perihadion: (Default)
[personal profile] perihadion
I have never felt less sane than I do right now.

...so, hey, this is a post all about how the fifth series of Doctor Who is really Michael Ende's The Neverending Story in disguise. Well, no; it's about the commonality of particular [awesome] themes and ideas to both Doctor Who (the original neverending story, let's be honest) and The Neverending Story. I have focused mostly on the book rather than the film, but both are relevant to this post. Obviously this post contains spoilers for The Neverending Story (book and film), and Doctor Who up to "The Pandorica Opens". I also mention the title of the next episode although there are no spoilers for that episode contained in this post.

The Childlike Empress and the Old Man of Wandering Mountain; the Doctor and River Song

Both The Neverending Story and Doctor Who contain near-omnipotent "protector" figures who are both incalculably old and eternally young. The Childlike Empress is described in the book as the "centre" of Fantastica, while the Doctor — as we all know — "burns at the centre of Time". While the Childlike Empress is aloof in the way the Doctor seems to consider himself and does not judge or exercise her power, the Doctor involves himself in events. They both go by an alias — The Golden-Eyed Commander of Wishes, the Childlike Empress; the Doctor — but their names are hidden. In fact, the Childlike Empress's true name has been forgotten; River Song alone knows the Doctor's true name.

Each of these characters has a foil: in the Childlike Empress's case, her foil is the Old Man of Wandering Mountain and in the book these characters represent the beginning and end of things respectively; the Doctor's foil is the mysterious River Song. While the Childlike Empress is fixed in her Ivory Tower, the Old Man of Wandering Mountain is described in the following Doctor-esque way:
"Our folk also say," Atreyu went on, "that you never can know where the Old Man's mountain will be at any particular time. They say that when he appears it's always unexpectedly, now here, now there, and that you can only run across him by accident, or because the meeting was fated."

"That's true," said the Childlike Empress. "You can't look for the Old Man of Wandering Mountain. You can only find him."

"Does that go for you too?"

"Yes," she said, "for me too."
The Neverending Story (Penguin Books), page 151

Conversely, in Doctor Who the Doctor is the character who cannot reliably be found (or even telephoned), while River is — more or less — fixed in the Stormcage Facility. However, there are other parallels between the Old Man and River:

Both The Neverending Story and Steven Moffat's Doctor Who contain the idea of time being written as in a book — in fact, a physical book in both cases: the book containing the neverending story itself, which exists simultaneously in Fantastica and the "real world"; and River Song's diary. The Old Man states that once he has written something in his book it is fixed — "even you, Golden-Eyed Commander of Wishes"; and although the Doctor tells River that time can be rewritten she insists that he is not allowed to rewrite even a single line of her diary.

...and neither the Old Man of Wandering Mountain or River Song can allow the Childlike Empress or the Doctor to read ahead.
"You are Fantastica's memory, you know everything that has happened up to this moment. But couldn't you leaf ahead in your book and see what's going to happen?"

"Empty pages," was the answer. "I can only look back at what has happened. I was able to read it while I was writing it. And I know it because I have read it. And I wrote it because it happened. The Neverending Story writes itself by my hand."
The Neverending Story (Penguin Books), page 162

RIVER: Sorry, you're not allowed to see inside the book. It's against the rules.

THE DOCTOR: What rules?

RIVER: Your rules.
Doctor Who 4x08 "Silence in the Library"

At the climax of the first half of The Neverending Story, and of "The Pandorica Opens", both the Childlike Empress and the Doctor are trapped: the Childlike Empress inside the blue egg at the top of the Wandering Mountain, and the Doctor inside the Pandorica.
"By my hand everything becomes fixed and final — you too, Golden-Eyed Commander of Wishes. This egg is your grave and your coffin. You have entered into the memory of Fantastica. How do you expect to leave here?"

"Every egg," she said, "is the beginning of a new life."


"True," the Old Man wrote and said, "But only if its shell bursts open."
The Neverending Story (Penguin Books), page 162

Just as the egg the Childlike Empress is in needs to burst open, the title for this week's episode of Doctor Who — "The Big Bang" — implies a kind of rebirth for the universe.

