Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Time can be rewritten. And will be. Try to keep up. (This will be the second-to-last Who-related visual rhetoric posts for a bit. It concerns the complicated conclusion of the fifth season, which is why it's the second-to-last. It's also a sequel of sorts to this post, though I reserve the right to introduce new material and present spoilers so inscrutable to the casual fans that unless you've watched the series three times through they won't even register as such.) At the conclusion of "The Pandorica Opens" we learned that all of the Doctor's old enemies had formed a committee and decided the Doctor was responsible for the universe unwriting itself. They weren't wrong. As I noted in the post on "Vampires of Venice," the Doctor tells Rosanna: He may have even wanted to believe this at the time, but he changed his mind in the next episode, "Amy's Choice," after vicariously experiencing the death of Rory Williams through Amy Pond, who asked him quite the cutting question. If you can't go back and change time, At the time, the only answer he could provide was that he someone becoming accustomed to either causing mass extinctions or standing idly by while entire species are wiped from existence. The former may be a more morally reprehensible action, but the passivity of the latter brings him no glory. In order to redeem himself—and I'm going to insist that this season is, among other things, a redemption narrative—he needs to rethink his relation to universe he tends. Which is precisely what happens in the episode "The Big Bang." He discovers that the point of him is that he can change time, so writer and showrunner Steven Moffatt and director Toby Haynes proceed to do exactly that. "The Big Bang" opens with a repetition of the slow tracking shot from the first episode of the season, "The Eleventh Hour": Just as in the beginning of "The Eleventh Hour," the camera slowly glides through Amelia Pond's garden before jump-cutting to a shot of her praying to Santa for help. Her confession in "The Big Bang" is identical up to a point. Cut back to "The Eleventh Hour": In "The Eleventh Hour," she turns to her window and spies this: Which elicits this response: Only in "The Big Bang," there's no TARDIS crashed in the yard and her fervent wish ended up in the same dustbin Santa's missives always do. In other words, from the opening scene of "The Big Bang," the audience isn't merely aware of the fact that the Doctor's changed his mind about the possibility of rewriting time, he's embraced the endeavor. Not by his own choice, mind you, but given what happens later in this episode, the indication is that even if this decision weren't a consequence of his imprisonment, he'd choose revision nonetheless. Speaking of his imprisonment, I should note for casual fans why the Doctor's currently manipulating time behind the scenes. Remember that great speech he gave to the "WHIRRING AND THRUMMING" alien armada intent on capturing him? He did an...
“I believe the essay you asked me to write is beneath what I have been trained to expect to believe you would have expected from me, and I feel ashamed for you.” (This doesn’t quite rise to the level of the most epic student email ever, and in truth more likely belongs to my series on how to write an academic essay, but as it hovers somewhere between one awful mode and another, I thought I’d leave it up to you to decide. Have—shall we call it fun?) If I begin my essay with a rhetorical question, I contradict the Great French Thinker Montaigne, who believed I should not, because as he wrote, a “mind could not find a firm footing, [therefore he] should not be making essays, but coming to conclusions.” Those conclusions, which were important, are sadly lost to history, but the fact that Montaigne’s name remains reminds those who remember it that his failure was reason enough to memorialize it. My professor said that we should not write in the style of Montaigne, presumably because the stench of his insufficient success might sour my prose, but I believe the best essays are the ones that I write, and if my Professor thinks differently, he can take it up with Montaigne. First, my professor told me to write a paragraph like a hamburger. Can you believe that? That is not a rhetorical question: my college professor told me that the best paragraphs are structured like a hamburger. But I must follow my muse, Montaigne, and insist that I am not interesting in stabilizing my subject, however slight, in a structure of such déclassé fare, or that if I were, mine would tower above that base alternative in direct proportion to the extent of my genius. My paragraphs will, instead, inform my audience about the manner of their composition, paying special attention not to structure or transitions but to the brilliance that I mustered to tame into interest material others might find trite. By “others,” I refer explicitly to my Professor, whose ability to mix a metaphor is nearly as impressive as his encyclopedic knowledge of all things which will never make him money. He claims that an essay is like the relationship he’s clearly never had: it begin with a witty conversation, an introduction, if you will, in which impress upon your reader the timeliness and worthiness of your subject. For those who fail to recognize the universal validity of Foucault, this could be an issue, but Montaigne and I know that so long as we only speak engagingly about ourselves and Foucault, the right kind of people will recognize our brilliance and gravitate to the empty table we have saved for them. My professor then proceeds to argue that the remaining paragraphs in an essay constitute an evolving relationship between the writer and reader not unlike the one initiated in the introduction. “Just as a relationship explodes with initial insight in those first heady weeks,” he says, “so too should a first paragraph make good on the promise of its introduction.” Which is simply wrong — the purpose of an introduction is convince your future reader or paramour that...

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