“We find lingering evidence of archetype in the images and symbols found in stories, literature, poetry, painting, and religion. It would appear that its glow, its voice, and its fragrance are meant to cause us to be raised up from contemplating the shit on our tails to occasionally travelling in the company of the stars.”
“Women Who Run With the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
In which I reflect on stories in general, and JE in particular, and why this might turn out to be the end of the road for me, too.
When DW presents me with a problem, I usually try to come to terms with it through writing fic, and that’s how I approached Journey’s End. As far as I could see, there were three possible scenarios. One – we accept canon and find a way to give everyone the best resolution possible. Two – we accept the Alt!Verse with Blue Ten and Rose and pack up and move over there. Three – we regard the outcome as being fundamentally tragic, the story of a man who was given a second chance and threw it away rather than face the issues that brought up.
Already, each reading and associated ones has developed its own close-knit, passionately argued following and separate communities, rather like a church splitting on the grounds of conscience. I’ve sympathy with all three views, just as throughout S3 I shipped Ten and Rose but enjoyed the challenge of writing sympathetically from Martha’s POV. And with Ten and Donna, I really hit my stride and I’ve rarely written more naturally or enjoyed the process more. But, as Ten said to Donna on the rooftop, that’s all gone now.
I could, of course, bring Donna back. I could go as AU as I like. Trouble is, every time I do that I get identified with a position and the people who hold it. That’s already happening, I think. Although the majority of my recent reviews are positive, there are people who have had negative responses, based not so much on whether I can write, but rather on whether they agree with me. Those criticisms are somewhat wounding because, in my last two stories, both post-JE, dealing with Scenarios 1 and 2 respectively, in a very real sense I wasn’t agreeing with myself. I was trying to write out my feelings and come to a position of acceptance. There probably was some insincerity involved, a sense in which I was making characters into a mouthpiece for various positions, and that doesn’t make for good writing, though you can fudge it to some extent.
Maybe my whole response to JE is coloured that I’m suffering from depression at the moment. I hadn’t realised how much I was investing in this show until after JE I very rapidly became upset enough to need urgent medical help. I could come back to it all in a few months’ time and recognise that in fact it was an absolutely brilliant compromise; after all it’s now officially the most watched show on TV that week, which propels it straight into DW history. So who’s going to listen to me after that? We get Billie and David back, or at least everything lined up for the odd special or two, we keep the classic fans happy and we have an angst-fest, which always seems to go down well. And RTD gets a Fellowship, which he probably richly deserves for services to the job market in South Wales alone.
But the fact remains, I see it as a bleak and hopeless ending, a so-called resolution that leaves us contemplating the shit on our tails and forever exiled from the stars (as in the case of 10.2 and Rose). And for me the only alternative to that view is to take both Ten and Rose completely OOC. According to River Song, the Doctor is the impossible man who just never gives up. I think the same could be said for the Rose I came to love in S1/S2 – but not the one who sleepwalked through the last few episodes of S4 and really only came to life in the moment when she saw her Doctor running towards her. I loved Rose because she would never give up and settle for what she could get. Real life is full of people who do exactly that, but I want to watch stories about people who don’t. I want a mythic, epic love story, not a compromise.
Now this puts me in a minority, I think it’s fair to say. I don’t feel like arguing my case, because it’s based on gut feelings, not logic – that’s what matters when I write and when I invest emotionally in any work of art. For me, writing any kind of fixit fic is making an accommodation with a reality I don’t accept. It’s not about pique, it’s about integrity. I’m not saying the people who disagree with me, who think the ending was happy and hopeful, at least for 10.2 and Rose, don’t have integrity. But I can’t retain mine while agreeing with them.
Ten, to me, is a tragic hero, alienated from himself and everyone who could help him. I wish that wasn’t so but I’ve looked at the alternatives and that’s still the way I see it. Either that, or I agree to retcon the characters I love – they go in one jump from being impossible people who never give up to being realists who take what they can get. If that’s what they become, I won’t enjoy writing about them and I think some of the comments I’m already receiving suggest I’m not doing it with conviction. To be honest, I want characters who are much more courageous than I am myself, people who run with the wolves rather than lying with the lambs. I thought, for a while, RTD had created two such people in Ten and Rose. Looks like I was wrong.
So I won’t be posting anything DW related for a while, maybe never again. I’ve a busy summer ahead of me, hanging out with some good friends I made through this very fandom and, among other things, seeing DT play Hamlet. I need to spend a little more time in the real world, I think. I don’t want to get pulled into arguments and there are always those in fandom – Nine vs Ten, Rose vs Martha and now 10=clone vs 10=not a clone. I’m a bit too tired and fragile to bother with all that. I’ll still read other people’s work and, mostly, appreciate it even when they read the characters differently. No doubt I’ll comment, too. But I’ve figured out where I stand on it and for me, that wasn’t a happy ending, and the man Rose loves is back in a different universe with very little to show for the experience of knowing her in terms of character development.
I wish I could see it another way, because this one breaks my heart. But I can’t.
If my Rose could whisper in the ear of her beloved brown Ten, I think she’d say something like this:
“Being able to say that one is a survivor is an accomplishment. For many, the power is in the name itself. And yet comes a time in the individuation process when the threat or trauma is significantly past. Then is the time to go to the next stage after survivorship, to healing and thriving. … One can take so much pride in being a survivor that it becomes a hazard to further creative development. … Once the threat is past, there is a potential trap in calling ourselves by names taken on during the most terrible time of our lives. It creates a mind-set that is potentially limiting. It is not good to base the soul identity solely on the feats and losses and victories of the bad times.”
How appropriate that these beautiful words are from a book called, “Women Who Run With The Wolves.”
Run, Rose! Run! And:
“Don’t let it be forgot,
That once there was a spot,
For one brief shining moment,
That was known as Camelot.”