Bastian Balthazar Bux; Amy Pond; and the Idea of Conjuring a Person's Internal World into Being

Bastian, like Amy, is a character with little connection to anybody in his life. His mother has died and his father has retreated into himself — in fact, at one point Bastian envisions his father as being encased in a block of ice which Bastian cannot melt; Amy's aunt (the only family of hers we know of) is, apparently, similarly detached. Both Bastian and Amy are children of broad imagination, who (like Mary Katherine Blackwood of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson) lead rich internal lives — and they refuse to listen to other people when they tell them not to believe in fairy tales.
He had never been willing to believe that life had to be as grey and dull as people claimed. He heard them saying: "Life is like that," but he couldn't agree. He never stopped believing in mysteries and miracles.
The Neverending Story (Penguin Books), page 127

AMY: Twelve years and four psychiatrists!

THE DOCTOR: Four?

AMY: I kept biting them.

THE DOCTOR: Why?

AMY: They said you weren't real.
Doctor Who 5x01 "The Eleventh Hour"

In fact, Bastian and Amy live such rich internal lives that objects of their imagination can be conjured into being. When Fantastica is destroyed, Bastian recreates it. Unlike Fantasticans, Bastian, a human, is a "Child of the Word" — he alone is capable of writing reality and of naming things. Likewise, Amy's memories, dreams, and ideas are written into being by the Nestene Consciousness.
Because one thing he was good at, possibly the only thing, was imagining things so clearly that he almost saw and heard them.
The Neverending Story (Penguin Books), page 23

But sometimes the objects of our imagination find their way to the real world as lies...

"The Nothing"; "the Silence"

This is the most obvious parallel between Doctor Who and The Neverending Story. Both universes are being devoured by a mysterious "nothingness" which leaves only a peculiar sort of emptiness or 'silence' in its wake.
THE DOCTOR: If the time energy catches up with you you'll never have been born. It will erase every moment of your existance. You will never have lived at all.
Doctor Who 5x05 "Flesh and Stone"

SIGNORA CALVIERRI: There were cracks. Some of them tiny. Some were as big as the sky. Through some we saw worlds and through others we saw silence and the end of all things.

Doctor Who 5x06 "The Vampires of Venice"

ROCK BITER: Near my home there used to be a beautiful lake - but then, then it was gone.

TINY: Did the lake - dry up?

ROCK BITER: No. It just wasn't there any more. Nothing was there any more, not even a dried-up lake.

TINY: A hole?

ROCK BITER: A hole would be something, no. It was nothing. And it got bigger, and bigger. First there was no lake any more and then finally no rocks.
The Neverending Story (1984)

"If somebody put his foot into one of them by mistake, the foot — or hand — or whatever else he put in — would be gone too. It didn't hurt — it was just that a part of whoever it was would be missing. Some would even fall in on purpose if they got too close to the Nothing. It has an irresistable attraction — the bigger the place, the stronger the pull."
The Neverending Story (Penguin Books), pages 21-22

"The Childlike Empress is sick,
And with her Fantastica will die.
The Nothing will swallow this place,
It will perish and so will I.
We shall vanish into the Nowhere and Never,
As though we had never been.

The Empress needs a new name
To make her well again."
The Neverending Story (Penguin Books), page 96

In the world of The Neverending Story, when a Fantastican is swallowed by the Nothing they become a lie; when Rory is swallowed by the Silence in "Cold Blood" he returns in "The Pandorica Opens" — but as an Auton, a memory of Amy's conjured into reality as a lie.
"Gmork, the werewolf, told me," said Atreyu, "that when a Fantastican is swallowed up by the Nothing, he becomes a lie. Is that true?"

