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A problem with 'The Gift'? spoilers if you haven't seen it...or read anything about it! -- O'Cailleagh, 13:45:57 03/17/02 Sun

After rewatching 'The Gift' on Friday, I was reminded of this problem I had with the plotline, that escaped me at the time due to the lack-of-puppies-ending.
I apologise if this was brought up at the time...
How does Buffy close the portal?
The scrolls say that once the blood starts to flow, the portal will open, and will only close when the blood stops (ie no more left). Dawn wasn't drained of blood...she lost very little, in fact.
Okay, so I got that Dawn is made from Buffy's blood (apparently-we only have her word for this), and that they have, therefore, the same blood. This suggests that they are genetically identical. So why aren't they physically identical? I suppose that Dawn's DNA could have been altered by the monks, or by the energy of the Key as the monks created her, but that would mean that her blood would be different to Buffy's (only slightly as she still has Summers' blood). For the portal to be fooled by Buffy's blood, it would, presumably, have to be identical to Dawn's-genetically or mystically-and if mystically (ie the same etheric 'blueprint'), this would also suggest that they be physically identical.
On top of this, we have the fact that Buffy's blood is not imbued with the "living energy" that is the essence of the Key. It is, however, imbued with the mystical energy of the Slayer.
Are we being told that these are one and the same?

[> Re: A problem with 'The Gift'? spoilers if you haven't seen it...or read anything about it! -- TRM, 14:19:29 03/17/02 Sun

I would imagine blood being both physically and metaphorically being related to the soul or some sort of life force. This can have a similar analogy with the whole vampire-making schtick. A vampire drains you of your blood, essentially having your blood flow stop and thereby forcing your soul/life force out and then replaces it with the demon soul which you drink.

In such a sense, the key is this other form of mystical energy that can exist as energy or can be contained in some sort of vessel. Dawn is that vessel, but in order to make her, they require her to be alive and thus they must find life from somewhere, i.e., Buffy. Whether this is a literal genetic reproduction of Buffy I find doubtful, and the meaning of Dawn being made from Buffy's blood makes more sense in terms of being made out of her life force.

In some sense, this life force can be seen as something that contains the mystical energy of the key. Thus, the breaking of this life force releases these mystical energies that can subsequently unlock the doors to other dimensions.

However, this doesn't quite get to your point as to how the death of Buffy closes the portal. I can't make any valid conjectures here without assuming too much (the mystical energies of the key have become intrinsically meshed with the Dawn (and therefore Buffy) lifeforce, and will be drawn to termination at the termination of this lifeforce, etc.); so I will be leaving the direct question unanswered. I offer as far as "the blood stops" a more literal interpretation in terms of the blood stops flowing, this suggests that life is something that is inherently mobile, active. As the Epicuriens would say: the only true repose is death. Buffy in dying stopped her blood from flowing.

On another note, and perhaps this has been noted before. Did anyone notice that poor Glory could have gotten back to her demon dimension and everything else could have worked out the same? She really died for no reason...

[> [> Re: A problem with 'The Gift'? spoilers if you haven't seen it...or read anything about it! -- gds, 14:38:59 03/17/02 Sun

I recommend OnM's comments on this issue. It should be in the archives for last year. It is a further development of his QH theory which should be in the 2000 archives.

[> [> [> Re: A problem with 'The Gift'? spoilers if you haven't seen it...or read anything about it! -- Rob, 15:09:37 03/17/02 Sun

It said the portal would close when the blood stopped flowing. When Buffy jumps in the portal, she dies, causing her blood to stop flowing. Since Dawn's blood was made from the same blueprint as Buffy's, the portal could be seen to have been fooled into thinking that it was Dawn. Or, symbolically, innocent blood is given to do the sacrifice. Whose innocent blood isn't as relevant as the fact that the blood is innocent.


[> [> Re: Not just Glory... -- Philistine, 17:04:14 03/17/02 Sun

Somehow I missed this until I saw the FX rerun, and I'm sure it's been pointed out before, but...

Glory was already dead when Doc took the knife to Dawn. Would he have bothered opening the portal if he'd known Glorificus wasn't going to be able to go through? Perhaps he would - he didn't seem overly sane - but the battle was already lost and won by the time he got around to bleeding Dawn, so it was pretty much entirely pointless. And if not for that one unnecessary, useless action of Doc's - if Doc had known it didn't matter anymore; if Spike could have just kept Doc occupied for a minute or two longer; if Buffy could have gotten up the tower just a hair faster after her fight with Glory - Buffy need not have died.

[> [> [> Re: Not just Glory... -- Amber, 00:48:23 03/18/02 Mon

My interpretation was that Doc wasn't opening the portal for Glory, but for himself. Regardless of whether or not Glory got to return to her dimension, I think he wanted the hell-on-earth that would be created by bleeding Dawn.

Angelus had the same goal in Becoming when he tells Spike and Dru "We're going to make history...end." In this case Angelus's goal doesn't make much sense either. If he turns earth into a hell-dimension what's he going to eat once all the "happy meals on legs" are killed by the newly increased population of demons and other nasties?

Also, on the Doc thing. I was never clear on how he got to the top of the tower. Did he climb like Buffy and Spike or does he have some sort of teleportation powers? If he just appeared out of nowhere, it's unlikely he knew what was going on with the ground battle.

[> [> [> [> Re: Not just Glory... -- Philistine, 18:53:31 03/19/02 Tue

That's possible, but I think Doc's self-identification as a worshipper of Glorificus (to Spike and Xander in WotW) makes it less likely.

And I don't know how Doc got up there, either. We really don't know what sort of powers he had/has, other than arcane knowledge and the ability to survive impalement, so teleportation certainly can't be ruled out; and the Scoobies on the ground apparently didn't see him start up the stairs from ground level.

[> [> [> Battle Intelligence & Synchronization -- Eric, 03:58:43 03/18/02 Mon

The final battle between the Scoobies and Glory was realistic in the sense that real battles are rarely properly synchronized. Indeed, a planned synchronization of all the elements thats ruined by the enemy or circumstance is usually a determining factor in who wins. Glory, bless her magnificant arrogance, completely ignored the fact that she was approaching her most vulnerable time and yet did nothing to stop Buffy & Co. Sadly, Buffy & Co. had no real idea of how she was setting up Dawn's sacrafice. The tower was a complete surprise. I suspect Xander's position manning the wrecking ball is evidence of this. He was probably awaiting Buffy's cue to demolish it, instead of a shot at a "spare". And there were numerous opportunities for one or the other Scoobies to be at a critical place at a critical time to save the day. But you can only armchair general so much. BTW, I don't think Doc's intrusion as a wild card Glory supporter was unrealistic. Such things happen in fantasy or real life. And I don't think many would have objected if he produced a knife to cut Dawn's ropes. My biggest beef with the ep was that it made me really sad. It was a shot in the gut which lingers still (especially since I can't get UPN).

[> [> [> Glory wasn't dead yet...almost there...very weak...but not dead yet when Doc cut Dawn. -- Rob, 09:08:22 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> Re: You sure? -- Philistine, 18:21:13 03/19/02 Tue

The sequence of events is a little hard to follow, because I don't know which scenes are actually occurring simultaneously. But I got the impression that after Buffy was done hammering Glory, she got up to the top of the tower as quickly as she could and arrived JUST too late to stop Doc from wielding the knife - the first drops of blood fell, opening the portal, while Buffy was freeing Dawn, and they didn't notice the portal until they reached the other end of the walkway. Since we saw Giles smothering Ben just as Buffy started up the tower, I think Glory was gone before Doc made the cuts.

[> Try to reconcile the inconsistencies and your head will explode. -- Darby, 16:57:56 03/17/02 Sun

None of it really makes any sense at all, right from the start. The Key was not supposed to be in human form, but the ritual involves anointing and bloodletting? If Buffy jumps into a portal that stuff is coming through, why doesn't she go through? If she stops what's happening, does this mean that the Key would be destroyed by the opening of the "door" and shoving her into the opening (which was growing toward her)?

The actual plot details throughout the arc don't make sense: Glory has existed in our plane since before the advent of language (from Giles' and the Watchers' Council research and some detail of the "exposition monk's" monologue), but most of the time seems to have been here only as long as Ben has been alive (although sometimes Ben seems to have knowledge to suggest a less-than-normal life, but it is explicitly stated somewhere that he's 22); the Key, presumably a product of Glory's ouster from her dimension (but maybe not), is being watched over by monks whose garb and accoutrements suggest the Dark Ages, and sought by Knights of the Middle Ages (able to import archaic weapons and horses to Southern California!), who over the centuries apparently had never found the Key they sought but still seemed to be able to recruit members (seen anybody searching for the Grail lately?) for Buffy to kill, although no one ever mentions it when they talk about how the Slayer can't do that (what, the Knights deserved to die more than Warren does???). And whom nobody had ever noticed enough to write things down about them. The plot holes were bigger than any transdimensional portal could be.

But it didn't really matter, because the plot on those levels was pure MacGuffin. If we cared about that, we'd have to care about Glory the Valley Girl and the ever-growing cadre of leprosied hobbits around her, but they were way too much fun. Or the implications of altering the world to insert a new person into the continuity.

[> [> Minor plot details don't bother me...It's really the emotion of the story that matter... -- Rob, 17:13:19 03/17/02 Sun

Just ignore the plotholes and they'll go away...I promise!



[> [> [> Re: Minor plot details don't bother me...It's really the emotion of the story that matter... -- DEN, 18:24:09 03/17/02 Sun

And the real snapper is that the Scoobies WON the season-long contest ME set them. Glory is not only defeated and slain before Doc appears. Doc's appearance on the tower is cheating! We last saw him on the floor with a sword through his midsection. ME gave us no indication Doc is immortal, or any less killable than anyone else of the demon persuasion. Spike proclaims him dead, and Spike is an expert on that matter! Talk about fraudulent resurrections and reset buttons!

[> [> [> [> Re: Doc -- Darby, 20:09:11 03/17/02 Sun

The last shot of Doc in his apartment is of him opening his eyes, so we did know that he wasn't dead before he popped back up on the tower, and we'd been told that he's a Glory supporter. As for Spike, he had just risked incinerating himself for...does anybody remember what was in the box? He may have been a bit distracted. That's probably one of the details he spent the next 147 days replaying in his head.

Why am I spackling plotholes here? I'm a bilgepump on the Titanic...

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Doc -- DEN, 16:00:08 03/18/02 Mon

WE know he's alive--a point I should have made, and thanks. But the SCOOBIES don't, and have no reason to watch out for him

[> [> [> [> [> What's In The Box... -- Ishkabibble, 20:27:32 03/18/02 Mon

After Spike pulls the box out of the fire, we don't see it again until it shows up at the Magic Box, open, on a table. The table is surrounded by Giles and the Scoobies (W. X. A. T. S.).

Buffy enters and says "Heard you found ritual text."
Giles then says something to the effect that "according to these scrolls, it is possible for Glory to be stopped." Giles continues on, describing how the portal can be opened by Dawn's blood, yadda, yadda, yadda. Buffy says how she loves everyone, but no way is she going to kill Dawn. Spike makes his "its all about the blood" speech.

There doesn't seem to be any further reference to the box. Kind of disappointing after all the risk Spike took to retrieve it from the fire, huh.

[> [> Sorry, can't let this go...Rack this up to my think-too-much-quotient of 11! -- Rob, 21:35:32 03/17/02 Sun

I recently rewatched the entire fifth season over a period of 2 days, and I gotta tell ya...not all those plotholes you just wrote about are plotholes.

Yes, they said the Knights were around for hundreds of years, searching for the Key. And yes it said that Glory, as a being, predated language. They did not say, however, that Glory had been in our dimension that long. Further, it was made clear that the Key's presence in our dimension predated Glory's presence. And the key could be used to open dimensional portals, not just Glory's specific one. The Beast springing up now was definitely what the knights were fighting at this point, but it was not a contradiction that Glory entered Ben's body 20-22 years ago (give or take). The Knights had wanted to destroy the key long before the threat of Glory came along. Its very existence scared them, because of its ability to cause the end of the world.

Further, I don't see it as a plothole that the ritual involves bloodletting, because Doc was Glory's "research guy," much like Giles and Willow are (or were) Buffy's. Had the key been in a different form, he probably had a different way to use it. Should it be in this form, however, that is the way these things go. Glory is a god and does not concern herself with pesky, mortal details of her followers. She has her minions, like Doc, do that for her. And maybe the Key did have to be human...Either way, Glory would not have known that.

And, as far as the Knights, I didn't find their existence that strange. For one, in some places, there are still knight orders that dress up and reenact famous medieval battles, etc. It is merely an exaggeration (albeit more serious) of point in British history, reminiscent of the Renaissance festivals. We don't expect there to be true knights today, but this really added to the mythic feel of the story, I believe. And it didn't say Buffy was allowed to kill them. Buffy fought them, because they fought her. She didn't go out to seek them, as she does with demons. In fact, she tried to run away from them!


[> [> [> Re: Sorry, can't let this go...Rack this up to my think-too-much-quotient of 11! -- Darby, 07:14:31 03/18/02 Mon

I'll grant you that those points do sort of cover the inconsistencies, but they lead to other questions.

Do the reference books include books from other dimensions? That's the only way that the info about Glory would be available, right? Nobody's ever talked about books in demon languages (except for the Pylea one - was that actually in Pylean?), but it would also mean that books currently being "published" (during Glory's coup d'etat) are being moved across, a Priority Mail route home for Glorificus!

If the Key itself were this long-held object of fear for an entire order, it's hard to believe that no one could find any info on it - it really would have been like the Grail, or the Gem of Amara. Or that the Knights, who could find it in a Winnebago in the Mohave (what'd Spike do, file a flight plan? or they followed them out of town in full regalia? how slow was that thing?), couldn't track it to a much more static monastery given centuries to do it. And how the heck did Glory track it when she couldn't recognize it right in front of her?

If you knew that the Key was only usable in a certain form, would you place it into that form to hide it? But while it makes sense that Doc could have adapted a ceremony to the current form, what's the blood mean? Would it have been an energy siphon to gradually open the doorway, that Buffy's blood overloaded?

Yikes! There might be coherent explanations after all! Curse you, Rob! (Just kidding.)

[> [> [> [> Consider me cursed. ;o) -- Rob, 08:35:42 03/18/02 Mon

For what it's worth, you do make some good points about the other inconsistencies. I personally would list those as more "vague points" than plot holes...

The books...heck, the Scoobies are always able to find some arcane references that nobody else can...and sometimes even on the internet...How?

I believe about the knights not getting the key yet, the monks had only recently found the key themselves, or hid it very well. Its hiding place or form was close to finally being discovered, so they changed its form. I personally imagined this happening throughout Buffyverse history. Kind of like the Grail, but they have no idea what it looks like, because at any point it can turn into something completely different-looking.

The kind of thought of it like a mindless entity, like the non-cerebral functions of the human body. Yeah, think of it like that...Sometimes a human will get a heart transplant, which the body will instantly attack, even though its meant to be good for it. Sometimes, however, (hopefully) it can be fooled into thinking that this heart is meant to be there. The portal, similarly, knows, in whatever dumb mind capacity (or whatever you'd like to call it) that it has, that it must open farther and farther while the blood is flowing, and it will close when the blood stops flowing. Buffy, whose blood makeup is very similar to the key's (or perhaps even completely the same, on a surface analysis), can therefore stand in for the key, like a heart transplant. Buffy jumps in, and her death causes her blood to stop flowing, thus tricking the portal into thinking that the key's blood has stopped. The portal isn't smart to the point that it knows Dawn from Buffy. But it does know what it will look like when the key's blood has stopped flowing.

OK, maybe I'm overthinking (or even God forbid stretching lol) some plot points here, but reconciling these little problems in the story (with varied measures of success) is what keeps me sane!


[> [> [> Re: Sorry, can't let this go...Rack this up to my think-too-much-quotient of 11! -- leslie, 13:11:53 03/18/02 Mon

Just my two cents on the plugging of plot holes--first, my sense of what happened to Buffy when she plunged into the portal was that her body died in this dimension, but her spirit went through the portal into another dimension (which she subsequently identifed as "heaven," or perhaps, now, has relabelled "asylum"--and remember that "asylum" is not only a mental hospital, but a place of refuge). Second, although Dawn as the Key may be necessary for opening the portal, closing the portal may not require Keyness so much as bloodness. After all, if a door is locked, you need a key to open it, but once it is open, you can close it without necessarily locking it again. Which, when you come to think of it, may be why Buffy found her way back into the asylum last week--she didn't lock the door behind her.

[> [> [> [> Good points, Leslie! -- Rob, 20:48:29 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> [> Re: Sorry, can't let this go...Rack this up to my think-too-much-quotient of 11! -- Simon A., 17:01:06 03/19/02 Tue

I thought that the knights were pretty dumb, and this comes from somebody who does dress up in historical stuff on a regular basis. I mean, there are plenty of orders of knighthood still around, and lots of of quaint and curious costumes that they're called upon to wear, but none of them actually fight in them. I'd believe that they wore that stuff for ceremonies etc, but not for actual battle. Even if they were mystical weapons and armor, to use against Glory, I bet they'd have a few guns around to deal with any mortals that got in their way. Of course there are very few guns in the Buffyverse. Other than the "Scary.....Scarier" scene in S2 the vampires and other bads rarely use them.

And did anyone else blanche when one knight said "bring forward the clerics" ?(or words to that effect) Someone's been spending too much time reading the AD&D Players Manual

[> Actually I thought it was worse that, why not just bind Dawn's wound and stp her bleeding? -- Dochawk, 09:47:22 03/18/02 Mon

[> anticoagulants -- skeeve, 10:45:48 03/18/02 Mon

Neither Giles's interpretation of the writings nor Buffy's solution made much sense.
Killing Dawn would not have kept her blood from flowing outside her body. Admittedly it would have speeded the process a bit. The Scoobies should have been armed with anticoagulants, not just bandages.
The writings gave not the slightest clue that the portal could be closed by Summers blood other than Dawn's blood.
Given that it could, Buffy's `knowledge' was the result of either clairvoyance or wishful thinking.

[> [> Why blood? Why Dawn's blood? I mean, why couldn't it be like a, a lymph ritual? -- TRM, 11:04:53 03/18/02 Mon

Which is why I would still contest that prophecies shouldn't be read literally and that blood is simply a metaphor (albeit partially literal) for life. Note Spike's comment:

"Blood is life, lackbrain. Why do you think we eat it? It's what keeps you going. Makes you warm. Makes you hard. Makes you other than dead. Course it's her blood."

Hm... Spike and his innuendos (Makes you warm...). Regardless of which, Dawn's life is a latticework of blood, just like a rug is a latticework of threads. Once the blood starts flowing, the life starts unravelling. When no more unravelling can go on, the rug no longer exists. Thus we get into the fact that someone must *die* and then we have Buffy acting as the surrogate blood/life.

Strict interpretations of prophecies rarely make sense... I was hugely bothered by "Prophecy Girl" since I interpret dying as well, dying -- not having your heart stop or stop breathing... Plus, if we are to look at this realistically, the prophecy is likely to have been translated and written down by people who are "only human/demon" and humans and demons take artistic liberties and interpret things around a bit. Over the centuries/millenia, I'm sure that the prophecy could have lost much of its technical rigor.

[> [> Re: anticoagulants -- Rob, 12:14:39 03/18/02 Mon

The fact is, the exact hows don't matter...It's the symbolism and metaphor of the act of self-sacrifice to save an innocent.

In reponse to there not have been any clue that another could close the portal, isn't that the point? Had we known before that there was another option, it would have lessened the drama of the moment, where Buffy has an epiphany, a moment of intense realization. It was not was remembering the words of the First Slayer, Spike's words about the importance of blood, and her own words that Dawn's blood was Summers blood, and made from her blueprint. That's why they showed those flashbacks.

Yes, it's possible that Buffy could have jumped and not solved anything. But the fact is that it did work...Chalk it up to whatever you was meant to be; Buffy's wanting it so much made it so. Whatever the technicalities, I truly don't give a fig. Whether it was true or not, Buffy considered Dawn her blood relative, and created from her own actual blood. And that was enough. This is not science fiction, remember, bound by astringent, unshakable rules. This is myth.

Technically, no, it shouldn't have worked. But the importance is it did.

And I think that was Joss' intent.


[> [> Gile's reasoning, I thought, was... -- Rob, 13:49:55 03/18/02 Mon

...that, if they killed Dawn, it would not stop her blood from flowing, if she'd started bleeding, but make the bleeding go faster, so that it would be over with faster and the portal would close sooner.


[> [> [> Re: Gile's reasoning, I thought, was... -- skeeve, 08:58:58 03/19/02 Tue

Giles wasn't specific enough to conclude that. Whether or not killing Dawn would speed the bleeding would depend on just what was done to her body. Just breaking her neck, for example, would slow the bleeding. Anticoagulants would have done better.

Maybe that Buffy thought killing herself would save Dawn can be attributed to the Doppler effect: the tendency of bad ideas to seem better when they come at you quickly. (from someone's .signature)
That it worked was dumb luck.

[> [> [> [> Re: Gile's reasoning, I thought, was... -- Rob, 09:41:15 03/19/02 Tue

See...I don't think it was dumb luck. I think that metaphorically it made sense to Buff and that is why it worked.

I am a big believer in stories that the conviction of the characters' beliefs (especially in fantasy) far outweighs what we believe are the rules of the story. I don't think Buffy's death broke any rules but rewrote some rules...or created new rules we had not yet been aware of. The rules were that Dawn was just a ball of energy and yet Buffy's love for her was so strong it rewrote the rules that Dawn was a "fake" sister. Buffy embraced her false memories and considers her her real sister.

