I lucked into a newish Dr. Who episode, broadcast locally this evening. Its title refers to the appearance of a regular cast member from the previous generation of the series, Sarah, from 25 years ago. It’s also an episode in which Anthony Stewart Head drops in to play an especially perfect bigbad in a role to which he brings vast reservoirs of talent, refinement and subtlety that were rarely the center of viewer attention as Buffy’s supportive Watcher. It’s also just possible that Head’s command of his instrument has grown considerably in the past ten years.
So the Friends Reunited theme runs deep at several concentric levels throughout the interesting narrative that involves an alien invasion by a race that mirrors the British tradition of conquest&miscegenation that neatly summarizes the evolution of our shared and jealously-guarded dissimilar language, multinational heritage and perpetual discomfort with global domination&preservation. It’s as though one can’t discriminate friends from rivals and enemies without a multi-volume programme. And the emotional turmoil in the episode neatly mirrors the irony of an immortal TimeLord befriending mortal associates, relatively briefly, not unlike a serial murderer. It’s a lovely set of ideas that would sit together remarkably uncomfortably if the pace of the show permitted them to do so.
One of several nifty notions popped out of the show and bit me; that as the brain is the physical organ that corresponds with mind, so the soul is the familiar part of a person that secretes (or pumps or generates) imagination. I like the distinction, if only because intelligence and imagination seem more and more to me to be divergent vectors of individual and cultural health and wealth. Just as stupidity and insanity are unrelated phenomena, intelligence and imagination appear fairly rarely in similar proportions in a single person. These ideas are old friends I haven’t encountered recently, but they feel like significant contributors to the continuing conversation I’m courting concerning the nature of art as a mirror to culture fogged by current interpretations of intellectual property law, ‘n stuff. It’s a very long conversation that’s obviously going to be locked in fermentation for a very considerable while, given the nauseating bouquet of this ridiculous paragraph.
On the Fourth of July, I attended a party with a couple I haven’t seen in 35 years. It resulted in an 8-hour conversation, and the best Fourth of July I’ve enjoyed in decades.
Oddly, British people insist on spelling it “arse”, but they, generally, can barely pronounce the letter “r”, which makes the way they spell it relatively assinine. Likewise, the way they pronounce “guard” led me to reconsider Earth as a prison on which our common and vaunted humanity is/was purposefully stranded to prevent contamination of the rest of the universe. Guarded by a jealous and capricious guard against the inevitability that what we’ve done to this planet (landfills>methane>global warming, plastic infestation of the Pacific Ocean, rape/conquest/total war…) might migrate from the hells we always make to pristiner places elsewhere. Guard’s country may just be ringed by metaphysical barbed wire we won’t even notice until we’ve sneaked the sliver of a toe outside it. Going where no man has gone before may not be our destiny. Maybe that’s women’s work. Maybe we’re in quarantine until the insects go all uber alles on us.
It’s awfully pleasant to be reunited with friendly, old ideas that revitalize my sense of hope and change, because so very little in the increasingly wretched human condition is better than it was when I thought about these things previously; emphasis on the offal.