Wednesday, September 5, 2012

DOCTOR WHO - Time in a box

"Because it was, you know, it was the best: a daft old man, who stole a magic box and ran away. Did I ever tell you I stole it? Well, I borrowed it; I was always going to take it back. Oh, that box, Amy, you'll dream about that box. It'll never leave you. Big and little at the same time, brand-new and ancient, and the bluest blue, ever. And the times we had, eh? Would've had. Never had. In your dreams, they'll still be there. The Doctor and Amy Pond... and the days that never came." (The Doctor)

So, I have been catching up on Doctor Who, and finally got to the end of Season 5 (Pandorica opens/The Big Bang). Because of that, and to honor the spolier alert (to your right), here is a short litte sumthin' about time in a box.

First of all, here is the myth of Pandora, because I'm all for honoring the classics.

Second, the idea of time trapped in a box does show up every now and then throughout time and space.
(Go figure)
For example, there is the Japanese tale of Urashima Taro ("Your old age was trapped in the box...")
Another box that instead of time contains timeless sleep is mentioned in the myth of Cupid and Psyche.

In most tales about worlds other than ours, time usually flows differently on the two sides of the veil.
One of the most famous legends like that is probably Oisín's journey to Tír na nÓg.
Another one is a very similar tale from Vietnam. Some version of this one also feature age trapped in a box.
There is the tale of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, where the heroes go to sleep in one time and wake up in the future...
The tale called the Fairy Grotto in the Folkales of China collection (University of Chicago Press) also has the idea of time passing quicky "on the other side"
Another popular folktale type is the prince who does not want to die, and ends up living outside time (or, in some versions, dies trying). Here is the Hungarian version of it, with a pretty cartoon and English subtitles, because I am all considerate like that!

On a not directly related note, there is also quite a few folktales about someone's soul kept in a box; as long as the soul (or part of the soul) is in a box, the person is immortal. Rings a bell?

Second side note, is the tale of the Lone Centurion heart-wrenching or what? Beautiful in itself. It kind of reminded me of all the legends about sleeping heroes, or knights guarding their sleeping king. Europe is full of those tales. Love is a noce twist on it though.

Long live the Doctor! :)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Csenge, a fascinating journey through tales of time - the Doctor would be proud of you!

    A few other references for you:
    For another scholarly essay on the External Soul, but far less patronising about 'savages and primitives', check out the huge "Ocean of Story" translated by Penzer and Tawney, which of course (since it contains all stories in the world) also has story examples in it.

    The ancient Egyptian tale, The Two Brothers, is another example. But it is the hero, not the villain, who stores his soul externally - in the Acacia tree (symbol of resurrection).

    And it's easy to see where JK Rowling got her idea for Voldemort's external soul in the last volumes of Harry Potter.

    As for tales of time passing quickly in the other world, there are so many. Doug Lipman once compiled various tales where the student thinks he's living his whole lifetime and then snaps back to discover it was all just an illusion as a lesson from the master in answer to his question. (Spoiler Alert!!) Check out The Beggar King in Jewish tradition as a great example.