Making New Differences, Composing, 28/11/2017

I’m working on a few different creative projects right now. One of them is a little indie publishing project of essays about the Capaldi years of Doctor Who – Essays Critical and Temporal.

The Lights of David, by Rebecca Bergson,
a depiction of divine illumination, as much as
should be allowed for human safety.
That's a literal description of the book too. They adapt the philosophical reviews I’ve written of each episode of Doctor Who since the 50th anniversary show. But I'm revising them pretty radically to match the retrospective nature of the book.

When I was first writing them, they were off-the-cuff – almost stream-of-consciousness, dredging up ideas from my years of (over-)education and reading, throwing them all at the keyboard. Same way that a lot of Doctor Who stories are absolutely mad ideas thrown at the screen to see if they stuck.

The opening credits, for one. And the Méliès-inspired The Web Planet. The tradition continued up to the present day.

I’m working on the revised essay for Into the Dalek now. It was Capaldi’s second story as the Doctor, and a very strange story. You can check out my old review, which is getting a radical, radical rewrite. Probably more so than a lot of the rest of them.

Into the Dalek was a weird story with a very straightforward idea at its heart. The visuals were absolutely trippy, from the cybernetic antibodies of a Dalek’s body, the reality-bending image of the Doctor’s hand melting, bending, and extending into the watery eye of the Dalek as he was shrunk and went inside.

There’s a moment where Peter Capaldi’s face appears in high resolution, video effects making his image appear deeper, more intense – the lines and crags of his face were so dark that he looks singular and cosmic at once. Like a full-colour hyper-realist sketch of a living god.

As I work on the new Into the Dalek essay, I’m revising some ideas of Henri Bergson about the nature of creativity. See, the episode’s plot is – convoluted fantastic voyage aside – ultimately about shepherding a rebellious Dalek to the realization that his species’ life mission of destroying all trace of difference in the universe is wrong.

In the event that this fantastic voyage should turn to erosion, and we'll
never get old – Remember it's true that dignity is valuable, but our
lives are valuable too.
The Doctor performs a kind of cosmic ethical psychotherapy, demonstrating the value of creation to a creature whose ideology – whose own creation’s original purpose – was the destruction of everything. Reducing all of being to a single, unchanging template.

So the essay will be a sketch of what an ethics where the creation of difference – variety, the new, proliferation, and the conditions that enable and sustain these processes – is good in itself. It’s a notion common to Bergson’s approaches to ethics, as well as much of pragmatist thought, and continues in post-colonial thinking and the traditions influenced by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.

I’m still synthesizing all these together in my thinking, though. So it’s going to be a while until my Patreon sponsors see the finished product. Probably only a couple of weeks, really. But I try to be as productive as I can.

As I’m working on this revision and rewrite, I’m imagining a plan to crowdsource illustrations – combing through DeviantArt and other fan art web platforms for sketch donations to include in the ebook. Maybe I’ll even do a small Kickstarter to fund artist commission fees for some key pitches.

We’ll see. Do please keep paying attention.

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