"Yes, it is true," said the Childlike Empress.
The Neverending Story (Penguin Books), page 147

Memory, Hope, and the Naming of Things

Bastian's power of creation is tied up in his ability to name things. The Fantasticans themselves cannot create anything new, so none of them are able to rename the Childlike Empress — but it is because she has no name that she is unable to protect Fantastica, and her name has been forgotten because humans like Bastian no longer believe in fairy tales. It is also a significant turn of the Doctor's relationship with River that she apparently knows his true name.
"Only the right name gives beings and things their reality," she said. "A wrong name makes everything unreal. That's what lies do."
The Neverending Story (Penguin Books), page 149

In The Neverending Story characters often have to forget things in order to accomplish their goals — in order to pass through the No-Key Gate to reach the Southern Oracle, Atreyu must forget his entire mission; as Bastian makes the wishes which restore Fantastica he gradually forgets everything about himself until he has lost even his name. On Doctor Who, people and things are forgotten as they fall into the Silence — but the Doctor is always trying to make Amy remember things: she has to remember something he told her when she was seven; "if something can be remembered it can come back".
"Dame Eyola," Bastian asked, "you promised that when the right moment came you'd tell me what I had to forget to find my last wish. Has the time come?"

She nodded. "You had to forget your father and mother. Now you have nothing left but your name."

Bastian pondered. "Father and mother?" he said slowly. But the words had lost all meaning for him. He had forgotten."
The Neverending Story (Penguin Books), page 349

THE DOCTOR: Remember that night you flew away with me?

AMY: Of course I do.

THE DOCTOR: And you asked me why I was taking you and I said there wasn't a reason. I was lying.

AMY: What, so you did have a reason?

THE DOCTOR: Your house.

AMY: My house.

THE DOCTOR: It's too big: too many empty rooms. Does it ever bother you, Amy, that your life doesn't make any sense?
Doctor Who 5x12 "The Pandorica Opens"

Finally, it is because humans have no hope and no belief that Fantastica is in peril. Belief, and hope, have both been big themes on Doctor Who over the past couple of years — and what is traditionally 'left' when Pandora's box has been opened?


in the beginning, it is always dark


I leave you with "Mad Girl's Love Song", a poem by Sylvia Plath which I think also touches on some of the ideas contained within Doctor Who series five:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

In conclusion, Amy is going to wish the entire universe back into existence.

Date: 2010-06-21 03:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] captaindove.livejournal.com
♥ ♥ ♥

I am so very, very glad you made this post. And wow. I hadn't realised just how many parallels there really are - The Silence totally being The Nothing had occurred to me, and the importance of memories, but the rest was fascinating to read. I now have an incredibly strong urge to get my hands on both the book and the movie of The Neverending Story.

In conclusion, Amy is going to wish the entire universe back into existence.

This must happen.

Date: 2010-06-21 04:08 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-06-21 03:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snappop.livejournal.com
♥ x a million
I rewatched the movie a couple weeks ago, and I'm in the process of rereading the book, because you mentioned this bit of meta, and it's so perfect and true. You've put forth the case brilliantly, Mary. Especially the bit with the Old Man of the Wandering Mountain and the Childlike Empress and the Doctor and River; I hadn't made that connection but it fits awfully well.

Did you cross post this anywhere, by the way? It's just such a lovely post, I want others to see it, hah.

In conclusion, Amy is going to wish the entire universe back into existence.

Anything less will disappoint me, to be honest, even if said other thing is brilliant. Amy wishing the universe back into existence...it's just too perfect. The Big Bang's synopsis give me an extra helping of hope, though, so fingers crossed.

Date: 2010-06-21 04:03 am (UTC)
ext_34962: (River Song (bang bang shoot shoot))
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
I rewatched the movie a couple weeks ago, and I'm in the process of rereading the book, because you mentioned this bit of meta, and it's so perfect and true. You've put forth the case brilliantly, Mary. Especially the bit with the Old Man of the Wandering Mountain and the Childlike Empress and the Doctor and River; I hadn't made that connection but it fits awfully well.

Hah, neither had I until this evening.

Did you cross post this anywhere, by the way? It's just such a lovely post, I want others to see it, hah.

Well, no, as it is so very insane. I just don't know how many people I want to bear witness to my insanity, Rachel. I just don't know.

Anything less will disappoint me, to be honest, even if said other thing is brilliant. Amy wishing the universe back into existence...it's just too perfect.

I just want to live in a world created by Amy Pond.

Date: 2010-06-21 04:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snappop.livejournal.com
Well, no, as it is so very insane. I just don't know how many people I want to bear witness to my insanity, Rachel. I just don't know.
Clearly we are both the same kind of insane then, because it all seems perfectly sane to me. Or wait. If I don't recognize it as insane does that make me more insane? Or that you're sane and I'm not? I can never remember how these things work.