That's not even getting into the fact that it would have been lousy storytelling if Buffy knew she could substitute herself before...for a number of reasons:

(1) If we knew there was an escape route it would have taken all of the suspense out of the saving Dawn scenario...We had to feel as an audience that there was no options left until the very last minute of the story. Had we known that Buffy knew she could kill herself to substitute beforehand Buffy's self-sacrifice would have been a foregone conclusion;

(2) It would have taken away the very importance of the symbolic act. This was a perfect moment of clarity for epiphany...where she realized the truth of the matter at hand. She realized finally what "Death is your gift" means and Spike's speech about the importance of blood. Had she been told before explicitly that she could kill herself to save Dawn it would have taken away the drama of the moment. I believe that the most important thing was that Buffy came to the conclusion herself. Had Giles found out he would have tried to stop her as would have the other Scoobies. Buffy realized this on her own and acted on it before anyone could stop her.

Joss is a brilliant writer. I think he knew full well that it might seem illogical that Buffy could save Dawn this way. However it is the symbolism and the emotion that truly matters and that's what he's getting at. In the end rules don't matter. Family and love is what truly matters. See other big episodes that year--"Family" "Blood Ties" "Fool for Love"--they all deal with those issues.

This death was planned out long in advance. Had Joss wanted to fully explain the mechanisms behind how Buffy's death worked to save Dawn he could have. There was a whole season filled with clues about other things like the mental patients and the Glory/Ben scenario that wasn't explained until the end of the year along with the reason for why Dawn didn't tell Buffy about it. Why wouldn't he have then explained this last moment unless it was not important? For what it's worth I think the few flashbacks Buffy has before jumping fully explains the situation.

Myth rarely fills in all the blanks. It allows us to make some conclusions ourselves.

As I said before the importance isn't why it worked but that it did.


P.S. Pardon the lack of commas. I'm working at a computer that is sans "comma" key!

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Gile's reasoning, I thought, was... -- O'Cailleagh, 11:13:34 03/19/02 Tue

All very good points and comments. I still feel that some effort be made to not break the rules though. I mean, these are the rules that bind the existence of the Buffyverse...without them, it would fall apart (in my head at least).
I feel Buffy jumping, without truly knowing if it would work, shows that she was looking for a way out of her Slayerness...death was a gift to herself..a kind of gold watch.
She wanted to die to avoid the responsibilities of her life...thats why she was brought back, to face up to growing up.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Emotional gameplay of "the Gift" -- TRM, 14:20:08 03/19/02 Tue

Rob brings up a strong point about the value of emotions in the Gift, and indeed I believe ME's intent was primarily an emotional one. However, there are many ways to evoke and deter from emotional impact. Here's my view on how the chronological emotional landscape was intended to have been played out in the tower scene and how it actually may have turned out to some viewers.

Let me divide the tower scene into three stages. First, the stage is set: Dawn is bleeding, and Buffy has arrived too late. Second, is the awakening/epiphany: Buffy and Dawn realizes the alternative to Dawn's death. Last, is the action/decision: Buffy sacrifices herself and the decision is made.

With Dawn bleeding, there is already this sense of urgency, this sense of chaos, but ultimately this sense of certainty. It had been drilled into our consciousness that if Dawn starts to bleed Dawn must die. We have some sense of fatality here which brings sadness, but some degree of predictability here as well which may bring some version of calm. We know how this will end, despite what Buffy might do in the interim. Dawn sacrifices herself, is killed by a demon, is killed by Giles or Buffy even, the effect is the same. In fact, given this there is a sense of futility but a sense of the preciousness of time. In the interim, before Dawn's death, Buffy and Dawn may "share a moment."

The kicker, of course, is the creeping realization of Dawn and the almost epiphany of Buffy as to an alternative. Emotionally, this stage is the most turbulent of the three, not Buffy's death -- as there the decision is made. Furthermore, the presence of this stage before the action/decision suggests that ME does want us to know of the alternative before Buffy dies but the timing is key.

In such a respect, I think the audience is to be feeling more of what Dawn is feeling as opposed to Buffy. Buffy is resolute, she knows what she is doing. But, Dawn is not. The realization is at once dreadful, quickly creeping, and absolute. The audience/Dawn doesn't understand at once what Buffy is suggesting, yet, she has an impression of where it is leading. Time, of course, is of the essence, and an alternative arriving at this late a stage makes not knowing the alternative even more distressing and prevents objective thinking. Thus Dawn is faced with arguing with Buffy, stopping Buffy from doing something she knows will hurt her but she isn't sure what it is, likewise the audience, is trying to come to grips with what is happening, is trying to rationalize the choices but cannot because they simply do not have the time and the situation is too chaotic. They have been thrust out of a safety, albeit it sad, into a confusion of what to do. Ultimately, the realization is absolute, we've come from one alternative, brought up another, and have settled firmly on the other. Yet, for Dawn and the audience, they are trying their best to fight and kick all the way -- if there's one alternative, why not a third? Yet they are fighting that which they don't know and that ultimately they feel cannot be overcome which makes the situation desperate. Logical reasoning of course, falls by the wayside -- this is an emotional question. But of course, what we are being faced with is not only the coldness of inevitability but a resolution by Buffy that appears not only emotionally based but on her part fully thought out.

Buffy's decision -- taken without the consent of Dawn and without the time required for the audience to incorporate is striking, almost harsh. Both Dawn and the audience are powerless to stop Buffy. We feel protected, yes, but also weak and we feel as if Dawn should have some say, that we should have time to come to grips with this (think Buffy in "I Will Remember You"). It's not fair that Buffy made this decision on her even if the decision is right. Buffy's sacrifice leaves us with a deep sense of sadness resulting not simply from Buffy's death, but with its juxtaposition with some sense of confused hope that the first hints of realization brought about, and a sense of betrayal by hope itself - - that for the audience and for Dawn, the alternative proposed, the "better alternative" or at the very least the one which with absolute truth must go forth is harder to take then the problem which we faced originally. Buffy is indeed the protector, but we have been forced into the role of the protected. Buffy had sacrificed herself for Dawn, for the world, for the audience as she had many times before and we have no chance to repay her.

Of course, Buffy doesn't ask for repayment -- her speech to Dawn is meant to reassure not to distress, but of course the impact of this speech doesn't hit Dawn until afterwards, until she has absorbed the fact that Buffy is gone. Indeed, the speech isn't presented to the audience until after Buffy has sacrificed herself. Council is secondary, delayed, potent, perhaps mildly curative, but not preventative of distress.

Give the above as the emotional gameplay intended, what then do I mean but what was actually played out? Indeed, I believe for those of us who do care less about the technical details, such a scenario was appropriately conducted. However, it is very evident that there are many of us who do question the technical details and most principally the conclusion that Buffy was so resolute about that Buffy's sacrifice could save Dawn and the world. But, it's the absolute nature of this sacrifice, the immutability of the choice that must be made that is what creates the urgency, despair, and injustice against time. We are to come to the conclusion, despite ourselves, that Buffy must sacrifice herself. Thus, some viewers who find technical details important would not have felt as drastically the impending nature of Buffy's decision. Indeed, as suggested before in this thread, lacking this absolutism, Buffy's decision could seem downright illogical -- Buffy may be killing herself for no reason, and Dawn would just have to swandive after her.

I personally tend not to question details when watching movies... I've cried at the most little things (I cried in Toy Story 2, when the cowgirl was dreaming about her previous owner -- note that her memories too had a false sense of hope that betrayed her). However, taking a step back and knowing that there are viewers who are more critical, would it be, perhaps wiser for ME to have somehow made Buffy's decision much more concrete?

Ultimately, we would be dealing with a question as to how far ME must go. Indeed, the clues were there: "Your gift is death." "Summers blood." But, do these clues add up? Some say yes, some say no. And in some part, you are to arrive at the conclusion that Buffy's sacrifice is necessary just as Dawn did -- not because Buffy says so. And in that sense, the pieces need to fall in place and technical validity must exist. ME's greates weakness in this story arc was to establish that Buffy's blood in some way could replace Dawn's blood. The monks made the key into the form of a human and sent it to Buffy, but they didn't suggest anything about making Dawn out of her. Buffy's statement of Dawn's blood being Summers blood was certainly intended in that particular episode not to mean that it was physically, genetically Summers blood but it was Summers blood in terms of familial ties (or should we assume Joyce, if alive, could have sacrificed herself to close the portal?). ME seemed to have tried to imply that Dawn was made out of Buffy (indeed, I think it was mentioned somewhere in that sense), but there seemed little justification for Buffy to arrive at this conclusion. Ultimately, for some, the pieces didn't fall quite into place, and Buffy's decision while seen as courageous and just didn't seem quite as necessary or pressing. The desperation might not have been quite as strong, because we weren't fighting with ourselves, but we we're saying instead: "Buffy says it must be so, so it must be so." whereas we should have been saying: "I don't want it to be so, but I know it must be so."

So there you go. As with Rob, I agree that often, you shouldn't question technicalities. In fact, even in books or shows that I view as of general poor quality -- largely due to huge technical gaps -- I find it better to accept whatever gaps exist and try to feel what the intent of the work was, then to backtrack and look at it objectively in retrospect. Still, technical gaps do create difficulties with some viewers and it often becomes distracting despite what a viewer tries to do and so I agree with many of the others and O'Cailleagh. If you can stick with the rules, do so. It is just less distraction for those who are interpreting your work.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> I understand your points... -- Rob, 14:39:22 03/19/02 Tue

Thanks for writing them down like that, because I never really fully understood why people had problems with "The Gift" at least rules-wise.

I do still think that the clues add up perfectly. And the explanation worked very well for me. But I understand better now why it didn't for some people.

Thanks. I still agree with my original thoughts, but it helps to see why others think why they do.


P.S. I never cry at movies, but the end of "The Gift" did make me cry.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Excellent analysis, TRM. -- Ixchel, 15:59:50 03/19/02 Tue

The Gift "worked" for me on a very emotional level (I cried also). After watching it the first time, I did see some "technical" gaps, but I was able to reconcile them with reviewing of the season (and maybe a little rationalizing) and they did not in any significant way alter the emotional impact of the episode.

On a related topic, does anyone else feel that Buffy's jump was both self sacrifice and suicide at the same time? I watched TG with someone recently (he hadn't yet seen it) and he made the comment that he thought Buffy suicided (he then referred to her depression about her mom, etc.). I responded that I thought it was both self sacrifice and suicide, and how I felt this added a fascinating dimension to the entire season (indeed to the series). I suppose I need to review the archives. Considering the level of thought here, I'm sure there is some very exciting stuff there.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Carrion Comfort -- Rahael, 07:20:55 03/20/02 Wed

I too have wondered about this ambiguity.

Basically, I wanted Buffy,s sacrifice to signify something utterly selfless, her shining moment; where she died to herself and became at one with the universe.

So this kind of colours my view, and probably, my reasoning for going against the Buffy/death wish theory is half wishful thinking.

But. Those who are desperate enough to contemplate killing themselves, who long for oblivion can at that moment only see themselves, their pain and their despair. Those who suffer from depressive illnesses are suffering from a vicious cycle of thought which leads them to arrive at only one conclusion, only one solution to their problem their death. Buffy before she jumped is inspirational, clear thinking, wise and serene. And compassionate. She isn,t thinking of herself. She thinks of Dawn, who at that moment represents the rest of humanity.

As evidence, I present Gerard Manley Hopkins, sonnet about the day he contemplated suicide.

Carrion Comfort

Not, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist - slack they may be - these last strands of man
In me or, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruised bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?
Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, cheer.
Cheer whom though? The hero whose heaven-handling flung me, foot trod
Me? or me that fought him? Oh which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

Hopkins conveys so well his despair, and his shock when he realises that the person he is fighting is God himself. This is a pretty terrible conclusion for someone who is a Catholic priest.

"I am gall, I am heartburn. God's most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
Self yeast of spirit a dull dough sours.

I do think that in the Gift, BtVS touches on these elements, especially leading up to it. There are constant hints all the way up to it that Buffy is despairing, ready to give up. I think these elements are all there simply to make her final decision even braver; even finer; even more selfless. I think that it contains that bittersweetness that you touch upon - if Buffy simply matter of factly jumped, because that's what heroes do, that would have lessened the emotional impact. It's because she was tormented, and confused that her moment of realisation has a triumph to it. Buffy finally understands what her gift to the world is. But I can't deny that there is a certain ambiguity there.

I recommend Dedalus, essay (in fic corner) which highlights all the wonderful imagery of rebirth and new life which are compacted into Buffy,s leap of faith. God is dead; humans are mortal; but Dawn still rises.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I admit -- Rahael, 07:27:48 03/20/02 Wed

That the above post is just my attempt to while away the time; has nothing new to say about the Gift; and was just me going oh, look suicide! probably my only opportunity to ever quote Hopkins' 'terrible sonnets'.

This was before I saw Dream's new thread!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Suicides die for themselves. Heros die for a cause. -- Sophist, 09:13:21 03/20/02 Wed

The characterization of suicide never crossed my mind until I saw some people mention it here. Thank for articulating why it was indeed a sacrifice, as I saw it.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Thanks for the responses Rahael and Sophist. -- Ixchel, 15:47:17 03/20/02 Wed

The person I was watching with did agree with me that it was also self sacrifice. He just also saw an element of relief for her in it as well.

I feel that when Buffy reached Dawn she thought for a second that she had won, but then Dawn pointed out the open portal. Then we see the flashbacks and Buffy reach her decision to jump, (IMHO) completely sure that her sacrifice would close the portal. My interpretation of her thoughts (based on previous events, especially everything between Joyce's death and her decision) is that she _knew_ that her death would save Dawn, the others, and the world. That her last act would be about love, when she had wondered if she was losing that ability. That her death would mean something other than some vampire having "one good day". And that instead of being the Slayer (as she was when she sacrificed Angel in Becoming 2), in the end she could be Buffy and more than "just a killer after all". Also, I feel that the depression over her mom was very close (she had not had time to grieve, really) and there was some sense of relief from that.

IMHO, Dawn's thoughts were probably a reflection of Buffy's when Dawn made her attempt to jump. The feeling that she is only destructive (like Buffy's about being only a killer). That her death would save everyone and make her unreal life mean something. And that she would not have to feel the pain of missing her mother anymore. I think the only reason Dawn stopped is that she realized she could not get past Buffy.

So I feel that even if Buffy's intention was say 95% self sacrifice and 5% suicide (if such a thing could possibly be quantified), it does _not_ (for me) in any way negate the heroism of her jump. In fact it just makes her more "human", more real to me.

Thanks again for your thoughts.


[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Gile's reasoning, I thought, was... -- leslie, 15:53:33 03/19/02 Tue

The thing is, we had already seen, at this point, that Buffy could fall from the top of the tower to the ground and survive--she and Glory had both fallen to the ground already. So, if tossing herself in the portal didn't work, she would just have to climb back up and try something else. I have to admit that when I first saw this episode, until the very last minute, I had been a little annoyed by the fact that people were galloping to the top of that damned thing and then plummeting to earth with barely a scratch (Buffy, Glory, AND Spike), but then when Buffy finally flung herself into the portal, I realized that the others had been there to make the point that *this* time was different, she didn't survive and it was due to her self-sacrifice.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Gile's reasoning, I thought, was... -- O'Cailleagh, 19:48:48 03/19/02 Tue

I agree...there was a huge emotional impact at the end of 'The Gift'-I also cried (I have also been known to cry at 'Star Trek' but that's another story...and OT). It was just that the technicalities are important to me. When I watch a show like BtVS, I like to try and fully 'believe' what's happening. For me it greatly enriches the enjoyment/non-enjoyment of the show (non-enjoyment, as in the emotionally-upsetting sense). Many technicalities are easily overlooked, but those that compromise the usually impeccable sense of reality within the Buffyverse do tend to detract from the emotional impact. That said, a case could be made to say that, in holding on to these 'mistakes', I was hiding from the emotional side of things........

I also saw the suicide thing....that's one of the reasons that s6 is so good (IMO)- Buffy was 'happy' to die and now has to deal with having all that responsibility again...

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Gile's reasoning, I thought, was... -- skeeve, 09:43:29 03/20/02 Wed

The `technical' stuff was so bad that it interfered with the emotional stuff. In another context, it is considered rude to correct grammar. Sometimes the grammar is so bad it interferes with getting the message across. If I had written the previous sentence as "The is bad interferes getting message sometimes grammar so it with the across.", I would rightly have gotten some negative feedback.

Giles, research-guy extraordinaire, gave an interpretation that did not make sense. It wasn't something one could get from an ordinary or literal reading and the certainty he expressed could not be justified if he were interpreting metaphors.
No one called him on it. Not Buffy, not even Willow, techno-gal extraordinaire.
This felt wrong to me while it was happening. All that talk of bleeding and no one mentioning anticoagulants.
To make it worse, it was harped on at some length.

Pulling an iron-clad rule out of the air in one hour and then breaking it the next is not good writing.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Different Satisfactions.... -- Rahael, 10:44:51 03/20/02 Wed

This is why the Gift worked, in my opinion.

There are different 'language games' which require different satisfactions. The language game of science functions on certain accepted conventions. We ask for empirical proof, we use inductive reasoning. We understand that theories should be subjected to tests, and that a experiment and its results must be able to be replicated by other laboratories before its results can be accepted as credible.

The language game of magic is quite different. Different satisfactions are required. For example,in early modern Europe, if a cow fell suddenly sick, people might automatically think back to the glare of the village crank. Before the witch craze set in, these little disputes were simply subjected to resolution within the village itself. The witch might undertake to remove her curse. Or using BtVS, we are satisfied that appealing to Hecate will turn a human being into a rat and vice versa.

The Gift functioned on a language game which resonates with Western culture, and arguably, even beyond Western culture. Therefore it makes sense that blood, which signifies kinship and life, can be stopped by an incredible sacrifice which recognised fundamnetal human truths.

At that one cosmic moment, Buffy dies for Dawn, who is the world. She dies for humanity. No man is an island etc etc. The significance of blood is that it is what all human beings have in common. The Gift depicts the moment when Buffy realises the profound kinship between one human being and all human beings. I am my sister's keeper. Our blood is the same. It resonates on so many levels.

Blood for blood. life for life. Pound of flesh for pound of flesh. The imagery of blood wells up time and time again in Season 5. Dawn cuts herself and blood oozes out in Real Me, (echoing Shylock there - 'If you prick me, do I not bleed?'). Season 5 is about kinship, about family. Joss who showed in 'Family' that kinship is more than blood relationship, showed in the Gift that blood is about more than DNA matches.

The very illogical nature of the sacrifice screams at us to look at the symbolic nature of the sacrifice. It points out to us the glorious truth that Buffy comes to (like the paradox that Death was her Gift)is that fellow feeling with other human beings. The person who is lost, lonely and tired is my sister; the person seeking sanctuary is my father; the man lying at the roadside is my brother. Buffy can stand in for Dawn just as Jesus Christ, the son of man could stand in for all the sinners of the world (even though he is sinless).

It works precisely because it doesn't work.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Different Satisfactions.... -- Rufus, 13:55:28 03/20/02 Wed

It works precisely because it doesn't work.

Totally agree, this show is all about metaphors, it's sciency might be dodgy, but the intent is clear through the metaphors used.

Classic Movie of the Week - March 15th 2002 -- OnM ( who knows that it's really the 17th ), 14:09:44 03/17/02 Sun


Emily tries, but misunderstands, ah ooh
She,s often inclined to borrow somebody's dreams till tomorrow
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play

Soon after dark Emily cries, ah ooh
Gazing through trees in sorrow, hardly a sound till tomorrow

( There is no other day... )

Put on a gown that touches the ground, ah ooh
Float on a river, forever and ever, Emily

( There is no other day... )

See Emily play

............ Syd Barrett


I taught you to fly, Claire. But you wanted to fall.

............ Claire,s lover, Augustine


Choices, choices, too many choices. It drives people to madness, as it nearly did poor Buffy in this current week,s episode. Follow your heart? Follow your ambition? Follow your spiritual needs? Follow the needs of others who depend on you? Or perhaps not be a follower at all, but be a leader.

But as Mr Zimmerman aptly noted in his song, You gotta serve somebody,, so even calling the leadership card isn,t an escape, it just frames the situation in a different shade of gray. We all do what we can, and if we are people of even modest integrity and unpretentious vision, we muddle through and accept that there,s always a critic.

Like me, for example. Granted, I,m a teeny little corner o, cyberspace kind of critic, and I like to think a generally charitable and forgiving kind either because of it, or because I hope such generosity represents my better nature. I just recently received another submission for the guest host CMotW, spots coming up very soon (possibly next Friday, in fact), and the author commented as an aside to me that he found the task of writing his review to be more challenging than he expected it to be. He further stated (and I,m paraphrasing) that it had brought to his awareness just how much effort goes into creating something that others will want to read and enjoy.

And he,s right. I do this schtick because I enjoy doing it, and hope others enjoy the results. But it,s very scary to let even your friends roam around in your brain without fear of getting your neurons trampled upon. If you,re talking strangers-- like the people who file into a movie theater to watch your brainchild toddle across the screen for an hour or two-- it,s really frightening. Of course, you might be so secure in your opinion of yourself and your personal universe that the criticism of others doesn,t faze you, but I,m here to tell you that that simply isn,t the case for most people. No real world actor enjoys getting booed, no real writer enjoys being called a hack, no real artist branded as bland or uninspired. What,s even more galling is when you deliberately try to be innovative, (not follow the crowd, break new ground, knowing up front that there will be lots of people who simply won,t get it,, but still seek to follow your vision wherever it leads you), and the result is not thoughtful critical review but merely ham-handed mean-spirited trashing.

I have no idea what director Mary Lambert felt when her creation, Siesta, this week,s choice for Classic Movie, hit the original critical fan back in 1987, but perhaps she took some solace in the knowledge that Madonna thinks highly of her. (And whatever else one may think about Maddie, she,s a force to be reckoned with and someone who understands taking creative and personal risks). I saw Siesta back shortly after it appeared on pay cable, and was impressed. Yes, the story is very non-linear and often hard to follow. The lead character is not always likable, and may even harbor a death wish. The people she shares her adventures with are sometimes even more screwed up than she is. Visually and continuity-wise, the whole film runs perilously close to leaving the impression that it is an assemblage of individually startling images barely melded together into even a semblence of coherence. It,s far from a perfect film, it may even be a bad one, as nearly all the other reviews of it I could locate seemed to state vociferously, leaving little room for doubt.

