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What if ... the Soul Glutton had devoured Spike`s soul?

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Double Dutchess View Post
    I didn't mean to say that most people are as bad as soulless demons. What I was trying to say is that soulless Spike has the capacity to reach more or less the same level of goodness --in actions if not in thoughts-- the average person has. Without a soul, he may never be "perfectly good" (whatever that means) but he can be good enough to get by in practice.
    The moment he thought the chip had stopped working he tried to murder a girl in "Smashed". How is he then even remotely comparable to the average person even in practice? Remember, Spike wasn't refraining from killing people in Season 4-6 because he wanted to. He didn't have a choice.

    He wasn't even a reformed killer at this point. The atrocities committed by him and the body count to his name would make even the most sadistic and prolific killers in history blush. And not only did he not regret these crimes but he'd still be committing these crimes if he had the physical capacity to do so. The show even compares him to being "like a serial killer in prison." You acknowledge that his thoughts and actions are two different things, and that whilst he can't be good in thought he can at least fake being good in action, but are you saying you could honestly be comfortable being with someone who you know wants to kill innocent people but just can't put this physically into practice?

    To be clear, I'm not trying to suggest it's wrong to like Spike as a character. I don't think there's anything wrong or shameful whatsoever about enjoying a fictional character no matter how good or evil they are. But if we're having a serious discussion where we're equating soulless Spike with regular people or whether it'd be fine or healthy for Buffy to be in a permanent relationship with soulless Spike, then I do think this moral relativism is downplaying the reality of who Spike is. I don't actually believe you'd be comfortable being in a relationship with Ted Bundy so I'm not sure why Buffy would or should be comfortable being in a relationship with soulless Spike.
    Last edited by vampmogs; 05-05-19, 06:47 AM.
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    • #32

      ("poor thing, she's been conditioned to think the soul is necessary so she's not really understanding Spike"/ "she's like this because of her past trauma"/ "she's just depressed and taking it all out on poor Spike".)

      she's been conditioned to think the soul is necessary
      Yes...she's been "conditioned" but "conditioning" implies there's a "non-conditioned" place to be and, IMO, there isn't. She's no more or less conditioned than anyone else, in text or outside. No more "conditioned" than people who "believe" in the "obvious", in "commonsense" (SpuffyGlitz - you've read Mythologies - I know you have ). When I use the term "ideology" I use it in an Althusserian sense: "Those who are in ideology believe themselves by definition outside ideology: one of the effects of ideology is the practical denegation of the ideological character of ideology by ideology: ideology never says, ‘I am ideological’. It is necessary to be outside ideology, i.e. in scientific knowledge, to be able to say: I am in ideology (a quite exceptional case) or (the general case): I was in ideology. As is well known, the accusation of being in ideology only applies to others, never to oneself (unless one is really a Spinozist or a Marxist, which, in this matter, is to be exactly the same thing). Which amounts to saying that ideology has no outside (for itself), but at the same time that it is nothing but outside (for science and reality)".

      "she's like this because of her past trauma"
      Yes, she is...there isn't a single bloody character in the 'verse or outside who's not like they are because of trauma. S7 brings psychoanalysis to the fore, if we do something similar then we've all undergone trauma, trauma that's repressed. The initial separation from the mother, the repression that comes about as a result of Oedipus etc.).

      I don't think she is "depressed". I think it's melancholia - a failure in the mourning process. I think Joyce is the absent presence in Buffy's life and I think her "depression" is directly related to Joyce's death. I think Holden Webster possibly talks bollocks...Psychoanalysis 101. I think there's a possibility he gives the analysis he does because he's a man...not a monster. I think the text has a much better understanding of Freud than HW.

      As for Smashed, Spike is of two minds. He's talking to himself. We have no way of knowing whether he would have killed the women if the chip hadn't fired. We presume he will (perhaps he presumes he will) because of the way he's been represented in the the same way that Andrew knows he's English because of representation (Dr Who). Similarly, Buffy thinks the "muggers" are vampires...because of her expectations of the past (what would have happened if she'd staked before she kicked?). But the past, our knowledge of the past (history) is partial (this is one of the functions of the brief appearance of the Guardian). He's trying to make a "grand gesture" to prove his evilness but S6 is about the banality of evil...and the banality of good. ANYA: I'm serious. Responsible people are ... always so concerned with ... being good all the time, that when they finally get a taste of being bad ... they can't get enough. It's like all (gestures) kablooey. Xander says badness is seductive. What's his (the text's) point? Can goodness be seductive to a bad person? There's probably a few Christian martyrs/saints who'd testify to it.

