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Past | Future

In which the use of words, and names are very important; there is a big difference between knowledge/information/wisdom/myth; the Akashic Records, the Astral Plane and the Golden Ratio make a mystical appearance; there is a lot to say about form/emptiness, what the soul is made of and how things are more than the sum of their parts; the Doctor can never escape his shadow; the Tardis is the castle at the heart of the enchanted forest; and the Doctor himself becomes the World Tree.

It’s taken me a while to get this out – but there was just sooo much to say. I considered splitting it into several parts, but mostly it all wound together. So, as it is, it's going to be two parts. This is the main meta looking at the ep overall. A meta focusing specifically on Clara and River will follow in a few days time (or in a couple of weeks, depending if i have time to polish it up before i go away to Scotland). Because the girls really do deserve a whole one to themselves.

Here we are at the end of it. Amazing finale was utterly and totally amazing. Some things that were hinted at, or that appeared as themes never came to pass. I was convinced for a long time that Clara and 11 were related due to the recurrent theme of family – but no. I think Moff might have trolled me. Some of the stuff was carried right through. This meta might be long, but then again they’ve all been this series, because, I tell you, series 7b has been an absolute dream to analyse – it’s just so damn dense with layers and layers stacked up on each other and a very conscious use of symbolism.

First let’s take a moment to appreciate how much fan-service was going on in this episode. Gallifrey. Tardis repair factory. Citadel. All the Doctors. Bessie. The Doctor's whole life and death. I mean...wow.

Let’s also take a moment to love the ridiculous amount of rhyming couplets in this episode. For me, this brought a sort of whimsical and fairytale feel, and made me strongly think of Shakespeare. It also linked into the themes of song, sound, silence, whispers, the said and the unsaid that are strewn through this series. These couplets are mostly uttered by the Whispermen....


Words and Myth
Whispermen:The trap is set, the Doctor’s friends
Will travel where the Doctor ends

GI: His friends are lost forevermore, unless he goes to Trenzalore.

De Marco: Can you hear the whisper men, the whisper men are here
If you hear the whisper men then turn away your ear
Do not hear the whisper men whatever else you do
For once you hear the whisper men they’ll stop and look at you.

Words have power. Naturally, in the case of writing a show or a book, this is obvious. Stories have power (and they are - after all - what the soul is made of, as we are explicitly told in this series). But in current Who, words really really have a huge power. There's the use of certain character names to tell us important things. There's the idea that the words and the hearing of them are a dangerous act –and that’s a theme we can relate to, with much of this series (and the anniversary) being linked to the speaking of names and hidden knowledge. There's the idea that speaking words/telling stories can be the difference between life and death.

De Marco: One word from you can save me from the rope.
Vastra: Then you may rely on my silence.
De Marco: I have information
Vastra: Are you bargaining for you life? Yous have the blood of 14 women on your hads, there are no words that can save you.
De Marco: The Doctor….ah yes, your dangerous friend. I know all about him.
Vastra: How?
De Marco: In the babble of the world there are whispers, if you know how to listen. The Doctor has a secret you know.
Vastra: He has many.
De Marco: He has one he will take to the  grave - and it is discovered.

Overall, this series has told us that words have tremendous power – and idea of words having power within the show, for me speaks of the idea that the show has a power beyond its own internal world - that it is power as a myth when we interact with it. Because in Moffat's era, we can always read the show as myth - this is something we have known since the very beginning, when 11 began.

I love the idea of the Whispermen as agents of the GI. The GI, as he says himself is information, and these whispers are threaded throughout the Universe, for those who can hear them. There’s a link here to the ides of the Akashic Records – a spiritual idea that there is a layer of mystical knowledge that exists on a non physical plane of existence known as the astral plane. The Akashic Records are composed of all the knowledge of human experience and of information about of the nature of the Universe. Traditionally, the way to access the Akashic Records is through shamanic journeying, psychic abilities or through a dream state by visiting the Astral Plane. The astral plane is a non-physical plane of existence that we can visit in Dreams, is not only peopled by the forces of “good” but is seen as also being filled with dangerous entities, and the Akashic Records are neither fundamentally good or bad – connecting with the whispers in the Universe leads to knowledge, but it is what one does with the knowledge that is the important thing.

The thing with the GI is that he is presented as embodying the antithesis of an experience of mystical growth in some ways – in the opening episode of this half of the series, we see the people who have been uploaded to the WiFi as living in a sort of afterlife, that is not really an afterlife (in many ways it’s analogous to the afterlife River lives in CAL, but it’s a dark mirror of that, as it’s not presented as a positive thing.) As he says – he is information – but it’s the application of that information that really counts. Also, importantly - information is not stories. Information is just that - information. It's the was we/our characters interact with the infmraiton they come across that weaves it into their won personal story and allows it to become wisdom, rather than information. This will be important in something i'll talk about later.