But I liked it. If it was a failure, it was an honest one, in my humble opin. There have been plenty of flicks I,ve seen over the years that may not get up to even my all-time top 100 but that still left me with some startling and powerful images that stay in my head, permanently recallable at will. Anyone who thinks that creating those images is easy, doesn,t understand the work that is art, and it,s why I have so little patience with those wannabe analysts who invariably summarize everything as either simply smash, or trash, as if intense emotive brevity should somehow pass for holy writ. (Brevity, dear friends, is a high art form all it,s own).

One of those images starts out the film, as we first see a shot of the sky, which then pans down revealing a grassy field and what looks to be an airport control tower in the distance. The shape of the tower seems vagely cross-like, like a primitive gravestone marker, and in the foreground is something-- a body? We aren,t sure what, but the camera changes perspective and we see that yes, it is a body, or someone sleeping. A woman, dressed in a bright red dress, bruised, bloodied, but otherwise looking asleep rather than deceased. Cut to the sky, a large dark bird flying in the foreground, dominating the frame, then back to the body of the woman as a large aircraft suddenly appears in a roar of noise, back to front, flying towards what is now confirmed as an airport runway. The woman awakes at the noise, rolls over on her back, breathing hard, dazed? Stunned? She notices what appears to be a large bloodstain on the fabric of the dress near her ribs, pulls up on the dress to examine herself-- but there is no wound. Another plane flies over, engines shrieking. The woman screams, and then runs.

We have just met Claire. From this point on, things get very strange.

Claire, as I remarked earlier, is not a hero in any conventional sense, and I don,t think that Lambert is presenting her as such. There are no heroes, in the film at all, as far as I can tell, only a collection of strange people with largely undecipherable motivations. This may very well be a primary reason why it can be difficult to engage with the story, and the director not only doesn,t help us in gaining greater involvement, but uses the non-linear filming technique to distance us farther. Most films unfold slowly, and we gain understanding as that unfolding takes place. Lambert tries instead to keep everything unanswered until the very end of the film, when the final key element gets dropped into the muddle and clarity ensues.

Or does it? If you think you know what has happened, you may be right or you may be wrong, because when you see Siesta for the second time, you will probably still have trouble getting all the pieces to fit. It isn,t giving anything away to tell you that whole portions of this movie represent what may be complete hallucinations on Claire,s part, in fact the ending appears to demand just this degree of delusion to make any sense at all from the preceding events of the story line. However, I suspect that the visions, aren,t what pisses viewers (and reviewers) off, it,s that Lambert refuses to keep things tidy,. The film is jarring and disjointed like a fever dream because it is a fever dream, or the dream of a person who has had a severe mental breakdown.

Mental illness isn,t tidy,, and in the world of Siesta the obsessions that drive Claire could be construed to an objective observer as symptoms of a psychotic break. In the recent (and quite superb) film A Beautiful Mind, the protagonist,s delusions are seen as clean and coherent, at least from within his own mind,s view. From the outside, his doctor, his wife and his friends see chaos. Suppose this viewpoint is reversed? From the outside, the events in Siesta would seem logical and orderly, if tragic. From inside Claire,s mind, turmoil reigns. Depicting this chaos visually is a near impossibility, but Lambert tries, and I give her due credit for that. Also, big-time kudos go to the greatly-underappreciated actor Ellen Barkin for once again being willing to take on a role as challenging and off-center as this one is.

I won,t go into any of the other plot or story details here, since the professional review by critic Roger Ebert I,ve reproduced below in the miscellaneous, section of the column (BTW, the sole and only generally positive review of this film I could find) covers some of that. I am also aware that this film may be too obscure to easily locate at many local video stores, but give it a go. When I originally learned about the subject matter of this week,s Buffy ep, I immediately planned to review/revisit the unquestionably classic flick One Flew Over the Cuckoo,s Nest, and even chuckled to myself when Willow mentioned it in Normal Again, but then (the muse of artistic) reason came over me, and I finally decided that...

... it was just too damn obvious.

Smash or trash, anyone?

E. Pluribus Cinema, Unum,



Technically, I,ve lost my mind. Strangely, I don,t miss it:

Siesta is not available on DVD, according to the Internet Movie Database, but is available on VHS. The review copy was on an old Beta videotape dubbed from cable (HBO, Cinemax, one of them or another). The original theatrical aspect ratio is unknown, the review version was standard TV 4x3 pan,n,scan. The film was released in 1987, with a runtime of 97 minutes. Writing credits go to Patrice Chaplin (who wrote the novel on which the film is based) and Patricia Louisianna Knop (for the screenplay). Cinematography was by Bryan Loftus, with film editing by Glenn Morgan. Production design was by John Beard with set decoration by Kara Lindstrom. Original music was by Miles Davis and Marcus Miller. The theatrical sound mix was standard Dolby Surround, and likely is the same on the commercially released videotape edition.

Cast overview:

Ellen Barkin .... Claire
Gabriel Byrne .... Augustine
Julian Sands .... Kit
Isabella Rossellini .... Marie
Martin Sheen .... Del
Grace Jones .... Conchita
Jodie Foster .... Nancy
Gary Cady .... Roger
Alexi Sayle .... Cabbie
Anastassia Stakis .... Desdra



Mary Lambert is probably best known for directing several of La Diva Ciccone,s music videos, and for directing the feature film version of Stephen King,s book Pet Sematary in 1989. She is not a prolific feature film director, but the IMDb can provid you with a list of what,s out there if you care to check it out.

During a search of mainstream reviews of Siesta at I came across only one critic who actually seemed to like this film even a modest amount, and it happened to be none other than the very well-known El Devo Ebert. The man either has taste, or he,s as crazy as I am. (You may pick your own poison).

For what it,s worth, here,s his review:

Siesta begins with a woman daredevil preparing to jump out of an airplane into a net above an artificial volcano, and it ends with fundamental questions about whether anything at all in the movie really happened. In between, there is a flight from California to Spain, a glimpse into the incestuous world of the woman's new and former lovers, and more than a touch of perversity. There is also a great deal of symbolism, hinting at deeper meanings lurking just out of focus.

The film is finally overwhelmed by its own ambition, not to mention one too many gimmicks in its plot, but it goes down swinging. It's the kind of bad film that remains quite watchable until fairly late in the game, when you realize that you've made more of an effort to figure it out than the director has. One of the pleasures of a film like this is that if you ever happen to see it again, it seems fresh because you can't remember how it turned out.

The movie stars Ellen Barkin, fresh from her triumph in "The Big Easy," as a tortured daredevil with a past. As the story opens, she is holed up in some kind of a temporary command post in the desert, where Martin Sheen, a special events promoter, wants to turn her into a new version of Evil Knievel. His exact plans are fairly obscure; a model of the fake volcano is produced, along with some talk about the safety net that will stretch above the flames, but exactly how Barkin is going to drop from the plane is in some doubt. I left the movie assuming that she would parachute, but friends at the same screening assured me she was going to do a free fall into the net. I argued that such a stunt would certainly kill her. My friends said that was exactly the point.

It is certain, in any event, that the Barkin character has premonitions of her death, and the action in the movie is intercut with quick flashes of fantasy (or memory, or anticipation) in which she falls helplessly through the air. Therefore it is perhaps not surprising that, given three days before the deadline for the big jump, she flies to Spain to say goodbye to the great love of her life (Gabriel Byrne). And once there, she re-enters her lover's perverse and haunting world of erotic entanglements, which feeds off the ennui of an exile community including Isabella Rossellini, Jodie Foster and Grace Jones.

Up until this point the movie is actually quite good, probably because it seems to know what it is doing. Then confusion sets in. Sinister figures appear. A taxi driver seems to know more than he should. The flash forwards (or flashbacks, or fantasies) grow more ominous. And then there is one of those endings that reveals a final lack of imagination on the part of the filmmakers, a gimmick in place of a resolution.

Barkin emerges relatively unharmed, however. She is an actress who is clearly drawn toward interesting scripts and is willing to take chances. Siesta, whatever it is, is not another sausage from the Hollywood assemby line, and to intrigue us for an hour is a worthy achievement for any movie, even if it baffles us for the next 30 minutes then finally abandons us altogether.

( Above review is (c) Roger Ebert / Chicago Sun Times )


The Question of the Week:

What film or films do you recall seeing that you felt started out really well, were intriguing or innovative in some way that got your attention, and then petered out or completely fell apart before the ending? What do you think went wrong? Did you leave the theater thinking that the filmmakers failed somehow, or that it was just that you didn,t get it,?

Post em if you,ve got em, take care, and see you next week.

( Probably not a hallucination. )



[> Re: Classic Movie of the Week - March 15th 2002 -- Wisewoman, 16:57:21 03/17/02 Sun

I saw Siesta in the theatres when it was first released and loved it, but it disturbed me the same way NA did. However, check out that cast list! It was worth it for that alone.

We recently watched Enemy at the Gates on video and I was enjoying it until all the Ed Harris cat- and-mouse stuff started, at which point I got bored and went to our chat room. I don't necessarily blame the filmmakers, but...


[> [> Re: Enemy at the Gates -- LadyStarlight, 17:22:38 03/17/02 Sun

The first time I watched EatG, I couldn't concentrate on the story because I was so bemused by these English accents coming out of the mouths of Russian soldiers! Not to mention a mid-western(?) Nazi sniper. (shakes head)

Liked the story though, but jeez....couldn't they afford a vocal coach? Or was there some other deep philisophical meaning hidden there that I completely missed? ;)

[> [> [> Re: Enemy at the Gates -- Cactus Watcher, 19:23:29 03/17/02 Sun

I enjoyed it more, but then I knew the real story before hand. It was, after all, as the director admits taken from three pages of story out of the book Enemy at the Gates (which tells the whole story of Stalingrad.) I've also read about Zaitsev in other sources. As anti-soviet as I've been in my life, the movie is absurdly anti-soviet even to me. There was a Koenigs (with an s). There was a deadly cat- and-mouse game in which a number of Russian snipers were killed by Koenigs. Koenigs was slain in a trap much like the one in the middle of the movie. His hiding place at the time was like the one at the end. A commissar Danilov did expose himself to show Zaitsev Koenigs' postion. He was shot, but not killed. Zaitsev and the female sniper Tania were in love, but it was he not her who was seriously wounded, and they did not find each other after he recovered. Both survived the war. There was a young cobbler named Sasha Philipov who was hanged for spying for the Russians, but he was fifteen and it had nothing to do with the duel of snipers.

[> Another fine read, and co-incidently... -- curious, 18:20:05 03/17/02 Sun

I'm just about to post a long winded ramble about "film language" in regards to "that infamous scene" in NA.

You're giving me way too much to think about and yet another "to watch" film to add to a very long list.

[> [> Speaking of that shot... -- OnM, 19:20:32 03/17/02 Sun

... it also reminds me of that scene in Contact where Jodie Foster's character Ellie is still a little girl, and her father has just died.

The camera does a similar move to the one you describe in your 'ramble', except the camera starts outside and moves in towards the house, then passes 'in through a window' instead of out through it, and we see the now-orphaned child trying to 'reach' her father on her ham radio.

Another death of a parent and the sense of abject loneliness it brings, with the distance shown metaphorically with camera movement.

Investing in Spuffy -- LeeAnn, 14:42:22 03/17/02 Sun

Investing in Spuffy

I've been thinking about why I care about Spike and Buffy, why I care about their relationship, why I am so heavily invested in these characters. I admit I found the pairing erotic, from the Spike's unwilling obsession to the smoochies to the sex. It all seemed even more sensual because I felt an emotional connection with the characters and because James Marsters' acting made me fascinated with Spike and his Object of Desire, the Slayer. But it wasn't just the sex. It wasn't just the love story. I think I care about Spike and Buffy because I want them to validate certain beliefs important in my own moral universe.

Spike does not exist. Buffy does not exist. Vampires, demons, and the Buffyverse do not exit. They are only symbols. They touch me because they represent certain archetypes that I recognize. They interest me because they represent something basic about the human condition. They seem stripped down to a pure, primitive meme already hardwired into my brain so when I'm faced with it, it settles into my synapses like I've recognizing the face of an old friend.

Buffy represents the hero we all admire. Buffy is the bully we all fear. Buffy is the damaged veteran who might go wacko at any moment. Unlike Spike she's too important to be relegated to the shadows but too dangerous to be fully integrated into society, as her problems in school, work and relationships all show. It's-All-About-Me!Buffy is barely tolerable and Strike-First-Think-Later!Buffy is a bomb waiting to go off. Her lack of vulnerability makes her more hero than human, saving more out of duty than empathy. Outside of a small circle of friends what does Buffy really care about anyone? Not much more than Spike does. In Gone invisible Buffy's treatment of people showed her true nature. She teased and tormented and disrupted lives without any guilt at all. She keeps saving the world because it's her duty, not because she cares about the people in it.

Spike represents the bad boy, the bad man, the evil person, the criminal, the sinner. To the fundies that characterization means that Spike must always be EVIL. EVIL eternal and unchanging. Evil cannot change therefore Spike cannot change. Evil must be destroyed, not reformed. But I believe that people can change. So I believe that Spike can change. Spike symbolizes the bad in all of us that we seek to transform into something better. He represents every bad boy that ever reformed. Every evil man that was ever transformed. Spike represents the cruel and ruthless King Asoka, who, after he converted to Buddhism, attempted to create a just and humane society, Asoka who became one of the most admirable rulers in world history. Spike represents Paul, who persecuted, imprisoned and killed Christians then was transformed into one of the greatest exponents of Christ's teachings. People do change. And not just for the worse. So I want to believe that Spike can change, can become a better person. Like I want to believe that anyone, given the right circumstances, the right set of influences, can change for the better. Even you or I.

I want to believe that Buffy can change as well. She's brutal and self-involved but I believe that if she was ever able to feel any love, any empathy for Spike, her alien enemy, that she would then be more open to love for everyone else. I believe that Spike, with his blind devotion and love, can be the influence that helps Buffy grow and change into a better person.

I also believe that Buffy can be the catalyst that helps Spike change. Spike's love for Buffy has put him on the road him toward good, rocky though that road might be. Three years ago he kidnapped Willow and threatened to put a bottle through her face. Now Willow trusts him enough to leave Buffy in his care in Normal Again. Three years ago he knocked Xander unconscious, kidnapped him and threatened to kill him if Willow wouldn't do a spell for him. Now he and Xander work together to capture the Glarga Ghul Gashminik demon. I want to believe that if people change for the better then the people they harmed can forgive them. I want to believe that enmity need not be eternal. I believe that Spike can change because I want to believe that Spike can change. As the Upanishads say, As one acts and conducts himself, so does he become. The doer of good becomes good. The doer of evil becomes evil. One becomes virtuous by virtuous action, bad by bad action. Each good act that Spike has performed has made him a better person regardless of whether he did it to please Buffy or not. I want to believe Spike can change because I want to believe that each of us can change.

As society becomes more secular, more post-Christian, the idea of forgiveness seems to be slipping away. Today it all seems about accountability. Let's make people accountable for everything they ever do, give them a permanent record so that the theft of a quarter in kindergarten follows them to the grave, labeling them a thief. Punishment. Retribution. Let's make people pay. People who find those concepts appealing believe that Spike cannot change, cannot be allowed to change. He must be punished for feeding on people for 120 years. He can never be forgiven because that might allow him to escape punishment. There was a time when almost everyone thought that a change in person's heart could make a change in their life and that when that occurred people were owed a new start, a new chance to get it right. These days it seems that punishment, not reform, is the goal, not just for unrepentant vampires but for everyone from junkies to jaywalkers.

But again, I WANT to believe that if people change they should be allowed to start over fresh, without carrying the sins of the past with them. I want to believe that if Spike is, let's used the word, "saved" that he is not required to continually flagellate himself for the rest of his existence. Salvation means forgiveness. Not retribution. Indeed, if salvation didn't include forgiveness how would it differ from retribution? When a person is saved their sins are washed away. Now I don't expect Spike to have some Christian epiphany, or to walk down the aisle toward some television preacher but I do hope he will achieve a quieter salvation through his love for Buffy, and, hopefully, her love for him.

I already believe that Spike's love for Buffy has helped him to become a better person. I believe that he would change even more, even totally, if she actively tried to help him transform himself. He wants to change for her. Look, Spike has taken up smoking in Normal Again. We haven't seen him smoke since before his love affair with Buffy began. It was sad to see him backslide, especially since smoking is a symbol of evil in the Buffyverse, but think of why he gave it up while he and Buffy were together. Smoking can't hurt him, can't give him cancer but he stopped smoking while he was in a relationship with Buffy because secondhand smoke could hurt her. He stopped smoking so he wouldn't taste like ashes for her. He stopped smoking because he ceased being completely evil. Spike stopped smoking for Buffy without her asking. What more would he do if she only asked? People all over the world change their life styles, their jobs, their countries, their politics, even their religions to please those they are in love with. Someone I know, the first date he had with a certain girl, she got him to flush all his drugs down the toilet. A year later they were married and he's totally been a solid citizen and dad for years. People change for those they love. Sometimes they are just waiting for someone to want them to change. I want to believe that Spike can change for Buffy. Because I want to believe that love can make a difference. That loving can make you a better person, especially if the person you love wants you to become a better person. I believe that Spike is only waiting to be transformed by love. I believe that because I want to believe that about us all.

[> Re: Interesting thoughts, but way too long! -- Sloan, 15:03:36 03/17/02 Sun

[> [> Did you get lost, Sloan? This isn't the TWIZ board... -- Wisewoman, 15:41:52 03/17/02 Sun

The longer, the better over here!


[> [> [> Perhaps we should sell MasqNotes. Any takers? -- mm, 15:49:12 03/17/02 Sun

[> Re: Investing in Spuffy -- Kimberly, 15:33:10 03/17/02 Sun

Yes, it has been the path towards redemption that Spike has been walking (plus the vivid portrayal Marsters gives him) that has kept me at all interested in Spike. I have been watching the evolving relationship between he and Buffy with great interest, not because I actually care it they get and stay together, and not because I find Spike/JM all that sexy (I KNOW I'm in the minority there), but because of the wonderful exploration of his character into good and evil, punishment, retribution, forgiveness and redemption.

And although I'm along for the ride, a part of me hopes that Spike eventually finds the love he's been searching all these decades for. I don't think it's the love of a woman (although he does). I have this feeling (no spoilers, just speculation) that he will find it in sacrificing himself for someone Buffy, not necessarily he, loves.

[> [> Spuffy -- Spike Lover, 18:26:34 03/20/02 Wed

A few words about the first post: Spike never stopped smoking that I know of. But the actor, James Marsters did. I thought that they probably have him smoking less on screen to accomodate him. (He smokes in OMwF by the way-)

Anyway, I think your comments are valid about Spike, and I think you hit the nail on the head about Buffy's character: Holier Than Though and "It's All About Me" Buffy. I really don't like her very much. And your example of Gone is right on too. My question is how will knowing Spike bring her out of that? (In some ways, Cordy is way more developed that Buffy.)

[> Never too long! :) -- Nina, 15:44:50 03/17/02 Sun

"Because I want to believe that love can make a difference. That loving can make you a better person,
especially if the person you love wants you to become a better person. I believe that Spike is only waiting to be transformed by love. I believe that because I want to believe that about us all."

Thank you for that! I very much agree with you.

BtVS can appeal to people for different reasons. We can dissect it, analyse it, look at it intellectually... but the reasons why so many of us keep coming back are because the emotions the characters trigger in us are so deep that we can't stay indifferent.

[> [> I agree with Nina! ;-) Write more! -- Solitude1056, 20:48:35 03/19/02 Tue

[> Re: Investing in Spuffy -- Rufus, 15:57:43 03/17/02 Sun

I want to believe that Buffy can change as well. She's brutal and self-involved but I believe that if she was ever able to feel any love, any empathy for Spike, her alien enemy, that she would then be more open to love for everyone else. I believe that Spike, with his blind devotion and love, can be the influence that helps Buffy grow and change into a better person.

I also believe that Buffy can be the catalyst that helps Spike change.

I think of a section in "Power of Myth" to do with meditation and ego.....

In Buddhist systems, more especially those of Tibet, the meditation Buddhas appear in two aspects, one peaceful and the other wrathful. If you are clinging fiercely to your ego and its little temporal world of sorrows and joys, hanging on for dear life, it will be the wrathfull aspect of the deity that appears. It will seem terrifying. But the moment your ego yields and gives up, that same meditation Buddha is experienced as a bestower of bliss.

I see Spike as clinging to his identity of the big bad, and it's getting in the way of his spiritual growth. As long as his ego is invested in that identity, Buffy will seem like that wrathful Buddha...once he lets go he just may find bliss.

Further to that thought, I've seen lots of complaints about Spike being humiliated, but again I see that as a much needed lesson on his way to either becoming more or reverting back to evil...from Power of Myth again.....

Campbell: That is a very late statement of this whole them. That comes in Apuleius' Golden Ass, second century A.C. The Golden Ass is one of the first novels, by the way. Its leading character, its hero, has been by lust and magic converted into an ass, and he has to undergo and ordeal of painful and humiliating adventures until his redemption come through the grace of the Goddess Isis. The appears with a rose in her hand (symbolic of divine love, not lust), and when he eats this rose, he is converted back into a man. But he is now more than a man, he is an illuminated man, a saint. He has experienced the second virgin birth, you see. So from mere animal-like carnality, one may pass through a spiritual death and becom reborn. The second birth is of an exalted, spirtually informed incarnation.