      Here’s why I think there’s a massive problem in relation to Spike and the soul. The text's thinking on the soul (as made manifest in various characters) has changed. Was what we knew before, the text's mythology or the belief system of various characters (IDK)? In the West, the soul has traditionally been privileged over and above the body. The difficulty is that soul (spirit/intellect) aligns with the masculine, the body with the feminine. Men are reasonable; women are emotional. Men are culture, women are nature. In effect, when women reject the body they reject themselves (and, it’s important to note that Joyce, the mother, IS “The Body”. Count the number of times “mothers” are mentioned in S7. Starting in the first episode with “Mom hair” (that she’s like a mom is of concern to Buffy”); through Beneath You (Madonna & Child icon); through all of the appearances of Joyce; the Mission (Madonna & Child icon, statue of the Virgin); Woods’ mother, Spike’s mother. In Chosen, it’s only when The First mentions “Mom” that Buffy rallies herself. IMO, there's a massive problem with "the soul" because of "touch" and Touched. Buffy claims Spike gave her strength...what was the nature of that strength...what does it mean? Oh wait...they don't know.

      "The disparagement of touch has a long history in the west and mostly occurs through the conceptual separation of body and soul and the aggrandizement of the latter. As Anne Davenport states in reference to Aristotle’s writings, ‘The highest rank among terrestrial animals is occupied . . . by the rational animal, human being, in whom a new and final principle, the rational soul, is added to the sensory soul, making him the most “perfect” terrestrial nature.’8 She continues, ‘While touch, to Aristotle, is the most basic sense, the sense without which no sensitivity and intelligence are possible, sight is heralded as the supreme sense, yielding the “purest” pleasure, paradigmatic of the ultimate perfection of sensoriality.’9 This equation which links vision to spirit and intellect has stayed with us throughout western history. The Enlightenment with its emphasis on rationality and science continued the onslaught against touch".

      Check just how many times “vision” or the ocular is alluded to in S7, particularly as a metaphor for “knowing”. Include in this windows, eyes, perspective etc. Look at the function of "light" (light can clarify, it can also blind). Ask why there's 7/8 unlit light sources in the Stranger's house. Look at the emphasis on showing, on display, on seeing and been seen. Look at the purpose of shadows - the shadow caster, the shadow men. Ask why this seems to allude to the Allegory of the Cave.

      "Although there were moments in western history when physical sensation was not underrated, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the privileging of intellect to the exclusion of sensation began to be challenged in an articulate and significant way. Prior to and during the Cold War, the threat of atomic annihilation made many people begin to fear the reign of science and rationalism, which was held responsible for the developments of the Final Solution, the Eugenics Movement, and the creation of increasingly more effective weapons such as nerve gas." This is a fear of Man - not monster. Ask why the device both Spike and Xander are "sacrificed" on seems to allude to Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man.

      "This challenge contributed significantly to the development of European and American philosophy. Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s great treatise The Phenomenology of Perception10 was first published in 1945, but the English translation by Colin Smith was not published until 1962. Merleau-Ponty was an early existentialist and phenomenologist. His ideas of an embodied consciousness and the underlying supposition that all knowledge is experience-based challenged the Cartesian duality of mind/body, subject/object, intellectualism/sensualism, and exemplify the move away from Rationalism. Feminist criticism, as expounded by thinkers such as Luce Irigaray, Elizabeth Grosz, and Hélène Cixous, has drawn heavily on his work, and has used it as the springboard to argue against what is seen as a ‘phallogocularcentric’ world (phallus=male, logos=rationality, ocular=sight)".

      SpuffyGlitz, it's for this reason I think BtVS is - ultimately - a feminist text.

      flow: get back to you on "work". I'm in a similar position.
      Last edited by TriBel; 05-05-19, 10:11 AM.