With the Whispermen we have their monstrous mouths – a motif that we have seen often in Moffat’s Who. So they can speak the information they have – however, they do not have the eyes to see and to interpret/perceive, to turn it into a story (again, eyes are often seen as a motif in Moffat’s Who.) So words/whispers/knowledge (hidden and apparent) are important - but how the story unfolds both in the show and in life all in the way tha the whispers are perceived and acted upon. We are urged, right in the first words of the episode – NOT to listen to the (dis)information of the Whispermen, not to listen to those who do not have the eyes to see/interpret.

The first time we see the Doctor in this episode too, he has a mouth to speak – yet he cannot see - he is mirrored to the Whispermen. (note the towel tied over his eyes which is covered with the X motif – a symbol of mirroring.) With the Doctor, he's the one who knows the hidden knowledge-  both about the nature of Clara, and about himself (his name his secret incarnation.) It has been his conscious decision to put on the blindfold - to keep Clara blind to her true nature, to not acknowledge or own his name or his secret self.

Conference Call
The concept of the astral plane as a placer that we can journey to in dreams, and as a place where one can access different eras of history is one that is invoked again in the conference call. There's a few things that are interesting about this conference call.

Vastra: Time Travel has always been possible in dreams.

Vastra says that the conference calls were previously held in the Taj Mahal. This is very fitting as the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum that Emporer Shah Jahan had built in honour of his third wife after she died. Her tomb is the focal point. This links into the idea of the huge Tardis as the Doctor’s mausoleum.

Chairs are important in Who. The chairs that they sit upon for the conference call are the Argyle chair by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The oval head of the chair has a silhouette on which is a stylised bird in flight – birds are an often used symbol of transcendence, of leaving the physical world behind -  just as they are doing in this conference call.

There’s also a fun link to Strax having just been in Glasgow, as Mackintosh designed this chair specifically for the Argyle tearooms in Glasgow. Also - while we’re at it -  note that the stained glass windows of the bar in which Strax is fighting feature the Cadeuceus/the staff of Hermes which is often used today – mistakenly – as the symbol of the medical profession, due to being confused with the Rod of Asclepius. More properly, its associations are with death. SO it can be read here-  along with the bit of X like stained glass – as representing the dual roles of healer/warrior, a role that the Docotr occupies and that comes full circle at the end of the episode when we meet the previously unknown incarnation of our Timelord.

The table is in the shape of a pentagon. This is really important – though it is to do with maths, which is really not my strong point.

The pentagon is a shape with much symbolism associated with it, as it outlines the structure of the pentagram – or 5 sided star which has been used in many spiritual/mystical religions. It’s important due to its link to the Golden Ratio. The internal geometry of the pentagon as it extends into a pentagram within it demonstrates a ratio of 1:1.618. This ratio is also known as the “sacred mean” or “golden ratio.”, or as phi. This is a very special number, that appears in art, architecture geometry, nature – it has also been found to be present at the atomic scale. For example, the spirals found in the face of a sunflower are based upon the golden ratio, and it is intimately linked to the Fibonacci sequence.

The basic math behind the golden ration is that if you divide a line into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part, then you have the golden ratio. Did you follow that? I’m not sure I did, so have a look here instead. This concept of the whole being divided into its parts, which will always come back to the hole again is also very important when it comes to River and Clara, as I will talk about later.

Anyway, the point is that the table they are sat around is linked to the golden ratio. It is a shape that speaks of the geometry of the most fundamental structures in the Universe - it is a structure which underlies many many things. So it’s a really appropriate symbol of connection between people dispersed across space and time, and is also appropriate for the revelation of mystical knowledge- the location of the Doctor’s death.


The sum of all parts

Clara: I don’t know where I am. It’s like I’m breaking into a million pieces and there’s only one thing I remember. I have to save the Doctor. He always looks different, I always know it’s him. Sometimes I think I’m everywhere at once, running every second just to find him, just to save him. But he never hears me. Almost never. I blew into this world on a leaf… I’m still blowing - I don’t think I’ll ever land. I’m Clara Oswald The Impossible Girl. I was born to save the Doctor.

The idea of the golden ration, of division of one into many parts links strongly with Clara’s fate and the explanation of why she is the impossible girl.

We saw the idea of form out of nothingness in Nightmare in Silver, and at the time, I puzzled over this. In that episode, there was the focus on the void in the sky created by the destroyed galaxy, there was talk of being able to reconstruct the Doctor’s identity from the gaps he had left in erasing himself from the history of the Universe, there was the gun which turned the cybermen into nothingness, the bomb which would make the planet implode. The idea was, that even if there is a nothingness, the very shape of that nothingness describes the shape of what was once there, or what could be there. It’s a bit like the role of leaf in The Rings of Akhaten really, where it holds both the power of nothingness in the form of a life cut short, but also the power of infinite potential of a life unlived. It is the shape of the thing which remains – even when the composite parts of a thing are gone, the shape that is left describes more than those individual bits in isolation could.

