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The book Spike is reading in As You Were

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  • debbicles
    commented on 's reply
    This is wonderful. Loving all this very thought provoking discussion.

  • StateOfSiege97
    commented on 's reply


    promise actual words after
    my tutoring session...

  • American Aurora
    replied
    Hey, StateofSiege!

    Thinking a lot about these posts and I've come to realize that I should have been discussing the novel, not your history and my response came off as condescending tripe and abelist. Let me post what I should have posted if I had taken the time instead of tossing off a ill-thought out post.

    i can adhere to the idea, advanced by American Aurora,
    that the prop people, given the pleasure they derive from
    inside jokes, were taken by the "Bondage" in the title—
    Yes, I think that's obvious!

    but—

    and here i apologize, American Aurora

    i cannot in adhere to any reading that would connect the
    novel and the episode:

    i have not seen the movie, but i did read the novel in high
    school, an event that provoked a visceral distaste for Maugham—

    on one level, i confess, it was personal: i, too, was born with
    clubfeet—clubfeet that were not corrected at birth, as they should
    have been, that gave me numerous castings, surgeries, and,
    until my nineteenth year, a pronounced limp.... given my own
    history, i could not but recoil from the protagonist's deeply
    unethical, repeated fallings into self-pity, his tendency to shift all
    blame to his body, to take no responsibility for the ways in
    which he moved through the world, the ethics of his affecting
    and being affected—

    "We do not yet know what a body can do—"*

    i did not then comprehend his proclaimed adherence to the
    work of Spinoza; now, however, i can clearly reflect back and
    grasp how utterly he misread the brilliant lens-grinder,
    misunderstood the workings of affect in his ethics—**

    that the character in The Freshman—his name ever escapes me,
    for I can, now, only think him as Oberyn—would cling to the novel
    as a blanket makes absolute sense: his clinging doubles the
    clinging of Maugham's protagonist (whose name i have clearly
    repressed), his affective—and thus ethical—wiftiness—

    even as a vampire, something pathetic emanates—
    That's a fantastic point about the book. In many ways, I think Of Human Bondage is a kind of skewed Bildungsroman, a subset of all those "moral education of a young person" stories from Parzival to Middlesex that create a normative view of education and what it means. In many ways, they are designed to create a “universal prescription for all” through art as to how society functions. At the beginning of Season Seven, the First proclaims that "It's about power" and I think it doesn't just mean spy vs. spy here. I think we're talking about how knowledge is power and it is dispersed through acceptable forms like science and the arts and cultural norms that put down the rules of 'truth' - as in truths that are allowed - rather than seeking out truth itself.

    Maugham's work is particularly set against 19th century works like Bronte's Jane Eyre, Flaubert's Sentimental Education or Dickens' David Copperfield. As you point out, Maugham's protagonist Phillip focuses on his own physical issues as a kind of defense turret to fortify himself from either criticism or inward growth, which makes him a pathetic figure. Phillip only focuses on the power of the state, of the society that he believes shuns him and prevents him from moving onward. He's unable to see or accept that power isn't always a negative force, but can also be used in a positive way that uses information to break the 'rules' of what is truth.

    I think that it relates to the themes of Season Four and also Buffy's difficulty in fitting into UC Sunnydale. The defining of Buffy's 'body' and what it means has always been a constant struggle for her - not only because of her inherent 'femaleness' that already has so many cultural and physical aspects of discomfort attached to it (think of Xander freaking out over the tampon in her purse in School Hard) but also because she is the Slayer and has all of the baggage that goes along with it. There's always a fascinating push me-pull you between the idea that Buffy wants to be normal and non-super strengthy (cultural expectations) and Buffy should be a perfect Slayer through honing her body like a fine weapon to be used by the Watchers Council (authoritarian expectations) As you said so brilliantly in your review of Normal Again, "the characters, especially Buffy herself, cast its crises as the “conditions of specific bodies and their competence at maintaining health or other conditions of social belonging”—especially her own; in this, they show their interiorization of the logic of biopolitics and wield it against themselves, judging their own failures in its terms, as their failures to achieve normative health “or other conditions of social belonging.” Buffy's 'wrongness' and how it haunts her really overshadows the series until the end.

    So in The Freshman, Of Human Bondage is representative in Buffy of an information source, sanctioned by society, that is severely limited in its ability to teach because of its emphasis on culturally sanctioned myths about health and social belonging. If power is a "thing of the senses" then the idea that the truth is confined to rational, language-based texts is kaput.

