Saturday, September 1, 2012

Exploring time

The summer is coming to a close rather quickly. These kinds of transitions make way for a lot of different thoughts running through my mind. There really is so much to think of. Packing up my room. Making the most of my time at home. Going back to school. Going abroad, for goodness' sake.

Matt Smith as The Doctor.
When I look around my room and think that in a few weeks I'll be headed off to London, it makes me a little sad. So instead I avert my attention to the television, where there is a marathon of Doctor Who episodes playing in preparation for the premiere of a brand new season of the show.

For a long time I've wondered what it was about this show that appealed to me. I'm not much of a sci-fi geek, so I didn't exactly find the concept of time travel or space aliens too enticing. In fact, I think that's what turned me off to the show on the first watch.

It wasn't until I came back to the show and realized what great storylines and characters and dialogue was present within its scenes. It was worth taking a second look at, even if I didn't quite understand the appeal of watching a "madman in a blue box" masquerade around the galaxy saving us from constant doom.

Once you go Whovian, though, you never go back.

In keeping with this obsession - which is now full force what with the return of the show and the depressing departure of the Ponds that is forthcoming - I've decided to consider what my own adventure might be like with The Doctor. I already put so much thought into what life would be like in some other era, so I might as well consider it as a sub-consideration of the experience for a Time Lord companion.

After looking back at the last six seasons of the new series of Doctor Who, I've reasoned with myself that it's shortsighted to only appreciate those episodes which go back in time. As someone who often lives life in a state of constant nostalgia, I want to watch episodes that attempt to depict various eras past.

This is precisely why I don't necessarily enjoy sci-fi in the first place. So much of it is about conjecture, when there are so many wonderful stories taking place just outside of our temporal reach. Once time has past, events become history. But what if they didn't have to be? What if they could be present? If I were dealing with science fiction topics, this would probably be my greatest challenge - to create that bridge between past and present (with little regard for the future).

I think Doctor Who actually does this incredibly well. It draws from everything we know and love in history and makes it fit within the confines of a show about aliens trying to destroy the Earth. That may sound silly, but when you watch the show you realize what a seamless concept it really is.

Now we get to the all-important question. If I were a companion to The Doctor, where would I go and what would happen?

While it may seem a predictable answer from me, I believe I'd manage to convince the Time Lord that it would benefit us to travel back to meet John Keats. It's always haunted me that Keats - along with many of my other literary and artistic idols - died at such a young age, unable to fulfill the potential that they clearly possessed.

If I could alter the course of time and history, I would use the power to make it so historical figures who met notoriously early demises, might have another opportunity to prove their work through more extensive and prolonged work periods. If John Keats had lived into his 30's or 40's, who's to say that his work wouldn't have become more immensely passionate or intelligent?

This might spark a dilemma, since one of the primary issues in Doctor Who is the alteration of events that are cemented in history. Since the poet died and it has become widely known since that he never created anything past the age of 25, would that makes it unfeasible to alter his fate?

Whatever the case, it's a subject I like considering. There is so much in this world that we can't alter, that we just have to face the facts of and go on with our lives knowing. But what if we could change things? This doesn't so much bother me in regards to altering the future to befit my whims, but it certainly comes up a lot when I think back on the life I've led and the lives I've seen others lead. What could've been done differently? And what if we could?

I don't know if anyone else watching this show takes the thing so seriously. Considering it's meant for entertainment, many of the ethical dilemmas - despite showing up relatively often in the series - are glossed over for the most part. Still, it's a show that raises these questions. And looking back on years of aversion to sci-fi, I kind of wish I hadn't.

Even the most frivolous of occupations - like thinking about time travel and such - can make for really fascinating internal dialogues. And as someone who likes to take away meaning from the art they consume, it's clear to me that this is one medium worth exploring.

So bring on season seven of Doctor Who. I'm ready to question even more.

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