Clara: I don’t know where I am. I just know I’m running. Sometimes it’s like I’ve lived a thousand lives in a thousand places .I’m born, I live, I die, and always there’s the Doctor. Always I’m running to save the Doctor – again and again, and again. And he hardly ever hears me -  but I’ve always been there. Right from the very beginning (shot of her as a Gallifreyan), right from the day he started running. Run you clever boy – and remember me.

This is the meaning of the soufflé ,and this is the mystical knowledge which gives Clara the strength to step into the Doctor's timestream and save him. Her constituent parts will still make up her whole - even when the ingredients of the souffle are separate, bring them together in the form of the recipe and they will still form the souffle. It tells us that identity is a composite thing - that all the bits of us combined together in the recipe still make us who we are.

Clara: This time I will get it right, this time I will be Souffle girl.
Artie: How can it be your mum’s soufflé if you’re making it?
Clara: Because, Artie, my mum always said, the souffle isn't the souffle, the souffle is the recipe.

So what of the GI and how there is a mirror of him in this idea? I think we're talking about the Soul here, and about the power of myth. First off, the souffle philosophy tells us why they couldn't kill him and why he could take form again. The GI is also nothingness given form. He is pure information, and has no essential substance within -  but he is able to gather together the bits of this information into a form. His existence is based in something which is able to present physical manifestations – just like information as presented in the form of a book or a website – but at core he is made up of nothingness - here is the difference again between information and the ability to absorb that into one's personal story and thus convert it into Wisdom.. The vessel he occupies is the likeness of a dead person, and when that external appearance is ripped away, his suit falls empty to the floor. Information is not stories. Information is not wisdom. The GI works to wipe out the Doctor's timeline by unwriting his story thruogh the force of destruction, by undoing the things the Doctor has done. The soul is made of stories-  and the GI is soul-less.

Clara - on the other hand - has a soul that is made of stories. She can survive, and because at core is more than emptiness - there the recipe/story that makes up Clara, and so she is able to be the creative force in his life -rewriting what the GI had over/re-rewritten. We've known since the start that she had a tremendous power over the narrative. From the first episode where she symbolically erased the legacy of the Time War by making the Daleks forget, where she stepped into the Doctor's role of Saviour, and where she broke the fourth wall by looking directly at the audience and telling us to remember her - to the Christmas special where is became clear that she was a mirror of the Doctor as dying/resurrecting Saviours and that she represented the show's question of Doctor/Clara Who.  Here her power over the narrative and history of Who comes full circle in her correcting his entire timeline, in her becoming the one who has saved the Doctor over and over since the beginning. Clara has changed the entire history of the show, by writing herself into his life since the day he left Gallifrey.

To the Grave

Death and the Doctor
This is where the whole series, and the whole of the Doctor’s journey has been leading us -and it's also, thematically. the only place it could ever have ended.

Clara, in her journey through this series, has faced her own mortality many many times over. Life and death has been woven into her story from the start, as the girl who died and was apparently reborn.For me, her story has been a mirror of the journey the Doctor needs to be making. First of all, just a quick recap thruogh Clara's lessons about mortality during this series.

  • In the Rings of Akhaten, Clara vanquished the sun god by wielding the leaf which embodied the essence of life and death, the fact of her own mother’s mortality.

Clara: This leaf isn’t just the past, it’s a whole future that never happened. There are millions and billions of unlived days for every day we live. An infinity. All the days that never came. And these are all my mum’s.

  • In Cold War, for the first time, she came face to face with the fragility of the human body and the risk of travelling with the Doctor to her own life in a hugely visceral way when they found the people ripped to shreds, and faced her fear of death.

Clara: Seeing the bodies back there, it all got very….real.

  • In Hide, the Doctor took her both the beginning and the end of the earth – she saw both that to the Doctor she had never been born and was also dead to him.

Clara: To you, I’m a ghost. We’re all ghosts to you.

  • In her Journey to the Centre of the Tardis, she came face to face in the mirror with her own dead self, and discovered that she had lived and died before.

Clara: That’s me. I burn in here.

The reason why the Doctor could not defeat the Sun God, even when he told it his whole life story, the reason why he could not understand Clara’s distress at discovering she was a ghost to him, the reason why he concealed the nature of the monsters in Journey from her....it’s because the Doctor cannot truly die. Yes, he regenerates, but on a symbolic and mythic level, in this series death is necessary in order to ascend to the next stage of understanding, in order to move, in order to grow. Previously in the series, regeneration has fulfilled this function, but his mirror – Clara Who – is someone who has experienced true death and rebirth many times over, so the mythic stakes have been upped in this series and the lesson for the Doctor is a new one. Regeneration alone could no longer fulfill this lesson.

This has been frightening to him. He has concealed Claras’ identity as the girl who lived and died and lived and died from her for this whole series. He has not been the best mentor, not led her towards self knowledge, because of the frozen part of his heart has kept him from his own self knowledge – the knowledge that a symbolic facing of his own death, the place where the secret of his name unlocks the place where he dies,  was the only logical way for him to complete this current mythic journey. Looking back now, this was the only way it ever could have ended.

