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Thread: Rewatch revival!

  1. #21
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    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

    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:

    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...

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  3. #22
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    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.

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  5. #23
    Bronze Party-Goer StateOfSiege97's Avatar
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    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:

    Quote 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:

    Quote 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
    . Ed. and Intro. Cathy Caruth. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP,
    1995. 128-149.

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    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
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    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.

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    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

  12. #27
    Well Spiked Stoney's Avatar
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    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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    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...


    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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