    I've looked back at The Freshman and I see that the theme of the limitations of the modern novel is there from the opening of the episode (and the season) - there's a sly internal joke there about how even short stories interfere with Psych that is telling, I think.

    It's night in the cemetery and Buffy is pacing back and forth. Willow is seated cross-legged reading papers.
    Buffy: Anything?
    Willow: Ah! 'Introduction to the Modern Novel - A Survey Study of 20th Century Novelists." Open to freshmen, you might like that.
    Buffy: 'Introduction to the Modern Novel?' I'm guessing I'd probably have to read the modern novel.
    Willow: Maybe more than one.
    Buffy: I like books. I just don't want to take on too much. Do they have an introduction to the modern blurb?
    Willow: Oh! Short story.
    Buffy: Well, that's good.
    Willow: Oh, no. It conflicts with Psych.
    Buffy: Maybe I shouldn't take Psych.
    Willow: You gotta. It's fun, a-and you can use it as your science requirement. Anyway, Professor Walsh is supposed to be great. She's like, world-renowned.
    Buffy: How do you get to be renowned? I mean, like, do you have to be 'nowned' first? (The Freshman)
    The episode already mocks the idea of the world-renowned, both Professor Walsh and the 'great books' of the 20th century that freshman are programmed to read in order to get them through life with their "rules' of truth. The teachings of Professor Walsh and the teachings of the 'great books' are juxtaposed against the idea of Buffy's super secret identity as two competing forces of information learning, one official and sanctioned, the other secretive and intuitive. One has voice, the other needs no voice. The crossover text - Images of Pop Culture - is a reference to classes that focus on texts like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and try to contain the populism and ragged texts of pop culture within a culturally sanctioned setting.

    Willow: Yes, first there's the painful 'nowning' process. Wait! 'Images of Pop Culture.' This is good. T-They watch movies, T-TV shows, even commercials.
    Buffy: For credit?
    Willow: Heh. Isn't college cool?
    Buffy: How'd I miss that one?
    Buffy walks over and sits beside her.
    Willow: Well, you did sort of wait till the last minute with your course selection.
    Buffy: Sorry, 'Miss I-chose-my-major-in-playgroup.'
    Willow: That's an exaggeration. I just, you know, think it's good to be prepared. Don't want to be caught unawares.
    Behind them a hand thrusts up out of a fresh grave.
    Buffy: Well I've been busy! It's been a very slay-heavy summer. I just haven't had a whole lot of time to think about life at UC Sunnydale.
    A vampire's head and shoulders emerge from the grave.
    Willow: It's exciting, though, isn't it?
    Buffy: Yeah! It's gonna be an adjustment.
    Willow: Yeah, it's like, five miles away. It's uncharted territory.
    The vampire struggles to climb up.
    Buffy: Giles said I have to be secret-identity gal again.
    Willow: That makes sense.
    The vampire makes it out of the grave and starts walking toward them, his face vamped out.
    Buffy: It's gonna be tough, though... with a roommate.
    Willow: Yeah.
    Buffy: I'm psyched about college. (The vampire smiles as he gets closer.)
    Buffy: Definitely. (He stops as he sees weapons stacked against a gravestone.)
    Buffy: I just need to figure out how it's going to work with my extra-curricular activities. (The vamp looks at Buffy, the smile gone.)
    Buffy: I just can't let it take the edge off my slaying. (Shaking his head, the vampire turns and walks away.)
    Buffy: I gotta stay sharp. (She looks behind her toward the fresh grave.) Is this guy ever gonna wake up?
    One of the main points of the opening teaser is how imbibing official channels of information and indoctrination are dulling Buffy's senses, lulling her into patterns that endanger her and prevent her from doing her real job. The only thing that stops the newly-risen vampire from attacking Buffy and Willow are the weapons stacked against a gravestone that indicate they're something more than a tasty snack. The power sensed by the vampire, regardless of the inane conversation between Willow and Buffy, is more than enough to send him packing.

    Buffy is overwhelmed in the episode by all of the different 'performances' of knowledge at the University from students calling for political change to others handing her religious tracts to Willow herself falling firmly into a groove of "Ethno-musicology." and campus boyfriend. This hullabaloo of competing informational 'facts' is comically literalized when Buffy and Willow shuffle through the different pieces of 'truth' in their hands.