I just want to live in a world created by Amy Pond.
Yes. ♥

Date: 2010-06-21 03:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] syzygy-lj.livejournal.com
I noticed the parallel between the cracks and the Nothing, too. I had been thinking of doing a similar analysis, but I you have done a much better job on it than I could have done.

And that poem! It works so well for Amy!

Date: 2010-06-21 04:11 am (UTC)
ext_34962: (Amy Pond)
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
I noticed the parallel between the cracks and the Nothing, too. I had been thinking of doing a similar analysis, but I you have done a much better job on it than I could have done.

Aw, I would have liked to have read your analysis.

And that poem! It works so well for Amy!

It really, really does.

Date: 2010-06-21 04:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] syzygy-lj.livejournal.com
Well, I can't go and write my own Neverending Doctor analysis now. That would be copying.

Date: 2010-06-21 08:08 am (UTC)
ext_22618: (Default)
From: [identity profile] bewarethespork.livejournal.com
This was really, really interesting. Thank you for putting it all together and sharing it!

Date: 2010-06-21 07:02 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (Eleven & Amy & River)
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
No problem. I wasn't sure whether to post it because I do think a couple of these 'parallels' are quite tenuous -- but it is interesting when similar themes and ideas seem to crop up in different source materials.

Date: 2010-06-21 01:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] portiaslegacy.livejournal.com
Really interesting essay. I never read The Neverending Story and its been a long time since seeing the movie so I had quite forgotten about the Nothingness and connecting them to the Cracks. Also I am technically on US-airing schedule, so this is all a little far in advance for me. I had been thinking that once the cracks are solved things would sort of be like the end of The Lathe of Heaven, which does not seem like a bad place to start out from.

Date: 2010-06-21 07:05 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (down is the new up)
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
I've never read The Lathe of Heaven, but looking at the synopsis for it I agree with you -- it would be really interesting if Doctor Who explored that kind of scenario.

Date: 2010-06-21 08:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] butterflyborn.livejournal.com
I'm adding this to my favorites because it is just so beautifully done! I love The Neverending Story but have never read the book. I think my roomie and I have just found our next reading time funz. :) We have also been calling the cracks and the silence "the Nothing" at times.

(of course we have also agreed that this whole season is all just a cleverly disguised way for Moffat to be able to write compelling and legitimate crackfic) LOL

Thanks so much for sharing this!

Date: 2010-06-27 12:26 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: ("Isle of the Immortals")
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
Thank you!

(of course we have also agreed that this whole season is all just a cleverly disguised way for Moffat to be able to write compelling and legitimate crackfic) LOL
Hah, yes. I will miss being able to talk about my "crack theories".

Date: 2010-06-21 08:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bardingtide.livejournal.com
You are brilliant. I'd never made the connection.

And I really need to read the Never Ending Story.

Date: 2010-06-27 12:27 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (El Laberinto del Fauno)
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Yes, you should! It's a really lovely book. It's still one of my favourites.

Date: 2010-06-21 09:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] likegrecianart.livejournal.com
This post is amazing!

The Neverending Story is one of my favorite books and I never made this connection apart from The Childlike Empress & The Doctor and how no one knew their names haha. :)

I wish I could "like" this like I could on FB, so I'll just use this icon. ;)

Date: 2010-06-27 12:31 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: ("Child with Cellophane")
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
Thank you! I wish every website had a 'like' feature.

Date: 2010-06-21 10:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flowerstand.livejournal.com
this is amazing & very well-thought-out! I'd considered the similarity between the Silence and the Nothing (and even thought, briefly, about 'wishing' something into existence - though that's a trope in lots of sci-fi/fantasy), but some of the parallels you draw are really interesting! good job~

Date: 2010-06-27 12:42 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (down is the new up)
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2010-06-21 11:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] touchthesoul.livejournal.com
This is the first speculation post I've felt the need to comment on, because it just makes so much sense! Your explanations are laid out wonderfully and I love your logic. :D

Date: 2010-06-27 12:41 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (Eleven & Amy (Apple))
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2010-06-21 11:18 pm (UTC)
ext_12865: (Yay!)
From: [identity profile] cscottd.livejournal.com
That was absolutely and utterly fascinating. Thanks for sharing it!

