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  • #16
    I just thought I’d pop in and share a couple of thoughts on the Rewatch Revival thread before AmericanAurora posts the second part of Seeing Red.

    Originally posted by Stoney View Post
    Day 2 of the S6 whizz through and it's After Life and Flooded today.

    The season's focus on consequences is really pushed in After Life and the hitchhiker that is gaining physical presence as Buffy is feeling so distanced from everything around her. That initial walk through Revello with Dawn is so well done to show how deeply affected she has been and the results of the trauma she's experienced. The effect on her sense of presence, on the connections around her, and her engagement in her life are such major factors in what Buffy is trying to deal with on her return. How life continued without her/because of the loss of her, the changes that have happened, feeds into that sense of disconnection. And there is no escaping that they have all changed whilst they have been apart and working out how to be together again isn't going to be easy. In That Old Gang of Mine we see this reflected too, how experiences inform who we are alongside how people can change, how we respond to the choices of others and the consequences of those choices. If it had truly been a relief for Buffy to have escaped where she had been things wouldn't have been as difficult but it still would never have been what it was again, because life and death has happened in between.

    I actually quite like the metaphor in Flooded of the pressure building up under the surface as the pipes are creaking and straining before bursting. It just appeals to me. As Dipstick raised, the issue of Buffy's finances are certainly a contentious one but her finances and depression just aren't issues that are easily solved.
    I also like how it’s not so much a trauma that Buffy experienced that’s affecting her as they walk through the house in After Life. It’s the trauma she’s experiencing at that very moment.

    The metaphor in Flooded is strong, both the building pressure and then the sense of being knee deep in the murkiness of life.

    It is fascinating to look back at season six and see just how long this series spent on the sustained theme of Buffy’s depression. It’s not just a jokey, temporary down-in-the-dumps but a true, lingering depression. I can’t think of any other shows in a similar genre that spent quite so much time on a mature topic like that.

    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a semi-contemporary of Buffy, flirted with the concept in a few episodes. Garak was a supporting character on the series and a member of an alien species known as the Cardassians. They used to occupy the titular space station and the neighbouring world of Bajor. Garak was a spy who had fallen out of favour when the Cardassians cut their losses and left Bajor (and our Starfleet leads came in to help get Bajor back on its feet.). Garak was now left in exile on the station run by humans and Bajors who kept their lights on too bright. To cope with his depression he started abusing an anti-torture device that stimulated his pleasure centres. We find this out when the device breaks down and endangers his life. But at the episode’s end, Garak seems to be dealing fairly well with his issues.

    And then in season four episode, Starfleet everyman Chief O’Brien is sentenced for a crime he didn’t commit. He has 20 years worth of false memories of a prison sentence implanted. He returns to the station, and his wife and child as a broken and depressed man, haunted by these memories. When O’Brien nearly hits his daughter Molly, he decides that the station is better off without a scarred and damaged man like him, and he attempts suicide.



    The station’s doctor is able to stop O’Brien and talk him down. He also prescribes O’Brien medication but he states “It’s a treatment not a cure. It will prevent hallucinations, take the edge of the depression, but that’s all it will do. It won’t take away the memories or the feelings.”

    And yet, we never heard of his depression ever again.

    DS9 began in January 1993 and ended in June 1999, around the same time that Buffy and her friends were graduating high school. It did experiment with continuing story arcs, but the studio was always pushing them to wrap things up in a single episode. Both Buffy and DS9 are at that crossroads of television transforming from what it had been from the 1950s to the 19990s into what television is today.

    But even though television today allows for more continuing character beats, I don’t think most shows even today would allow the sustained glimpse we get into Buffy’s depression.

    Originally posted by Stoney View Post
    It is definitely interesting and revealing in some ways, but without understanding the boundaries of how the expanded spell affected them, what it targeted and took away, the characters I don't feel can be considered to have been stripped of the influence of their pasts fully. How the spell affected Spike's connection to his inner demon if his siring counted as an act done against him for example, could explain some of his behaviour. And clearly some residual memories remain that influence them as his suggestion he's a noble vampire with a soul if he's good is clearly not coming from nowhere. The context the group find themselves in of course will also influence their analysis of who they are and this adds into those shadows of knowledge and senses of self that have remained as well. But around all this uncertainty of exactly what was lost, it does still serve to illustrate how past experiences affect perspectives, whilst also looking at roles again, perceptions of self and that of others and how people relate. And of course there is the abuse of power. As I've said in recent threads, this for me is key to Willow's story through the season. It ties back so well through the series to lead into her path in S6 and is something that features as a fundamental part of her use of magic and what drives her choices.
    You’re right that in Tabula Rasa, not all characters seem that far removed from their influences. I mean sure, Spike might have some degree of vampire immunity – so that his memories and envy are peeking through. Or maybe it’s just an extension of how Spike seems to push against the traditional definition of vampires and soullessness.

    And Buffy’s leadership skills could be considered nature rather than nurture.

    But then we get to Xander when he sees his ID “Hey, I exist!” he says while almost giggling nervously. It’s very similar to his normal humour, which was a defence mechanism used to cope with his abusive family. And then his suggestion that maybe Willow goes out with his brother, reflects his insecurity.

    I think the memories they lose reflect what they consider “normal”. They all lose knowledge that magic is real, even though that should be as an established fact for them as what drivers licences are for. Willow assumes that she’s straight and then discovers she’s gay. (On the other hand, Tara seems to immediately show her attraction to Willow.)

    Originally posted by SpuffyGlitz View Post


    Vantage points:
    I think the spatial metaphor in the way Buffy is pictured at the start of the season (and the way the Scoobies are framed) is not necessarily specific to S6 -- I think it's less a critique of the Scoobies as much as it is a way to show Buffy's new vantage point of the world:



    Because we witnessed this use of spatial metaphor back at the start of S3 when Buffy returned from LA and encountered the Scoobies in Dead Man's Party - they're all pictured beneath her and the vantage point once again functions like a visual statement upon her return, signalling their dependence on her:

    That’s a great comparison, SpuffyGlitz. Not only do we get Buffy’s vantage point of the world and Scoobies in both instances, but we also see their view of Buffy shift. From someone who is swooping into save them in season three to someone who seems lost and may need saving of her own in season six.

    I’m really excited to see what you have to say about Bargaining.

    Comment


    • #17
      The episode links for today.

      6.13 Dead Things (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
      6.14 Older and Far Away

      I probably won't get time to put towards considering these until much later today, but in the meantime... hey PuckRobin it's great to see you.

      Originally posted by PuckRobin View Post
      I also like how it’s not so much a trauma that Buffy experienced that’s affecting her as they walk through the house in After Life. It’s the trauma she’s experiencing at that very moment.
      I love this. I think the experiences she has had in being torn from heaven, coming out of her grave and feeling like she's returned into a hellish place probably are so continuously affecting her that they can't be truly separated from how she is processing everything. But yes, the actual sense of disconnection and the changes themselves that she is seeing as she goes around, the very reality of feeling so disconnected from herself and the home that should be a place of security itself I can see is a traumatic experience itself that unfolds as she walks through Revello. This is such an interesting point and is probably true of a lot she experiences in her initial days on resurrection. But this in particular, with all that the house should represent but no longer does, must be specifically significant. It works with a general sense that everything gathers and increases from the moment she wakes in the coffin and in that way feeds so well into Flooded. It's a great point.

      It is fascinating to look back at season six and see just how long this series spent on the sustained theme of Buffy’s depression. It’s not just a jokey, temporary down-in-the-dumps but a true, lingering depression. I can’t think of any other shows in a similar genre that spent quite so much time on a mature topic like that.
      I really agree. Watching the season with my relative, one episode per week, has been quite a different experience to the binge watching I've always done of the series, having first watched it on DVD years after it aired. They really looked at the trauma, depression and disconnection Buffy is experiencing in varying ways, but also in letting it continue and worsen for so long in itself. It really does support that this is something that is deeply affecting her and not easily shaken off as you say. There are so many hits and difficulties that pile up and it is bleak. I think it really draws you in to feeling the despair and the sense of being trapped in a situation that you can't escape or seem to change. Of course I already know where the season will go and perhaps if my first time viewing had been this extended draw into the depression and isolation, I would have felt more drained by it than captured. I don't know, but it really is a very compelling season to me. It was really interesting to hear of the briefer representations given in DS9 in contrast. The desire of wanting to consider the topic but not explore it as actually being a deeply affecting experience that changes the character in itself limits the depth of the representation.