    Buffy is standing in the middle of a quad with students milling all around her. She's looking around.
    Student Volunteer: FRESHMEN! WE'RE DOING THIS BY FOLDER COLOR! IF YOU'RE NOT HOLDING ON TO A YELLOW FOLDER, YOU'RE IN THE WRONG GROUP. YOU BELONG UP BY WIESMAN HALL. (She points. Buffy looks at the folders in her arms but doesn't see a yellow one. She starts to walk in the indicated direction.)
    Girl standing in front of banner that reads "THIS MUST STOP"
    Girl: Not gonna take it!
    Crowd: No!
    Girl: Don't take it lying down!
    Crowd: No!
    Girl: What do we want?
    Crowd: [Unintelligible... Food?]
    Girl: When do we want it?
    Crowd: Now!
    A student walks up and hands her a flier.
    Boy: Rally, tomorrow night. We have to let the administration know how we feel.
    Buffy: Yeah, right.
    Another student hands her another flier.
    Girl: Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?
    Buffy: Uh, you know I meant to and then I just got really busy.
    A third student hands her yet another flier.
    Boy: Party, Thursday at Alpha Delt, you gotta be there. Free Jello shots for freshman women.
    Buffy: Hey, you guys know where Wiesman hall is?
    But the student is already accosting someone else. Buffy continues walking and Willow meets up with her.
    Willow: Buffy, Hey!
    Buffy: Oh, boy am I glad to see you.
    They continue walking.
    Willow: Isn't this cool? There's so much going on.
    Buffy: Yeah. Almost, one might say, too much.
    Willow: I got all my courses... except for 'Modern Poetry', I had to switch to 'Ethno-musicology.' But that's cool, West-African drumming, I think it's going to change everything. Have you met your roommate yet?
    Buffy: No.
    Willow: Me neither. I hope she's cool.
    Buffy: (Indicating the fliers in Willow's hands.) I see you got ticketed too.
    Willow: Yes! I've heard about five different issues and I'm angry about each and every one of them. What'd you get?
    Buffy: 'Jello shots.'
    Willow: I didn't get 'Jello shots!'
    Willow picks out a flier and tries to hand it to Buffy.
    Willow: I-I'll trade you for a-a 'Take Back the Night.' (The Freshman)
    Buffy really has little interest in all of these opposing signifiers of indoctrination (yes, even the jello shots) - all notably pointing towards an imaginary future in which all will be made whole, happiness will ensue and the world will be saved. In that sense, they're all fantasies that perpetuate attachments to an imaginary ideal that can never really be fulfilled, but only deferred. Of course, deferment itself can be a form of contentment as we all know from watching politics.

    The entire theory of the moral education of a young person - the Bildungsroman - is mocked here, I think. Willow is initially duped into believing that the rigors of university learning and knowledge will shield her from having to engage with life. I think this has a lot to do with Willow's unease with herself, her desires, her autonomy, her body. She's excitedly telling Buffy how happy she is to be indoctrinated and one has to think back to how Willow's own mother and father were similar, indoctrinating her with knowledge and "rules" of truth.

    It's not surprising that Willow is thrilled to be placed back into the bars of that cage after the shattering events of the end of Season Three - it's comforting to her because it reasserts her 'normality' which is punched by having an on-campus boyfriend. So much of what Willow experiences in Season Four - the turn from sanctioned learning to magic, the discovery of her attraction to Tara, her attempts to break away from those 'rules' - is all a reaction to her rejection of the systems of power that she so eagerly embraces here.

    Buffy hands over all her fliers with a smile.
    Buffy: Are we heading anywhere near Wiesman Hall? I still need to get my I.D. card.
    Willow: Oh, I got mine this morning. The lines are really long now, you should have gone early.
    Buffy: Well, I hope that I learn from this experience, and that I grow.
    Willow: I'm being annoying, aren't I?
    Buffy: No, it's nice that you're excited.
    Willow: It's just in High School, knowledge was pretty much frowned upon. You really had to work to learn anything. But here, the energy, the collective intelligence, it's like this force, this penetrating force, and I can just feel my mind opening up--you know?--and letting this place thrust into and spurt knowledge into... That sentence ended up in a different place than it started out in.
    Buffy: I'm with you, though, I'm all for spurty knowledge. It's just, a little overwhelming. Don't you feel it?
    Willow: Well, I'm...ooh, boyfriend! My on-campus boyfriend.
    Willow kisses Oz as he walks up.
    Buffy: Oh no, I forgot to pick mine up. Line's probably really long there, too.
    Willow: How are you?
    Oz: Good. It's pretty much a madhouse, a madhouse.
    Buffy: I know, I was just saying that to Willow. I mean it's just so overwhelming. Don't you feel completely disoriented? (The Freshman)
    I really like Oz's statement about UC Sunnydale being "a madhouse, a madhouse" because this kind of takes the idea of madhouses as prisons for social transgressors and displaces it on the University. The students indoctrinated there are not learning the kind of truth-based 'facts' that can help them because there are layers within layers of indoctrination and secrecy that are comically explored in the battle between Giles' theories of learning and that of Professor Walsh and the underground "Initiative" which takes the idea of social conditioning the inhabitants to terrifying new levels.