I see Williams conversion into a vampire as analogous to being the leading character in "The Golden Ass". If Spike is able to withstand constant rejection and humiliation, maybe he will qualify for that "rebirth"....Dru did say he walked in world the others couldn't imagine. While his love for Buffy seems rooted in lust, Spike goes nowhere, stuck in the crypt, in the dark. It will only be when his love transcends lust to the divine will he finally be on the road to being more than the rejected, humiliated William, more than the lustful Spike, but the person he never got the chance to be.

[> [> Re: Investing in Spuffy -- VampRiley, 19:55:45 03/17/02 Sun

I see Spike as clinging to his identity of the big bad, and it's getting in the way of his spiritual growth. As long as his ego is invested in that identity, Buffy will seem like that wrathful Buddha...once he lets go he just may find bliss.

But is he really clinging. As a human, he was the shy, sensitive type who seemed to covet from a distance. When he bares his soul, he gets his heart crushed. A chance meeting, and a few hours later, "here comes Spike. The biggest...baddest...motha'..." His birth as a human, all the way to when he's sired, I view as his childhood -- pre-adolescents.

When we're teenagers, we grow tremendously, we change, we experiment...and we finally emerge as young adults. VampWilliam saw how he looked after he was vamped. He didn't like what he saw. So, he changed. Just like we all do. When we become teenagers, we look at the way we acted before and change the way we do things. He has spent over 100 years trying to change. And he did.

But like in all of us, when we enter our young adult years (and older adult years for that matter), there is that child inside there that pokes it's head out every once in a while. I see the same thing happening to Spike. The chip in his noggin' has allowed more time for the child in Spike to surface. I don't view "the Big Bad" as a kind of mask that he has been wearing for a hundred twenty years. It's who he is, just not all of who he is. That same gentle, caring William has always been present. You can see it in the way he was with Dru at times during Seasons 2 and 5. He would always rush to her side whenever she was in pain or hurt. Apologizing for being "a bad man". We like people and develop relationships with others for many different reasons. He created one with Dru 'cause he was in love with her. The same goes for Buffy, Dawn and Joyce, although they were from two, if not three, different types of love, even if he couldn't get all three to like him at the same time. Could this be considered as bliss? Some would. Just being able to make a connection...some kind of had to be very satisfying for him.

He said Joyce "...was decent. Didn't put on airs. Always had a nice cuppa for me And she never treated me like a freak." He's got a caring maternal figure. Joyce maybe gone, but that isn't the last relationship.

When Spike has been with Dawn, most of the time he seems like he's been the big brother to Dawn. She's still there.

And he thought Buffy was in love with him... So did she. Granted their relationship hasn't been the greatest recently...

But within a few years he has had a realtionship with three different women for different reasons, giving him a sense where he is accepted. Could this be, if not close to, bliss?

It will only be when his love transcends lust to the divine will he finally be on the road to being more than the rejected, humiliated William, more than the lustful Spike, but the person he never got the chance to be.

Do you mean his love for Buffy or when he feels lust for someone else?


[> [> [> Re: Investing in Spuffy -- Rufus, 22:47:26 03/17/02 Sun

When we're teenagers, we grow tremendously, we change, we experiment...and we finally emerge as young adults. VampWilliam saw how he looked after he was vamped. He didn't like what he saw. So, he changed. Just like we all do. When we become teenagers, we look at the way we acted before and change the way we do things. He has spent over 100 years trying to change. And he did.

I don't see what Spike became as an improvement, I see it as a sad joke at what he once was. His love for beauty, his adversion to violence, his ability to love, all were twisted in this charade to become popular. I realize that when Spike is with Dru, he can be very loving, but what about everyone else that isn't under the protection of love? Spike became the worst bully of all when he decided to start counting bodies on his way to being seen, recognised for his ability to create chaos. Teenagers do change, but most of them find a far less tragic form of transformation. Spike became interested, invested, in the big bad image, killing to keep the image alive. Only the chip stopped him, made him come to seem more human to us as we got to know him. Spike is an affectation of William's, a sham to seem the tough guy to get the girls and the respect of other men. But it comes at a bloody price. One I wouldn't be willing to pay to get recognition.
With the chip, we have slowly seen past the facade of the big bad, only to find William still there, still insecure and unable to see his own strengths, if he could he wouldn't have needed a leather coat, and a boatload of peroxide. He is now at a point where he will be forced to make a real change or regress back to the dangerous demon he has been.

Do you mean his love for Buffy or when he feels lust for someone else?

Spikes love for Buffy has been expressed mostly in a carnal way this season, and not to the betterment of either character. When I say divine love, I mean love that extends to all, love that won't allow him to be a murderer anymore. His interactions with Buffy have brought him this far, I feel that he has a solitary journey that will either bring him death or a transformation of consciousness that we have never considered a vampire capable of.

[> [> Re: Investing in Spuffy -- LeeAnn, 00:58:48 03/18/02 Mon

That comes in Apuleius' Golden Ass, second century A.C. The Golden Ass is one of the first novels, by the way. Its leading character, its hero, has been by lust and magic converted into an ass, and he has to undergo and ordeal of painful and humiliating adventures until his redemption come through the grace of the Goddess Isis.

I hope this means that all the pain and humiliation that Spike has suffered this season will be to some purpose, will move him toward redemtption.

[> [> Re: Investing in Spuffy -- Rahael, 08:06:53 03/18/02 Mon

Great post Rufus.

And I can heartily recommend reading the Golden Ass. A very entertaining read.

[> [> Re: Investing in Spuffy -- verdantheart, 19:28:56 03/18/02 Mon

Kinda reminds me of Jacob's Ladder ... Thanks, very interesting.

[> Re: I'm in on the re-investing :) And Rufus... -- curious, 18:06:09 03/17/02 Sun

Just how many times have you read "The power of Myth" anyway?

All good points, off course. :)

[> [> Re: I'm in on the re-investing :) And Rufus... -- Rufus, 18:10:35 03/17/02 Sun

One or two as well as a few other books from the same guy. Just some things I read seem to fit what goes on in the show, he writes what I think much better than I can..

[> [> [> Re: I'm in on the re-investing :) And Rufus... -- curious, 18:34:27 03/17/02 Sun

Don't you wish you could time travel back to a time when you could have been one of his Mythology students at the Sarah Lawrence School. (Was that the name of the school)?

Anyhow, I'd loved to have heard the guy in real life.

[> [> [> [> Joseph Campbell -- Kevin, 09:57:29 03/18/02 Mon

I remember when I first saw The Power of Myth series with Joseph Campbell in my college mythology class...It was like time just stood still for me...It tapped into this whole world I had been looking for. It was really sad to have discovered him only after his death. To have been able to be in his classes or seminars would have been a wonderful experience.

Luckily he left behind so much much of himself in interviews, tapes, and books (the Masks of God is probably my favorite)that it's almost like he's still alive. I've enjoyed reading and re-reading his work.

The way he relates to the myths to how we live our lives now was the crucial link that makes them come alive for me. The way he took everything he had learned about myths and applied it to current literature and artwork, showing that myth is still alive today and is a continuing creative process in our lives, not just something historical to read and learn about as an intellectual process...I think that's why I've gotten so much enjoyment from watching and thinking about the BtVS series. It hits on those age old themes relating them to our current lives via a modern media...I get excited just thinking about Campbell's work and what it's meant to me.


[> [> [> [> [> Re: Joseph Campbell -- leslie, 12:42:46 03/18/02 Mon

As I've said before, I'm not a particularly big Campbell fan, preferring my Jung straight, as it were. And I think this question of Spike and evil (eeeeeeeeevil, I tell you!) is where I think Campbell and Jung diverge. Campbell seems to say that by confronting the Shadow, integrating it, achieving individuation, you somehow defuse the evil in the Shadow, you make it Not Evil, and thus "find your bliss." Jung has a somewhat less New Agey take on it--accepting the Shadow means realizing that there is, indeed, evil in all of us, that the evil (eeeeeeeevil, I tell you!) that we see in others is actually evil in ourselves (think about that the next time Spike's evil gets bashed), and realizing this is a major step towards individuation--but the evil still remains. It isn't defused, it isn't blissed out of existence--the most one can achieve is to recognize one's propensity for evil and self-correct, and especially stop projecting it onto others. If you stop and think about it, that it actually a pretty heroic thing in and of itself--to learn how to cease doing evil while accepting that evil remains, that it exists, that it is in you. At the same time, the existence of some evil in all of us does not mean that any touch of evil at all overwhelms all the other aspects of the Self. A rotten apple does not, in fact, spoil the whole barrel. Jung's road is a lot tougher than Campbell's--it leads not to bliss but to wholeness--but it seems to be the one Spike is taking.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Original sin -- Sophist, 13:08:51 03/18/02 Mon

I'm puzzled here, probably because I don't know much about Jung. What does it mean to say there is evil in us if we stop doing evil acts? Is this similar to or different than the Christian concept of original sin? If different, what does Jung mean by "evil"?

I'm not a believer in essences, so I'm more inclined to think we are defined by our actions rather than some mysterious essence inside. Does Jung believe in the soul?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Jung was a believing christian, IIRC -- Ete, 13:13:33 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> And an astrologer - he used horoscopes in his analysis. -- Caroline, 15:25:33 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Original sin -- leslie, 13:16:34 03/18/02 Mon

Actually, this is one place where Jung is a little foggy, as I recall. Of course, he was the son of a somewhat Calvinistic minister, and his psychological theories show signs of being both influenced by and reactions away from his upbringing. So, to a certain extent, I think he does have a substratum of original-sin thinking in there. But the focus of his psychology is in *not* getting hung up on sin, but on being whole, warts and all. So perhaps we could say he believes in Original Warts.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> LOL -- Sophist, 13:32:06 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> Confused -- Kevin, 14:14:11 03/18/02 Mon

To my knowledge Campbell and Jung were friendly acquaintences whose work supported each other...I have never thought of Campbell as 'New Agey' and am pondering what in his work you're referring to. Campbell often references Jung and I have never perceived a conflict between their work.

It probably doesn't really matter much in the context of the Buffy discussion, I just am really fuzzy on what you're referencing.


[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Joseph Campbell -- Caroline, 14:21:54 03/18/02 Mon

Completely agree. Yay leslie! And that's why I enjoy this show so much because I think that the Jung rather than the Campbell view is prevalent. Buffy and co. are not going to have a blissful existence after they 'grow up' this season, they're going to keep struggling with themselves, just as they've been struggling for the last 6 seasons. What Jung and several other depth psychology people will tell you is that recognition of projections does mean that they will then lose their compulsive power - thus bringing a certain sphere of action under conscious control. But there is still the minotaur in the labyrinth, there is still an underworld that you deal with day after day. The shadow doesn't go away just because you see it.

And like any other gods, the gods of the underworld must be propitiated, even after we become conscious of them. Those mortals who achieve bliss tend to be punished by the gods for achieving the reward of the gods. (A lot of the reason why, even though I admire some of the Campbell I've read, I'm not in his camp). In myth, mortality means a lifetime of struggle with the Self. Since I tend to believe that myth is, on a certain level, a psychological expression of a group, the stories that have been told for centuries make it clear that this struggle only ends at death.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Joseph Campbell & Jung -- manwitch, 14:39:46 03/18/02 Mon

Campbell, following Nietzsche, would argue that you supercede or transcend the evil. Not that you "bliss it away." (His "follow your bliss" idea is something else). You come to the place where you recognize that "there is nothing good or evil but that thinking makes it so" (Hamlet). And you place the value on the experience of life rather than on one or the ethical perpective.

I don't know from Jung (except that Campbell loves him), but from what you say, Campbell and Jung are talking about different things. Jung about how you function in society ("the most one can achieve is to recognize one's propensity for evil and self-correct"), Campbell about how you function in life.

I say "functioning in society" because to me the notion of self-correcting (which might be your words rather than Jung's) would seem to be society specific. It is dependent on a human, all too human, point of view about what is correct or evil. And such a view would, of course, be a social construct.

The Nietzschean view, that Campbell echoes, is not stuck on the ethics of the social collective.

Neither is Spike.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Joseph Campbell & Jung -- Caroline, 15:24:23 03/18/02 Mon

Jung is not stuck on the ethics of the social collective.

I disagree with your distinction of Jung being society-specific and Campbell being 'life specific'. In terms of Jung and the shadow, that is something that we as individuals have (countries, groups etc have them too but let's leave that aside for now) and which we tend to project onto others, until we eventually start to consciously become aware of bits and pieces of our shadow - usually after a lot of pain - and then try to see that those things that we have projected are really a part of us. I don't see how that is society specific, because each individual in each society has this task. In this framework, (at least how I interpret it) transcendence or superseding of 'evil' or undesirable elements of oneself is denial. And some (not all) so-called religious or spiritual people do seek this way to escape the hard work done to achieve their own identity - explains why a lot of people join cults. Acceptance of oneself can be achieved for all ones flaws etc. And that in itself brings a measure of mental stability and peace.

As for 'evil' I think that leslie was using this term in quotation marks. What is really meant here is the shadow, the dark, horrible parts deep down inside us, the minotaur in the labyrinth, our own personal god of the underworld. On a psychological level it doesn't matter where the notion of onself being 'bad' comes from (well, okay it is good to get where it comes from - helps in therapy), the point is that it must be dealt with by each one of us. In our own way, and what is appropriate for us, not what others deem appropriate.

Switching now to the spiritual rather than the psychological, Campbell's transcendence seems like an impossible thing to me in practical terms. The Buddhists (whom I think Campbell may have borrowed his idea of transcendence) say that there are 84,000 attractions, repulsions and bewilderments that must be overcome before one can achieve enlightenment. That's a huge amount. I've heard the Dalai Lama himself say, even after all his reincarnations and lifetimes devoted to study and learning that he has not achieved enlightenment or transcendence. For him, there is a daily need to curb and discipline his thoughts, to commit to his practice. My personal view is that any enlightenment or transcendence is partial for the great majority of us the struggle only ends with death. Precisely because as soon as one challenge is met, another is placed in one's path. I wonder how many lifetimes it would take to overcome all those attractions and repulsions?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Joseph Campbell & Jung -- manwitch, 18:08:23 03/18/02 Mon

Again, I don't know Jung, but I will be reading him shortly.

But I thought a distinction was made earlier, either by you or by leslie, between "correcting" the shadow in the self, which the post associated with Jung, and "assimilating" it, which was associated with Campbell.

Now I read you saying "we eventually start to consciously become aware of bits and pieces of our shadow - usually after a lot of pain - and then try to see that those things that we have projected are really a part of us." Which sounds to me like assimilation. I don't mean to be difficult. As I said, I don't know Jung.

I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that when you talk about the "shadow" you are not simply talking about the unconscious. You are talking about a "negative" manifestation. How is it negative? According to what standards? While all people at all times may go through the process, is not the process society specific? The standards are surely socially conditioned. Who determines what part of me is shadow and what is not? Individuals can't have an evil part of them unless they are part of a social collective that has discussed and defined evil. Evil has nothing to do with the makeup of the person, but with how that makeup relates to social convention.

If it is simply another way of describing unconscious urges and the potentially dangerous power that they hold, then one could argue that this is comparable to Freud and his belief that we can access our unconscious through dreams. Some say Nietzsche is arguing the same thing when he speaks of recovering our first nature over our second nature. But he's not. To Nietzsche, any attempt to take control of or to understand what Freud would call the unconscious and what perhaps Jung calls the shadow would be a ridiculous and fruitless task, because the task itself is mediated through Language, the tool and prison of consciousness. We have no recourse to our dreams when we are awake. We are already interpreting, imposing the laws of consciousness on what was another world altogether.

What Nietzsche argues for is the living of great lives. Embrace what you are and live. "Be careful," he writes, "lest in casting out your demons you cast out the best thing that's in you." The conditions of the day do not require a cure, they require living. I am reminded of the line from Giles Deleuze and Felix Guatarri's Anti-Oedipus: "A schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic on an analysts coucn." This is largely Campbell's argument, and its why ethics aren't of paramount concern. In Campbell's words, "everything you do is evil for somebody. You participate in it."

So, if Jung is talking about overcoming or correcting evil, it seems to me that it is a major distinction between him and Campbell, and again, the difference would be that correcting evil depends on socially constructed understandings of evil. You have to have a part that needs correcting. Campbell, following Nietzsche, is starting in a different place, with the requirement being living, rather than being ethical. Would Campbell agree that we all have evil in us? Sure. That we all have unconscious urges? Of course. But he sees the need to correct only where the experience of life is being stunted. Perhaps that's the same as Jung. I don't know.

By the way, I don,t want to sound like I,m on a "defend Joseph Campbell at all costs crusade. I do understand where you and leslie are coming from. Not with Jung, but with Nietzsche. Campbell echoes a lot of Nietzsche, which is well and good, but if I want Nietzsche I,ll go straight to the source. Well, straight to the translators anyway.

That said, I do think that Campbell makes some points that I suspect are his own and are not without value. Also, as a popularizer, I think he is utterly unique in his ability to refrain from horrendous distortion of the work of others. He is also very accessible. Few people nowadays will wrestle with Spengler,s Decline of the West, but its an awe-inspiring work, and every evening news report seems to add further support to its thesis. Campbell gives readers a fair and accessible exposure to its basic ideas. I,ve never read a westerner give a fairer and more insightful description of basic Hinduism or Buddhism, both of which are usually represented as mistaken.

Also, his work is very explicitly directed towards symbolism in art and therefore is widely recognized by makers of film and television art.

On a more personal note, I was lost and adrift before I watched Power of Myth. I read everything of Campbell that I could find and was inspired to read many other things, from Lewis Binford to Spengler to Nietzsche and Foucault. I even gave up my potential future of singing showtunes on subway platforms for change and returned to college to get a degree. Now I,m a graphic designer who occasionally gets paid for posting to the Buffy board. I really feel that I have Campbell to thank for it.

But like I said, I don't know from Jung.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Joseph Campbell & Jung -- Caroline, 11:47:34 03/19/02 Tue

Leslie did mention that one self-corrects when confronted by something in the shadow one doesn't like. That doesn't mean that you necessarily correct yourself according to the norms of the collective. It's not a term that I've seen Jung use, and I've never read him using the term evil - he NEVER refers to the shadow being evil so please rid yourself of that understanding. Jung is not necessarily talking in a right/wrong context. It's recognition of unconscious promptings that hopefully leads to more consciousness and less compulsion in behaviour. The judgements your ego may bring to this process may be conditioned by social mores but there is never a judgement on the part of Jung that any part of you is evil. I cannot emphasize this enough. So we don't need to go into social constructions of right/wrong with Jung because in terms of the personality, it's not how he defines it. As for how similar this process is to Campbell's assimilation, can't say because I haven't read much Campbell. But from what you say, it sounds like Campbell borrowed majorly from Jung.

As for the shadow, Jung, unlike Freud, hypothesizes that we really have 2 parallel personalities, the conscious and unconsious. (Freud's SUBconscious is not fully fleshed out like Jung's UNconscious, consisting of the id and some respressed drives). Jung himself acknowledges the debt he owes both to Freud and Nietzsche for these ideas, but I think that he goes beyond both. Freud thought dreams were the symbolic language of the SUBconscious and would use the free association technique starting from dreams to get to the repressed drives. Jung thought there was symbolic importance of the content of dreams themselves, which he thought were highly individual (although in societies there would often be a set of common motifs) and needed to be interpreted at that level and that they would reveal the unconscious drives. As for Nietzsche and other philosophers, I have a hard time with their conceptions of behaviour, precisely because they have so little to say about the unconscious. Nietzsche may think that trying to access the unconscious is fruitless but then he leaves an a rather large part of the personality out of the human question. I feel that it's certainly valid to use free association and dream interpretation to access the unconsious (although very often our friends and associates have much insight into our unconscious drives!) and it certainly explains a lot for me.

As for the whole living a larger life thing - I have a big issue with that. I don't understand what it means psychologically. There's a collection of essays by Jung and others called Man and his Symbols, published in 1964 with the first essay by Jung (which I would really recommend as being very accessible). He says something in there about how a man who thinks that he is the master of his fate is really fooling himself, precisely because of the existence of the unconsious and the need to develop a relationship with it. And even when you do start understanding bits of it, that doesn't mean that you understand all of it. I guess you could say that someone like Jung lived a 'larger life' and followed his bliss but I think that Jung would say that the struggle to be oneself is the greatest one, the struggle to do gladly that which I must do. But it's damn hard finding out what you must do, let alone doing it gladly.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> excellent and thank you for the thoughtful response. -- manwitch, 12:57:23 03/19/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: excellent and thank you for the thoughtful response. -- leslie, 15:34:23 03/19/02 Tue

Caroline is a much more thorough advocate of Jung than I can be (sitting here at my office desk with no reference materials at hand). As for the relationship between Jung and Campbell, I would point out that Campbell enthusiastically cites Jung, but Jung (for purely temporal reasons, if nothing else) does not cite Campbell. That pretty much sums up the direction of influence. I also have to confess to a certain pissed-offness at Campbell for the fact that he may cite his sources in psychology and philosophy, but he pretty much glosses over the amount he relies on theoretical folklore scholarship. Part of the general academic attitude that any jerk can understand folklore, but philosophy, well, that's REAL scholarship. Smarty-pants stuff!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: excellent and thank you for the thoughtful response. -- Caroline, 08:25:05 03/20/02 Wed

hey, I was at work too when I wrote so no reference material - just that my TTMQ revved to high when I read manwitch's post - it's amazing what happens to one's brain when inspired. I'd just like to add to what I wrote yesterday about Jung (when I got home yesterday and looked up the book). The stuff about not being master of one's fate is because of the huge challenge that it is to control one's emotions and thoughts consciously, let alone unconsciously. As someone who tries to meditate, I can attest to how difficult this is, even for short periods of time. I'm going to start reading Campbell (bought a few of his books a last month - inspired by manwitch and the board) to find out how much he does owe to Jung and whether he really is more thoughtful than the glib 'follow your bliss' stuff appears to me. (No offense meant to Campbell lovers, I'm just saying that has been my impression and I'm quite prepared to admit that my impression was wrong).

