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  • Chaos Demons - what are they?

    I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts about Chaos Demons in Buffy - and the origin of their name.

    I know that the origin of Chaos Demons in Buffy is little more than a joke - Spike mentions how disgusting they are:

    SPIKE: Have you ever seen a chaos demon? All slime and antlers, they're disgusting! (Lovers Walk)
    A few seasons later, we actually get to see one in the flesh - and the comedy comes from how polite and reasonable the demon is despite its supposed chaotic nature:

    SPIKE: You keep punishing me. Carrying on with creatures like this.
    Now for the first time we see there is a third creature there. Standing to one side is a CHAOS DEMON. All slime and antlers. The demon speaks, the very picture of soft spoken reason.
    CHAOS DEMON: Okay. You guys obviously have a thing going on here.
    They ignore him.
    DRUSILLA: I have to find my pleasures, Spike. You taste like ashes.
    SPIKE: So this is my fault now?
    He gestures, "go away." He heads out - but stops once and addresses Spike.
    CHAOS DEMON: I didn't know she was seeing somebody. I should take off.
    SPIKE: Yeah, why don't you do that?
    The demon blows a kiss to Drusilla, then walks off.
    DRUSILLA: You can't blame the ghoul, Spike. You're all covered with her. I look at you... all I see is the Slayer. (Fool for Love)
    My question is a silly one, since the Chaos Demon is obviously a joke stretched across several seasons. But in almost every known mythology, the element of Chaos as personified is either serpentine or of some kind of watery nature. Dragons and snakes, yes, but generally woodland creatures like stags are representative of warrior spirits and positive spiritual influences like Herne the Hunter.

    I understand that the writers didn't necessarily have a coherent notion of a chaos demon - but always find it to be a grand Watsonian game to make sense of the nonsensical.

    I notice that Drusilla specifically refers to the Chaos Demon as a 'ghoul' - which is an Arabic term (ghul) for an undead shape-shifting cannibalistic demon who was either once human or takes on the attributes of a human or an animal in order to deceive others and lure them into their trap. In many ways, ghouls (as presented in Western Society through the popular '1001 Nights' as a diabolical version of jinn) are akin to vampires in that they live in cemeteries. feasting on both the living and the dead.

    Perhaps this is what Drusilla finds attractive about the Chaos Demon - the demon may be polite, but like her and other vampires, it was possibly a human who is now a member of the undead and feasts on the living. And since ghouls are shape-shifting demons, it may be that the stag look is just one of their various disguises like vampires in human game face - but one that repulses Spike when he encounters it in Fool for Love because their essential slimy nature can't be repressed and it oozes out of the ghul despite its facade.

    So I can see a ghul taking on the face of a noble stag-like spirit to fool unsuspecting warriors into its clutches for a nice bite to eat.

    But even a ghul is still a far cry from a chaos demon who literally separates the elements and defies order.

    However, in some Iranian mythologies, ghuls are the offspring of Iblīs, the prince of darkness in Islam. Iblis is analogous to the Christian Devil - he's not a chaos figure, but certainly one who might worship the gods and goddesses of chaos. So perhaps Chaos (as personified by a demon) is one of the Old Ones and the Ghuls that wander the earth feasting on humans are simply waiting for the return of Chaos to this dimension again.

    Ah, well, obviously I have too much time on my hands.

    But it always bugs me when the Buffy series merges different mythologies without even a thought as to how they might clash - like one of Dawn's breakfast concoctions.

    What does everyone else think? I kinda feel sorry for the old ghul myself.

  • #2
    For a so-called Chaos Demon, the Chaos Demon in Fool For Love isn't especially chaotic This is a prime moment to cause some more chaos and he doesn't take it. Maybe it's because he likes Dru and doesn't want to hurt her anymore, but I expected more.

    Comment


    • #3
      I still can't use this site.

      American Aurora My question is a silly one, since the Chaos Demon is obviously a joke stretched across several seasons.

      I'm not so sure (in relation to the second clause - I am sure it's not a silly question ). "Entropy" and "Supersymmetry" are both terms that have a reference in Quantum Mechanics and actual Chaos Theory (in the Giles mini it's Superstring theory). I'm pretty sure Spike refers to himself as Chaos is the IDW comics so if it's a joke then the joke is possibly on Spike. TBH, it was wondering about the usefulness of Chaos Theory as a way into the later seasons of BtVS then attracted me to it (I have no idea why I obsess over Quantum Mechanics and Euclidean Geometry when I even can't remember my 7X table but I do *shrugs*).

      "a coherent notion of a chaos demon" - I get your point but wonder whether this isn't a paradox.