    Buffy's disorientation creates a kind of dissociation in of itself, a kind of medicalizing that creates a fragility of mind, a fragility of body. I think this is where the novel Of Human Bondage come in here as she commiserates with another student who is equally fragile:

    Buffy collides with another student.
    Buffy: Ooh!
    Eddie: Wow, sorry.
    Buffy: No, I wasn't looking.
    Eddie: Did you, uh, lose your way?
    Buffy: Me? Oh, no, no, I'm just going to Fischer Hall. Which I know is on the Earth planet. Recently voted 'Most Pathetic.' Uh-huh.
    Eddie: Hmm, well, I'm lost and I have a map. So...
    Buffy: Ooh, I come in second. I'm Buffy, by the way.
    Eddie: Eddie.
    Buffy: Ok, so...that's Fischer Hall, right?
    Eddie: Ok...and this is Dunwirth Building. That's my dorm... it's just... it's us I can't find.
    Buffy: Are we the blue part?
    Eddie: No...yes! (The Freshman)
    This entire dialogue is fascinating to me. Not only because the nature of a map is to create perception of space and time in search of a resolution or answer. The imaginary representations of a map - how it perceives and evaluates depending on where one is coming from - is either terrifying through its incoherence (there be monsters here) or reassuring through rediscovering familiar signs and places. Buffy and Eddie are trying to location themselves on the map as they voyage through the impossible shoals of UC Sunnydale. Of course, a voyage assumes a future moment in which the traveler will look back and remember not only the moments along the way and the final destination, but a way to return. Maps are a way to mark down memory, to prevent the terror of forgetfulness.

    Just as Buffy and Eddie have forgotten themselves, they believe that searching the map is a way to define the relations between themselves and all of the points of interest, creating a new sense of self through this kind of relationships between the poles, between forces that buffet and confront them. Like the University 'facts' of truth, map knowledge is often taught - it's not necessarily intuitive. Buffy breaths a sigh of relief that the map gives her the direction she lacks.

    Buffy: Ok, right, so I came from there, then we just wanna go that way to the bike path.
    Eddie: You sound very certain, I'm in. You're taking 'Psych 105' with Professor Walsh.
    Buffy: Yeah, I mean, I'm gonna try. She's not afraid of the long words, huh?
    Eddie: Yeah, she's pretty intense. A lot of the courses are really tough.
    Buffy: I'm a little upset. I had it on good authority that this was a party school.
    Eddie: I think it's supposed to get easier.
    Buffy: I still feel like carrying around a security blanket.
    Eddie: 'Of Human Bondage.' Have you ever read it?
    Buffy: Oh, I'm not really into porn. I mean I'm just...I'm trying to cut way back.
    Eddie: No, there's no actual bondage, it's just a novel. I've read it, like, ten times. I always keep it by my bed. Security blanket.
    Buffy: I don't really have a security blanket unless you count Mr. Pointy.
    Eddie: Mr. Pointy?
    Buffy: Oh, bike path. So it's nice to know that I'm not the only entirely confused person on this campus.
    Eddie: I suspect there's a lot of us.
    Buffy: Well, I'll look for you in Psych.
    Eddie: Yeah, maybe we can help each other figure out what the hell they're talking about.
    Buffy: Ok.
    Eddie: Maybe even make it through the year.
    Buffy: Goodnight.
    Eddie: Night.
    Buffy walks away. Eddie smiles pleasantly at her retreating form and then turns to walk in the opposite direction. He gets a few feet when he's grabbed from behind, a hand over his mouth. He looks up at his assailant and sees that his face is vamped out. He also sees two other vampires, young looking man and woman. They part to reveal a young, attractive blonde woman who takes a few steps toward him.
    Sunday: I'm sorry. Did you lose your way? (The Freshman)
    I'm looking back to your quote here, StateofSiege:

    his clinging doubles the
    clinging of Maugham's protagonist (whose name i have clearly
    repressed), his affective—and thus ethical—wiftiness—

    even as a vampire, something pathetic emanates—
    First of all, I love that term - wifiness.

