I sometimes get a strange physical urge that I don't know what to do with. It most often happens while traveling through some glamorously alien place, and is rooted in the desire to make the place a part of me, to irrevocably blend our particles, to know that in some way, that place belongs to me, and I belong to it. The urge is to physically rub myself against the landscape.
I don't tend to actually do this. Certainly not when anyone is looking. But I feel the urge, it's mixed with love and desire, and I know from that feeling that I am not so different from my cat. I want to own this place, and I want to own it with my body.
I don't think I'm alone in this desire, though I may be alone in wanting to roll around in foreign dirt. And I don't think it's just about places - it's time, too. And occasionally people. And styles, and colors. I see beauty in the world, and want to own it, be owned by it.
Which brings me to Doctor Who. (Everything does.)
I was recently watching - ok, not Doctor Who, but a very short-lived 2008 tv series called New Amsterdam, about a man who is present for the initial European colonization of Manhattan, becomes immortal, and stays there, in his city, to modern times. He goes beyond being a resident of the city - he doesn't just live a moment there, he witnesses its entire story from the beginning, he touches it, changes it, his children grow up and have children in it, and he is molded by it over centuries.
Clearly, this character has a lot of precedents in fiction; Doctor Who is the first that comes to mind but there's also Connor from Highlander, Sam from Quantum Leap, Peter Lake in Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale and probably hundreds of others. These are characters that come to embody history by having lived through so much of it that they are saturated in it. They let us relate to it first-hand. They bring our Kevin Bacon number for *everything* to 1.
I think a reason these characters appeal to me is that they take something to which I desire access - the whole of human history, the entirety of time - and they put it in the format of an attractive man who belongs both to that past and to my present. I can't easily press myself against the past. But when the past is contained in a human body, suddenly it is possible! Even though it's just in an imaginary world, history is brought closer - history becomes something you can have sex with.