After the Doctor finds out he has to go to Trenzalore if he wants to save his friends, his grief is apparent. He goes to the Tardis and sits in the Tardis Underworld –underneath the Console Platform at the base of the Time Rotor. The Doctor has often played the role of Hades - god of death/the Underworld, and we often see him underneath the Console platform when this is going on - so this is an
appropriate place for him to have the bit of this conversation.

I don't think it's just the fact of his death and the danger of going there that is upsetting him though. I think there is a deep fear of the circumstances of his death. - not a fear for himself that his death was painful or prolonged, but a fear of how the circumstances he dies within impacted on others. Remember, the symbolic Underworld (underneath the console) is not just a place related to death, but the Underworld/Below is also strongly lined to the concept of the subconscious and the shadow self that dwells there. The Doctor embodies the healer/warrior dichotomy, but the concept of himself as warrior is one that he rejects - and one we will see come full circle by the end of the ep. Interestingly River had been one of the people who has called him out on this dichotomy and very much brought it home to him, especially in A Good Man Goes to War - so it's interesting here that he says:

Always suspected what it was and never wanted to find out myself. River would know though, River always knew.

And Trenzalore is not pretty at all - it's a battlefield filled with graves. It embodies the aspect of himself that the Doctor doesn't really want to own.

GI: It was a minor skirmish by the Doctor’s blood soaked standards. Not exactly the Time War, but enough to finish him. In the end it was too much for the old man.
Jenny: Blood soaked?
Vastra: The Doctor has been many things, but never blood soaked.
GI: Tell that to the leader of the Sycorax, or Solomon the trader, or the Cybermen, or the Daleks. The Doctor lives his life in darker hues, day upon day. He will have other names before the end: Storm, the Beast, the Valeyard.

The colours in the sky are reflective of this in fire/water colours, and are similar to the depiction of the the internal battle he went through with the monster within in Nightmare in Silver.

We are at the crux here of the dichotomy that lies within the Doctor, the place of the two opposing aspects of himself: warrior/healer, saviour/bringer of death. The fact that his death takes place at a huge battle is a reversal of everything he wants to be; it’s a betrayal of his name, as much as the John Hurt Doctor betrayed his name. Thousands of dead, fighting in his final battle. As the Tardis dies, she too undergoes a type of reversal – the bigger on the inside starts leaking to the outside, everything is turned on its head.

By the end of the episode, when Clara is trapped within the Doctor's timestream, and he tells her that everything that is in there is him - it's telling that although the landscape around her is unclear, what can be discerned is that there are gravestones around her similar to those found on the fields of Trenzalore. This is an afterlife of sorts, the Doctor even tells her it is peopled with his own ghosts.

And when we come to the crux of the Doctor's shadow self, the secret part of him that he wants to keep hidden from the world - it's all linked into the idea of naming and the power of naming. The Doctor makes explicit here the names that we choose (and, by extension, the names that the writers of the how choose for their characters) are incredibly important. He says that the name tells us something, it's a measure of the character, it's a promise. The secret is not the name itself - he tells us this directly - that his real name isn't the point. The point is the betrayal of the name - this is the part of himself that hhe doesn't want to own, the shadow self that he keeps stashed away in his own personal underworld/subconscious.

Clara: Who’s that?
Doctor: Never mind. Let’s get back.
Clara: But who is he?
Doctor: He’s me. There’s only me here, that’s the point, now let’s get back.
Clara: But I never saw that one. I saw all of you, eleven faces, all of them you. You’re the eleventh Doctor.
Doctor: I said he was me, I never said he was the Doctor.
Clara: I don’t understand.
Doctor: My name, my real name, that is not the point. The name I chose is the Doctor. The name you choose…it’s like…it’s like a promise you make. He’s the one who broke the promise…he is my secret.
(John Hurt): What I did, I did without choice,
Doctor: I know.
(John Hurt): In the name of peace and sanity.
Doctor: But not in the name of the Doctor.

Are we all pretty much agreed that this is the incarnation that committed the Time War genocide?

The Tardis as Fairytale Castle
The Control Room, the heart of the ship, has been covered with vegetation. There’s a few things going on here. Firstly the idea that we are all only dust, that we belong to nature, and that in the end nature will reclaim everything we were and everything we cared about.

Whispermen: This man must fall as all men must
The fate of all is always dust….

Next, there is the idea of fairytales. This is the enchanted fairytale castle, surrounded by briars; the castle of Sleeping Beauty. In the myth of Sleeping Beauty, the enchanted sleep can be read as a representation of the cycle of the seasons, and thus of the cyclical nature/ of all of life (there are strong parallels between Sleeping Beauty and the story of Persephone in the Underworld.) The sleep is a symbol of death, but a death from which one is ultimately reborn, like the seasons. Love is the thing that conquers death in both the fairytale and in this story. In the fairytale, the kiss of true love awakens Sleeping Beauty.(It isn’t a ghost story, it’s a love story.) In Who, River’s love for the Doctor has brought her to a place where she opens the doorway to the Enchanted Castle; Clara’s affection for the Doctor leads her to save him through all of time and space, so he can awaken from his sleep. She kneels over the almost unconscious form of the Doctor like the Prince about to awaken Sleeping Beauty in the heart of the Castle.