      • #33
        Double Dutchess
        I love soulless Spike as much as souled Spike, and what I don't like about the strong emphasis that is put on the importance of the soul, is that it undermines how far he got without one. To me, soulless Spike is a glass half full, not half empty.
        I am completely on board with you on that Yes, Spike tries to bite a woman in an alley. Is it because he his inherently eveil, nothing but evil always was and always willl be and therefore returns to evil deeds the second he thinks he has a chance to do so?

        The text allows this interpretation, maybe even supports it. But it is also possible that Spike was in a process of being reformed and reforming himself and simply experienced a major relapse. Which would not necessarily mean he would not be able to pursue his path to goodness further as soon as he recovered from the relapse. And after hiding the dead body of the poor woman in the alley behind a dumpster. Or maybe he would have recoiled in the very last moment. We don`t know. The text allows this interpretation as well.

        Double Dutchess:
        In my view, Buffy and Spike messed up more or less equally in S6.
        Again, I completely agree. I don`t think either one`s behaviour is an excuse for the other one`s behaviour. But in season 6 there are examples of Spike`s behaviour that support your thesis of the glass being half full. There are situations, when his Actions aren`t inherently evil and do not benefit him. He failed on many other occasions and sometimes was outright wrong or wronged Buffy. But seeing his good and his bad actions in season 6 I always see someone who is torn between two sides and hasn`t yet managed to find his way to one or the other. I am not saying he would have made it to the good side safely even without a soul. But I see that he was trying at least sometimes.

        I am also aware that this would not have been a great comfort to the poor woman in the alley :-)

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        • #34
          For me I think the text directly answered the question by Spike failing to keep to something he thought he could confidently state was a line he wouldn't cross, to hurt Buffy. I think the text deliberately showed that he was torn and he could lean one way or the other at different points, but at the end of the day that he was unreliable and inherently limited without his soul/because of his nature. It concluded that he would eventually fail because even the best of what he had achieved when inspired by his love and commitment to Buffy and his wish to be with her, couldn't reliably be seen to inform his choices or even mean that he could meet his own affirmations of how he could be trusted. So yeah, for me S6 directly addresses his potential that had been shown and I really feel that the show drew his story inline with the consistent message that a soul is needed and makes a meaningful difference that can't be substituted (and that it deliberately intended to do that). The soul has in-verse specific context to its importance that starts to get stretched if you look to transpose it to real life directly. When it comes to the importance of the soul in BtVS I feel there is a consistent message and with Spike it was shown that without one he would eventually fail. I will just have to happily agree to disagree to the idea that it left that question ambiguous.

          I also really dislike the leaning towards implying that Buffy just lacked appreciation for Spike that you sometimes see in fandom or the victim blaming that sometimes happens (and often features in fanfics). This and the dismissal of the importance of the soul are the main reasons I tend to avoid fics set in S6 or later. It bothers me on a different level when it is part of a story post S6 canon.
          Last edited by Stoney; 05-05-19, 07:49 PM.


          • #35
            @vampmogs: When I said "soulless Spike has the capacity to reach more or less the same level of goodness --in actions if not in thoughts-- the average person has" I didn't mean to imply that he had already reached this level in S5-6. It was still very, very much a work in progress then. Maybe I should have said "potential" instead of "capacity"?

            The way I see it, more or less (I know it's far from being a perfect analogy), is like a class of students. Almost all of them have the intellectual capacity to achieve a grade A+, but for them to actually achieve this is rare. Most of them are a bit lazy when it comes to studying, or they have other things on their mind, so the average grade in the class is a C+. There is one student who somehow ended up in their class in spite of being not very smart. He will never be able to get an average grade of A or B, no matter how hard he works, but with exceptional effort he could still achieve a C or C+. Fortunately this student is very motivated, and he manages to achieve that level, after putting in several years of hard work. At first he had to be locked up in the library and forced to study, but later he got into it and managed on his own. So, eventually he manages to reach the same average grade level as most of the other students in the class. He'll never be an intellectual, but he gets by. Of course he's better at some subjects than others. He actually gets an A+ on Heroics and Saving People, but his score on Empathy For People He Doesn't Know will probably never be higher than a D at most. Sometimes his discipline lapses and he is close to getting an F, but with the help of his study buddies he manages to avoid this. Very different from his past, when he got an F on each of his subjects (and ate the teachers).

