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07 June 2010 @ 11:18 am
Doctor Who "Vincent and the Doctor"  
The magic box did its job properly this weekend and we got to watch the latest Doctor Who in proper HD after J's folks had left on Sunday (we were out for dinner when it aired, otherwise we might've watched it at the time - J's mother likes Doctor Who too).

I really liked this episode - although there were a couple of times where I thought it was going to tip over into too much sentimentality, but it managed to stop just short of the line. I'm not a terribly big fan of Van Gogh's paintings, but it was kinda neat to see the places/scenes from the paintings brought to life as places in the real world. And I liked the conceit that he was partly considered mad because he did have genuinely different perceptions and the paintings are painted the way they are because that's the way he perceived things.

It was a very melancholy story, even beating the monster of the week was not triumphant but more a quiet moment of sorrow (and one of the points where I thought it was about to get twee). And the one shining moment of joy, when Van Gogh gets to hear what future art historians think of his work, doesn't last - his depression isn't something that can be fixed that easily, it's not petulant-child "oh woe is me for no-one appreciates me", and they have to try and remember that they did add to the good times in his life even though in the end the bad times were still too much for him to bear. And I have more thoughts about that, but I can't articulate them quite (and have been staring at the screen typing things and deleting them for the last 10 minutes, so have given up now). The bit with Van Gogh & the museum curator is another bit where I thought it was gonna get too twee, but it pulled back - and the moment just after where the curator is boggling a bit and eventually shakes his head & mutters "no", is awesome. I mean, it couldn't've been, could it? Except we know it was.

And thinking of things we know - that's why this had to be a sad, reflective story really. We know, and the Doctor knows, that Rory died and then, even worse, was wiped from time at the end of the last episode. Even Amy knows, on some level, as witness Van Gogh "seeing" her tears and sadness - and presumably that was part of why he connected with her so quickly - that underlying sadness that she didn't understand or really know about. (And I guess she connected with him so quickly because he was someone she fangirled & then he even turns out to be a nice chap who likes her.) And the Doctor is trying to make it better, but of course she doesn't know why he's being so nice.

Perception seems to've been a theme & was right through the episode on different levels - you can't see the monster (except Van Gogh) unless you look in a magic mirror (c.f. not seeing the vampire fish in the mirror, not seeing prisoner zero except out of the corner of your eye), the villagers see Van Gogh as a nutty potential murderer not a depressed & reclusive (genius) painter, everyone sees the monster as a monster except it's really (also) a scared blind being on its own in a strange place that it can't even see (c.f. Van Gogh is not a monster, I guess ...), the very fact that the monster is blind and has to rely on a different means of perceiving the world, Van Gogh seeing the world differently from human "norm", the curator dismissing his perception because it couldn't be true.

(My, that was a sentence & a half ;) I'm sure I've missed some, too.)

Actually, you can probably make a case for perception being one of the themes of the whole season so far - to take a random example (that sprang immediately to my mind): the Weeping Angels episodes - don't stop looking coz they change when they're not being perceived, if they perceive you as sighted that's as good as being able to see them, River Song is not what she appears (the Doctor sees what he expects), and even what she lets us see at the end probably isn't the truth.

Perception is fascinating to me anyway - normally hooked up to sight in my thoughts (going blind is an it's-so-scary-so-don't-think-about-it trigger for me). We agree on names for colours, but how can we tell that what we "see" matches what anyone else does? Is that how favourite colours "work" - is what I perceive purple as the same as what someone whose favourite colour is orange sees orange is? The names are attached to real world examples initially so we agree on names, but the in-your-head concept/representation/whatever isn't tied to anything outside your head.

I'm not quite sure where I'm going with that or whether I could articulate it anyway, and perception as a concept is beginning to do that thing that words do where you've looked at them so much they just look wrong & alien. So I think I shall stop there. I think this episode hit somewhere under the verbalising bit of my mind, that's twice in one review I've had to give up on trying to explain a piece of thought in my head.
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Current Mood: melancholymelancholy
Current Music: Pure Reason Revolution "Amor Vincit Omnia"
 
 
 
Hapi vace! Hapi vace!keirf on June 7th, 2010 10:50 am (UTC)
Obviously we all "see" colours the same way, because we have the same mechanics - cones, optic nerve, visual cortex of the brain. But whether we "perceive" colours differently is a much more difficult question. Qualia in Wikipedia is an interesting read on this, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia
Hapi vace! Hapi vace!keirf on June 7th, 2010 10:54 am (UTC)
You might be especially pleased to discover that that section of Philosophy involves Philosophical zombies.
Margaretpling on June 7th, 2010 12:53 pm (UTC)
Ah yes, major terminology fail on my part - that is what I meant even tho I failed to say it!

Thanks for the links :)