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Bliss -- Rufus, 13:37:42 03/20/02 Wed

I'm going to start reading Campbell (bought a few of his books a last month - inspired by manwitch and the board) to find out how much he does owe to Jung and whether he really is more thoughtful than the glib 'follow your bliss' stuff appears to me. (No offense meant to Campbell lovers, I'm just saying that has been my impression and I'm quite prepared to admit that my impression was wrong).

Other people on this board could converse with you about Campbell better than I, but as I'm no academic I can bring a "common persons" opinion to the mix.
I used the word bliss in a post above for a very specific reason...

bliss Pronunciation Key (bls)
1. Extreme happiness; ecstasy.
2. The ecstasy of salvation; spiritual joy.

Campbell speaks of people finding their bliss, what they are meant to do to have a happier life. It may sound superficial to you, but I think he put great thought into what he says. I'll give you Spike as an example. Spike became a vampire in a point in his life where he had the potential to do many things, make something of his life. A great humiliation brought him to Drusilla, "his salvation". Becoming a vampire, to Spike, was a form of salvation from the mediocre life he felt he was living. I see it as something else, instead of bliss he found damnation. He became stuck in an adolecent need to be seen, like a child yelling at a friend or a parent to "look at me". That could have gone on until he became dust, just another demon meeting a well deserved end. But instead he met Buffy. Inside of Spike something woke up when he got that chip, something compelled him to follow Buffy because he loved her. I think he has missed the point. His constant humiliation is a form of "grade school", a relearning how to interact in a human world. Part of that means he will do stupid things and hopefully learn from them. I don't think a love affair with Buffy is the reason that they are together. Buffy is the start on a road that could lead to "bliss" for Spike.....spiritual salvation...refinding that person he once was. But that road isn't easy because Spike is a shadow figure, and has to work through all those aspects of his past personality that stand in the way of him finally figuring out why he could serve "a higher purpose" like Giles hoped for.

I know you have reservations about Campbell as an author, but I can only tell you that for this "common person" he says things in a way that I understand. You can discount his notion of "following ones bliss" as glib, or you could look deeper into what he means, to me that is that life could be so much more than punching a time clock waiting for an inevitable end, we could all find something that brings us joy, find our bliss and make all our collective journeys more tolerable. I see Campbell as a Giles figure, one that hopes we all find a higher purpose but leaves it up to us to make that choice.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Bliss -- Caroline, 07:57:14 03/21/02 Thu

I come up with a somewhat similar analysis of Spike based on my knowledge of Jung and myth. Does that mean that Campbell is derivative? What new insights has he added?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Again, Confused (little bit longish) -- Kevin, 08:50:06 03/20/02 Wed

I'm going to preface this by saying that I am an avid fan of both Jung and Campbell. I don't know of any conflict between them in their views either professionaly or personaly. I'm only following this line of thought because it appears to be getting muddied.

I appreciate Caroline's post indicating that 'evil' is not part of Jung's thought. The use of the word evil in the first post was what rang untrue in my mind in conjuction with Jung's work. I could not recall any reference by him that would indicate he beleived in evil per se. A shadow is not evil, it is simply something other.

Above you state:
"As for the relationship between Jung and Campbell, I would point out that Campbell enthusiastically cites Jung, but Jung (for purely temporal reasons, if nothing else) does not cite Campbell. That pretty much sums up the direction of influence."

It appears that you are making comparisons where they don't seem necessary for one thing and, for another, the comparison is being applied to apples and oranges. Jung was a psychologist using cultural symbols in his work from that perspective. Campbell's area of expertise was comparative mythology which also uses cultural symbols. Their work, while dealing with many of the same basic underlying symbolism research, was focused on different applications. They were not working in the same field as Jung and Freud were. If you go to the book store, you will not find their books in the same sections for that reason.

Campbell is incredibly footnoted. His references are what allows those of us caught by his work to keep going deeper on our own - which he encourages. He said that if a writer catches your interest, read everything he's written, then read the books referenced in the foot notes, etc. etc.

"Elitist" is the exact opposite of how I think about Campbell. This is a man who rented a converted chicken coop without even running water in the Woodstock area for five years and just read. Out of that quest for knowledge came the thoughts that brought together his field of comparative mythology which was based on such an incredible, vast and varied amount of culture heritage. The Masks of God is divided into four large books: Primitive Mythology, Oriental Mythology, Occidental Mytholody, and Creative Mythology. Far from being elitist, I find him all encompassing.

For me, and most of the people I know who have read very much of Campbell, his appeal is that he can speak to the common man. He brings the stories alive and gets you to think about how they work in your life now, today. Out of the four books, the first three are the background and then the fourth, Creative Mythology, is all about how that background works in each of our lives today. It's an incredible experience to have someone put that all together and make it accessable to me.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Again, Confused (little bit longish) -- leslie, 09:46:47 03/21/02 Thu

Your thoughts here sum up for me a lot of the problem with reading just Campbell and not knowing the history and theory of folklore/mythology studies--which is not anything I blame you for, because folklore is a very overlooked field, and (as I said) I am frustrated by writers in other fields either lifting theory without attribution or going to the extent of reinventing wheels that folklorists had up and running a good century ago.

Apples and oranges: until about the middle of the twentieth century, the fields of psychology and folklore/mythology were deeply intertwined. There were numerous psychologists, especially of a Jungian bent, who really were more folklorists/mythologists than practicing analysts. (In fact, if you buy Richard Noll's thesis in _The Jung Cult_--which I don't--Jung was not a psychologist at all but the creator of a religion based on his own mythology.) In the Freudian camp, Geza Roheim was one you would be hard pressed to decide if he were a folklorist or psychologist. It was only as American psychology decisively committed to an empiricist bent, largely under the influence of behaviorism, that folklore and psychology began to radically diverge. So it really *is* legitimate to compare the work of Jung and Campbell--we identify them as working in different fields now, but in the mid- century, when, for instance, _Hero with a Thousand Faces_ came out, the fields were closely related. (It is a different case in, for instance, France, where there is a great interaction between the schools of structuralist anthropology and mythology of Levi-Strauss, the post-Freudian psychology of Lacan, and the structuralist linguistics of Jakobsen. And interestingly enough, I find most of the really interesting mythology studied these days tend to be French or French-influenced--Jean-Pierre Vernant, Marcel Detienne, the _Mythologies_ encyclopedia edited by Yves Bonnefoy, Wendy Doniger...and on a slightly different axis, my fave, Georges Dumezil.)

In _The Hero with a Thousand Faces_, for instance (and this is the work of Campbell's that I am most familiar with, I've just skimmed through the mythologies series), he has 3 citations for Otto Rank, a psychologist and mythologist, only one of which (the last one, at the very end of the book) is to Rank's _The Myth of the Birth of the Hero_, which I would argue is seminal to the thesis that Campbell has been developing throughout the book. There are no references to Lord Raglan's _The Hero_ (1936) (see for an outline of Raglan's "hero scale"), which I think is a really big omission in a book that is essentially advancing the same argument: that worldwide, there are consistent patterns in the lives of "heroes."

The thing is, Raglan was a folklorist/mythologist, pure and simple. HIs work is ignored. I am a folklorist, so when I look at the index to _Hero with a Thousand Faces_ and don't see a reference to Raglan, I know that something is missing. If you're not a folklorist, you would have no way of knowing this. Ignoring the work of folklorists is not a personally elitist stance, as you seem to have felt I was saying of Campbell, it is a systemic problem in academic studies of folklore and mythology. People from other fields waltz in and seem to assume that because it's FOLK lore, they're the first person to realize that some kind of overarching theory can be derived from all of this stuff, because the FOLK are by definition too dumb to come up with theory. They don't realize, or don't want to realize, that, for instance, the theoretical study of folklore actually preceded anthropology-- anthropology grew OUT of folklore study (and quickly repudiated its roots). In all fairness, I have to admit that a generation of as***le academic folklorists haven't done much to make their work known to the world at large and have gone to great lengths to unnecessarily repudiate the work of may of their precedessors (intellectual Oedipus complex much?), still, this was not the case at the time that Campbell was writing _Hero_ and so I find his lack of reference to folklore scholarship in that book very troubling.

As for the references to evil, it seems to me that Jung does see evil in the projection of one's own Shadow onto others--something he identified in the 1930's in the rise of Nazism, for instance, and I'd say that's about as classic an example of the process as you can come by. The evil is not so much in oneself as in the act of projection. But when you realize that the evil you have ascribed to others is really your own Shadow, you still have to accept that you, yourself, have been doing evil in the act of projection--that it is in you, not "Them".

All of that said, anything that gets people reading and understanding myth is just fine in my book. I'd just like to remind you that there is a hell of a lot more out there than just Campbell.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Again, Confused (little bit longish) -- Etrangere, 11:20:08 03/21/02 Thu

out topic from this thread (well I guess), but since you mentionned Dumezil, I've got a french friend who analized Buffy's characters back in Seasons 3-4 in terms of the three Indo-european fonctions. It was one of the first really interresting work of symbolical interpretation I had read on Buffy back then (before going to this board, that is) so I wonder I people would be interrested by it (even if it's a bit old, it isn't hard to see how it still applies) Besides, it's a good analyse to do B/S shipping :)
Offcourse, before I should ask that friend if he wants it translated here.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Definition of folklorist? -- Kevin, 11:41:26 03/21/02 Thu

I'm still trying to sort out this thread...

What is your definition of a folklorist? Does it differ from someone who is looking at world mythology as a whole(including what we term religions).

Do you actually disagree with the parts of Campbell's work that you're familiar with or do you agree with them, but feel they were appropriated without acknowledgement and that is the issue?

I've printed out most of this thread to ponder with my books in front of me later. I do not limit myself only to Campbell. I have many book of mythology, psychology, philosphy, collections of folk tales (Norse mythology being one of my favorite collections). I appreciate Campbell for bringing many of these things together - especially all of his references and source citations. I appreciate Jung and have several of his works at home as well. I just don't perceive a conflict between these works.

Perhaps an OT thread once I've finished my muddled ponderings.


[> The Garden of Love -- Rahael, 06:15:51 03/18/02 Mon

An interesting post, thanks LeeAnn. It,s a chance to continue the discussion we were having in chat. I have to quote Blake again, he seems to be the poet of the moment for me:

I went to the Garden of Love,
and saw what I never had seen:
A chapel was built in the midst,
where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this chapel were shut,
and "Thou shalt not" writ over the door;
So I turn'd to the Garden of Love,
that so many, many sweet flowers bore;

And I saw it was filled with graves,
and tombstones where flowers should be;
and priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
and binding with briars my joys and desires.

You said:
"As society becomes more secular, more post-Christian, the idea of forgiveness seems to be slipping away. Today it all seems about accountability. Let's make people accountable for everything they ever do, give them a permanent record so that the theft of a quarter in kindergarten follows them to the grave, labeling them a thief. Punishment. Retribution. Let's make people pay. People who find those concepts appealing believe that Spike cannot change, cannot be allowed to change

I would argue that it is not secular society which is unforgiving, which denies love. Blake,s poem shows that the message of love, and everlasting life and joy in abundance that Christ signified has been forgotten by parts of the organised Christian church and forgotten for a long time. Blake is not only talking of romantic love, but the kind of merciful, pitiful, compassionate love that each human being should extend to the other. Loving thy neighbour as thyself. When he looked at the church, he saw one which was negative, concentrating on people,s faults (Thou Shalt Not). And where Christ was supposed to bring freedom from sin and death, Blake saw the church introducing fetters, and death and tombstones everywhere. So I don,t bemoan the onset of a secular society. It is thanks to secular, post-Christian society that sodomites, are no longer consigned to whichever circle of hell Dante consigned them to. Thanks to secular society that adultery is no longer a criminal offence or that women no longer have to give obedience to their husbands. But that wasn,t really the point you were making.

I think in your view of retribution/punishment and salvation, you seem to be leaning toward the Protestant view (please correct me if I,m wrong) where the action of grace in the heart of the sinner instantly cleanses, and restores. Salvation is open to all, if they only choose to open their heart to Jesus Christ. Luther thought that his emphasis on Salvation by Faith alone would free anxious souls from the mind wearying, constant torment about sin, that the traditional Church then imposed on its congregation, particularly through the practice of confession. (To digress one only had to look at poor men like Nehemiah Wallington to realise that Protestantism caused as much anxiety as Catholicism did. If not more, because the palliative effect of confession and the remission of sins was no longer available. Wallington as he grew up was plagued with lustful, thoughts. He tried to kill himself 10 times because he thought that the shorter his life was, the less chance he would have of committing sin). But in the doctrine of Salvation by Faith, *actions cannot be counted *. So if Spike is damned to hell, no amount of repentance, no amount of palliative action can ever redeem him. Now that is not a view I take. But invoking salvation by faith alone, and the immediate forgiveness of past sins is not unconditional. It is in fact, harsher, and far more difficult than the traditional Catholic doctrine Luther rebelled against. The only thing which can count is to accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour. This is what Saul did on the road to Damascus.

You say
"There was a time when almost everyone thought that a change in person's heart could make a change in their life and that when that occurred people were owed a new start, a new chance to get it right. These days it seems that punishment, not reform, is the goal, not just for unrepentant vampires but for everyone from junkies to jaywalkers.

I would respectfully suggest that such a time never existed. If you were Catholic, you expected someone to repent, atone and repay your debt. If you were Protestant (in all its different varieties and groupings) you might expect that you show signs outwardly of your inner salvation. Most early modern Protestants would look at Spike,s life, and his actions and say that he had shown ample signs of his status as damned. Especially the fact he still has to renounce evil doing. Modern society is far more accepting about the individual,s ability to reform and change than the golden past you invoke. Prisons for example, despite the dire lack of proper funding, are still far more humane than they ever have been in the past.

But like Blake, and yourself, I agree that love is a magnificent thing. That every person should feel it, and it extends far beyond the narrow concept of romantic love, but a more disinterested, platonic love for our fellow man. I think we see that in the episode where Angel is prevented from killing himself by unseasonal snow. It is instructive to note that Buffy,s personal, individual romantic love did * nothing * to save Angel. It was a miraculous and unexpected gift of the earth toward one of its most troubled and repentant inhabitants.

If Spike were to fall into bed with Buffy, easily renounce his past and promise to be good forever more, it would devalue everything about the Angel story. Another point look at Willow and Tara. Tara loves Willow. Willow has been one of the most well meaning, kind hearted and supportive people in the show. Tara hasn,t stopped loving her. But she didn,t hesitate to walk away when Willow acted badly. Tara did not want to condone the sin, despite loving the sinner. It shows a moral rigour which is both admirable and humane. Moreover, Tara would have comprised her innate goodness by staying. She would have given the wrong message to Willow.

As for the redemptive power of love on Spike. I can only echo the words that Age posted many months ago. For too long, Western society has functioned on the myth of the Beauty and the Beast. The Beauty marries the woman-hating Beast, because she can transform, him. Thus the relationship becomes one of therapy for the Beast. The message to women? Stick with the misogynist. Stick with the abuser. Because love can transform him.

You said:
"I already believe that Spike's love for Buffy has helped him to become a better person. I believe that he would change even more, even totally, if she actively tried to help him transform himself. He wants to change for her

Lets turn this around. We aren,t sure that Buffy loves Spike, but we know that Spike loves Buffy. What has that done for her? Has it made her feel loved? Confident? Better about herself? Those who dislike Buffy and like Spike would argue that if only Buffy would open up to him, she would feel better. That if , as you say, she was only less of a callous person he would become better. Thus, the onus of Spike,s lack of goodness is placed at Buffy,s door.

This leads me on to the most puzzling aspect of the Spike- Buffy debate. Often I see Buffy disparaged in the very posts that Spike is extolled. So people invoke compassion, mercy and forgiveness for Spike while denying it to Buffy at the very same time. This to me, totally undercuts the value of the argument being applied to Spike.

I accept the point about the transformative effect of love. But I would argue that unless that love be built on a foundation stone of principle, and reason, there is no real morality there. Angel was able to disagree with the woman he loved to protect Faith that shows his innate morality. Tara was able to walk away from Willow because she wanted to remain the person whom Willow fell in love with. Spike,s love for Drusilla merely abetted each other from crime to crime sustained their wrongdoing and confirmed to each other the legitimacy of their actions.

I believe very strongly that human beings are not 'evil'. That all of us are capable of both. That the 'good' should not be complacent. But in my view of the world, evil is not punished and goes unpunished. The poor remain poor and hungry. The just are ignored. The innocent are left to the whim of the powerful, the rich and the callous. Distance is the only thing the rich are willing to let the poor have, and to keep. That's what I see as 'evil'.

BtVS has a very strong morality. I would see it as completely uncharacteristic to throw it away - have one rule for Willow and another for Spike just because he looks beautiful.

[> [> Re: The Garden of Love -- Caroline, 06:58:21 03/18/02 Mon

You said:

"As for the redemptive power of love on Spike. I can only echo the words that Age posted many months ago. For too long, Western society has functioned on the myth of the Beauty and the Beast. The Beauty marries the woman-hating Beast, because she can transform, him. Thus the relationship becomes one of therapy for the Beast. The message to women? Stick with the misogynist. Stick with the abuser. Because love can transform him."

A great post except for this para. The point of the Beauty and the Beast thing is that the Beast has long had inner beauty but Beauty cannot see it. The beastliness that she sees respresents an illusion that she has created, she has not seen the treasure, the gold, that he contains within himself. And by not being able to see his real beauty, it the Beauty who is ugly. On a symbolic level, this tells the story of an innocent girl who must leave behind her father and cleave to her husband, but finds the sexualised masculine principle threatening, thus Beauty finding him ugly. She only grows up when she puts aside the image of the ideal father and accepts the sexual masculine husband. It's really telling a story about the original oedipal triangle that every woman must resolve. So I don't think the message is stick with the abuser. It's (once again) about growing up and seeing clearly.

[> [> [> I agree -- Rahael, 07:41:57 03/18/02 Mon

That the beauty and the beast myth can be read two ways.

Like all fairy tales, it performs different functions in different societies and different times.

I certainly agree that there is something beautiful and moving about that fairy tale. But it can also have a different meaning, with different overtones. And, with the Buffy/ Spike relationship, there is sometimes too much of an onus placed on Buffy to change Spike. If Spike is rejected by Buffy, then she is to blame for any subsequent misdeed he does. If she is made miserable by him, than that's her fault as well.

I'm not against Spuffy. In fact, when I used to read posts supportive of Spike's journey, I agreed with them. But Buffy and Spike are in a dynamic which both of them create. I don't like to see posts accusing Buffy of being an 'abuser' any more than Spike as abusive of Buffy. They just have a very complex relationship, which defies easy categorisation. And Spike must make a substantial change (which is what ME will do if they take the redemptive path) before I can accept posts which argue that Spike is already there. That all Buffy has to do is to love him some more, and it's only through some deep deficiency that she has which stops her.

Finally, the whole love/transformation thing reminds me of the Hitchcock film 'Notorious' where Cary Grant, in total cynical mode tells Ingrid Bergman "that's right. I've been made over by love."

[> [> Re: The Garden of Love -- manwitch, 07:15:17 03/18/02 Mon

I do love your posts, Rahael, always maginificent provocation of the mind.

I read LeeAnn's, also beautiful, post in the light of Hamlet, and his reply to Polonius regarding the accommodation of the players. Polonius says he will "use them according to their desert."

And Hamlet replies "use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping? Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty."

We aren't here to judge, really. That task belongs to, well, some other party. How we treat people reflects us and not them. You are right, as is LeeAnn, that the christian and secular worlds encourage us to believe the opposite, that we treat people as they deserve. But who are we to judge?

I, too, am not a big fan of the "love by changing the other" argument, whether the change is desired by male or female.

I think part of why Buffy is criticized while Spike is extolled, is that the show is ultimately about Buffy. Its her transformation that has to take place, not Spike's. The point of the show is not, I hope, that we could have great loving relationships if the other partner would change. Its, we can have great loving relationships if we allow ourselves to love. Which is not meant to be an argument for staying in sucky relationships. But the only valuable transformation, I think, is self- transformation.

Buffy is full of love, I think, and I think her love saved Angel a number of times, including the Great Sunnydale Blizzard of '98. It was Buffy's love for Angel that brought Grace, not anything of Angel's doing. Well, that might be overstating the case.

Anyways, I agree with the emotional point of LeeAnn's post. I am invested in Spuffy because, for what these images have come to mean for me, I really want the show to say they can be together. (Which, again, doesn't necessarily mean happily ever after).

[> [> [> Re: The Garden of Love -- Rahael, 07:58:06 03/18/02 Mon

I can return the compliment gladly, Manwitch!!

I agree, the show is about Buffy, and about her emotional journey. And part of that is opening up to love. Integrating herself. But I have now read one post too many which say (and I'm not accusing LeeAnn of this, or any other contributors to this thread) "well, I love Spike, and he wants Buffy for some reason, so he should get her. Despite the fact that she's a cold hearted bitch. How dare she reject Spike. Can't she see that he's too good for her?"

I am watching Spuffy for Buffy, not so much for Spike - as you say, its her journey, and her transformation. But there are a lot of people who are watching it only for Spike, and for Spike's transformation. Who are a little attracted to the dangerous edginess of his character (much in the way that Buffy is.)

I love that quote from Hamlet. I'd suggest that Buffy is the best example of that just person. So many forget that only Buffy and Dawn treat Spike 'like a man', despite his being a 'monster'. And that Spike does not act as a disinterested party, urging Buffy to open up to love. He is a complex character, with contradictory motives. First he'll love her, then he'll kill her or is it the other way around?