      You’re right that in Tabula Rasa, not all characters seem that far removed from their influences. I mean sure, Spike might have some degree of vampire immunity – so that his memories and envy are peeking through. Or maybe it’s just an extension of how Spike seems to push against the traditional definition of vampires and soullessness.

      And Buffy’s leadership skills could be considered nature rather than nurture.

      But then we get to Xander when he sees his ID “Hey, I exist!” he says while almost giggling nervously. It’s very similar to his normal humour, which was a defence mechanism used to cope with his abusive family. And then his suggestion that maybe Willow goes out with his brother, reflects his insecurity.

      I think the memories they lose reflect what they consider “normal”. They all lose knowledge that magic is real, even though that should be as an established fact for them as what drivers licences are for. Willow assumes that she’s straight and then discovers she’s gay. (On the other hand, Tara seems to immediately show her attraction to Willow.)
      It really is hard to say without knowing exactly how the spell did affect them. But on the basis of it supposedly targeting memories that would "Purge their minds of memories grim, of pains from recent slights and sins." the scope is huge. And even then, we don't know what the expansion of the spell could have done to extend or warp that. I don't think that Spike has any immunity as everyone retains some shadow memories that aren't things that could be considered nature rather than nurture, like Buffy's leadership could. But it is inconsistent, which could be seen as randomness and instability in the spell.

      As the only blood based relationship, that of Buffy and Dawn, it makes sense in a nature way that they feel connected as sisters. And of course the other relationships which aren't blood based are misinterpreted. But why would the spell remove knowledge of each other fully as it does? Their memories of meeting and knowing each other and their memories of who they are can't all be described as memories grim or from recent slights and sins, so the spell has expanded from the original premise wildly. But also not enough to make them genuinely blank slates that are unable to converse or make cultural references, or even recognise the store is a magic one even if they don't believe in magic itself. I think their interpretations of who they are is greatly affected by being all together and in this sense I agree that the perception of what is 'normal' is greatly affecting them. And so the gaps they awake with could be seen to reflect this too, if they are based on a remaining wider sense of normativity. It fits with their desire to assess each other/themselves and find where they fit and goes with the repeated theme of self perception and the social expectations and perceptions of others affecting them which the season features heavily.

      So yes, in this sense Spike is led to believe he is one of the group and isn't separated like the vampires that come to attack them. But his lack of any knowledge of the demon within him at all suggests to me that a more meaningful disconnection has been created by the spell too. He vamps out but didn't even realise he had. The idea that he would be souled if he was a good or 'noble' vampire shows knowledge of vampires being soulless creatures as the default and belief a soul would make a difference. This seems clear shadow of memory to me as why would he suggest such things. As you say, there's probably envy coming through, but such that it isn't connected to a memory that the spell wiped. As much as the episode could be seen to perhaps show the break Spike makes from the typical expectations of vampires it is within the context of fitting to his surroundings/peers and also shows how his nature can break through too despite his beliefs. With the total uncertainty of what the spell has literally done, how factors such as the conditioning of the chip unconsciously remain (or if he even fed recently!), along with the reveal of some remaining knowledge, it's just very hard to draw any confident character summations. But the idea that it does overall emphasise the desire they all hold to assess 'normal' and fit is really interesting.

      I'm really looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts. It's great to be back looking at the season again and heading towards the final season too.

      - - - Updated - - -

      The brilliance of Dead Things is something that I have gained such deeper appreciation for from PuckRobin's review. His consideration of the title alone, what lies beneath to rise again, the ties between the characters and the examination of Buffy and the dream in particular are simply excellent. I think this is one of the hardest hitting episodes in the season and the exploration of the moral complexity of Buffy is just superb. There is so much to unravel in what is shown in the abuse of power and control, consent, romantic obsession, emotional connections, dehumanisation, around fantasy and reality, escapism and time, the performance of roles, duty/responsibilities. All with an overarching consideration as PuckRobin stated, about deeds done and taking responsibility for those actions and facing consequences. The violation of Katrina, the intention to do more, and her murder are simply horrific. The differing responses that we see to the acts that are taken is fascinating and the compare and contrast between Buffy and Warren is incredibly powerful. The sense of self-blame and self-punishment that is woven through Buffy's responses, couples with the considerations of being trapped and missed time in the AtS episode too Waiting in the Wings. And in both there is a heavy leaning into the ability and possibility to take control back. An absolutely incredible episode.

      Older and far Away focuses on relationship dynamics and consequences as some of the things that have been hidden finally are exposed. Although it is a little blunt, the hidden demon in the walls that stirs and unsettles or hurts everyone being something that has to be tackled is an aspect I'm quite fond of in the episode. As with the previous episodes there is also a running consideration towards active engagement with life and interactions. Rihannon highlighted the link in the title to the novel Empire of the Sun mentioned in the classroom scene, and I find the reflection of the distance that can develop through the separate experiences people have which means so much more than time and ageing excellent. The breakdown of the functioning of the group has so much to do with the independent changes that the characters have gone through and the difficulty of coming to terms with that and finding a way forward. The contrast across in AtS between the groups and how they support each other has laced the first half of the season, but there is a shift there now as the sister episode Couplet sees the impact that changing dynamics can have and the ripples it can cause within the group. Oh, and if anyone hasn't seen the completely adorable slug pictures that Rihannon showed, it is a perception shifting moment!

      - - - Updated - - -

      Today's episodes...

      6.15 As You Were
      6.16 Hell's Bells (parts 1, 2, 3)

      - - - Updated - - -

      As You Were is an episode I think I probably appreciate more each time I rewatch it, but it's still one of my least favourites of the season. Whatever you feel about Riley's appearance it is very much there for contrasting the current situation for Buffy against the more level/healthy relationship he has moved on to. The episode serves to get Buffy to view her current choices in a starker light and face what it does to the person she is to make these choices. Ultimately choosing to end the relationship with Spike. The positive message being of course that a current situation doesn't have to stay how it is. When Buffy has been feeling so disconnected and drained, her problems engulfing so that just coping became her focus so often, this assurance that she can make a different choice and follow a different path is one she receives positively. It helps to give her strength to do what she knows she should and draw a line in the relationship. The loyalty that Riley shows to Buffy, his belief in her, is reflected in AtS's (again bluntly named) Loyalty, with Angel and Gunn both speaking of their certainty of Wes' intentions. The interactions in groups, differing dynamics between people and the secrets that lay underneath causing isolation runs in both eps.

      Huge kudos to Sosa for her fantastic run through in the Hell's Bells review of the influences on Xander's character from his childhood that reflect what we see/hear of his main family members' personalities/traits. Her consideration of the varying factors from his past that layered into his response to the experience of living the visions was great. The theme of facing your demons and how our fears can rule our choices and not result in positive outcomes is a really interesting aspect to consider in a season that looks at coping mechanisms and people's abilities to see options and possible paths and opportunities. Again there's that focus on time and the links from the past to the present and future. There's sad irony of course that in trying to avoid a cycle of abuse that he fears so intensely Xander actually makes decisions which generates some very negative outcomes for both himself and Anya, and even leads him to act more like his father soon too. Anya's lack of ability to deal with the abandonment she so deeply feared also steers her to make another negative choice which she will also come to deeply regret, just as Xander does too. I very much agree that Xander had wanted to marry Anya and fully intended to, it was the depth of the fear of what could go wrong in the future and be attributed to ingrained aspects of his own personality that threw him. And the aspect of betrayal follows the consideration of loyalty before and over in Sleep Tight Wes's attempts to protect others and avoid negative outcomes like Xander also actually leads to letting them down and deeply hurting them. Both men have deep fears of what man they are inside, issues from their childhoods, and these fears betrays them too. Trying to predict the future to avoid deeply feared outcomes can simply result in finding different routes to pain. In trying to control what may happen rather than sharing the burdens weighing on them sooner, both Wes' and Xander's isolated choices reap results neither would have wanted. I have to say in watching S6 against AtS S3, the combination of these two episodes really drew greater appreciation for them both for me, such great reflections.