The core theme of the tale of Sleeping Beauty is that true love conquers all, and this is appropriate when fitting with Moffat’s themes of Love and Death that we often find within his work.

There’s also the continual linking of the concept of the forest with death and the afterlife. Regularly in Moffat’s Who, we see the symbol of the Forest as representing a post-death state, a state in which one lives on after the death of the physical body, a state of being where the need for a physical body is transcended. Or else, the Forest is a mirror/echo/ghost of the real world. Here, the forest within the Tardis is the tomb, it’s the place where the tracks of the Doctor’s life are held safe within its core.

The link is here to the World Tree too, of course. Within the Tardis, the heart of the Control Room- the Console and the Time Rotor – usually represents the World Tree. Here the Doctor himself becomes the World Tree in his death. In Journey to the Centre of the Tardis, we heard voices echoing out of the time rotor as Bram started to deconstruct the console - here the Doctor pints his sonic and amplifies the voices echoing out of his own timestream. This is his afterlife – the glowing tracks of his tears – and it is linked together in a branching pattern that is reminiscent of arteries, branches, lightening, the veining on leaves – and fractals. It's one of the fundamental structures found within nature (a bit like the use of the pentagon table as a manifestation of the Golden Ratio earlier on.)

Just as the World Tree, mythically, connects the worlds and can be journeyed along in order to access different worlds and time periods, so the Doctor as World-Tree can be stepped into. In his death, he embodies one of the central symbols of the show in the Moffat era.

Thanks for reading, apologies for typos - meta on Clara and River to follow.


( 22 comments — speak to me, sweetie )
May. 27th, 2013 04:06 pm (UTC)
Yea! Been waiting for this--perfect excuse to take a break from clearing out the Storage Closet of Doom. Talk more later. (Also have story links to share.)
May. 27th, 2013 04:28 pm (UTC)
Wow. Wonderful as always--looking forward to more.

The other day I had to watch bits of "The Bells of St. John" as reference for a story; and duh! I was suddenly struck by the echoing of the desperate phrase "I don't know where I am!" Spoken first by the people trapped in Ms. Kizlet's cloud, then by Clara as she was originally trapped, then repeated by Clara in the finale. It gave me shivers.

I know that Clara says she feels as if she's lived a thousand lives, but I'm not sure if I'm convinced she's lived 11 (or more)entire (or partial, up to the age 23-24) lifetimes, for every time she met/saved the Doctor...I think she's passing through as a, well, for lack of a better term, a quantum ghost or presence? Substantial and real, but not there for long.

I am convinced that John Hurt Doctor is either a missing reincarnation between Eight and "Nine," or he is Eight made old and weary and desperate by the earliest phases of the Time War. The anniversary speciaol and time will tell...I hope.

Inspiration went into full gear for me with all these revelations. I did not have any inclination previously to write anything about Clara!


Four ficlets. I hope you'll get a chance to read them.
May. 29th, 2013 06:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!!! It's gonna be a couple of weeks before the rest is up, as i'm off on vacation in a couple of days and i've not got part 2 finished.

Hmm, yeah, on whether Clara has lived many full lives. I think she must have lived a proper life each time until she met him , then dies every time at 23/24. But then, actually, that doesn't make sense....If the GI made his every victory a failure, and made sure he died every time he only just survived....then she must have saved each Doctor multiple times...or maybe not. It's confusing - but i like you idea of a quantum ghost - in that way she is a mirror of River.

Oooh, off to read your ficlets now!!!!
May. 27th, 2013 05:52 pm (UTC)
Absolutely lovely! Exquisitely constructed.

My shipper heart would like to remind us all that the only water in the Forest is the River, so clearly River and the Doctor will be together at some point in whatever their version of the afterlife is ;)
May. 29th, 2013 06:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you, glad you enjoyed!!! The River thing had the emotional tine of a goodbye, but write into canon that if she can establish a menatl lnk she can get out of the Library and he can see her. Moff seems to be keeping his options open!!

But yeah, totally agree with you, if the forest is the afterlife, and the water is the River,then him and her will be together, my little shipper heart says how could they not be?

May. 28th, 2013 12:29 am (UTC)
I know what you mean about there being so much here, it takes so many damned words to unpack it all!

Big "yes" on the Doctor's life as the World Tree, and all the Briar Rose stuff. (Hmm, all those Rose references this season!) I'm especially impressed with drawing all the Castle stuff into this episode, making it much more clear how Nightmare in Silver helps to inform our interpretation here. And the Forest! A forest growing in the TARDIS. Great, great job.

I can't believe you found the actual damn Chairs. Birds! Of course, Clara's a Bird, she has been since the Doctor called her one back in the Snowmen. And here I was thinking the Chairs had Eyes for headboards. Well, I suppose they could be Eyes, with Birds in them. Love the damn chairs.