That's why it's compelling. It's not an easy path for either of them. And it doesn't lend itself to 'right choices versus wrong choices'. It's like life - messy and unpredictable. I'm more than happy to see Buffy as a catalyst for change for Spike, and vice versa. But I disagree that Spike must be a personification of love in BtVS, or that he is the solution to Buffy's problems. Buffy is the solution. And self transformation, as you rightly point out, must be accomplished by the self; and this applies equally to Spike and Buffy.

[> [> [> [> Re: The Garden of Love -- Rufus, 01:26:43 03/19/02 Tue

"well, I love Spike, and he wants Buffy for some reason, so he should get her. Despite the fact that she's a cold hearted bitch. How dare she reject Spike. Can't she see that he's too good for her?"

The show is first all about Buffy and her emotional journey, something that can be forgotten by some who prefer other characters. Just because she may or may not want one or the other guy doesn't make her a cold hearted bitch, just a woman making choices. I don't see Spike as too good for Buffy just because he's done some good deeds over a number of months, he has some catching up on all the bad he's done for decades. He may be able to change, but he is not redeemed yet.

[> [> [> Re: The Garden of Love -- celticross, 09:19:17 03/18/02 Mon

Buffy can be full of love, yes. But love can also elude her at times. Try as she did, she could never love Riley. (In fact, the only time she ever admitted to loving him was to spite Angel - one of her ugliest moments). Her love for Dawn, which had her ready to sacrifice the world last season, doesn't quite know what to do with ordinary problems. She can show Dawn love by fighting a god for her, but showing Dawn love by making sure Dawn gets her homework done. Deep down, I think, Buffy is a very dramatic person. Her love shows itself best in grand, sweeping gestures. It's easy to love the tortured vampire, to face the tempest of difficulty that faces the paradox of vampire and Slayer in love. But much harder to even notice everyman Xander, or to love (mostly) normal Riley. And by this token, it's easy to hate Spike. Buffy does nothing have halves. It's all or nothing. She feels with her whole heart, or not at all.

[> [> [> [> The middle of humanity -- manwitch, 09:42:43 03/18/02 Mon

"Buffy does nothing have halves. It's all or nothing. She feels with her whole heart, or not at all."

As the chastizing Apemantus says in Timon of Athens:

"The middle of humanity thou never knewest, but the extremity of both ends."

Is it possible that Angel and Riley are the extremity of both ends? And perhaps Spike is the middle path? Not seeking to save the world, not searching for his own redemption, but loving because he... loves?

[> [> [> [> Re: The Garden of Love -- Caroline, 14:58:18 03/18/02 Mon

You've reminded me of an report I heard last week about narcissism - apparently in this study, narcissists tend to respond well to big happenings and challenges, to when they are up on a stage and must perform to impress but if they need to do something which won't involve recognition, they tend to perform more poorly. Buffy can do the big stuff (sacrifice her life, save the world) but she can't seem to do the little stuff well - take care of Dawn etc. There was a discussion a while back about heroism, and learning that when you grow up it's the little everyday heroic acts that become more important rather than the huge ones. Maybe that fits in here. Buffy may have a hard time reconciling Buffy as hero with Buffy-getting it done in the real world.

[> [> Re: Conditional and Unconditional love -- LeeAnn, 08:18:14 03/18/02 Mon

I would argue that it is not secular society which is unforgiving, which denies love. Blake's poem shows that the message of love, and everlasting life and joy in abundance that Christ signified has been forgotten by parts of the organised Christian church and forgotten for a long time.

Perhaps in the past forgiveness was not practiced as much as it was preached but at least the idea had wide currency. Today even the idea seems ridiculous to most people. Forgive your enemies? What fool had that idea? Kill your enemies and dance on their graves.
I would argue that most (or all) organized religion has little to do with Jesus or his teachings. Large scale organized religion is little more than a control mechanism, just another branch of the shadow government, another way of keeping people in line. Ignore it. As Jesus did.

I think in your view of retribution/punishment and salvation, you seem to be leaning toward the Protestant view (please correct me if I'm wrong) where the action of grace in the heart of the sinner instantly cleanses, and restores. Salvation is open to all, if they only choose to open their heart to Jesus Christ. But in the doctrine of Salvation by Faith, *actions cannot be counted *. So if Spike is damned to hell, no amount of repentance, no amount of palliative action can ever redeem him. Now that is not a view I take. But invoking salvation by faith alone, and the immediate forgiveness of past sins is not unconditional.

Not having been raised a Catholic I'm unfamiliar with their doctrine. But the Christianity I was exposed to did claim that if you accepted Jesus and his teachings that you would receive forgiveness and the remission of your sins. You would be saved, not by any action of your own, but by God's mercy. If you were truly saved, you would behave differently. If you were saved, you would want to do good deeds. These deeds are not payment for your salvation, not a bribe prepaid to God, but gifts of the heart, given with love and joy to your brothers and sisters, a group which, like neighbor, includes everyone.

If you were Protestant (in all its different varieties and groupings) you might expect that you show signs outwardly of your inner salvation. Most early modern Protestants would look at Spike's life, and his actions and say that he had shown ample signs of his status as damned.

I disagree on this. The Christianity I am familiar with proclaims that everyone, no matter how lost, no matter how depraved, can be saved. I think there is still a vigorous prison ministry proving that by trying to save those incarcerated and help them change their lives, regardless of their crimes.

Tara loves Willow. Willow has been one of the most well meaning, kind hearted and supportive people in the show.Tara hasn't stopped loving her. But she didn't hesitate to walk away when Willow acted badly. Tara did not want to condone the sin, despite loving the sinner. It shows a moral rigour which is both admirable and humane. Moreover, Tara would have comprised her innate goodness by staying. She would have given the wrong message to Willow.

Tara's action are right but prove that Tara's love is conditional. It is bestowed on Willow only if she is good, not if she is bad. I'm sure that's the healthy way for love to be. But pardon me if I prefer Spike's unconditional love to one that judges its object and then withholds itself if the object is unworthy.

Lets turn this around. We aren't sure that Buffy loves Spike, but we know that Spike loves Buffy. What has that done for her? Has it made her feel loved? Confident? Better about herself?

In Life Serial Buffy says the only person I can even stand to be around is a ... neutered vampire who cheats at kitten poker, Spike. In Gone Invisible Buffy says about the Spike boinking, I thought we were having fun, the first fun she seems to have had since she was resurrected. Before that day is over she no longer wants to die. In Dead Things she tells Tara that the only time she feels anything is when she is with Spike. The SG might have resurrected Buffy but Spike brings her back to life. Spike's love has had value. It has helped Buffy live.

I accept the point about the transformative effect of love. But I would argue that unless that love be built on a foundation stone of principle, and reason, there is no real morality there. Angel was able to disagree with the woman he loved to protect Faith - that shows his innate morality. Tara was able to walk away from Willow because she wanted to remain the person whom Willow fell in love with.

Again, conditional love, rather than unconditional love. Probably the wisest choice in the real world. But reality does not reside in the Buffyverse. Art provides what life cannot and the fantasy of an absolute love may not translate into the real world, but I still want to believe it can exist, at least within the confines of the Buffyverse.

[> [> [> Re: Conditional and Unconditional love -- Rahael, 08:47:43 03/18/02 Mon

I have to say that I don't think Tara stops loving Willow. But she does walk away from her. And she does it because she loves her. Tara walked away from her family, because her love was great, but she didn't want to be abused in the name of love. Love that imprisons, creates misery, causes pain - that is a travesty of love.

And also how Tara reacts to Buffy - she loves her too. She tells Buffy that there is nothing wrong with her. She gives her solace, and comfort, peace of mind and strength. She doesn't judge her. She doesn't want to drag her down. And that's what I think of when I think of love as healing wounds.

Your view of Christian salvation is Protestant. And certainly predestinarian theory suggest that those who are saved show this by their actions. The tree shall be known by its fruits. I think looking at Spike's actions provides ambiguous evidence at best, damning at worst.

Personally when I think of the Christian ideal of tolerance and love,I think of Nelson Mandela - forgiving his persecutors on the one hand, while smiting down the system they built. Just as Jesus Christ might have loved the sinner, but his meekness was deceptive - he hated the sin. He told the rich to give up all their money. He drove the money lenders out of the temple. Yet another Christian virtue I find hard to spot among Christians.

Perhaps I'm not capable of absolute love - perhaps my love is conditional. But I am curious about your idea of absolute love - what does that entail? How absolute is it? What can it endure? What I mean is, what would the practical application of absolute love look like?

[> [> [> [> Re: Conditional and Unconditional love -- LeeAnn, 09:17:43 03/18/02 Mon

Spike has pretty much shown absolute love for Buffy this season. His love is completely nonconditional. He loves regardless of whether Buffy deserves it or not. If Buffy was addicted to magic and using it in ways that hurt him and others do you think he would desert her or try to help her get over it? I'm sure he would try to help her regardless of the cost to he did in Dead Things.

In addition he has proved he is willing to suffer and die to protect Buffy from pain. He has also tolerated things that he probably shouldn't have tolerated.
Absolute love can be a bitch if it's not requited. The hell that Spike has gone through this year has been because of his love.

[> [> [> [> [> Spike & Tara -- Etrangere, 09:34:45 03/18/02 Mon

You can go on loving someone, and yet not stay with that one what that means being abused by that one.
That's a decision that both Tara and Spike (even if it didn't last for his case) did.
As Rahael said before, Tara didn't stop loving Willow, nor was she trying to "punish" Willow for messing with her mind, she just though that what Willow did was abuse (and I agree with her) and that she wasn't likely to stop. And Tara had enough self-respect to know she couldn't stay with someone who abused her. That's IMHO the healthy thing to do.
Spike never offcourse, ceased to love Buffy. Yet he knows she's been using him, been going to him as an escape. Because he though it was a way to make her love him ("I don't love you - Not yet" from Wrecked) he let her do. But in Gone he refused to let her go on while she wasn't aknowledging the reality of what they did together. And that's again the basis of his ultimatum in Normal Again. Now, one of the difference between Tara and Spike that we can see in Dead Thing and As You Were is that Spike doesn't have much self-respect, he does believe he is beneath Buffy, and he does believe she has to be wrong to even want to be with him, and so he does believe that he's somewhat worthy of the abuse he's been taken from Buffy and that's why he's ready to take any crumb from her ("really not complaining here") he can get. Well, I certainly not think that's the healthy thing to do, and I certainly believe Spike doesn't deserve this.

Unconditionnal love shouldn't be about letting yourself being hurt when you can avoid it, allowing to be hurt is bad for you (lack of self-estim) and bad for the one hurting you ("it's killing me" from Buffy in AYW)
Unconditionnal love is about forgiving, all right, doesn't mean you have to let yourself being abused and hurt.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Isn't it romantic? -- manwitch, 10:01:07 03/18/02 Mon

Spike is a romantic. The late 19th century is considered the "Romantic" period.

Spike's love is about life. Being on the burning edge. He would rather be in the hellish fires of life than sitting in a chair watching TV commercials. Its not a good or bad thing to him, its the experience of being alive.

When Spike was vamped and found out about the slayer, he immediately sought them out. "Don't you ever get tired of a fight you know you're gonna win?" He wants to live on the edge, to feel every moment that he is alive. Which is ironic, cuz I guess in a way he's dead.

But that's why his love of Buffy is not predicated on reciprocity. The fiery torment of unrequited love, especially of the most Noble Woman far above your station, a love that can never be realized on earth except in the willingness to accept the torment of separation, that is the essence of Romantic Love, and in the view of the Romantic, it is the burning point of life.

Spike's lowest point was when he was reduced to a nothing in Xander's basement, doing chores for a buffoon (Spike's POV, not mine). He was suicidal at being reduced to someone who could not live, as he saw living. Once he realized that he could fight, that he could stay on the edge, he wanted to live again. But for a vampire, the edge is the slayer, and when he finally recognized that he couldn't best her, he found another way to the edge. Love her.

Its not about outcome to the romantic. Its about feeling alive, with all the accompanying pain and joy. I think that's what Spike is, and that's all he wants for Buffy. Live a little.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Good point -- Rahael, 10:10:28 03/18/02 Mon

And in fact, one of my favourite theories about Spike, is that he is a Romantic. He is just slightly out of the height of Romanticism, but in his posturing, his dramatic gestures, his former occupation as a poet, he seems to be someone who aspires to Byronic flamboyance.

And your right - his willingness to feel intensity of pain, and pleasure is also the classic Romantic elevation of Feeling. Or as Shelley put it:

"I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!"

His relationship with Drusilla, at one turn the masterful Vampire and the other the devoted swain reflects this.

Of course Shelley, Keats, Byron - they all plunged headlong into highly Romantic early deaths. And with the honourable exception of Keats, who pined tragically for his love, the other two practised free love and elevated the feeling of being in love above the women they actually loved.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Good point -- Simone, 12:49:21 03/18/02 Mon

I absolutely agree with the assessment of Spike as a Romantic, but, to me, the idea of Spike's "redemption" - I really prefer to think of it as "rehabilitation" and avoid the religious connotations altogether - is pretty much predicated upon abandonment of this demented Romanticism of his. There's no question that the stubborn Romantic in Spike is a big reason why the character is so fascinating and compelling. At this point, however, I think he really needs to just grow up. Learn that one needn't completely lose onself in love, that having some boundaries is both good and necessary.

It's Spike's pragmatic streak, IMO, that will allow him to become a better person, not his ability to love "unconditionally." The latter ended up being rather destructive, both for him and for his relationship with Buffy. He needs to decide who *he* wants to be instead of desperately trying to be whatever he thinks - often mistakenly - she wants. Unless I misunderstood, Rahael, you were hinting at the same thing in your earlier posts.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I like to think of it in terme of "humanity" instead of redemption myself -- Ete, 13:09:19 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> That would work too... -- Simone, 13:26:25 03/18/02 Mon

... but, when one talks about Spike "reclaiming his humanity" or some such, people tend to take it literally. And the last thing I want is for Spike to become human.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Absolutely -- Rahael, 15:51:47 03/18/02 Mon

I like Philip Pullman's idea that you first learn 'who' you are, when you fall in love for the first time (as apposed to dissolving yourself away in the loved one)

Or as Graves put it:

'You love, are beauty's self indeed
Never the harsh pride of need'

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Right and furthermore... -- Ete, 11:01:27 03/18/02 Mon

I think being in love with Buffy gave him a challenge he needs to have to feel alive. Because of what you said (being a Noble Lady above his station) and because it gave him a good excuse to fight with the Scoobies for the good (and he needs to be fighting too)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> exactly my POV! well said. hate and love are much closer than love and like. -- yuri, 13:57:23 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> Tara as a foil for Buffy and Spike, aka, "Finally, a use for my analysis of 'Dead Things!'" -- Dyna, 12:33:57 03/18/02 Mon

I'm delighted that the subject of Spike and Tara has been raised, because it gives me a chance to throw in something that's been running around my head since "Dead Things," but at the time eluded my ability to explain it. Yay, how exciting! In short, I think both Buffy and Spike are struggling with dysfunctional approaches to love. In "Dead Things," we see this very clearly: On one hand, we have Buffy, a person who believes that love (including forgiveness, a form of love) is about deserving- -that we have to earn love, that love is about worth, that the unworthy can't be loved and if we're not loved it's because we're unworthy. This point about Buffy was well-discussed on this board in the immediate aftermath of DT (most notably by fresne, whose posts on the subject totally altered my thinking about what's at stake in the Buffy/Spike relationship. Thank you, fresne!)

It's clear that a big part of Tara's role in "Dead Things" is to provide a foil for Buffy, with her message of acceptance and forgiveness countering Buffy's self-condemnation, which is founded in her particular (imo wrong) ideas about love. Tara and Buffy's final conversation functions like a mini- debate on the subject: Buffy says Spike is "everything I hate, everything I'm supposed to be against" (he's unworthy, therefore it's wrong for me to have feelings for him); she is certain that if her friends find out, they will stop loving her, never be able to forgive her (if I'm unworthy, I will lose my friends' love; I have to be perfect to be forgiven; I am unworthy of forgiveness.) Tara counters with reassurance--it's okay if Buffy loves Spike, but it's also okay if she doesn't (love isn't earned--if Buffy loves Spike, he doesn't have to "deserve" it, and if she doesn't, no amount of "deserving" on his part can change that. Love just is, period.) Tara counters Buffy's absolute self-condemnation ("It's not that simple,") and by her example tries to assuage Buffy's fears that her friends will not be able to forgive her if they knew. Tara forgives Buffy, without question or judgement, and Buffy can't accept it. Buffy, at this point, is still holding on tightly to her beliefs, even though they hurt her, even though no lower an authority than the spirit guide in "Intervention" has told her that to keep her humanity, she needs to let go of her fear and act on her need to "love, give, forgive." Buffy can't love and forgive herself at the moment, so it's hardly surprising that she can't really hear Tara's message at this point. For her own good, I think she needs to hear it, and soon.

What's not as obvious but I think also really interesting is how Tara's presence in this episode reflects on Spike. I think it's no accident that in "Dead Things" we see the first meeting of Willow and Tara since the morning after Willow's magic binge with Amy. We can't help but be reminded of Tara's decision to walk away from Willow, and why she did it. What's also clear is that Tara still loves Willow, really seems to have forgiven her--but that this isn't enough to ensure that they'll get back together. Just being able to love and forgive Willow isn't enough; Tara also has boundaries that must be respected, a sense of personal integrity that she cannot give away, even for the person she loves.

How significant this reminder seems in light of what we see of Spike in this episode! In the alley scene, Buffy beats him senseless, taking out all her rage and helplessness on his unresisting form, and in reply he says only, "You always hurt the one you love." I've seen many comments on this episode that have suggested this is an example of Spike's unconditional love, and that this scene suggests something positive about what he brings to the relationship with Buffy--he does, after all, sacrifice himself in service to what he sees as her needs. While I can't bring myself to condemn Spike for his desire to be self-sacrificing, I think the comparison to Tara is instructive, and suggests why Spike's thinking about love, as summed up so well by his own words, is bad for Spike as well as Buffy. When I think of Spike's way of loving, the word that comes to mind even more than unconditional is "boundariless." Spike doesn't know where his boundaries are, can't draw the line with Buffy the way that Tara could with Willow. His "you always hurt the one you love" reminds us of the spirit guide's reminder that "love is pain"--but it resonates slightly wrong: Where it's true that in order to experience the joys of love we must be willing to risk the pain, we must also recognize that pain is not the proof of love--"you hurt me, therefore you must love me" is a trap, in which Spike seems to be caught.

The position I take on the state of the Buffy/Spike relationship up to at least "As You Were" is that both of them are thinking and acting wrongly, and are hurting themselves and each other in the process. I don't agree with those who blame Buffy's misery on Spike or Spike's misery on Buffy, but I do think there's something to be learned from Tara in this situation. Tara walked away from Willow, not only because Willow's actions were a violation of her personal integrity, but because to have accepted them would have been bad for Willow also. If Tara had stayed, would Willow have hit bottom as quickly as she did? Most likely not. But she also wouldn't have been challenged to find the inner strength, in the aftermath of hitting bottom, to try to recover herself and repair the damage she'd done. Does this mean Spike is to blame for Buffy feelings of self-loathing about using him, because he allowed her to use him instead of refusing this treatment? I don't think so, not really. What I get from the comparison with Tara is not that Spike has done wrong by Buffy by failing to be more like Tara--that would be too much like blaming the victim. I would say that what Buffy did to Spike hurt Buffy too, and to the extent that neither Spike nor Buffy seems capable (at this point) of finding that "third way"--the balance Tara found between unforgiving judgement on one hand and boundariless acceptance on the other--it's better for both of them that they remain separate for now.

Of course, eternal optimist that I am, I remain convinced that there's no way this issue would have been built up so carefully and thoroughly over the season if the goal wasn't eventual (positive) resolution, but I've been called "delusional" before!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Oh, yes, exactly! -- dream of the consortium, 12:58:28 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Great points ! And a bit of rambling on my part on Mercy & Wisdom, Fire & Ice -- Etrangere, 13:06:42 03/18/02 Mon

"Just being able to love and forgive Willow isn't enough; Tara also has boundaries that must be respected, a sense of personal integrity that she cannot give away, even for the person she loves. "

With those words you make me understand a few things I was wondering about... Forgiveness, Tara is always standing for forgiveness from infinite compassion, as shown in Dead Things, for Buffy, then to Willow in Older and Far Away, when she defends Willow of exaclty what she's suffered from Willow ("you don't make people do what they don't want to do"), yet Tara also stands for the wisdom of those boundaries, those rules that has to be respected about respect of self and others.
Offcourse, Mercy and Wisdom is Clem and Sophie, the guests Buffy and Spike bring to Buffy's birthday, and to each other, which are also Fire and Ice.
The Fire of passion is also the forgiveness of unconditionnary love.
The Ice is thus wisdom, respect of self and others, of the boundaries :
Older And Far Away, Tara to Spike : "maybe you should put some ice on it"
As You were : Spike screws it because he didn't keep the eggs frozen
Normal Again : "you should put some ice on the back of her neck", a very disinterrested comment to help Buffy while he walks away.
Me think that Spike is finally getting what "ice" is all about, just as Buffy has begun to get her "fire" back.

And, Tara is standing for the one who knows both, the fire and the ice, she's the Temperence figure, mixing the red of passion with the blue of reason, the synthesis of the "third way".