      - - - Updated - - -

      And here are our last two before we return to Seeing Red on the main rewatch thread! (the link on SR here takes you to the first of the parts posted so far for that too, all parts are linked under the spoiler on the first post of the main rewatch thread).

      But today's episodes are...

      6.17 Normal Again (parts 1, 2, 3)
      6.18 Entropy (parts 1, 2)

      - - - Updated - - -

      SoS's incredible review of Normal Again starts with the William Faulkner quote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." I adore this quote, it's perfect and really captures an important element of what makes BtVS such a fantastic show to me. The past constantly informs the present and so plays its part in now and what is to come. And the consideration that Normal Again gives to trauma and pain is so pertinent in understanding Buffy's present and how hard it is to look beyond. The use of the hallucinations to explore the significance of her disconnection to the people and world around her and the need to choose to reengage and be open to possibilities is just quite simply exceptional writing. This is another episode in S6 where time is emphasised as the ties between past, present and future are specifically considered again. True as well over in AtS's Forgiving as Sahjan's manipulation of time and how it led to the present follows on from Wes' attempts to avoid the future he feared.

      SoS's observation about the use and interplay of presence and absence in the episode works so brilliantly with the sense of time and space. With so much attention given to roles and expectations and the interplay of relationships, this is so relevant to how people look to each other, look to those that are missing, and for the importance of the emotional disconnection Buffy still feels and others feel with her. That she is both here and still lost. The consideration of Buffy's situation very much in terms of her health openly looks to explore her mental state and the depression and trauma she's still so affected by. Her relationship with Spike was always a symptom and so the break up in and of itself was clearly not going to be the solution. As SoS examined, this focus on health and time comes with the idea of returning to 'normal' that the episode title raises.

      So not just temporality but normativity are front and centre and key to question for the very idea of health and what determines the ideas of it in our society and the power dynamics and pressures at play. The interplay between the hallucinations and Buffy's reality in Sunnydale, the repetitive need for comfort and security and what destabilises this, her own sense of her absence and rejection of her slayerness and duty, her processing normativity and perceived expectations, considered alongside the impact of her past in major events such as being called, the loss of Joyce and her death is just so brilliantly done around all this. All leading into her choice to save her friends and in doing so to choose to start to have an openness to life again. The review offers so much to consider in picking apart this unique episode, going so much deeper than I had ever thought on it before or would ever have managed to do alone.

      Following this Entropy has a real sense of facing what has happened and considering the future, but the weight and presence of the recent past and greater histories remains too of course. But there's contrast in the wish to repair what was done from Xander with Anya's desire to have vengeance for the hurt she has suffered. Reconciliation may seem possible briefly but Xander's wish to look past it comes with resistance to when they could return to the plans Anya wanted and this different vision for a future just keeps the barrier between them. Both their pain, their separation, her hidden return to vengeance affecting them unseen, and his later turn to destructive coping mechanisms all emphasising how false his belief his actions would avoid negative consequences was. And across it all is a real sense of loss and facing the cost of your previous actions. In this sense the connection with Double or Nothing can be drawn to Gunn's wish to look to his future making him face the cost of a decision he made in the past. Angel's heavy regard of Connor's crib, eventually leading to him packing it away, really drawing that sense of loss of future possibilities forward too.

      There's certainly an emptiness caused by recent events that affects how the future is perceived for some and this plays its part in how Spike and Anya turn to each other for comfort, despite knowing it will be so transitory. Seen to be a step towards moving on, being open to possibilities perhaps, but one so intrinsically bound to the hurt so recently passed and the present effect of such, it doesn't actually change either's sense of loss. As DanSlayer considered, there's a lot about people's perceptions against reality through the episode which runs alongside the revelations as things unravel. The reveal about the relationship between Buffy and Spike just draws emphasis to the distance that has been there between Buffy and the others, the focus everyone has had on their own troubles, and possibly also the wish to turn from truths that aren't ones they want to face. We see the camera network that was being used to spy on the group turn into the very tool that reveals the truth to them. Firstly through Buffy's reaction to what they see, before Spike then later finally outright states it. So what remained hidden is now seen, but as the argument outside the Magic Box and disconnection between Xander and Buffy to come illustrates, not necessarily understood. Anya no longer wants to take vengeance and turns from the opportunity to exact the future she had been seeking. The paths people eventually walk aren't always the ones they thought they would and are ones of so many possibilities before them really giving the sense of disorder and limited predictability.

      - - - Updated - - -

      So my quick recap on aspects of the episodes and some thoughts prompted by the reviews up to Seeing Red is complete. If anyone else wants to post on any of these here still please do feel free, but otherwise we'll return to the main rewatch thread.

      So we'll pass over now to Aurora for the completion of the Seeing Red review. The first post for the parts of Seeing Red that are already up is here and all existing parts already posted are linked under the spoiler on the first post of the main rewatch thread linked above (Aurora also posted them at the top of each part too).

      Last edited by Stoney; 17-08-19, 10:42 AM.

      Comment


      • #18
        with apologies for being so late on this—

        just rewatched Bargaining 1&2, reread Puck Robin
        and King of Cretins' brilliant reviews—

        a few thoughts, what struck me this time through:

        the tensions within the group that Bargaining1 draws out—
        tensions born of Buffy's loss, as Puck Robin so finely
        explores; tensions that will then take different forms as Buffy
        remains lost after her resurrection, as Willow and Xander, in
        particular, cannot face either that lostness nor their responsibility
        for it—so much of the entire season to come is sketched out here...

        yet, too, as King showed, the way in which they do come
        together as a group, fully, after they think Buffy to be truly dead,
        beyond their saving, in Bargaining2—something that
        prefigures Grave

        thinking, too, thanks to King, of the mechanical way, amidst
        the hellish world into which she has emerged, that Buffy
        comes into knowledge of something resembling aliveness:
        through fighting, saving others—this is what gives her one
        essential sense of herself, of her being-for-others, her obligation...

        then comes the crucial importance of what follows: what
        we see on Buffy's face in her final embrace with Dawn, that horrified
        recognition of the other aspects of herself, her identity, that they,
        too, are being called to life—and her lack of desire for them to
        respond, her inability, in herself, to respond at all...

        i agree with King that she does not go to the top of the
        Tower to suicide, to repeat her death: she goes seeking answers—

        but the answer she finds—life—proves all but unbearable, as
        the unfolding season will give us to understand...





        - - - Updated - - -

        Thoughts upon just having re-watched After Life and
        Flooded, having just reread the reviews of Stoney
        and Dipstick, as well as most recent postings by
        Stoney and Tiny Tabby

        Stoney's original focus on communication and its lack—its
        impossibilities—was quite revealing: it ricochets off the play of
        presence and absence, the mirroring of Buffy and the demon that
        she also explored...

        I also very much liked her point, in her recent reflection, on the
        affective force Buffy suffers from


        Stoney
        How life continued without her/because of the loss of her, the changes that have happened, [how that] feeds into that sense of disconnection
        This comes into play in both episodes, in everything from her
        financial woes—and here I agree with Dipstick in arguing
        against those who would blame the Scoobies for not doing more
        to solve them, for they were not their responsibility—to the shifts
        in group dynamics that alter the grounds upon which communication
        formerly occurred: in the past, the Scoobies shared a mission, to
        combat evil, as Willow said in Choices, and they had Buffy
        as their recognized leader, Giles as the bulwark of knowledge and
        support...

