On Canonicity

1: The nature of canon demands that things have happened in order, and, from my point of view, they largely did. This is not a complicated question. But let me get back to you about this,

2: How many grandchildren I had is apparently up for debate in several of the larger academic halls of Luna University. Why yes, that is an interesting question. Was it just Susan? Yes, I’m certain.

1: I’ve dropped John and Gillian off at the junkyard, as agreed. You’ll pick them up, won’t you?

2: Ah, yes, of course, of course. Time travel sure adds an interesting wrinkle to family trees, doesn’t it…

3: I may not be the right person to ask, my dear. I’ve met myself and did not agree with either of them that it had happened before.

2: It had, it just hadn’t happened yet!

1: As I recall, old man, you’re not even entirely certain which decade you’ve been exiled to!

4: Canon? Oh, who knows…

5: New phone, who is this?

6: The American literary critic Henry Louis Gates once said “You have to have a canon so the next generation can come along and blow it up.” Now, of course, he was talking about literary canon, not about the question you asked me, but the matter stands: A canon can not be an uncuttable tree. Exactly which of my adventures “happened,” and in what order, can not be an uncuttable tree.

2: Pardon?

7: Let’s take an axe to it.

6: It does seem to be the only way to save Peri. Or Mel.

War: What on Crom was I — Which adventures happened? All you’ve been exposed to is lies. None of them happened. All of them did. There is no more meaningful distinction between these things.

9: It’s all over.

11: I’m not sure, but I’m confident it's not.

10: Exactly what did and didn’t happen is an interesting question. It’s not, like most people would think, a strict progression of—

War: Oh, will you shut up!

12: Whatever the answer is… I don’t think it matters. The question is what matters. Did it happen? Is it canon? No. It’s life.

13: And a fun life at that.

(This essay was from the point-of-view of the lead character of the British TV show Doctor Who, written as if each incarnation were responding to a question I’d texted them.)