Most of all, I appreciate the insight of how the Doctor has failed in his Mentoring work, and how Clara actually ends up being the one to lead him into confronting his own death. Which is really neat, actually, since so much of the Doctor/Companion dynamic has been turned on its head this season. And yeah, her multiplicity of death and rebirth, the solidity of death as opposed to regeneration, yeah the Doctor needed Clara so very much to show him the way. Something even River couldn't show him.

Can't wait to see the Clara/River meta!
May. 29th, 2013 06:12 pm (UTC)
It just took soooo long to do! My second meta will be tardy as well, as i'm going away for 10 days soon and it isn't done yet. Seriously though, hasn't this series been an absolute dream to analyse? It just gets more and more layered. I still need to catch up on some of your meta!! I'm so happy Moff is on board for series 8.

Glad you enjoyed - i was thrilled about the forest growing in the Tardis and that shot of Clara kneeling at his side as he sleeps is just amazing. Ha, the chairs! I'm a big fan of Charles Rennie Macintosh, so i recognised it as his design and then it just made me laugh that they were made for the Argyle tearooms in Glasgow...and Strax was in Glasgow. Seriously, the thought that goes into this show bowls me over.

All the turning of their relationship on its head had me lose the Heroic Journey thread earlier in the series, as she became the mentor - but the one without self-knowledge. Looking forward to seeing her develop in the future - i'm sure the full Monomyth can be tracked this series, but i expect we'll see a much larger and longer monomyth arc with Clara too.
May. 28th, 2013 01:32 pm (UTC)
Wow - you do an amazing job at finding all those symbols and links. Thank you for sharing!!!
May. 29th, 2013 06:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you sweetie, I'm glad you enjoyed and thanks for taking the time to comment!
May. 28th, 2013 01:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you SO MUCH for your incredibly insightful work.

One thing I'm pretty sure of: this so called "Finale" leads directly into the 50th, so I think that many of the themes that have been uncovered that haven't played out, may still play out there -- especially the theme of family.

I noticed in that pic of Clara in the Tardis shipyard, that she is wearing a fantastic five pointed star belt buckle!!!

It is really amazing what is occurring in this season. Once attention is brought to all the dramatic symbolism, it is everywhere.

The pic of Clara sitting watch while the Doctor lies insensate is just stunning. WOW. These images are really just amazing. Sometimes I think it would be so rewarding to just view this season as a slide show! Though, I would offer that a deep reading of Sleeping Beauty is not about Love at all (after all, the two don't know each other, so how is Love involved?) -- but Awakening from the Ordeal into the Union. :) There is also a link in fairytale between the Impenetrable Forest of Thorns and Blindness/Captivity.... so that Beauty, as she lies insensate, is blind, but surrounded by thorns... then the thorns melt away so that her Antithesis may Awaken her.... just as in Rapunzel, the would be savior is blinded by thorns, until Rapunzel achieves her own freedom, passes through her ordeal, and restores his sight by Uniting with him in Tears. :)

Question: Why do the x's mean mirroring? might they also reinforce Blindness as Thorns?

I keep talking about Thorns because that's what I see when I look at the Doctor's Timestream. He's become a tangle of thorns, blinding himself. The GI is a distorted Mirror of the Doctor -- knowing all the Doctor knows, running through his life, but making the life meaningless -- whereas Clara restores meaning. We don't see precisely HOW she does that, but she knows little things that set his story right, whereas to the Intelligence, data has no greater relevance. In Tarot, Intelligence is a Sword -- it leads to devastation without the meliorating influences of Heart and Ground. And Thorns are a kind of Sword.....

Your use of pix in this meta is outstanding. The Intelligence ripping across his own mouth is stunning: the divorce of LOGOS from true meaning. WOW. No wonder he hates the Doctor so much -- he is emptiness at the core, a mere collection of data, with no organizing narrative.

Finding the Charles Rennie Macintosh Chair is just the icing on the cake. Those Art Nouveau folks were absolutely steeped in this kind of esoteric knowledge. Kudos to you.

Clara is in fact a data stream, which we've been theorizing -- and I'm still not convinced she's not CAL, because she's been so many people, she could be CAL as well.... but she is a story, in fact THE story of "Doctor Who" which we first understood at seeing her birthdate. :D [BTW, of course, St. Clare is the patron saint of television. :D] I think the souffle bit is just a trifle forced as a metaphor (on Moffat's part, not on yours), but I can forgive. The whole egg thing. :P

You ask:
Are we all pretty much agreed that this is the incarnation that committed the Time War genocide?

I've seen a great deal of speculation on this question. For example here:
Most people seem to agree that The Doctor, in his own Name, took responsibility for ending the Time War. So that would be kind of retrograde if Moffat took that shouldering of responsibility away from him.

I tend to think that the Hurt persona broke the laws of Time during the War, possibly spawning some of the horrific paradoxes mentioned by Ten... as he said, in the name of peace and sanity, but in actuality to the very opposite effect. I think there's a possibility he was trying to save his own loved ones... so that the themes of Family and Monstrosity will finally tie together and resolve in the 50th I hope.