        Now their mission is, in a sense, the same as it was in Bargaining1
        to complete the task of bringing Buffy back to Life: but this leaves them
        without a leader, as their past leader is their mission, and she is unable
        to articulate her desires, for reasons revealed at the end of After Life,
        and Giles is not to be counted upon, not present fully even after his return.

        Complicating this further: the other untold tensions within the group, from
        Dawn's muted need for Buffy's care to Xander and Anya's conflict over
        their engagement to the only barely spoken, at this point—we hear Giles'
        abrupt condemnation of both Willow's actions and her character, but not
        yet Tara's worry—concerns about Willow's use of magic. All this combined
        with Buffy's increasing turning towards Spike, another matter which
        she cannot make known... As a result, when they come together as
        a group to discuss Buffy's finances, they are unable to truly communicate:
        each speaks from his or her own perspective, missing each other and
        Buffy as well, falling into the secret stories, as Anya and Xander do, or
        simply not knowing what to say, helpful as they seek to be on a practicle
        level....

        And, too, the fact hovers that much as they care, the Scoobies do not really want
        to know: they want their Buffy back, their leader, their stabilizing
        center—so much as they seek to comfort her, to make things as easy as
        they can, they also hide, I think, from the lurking suspicion that something
        happened to Buffy, something she is not saying, something other than
        what they suppose...

        Hence her continuing absence, her continuing inability to respond to their
        various, often conflicting calls—

        I also very much liked the parallel that Tiny Tabby draws:

        Tiny Tabby
        Flooded introduces even more characters who appear at first glance to be empty villains. Schoolboys playing at being villains which parallels the Scoobys trying to grow up and retain their heroic stature. But it’s easier to dust vampires than to commit to a long term relationship or trust oneself. I think the point is it’s much scarier
        This task of growing up also works to turn the group's once-united
        mission into a complex, often unutterable mass of asymmetrical
        desires, desires that they cannot—in Xander's case, especially, but
        not only, given that Buffy, too, is far from knowing her desire, from
        knowing that she even desires at all—articulate even to themselves,
        much less each other—

        And the unsayable haunts: it affects, shapes all that emerges—or
        attempts and fails to emerge—about it...

        That haunting will prove more deadly than the demon whom the
        spell created in tearing Buffy out of heaven—


        Comment


        • #19
          Lovely post on After Life and Flooded SoS. Communication is such an incredibly important part of the season and obviously it tangles into most things around the group and how they interact. The roles and shifts that have happened and how they aren't who they once were and can never be again yet they all seek the reassurance of the past and don't voice their fears for the present or future. And we see time and again in both the big moments and little ones of how the struggles to communicate affects how they function and their ability to face their troubles. I really like your point about Buffy's inability to communicate and express her desires leaving the group dynamic as still lacking a leader as Buffy's absence continues. This of course goes on for a very large portion of the season as Buffy is physically there and emotionally disconnected.

          I just this week rewatched Hell's Bells and Sleep Tight again and Wes's isolation and inability to share is such a glaring error in judgement. The communication failure in BtVS has more subtlety to it as the group are seemingly coming together somewhat better and are gathered for a life event en masse (although without Giles in attendance still). But Buffy and Willow are there at the wedding, and yet, they are not there at the moments that they would have been if their focus was more fully on Xander. Buffy is distracted by news of Spike's date and stays to speak to Dawn and Willow is helping Tara with Anya rather than being there to sort out Xander's tie and walk beside him into the crowd of guests. But still his choice was to not voice his concerns after seeing the visions even when he sees Willow again and not until he'd made up his mind after walking out into the rain alone. The lack of cohesion and support in the group so often comes back to the uncertainties, secrets and lack of effective sharing.
          Last edited by Stoney; 19-08-19, 03:56 PM.

          Comment


          • #20
            Thoughts after an again of Life Serial and All the Way, as
            well as a traversal though the original reviews—

            Time has not rendered me more fond of LS, but due to the
            the discussion about it—comments by Clavus and Stoney
            resonate deeply, as does, especially, the way Tiny Tabby
            contextualized within feminist and personal history of women's
            struggle to work, find a place in the world of work, a belonging—I
            do see more in it than I once did...

            Thinking first of Clavus' comment:

            Clavus
            To me the episode kind of hinges on teacher Mike's rapid-fire discussion of the Social Construction of Reality during the college lecture. One student replies to him: "... each individual participates fully in the construction of his or her own life." and later Willow answers: "... social phenomena don't have unproblematic objective existences. They have to be interpreted and given meanings by those who encounter them."
            We interpreted this differently then, but we agreed upon
            its importance—

            What strikes me now is how weird a version of social constructionism
            this is: it focuses upon the power of the subject over her reality, when
            most versions of the theory focus upon the way that the subject is
            constructed, subjected by power—a definition far closer to Buffy's
            own experience...

            (But what is to be expected, given that, much to my despair, teachers are
            not much to be trusted in the verse? Certainly not one who has his students
            call him "Mike"... None of which is to say that I am much of a social
            constructionist—that theoretical model, save for its mutation into
            biopolitics, which is a far more complex cluster of ideas, faded away
            quite some time ago... And I was never caught tightly within it
            before it did... )

            But it does relate to Stoney's comments above about the piling
            of temporalities, Buffy's asynchronous position in relation to the others,
            and how, I would argue, this connects to the asymmetrical relations
            between them, an asymmetry that now emerges as a matter of power:

            Buffy is continually displaced in time, unable to be contemporaneous
            with those upon whom she now depends for a connection to the world—
            and, with Xander, Giles, and Anya, for a livelihood—while they construct
            worlds that specifically exclude her, exclude her so as to render themselves,
            their economic well-being safe, the part of their lives that they see as
            their own, as separate from the dangers of their relation to Buffy, safe,
            uncontaminated, their own—

            Much as I never saw, in Flooded, the Scoobies at fault for not fixing
            Buffy's finances, here, it is hard to not fault Xander, Giles, and Anya for
            abandoning Buffy, cutting her adrift in space and time—an abandonment,
            a cutting that will contribute to her interpretation of her trauma and
            depression as evidence that she "came back wrong," an interpretation
            that will entangle itself with past traumas and earlier senses of wrongness,
            as we discover in Normal Again

            No wonder she turns to Spike, who rather than cutting offers her another
            space, seemingly open and free, in which to experiment with being—

            (And yes, I am still, crazy cat lady that I be, a sucker for Kitten Poker, at
            least once Buffy sets them all free.... )

            As for All the Way

            Yes, weak...

            But again, following Stoney, I appreciate the time given
            to Dawn, to her own sense of placelessness, her wandering response—

            And here, too, time, multiple registers of time: as Stoney, I
            think (apologies if my reference is confused... ), pointed out in the
            original thread, Xander finally announces—and seems to think he
            has done all that he needs to do, that he is finished... Then Anya
            and Giles start the talk about a normative progressive future:
            children and houses and... His breaches go, for that is a time
            he cannot bear, prefiguring Hell's Bells: he and Anya are
            contemporaneous for the moment of the announcement, but
            I think the remain out of time with each other for the remainder
            of the season, and much of the tension lies in this asynchrony—
            in it and in Xander's inability to voice its meaning, given how
            deeply an awareness of it haunts him...

            Finally, we see a longer tension, one dating back to S5, to Tough
            Love
            , boil to the surface: I do not think that it was just the party
            decorations in themselves that moved Tara to speak to Willow about
            magic—they were but a symptom of a deeper worry, one she began
            to voice in TL as a fear of Willow growing so in strength that
            she would power beyond Tara's touch, her love; one she stifled, as
            Puck Robin suggested, in Bargaining1, with regard to
            the resurrection spell; thus one that she simply could no longer hold
            in...

            Willow's response was a turn to her dark side: here, however, I do
            not mean magic—for here, we see a repetition of Willow's dark tendency
            to turn to magic to relieve conflictive feelings and absolute pain, her
            inability to bear both, her willingness to exercise magic upon another
            (Xander) without his acquiescence, without even his knowledge...