      The Chaos Demon is "polite and reasonable". Okay but couldn't the same be said of "civilization", which is usually described as a thin veneer that hides the chaos underneath (alternatively, in Beneath You a blue sweater)?

      If I had a functioning brain, I'd look to the Greeks (and perhaps the bible)...and if I had a functioning brain I could (sadly) join the dots I'm laying down here.

      From Wiki:

      Chaos has been linked with the term abyss / tohu wa-bohu of Genesis 1:2. The term may refer to a state of non-being prior to creation[9][10] or to a formless state. In the Book of Genesis, the spirit of God is moving upon the face of the waters, displacing the earlier state of the universe that is likened to a "watery chaos" upon which there is choshek (which translated from the Hebrew is darkness/confusion).

      In Plato’s Timaeus, the main work of Platonic cosmology, the concept of chaos finds its equivalent in the Greek expression chôra, which is interpreted, for instance, as shapeless space (chôra) in which material traces (ichnê) of the elements are in disordered motion (Timaeus 53a–b). However, the Platonic chôra is not a variation of the atomistic interpretation of the origin of the world, as is made clear by Plato's statement that the most appropriate definition of the chôra is "a receptacle of all becoming – its wetnurse, as it were" (Timaeus 49a), notabene a receptacle for the creative act of the demiurge, the world-maker.[31]

      I'm pretty sure Plato codes the Chora as female - as implied by wet-nurse. It's a concept taken up by French Feminists. Similarly, Cixous takes it upon herself to recover "snakes" (often coded as female) - at least the Medusa (on the basis that what men fear about the Medusa is she makes them hard. I'll leave it there). Water is always coded as female.

      If I had to be pushed to answer I'd say "the Chaos Demon" is maybe a red herring and the real Chaos Demons are a) Spike (who throws Buffy into disarray) and b) Buffy (who throws the Watcher's Council and the world into disarray). The original chaos (for a patriarchal society) is woman (paradoxically woman qua the mother is also the civilizing medium - think the whore and the school teacher in early Westerns). Normal service is restored in S12 (which is why I think S12 is BS - unless you read against the grain).


      American Aurora But it always bugs me when the Buffy series merges different mythologies without even a thought as to how they might clash - like one of Dawn's breakfast concoctions.

      Yes but while Dawn's concoctions might not be palatable to some all she's doing is recombining existing things...she's not expecting people to eat (for example) a pair of shoes. Clash is okay (sweet and sour...Onions that are also flowers)...poisoning isn't. You use some really interesting metaphors/phrases in your description, which I'd like to unpack but I need to visit my actual mother.

      PS. Chaos theory means I can legitimately obsess over Buffy's "Butterfly" (effect) earrings in Lessons. Win-Win. Oh...and Slaughterhouse 5 which Cassie is reading in Help.

      Sorry...my formatting really is shite.
      Last edited by TriBel; 22-06-21, 12:01 PM.
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      Comment


      • Stoney
        Stoney commented
        Editing a comment
        TriBel The new activity column has a 'view all' option at the bottom which will just take you into a list of all threads posted in chronologically, that's possibly the absolute simplest option to view activity.

      • Priceless
        Priceless commented
        Editing a comment
        Great post. I love the idea of Buffy and Spike being the real chaos demons

      • Double Dutchess
        Double Dutchess commented
        Editing a comment
        Off-topic, but WHEE! Nice to see you back!

    • #4
      What I find actually weird about the Chaos demon is the nice suit he is wearing. He is dripping his slime all over it and I can't imagine he likes to run the cleaners every day. Not to mention the costs of cleaning so many suits. So, I am starting to wonder if this isn't his usual outfit but he has put it on to please Dru.
      Maybe he is dripping slime because he is in fact a creature of the water despite his stag-like appearance. Maybe he lives in or near a pond. And now that I think about it it's totally possible that he might not even have picked the suit himself. Maybe Dru picked it for him and dressed him like she dresses her dolls. Look how the color of his suit matches the color of her dress - I don't think that's a coincidence:



      As for him being so kind and polite - well, as much as Spike is devoted to Dru and loves her he does have a short-fuse, is easily offended, and has the attention span of a gnat. So, maybe this was why the Chaos demon appealed to Dru. Maybe after 120 years of temper tantrums, she decided to change her type and went looking for someone completely different from Spike.

      flow

      Comment


      • Priceless
        Priceless commented
        Editing a comment
        Do you think Dru picked out Spike's clothes for him?