            Back to the reality of the show, and Spike trying to kill the girl in Smashed. That's indeed a major lapse; he's very clearly not there yet. But the scene also shows that he is no longer at his pre-chip level of evilness. He has to talk himself into it, whereas S2-or-earlier Spike would not have hesitated for a second. (Of course, as flow pointed out, for the poor girl this would have made zero difference, had he succeeded.)

            However, the original question was about Spike losing his soul in S10, and whether he should be staked / could still be in a relationship with Buffy. S10 soulless Spike is not the same as soulless Spike in S5-6. After years of having had a soul, being a hero and a champion and working with Angel's team as well as the Scoobies, when losing his soul I don't think he would be right back where he was at the end of S6. I am quite certain that at this stage he would no longer be making the same mistakes as in S5-S6, and he would be in a much better position to maintain a sufficient level of goodness. (To go back to the studying analogy, he loses the miracle brain upgrade that suddenly allowed him to get a grade B, or maybe even A, grade average without having to work very hard for it. But he still remembers the subjects and he is now best friends with the best students in the class. And because he wants to remain best friends with them and stay in the class, he is now even more motivated to study very hard than when he originally got the upgrade.)

            Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
            To be clear, I'm not trying to suggest it's wrong to like Spike as a character. I don't think there's anything wrong or shameful whatsoever about enjoying a fictional character no matter how good or evil they are.
            Thank you, but I never thought you were trying to suggest that. I like pre-chipped Spike a lot too, and he was a Ted Bundy for sure, with zero interest in being anything else.
            Last edited by Double Dutchess; 05-05-19, 11:41 PM.


            • #36
              Originally posted by Double Dutchess View Post
              I like pre-chipped Spike a lot too, and he was a Ted Bundy for sure, with zero interest in being anything else.
              Nah, Bundy was a no holds barred psychopath. Spike is, at best, a sociopath. Angelus, however fit the profile perfectly. This was their fundamental difference after all and the writers took pains to point it out.

              I think this is why we often wonder at the differences between souled and unsouled Spike. He wasn’t quite the monster his sires were.S10 made a clear statement that Spike himself didn’t trust the monster but it doesn’t stop us [me] from speculating.

              Flow chooses an interesting source for the argument. Barb is a hard redemptionista. If you’ve read all her fiction, souled Spike is, basically, contemptuous of a Buffy who finds anything attractive in his unsouled counterpart. Buffy is indifferent to a souled up Spike. She has built a world around the question of whether an unsouled demon and a damaged slayer can make a life. She believes they can and goes on to actually write a bazillion words to prove it. She convinced me enough that I squirm at Spike ‘s declaration However, I think there is good canon reason to accept Buffy felt a solid connection to unsouled Spike. I think her shock at his betrayal is enough that she would give him a chance. Ironically I don’t accept that Buffy would stake him as Barb surmises

              Spike isn’t human and as a character he can’t really relate to the real world. Real People don’t lose their souls, they don’t ‘eat’ people. The best we can gain from him as as a character is speculating about how you handle society if you care or don’t care. We can speculate about motivation, intention and outcome. Unsouled Spike could potentially do everything perfectly and be a Champion simply because he loved a woman. His souled version may do exactly the same for no other reason than it was right. This is why he is interesting.

              Buffy is the wild card...


              • #37
                Originally posted by kamw30 View Post
                Nah, Bundy was a no holds barred psychopath. Spike is, at best, a sociopath. Angelus, however fit the profile perfectly. This was their fundamental difference after all and the writers took pains to point it out.
                To be honest I don't know much about Ted Bundy besides that he was a serial killer, and Spike used to fit that description. But it's true that Spike and Angel were very different types of killers.

                [Barb] convinced me enough that I squirm at Spike ‘s declaration
                Same here! I'm a universalista first and foremost, but a redemptionista next and I'm not sure if that's because I love Barb's fic so much and find it so believable, or the other way around.