    I haven't ever come across it before, but it's a lovely term that evokes a feeling that is incredibly apt when it comes to Eddie. Eddie clings to the moral certainties of a text like Of Human Bondage to protect himself at night whereas Buffy keeps Mr. Pointy close by to literally slay the monsters. You're right in saying that the clinging of the protagonist in Of Human Bondage to self-pity is similar to Eddie's literal act of sleeping with the novel as a security blanket. Of course, if one applies it to the map, then you could see the novel not as a narrative, but as a signifier that means home, family, origin to Eddie. It represents his emotional attachment to the past, his reading of it ten times his inability to move forward outside of the widening gyre.

    It's interesting to look at the history of the term "security blanket" to get a sense of its multifaceted meaning. Most people think it originated with the comic strip "Peanuts" but it actually has a long (and interesting) history.

    There are varied accounts, but it seems to be a term from Edwardian England for a kind of blanket fastened over a sleeping child and held with clips to force them to stay in bed. The security wasn't so much for the child as for the parent who feared that their child might wander and fall out of a window or burn themselves in the nearby fire. In World War I, the terms started to take root in American military speak and by World War II, the term was officially used to designate certain measures of security, keeping them as clipped and immobile as the child in the bed. Later, this grew to mean anything that was top secret from weapons to scientific discoveries to means of warfare, the idea of laying a 'security blanket' on the position of nukes or throwing a 'security blanket' on Europe during the cold war.

    Surprisingly, the term does not show up anywhere in the Peanuts comic strip - the original introduction of Linus' blanket was his sister Lucy explaining to a confused Charlie Brown that her little brother is clutching a "security and happiness blanket." It's made even more universal by her follow-up assertion that "all little kids carry" them because They're just the thing to have when you're tired and discouraged. See? You just sort of scrunch your face into it, and right away you feel secure."

    This strip was introduced in June of 1954 when the Cold War was rising to its height of paranoia and I think one of the most ingenious things that Charles Shultz did was to relate the idea of a child using a blanket to alleviate their anxiety with the intense anxiety of dissolution and annihilation through either cultural collapse or nuclear destruction. The term "security blanket" caught on with the general public as a way to discuss the ever-growing popularization of Freudian concepts in the 1950s and it became a cultural by-word for a comfort object that protects the wearer from a sense of impermanence and loss.

    So "The Freshman" is mocking the idea of the moral education of the Bildungsroman as any kind of guide to the psychic map that Buffy and Eddie are seeking to navigate as they pour over the UC Sunnydale map. In many ways, the narrative of the text, the teaching of the text as a sanctioned information source to reveal 'fact' truths and as a representation of the past all come together here to show how worthless Eddie's 'security blanket' is. As soon as Buffy edges away from a clearly interested Eddie, he is snapped up immediately by Sunday and sired into a vampire just the vampires are snapped up immediately by the Initiative, merging the two meanings of security blanket as comfort object and military objective of secrecy.

    As you have so brilliantly said, clinging to the past "renders the future already given, determined, renders true futurity, creation, newness, impossible. In thinking becoming, D&G are seeking the thought of possibility—Possibility – ! — of an opening to indeterminacy, the truly new, creation. Hence their insistence upon the betweenness of becoming, its non-determination by either of the points that it connects in time. Hence, too, their thinking of time not as the passage between a series of steps along a plotted path, passing from one event to the next, moving towards a known end—birth to death—but as a constant flux that has neither “origin nor destination.” Time itself, in this sense, is not the passage between events but eventfulness itself."

    This really calls back to the map that Buffy and Eddie are reading and calls forward to Buffy's inability to fight Sunday, as she is unable to let go of temporal ideas of past, present and future due to the overwhelming "newness" of everything in her life with the departure of Angel and Cordelia, the destruction of high school, the loss of her Watcher, the growing separation between herself and Xander and Willow. It's important to recognize that the novel descended from travel narratives which were more about the nature of travel than the place the characters were in. They take apart the world over which we have no control and replace it with a kind of narrative that falsely implies control.