      • flow
        flow commented
        Editing a comment
        No, I don't think so. I don't think she was a huge fan of his trademark black jeans, black tee, black leather duster look.

    • #5
      Originally posted by TriBel View Post
      I still can't use this site.

      American Aurora My question is a silly one, since the Chaos Demon is obviously a joke stretched across several seasons.

      I'm not so sure (in relation to the second clause - I am sure it's not a silly question ). "Entropy" and "Supersymmetry" are both terms that have a reference in Quantum Mechanics and actual Chaos Theory (in the Giles mini it's Superstring theory). I'm pretty sure Spike refers to himself as Chaos is the IDW comics so if it's a joke then the joke is possibly on Spike. TBH, it was wondering about the usefulness of Chaos Theory as a way into the later seasons of BtVS then attracted me to it (I have no idea why I obsess over Quantum Mechanics and Euclidean Geometry when I even can't remember my 7X table but I do *shrugs*).

      "a coherent notion of a chaos demon" - I get your point but wonder whether this isn't a paradox.

      The Chaos Demon is "polite and reasonable". Okay but couldn't the same be said of "civilization", which is usually described as a thin veneer that hides the chaos underneath (alternatively, in Beneath You a blue sweater)?

      If I had a functioning brain, I'd look to the Greeks (and perhaps the bible)...and if I had a functioning brain I could (sadly) join the dots I'm laying down here.

      From Wiki:

      Chaos has been linked with the term abyss / tohu wa-bohu of Genesis 1:2. The term may refer to a state of non-being prior to creation[9][10] or to a formless state. In the Book of Genesis, the spirit of God is moving upon the face of the waters, displacing the earlier state of the universe that is likened to a "watery chaos" upon which there is choshek (which translated from the Hebrew is darkness/confusion).

      In Plato’s Timaeus, the main work of Platonic cosmology, the concept of chaos finds its equivalent in the Greek expression chôra, which is interpreted, for instance, as shapeless space (chôra) in which material traces (ichnê) of the elements are in disordered motion (Timaeus 53a–b). However, the Platonic chôra is not a variation of the atomistic interpretation of the origin of the world, as is made clear by Plato's statement that the most appropriate definition of the chôra is "a receptacle of all becoming – its wetnurse, as it were" (Timaeus 49a), notabene a receptacle for the creative act of the demiurge, the world-maker.[31]

      I'm pretty sure Plato codes the Chora as female - as implied by wet-nurse. It's a concept taken up by French Feminists. Similarly, Cixous takes it upon herself to recover "snakes" (often coded as female) - at least the Medusa (on the basis that what men fear about the Medusa is she makes them hard. I'll leave it there). Water is always coded as female.

      If I had to be pushed to answer I'd say "the Chaos Demon" is maybe a red herring and the real Chaos Demons are a) Spike (who throws Buffy into disarray) and b) Buffy (who throws the Watcher's Council and the world into disarray). The original chaos (for a patriarchal society) is woman (paradoxically woman qua the mother is also the civilizing medium - think the whore and the school teacher in early Westerns). Normal service is restored in S12 (which is why I think S12 is BS - unless you read against the grain).


      American Aurora But it always bugs me when the Buffy series merges different mythologies without even a thought as to how they might clash - like one of Dawn's breakfast concoctions.

      Yes but while Dawn's concoctions might not be palatable to some all she's doing is recombining existing things...she's not expecting people to eat (for example) a pair of shoes. Clash is okay (sweet and sour...Onions that are also flowers)...poisoning isn't. You use some really interesting metaphors/phrases in your description, which I'd like to unpack but I need to visit my actual mother.

      PS. Chaos theory means I can legitimately obsess over Buffy's "Butterfly" (effect) earrings in Lessons. Win-Win. Oh...and Slaughterhouse 5 which Cassie is reading in Help.

      Sorry...my formatting really is shite.
      @TriBel,
      Firstly, your post is absolutely brilliant! Thought-provoking and mind-blowingly erudite as always!

      Secondly, it is so WONDERFUL to see you back on the Forums again!

      I really missed your marvelous takes on the show that were so thought-provoking - they often send me rushing right back to books that I hadn’t thought about for a long time to dig deeper to grasp your full meaning. Your droll asides are also very amusing in a way that always makes me smile.

      I’m hoping that you’re going to post more - really looking forward to it! Welcome back!

      Comment


      • #6
        When I think of the Chaos Demon in Fool for Love, I always imagine him as a drunken, never-do-well younger brother of Herne the Hunter in Robin of Sherwood. He doesn't even clean his antlers properly and fools around with vampires when he should be helping heroes in the woods do their job.

        Comment

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