Date: 2010-06-27 12:40 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (Eleven)
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
Thank you. ♥

Date: 2010-06-22 12:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lovely-fatima.livejournal.com
This is simply brilliant--as is the Sylvia Plath poem at the end. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your theory--which isn't as insane as you might imagine.

Date: 2010-06-27 12:39 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (Björk (pagan poetry))
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
Apparently not!

Date: 2010-06-22 04:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] laurus-nobilis.livejournal.com
Here via [livejournal.com profile] who_daily!

This post is wonderful. The Neverending Story is one of my favourite books, and a great part of the reason why I love this season are the themes they have in common - but I hadn't made so many connections!

Date: 2010-06-27 12:39 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (Amy Pond)
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
I love The Neverending Story too. This series has just been wonderful, hasn't it?

Date: 2010-06-22 02:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ibishtar.livejournal.com
Ooh, lovely. That's one of my favourite books. So the Universe gets dreamed into a new existence by Amy? I'd kind of love that, although it doesn't sound very scientific. There's a quote from the book of Weeping Angels in Time of Angels about what if our ideas could leave us and take on a life of their own.
Great post.

Date: 2010-06-27 12:37 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: ("Exposure")
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
There's a quote from the book of Weeping Angels in Time of Angels about what if our ideas could leave us and take on a life of their own.
Yes, which was very interesting, wasn't it?

Date: 2010-06-27 12:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ibishtar.livejournal.com
I kept thinking of this post whilst watching the finale. Well done, hee.

Date: 2010-06-27 12:52 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: ("Lisa with Harp")
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
Hah, so did I. I was like, "Really? I was right?"

Date: 2010-06-22 03:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] themadpoker.livejournal.com
Oh this is brilliant. <3 I don't quite remember how I made my way here since I left the tab open from last night. Probably lots of link hopping. Anyways I think I'm going to reread The Neverending Story now before the finale airs so I can keep an eye out for more of these kind of parallels.

Date: 2010-06-27 12:36 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-06-22 10:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tempestsarekind.livejournal.com
Here via [livejournal.com profile] who_daily. Thanks for this; it's really intriguing! I'm loving the fairy tale/mythology elements to this season, and this ties in really well with all that.

Date: 2010-06-27 12:35 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (Amy Pond (lost in a forest))
From: [identity profile] penumbra.livejournal.com
Yes, me too -- there are definite Peter Pan, Red Riding Hood, etc. vibes to the whole thing. ♥

Date: 2010-07-07 05:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eve11.livejournal.com
In conclusion, Amy is going to wish the entire universe back into existence.

lol, see if Steven Moffat came by your journal two weeks ago he'd have sat back and said, "You're good. I'm not saying you're right, but you are. Very. Good." ;)

I too was seeing parallels to The Neverending Story, especially after the Pandorica Opens. Thanks for laying them all out here. :D

Date: 2010-07-07 10:25 pm (UTC)
sea_thoughts: (DWLittle Wonder - brontide)
From: [personal profile] sea_thoughts
Congratulations on being so right about the finale! :) I saw the parallels with The Never-Ending Story as well. That poem always makes me sad, I can imagine Amy discovering it in those seven years and latching onto it as a mantra to keep believing. Do you think Rory is a bit like Atreyu then?

Date: 2010-07-12 02:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snappop.livejournal.com
So remember how I was rereading The Neverending Story (albeit slowly because as usual I am doing 20 things at once)? I finally finished. And The House of Change is the Tardis ( which you probably already noticed but it pleased me greatly).


"'The House of Change,' said Dame Eyola, 'is bigger inside than out.'

...

'Sleep my darling, good night
Your sufferings are past.
Great lord, be a little child at last."


(The Neverending Story, Puffin Books, pages 406 and 407)

and so on. 'Course I don't need to point out the correlation to you, but:

"I grew up."
Don't worry, I'll soon fix that."



:D

So basically I'm just back here to reiterate that this is the best ever. ♥

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Mary

September 2010

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