    Sunday: Slayer! Wow, I heard you might be coming here. This is, I mean, what a challenge! The slayer!
    Buffy: And you are?
    Sunday: I'm Sunday, I'll be killing you here in a minute or so.
    Buffy: You know that threat gets more frightening every time I hear it.
    SpicoliVamp: Uh, are we gonna fight? Or is there just gonna be a monster sarcasm rally?
    FatVamp: I'm in for a piece.
    Buffy: Everybody gets to play.
    Sunday: Guys, this is totally mine.
    SpicoliVamp: Ok, but you gotta share the eatin'. 'Cause I'm thinkin' slayer's blood's gotta be--Whoa!--like Thai Stick.
    Buffy: I thought people were suppose to get smarter in college?
    Sunday: Yeah, I think you had a lot of misconceptions about college. Like that anyone would be caught dead wearing that.
    As Buffy looks down at her clothes, Sunday punches her. The two fight, dodging and blocking until Sunday lands a punch that sends Buffy sprawling. As Buffy tries to rise, Sunday kicks her in the face and throws her onto the dais. Buffy tries to hit back but Sunday grabs her by the throat.
    Sunday: Don't take this the wrong way, but you fight like a girl. (The Freshman)
    Buffy is stuck in stasis mode, stuck in normative definitions of self that cause her to literally lose her Slayer power as if from some kind of traumatic forgetting. Her presence is entirely mired in the past like Phillip in Of Human Bondage or Eddie who re-reads Phillip's 'journey' ten times to retrace the same ports of safety that actually enable forgetfulness.

    finally, the violence of the protagonist's affair with his so, so
    clearly uncaring other offers not even a pale shade of the
    Buffy-Spike affair:

    i have elaborated upon that relationship at length, have argued
    again and again that the physical violence between them is,
    in itself, far from unethical—that it brings Buffy to a self-shattering
    pleasure akin to her ethical violence as a Slayer, that it begins
    to thread her way back to that mode of Slaying, to Slaying as
    a gift of self-dissolution and violence, of an impersonal ethics—

    this is not to say that they do not inflict cruelties upon each other,
    that Buffy's treatment of Spike is not too, too often deeply unethical
    (Spike, as a vampire, of course lacks all capacity for ethics—
    not, at least, until the culmination of an assemblage of affective
    forces suddenly, violently shifts his way of moving through the
    world, sets off his becoming (and becoming is, as Deleuze and
    Guattari argue, affect)—

    but the violence, the damage, the ethical falls that Of Human
    Bondage
    offer are surfacey, facile, reductive, too pale to
    glance upon, to stir any but the most normative understandings
    of love, pain, power, and their complex imbrications....***

    imbrications that then imbricate Buffy and Spike, with irreducible
    complexity, through each other:

    they glisten, illuminate; the novel in its self-satisfied paleness,
    cannot even muster darkness...
    Yes, I was far too facile in even making a comparison and to be honest, I was thinking more of Bette Davis' powerhouse performance that blows a lot of the original material out of the water and changes the balanced view in the novel to something a lot more disruptive despite her containment by the end.

    and i have not even touched on the sad turgidness of his prose...
    Well, you have me there.

    * from Spinoza's Ethics—all else, particularly his crucial concept
    of connatus, emanates from it...

    **to read truly great novels, from close to the same period, informed
    by Spinoza, you need reach no further than Herman Melville—

    ***and for an exploration of that imbrication, one written closer to
    Maugham's own time; an exploration relentlessly rigorous, capable
    of stunning every sinew, hollowing out every bone; an exploration
    given in unutterably gorgeous, if painfully enlacing, prose: Henry
    James, particularly Portrait of a Lady and the final few novels...

    Oh—The Golden Bowl....
    I know what you mean. The Wings of the Dove floored me when I first read it.


    Edit: What I forgot to mention is the irony of Spike reading Of Human Bondage in As You Were because it's so tied up in Buffy's state of stasis in both The Freshman and As You Were. Not to mention the fact that in the same episode, we see the first appearance of the Initiative and it's 'security blanket' wrapped tightly around UC Sunnydale and Riley first meeting Buffy after losing Angel as she grapples with her inability to let go of the past. Riley showing up in As You Were to once again find the same kind of immobile, map-less (or mapped out) Buffy wrapped in her Spike-shaped security blanket for more than the tenth time is just a coincidental punch of inadvertent narrative force as to the multiple meanings of the novel in The Freshman and Spike reading it in As You Were where Riley's secret mission is to find the eggs which Spike is secretly hiding down below. And that brings on a whole other multiplicity of meanings that leads to Buffy and Spike's attempt to break away from pre-determined maps into the unknown.

    Which brings us full circle to the opening of The Freshman in which Willow describes the future destination of UC Sunnydale as “uncharted territory.”

    So it was luck that the prop people thought it a funny title and threw it into Spike's hands in As You Were right before Buffy once more embraces her security blanket - the humor of which actually stems from a line the script from The Freshman in which Buffy mistakenly believes Eddie is referring to a porn novel. And perhaps it is - but not the kind she thinks it is.
    Last edited by American Aurora; 29-08-20, 10:38 PM.