Okay, I'm so out of time.

Thanks again for this SO HELPFUL meta. :D

Edited at 2013-05-28 01:39 pm (UTC)
May. 29th, 2013 06:28 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome. Thank YOU for such an insightful and thoughtful comment!

I agree, this season has been one of the most tmematically and symbolically rich i've seen. Series 7a was utterly brilliant, but 7b was just filled with layers and layers.

Though, I would offer that a deep reading of Sleeping Beauty is not about Love at all (after all, the two don't know each other, so how is Love involved?) -- but Awakening from the Ordeal into the Union. :) There is also a link in fairytale between the Impenetrable Forest of Thorns and Blindness/Captivity.... so that Beauty, as she lies insensate, is blind, but surrounded by thorns... then the thorns melt away so that her Antithesis may Awaken her.... just as in Rapunzel, the would be savior is blinded by thorns, until Rapunzel achieves her own freedom, passes through her ordeal, and restores his sight by Uniting with him in Tears. :)

Thank you so much for the insight on this, that is fab!. Of course, the awakening from Ordeal into Union. I lost the thread of the heroic journey as this series went on, due to all the role switching between who was mentor and mentee, so you bringing this point up is actually really helpful.

The X Motif - has a looong history on Moffats Who. It could mean blindness here, especially as it's on the blindfold. However, usually it appears when there is either mirroring, unification or juxtaposition of opposites, when we are dealing with the poles of above/below, or in an exchange of energy of some type. My reading of it is that it comes from the Norse rune Gebo, which is the X symbol, and whose meaning is exchange/gift/intersection, plus all the things i said above.

I absolutely adore your interpretation of the timestream as thorn - like, linking into the forest of thorns. Bravo. Coming back to the runes - in the case of the rune Thurisaz, which is the rune whose surface meaning/translation is "thorn" - Your talk of the sword made me think of this even more. One of the meanings of Thurisaz is to stop something dead, to tangle something in the thorns. It kind of speaks about how sometimes the greatest damage comes from the smallest wound, and sometimes we have to be still inside the briar patch waiting for the wound to heal. This made me think so much of the GI saying "the Doctor's life is an open wound, and a wound can be entered". That idea of a wound links so much to the idea of thorns.

but she is a story, in fact THE story of "Doctor Who" which we first understood at seeing her birthdate. :D [BTW, of course, St. Clare is the patron saint of television
Good catch on the St Clare thing!!!

Thanks for your fab comments!!!
May. 29th, 2013 07:55 pm (UTC)
Thorn = Thurisaz.... and then there is the relationship between Thurisaz and Theta!!!

I don't know if there's any direct correlation between the Runes and the Greek alphabet, but at least Thurisaz and Theta represent the same sound. Wikipedia points out that the symbol for Earth, the cross in the circle, is Theta in its archaic form - so there we have another connection between the Doctor's earliest use-name and his chosen planet. Theta also stands for the sun -- one of the most vivid symbols this season -- and for death/Thanatos !! Greeks would cast a vote for the death penalty using potshards marked with Theta. o_O

I think RTD was working with some of this stuff as well. I've long held that Theta = Thanatos, and Rose = Eros, so that in the Doctor/Rose love story, we get that amazing tension between the urge to Love and the decay into Death. It's just fantastic that this symbolism is still continuing on.

The Doctor being wounded makes me think of the Fisher King.... I always think of the Fisher King and usually don't know quite what to do with it... except that it is an image, to me, of another role reversal like you speak of in the way that the Doctor and Clara are sharing the roles of savior/Mentor and companion/mentee. The Fisher King takes on Goddess like aspects in his wound that bleeds without killing him, and his ultimate sacrifice of himself to restore wholeness and fertility to his country. He seems a deity of underworld -- which is strongly alluded to this series. :D

I have so much hope for the 50th as a continuation and resolution of this story. :D
Jun. 10th, 2013 03:35 pm (UTC)
Sorry about the delay on this - i've just come back from 10 days in Scotland.

OMG on the Theta/Thursaz link. Visually, there are a cpuple of symbol links in the runic and Greek alphabet, but alas Thta isn't one of them. However - like you say they do represent the same sound, so i don't think we're reaching too far to link them. Plus when you consider the way he is so often linked to being a saviour God and that Christ wore the crown of thorns...it works - especially when you consider a lot of this christ-like stuff was more heavily present in the RTD era, it really links into what you say about Thanatos and Eros and the Love/Death themes. Did you ever write meta on that? If so i'd be very interested to read it.