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Interesting points about fire and ice. Something new for my mind to chew on. Purple makes sense now. -- yuri, 14:08:50 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yeah, that's why I mentionned Buffy's purple shirt to Caroline when she posted about AYW -- Ete, 14:24:55 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> And it's a great point -- Caroline, 12:10:40 03/19/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> A wow! and a brief ramble -- ponygirl, 14:21:54 03/18/02 Mon

Wow, Clem = clemency/mercy! That's a great catch. In Buddhism the male aspect often represents compassion and the female wisdom. The union of the two is a method of achieving balance, and elevation to higher state. (my knowledge of Buddhism is based on a few books so I apologize if I'm way off).
Excellent post!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> thanks to add to my pet theory about B/S :) -- Etrangere, 14:29:44 03/18/02 Mon

Offcourse the ice and fire thing is all about yin and yang...
I was refering to some older posts I had made :) The first one dates from Wrecked and can still be found on the Big Bad board.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> thanks I'll check it out! -- ponygirl, 17:59:53 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Thank you! -- Simone, 13:22:00 03/18/02 Mon

Dyna, you've just articulated my every thought ever so much better than I could have:

>> [..] neither Spike nor Buffy seems capable (at this point) of finding that "third way"--the balance Tara found between unforgiving judgement on one hand and boundariless acceptance on the other-- it's better for both of them that they remain separate for now.<<

Exactly. I think that, coming from opposite ends of the spectrum where love - among many other things - is concerned, they can really help each other achieve that balance, but only AFTER they've figured out some things *on their own.* They can't save each other until they're both willing to save themselves.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Another great post, Dyna. I would just add -- Sophist, 13:27:26 03/18/02 Mon

that Buffy's belief that those only are loved who deserve to be loved reinforces her own deepest fear. Her own failures in love, with Angel, Parker, Riley, and now Spike, become proof to her that she doesn't deserve to be loved. Her concern about how her friends will judge her relationship with Spike makes that relationship less likely to succeed and thus drives the vicious circle.

I think Buffy's fears about her ability to love can only be faced if W and X extend to her the same compassion she found with Tara.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Another great post, Dyna. I would just add -- Simone, 13:59:11 03/18/02 Mon

>>I think Buffy's fears about her ability to love can only be faced if W and X extend to her the same compassion she found with Tara.<<

I tend to disagree with that. Buffy's angst about sleeping with Spike IS just an extension of her inability to accept the killer in herself and her fear that, if they knew who she really was, her friends would reject her as well. But the only solution, IMO, is for her to learn to accept herself, regardless of anyone else's opinion. She needs to understand that the capacity for violence inherent in her nature does not invalidate all the goodness in her. Just like Spikes needs to understand that his capacity for good does not make him a weak, laughable creature.

Basically, I think they both need to stop seeking validation - via love or fear - from others.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Hmm. You raise a very fundamental issue. -- Sophist, 16:37:04 03/18/02 Mon

The reason I phrased my post the way I did, is that I'm inclined to believe that "no man is an island". Yes, we have an inner life that we must come to terms with. But we can't separate that from our social existence. In Buffy's case, her profound social relationship with W and X helps define who she is. I don't think that she, by herself, can solve the problem. Nor do I think that W and X can solve it for her. I think it has to be a group effort. Both and, not either or.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Hmm. You raise a very fundamental issue. -- Simone, 18:27:32 03/18/02 Mon

I'll admit that I am naturally inclined towards individualism but I didn't mean to imply that no one's opinion and perception of us should matter but our own.

I just think that, while we do define ourselves partly through our relationships with others, those relationships change constantly and we should not rely too much on how others see us in the construction of our self-image. And, despite the oft-heard accusations of self-involvement, Buffy has been living entirely too much *for* others (and I'm thisclose to veering off into a Levinas rant here, but I'll abstain), trying too hard to live up to everyone's expectations (or what she perceives as their expectations): always strong, always brave, always victorious, always righteous. Her current emotional dependence on the regard of W/T is, IMO, a sign of dysfunction. She's using them as an excuse to hide from herself.

At this point in her life, she can't afford to do that anymore. She needs to figure out who *she* wants to be, which requires that she first come to terms with who she really is, independently of what anyone else thinks/expects of her. Unless she can forgive herself for not being perfect, the forgiveness of others will not have much of an impact.

Does that make any sense? I'm incredibly tired and, most likely, rather incoherent.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I'm not sure we're disagreeing -- Sophist, 20:22:06 03/18/02 Mon

I certainly agree that Buffy needs to make decisions about herself. I also agree that it's wrong to lose yourself in others' opinions. Your comment about Buffy trying to hard to live up to others fits in (I think) with Dyna's point about Buffy taking everything on to herself.

The part where I guess I disagree is your emphasis on coming "to terms with who she really is, independently of what anyone else thinks/expects of her." No -- I think she has to come to terms with herself in light of her own self knowledge in relation to her position in the world, a concept that includes within it what others think/expect of her. I just can't separate the two. Manwitch says something similar in a post above about Campbell and Jung. I'm sure it's better phrased there.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Brilliant post, Dyna! -- ponygirl, 14:04:58 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Echoing everyone else's praise! -- Rahael, 15:16:36 03/18/02 Mon

Another Dyna post to cut out and keep!

Your emphasis on Buffy's fear that she is unloveable ties into all the desertions she's experienced. Her father, her mother, Angel, Riley, Giles and now she feels the burden of all her friends' problems. How much must she feel that somehow, she must had done something wrong to drive these people away? That the only person who says he loves her tells her that she belongs in the dark with him? That she is so unable to accept his love that she punishes him for loving her?

It really does put a different spin on Buffy's fear last season that she was turning into stone inside, and that she was incapable of love. She was really frightened that her 'specialness' was really a terrible wrongness, and that soon, others would become incapable of being able to love her. Going back to the beauty and the beast analogy, she fears she is the beauty on the outside, beast on the inside - and that's why she's disturbing Spike's unquiet grave. He must be the only person, she thinks, who will be able to look at the 'ugliness' within.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> love, love, love. All you need is love. -- fresne, 17:37:15 03/18/02 Mon

I want to respond to everyone, everything. Alas, I, unlike Primal love, am finite. Therefore, I shall post, here, in no particular order. Sadly, it isn't really a response to Dyna's excellent post on Dead Things. Well, sort of in, a repeating, reaffirming, long winded, I agree with you sort of way

Anyway, as to whether or not we are more or less forgiving as we (Western society) have become fore secular, two things come to mind.

Firstly, the rather vivid description, I believe in a work by Foucault, of the execution of an attempted regicidist. Neither reformation nor salvation was the point. The man tried to kill the good and most Christian king and now that king was going to take a good long, public, painful way of killing him, while people watched in a carnival like atmosphere.

In the scheme of things, it's not so long ago that the criminal justice system didn't even contain the concept of reformation. Criminals were branded because well, you wanted everyone to know what they had done. Consider the concept of the Scarlet Letter, that most depressing of books. Hester, girlfriend, move to another town already.

And since these activities took place in eras which were profoundly less secular, well, what can I say. I'm a typical modern American (what's worse S.F. Bay Area Californian. The country's at an angle don't ya know and nuts roll down hill. We're the drain.) and the concept of anyone fighting/punishing someone over religion is foreign/bizarre/incompressible to me.

I'm inclined to like a certain level of secularism because it helps people get away from becoming emotionally wrapped up in say running around with the Malleous Malificarum or getting all Cottony and Mathery.

Which brings me to my second thought, Dante/the Comedia. Perhaps, because I'm not Catholic (although certainly Christian), it gets to be one of my favorite books about love. Which is why it was so funny that Rahael mentioned it, although in the opposite direction from where I'm going to go. (mainly because I tend to ignore some of Dante's stickier bits. Gays and barristers in hell being one glaring example).

Buffy entered the season wondering if she was in Hell. In a strict sense, Dante's Hell is the place where the damned are separated from the Divine Love (aka God, light, the big rose in the sky). And for the rest of the season our characters have done the dance of how to love. Xander and Anya. Willow and Tara. Spike and Buffy. Giles and Buffy. Well, actually, Buffy and every other freaking character in the show.

Part of what intrigues me about Dante is the concept that everyone who is in Hell is there because they love wrongly. Put another way, they love incompletely, selfishly, meanly. It was love that was about self and not about giving way and giving in. Bending like a smooth reed, but then snapping back again. And at the same time, doing the hard thing. Not what would feel good, but would be good for yourself and your society.

Damned Franchesca beautifully describes her love for the weeping Paolo. Heck, Dante the character faints (again!). And yet, despite her eloquence, because she was willing to abandon the world for passionate love, forget children, obligations, marriage, and whirl away in passion, that's how she will spend the afterlife. Whipped about in the dark air by a whirlwind. Clinging to her lover, who can do nothing but weep and wail and curse.

Contrast Franchesca's description of love to the description of one of the saved in Purgatory. In the last moment of his life, he felt genuine contrition. And as he died and his body was washed willy nilly down a river, a tear came to his eye, he made the sign of the cross, and I believe he said the Virgin Mary's name.

Same concept, carried away by love. However, Francesca didn't approach love out of a desire to change, grow and transform. She was unhappy. She grabbed love because it pleased her to do so (and by the way completely misread/misunderstood an Arthurian legend.) Therefore, she's stuck in Hell, where no one ever changes. Where the damned are stuck in an endless cycle of the actions which that brought them there. I get less a sense of the punishment of hell, than I do that the punishment is the sin itself.

Purgatory on the other hand, once reached through a willingness to learn to love, is about purging sin away. Fining away the roughness of pride, greed, envy, anger, sloth, lust and gluttony. Refining until only the pure self is left. A self who is ready to love.

But you have to be willing. People can pray for you and love you, but ultimately, the choice, the willingness to change must come from within.

Which won't bring me back to Buffy quite yet. Instead, I will segue into a book recommendation, Requiem for the Devil. I read it every few months. It's funny, intelligent, profound. The theme/melody is the redemptive power of love. I suppose in a surface read, one could take it as a story in which the love of a good woman changes a erman, sorta shaped being. But, I'm inclined to say, that would be to miss the point.

Our main character, who falls in love for the first time in his very long life, falls because he's ready to fall. (Pause while I contemplate the ramifications of the word fall.). He's finally ready to open himself up to love. And once love gets in, it transforms his understanding. Great love allows him to acknowledge smaller loves (friendships). And love, once accepted, allows him to let go of pride (he is very prideful) and selfishness.

His lover certainly doesn't let him walk over her or manipulate her. She lays down her ground rules. He has to decide for himself if love is worth a change. Decide if where he is no longer pleases him. If it ever did. There's this wonderful line at the end of the book that I'm not sure that I want to spoil about love and light, very Dante.

Oh, I should mention, it never really comes off well if you say it first, that the main character is Lucifer Morningstar, who isn't so much morally ambiguous, as evil. Which is kinda the point of the book.

Now then, after going on about love, I suppose I should lean back to Buffy, who has been so very lost. Caught in an endless cycle of behavior. Every day waking up and saying, "This is the day that I snap out of it." Course it doesn't work that way. I would have to agree, that people have been saying, "I love you." all season, but she hasn't heard it. Understood it. Accepted it. The light hasn't been the illumination of Primal Love. It's been too harsh. Too bright. Painful. Its been a burden.

Segueing here to Tara, who described herself in OMwF as always having been in shadow, until Willow's reflected illumination brought her into the light. A love (visually depicted as sparkles from Willow's fingers), which once filling Tara, completed and transformed her from a shy, gawky person into herself. Loving. Kind. Forgiving as well as giving. Taught Tara her own self worth. Gave her the ability to walk away from Willow, because both Tara and Willow deserve better.

S4 Tara would have put up with mind twisting because she would have believed that she deserved no better. could have walked away from Willow. S4 Tara tried to hide her true nature from Willow. Believed herself unworthy of love. Was ready to be dragged back home by her family. She is compassionate, because not only Willow, but all the Scoobies gave her compassion first. Gave her enough light and water to grow. Although, to carry the metaphor further, Willow trees are notoriously shady and block the light.

I suppose, Tara could have stayed with Willow after Willow violated her mind on two occasions, but that's not a healthy love. It strikes me as a love very similar to a world that could exist at the expense of 14 year old girl's life. The value of love must be protected, just as surely as the world's value must be protected.

As the characters have flailed about, I'm actually glad that there has been no one particular, "Ah ha moment." Rather a series of little moments, in which Buffy turns westward towards her truth.

Has Buffy abused Spike emotionally and physically. Yes. Has Spike emotionally manipulated Buffy. Yes.

I wonder if the entire relationship hasn't been like the fire at the top of Purgatory. Consuming, but something that you have to pass through to get to heaven. Like the Phoenix's pyre. They needed to flame out so they could/can figure out where they are going wrong.

Buffy, rejected by her parents when she needed them the most. She shared her fear with them and they put her in an institution. Put her away. Taught her that to be loved, you must be normal. So, she learned to pretend.

Course, she can never fool herself, or for some reason Spike.

She isn't normal or fine. And grabbing brief physical moments with Spike haven't been resolving her issues. And yes, Spike does need to get over the romantic poet thing (oddly enough with its roots in the whole Troubadour/Courtly Love/Dante/Petrarch tradition). Spike was and is Love's Bitch. Being someone's, anyone's bitch is not a good thing. That's not giving into primal love. That's giving into the whirlwind.

Buffy and Spike have just been spinning around each other. Time to stop. Get down. Let go. Give in. Start walking. Purgatory's a long climb and the day is already more than half over.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Actually, Francesca of Rimini was in my mind too.... -- Rahael, 18:20:43 03/18/02 Mon

and I'm loving Dante. Just some parts squick me.

Great post.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Divine post, fresne! -- Ixchel, 18:22:57 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Beautiful, fresne! -- Dyna, 09:03:40 03/19/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Dante -- Malandanza, 09:26:49 03/20/02 Wed

"She grabbed love because it pleased her to do so (and by the way completely misread/misunderstood an Arthurian legend.) "

It probably depends upon which version she was reading -- Dante predates Mallory. The oldest extant Lancelot/Guinevere story is from Chretien de Troyes where the affair was not so much adulterous as it was a right of conquest:

" In those days the customs and privileges were such that, if a knight found a damsel or lorn maid alone, and if he cared for his fair name, he would no more treat her with dishonour than he would cut his own throat. And if he assaulted her, he would be disgraced for ever in every court. But if, while she was under his escort, she should be won at arms by another who engaged him in battle, then this other knight might do with her what he pleased without receiving shame or blame." (The Knight of the Cart)

Thus, when Lancelot defeats Meleagant, he has earned the right to have sex with the queen. The Queen first rejects Lancelot and he goes away in despair -- here are her thoughts when she reconsiders:

"When he came before me smiling and expecting that I would be glad to see him and would welcome him, and when I would not look at him, was not that a mortal blow? When I refused to speak with him, then doubtless at one blow I deprived him of his heart and life. These two strokes have killed him, I am sure; no other bandits have caused his death. God! can I ever make amends for this murder and this crime? No, indeed; sooner will the rivers and the sea dry up. Alas! how much better I should feel, and how much comfort I should take, if only once before he died I had held him in my arms! What? Yes, certainly, quite unclad, in order the better to enjoy him. If he is dead, I am very wicked not to destroy myself. "(Knight of the Cart)

There are no repercussions in this version, either -- no collapse of Camelot or war among the knights. If Paolo and Francesca were reading Chretien (or one of his imitators), I don't think they misinterpreted the story.

But I'd say they were probably reading the French Vulgate Lancelot-Grail cycle, because of the comment: "A Gallehault indeed, that book and he / who wrote it, too; that day we read no more" (Canto V, Inferno). There was no intermediary in Chretien's book. Even in this version, however, Lancelot and Guinevere only have the occasion to consummate their relationship because King Arthur is off trying to seduce a maiden in a castle he is supposed to be besieging (and he gets himself captured as a result, so that the next day Lancelot and the knights have to rescue him). The Arthurian myths were only just beginning to become Christianized and it's possible that Francesca and Paolo had an older, less moralizing version.

"I tend to ignore some of Dante's stickier bits. Gays and barristers in hell being one glaring example.

I think the Classics have to be read within the context of their times. I cringe when I read racial epithets in a work by Kipling or Twain; it bothers me that the authors were so benighted and ignorant, but the words didn't have the same connotations when they wrote them as they have now. A modern author using the same words should be condemned, but if we were to burn all the books that don't measure up to today's standards of tolerance, we wouldn't be left with much in the libraries -- and what would be left would be such insipid fare as to encourage illiteracy. But Dante isn't just an example of 13th century intolerance for homosexuality -- in fact, his view of Brunetto Latino is so favorable that it suggests that Dante was uncomfortable with the idea of men being condemned to Hell for sodomy. Compare his self-righteous attacks upon other sinners with his final remark about Brunetto: "And then he turned and seemed like one of those / who race across the fields to win the green / cloth at Verona; of the runners he / appeared to be the winner, not the loser" (Canto XV). I seem to recall a biography on Dante where he was worried about his son or nephew having fallen into a homosexual lifestyle -- worried for the boy's salvation, but was told by a friend that such acts were commonplace among the young at Rome, which may have softened his position on homosexuality.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Of course -- Rahael, 10:13:43 03/20/02 Wed

Great works of literature arise from certain contexts and cultures. Understanding and setting them within that context enhances the reading you get.

But I still get disturbed. It's because of Dante's very subtle portrait of Latino, his affection for him, that I was disturbed by their placement in hell. It was the subordination of human beings to strict points of theology and doctrine. The souls of unborn babies, the Ancient Philosophers and so on. Of course Dante tried hard to show that the Ancient philosophers were proto-Christians, and in many ways was far more inclusive than some of his contemporaries. It just gets me on a irrational level. I don't come away thinking Dante was prejudiced as such. I'm still left with the impression of a tolerant, humane and expansive mind.

Similarly I spent many many months working on various aspects of Calvinism, from the records of a consistory court in France to general essays regarding Calvinists and their beliefs. I could find myself passionately in their corner, explaining and explicating things from their own cultural perspective, but when I stepped away, I knew that I would be horrified by them were I to encounter them in the flesh.

The only author who I have truly been disturbed by is Somerset Maugham. I read and loved 'Of Human Bondage'. And I was proceeding through his short stories at a cracking pace, until I came to a particular paragraph. The story was set in Ceylon, and it came to a description of the Sinhalese women (simply bystanders in the story). Maugham described their ape-like features. Hardly looking human, according to him. I felt like I'd been slapped. I put the book down and I've never picked up anything by him again.

I took it rather personally; I found that its crudity in itself devalued any literary merit that could be claimed in his defence, for what can you say about the descriptive powers of an author who said that?

On the other hand, I read Philip Larkin, racist, misogynist and misanthrope (as revealed by his private letters) with nothing but pleasure. He doesn't even have an excuse, belonging as he does to the 20th century, where the prevailing culture was growing more tolerant. If his hatred of his fellow man creeps into his poetry (man hands on misery to man/it deepens like a coastal shelf/get out as soon as you can/and don't have any kids yourself)it is still expressed beautifully. Never come across anything clumsy or crude, or even overtly racist yet.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Of Human Weakness -- Sophist, 12:53:09 03/20/02 Wed

My favorite movie -- not the best, just my favorite -- is Casablanca. There are 2 scenes in it which really bother me. One is a gratuitous reference to Sam as "boy". The other comes when Rick says to Ilsa "I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of two people don't amount to a hill of beans...." Ok so far, but followed by the gratingly condescending "Someday you'll understand that." If I could somehow edit the movie to eliminate these two bits, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

I face this issue all the time in evaluating historical figures. What am I to think about racist comments by heroes of mine like Jefferson and Lincoln? Yes, the objectionable phrases amount to a few words out of hundreds of thousands they wrote. Yes, it is fashionable today to take words out of context to make them seem worse than they actually were. No, their contemporaries did not see them as racist. Still, the words remain, and they retain the power to hurt.

For better or worse, I forgive them (presumptiously, perhaps). Here's an analogy: if I judge the work of an artist, what do I look for? His/her best works, surely. It would make no sense to judge Michelangelo by his worst composition. Anyone can make bad art. I do it particularly well. Michelangelo is special because he has the ability to transcend the ordinary.

In the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address, Jefferson and Lincoln gave us ideals to live for. The lives they composed deserve to be judged by their best moments, not those in which they failed to live up to their own ideals. I can't and wouldn't edit their lives, but I watch the movie anyway and it's still my favorite.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Of Human Weakness -- Ian, 16:44:41 03/20/02 Wed

One view of this subject strikes me as very topical.

No one, regardless of their empathy or humanity, is immune from the depravity of their age.

That such great people as Lincoln or Jefferson could still fall prey to the misogyny and bigotry of their age makes them human, and therefore flawed. But still great.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Of Human Weakness -- Rahael, 10:06:44 03/21/02 Thu

Great points, Ian and Sophist.

Plenty of food for thought. And in away, the mature thing for us to do is not seek perfection in other human beings; not to ask our heros to be impeccable inside and out.

Still don't know whether I'll read Maugham again. It's not like he's a Joyce, or a Sterne or a Dante. He doesn't give me enough goodness to balance out the disturbing thoughts.

Btw, I think Kipling is underrated. A fine writer, especially Kim. ANd I think his views on Colonialism are very complex. He was inextricably bound up with the process, and he was a pretty tortured man. Bit like him going on about the glory of war, and militarism and all that, and then his son goes and dies in the great war.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Of Human Weakness -- Sophist, 10:58:15 03/21/02 Thu

Completely agree about Kipling, whom I rather like. Yeah, there's the whole "white man's burden" crap, but there's lots else as well.

Maugham, to me, is not worth it. Like you say, it's a balance, and the good there ain't good enough.

The US political system today puts everyone's flaws under a microscope. It's one of the least appealing aspects of current culture here. People's strengths get lost entirely because someone spots one flaw (or even many), and frequently the flaw has no relevance to the job. Drives me crazy.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Reading and Misreading text -- fresne, 11:34:57 03/20/02 Wed

Francesca was reading a particular version of the Arthurian legend, which is neither the Chretien de Troyes, nor one of the Lays of Marie de France (brief plug for Marie's brilliantly subtle story le fresne, the anti-Griselda).

Unfortunately, I'm at work (I'm actually virtuously on my lunch break.) and can't reference the particular story, so if you believe it to be the French Vulgate Lancelot-Grail, I'm willing to go with that.