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  • StateOfSiege97
    replied
    oh American Aurora

    my thanks jostle each other in their rush, reverberating—

    your complex, thought-giving post deserves a rigorously
    considered response—


    but today....

    whatever day it be...

    the clock limps into 4 pm—

    and here i sit, still in my nightgown, longing for a cigarette

    (= going downstairs, across the street to the park, = nudging
    the most immediately apprehensible facets of my self into
    presentableness* = confusion, intensified the matter of
    food, my habitual falls into its forgetting, = incoherent
    ramblings here instead... )

    grasping at some pause of space amid the sharding
    obligations, the calls for response, each in a different
    shape of language—


    but soon, soon—

    with, i promise, less wanderingness*—





    * please pardon the ness-ness... it took place in
    me during the months i gave to the reading, rereading,
    thinking, rereading, and finally writing about Melville's
    Pierre, upon thinglyness, absolute silence—yes, I know
    my Cage, know with a stumbling awe, but in this, Melville
    anticipated, inscribed an unspeakable elsetime—, the ethics
    of affective relationality, and, of course, Isabel... it wedges itself
    into my language during bouts of acute strayingness...


    but enough—

    and apologies for thus imposing—

    food, clothing, nicotine, brain...

    after leaving you with (a more Cagian) silence—
    Last edited by StateOfSiege97; 26-08-20, 01:28 AM.

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  • Double Dutchess
    commented on 's reply
    Thanks for the summary! I read the book not that long ago (maybe 3-4 years?) but I hardly remembered anything about it...

  • American Aurora
    replied
    Sorry - I tried to say the below in comments and it started to become a novel, so I pasted them all here!

    I’m sorry to hear about your medical issues, StateofSiege. I imagine that cast the novel in a very unfavorable light.

    Love your explanation of how he not only misread Spinoza, but why the novel is very different from Buffy and Spike’s relationship.

    I think that the club foot was a stand-in for being gay, though, and the self-loathing mess of a main character is a part of that. I think the “body” was a metaphor for something that he could not express, although I do understand the distaste for his wallowing and drowning in self-pity. I agree this is very attractive to young people who have trouble early in life.

    But I’ve always thought that the character - giving it a queer reading - was finding profundity in his relationship with “Mildred” (who was actually based on a young man who was his companion for a time) and the return to normality was the real abomination just as Maugham tried to live a heterosexual life and even had a child with a woman while feeling utterly detached and despairing. Perhaps the ‘misreading’ of Spinoza has to do with that as well. I’ve already felt like there was a second novel within his novels that was always threatening to peek out and perhaps I’m responding more to that than the work itself.

    I do enjoy his novels on that level, though not on the level of James or Melville. A classic of queer underground writing, I.think his closetedness cuts across a lot of the orientalist/exotic texts he wrote, making him more complex than Kipling. The trauma of sexual repression dominates his work and having grown up in San Francisco as a young child with predominantly gay friends from childhood, the attraction to his work from my friends intrigued me. Kind of a Victorian/Edwardian bridge between Oscar Wilde and Evelyn Waugh in terms of a comedy of manners and morals.

    He was also one of the first literary feminists who fought for the Sufferage movement and one of the first to actively encourage and publish a lot of female authors in his literary magazine, which had ties to the early feminist movement.

    I wouldn’t put him on the level of Melville or James or Joyce or Tolstoy, though. He’s kind of the Ring Lardner Jr. of the smart set for me.

    But I take your criticisms seriously and I’m sorry that you had to go through the medical issues.
    Last edited by American Aurora; 25-08-20, 06:28 PM.

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  • Stoney
    commented on 's reply
    Thanks for that! Definitely a nice thread idea, even if such horrors would be unleashed.

  • Stoney
    commented on 's reply
    Yes, the actual book topic doesn't sound amusing from what's been said. Interesting though.

