WWHS? the May edition

Continuing on a tradition here at PTSD of linking the Doctor* up with almost anything else we write on these days, here's the May edition of WWHS:

What would Hobbes say to (or of) people/human beings and social relations?

I was thinking of responding to E's earlier post on the Doctor but I realised it's a) better not to try argue with E on her topic of choice and b) physics, apart from a brief entanglement in high school (though if I'd had a teacher like RFD in School Reunion, my interest would have increased dramatically), is not a subject I'm fascinated with. Therefore, it'll be difficult to argue with the points E raises. I'm also of the opinion that the Doctor's world is pretty messed up (and inconsistent) and obsessing about it will just lead to more questions (and related headaches). So, I reckoned I'd write about something I know even less of (and, unlike physics, can't learn off books or online): social relations or, specifically, relations with humans.

Now, I'm sure all PTSD readers have a passing acquaintance with the Leviathan. A brief read of Hobbes' book will tell us that people are pretty nasty folk, all ready and willing to kill each other. Social relations consists of war (and potential war), probably fine if you're into murder and mayhem but not so fine if you'd rather prefer to sit in a quiet nook somewhere and meditate upon the state of your navel. However, Hobbesian folk do realise that this is a pretty miserable situation to be in (killing each other, that is, or waiting to be killed) and, with pressing needs to contemplate navels upon them, make contracts with each other and then with this thing called the Leviathan (which only comes into being when these contracts are exchanged so they make it exist) for protection and safety. The Leviathan now takes on the task of providing security and ensuring all those pesky you-have-your-definition-I-have-mine terms like justice, peace and all that are properly defined and enforced. Social relations, of the non-war sort, are now established and people are happy to go about contemplating navels (or each other) since the Leviathan's there, looking out for them. But, the Leviathan also pays a price: if it doesn't protect the people or tries to harm them, the contracts can be broken and it ceases to exist. Chaos follows (and, this is a bad thing).

What does this have to do with the Doctor? Well, leaving aside how Doctors are made, DIB from last season wouldn't much care about the Leviathan-esque role of the Doctor as protecting the people and providing them with security. Despite a few stirring speeches about the wonderfulness of ordinary folk (Fathers' Day) or how a "little island" managed to keep off the rampaging Hitlerian Army,** (The Empty Child/Doctor Dances) DIB didn't actually seem to like people very much. He liked Rose, of course (a lot), but his relations with other people were not what one may call social (Mickey, Jackie, Adam and various others they run into from time to time). I think Nancy (from Empty Child/Doctor Dances) was a bit of an exception but, even with her, the Doctor is more interested in the role she plays in the mystery he wants to unravel, not in protecting her. For DIB, people are curiosities (would I be breaking the no past Doctors' rule here to point out that he's actually seen and lived with loads of people before so why is he still so curious?) and it's Rose who matters most. He is quite willing to sacrifice people (even those he praises, as in Fathers' Day) to make sure Rose is safe and gets what she wants. DIB is a bit of a selfish git ("Ohhhh...look at me. I'm the last Time Lord. I'm really really lonely. I have only Rose. I need to keep Rose safe," gets rather old after a bit).

VFD, on the other hand, is rather different. He, like Hobbes' Leviathan, has the role of being a protector of people. Yes, he wakes up when Rose whispers "save me" (or some such--I can't remember her exact words in the Christmas Invasion) but then he fights for people, for humanity as a whole (as their protector), not just for Rose. At the end of the Christmas Invasion, he tells the Sycorax that they should leave Earth and tell other beings that the Earth is defended (by the Doctor). He later warns off ASH from ideas of universe (Earth)-domination (though that didn't work very well). He also seems to quite like humans (he is charming towards Jackie, jokes around with Mickey and establishes a rapport with the laird. Of course, there's Madame du whatnot--he definitely likes her). Unlike DIB, he's not too keen on protecting Rose to the exclusion of all and sundry.**** I guess we have to wait and see what happens but, so far, RFD is a more Leviathan-esque figure than DIB but the uncertainty of knowing how he may react (similar to the uncertainty about how the Leviathan could react if faced with too much power/another Leviathan/breaking of contracts) makes Season Two fascinating.

For uncertainty and randomness have been constant features in Season Two. The Doctor (especially RFD) might like humans. He might have put himself up as their protector. They do call for him when they need help. All VFD stories so far (except New Earth) have established this pattern. But, he's not averse to turning on humans when he thinks they have stepped out of line (Harriet Jones). What does Hobbes say would happen if the relations between people and the Leviathan are broken? Would we revert back to the state of nature? Perhaps (since the SoN lurks beside and around us) but it's not something that can be predicted with certainty. Keeping in mind RFD seems quick to forget lessons learnt by DIB, social relations may well unravel if/when RFD acts first and thinks later*****.

* Following E's earlier example, I shall limit my Doctor remarks to DIB and RFD. I still refuse to call them Nine and Ten because that's just too boring. The numbers also sound like I'm talking of addresses, rather than versions of the Doctor.

** Hitlerian is deliberate. This speech was a brilliant example of the continued assertion of British (mostly English, perhaps some Scots and Welsh, not much Irish) national identity as being that of a small, eccentric country (emphasise "island" here) defeating the large, scary, efficient hordes of Germans. This, of course, conveniently leaves out that there was a whole bloody Empire at that time, at Britain's beck and call.

*** I just interrupted writing this post to murder a centipede which inadvertently wandered (well "scurried" would probably be a more appropriate term for its actions) into my room. After a brief period of concern, I threw the nearest book at hand at it. It ended up being crushed. I picked up the book to return it to a nearby pile (my room, being short of bookshelves, has piles of books strewn about) and only then noticed its title.

**** I admit to an anti-Rose bias here. Again, being Hobbesian about this, protecting one to the exclusion of the many is not something the Leviathan would be capable of doing (even if it could do so) as the reason for its existence is to prevent one person's meanings taking precedence over others' (see Chapter IV, last paragraph).

***** Perhaps the Doctor as the Master? Though see Sarah Jane warning him about how all things (should and do) end, a sentiment which DIB expressed (so RFD, being the Doctor too, should have known it).


At 5/12/2006 8:57 AM, Anonymous serena said...

Sounds like you and I have been on the same mind wavelength concerning the Doctor. I've had the same comparison floating in my head about him and the Leviathan. Odd I tell you.

At 5/12/2006 11:34 AM, Blogger Priya said...

That's because people are sadly limited in their thinking and don't think about Hobbes as much as they should :-)

At 5/12/2006 12:07 PM, Anonymous serena said...

otherwise we think about Hobbes too much!

At 5/12/2006 2:52 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

Not possible.


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