            But here, Willow goes further: so deeply scarred by, so deeply fearful
            of the loss of her beloved, given her experience following the tear of
            Oz' departure—given, too, the repeated tears made by her friends'
            failure to support her, redoubling her fear of loss—she erases from
            her mind the violence Glory wrought upon Tara, the trauma Tara
            suffered, so as to erase both time and Tara's mind, thus wrecking
            violence upon Tara herself—

            This is why I will always see the reading of Willow's ethical fall as
            addiction to be an error... But I'll save that for later discussion, for
            the main thread of the re-watch, when we get to the relevant episodes....


            Comment


            • #21
              It was not Death, for I stood up,
              And all the Dead, lie down -
              It was not Night, for all the Bells
              Put out their Tongues, for Noon.

              It was not Frost, for on my Flesh
              I felt Siroccos - crawl -
              Nor Fire - for just my marble feet
              Could keep a Chancel cool -

              And yet, it tasted, like them all,
              The Figures I have seen
              Set orderly, for Burial,
              Reminded me, of mine -

              As if my life were shaven,
              And fitted to a frame,
              And could not breathe without a key,
              And 'twas like Midnight, some -

              When everything that ticked - has stopped -
              And space stares - all around -
              Or Grisly frosts - first Autumn morns,
              Repeal the Beating Ground -

              But, most, like Chaos - Stopless - cool -
              Without a Chance, or spar -
              Or even a Report of Land -
              To Justify - Despair.

              ----E Dickinson 355 (1862)


              I cannot possibly do justice to the wonder that
              is Once More with Feeling

              Or the brilliance of American Aurora's
              review—

              But rewatching, rereading, I found myself obsessing about
              Fire, about boundaries (life/death, human/inhuman), and about
              the matters of meeting, of failing to meet—in time, in space—
              that have so occupied me above...

              My reading thus works athwart AA's and, to an extent,
              Joss' own statements—but as you all know, I am not much
              for authorial intent—but in noting this, I must also note that
              nothing I write here would have come without all AA
              gave me to think—


              The first image that came to me: the end of Bargaining1, where
              the Fire that had enveloped Willow transmutes, as it falls beneath
              the ground, into an indeterminate wafting of air or smoke, bringing
              Buffy's body back to life—a life that must chock for breath, a life that feels
              itself to be something else, something caught between—

              The second thought: yes, Fire symbolizes, most often, life, light,
              knowledge, insight, divinity—but it also carries the sense of death,
              catastrophic destruction... Both senses are at play in "Walk Through
              the Fire," a song that works against, I would argue, the usual
              function of a production number: on one level, it does bring all
              the characters together, united in pursuit of a single goal—saving
              Dawn, helping Buffy save Dawn—but this coming together only
              underlines their asynchrony and displacements from each other...

              We begin with Buffy, who herself still wanders without given time:
              like Dickinson, she is caught between life and death, between
              the human and the inhuman, unable to inhabit fully herself, to
              dwell in the world... The way the images of the song's first lines
              work against each other manifest her betweenness, her caughtness
              and fraughtness:

              I touch the fire,
              And it freezes me—
              I look into it,
              And it's black.

              Why can't I feel?
              My skin should
              Crack and peel—
              I want the fire back—

              Here, Buffy experiences fire as its opposite: it freezes where it should
              burn, occludes where it should bring light, numbs where it should
              bodily rend... Fire turns Buffy into a icey, inhuman thing—hence, later,
              the imagery of her possible melting—impervious to that which would
              either kill or bring to life, either blind or bring insight—

              Turns or, rather, reveals Buffy to be such an inhuman thing, neither
              alive nor dead, beyond feeling, be it pain or pleasure—

              And in this, her "I want the fire back" resonates ambivalently: does she
              desire passion, life—or death, a one-ing with the combustible
              forces of our inorganic earth?

              Hence the next lines:
              Now through the smoke, she calls to me
              To make my way across the flame;
              To save the day
              Or maybe melt away—
              I guess it's all the same...

              Where once the inhuman within her was precisely what gave Buffy, in
              her chosenness, her ethical obligation to and relation to the other, here,
              she experiences such inhumanness in a different mode: she could only
              be resurrected because she was chosen, because she died a mystical
              death, and inhuman death, and in suffering the trauma of her inhuman
              resurrection, she now lives that inhumanness as a stranding between
              life and death, in a space and time to which fire, as Dickinson so
              perfectly shows, can bring no light, be it that of insight or conflagration—

              And stranded as she is, to give life or lose her own: the difference between
              huddles unreachable, swathed in smoke...

              We move to Spike, so soullessly self-absorbed that he, too, can find no
              enlightenment in the flames: only figments, through these lines and his
              next, of grand destruction or grander salvation—

              Then we have Sweet's words, his anticipation of her burning... Here, fire
              takes on yet another turn, destruction not by melting but by combustion—

              Back at the Magic Box, the tempo of the song quickens: I won't cite all the
              lines, only note that while Giles doubts himself, Xander worries, Anya
              insists, and the whole group finally finds resolve—

              We'll see it through
              It's what we're'
              Always here to do—

              The resolve feels forced, mechanical: they are doing what they have
              always done, falling back upon habit, but they, too, lack fire—the
              certainty that moved them, in prior seasons, to move as one force,
              the felt relationality...

              Thus the lines that follow, each sliding across the other, none
              addressing or responding to the other, all only arrowing out
              into empty space, targetless—

              In the lines that follow—I was going to do a whole rift on grave/
              graver/engraving, courtesy of Dickinson's dictionary, but I'll spare
              you—we hear Buffy's ever increasing sense of frozen inhumanness
              and abandonment, where her obligation to others has become
              but self-silencing; hear Sweet's undoing of inside/outside binaries
              as he predicts what will most damage, most burn...

              By the time they arrive, together but separately, at The Bronze,
              their resolve is no longer to save the world but to

              Let it burn—

              To let it come, that is, to some certain end, any end—

              For the others, it seems that they want any end that will not cost
              them too much, for even as they march and sing, they seem but
              faintly resolved, faintly present—

              For Buffy, well, I can but end where I began to give words to
              her strandedness, her aloneness, her distance from all Fire, whatever
              Fire might be taken to mean—

              But, most, like Chaos - Stopless - cool
              Without a Chance, or spar -
              Or even a Report of Land -
              To justify - Despair.


              ——————————————————

              Tabula Rasa

              Here, much as I like the episode, only a few thoughts:

              • Clavus, in his original review, noted that in the face of
              Giles' abandonment, Buffy turns herself into the good little
              girl and pleads... I had not thought this at the time, but here,
              her actions, her reversion to the good girl, given her impending
              loss—a loss that repeats her parents' divorce and her fears
              about Hank's leaving (Nightmares, a loss that repeated,
              as I argued in my review of Normal Again, the traumas
              of her calling and her institutionalization, both of which demanded
              that she be, in different ways, a good girl and intensify her sense
              of an essential wrongness—prefigure the events of Normal Again

              • Clavus also noted how, during their opening argument, Tara plays
              upon the differing meanings of the word "fix, saying ,in part:

              Clavus
              The second statement is a play on words: "... you're helping yourself now, fixing things to your liking. Including me."

              Tara picked up the term "to fix" from Willow, who used it first, offering to "fix" Buffy's problem with a spell, but it seems to resonate on so many more levels here: "to fix" can mean to mend or to cure in the benevolent sense, but it can also mean to prevent undesired behavior by spaying or neutering an animal. Finally there is the meaning of making something stable or stationary as in bacteria that "fix" nitrogen or a "fixed" star as opposed to a planet.

              Tara's father tried to "fix" her by telling her lies as Spike calls out very clearly in Family: "There's no demon in there. That's just a family legend, am I right? Just a bit of spin to keep the ladies in line." Similarly Willow is now trying to "fix" her by removing her ability to remember, to talk back and argue with her. She's supposed to be a good pet, behaving herself.
              I absolutely adhere to all of this, as well as the parallel
              Clavus draws between Tara and Buffy, Willow and Giles in
              these two conversations—

              At the same time, I cannot but find another pun when Tara
              says, "But you don't get to decide what is better for us, Will. We're
              in a relationship, we are supposed to decide together."

