Thursday, 13 September 2012

Is Donna Noble's soul a magic Mars bar?

First of all, credit to charlieissocoollike for the idea of the magic Mars bar (other chocolate bars are available too):

The basic idea is that filesharing is less immoral than stealing Mars bars because the latter involve a lot of work to produce each time, but files such as music or videos, or ebooks for that matter, will still be available after they are "stolen".  Douglas Adams might say they're freemantled.  As it happens, Adams himself had one of his ideas freemantled - Cannock Chase - and was not amused, so maybe he wouldn't, but then again H2G2's plot is reminiscent of "Kilgore Trout"'s 'Venus On the Half-Shell', so i'm not sure he's in a position to complain.

Another thing Douglas Adams did, of course, was write three excellent Doctor Who adventures and edit Doctor Who scripts for several years.  Then Jon Nathan-Turner showed up and, according to some, decided to ruin the whole thing, resulting in it being taken off air.  A few years after it came back, Donna Noble appeared as the Doctor's companion. In an episode referred to as 'Silence In The Library'...


 ...she suffered what Adams would call a "total existence failure" and woke up in a virtual world as herself.  The Doctor later found a way to restore her to existence, but of course by that point she had in a sense been replaced by an identical copy, a fact about which he seemed rather relaxed.  Some might say she had died and been replaced by an identical copy with all her memories intact, but now of course in a sense false.


Back to the magic Mars bars, and of course the question of selling your soul (forgot to mention that).  Souls are apparently like magic Mars bars, because when you sell it on Ebay its still there to sell and unless you have either a contract or maybe uniquely numbered bits of soul like Voldemort or someone might do.  Therefore, clearly souls are intellectual property and when you sell them to the Devil, you sign a contract.  You might do something similar when you join a religion.

Now my suggestion is that the Doctor was so relaxed about Donna's recreation from a completely different set of materials with no overlap because he does something similar when he regenerates.  I see a regeneration as like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly:  the Doctor's matter rearranges, so far into a similar form in the sense of being a white male humanoid, but with potential new characteristics such as ginger hair or no legs.  Clearly the tenth Doctor didn't "want to go", so it's not a case of simply changing your face.  Major physical characteristics can change too - Romanadvoratrelundar, for example, was at one point a blue dwarf for a few seconds (a life form, by the way, not a star).

So there are a number of issues here.  Firstly, this version of a soul is a culturally constructed thing and seems to have nothing to do with consciousness, an afterlife or reincarnation.  Secondly, it constitutes one's identity in the same way as the Doctor is the "same" person throughout all his regenerations, and even apparently Donna through her experiences, of which there are many.

This is the sense in which i mean soul, and it's even possible that i use the word in this sense when i think about the afterlife and the resurrection.

I realise that there's a poor fit between the two parts of this video.  I have had a tendency for things not to link up well when i've done them, and that's happened here too, so in future, as well as getting better at making videos from a technical perspective, i will also endeavour to do some joined up planning.