Communicator (communicator) wrote,

Paul Cornell and Monsters

Actually I am now shattered and I can hardly put my brain in gear to write a proper con report for Redemption. There was a very interesting guest - Paul Cornell, TV writer, responsible for episodes in Doctor Who, including Human Nature/Family of Blood, and other genre shows like Primeval. I thought he came across very well, and I would definitely recommend him to people looking for convention guests: he was participatory, fun and relaxed. He was just behind me in the audience at the very first panel I went to (about Doctor/Master slash) and endeared himself to me by praising John Simm very highly (I didn't know who he was at that point, I'm like 'who's the straight guy with the cool attitude to slash?').

Unfortunately I missed most of his panels and interviews because I was out most of Saturday at my Kairos induction. I saw him in a panel on the story function of 'monsters' (cf Doctor Who and Lovecraft) as opposed to aliens (cf most literary SF and Trek): interestingly he argued that monsters are not less sophisticated than aliens as a plot device, although they are characterised as having a less well developed independent existence or rationale for their behaviour. This is because what they lose in intellectual development, they gain as psychological metaphor.

I commented from the floor that I thought that a monster must be both fully intentional like humans, but utterly non-negotiable like natural disasters. And that it was interesting to think why we had evolved a fear of such a creature, when none exist.

Cornell argued that there were two sources for the fear: now-extinct primate rivals to our species, and our own unsocialised offspring. I think the first is possible, interesting, and the second frankly wrong. Monsters are not toddler-analogues. FWIW I think Monsters represent our fear of our own (and hence others') capacity to violate all instinct, and devour each other. A bit like the fear of throwing ourselves off a high place - we wouldn't do it but we can envisage it.
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