              It sent me back to Shakespeare's endless punning upon his
              own name in the Dark Lady Sonnets, upon all the possible
              meanings of "Will"—

              Here, I find an echo of pleading, a "will you, please?"—but most
              a find a sense of Willow become Will, a force, an inhuman force,
              with the power to impose itself upon her, shaving her mind, her
              memories, her very self to fit a frame of Willow's own liking....

              • I never fail to be struck by the lack of any affect between Xander
              and Anya... As I said in my last post, in the kiss that follows Xander's
              announcement of their engagement, they are together, synchronized
              in the same space and time—but never again for the remainder of
              the season...

              • If, above, I spoke of the Scoobies going to battle without fire, conviction,
              sense of relation—here, now that their minds have been cleansed of all
              "slights and sins," they are, for perhaps the only time following Buffy's
              resurrection, able to act fully together, following Buffy as their certain,
              trusted leader... They may not know who they are, but they are able
              to inhabit, together, to same space and time...


              Comment


              • #22
                Really interesting point about the group able to cohere in TR in a way they haven't managed when pains are lifted, to whatever degree the spell actually achieves this the effect is marked as they all look to consider how they fit together, unaware of the obstacles between them. It is interesting to think of it this way in contrast to Older and Far Away later on where they are forced into proximity despite the pains being felt still, those demons churning under the surface. Then it forces things forward that they start to face more rather than the more responsive fleeing seen at the end of TR in the earlier part of the season, when reality coming back then is yet another reliving of traumas suffered.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Apologies for taking so long to return to this…

                  Migraines… Writing…

                  For this reason—and for the reason that my ideas
                  are so intertwined, I am combining my thoughts on
                  Smashed, Wrecked, Gone, and
                  DMP together…


                  First, SpuffyGlitz

                  Loved your reflections upon the interplay of the titles:


                  Originally posted by SpuffyGlitz View Post
                  Musings on the titles themselves:
                  Thinking about Smashed & Wrecked (and I know Gone comes next-- I haven't come to the reviews yet because I'm terrible at speed reading) makes me consider how much the titles are framed in relation to the impact on the body and the senses (Smashed, Wrecked, Seeing Red, the synaesthetic shock value of Flooded & Hell's Bells), of chaos (Wrecked, Entropy) the preoccupation with repetition (Life Serial, Once More, With Feeling, Normal Again)...with attempts at new beginnings and returns to prior states (Tabula Rasa, As You Were), and the preoccupation with life and death itself and the issue of existence (After Life, Gone, Dead Things, Grave.) There's a lot to unpack about it obviously but I'm just looking at the titles themselves.
                  There has been much discussion here about temporality, but
                  your focus upon "the impact on the body and the senses"
                  strikes me as bearing crucial importance: briefly, for now—I'll
                  hold onto this as I think through the final episodes of the
                  re-watch proper—that impact begins with Buffy's resurrection,
                  the very chaotic shock of being embodied, and it takes
                  various forms, for each character (think Xander's discomfort
                  in his body, his obsessive eating as the wedding nears),
                  up through Grave, when Buffy finds herself, finally,
                  able to fully inhabit herself, able to move out of the nether-
                  world between life and death in which she has so long
                  be hovering...

                  And, of course, adored your thoughts about normativity, but
                  as I produced words upon words concerning this in my review
                  of NA, I will spare everyone their repetition…


                  Second, PuckRobin

                  Many thanks for your marvelous thoughts on S6 and Depression:

                  Originally posted by PuckRobin View Post
                  It is fascinating to look back at season six and see just how long this series spent on the sustained theme of Buffy’s depression. It’s not just a jokey, temporary down-in-the-dumps but a true, lingering depression. I can’t think of any other shows in a similar genre that spent quite so much time on a mature topic like that.

                  Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a semi-contemporary of Buffy, flirted with the concept in a few episodes. Garak was a supporting character on the series and a member of an alien species known as the Cardassians. They used to occupy the titular space station and the neighbouring world of Bajor. Garak was a spy who had fallen out of favour when the Cardassians cut their losses and left Bajor (and our Starfleet leads came in to help get Bajor back on its feet.). Garak was now left in exile on the station run by humans and Bajors who kept their lights on too bright. To cope with his depression he started abusing an anti-torture device that stimulated his pleasure centres. We find this out when the device breaks down and endangers his life. But at the episode’s end, Garak seems to be dealing fairly well with his issues.

                  And then in season four episode, Starfleet everyman Chief O’Brien is sentenced for a crime he didn’t commit. He has 20 years worth of false memories of a prison sentence implanted. He returns to the station, and his wife and child as a broken and depressed man, haunted by these memories. When O’Brien nearly hits his daughter Molly, he decides that the station is better off without a scarred and damaged man like him, and he attempts suicide.

                  The station’s doctor is able to stop O’Brien and talk him down. He also prescribes O’Brien medication but he states “It’s a treatment not a cure. It will prevent hallucinations, take the edge of the depression, but that’s all it will do. It won’t take away the memories or the feelings.”

                  And yet, we never heard of his depression ever again.

                  DS9 began in January 1993 and ended in June 1999, around the same time that Buffy and her friends were graduating high school. It did experiment with continuing story arcs, but the studio was always pushing them to wrap things up in a single episode. Both Buffy and DS9 are at that crossroads of television transforming from what it had been from the 1950s to the 19990s into what television is today.

                  But even though television today allows for more continuing character beats, I don’t think most shows even today would allow the sustained glimpse we get into Buffy’s depression.
                  I sought to say something similar in my response to the
                  thread Priceless opened about the uniqueness of BtVS,
                  but here you express similar ideas with much greater
                  depth of reference and clarity…


                  Third, Stoney

                  An utter yes to your exploration of the thematics of food/sustenance,
                  your connection of them both to the ways in which Warren and Rack leach
                  off, gain sustenance from, others and to the ways in which Dawn functions
                  as a measure for the failures of others—here, Buffy and Willow—to provide
                  her the sustenance, physical and emotional, she so desperately desires…

                  Tara, of course, does offer what she can—but various conditions limit her
                  giving. Willow, meanwhile, deploys care for Dawn as a cover for pursuing
                  her own desires, a pursuit that drives to not only abandon but also gravely
                  endanger Dawn. Buffy attends to Dawn in Wrecked, as she did in OMWF,
                  at a point of crisis—but in Gone, once the crises have evaporated, along
                  with Buffy’s corporeal presence, she sheds her obligation to her sister
                  with her visibility, floating a pizza at Dawn rather than caringly feeding her
                  body, rather than stilling her anxiety over that invisibility—an invisibility
                  that renders palpable how untouchable Buffy has become…


                  But on another level…

                  I know the accepted reading is that Wrecked marks a turn, on Willow’s part,
                  toward an acknowledgement of her ethical failures, a resolution to reform
                  through an admission of her supposed addition to magics—

                  But I read the Smashed-Wrecked-Gone arc—not to mention what follows—rather
                  differently… And while I know I said I would save its explication for the rewatch
                  proper, I have been thinking through it so insistently that I thought I’d sketch it
                  out here, briefly—

                  Besides, as almost no one (not that I am not immensely grateful for those of you
                  who are… ) seems to be reading these posts—

                  Doubtless my own fault for going on at such length, threading my reflections with
                  Dickinson poems and the like—

                  Later repetition of these points later will harm no one—

                  For me, magic as addiction works only as a metaphor for Willow’s quandary—not as a
                  literal explanation….