YES!!!! The fisher king comes up quite a bit in my eyes in Who. I'm trying to remember back...i think i made a link to the Fisher King in one of the eps earlier this series, but i can't remember which one...hang on, let me see...from the first ep of the series there's a direct link to the myth. So if we're in Fisher King territory here, that's nice and circular. The Bell of St John was located in the White Tower in London - which was the legendary burial place of Bran the Blessed's head- the mythic character who the Fisher King myth is drawn from. There's the fact of the thorns, the open wound, Trenzalore is visually the wasteland. Like you say, the role reversal links in here. This bears more thought, and i'm really glad you've pointed it out, especially as it links with what i said about Bran in my Bells of St John meta....i still have meta forthcoming on this ep (part 2 - eventually) so i may try and expand on it.

Oh, yes, i am all of the squee for the 50th now!!!
May. 28th, 2013 02:10 pm (UTC)
ahgsqkdfqfk That was so freakishly enjoyable, crammed with mythology and MATHEMATICS and fairy tales.

I truly didn't realise how masterful was the dialogue between Vastra and De Marco. So thank you indeed for pointing out its importance. Breath-taking.

How beautiful was the whole part about Dreams and Astral Plane and the Whispermen behing information, the Doctor being blindfolded -I may have meowed with joy. Notice that Ada who was "smitten" with the Doctor was also blind... I rather read it as a form of blindness for the companions, those who are smitten with him. Like Clara, they jump into the unknown, sometimes getting lost. But as the Doctor plays a game with Archie and Angie, he will find them.

I'm not sure about the whole Soufflé metaphor or parts making up for the whole, to be fair I still don't understand how Clara went from herself to super-clever heroine Oswin or Victorian!Clara... But you clarified WHY she survived the big jump in his timeline which didn't make sense at all to me; because she is made of stories... Does that mean the Clara we are going to see next will be a Oswin-y type of Clara because she is now a story he picked from his head -literally? Erm, at least her extraordinarily easy survival works on a meta level for me now... So thank you!

What still bugs me about the theory Hurt's Doctor is the one who committed the Time War Genocide is that I don't see how it will appear in the 50th, which is going to be... not as dark as many expect it to be. It's a birthday anniversary after all.

Oh but everything was gorgeous about your meta! Thank you so much for writing it!
May. 29th, 2013 06:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!!!! So glad you enjoyed it. Also glad that you meowed with joy ;)

Ahhhhh, of course, i'd totally forgotten about blind Ada!

'm not sure about the whole Soufflé metaphor or parts making up for the whole, to be fair I still don't understand how Clara went from herself to super-clever heroine Oswin or Victorian!Clara
I think loads is left open with Moffat's Who - we don't always get the full explanation. That's not a complaint - the pay off is that Moff works more symbolically - however, as such, detail gets lost. The mechanics of her survival all comes back to the leaf, and it's that which will define her identity - i need to epxlore that more, and its links to the World Tree and death/rebirth, also Clara as echo/ghost - hopefully i'll write on this in my next meta (but it's not gonna be around for a couple of weeks as i'm swanning off to scotland in 2 days time).

What still bugs me about the theory Hurt's Doctor is the one who committed the Time War Genocide is that I don't see how it will appear in the 50th, which is going to be... not as dark as many expect it to be. It's a birthday anniversary after all.
Yeah - i know what you mean. However, remember the xmas special that was all about death and mourning and someone dying tragically at the end? And i was all like "BUT MOFF- IT'S CHIRSTMAS?!!!" I'm not sure i'd put it past Moff to have some really dark shades going through the 50th. Whatever the Hurt Doctor did, it was dreadful, and they're gonna address it.

Thank you so much for your comment! It's really appreciated.

May. 29th, 2013 10:09 am (UTC)
The Doctor spoke of losing his name back in The Beast Below, when he decided to kill the innocent star whale to save other lives -- which is to say that I don't think killing the Daleks and Time Lords was breaking the promise, but some innocent, collateral damage or deliberate.

May. 29th, 2013 06:38 pm (UTC)
Ah, of course, he said in in that ep! I wonder if there are other references in other eps to him not being able to call himself the Doctor. Do you have any theories on what this mysterious new incarnation did?

thank you for reading!
Agnes Maria
May. 29th, 2013 11:14 pm (UTC)
General appreciation
Beautiful. As always, you have done a fantastic job.

And the episode was marvelous! I spoke ill of Mr. Steven Moffat before, but this - and finally recently watching Sherlock (all of it at once) - has made me realise that this slander may well have been the mistake of my lifetime! I am sorry for saying anything against Mr. Moffat. That makes this humiliating apology made thrice, completing it by my promise to make it so. I hate being wrong.
Jun. 10th, 2013 03:36 pm (UTC)
Re: General appreciation
Thank you so much for the lovely comment!

I'm so glad you have come round enjoying to Moffat's vision of Who. I do think he is a radically different writer to RTD, and it seems that fans prefer one approach over the other - quite naturally. I adore RTD, but Moff totally pushes my mythic buttonS!!
Jun. 4th, 2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
OMG...I just...omg...
Jun. 10th, 2013 03:37 pm (UTC)
Lol...more to come, hopefully!!! Nice icon.
Jun. 22nd, 2013 08:36 pm (UTC)
Where's part 2? Excellent read.
( 22 comments — speak to me, sweetie )