Been running across a lot of the outstanding sites from the early period of Buffy and Angel when there were being aired.  Will be posting some of them here - hope they will be both a great reference resource and also stimulate some of our own discussions.

 

Please post your own recommends and additional sites -

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Here is a very good essay on 'Buffy vs Dracula"  and how it correlates with Buffy & Spike and Season 6.   I  always interpreted the vampire in "Restless" in Giles' Dream to be about Spike and Buffy. 

 


From Dracula to Dead Things: What we can learn from the Season 5 premiere

By Elz

 


Buffy vs. Dracula is an episode that seems to get very little respect. The concept of the ep seems like a throwaway: bring the Dracula story to BTVS, get a few laughs from Xander as a bug eater and Giles in the "chick pit," and toss in a red herring ending about the source of Buffy's power which will never be explained but suffices to keep Giles around for another year. I don't think I'm too off-base in characterizing that as the popular opinion. I've rarely seen it discussed in this group because Spike has such a small role, and yet, it sheds an enormous amount of light on his current place in Buffy's life.

What does the character of Dracula, after all, add to the story? Why bring him into the Buffyverse? To me, the simplest answer is that he's *the* vampire, the cultural archetype, and so he makes a great representational figure. Try looking at the episode from a season 6 perspective and seeing Dracula as Spike, or at least the vampiric side of Spike.

Consider the sequence of events:

-Buffy is being pulled away from her friends and family by her slayer side, but she refuses to admit it.
-Vampire comes along and confronts her on this, telling her she's a creature of darkness.
-Vamp and Slayer have a quasi-sexual encounter.
-Buffy tries to deny his power over her, but her will is initially too weak to resist him.
-Vamp gets her to embrace her own darkness.
-The darkness actually strengthens Buffy, and she turns around and kicks the vampire's ass.

Then check out the dialogue echoes from Wrecked and Dead Things:

BUFFY: Stay away from me.
DRACULA: Are you afraid I will bite you? Slayer, that's why you came.
BUFFY: No. Last night ... it's not gonna happen again.
DRACULA: Stop me. Stake me.
BUFFY: I... Any minute now.
DRACULA: Do you know why you cannot resist?
BUFFY: Cause you're famous?
DRACULA: Because you do not want to.
BUFFY: My friends-
DRACULA: They're here. They will not find us. We are alone.
DRACULA: Always alone.
DRACULA: There is so much I have to teach you. Your history, your power... what your body is capable of...
BUFFY: I don't need to know.
DRACULA: You long to. And you will have eternity to discover yourself.

(And Dracula is even wearing red and black in this scene...)

Buffy had been hunting all summer, allowing the slaying to draw her away from the people close to her, and none of them seemed to notice. It's the vampire who challenges her, who calls her on her own actions, fears, and desires. When Riley discovers her bite marks, she tries to reassure him: "I swear to you. I'm your girl, and I'm gonna stay that way." She refutes the vampire (Angel and Dracula)'s control over her with those words - and reacts so violently when the phrase is used by another vamp (Spike) whose control over her she fears she can't resist. It's even worse for her with Spike than with Dracula because the 'thrall' comes from within her - no hypno-vamp powers required. No denying that she can't resist because she doesn't want to. She'd been clinging to the idea that she was drawn to him because she came back wrong, but at the end of Dead Things, even that was stripped away.

That a vampire should have such power over a slayer seems like a perversion of her calling; that's certainly what some groups of fans would say. But is it possible that there are things to be gained from this situation? It's a question that resonates from the Dracula/Buffy interactions to the B/S relationship we see in Dead Things. Buffy puts herself in Spike's power in the off-screen handcuff scene and in the Bronze scene. And she does learn things, about him and about herself.

Spike doesn't actually separate her from her friends, he just forces her to acknowledge the separation. He doesn't make her do anything she doesn't want to do, but he causes her to realize what it is she does want. She can explore any aspect of herself with Spike because she's not worried about protecting his good opinion of her, the way she was with Angel and Riley. She could be weak or sad with him earlier this season, because he's the only one who doesn't depend on her strength, and she can be rough with him now because he has strength of his own. She lets herself go and is learning with Spike what her body is capable of. In the alley scene, he brings out a much less pleasant side of her, as he encourages her to hurt him. An essential part of growing up for her and the other Scoobies, however, is realizing that she isn't perfect and accepting and dealing with her darker side. Until they face their own capacity for evil, they can never fully understand what it means to be good or appreciate the goodness in other flawed people (and creatures).

