The Twelve Doctors of Christmas

Because I’m Clever

This is a post in the Tor.com Twelve Doctors of Christmas series. Click the link to peruse the entire series.

 

“Because I’m clever.”

It was the answer—should have been the answer, should have been accepted without question every time—or at least once, just once—to “How do you know?” “Oh yeah? What makes you so sure?” “Why should we listen to you?”

Because I’m clever!

It could be the cry of a superhero—one created, admittedly, for the children of PBS re-broadcasts and rampant anglophilia rather than, say, wartime patriotism or atomic-age fears.

Because I’m clever.

It is joy, pure joy, in a continually-deepening understanding of the workings of a life that centuries (well sometimes it feels like centuries, or is it just a day? an hour that never ends?) of sometimes bitter and sullen experience cannot dampen or begin to destroy.

The Doctor’s story (my story, our story, we lifelong companions, We Who Watched From Behind Sofas, who waited without realizing in suburban bedrooms in 1983 to hear a certain sound in the yard, ready to run out into the dark) has always been the story of Smart over Strong. How else could such a succession of old men, cosmic hoboes, cranky eccentric skinny befuddled miscreants have saved the earth from disaster (Yuletide or otherwise) so very many times?

To those of us who grew up not with Superman and Green Lantern but with Ford Prefect and Tom Baker, this story made perfect sense; although at the time, and even for many years afterwards, I might have explained it more as Age And Britishness over Robots With Guns: the threat is real, it is coming to get us, and given our limited physical resources and general disinclination towards violence even in the face of greater violence, we must think of how to make it go away.

It was an immensely satisfying story, Smart over Strong. And the monsters were pretty cool, too.

And then came Ten. As it happens, Ten (the human, not Ten the Time Lord) had watched that story too, from behind another but remarkably similar sofa to all of ours. (Quibble over it all you want, but to Whovians Of A Certain Age, that inarguably makes Ten our Doctor.)  And suddenly the story of Ten (the Time Lord, not Ten the human) is complicated and troubled, different and the same:

Loss and love and terrible beauty and such unquenchable anger that it can only feed the desperate delight in discovery, in continuation, in moments of clarity when some tiny part of the immensity of time and space becomes clear, one more small piece at a time and maybe those pieces will never be a whole but, oh! what joy in even attempting to find out over the dark sullen need to silence the desire to ever know more.

Smart over Strong.

Not just book-smart or experience-smart or mysterious-alien-intelligence-smart, either.

If despite the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimeyness of things, even he can only suspect the outcome, and there’s every chance it’s not good—then why?

Because I’m clever.

How to know that every person, every experience, every solar system, every moment of every song is of immeasurable value?

Because I’m clever.

Why be passionate, excited, patient, loving, or curious? How dare we choose joy over despair?


Nasty Canasta performs original burlesque shows in New York City and recently debuted a Doctor Who-themed showcase featuring many aspects of the show, including a self-built life-size TARDIS!

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