                  Most drugs—opioids, LSD/mushrooms (through micro-dosing, now legal in my lovely
                  town of Oakland), marijuana—have a medicinal use, a use to heal or relieve physical or
                  psychic pain; they can, at the same time, be turned against that use, be turned into
                  a means of escaping the world, of temporarily obliterating, rather than solving,
                  its psychic pains, and, in doing so, they can become, if not biochemically addictive
                  (or dependence-inducing, which is not, in the case of opioids, the same thing),
                  then psychologically so (there was a reason that the government of then-Czechoslovakia,
                  in the wake of the Prague Spring, allowed pot use to grow unchecked—grow even
                  as it otherwise sought to control all other aspects of its people’s lives). Magic, however,
                  works differently: its gifts the one to whom it comes with the power to aid the other—
                  it is an impersonal power, an obligation. Yes, Willow uses it to save her own life in
                  Choices, but in doing so, she is saving herself to further serve the cause of fighting
                  evil, is, moreover, saving herself from a vampire, an unnatural force, a force against which
                  natural means would not avail. But Willow also shows, from her earliest touch of its power,
                  a tendency to abuse magic, to use it not for others but for the easement of her own pain—
                  and to use it upon others without their consent. In this, the metaphor of magic as drugs
                  actually began in S3, subtly, intensified in S4, and only faded upon Willow’s meeting
                  with Tara, with whom magic came to mean something else: love and sexual passion
                  for another, obligation to another, combined with learning how to further each other’s power
                  in aiding impersonal others (there may have been, retrospectively, a problematic side to this…
                  but I shall have to think this further through… ). Dark Willow first emerges in S3, in Willow’s
                  turn to magic to still her inability to resolve inner psychic conflict, and although she quickly
                  recedes, we see her emerge repeatedly, sometimes going through with her abuse of magic,
                  sometimes not (Oz). Tracing this line reveals her mind-wipe of Tara to be not a radical
                  shift in character but a more powerful, more extreme repetition of previous abuses of magic,
                  here driven by her fear of Tara’s loss, given what happened with Oz, by Giles’ abrupt, demeaning
                  condemnation of her, by her long history of bullying and abandonment.

                  Yet by blaming magic, by attributing her failures to addiction, by seeing renunciation of
                  magic as the solution—“No more spells: I’m finished… It’s not worth it—not if it
                  messes with the people I love” (Wrecked)—Willow evades facing the essence of
                  her ethical fall: her turn to magic as a drug, as an escape from inner pain, a turn that
                  intensifies upon Tara’s departure—her use of magic as a power that she possesses,
                  rather than her shepherding of magic as a power for which she bears a responsibility. In
                  this evasion, Willow displaces the responsibility for her ethical misdoings onto
                  magic: it, rather than she, is the force that “messes with the people [she] love[s].” And
                  it is this displacement that leads to the emergence—the resurfacing—of Dark Willow
                  upon Tara’s murder—

                  Much more remains to be unraveled here, including Buffy’s misreading of Willow’s
                  interpretation, for her own reasons, in that late scene in Wrecked—including, too,
                  the misreadings of Tara and all the others, misreadings that bespeak what they cannot
                  bear to face about Willow (and, perhaps, themselves), what they, too, displace onto magic—

                  But that can wait for a later post….


                  One last thought in relation to this thread:

                  Much, SpuffyGlitz, as I appreciate your analysis of Amy, I would take your insights and,
                  in light of what I have sketched out above, torque them slightly: I do not think that Amy’s
                  childhood abuse, her trauma, open her to addiction to magic—I think, rather, that they
                  open her to traumatic repetition of her mother’s abuse of it. Here, I am thinking of the
                  work of Robert Jay Lifton, one of the most important theorists of trauma—his work with
                  VietNam vets led, finally, to the official recognition of PTSD by the official association
                  of psychologists and psychiatrists, its inclusion in DMSV. In discussing witnessing in an
                  interview with trauma theorist Cathy Caruth, he says that for one who suffers trauma,
                  becoming a witness is “crucial to start with because it’s at the center of what one very
                  quickly perceives to be one’s responsibility as a survivor.” However, some survivors flip
                  into what he calls “false witnessing,” a state he discovered at Mai Lai: very briefly, the
                  soldiers at Mai Lai themselves suffered trauma from the inexplicable deaths of their
                  fellow soldiers (due to the mess of command and battle that VietNam was, the youth
                  and unpreparedness of the soldiers), thus “the only thing one could do was to try to
                  make sense of the dying that had taken place, to witness the death of their comrades
                  by carrying out the work of killing the enemy; by carrying it on immediately, even
                  though no enemy was readily available. And this was also a way for the soldiers to
                  shut out their own death anxiety. One might think of it this way: the false witness
                  at Mai Lai was a suppression or numbing towards certain elements of death, and the
                  way that happened was by converting very quickly, almost immediately, one’s own
                  death anxiety into killing.”*

                  Of course, Amy does not directly kill, but she does work out her death anxiety—I
                  read her mother’s body-switch as a kind of death for Amy—through repetition of
                  her mother’s use of magic to numb her own pain at life, her own death anxiety (for
                  she clearly felt dead after high school), and her use of magic not as a power that
                  obligated her to aid others but as a way to numb herself, take her away from
                  herself, the unbearableness her life, she felt, had become, an unbearableness for
                  which she refused to take responsibility, as she refused to take responsibility for
                  her own daughter. And in having survived the trauma of her mother, in seeking
                  to make sense of her inexplicable trauma, Amy bears false witness: she turns
                  to magic to give her what it gave her mother, uses it upon others as her mother
                  did, uses it to escape her death anxiety through visits to Rack, through imposing
                  magic upon others with Willow in Smashed, upon Willow in DMP and in S7….


                  As for DMP….

                  Not much to add to Stoney’s analysis of Buffy’s entrapment in time, the draining
                  of her energy that follows her assumption of financial responsibility—

                  I would only reflect, a bit, thinking back on PuckRobin’s post, how this relates
                  to the temporality of Depression:

                  Depression collapses time, effaces all futurity’s possibilities—

                  Working at DMP—“What? Another eight hours, after these eight hours? But that’s
                  so many hours…”—renders that collapse ever more palpable, a palpable collapse
                  rendered yet more intense by the violently lit, mechanically-ordered space in
                  which it occurs without passing, a time and space from which Buffy’s only
                  escape comes in mechanical dumpster sex with Spike—sex with none of the
                  experimental self-shattering his crypt gives. Thus, yes, Buffy takes on here
                  responsibility, responsibility for Dawn and for her impersonal customers—but
                  this is not the self-giving, self-dissolving responsibility to the impersonal other
                  she once found in slaying, is only a deadening repetition that but fixes her more
                  firmly in the nether-realm between life and death, that but mutes the desire,
                  stirred at the end of Gone, to reach towards the latter…



                  *Caruth, Cathy. “An Interview with Robert Jay Lifton.” Trauma: Explorations in
                  Memory
                  . Ed. and Intro. Cathy Caruth. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP,
                  1995. 128-149.


                  Comment


                  • #24
                    StateofSeige, Absolutely fascinating points! It was so enlightening to read your analysis of Amy's relation to trauma and magic, thanks for explaining the work of Robert Jay Lifton! And thanks for the history behind the official recognition of PTSD (and the trauma theorist you mention-- Cathy Caruth, whom I did not know about either.) I was not familiar with this history and found it really enriching. I'm sure there are complexities relating to the issue of the "witness" in relation to trauma theory that I haven't entirely grasped yet, but I understand it to relate to a sense of incumbent responsibility felt by the survivor, and appreciate the distinction you lay out between the witness and the "false" witness who wishes to numb their own "death anxiety" by paradoxically turning to killing as a way to channelise it or convert it (the latter relating to Amy's position, even if not literally.) It's a great way to understand why Amy acts the way she does. I have read snippets from your amazing review of Normal Again but only a few paras of my favourite scene and I want to read it chronologically from the start (I'm not good at speed reading so initially I tend to jump around or go to my favourite scenes and then work backwards, but then I need to read from the start to understand the full meaning, it's a flawed approach lol). So I have not done justice to it yet but I've read the scene where Buffy pours the antidote into the bin - absolutely loved your brilliant reading of her state It's laden with insights so I will love learning from it. Your thoughts on Amy have opened my eyes to a lot of subtleties in her particular experience of trauma. I think the classification of the body-switch with her mother as a "death" for Amy makes so much sense, it's consistent with how, as you say, her subsequent relation to magic is borne out of "repetition of her mother’s use of magic to numb her own pain at life, her own death anxiety[...]" And I love your insight about Xander's overeating before the wedding (and it's extended themes in relation to the body-- a detail that escaped me but you're right!) <3
                    Last edited by SpuffyGlitz; 28-08-19, 06:05 AM.
                    .