  • StateOfSiege97
    replied
    i can adhere to the idea, advanced by American Aurora,
    that the prop people, given the pleasure they derive from
    inside jokes, were taken by the "Bondage" in the title—

    but—

    and here i apologize, American Aurora

    i cannot in adhere to any reading that would connect the
    novel and the episode:

    i have not seen the movie, but i did read the novel in high
    school, an event that provoked a visceral distaste for Maugham—

    on one level, i confess, it was personal: i, too, was born with
    clubfeet—clubfeet that were not corrected at birth, as they should
    have been, that gave me numerous castings, surgeries, and,
    until my nineteenth year, a pronounced limp.... given my own
    history, i could not but recoil from the protagonist's deeply
    unethical, repeated fallings into self-pity, his tendency to shift all
    blame to his body, to take no responsibility for the ways in
    which he moved through the world, the ethics of his affecting
    and being affected—

    "We do not yet know what a body can do—"*

    i did not then comprehend his proclaimed adherence to the
    work of Spinoza; now, however, i can clearly reflect back and
    grasp how utterly he misread the brilliant lens-grinder,
    misunderstood the workings of affect in his ethics—**

    that the character in The Freshman—his name ever escapes me,
    for I can, now, only think him as Oberyn—would cling to the novel
    as a blanket makes absolute sense: his clinging doubles the
    clinging of Maugham's protagonist (whose name i have clearly
    repressed), his affective—and thus ethical—wiftiness—

    even as a vampire, something pathetic emanates—

    finally, the violence of the protagonist's affair with his so, so
    clearly uncaring other offers not even a pale shade of the
    Buffy-Spike affair:

    i have elaborated upon that relationship at length, have argued
    again and again that the physical violence between them is,
    in itself, far from unethical—that it brings Buffy to a self-shattering
    pleasure akin to her ethical violence as a Slayer, that it begins
    to thread her way back to that mode of Slaying, to Slaying as
    a gift of self-dissolution and violence, of an impersonal ethics—

    this is not to say that they do not inflict cruelties upon each other,
    that Buffy's treatment of Spike is not too, too often deeply unethical
    (Spike, as a vampire, of course lacks all capacity for ethics—
    not, at least, until the culmination of an assemblage of affective
    forces suddenly, violently shifts his way of moving through the
    world, sets off his becoming (and becoming is, as Deleuze and
    Guattari argue, affect)—

    but the violence, the damage, the ethical falls that Of Human
    Bondage
    offer are surfacey, facile, reductive, too pale to
    glance upon, to stir any but the most normative understandings
    of love, pain, power, and their complex imbrications....***

    imbrications that then imbricate Buffy and Spike, with irreducible
    complexity, through each other:

    they glisten, illuminate; the novel in its self-satisfied paleness,
    cannot even muster darkness...

    and i have not even touched on the sad turgidness of his prose...



    * from Spinoza's Ethics—all else, particularly his crucial concept
    of connatus, emanates from it...

    **to read truly great novels, from close to the same period, informed
    by Spinoza, you need reach no further than Herman Melville—

    ***and for an exploration of that imbrication, one written closer to
    Maugham's own time; an exploration relentlessly rigorous, capable
    of stunning every sinew, hollowing out every bone; an exploration
    given in unutterably gorgeous, if painfully enlacing, prose: Henry
    James, particularly Portrait of a Lady and the final few novels...

    Oh—The Golden Bowl....



    Last edited by StateOfSiege97; 26-08-20, 01:35 AM.

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  • HardlyThere
    replied
    I don't know, it might have been the only book like that in the bin. I can't think of any other pulp style books on the show. It's all tomes and school books.

    Maybe there should be a thread about this stuff. Could be fun. Things revealed thanks to the HD remaster or AI upscaling from Topaz.

    Buffy's address in S4 is 3659 Crestview (the letter Faith holds up in W.A.Y.). Then it's 1630 Revello in the Body. Then 1630 Crestview in S6. In S4 and S6, the zip is 95037. Thus we have two instances of Sunnydale being in Santa Clara although it seems much more like Santa Barbara.

    Buffy and Riley used flavoured condoms. You'll never get it out of your brain now.

    Leave a comment:


  • SpuffyGlitz
    replied
    Somehow to me a prop of Spike reading that book in particular (having seen a movie version on YouTube now) — even if they never actually counted on anyone noticing, works too well as an inside joke to pass up. The novel probably wasn't a random choice in The Freshman, but it works so much better for As You Were

    Leave a comment:


  • TimeTravellingBunny
    commented on 's reply
    Paul Henreid, that's his name

  • TimeTravellingBunny
    commented on 's reply
    or a not very amusing tie, when you know what the book is about. I saw another version of it on TV once, the 1946 one with the guy from Casablanca.

  • Stoney
    commented on 's reply
    I can't imagine it was the only book they could find, each choice is made over other options and there is an appropriateness to the title. It also visually fits with it being vintage, like Spike.

  • American Aurora
    commented on 's reply
    From what I understand, the crew was amused by all the Spuffy antics and I'm guessing they chortled at the word "bondage" on the cover and grabbed it.
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