Psychology Magazine

Finding You in Words: The Mnemotechniques of Amy Pond

By Agholdier @agholdier

I’m excited to report that an abstract I submitted has been tentatively accepted for inclusion in the upcoming volume: Doctor Who and Philosophy, Regenerated! With only four weeks left in the school year (three and a half, to be precise), I’m excitedly lining up my writing projects for the summer months and this one should be a lot of fun - I’ll essentially be playing Doctor-Who-ping-pong with Nietzsche for one paddle and Tolkien as the other to ponder questions of memory (just how was it that Amy Pond could remember the Doctor back into existence?).

Here’s what I submitted:


Finding You in Words: The Mnemotechniques of Amy Pond

“I’ll be a story in your head. That’s okay. We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?” If there was any doubt left in a viewer’s mind that Matt Smith was the perfect man to play the Eleventh Doctor, this impassioned plea towards the end of “The Big Bang” caused all such reservations to be quickly forgotten. His farewell bedtime story for a sleeping Amelia Pond was a monolog to remember.

Which, as usual, was our clever Doctor’s point.

Though she took her time in doing so, the illimitable Amy Pond finally did recall the fairy-tale she was once told by her Raggedy Doctor and, in so doing, re-imagined her once-imaginary friend into the world – much to the surprise of her wedding guests. As the newly-minted (and also once-forgotten) Mr. Rory Pond exclaimed, “It’s The Doctor! How did we forget The Doctor?”

In fact, memory and forgetfulness are two tropes that have followed The Doctor since his series’ reboot; from the final fate of Donna Noble to the menace of the Silents to the Dalek’s Oswin-induced amnesia to Strax’s memory worm, The Doctor has danced on the edge of where time and recollection part ways – just as Friedrich Nietzsche likewise did in his Genealogy of Morals. To Nietzsche, memory of the will is a defining feature of humanity, particularly on the corporate level, that must be overpowered by the strong individual (Übermensch)who would try to make his mark on history. This paper will mix Nietzsche’s thoughts on willpower, mnemotechniques, and the social element of memory with J.R.R. Tolkien’s insights on mythopoesis (from his essay On Fairy Stories) to whip up a philosophical soufflé that may help us understand just how the tenacious Amy Pond was actually able to use her childhood memories to “find The Doctor in words” and bring him home – just as he hoped she would.

For even though he claimed to be “astonished” by her trick, we must never forget Rule One: The Doctor Lies.


Does that sound like something you’d be interested in reading? If so (and all goes well), you can look forward to a 2015 release date.

In the meantime, I’ve got a chapter in the upcoming The Devil and Philosophy on Star Wars and Augustine’s view of evil, as well as a chapter co-written with my good friend Michael Stark in Jurassic Park and Philosophy on Thomistic virtues and Dr. Ian Malcolm, both of which should be released this summer.

So, now I have an excuse to go back and re-watch all these Who episodes while calling it “work” (somewhat like another project on parental relationships that has me going to see The Amazing Spiderman 2 tonight!).

The only trick left is to figure out how to get paid for all this…

Tags: Abstract, Doctor Who, Jurassic Park, Philosophy, Pop Culture, The Devil, Writing Projects

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