Moments when you realise ‘you’ve learnt stuff’ (and can theorise on Dr Who!)

I had this feeling twice in the past week, although it is rare usually I assure you! The first crept up whilst presenting my first ever lecture to a group of 2nd year undergraduate students. I’ve run workshops and seminars before but, as this was a first, I had naturally spent far too much time prep-ing myself and concerned over content and interest. It seemed to be going well. At one point in one of many looks up to ensure good eye contact (and that no-one had secretly fallen asleep) I remembered sitting in the same room as an undergraduate listening to someone say a lot of tangible and intangible things and worrying if I was really bright enough to be there. Eight years later, and there I was on the platform this time. Most PhD’s will tell you they suffer feelings of fraudulence, waiting for someone to catch them out. It was nice to, for once, realise that along the way, during those 8 years, some information has stuck, I’m not as quiet as I used to be and I can stand there and rattle off about body modification (the week’s topic), although I hope not too intangibly for the class!


The second happened via a Facebook conversation with a friend. He was criticising the recent 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who for going against its own lore (relating to the doctor rupturing the space time continuum if he ever met himself). My friend was questioning how the BBC might have got around this. Here was my reply, with some edits (at this point I had not seen the episode for myself):

Friend: I did like that episode of Dr Who but I thought he wasn’t suppose to be able to meet himself otherwise it rips a hole in that spacey timing wimey thingy.

Me: Did he meet his same physical incarnation or a different one? My assumption being the latter would be their get out clause? 

Friend: why should it matter he is still the same person?

Me: I’m being a bit theoretical here, but, Lacan’s theory of the mirror gaze (along with others) cite the face as holding ‘the essence of self’. So, if he saw his same image, this might cause a fragmentation of this state which usually provides us with a sense of unity and wholeness…. yeah…. apparently I learned stuff in the last 10 years that I can now theorise doctor who…. I’ll stop…


If Doctor Who saw the same incarnation of his self, it would be like looking into the mirror of his soul (by way of seeing his face/ self). If he saw a different incarnation of himself, the facial image has changed and as we know with Doctor Who, his personality changes with each ‘regeneration’. Following this, he wouldn’t be looking at his same ‘self’. (For an excellent summary of Lacan’s theory see: Practices of Looking by Sturken and Cartwright).


Apart from the fact I’d just managed to theorise a popular television programme, I realised that along the way I have picked up nuggets of information and learning and that, whilst initially looking at literature and theatre, then focussing solely on theatre, I am perhaps through the Visual Culture work I have been doing the last two years, been able to spread out again.


I’ll be honest, both moments were scary but felt nice. It was good to not feel fraudulent for a little while. They might be few and far between, but this is the reason we power on. 


In line with my previous post, today I’m photographing my day through my tea escapades, I’ll let you know how it turns out soon. 


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