In the version that Francesca is reading, Gallehault, serves as an intermediary between Gwen and Lance. Thus the name Gallehault came to be a synonymous word for panderer, which is how Francesca is using the word. "A Gallehault indeed, that book and he / who wrote it, too" Thus she slides the blame for her kissing Paolo and entering into adultery onto the book and its author.

However, if she'd gotten slightly farther, as opposed to getting distracted by kissing, she'd have gotten to the bit which basically said, adultery, a bad idea, don't do it.

Thus, Francesca's excuse for adultery, the book it made me do it, is a wonderfully subtle (on Dante's part) chiding against interpreting a text before you get to the end. Or for that matter blaming an author for your sins.

All of which is why I love Dante and why I'm perfectly willing to read him within the context of his times. He's so incredibly compassionate and well, the stone woman poems. Va va voom.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> You've made me like him even more. -- Rahael, 11:47:01 03/20/02 Wed

That is very subtle, and beautiful.

I guess I should pay more attention to the nuance.

[> [> [> [> Re: Conditional and Unconditional love -- dream of the consortium, 09:26:58 03/18/02 Mon

Ah, the old "conditional" versus "unconditional" love thing. It tends to get under my skin, because I was told once at a very vulnerable moment that I was loving someone "conditionally" by doing what I knew was right - for him and me. He couldn't see it then, because it was painful and sad. Maybe he can now. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is separate yourself from someone. Tara knew that the relationship was not only not good for her, but not good for Willow. It is very dangerous for someone who is manipulative and abusive to be in a relationship with someone who never holds the abuser accountable. Willow's soul was endangered by her actions (again, we come back to the idea that doing good can make you good, and doing bad can make you bad). Tara did the loving thing - which is to say, to paraphrase Joss, she gave Willow what she needed, not what she wanted. That's not putting a condition on her love; her love remains. She could have screamed and yelled and sulked and used the guilt card for her advantage. She could have just meekly accepted what had happened without complaint. Where would Willow be now in either case? She's doing very well now, in part because Tara did all she could for her, which was to let her know that she was acting in an unaccpetable fashion, and continue to treat her with respect, while enforcing a necessary distance. I just love Tara - she is far progressed in the art of being a whole person, in maturity and kindness and generousity. That sort of character is rare in popular culture - perhaps because to create a character with those attributes requires possessing them yourself to some degree?

I might add that the very appeal of the Spike/Buffy relationship is that he is tough on her in a way that is loving. It is in the moments when he forces her to look at the truth that he seems good for her. It's when his love takes a selfish turn that he fails her - either by letting her get away with too much ("I'm using you, and it's killing me" - and she was) or by trying to convince her she is something she is not. Spike is most loving when he forces Buffy to look at the truth, even if that may mean losing her (the speech at her bedside in NA). Spike's love becomes most unconditional when he is most like Tara, when he is willing to do the thing which is best for her, even if it means giving her up - not when he says he doesn't mind being used.

[> [> [> Re: Conditional and Unconditional love -- Isabel, 09:54:48 03/21/02 Thu

Perhaps I'm misinterpreting what people have been saying, but my definition of Unconditional Love and Conditional Love seems to differ from other people's here. (I'm sorry if I'm repeating someone. I could have missed it in one of the posts)

It seems to me that the arguments have been made that since Tara left Willow, her love is Conditional, and since Spike tried to stay with Buffy, his love is Unconditional. I posit that people are arguing that their actions prove the quality of their love rather than their love is something separate from their actions.

I've always interpreted 'Conditional Love' to be like a 'Fair Weather Friend.' It's easy to love someone who is beautiful and rich and successful. It's a love that's based on an aspect of the person and if that aspect changes, the love goes away. The wife isn't beautiful anymore and her husband divorces her for a new wife that is.

'Unconditional Love' is a 'Love is Blind,' 'Come Hell or High Water' situation. It's not based on a condition for love. No matter what happens, the love remains. That does not require the people to stay together. Some murderers in prison have mothers that still love them.

I've always thought that Anya and Xander's duet in OMwF expressed their worries that their love was conditional.

Xander: "Is she looking for a pot of gold?"
Anya: "Will I look good when I've gotten old?"
Xander: "Will our lives become too stressful if I'm never that successful?"
Anya: "When I get so old and wrinkly that I look like David Brinkly."

I agree with people that argue that Tara did what she had to to save herself and Willow. Just because you love someone, it doesn't mean you have to take what they dish out. I think the fact that Tara still loves Willow after what she did to her is a good indication that her love is unconditional. (Just thought of this: Willow thought that Tara wouldn't love her if she wasn't Superwitch.)

On the other hand, I argue that we have yet to see if Spike's love of Buffy is unconditional. And don't assume I'm saying this b/c I don't like Spike. I adore his character, he's my favorite. I like the Spuffy relationship. Yes, Spike has taken a lot of garbage from Buffy; he's tried to be what he thinks she wants in a lover; he kept his promise to her to protect Dawn after she died, BUT I'll withold judgement until Buffy is no longer the Slayer. If Spike still loves her as adamantly as ever one month after she becomes a completely normal woman, then I'll agree his love is unconditional. This scenario is extremely unlikely and will probably never happen, but I think her being the Slayer is pivotal to his love.

[> [> Re: The Garden of Love -- Thanks Rah! Awesome as usual, 09:28:35 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> IL Paradiso* -- Sophist, 09:36:22 03/18/02 Mon

Beautifully said, Rahael. I have a couple of points to add.

About Protestant doctrine. Calvin argued that grace was sufficient for salvation. However, that grace could not be achieved by any act of the believer, but was a gift from God. Nothing done by the believer alone could result in justification. That required God's gift of grace. This reasoning led to Calvin's doctrine of the elect.

The later theologian Arminius made substantially the argument you cited as Protestant doctrine. His position was rejected at the Synod of Dort. Protestant churches today range from strictly Calvinist to Arminian. The fundamental distinction of Protestant from Catholic -- justification by faith alone, not works -- generally remains.

I bring this up because it affects the way we view Spike. If Spike is justified in Calvinist terms, nothing he can do himself will cause that, and nothing he has done in the past will prevent it. God decides.

In more liberal Protestant terms, Spike has it within himself to achieve grace by sincere acceptance of God and repentance (i.e., remorse). Buffy's love may provide a motive for him to do this, but by itself cannot do more.

In Catholic terms of salvation, Spike needs to repent of past evil and perform acts of grace and contrition. The Church has, to be honest, waffled on whether certain evil deeds are redeemable. Spike's past is heinous; whether that leaves him in hell or purgatory, Dante alone knows.

I agree with you completely about the modern world being more tolerant, understanding and forgiving. The US today is far more moral today than it was 50 years ago precisely because we are better able to treat with dignity people who were condemned by standard religious doctrine.

I've been thinking hard about this issue since your last post and since the exchange I had with various posters about the morality and efficacy of punishment. I'm not sure I can articulate my view with much precision. This I do believe: Spike can change. He can commit to moral action in the future. Whether that amounts to redemption or not, I don't yet know.

Dyna has a great post above which characterizes Buffy in terms far different than those LeeAnn uses. I agree completely with Dyna. I would add that Spike has behaved with Buffy, to some degree, the way Buffy has behaved with Willow and Xander. Spike has suffered so Buffy doesn't have to. I wonder whether we'll reach the point where Buffy includes Spike in the group of those for whom she will suffer so that they need not.

*The word paradise, as you probably know, comes from the Old Persian word for "garden".

[> [> [> Re: IL Paradiso* -- Rahael, 10:23:46 03/18/02 Mon

I didn't know that. And it adds so much to my enjoyment of that poem now that I do.

Thanks for elaborating on those points of doctrine.

All those different Protestant doctrinal stances were fought over bitterly, but from afar, look pretty piddly.

The point I made about the outside showing signs of the salvation within in Protestant thinking is, you are right, not classic Calvinist theology. It's what many English Calvinists had to argue to rescue themselves from accusations of antinominanism. That is those who were of the elect could commit any crime they liked - but they would still be elect no matter what.

The whole predestination/works tension in Calvinist theology comes not from Calvin himself (who only devoted only one paragraph to predestination out of the 15 volumes of his 'Institutes') It's all Theodore Beza's fault!!!

The whole of Protestantism is just subcultures within subcultures. There's Luther, then there's Calvin; then Beza, then Zurich Protestantism; there's Arminianism which was accused of being proto Catholic. In 17th Century England you had a whole spectrum of Protestantism, ranging from Arminians like Herbert, conservative Presbyterians like Denzel Holles, then Radical protestants like Cromwell; then at the furthest reaches you had the Diggers, the Baptists, the Quakers...the list is endless.

I find the whole thing utterly fascinating. When you look at 17th century England - religious fervour, political radicalism, and the growth of scienctific inquiry as we would recognise it today - all intersect each other.

Have you read Iain Pears' 'Instance of the Fingerpost'? That's really the best historical fiction I've come across.

[> [> [> [> I can't spell. That should have been "antinomianism". I think! -- Rahael, 10:26:28 03/18/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> Would that be "antinominalism"?? -- Simone, 17:11:32 03/18/02 Mon

I'm not familiar with the term and I know next to nothing about Calvinism (or theology in general, for that matter), but nominalism - as I understand it from reading Ockham - is the doctrine that universals are merely concepts, names related to mental states, and that the individuals falling under a universal category need not share any properties other than that name. In other words, they need not have an Aristotelian "essence" in common - just characteristics which we perceive as similar enough to call by the same name in all said individuals.

So antinominalism would be a sort of extreme essentialism: the idea that a group of individuals (e.g. the "elect") are what they are solely in virtue of having - or of participating in - an ontologically distinct essence, quality or form, regardless of all apparent dissimilarities. It seems to fit what you're saying about Calvinism but you may very well be referring to something altogether different.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Nope. The antinomians were different. -- Sophist, 20:40:20 03/18/02 Mon

They believed they had direct communion with God, that He spoke to their hearts. With this direct knowledge of God and his laws, they did not need any written laws. Specifically, they did not need written rules about sacraments or the means of grace. The word antinomian means "against law" from "anti" and from the Greek "nomos", which is usually "law" but also has other meanings.

Needless to say, antinomians could come across as pretty self-righteous. They were especially hard for Puritans to deal with because many parts of Puritan doctrine seemed to support the antinomian arguments. For example, Anne Hutchinson was an antinomian and used sermons by John Cotton (Cotton Mather's maternal g'father) to justify her actions. Cotton disavowed her shortly before she was banished. I actually kind of sympathize with the Puritans here -- our present world doesn't make me very comfortable with people claiming a hotline to God.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Thanks, that makes a lot more sense (scary, scary people)! -- Simone, 06:54:20 03/19/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> Cavaliers and Roundheads -- Sophist, 10:37:37 03/18/02 Mon

I've never read Pears' book. I generally read only non-fiction. That's probably why I'm so impressed by the literary analyses here, and by the writing ability of the posters.

I'm a committed secularist, but for some reason the Protestant/Catholic doctrinal disputes fascinate me. The period from 1517 to 1688 is my second favorite (to US 1760-1876), and I have dozens of books on various religious and political events, mostly English, of that time.

[> [> [> [> [> 1647 - the most exciting year of English history. -- Rahael, 06:22:56 03/20/02 Wed

Anyone who has read the Putney debates cannot fail to fall in love with that period. To hear the voice of ordinary people - and how intelligent, alive and dynamic they are!
It is characteristic of that year that we have a man like Rainsborough, never noticed for anything before to say this:

"For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he; and therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not bound in a strict sense to that government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under."

Rainsborough never really rises to prominence again. He dies in an skirmish at night some years later.

During the Putney debates, streched over 3 days, you can positively cut the atmosphere with a knife - the tiredness, the crowded, hot room, the passion with which everyone spoke. And it's the icing on the cake on an incredibly dynamic, action packed year. I did a timeline for 1647, and I had a significant event/document/speech/battle for nearly every single day of that year.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Yeah! You got the Rainsborough quote in. -- Sophist, 08:45:01 03/20/02 Wed

1647 has to be near the top of any list. Let's see: 1066 (duh); 1215; 1265; 1399; 1485; 1536; 1647; 1688; 1776 (and not just cuz I'm a colonial); 1940. These would be my top 10. 1647 would certainly be in the top 3, along with 1066 and 1940. I'm not sure it matches those 2 for world historic drama, but you can feel the fervor in the country. As many pamphlets as we have posts. I hope it's not this hard to vote on the ATP Buffy Awards.

In the movie, I want to see JM play Lilburne.

[> Darkness -- Malandanza, 10:36:55 03/18/02 Mon

"she's too important to be relegated to the shadows but too dangerous to be fully integrated into society"

I realize I'm deviating markedly from the main point of your essay, but Buffy as a source of danger is too interesting a topic to me to let not address it.

While Normal Again is the most prominent evidence we have of just how dangerous an out- of-control Buffy can be, it is certainly not the first time we've seen her like this.

Dawn has faced Buffy twice now -- in NA and before with the pull-back-the-curtain spell where a dazed Buffy knocked her into a wall. I would guess that some scary Buffy-centric nightmares would be in order.

When Buffy's demon roommate was stealing her "soul," we also saw Buffy behaving a bit erratically - - NA was the second time Buffy knocked Xander unconscious (Oz also got beaten).

And speaking of Oz, Buffy's werewolf hunts had to unnerve him. Her conversation with him during the Veruca affair had some rather serious intimidation going.

Bad Girls, of course, had Buffy nearly out-of-control in her wilding spree with Faith. Then the subsequent knifing of Faith and the battle between Faith and Buffy in L.A.

There was Doggleganger Buffy in the Wishworld and Buffy as a huntress at the beginning of season six.

Then there was the entire alley filled with vamp-hookers -- all massacred in the blink of an eye. And the casual snapping of a beaten demon's neck in Family followed by a flash of anger (before she recovered herself) when Tara admitted to having performed the spell.

My feeling is that Buffy's connection to the First Slayer comes to the forefront when she is in stressful situations (or drugged -- much as Angelus took over when Angel was drugged). In battles, Buffy's humanity is submerged and the Slayer emerges -- but so far she has a tight enough control over herself that she has been able to regain control once the battle is over. I think Spike was playing a very dangerous game by trying to lead Buffy into the darkness -- he would not have liked the result, nor would the denizens of Sunnydale's underworld. Buffy needs the guilt and overactive conscience to keep herself from slipping into real darkness.

[> [> Re: Darkness -- celticross, 12:02:37 03/18/02 Mon

" Buffy needs the guilt and overactive conscience to keep herself from slipping into real darkness."

However, there's a fine line there. Yes, with half a chance (and some stress), Buffy could go sliding into violence and cruelty easily. But she also cannot deny her dark side and it would be much safer for her and everyone around her if she didn't. She's at her best when she's herself, not just Buffy the Normal Girl, and not just The Slayer, but both. When she uses her mind and her wits (Normal Girl) and her strength and penchant for violence (Slayer) to defeat evil. But as soon as things calm down again, she takes one look at her the interior darkness and runs screaming. Trying to convince Buffy's she belongs in the dark may not be Spike's smartest move, but he does know her well enough to see the darkness lurking under the surface, and call her on it.

[> [> [> Re: Darkness -- Malandanza, 09:43:04 03/19/02 Tue

"Yes, with half a chance (and some stress), Buffy could go sliding into violence and cruelty easily. But she also cannot deny her dark side and it would be much safer for her and everyone around her if she didn't...she uses her mind and her wits (Normal Girl) and her strength and penchant for violence (Slayer) to defeat evil. But as soon as things calm down again, she takes one look at her the interior darkness and runs screaming. Trying to convince Buffy's she belongs in the dark may not be Spike's smartest move, but he does know her well enough to see the darkness lurking under the surface, and call her on it."

I agree that it would be best for Buffy to follow Angel's example: to recognize the darkness inside. In fact, admitting to herself that this dark, primeval force impelling her towards destruction does exist would allow her to fight against it more effectively (as Angel is cautious about giving Angelus any sort of opening). However, I doubt that Buffy will ever be able to integrate the darker aspects of personality with her normal side, so if the choice is a life of denial and escapism or total immersion in darkness, I have to hope for the former, for Buffy's sake and for the sake of those around her (from a dramatic point of view, I'd love to see an out-of-control Slayer running amok in Sunnydale and sleeping on a bed of bones -- Sunnydale demons have become too complacent).

And I do think that escapism and denial have their place. Back when role playing games first became popular, there was much discussion about the deleterious effect they had on the impressionable minds of their young adherents -- talk of suicide and becoming lost in fantasy worlds. Gary Gygax (D&D creator) responded by pointing out that role-players had a suicide rate that was 1% of the national average (not that anyone paid attention to him) which he attributed to role- players engaging in social activities, making friends, etc. -- activities having a negative correlation with suicide. I believe that he was correct, that socializing (especially among groups of people who might otherwise have been isolated) does help prevent suicide, but I also think that escape into a fantasy world played a role. After all, the players might have been on the lowest rung of the social ladder, but in their fantasy world, they were mighty paladins slaying demons and dragons and rescuing beautiful maidens (or, if they were like my friends, evil half-orc warriors, slaughters paladins, defiling temples and carrying off beautiful maidens).

I am also reminded of a short story, by Guy de Maupassant, The Little Walk, where the protagonist had drifted through life without much self-examination -- only to discover how empty his life was and how unhappy he was when he did do some soul-searching. It ends with his body being found hanging from a tree in the park.

And then there's the Total Perspective Vortex from Hitchhiker's Guide -- too much reality is a bad thing (although the live-action roleplaying games leave me a bit unsettled, though -- too much like blurring the distictions between fantasy and reality).

Finally, it was not Spike's intent to help Buffy by pointing out her dark side, but t help himself by playing upon her deepest insecurities.

[> [> Disagree on a point -- Robert, 13:40:22 03/19/02 Tue

>> "While Normal Again is the most prominent evidence we have of just how dangerous an out-of- control Buffy can be, it is certainly not the first time we've seen her like this.
Dawn has faced Buffy twice now -- in NA and before with the pull-back-the-curtain spell where a dazed Buffy knocked her into a wall. I would guess that some scary Buffy-centric nightmares would be in order."

The episode you are referring to is "No Place Like Home". Buffy was not out of control. She was in control, but with incomplete information. She knew that her mother was ill -- possibly gravely ill. She had good reason to suspect that Joyce's illness was magical in origin. She knew that Dawn's presence was magical in origin. Due to her incomplete information, she misinterpreted Dawn's actions as a threat to Joyce. This is not the same as out of control.

[> [> [> Re: Disagree on a point -- Ian, 16:19:22 03/20/02 Wed

You've got a point, but I the degree to which I disagree depends on just what you mean by "darkness."

If by darkness you mean violence, violence can be a justified (and justifiable) response to a situation. There is such a thing as self-defence, and Buffy moreover defends those who cannot successfully resist themselves. An act can be righteous and yet remain violent. By the same token of course, violence can rob a righteous stance of its morality. It's all so dependent on point of view.

Also, "too dangerous to be integrated into society" is a label that has been applied to everyone from anarchists to homosexuals. Often the forces or concerns that Society deems "dangerous" are in fact efforts to correct an ill in society. To take it even further (which has often happened in real life), Buffy represents a truly empowered individual; she is both moral and strong. Human civilization is tragically disinclined to correct itself, and is terribly resistant to those who would alter the status quo, for whatever reasons.

This reminds me of the recent link on the board to that wacky mayor in Florida who banned Satan from influencing the towns population. Her reasoning? Kids were dressing in black and wearing Halloween costumes. The "dark forces" behind this threatened her narrow conception of right and wrong, and made these innocent acts assume dangerous intentions.

Dangerous, evil, corrupt, perverts, and even "darkness" are labels that have been applied to the greatest people the human species has produced. Yes, Buffy is "dangerous," but mostly in the best sense of the word.

[> [> [> [> Re: Disagree on a point -- Ian, 16:21:05 03/20/02 Wed

Corrected first sentence. Oops.

You've got a point, but the degree to which I disagree depends on just what you mean by "darkness."

[> [> [> [> Dangerous -- Sophist, 09:09:19 03/21/02 Thu

Good points. Reminds me of a scene in LOTR, when Pippin asks Gandalf if Denethor is dangerous. Gandalf says, paraphrasing, "Of course he's dangerous. So am I. More dangerous than anyone you will ever meet unless you come before the Dark Lord himself." We are all dangerous; it's how we use it that counts.

[> [> [> Not just incomplete information -- Malandanza, 08:52:49 03/21/02 Thu

"The episode you are referring to is 'No Place Like Home'. Buffy was not out of control. She was in control, but with incomplete information. She knew that her mother was ill -- possibly gravely ill. She had good reason to suspect that Joyce's illness was magical in origin. She knew that Dawn's presence was magical in origin. Due to her incomplete information, she misinterpreted Dawn's actions as a threat to Joyce. This is not the same as out of control."

Out-of-control is a bit strong for that incident, but I would say that she was not in full possession of her faculties. She was wandering around the house in a drug-induced haze (foreshadowed by Riley's parting comment just before Buffy began the spell -- "have a nice trip" -- plus, incense) when she confronted Dawn. Buffy's behavior (knocking her 14-year old sister into the wall) was not merely a normal act based on incomplete information -- we have not seen her assault friends or enemies with such slight provocation before. Compare her reaction to Dawn with her reaction to Tara in Family: yes, there was an initial flash of anger before she had all the information when she found out that Tara's spell had almost killed them all, but she didn't hurt Tara, nor did she make veiled threats to Tara as Buffy did to Dawn before leaving her alone in the house. In any event, from Dawn's perspective it must have been the most terrifying moment of her life (and might still be so -- although her time on the tower probably rates pretty high on the her list of terrifying experiences).

[> I have to disagree about Buffy... -- Ixchel, 21:23:41 03/18/02 Mon

IMHO, she is at heart a kind person. And while some of her actions this season have been distressing, I believe I understand them (not condone, understand). She is depressed, confused, frightened, lost, and conflicted.

In the same way, I believe I understand Spike's actions.


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