that has done so in such a sustained fashion? In any case, if I was actually going to expand that thought into a longer work it would of course have to include the whole history of science fiction. (Now I’m wondering whether I’ve actually come across that thought somewhere in my reading over the years and it just resurfaced… it wouldn’t surprise me at all.)

  3. Kullervo says:

    2. Yes, overall – but I can’t think right off the top of my head of any other body of work that has done so in such a sustained fashion? In any case, if I was actually going to expand that thought into a longer work it would of course have to include the whole history of science fiction. (Now I’m wondering whether I’ve actually come across that thought somewhere in my reading over the years and it just resurfaced… it wouldn’t surprise me at all.)

    Sure, but that’s the nature of the medium (television serial drama). Because it’s episodic and ongoing for years, it does everything it does in “a sustained fashion.” Doctor Who just happens to be the longest-running TV series that deals with transhuman or posthuman themes.

    That’s like saying “nobody has been as concerned with the American West as the creators of Gunsmoke,” because it just happens to be the longest-running television western. But that doesn’t make it the most significant, insightful, meaninful, important, relevant, or influential work on the American West. Just the chronologically longest.

  4. Erik says:

    Not sure I agree fully… if one episode is roughly equivalent to a short story, then a season would be a book-length collection; or, given the long narrative arcs, possibly a single novel, albeit a fairly episodic one. That’s six books to date, just in the current incarnation – carry that back through eleven Doctors, and that’s a pretty respectable library building up (and that’s just the actual shows – I’m not even taking the many spin-off novels into consideration, mostly because I haven’t read them and so can’t really speak to whether they also address these themes).

    And while it’s true that not every episode takes up these questions, so many do – either directly in the central storyline or indirectly – that I think I’m justified in calling this a central thematic concern of the show as a whole.

    Note also that I made no claim that Doctor Who is “the most significant, insightful, meaninful, important, relevant, or influential work” dealing with these themes – just that I don’t know of another body of work that deals with them so consistently.

  5. Kullervo says:

    Note also that I made no claim that Doctor Who is “the most significant, insightful, meaninful, important, relevant, or influential work” dealing with these themes – just that I don’t know of another body of work that deals with them so consistently.

    No–many works deal with these themes more consistently (it’s not what every Dr. Who episode is about, after all). Dr. Who just deals with it over the course of a large corpus of work. And my point is, I’m not sure that tells us anything other than that Dr. Who deals with this topic over the course of a large corpus of work.

    Any work on any theme will be the longest work on that theme if it just happens to be the longest. I’m not sure that’s anything other than trivia though.

    As an aside, I am skeptical about your television=written work equivalency. They’re too different in my opinion.

  6. Feral Boy says:

    > As an aside, I am skeptical about your television=written work equivalency. They’re too different in my opinion.

    They still start as written works (scripts). Although they do also have their conventions — a lot more use of visual imagery, and consequently less discription is needed. I’d also agree that they are much closer to short stories than novels.

    > Gods, me too. The less I bother with politics and current events, the happier I am.

    That’s great, IF you are content with everything that your government is doing. If you aren’t, AND you don’t do anything about it (at a minimum, VOTE), then you don’t have any right to complain. Wise words from a wise woman friend of mine.

    It can be argued that many of our current concerns are due to too many doing too little — myself included!

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