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Great additions to SpuffyGlitz's point on the impacts on the body/senses. And I love your points about the issues with the abuse of magic SoS. As I've said before, the topic of Willow's abuse of magic has always been intrinsically tied to the abuse of power for me and her own insecurities and tendencies. I can see how, with this path which we can draw back through the seasons existing, that reducing the S6 struggle to being the effect magic has on her (like a drug) instead of the drive to escape and abuse of magic coming back to issues of self driving her behaviour negates the connections and so would be simplifying it to just label it as the addictive force of the magic on her. I think that, like the controlled/positive medicinal use of a drug that you raise, abusing the use of magic and it being drawn in similarities to drug use/abuse in that way isn't awful. But it shouldn't be stripped down to just being an addictive substance without the background details of her use of it tying to her own behavioural needs. The lack of a need to forevermore avoid the use of it and that she can master inner control better and draw her own lines on how/when to use magic that comes in S7 onwards, again works better for the underlying issues rather than pushing blame to the tool of escapism. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on this.

                      I love your suggestion that Amy was repeating a response to trauma that she grew up around in her abuse of magic. I sometimes feel S6 gets discussed in terms of Buffy's depression without keeping sight on the emotional psychological trauma that she experienced that caused the depression, it as a major symptom of a much wider issue where layered traumas exist, but a symptom of many typical ones recognised in response to trauma. As I discussed briefly in the After Life review there were other symptoms she also displays, such as forming inappropriate relationships, that can be seen to tie to trauma rather than to the issue of her depression. The depression is a major facet of what she is dealing with, absolutely, but the cause is what generates the specific disconnections and the inability to connect to her life and the possibilities it presents to her again for so long through the season.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Is AA ever going to post the final part of her Seeing Red review. It doesn't need to be War and Peace and Stoney has talked more about it than AA has. Fair enough if she doesn't want to do any more but she should at least say so imo

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Aurora has said that she will try to get the final parts of Seeing Red up before the weekend when Villains is due.

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                          • #28
                            My most dear SpuffyGlitz and Stoney

                            Thanks for your responses tumble over themselves—

                            I shall respond to them together, as many of the ideas
                            are intertwined—at least in my ever-tangled mind...

                            First, SpuffyGlitz, no need to apologize for your
                            ways of reading: we each have our own means of
                            making sense of things...

                            I would, however, most welcome any thoughts you have
                            to offer on what I have written—

                            And I recommend Stoney's marvelous reply, along
                            with those of others... and I shall finally, soon, be posting—
                            only a year late—my response to Stoney's thoughts....

                            Second, with regard to trauma—

                            Trauma is, for Freud, in its essential structure, a missed encounter:
                            an event that the subject does not actually experience... Indeed,
                            current science now theorizes that traumatic events are inscribed
                            in a different part of the brain than are other experiences, those
                            that make up otherwise normal events, even those we repress; that
                            place of inscription renders traumatic events inaccessible to the
                            conscious mind—they can erupt through flashbacks and other
                            means, but that is their infliction of themselves upon the subject,
                            not the subject consciously seeking, finding them—save after
                            long, arduous therapeutic work (trust me on this... it hurts... )...

                            For almost all, as for Amy, trauma is a missed encounter with Death—

                            But for Buffy, in her resurrection (as opposed to her prior traumas), it
                            was, I think, a missed encounter with Life—

                            Hence her return, her working through, comes first through her
                            encounter with the living Joyce (as opposed the the false one) at
                            the end of her hallucinations in NA, then through her engravement
                            with Dawn, their battle—fought together in space and time, together
                            as they have never been since Buffy's return—and their emergence
                            into the light—

                            But in either case, trauma is formed not simply by that missed event:

                            As Cathy Caruth, interpreting Freud, writes, "for those who undergo
                            trauma, it is not only the moment of the event, but of the passing out
                            of it that is traumatic; that survival itself, in other words, can
                            be a crisis


                            For awaking displaces the subject in time (and space, body): displaces
                            her in relation to the time of her non-experience and to that of trauma's
                            repeated disruptions—the returns of trauma, through flashbacks and
                            other illegible rips in consciousness, block the recognizable flow of time,
                            unsettle the given orientations of space, open maelstroms in the
                            habitual ebb, flow, and spacing of affect, thought... Moment to moment,
                            the subject finds devastated her ability to form meaningful connections
                            between ideas, feelings, things, people...

                            And in this, I utterly agree with Stoney

                            In reading S6, we have had a tendency to focus so intently upon Buffy's
                            depression that we have forgotten the missed event that birthed it: trauma.

                            Such forgetting brings a missing of how it is precisely Buffy's missed
                            connection with Life that throws her into a crisis of survival, that strands her
                            between Life and Death, far from the very home she inhabits; that drives
                            her far from those she loves, whom she knows she loves, enwebbed as
                            she remains in her displacement from that love's opening—personal and,
                            in Slaying, impersonal—into the force that so moved through her, synapse
                            to sinew, ensuring her survival and that of the world; that propels her
                            into the unwarm, dead arms of Spike—

                            Although, as I argue in my NA writing, it is, ultimately, there, in
                            Spike's arms, in the self-shattering she encounters, that Buffy begins
                            to find a strange, transversal movement through herself and him,
                            athwart their "this" (as she calls it in Dead Things) to the
                            Possibility that Life would be—

                            But that aside aside, I agree that focussing more upon Buffy's trauma,
                            in its specificity, its temporalities, displacements, and dis/embodiments,
                            would take us into a fuller understanding of S6... and S7...

                            And in this, thinking how Amy's story, brief though it be, refracts against
                            Buffy's, how their trauma touch and divigate, gives much to think: this
                            is something I had missed until reading your post, SpuffyGlitz,
                            and I thank you for the connection—

                            For if Amy gives us an instance of false witnessing, continually repeating
                            her mother's traumatic infliction of magic as the only way to bear the
                            crisis of her survival, to feel any connection to Life—and, I think, to
                            Catherine, whom, in her power, she had from birth associated with
                            Life ("I gave you Life" are almost Catherine's last words)...

                            Then we can see Buffy's inability, to take one example, to embody her
                            mission, her Slayerness in almost all of S6—her far from purposeful,
                            intensely creative pursuit of the Trio, her nightly "going through the
                            motions" and no more—as something more than a symptom of
                            her depression, although it is also that: diffracted against Amy here,
                            Buffy's failure is less a fall into false witnessing, for Buffy does not
                            inflict death or impose her power selfishly upon others as a
                            means of enduring her survival, than a failure to witness at all, save
                            in the most mechanical manner, slaying because she knows nothing
                            else to do... and because it takes her from home... and gives her
                            an excuse to visit Spike....

                            For one who suffers trauma, awakening to survival is a crisis: of
                            guilt, of unintelligibility, of displacement from the known. To witness
                            is, in part, crucial because it requires the subject to take up her
                            responsibility to the dead—as the one who survived, she must live
                            as they did not; it is also, in part, to once again make meaningful
                            connections—within herself and to others, personal and impersonal—
                            to the world, to assume her obligations for others, for their
                            indeterminate possibilities—

                            In this, witnessing does not always involve telling stories: it can
                            involve, most importantly, listening to the call of the other, to
                            attending, with generosity, without expectations, to allowing
                            touch, opening to the change that call, that touch might being—


                            Very last thing, very briefly, as this has meandered far beyond
                            my intention...

                            Stoney

                            Very muchness of yes to all you wrote about Willow, magic, power,
                            addiction, &c.... I very, very anticipate our further explorations...


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