The things Spike says to her in the Bronze are very much related to what Dracula says to her in BvsD. Dracula gets her to drink his blood, and by tasting that darkness, she's able to reject it, and reject him. He urges her on: "Find it. The darkness. Find your true nature." How often have we heard that from Spike this season? Her true nature proves to be much more complex than just darkness, however, for which Dracula is unprepared. As she stakes him, she asks, "How do you like my darkness now?" She uses it against him, but it's important to note that she doesn't actually succeed in killing him.

Spike, like Dracula, brings her darkness out into the open, but I think the point of this arc will be that that's hardly a bad thing. Buffy needs to acknowledge her darkness, her flaws, her failings and her temptations and deal with them openly instead of trying to suppress them. Kendra had that side of her closed off completely, at great cost to her enjoyment of life. Faith embraced her darkness too much and lost all sense of balance.

At the end of the episode, Buffy looks to her watcher for answers about the nature of the slayer, but ultimately he doesn't have any. There's a symmetry to the fact that the only one who can teach her what it means to be a slayer is a vampire. It's the slayer's enemy and opposite who raises all of these questions about her identity, who provokes feelings in her too powerful to ignore, and who ultimately causes her to reconnect with herself and gain a new sense of purpose.

Giles tells Willow early on in BvsD that he's taken Buffy as far as he can, and he's right. The Watchers have academic knowledge, but Buffy needs the kind of information that can only be acquired through experience. He stays because of her request at the end of the episode, but ultimately, he can't really help her. The search that she begins there, to understand what it means to be a slayer, is one that she's continuing now with Spike. I think that's what the ever- popular Restless reference to Spike being like a son to Giles and taking over his role means. Giles can't help her in FFL, The Gift, OMWF, or at all, post-resurrection. Spike can, and it's because he's a vampire rather than in spite of that fact. In Intervention, Giles must transfer his guardianship in order for Buffy to get answers about herself. Specifically, about the connection between slaying and her ability to love. The answer she gets (compressed a bit) is that to love, give and forgive will make her stronger and lead her to her gift - and the episode points a big arrow at Spike as to who she should be loving and forgiving. These things are all entwined; his status as lover and counterpart strengthens his power as mentor, but it also puts him at risk for the inevitable backlash.

This loving/hating/learning/fighting interaction could only end badly with Dracula, but there's hope with Spike because he is more than just pure vampire. He can't get close to Buffy without being as affected by her as she is by him. Spike has a head start towards appreciating his own duality: the chip. Buffy's old righteousness is what begins to be destroyed in Smashed. In their dance, their push and pull interactions, they both learn more about themselves: he adds to her understanding of what it means to be a slayer, and she adds a new layer to what it can mean to be a vampire. The story gives us hope that in the end, each will emerge the better for it.

So there it all is at the beginning of season 5: a summary of the season 6 Spike/Buffy arc, and the reasons why Spike is critical to Buffy's development. It's not a template per se, since the focus is so narrow, but it's a nice piece of foreshadowing which has been largely underappreciated.

 

 Elz Elz

originally posted by Veiriti:

 

Here is an interesting essay why Spike does deserve to being a human more than Angel.

http://brookeandthebeanstalk.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/buffy-and-fai...
Thanks for posting that Dracula essay, Cil. I'd never noticed the parallels between "Buffy versus Dracula" and S6 Buffy/Spike, but after reading this I'm wondering how I could have missed them.
 

Just had to bring this over from LJ - this is for all the great FF writers -

 

Why Fan fiction is real writing!

 

I work in large open plan office with about 150 people. I have at my desk at all times a story journal. I use this to write down ideas, dialogue, things that come to me in between calls or while I am working on some complex issue. We’re not really supposed to do this sort of thing however it has been explained that management has a choice, I go screaming out the building or I’m allowed do this and remain sane. We have all agreed this is a good thing me being sane that is, well less mad than usual. So it is tolerated and has now become understood as one of things I do.

I have gone through two this year. I date each page and keep them for future reference. I am never without it and carry it with me to lunch and breaks.

Recently an older woman joined our credit team. One day in my lunch break she joined me and asked me if I was keeping a diary.

I told her that this was my story journal. I was writing a story I had started in June just after my daughter came back from the UK. I had written about 80 thousand words and I am pretty astounded that anyone felt it was worthy of attention as I had had load of feedback from readers following it.

Her eyebrows raised and she asked if I was published? I said on fanfic.net, as at that time I have not joined Live Journal yet. I then explained how fan fiction, net was a website where you could post a story based on popular culture like a television show or film. I told her I loved Dr Who and Torchwood of which she had never heard and I was writing a story based on Torchwood.

I explained that often the writers of shows like Torchwood leave viewers unhappy with outcomes or never explore aspects of some characters potential. Fan fiction allows viewers to fill in the gaps. They write about those things they would like to have seen. Or they can write whole new adventures expanding their own enjoyment of the concept in general. I also advised fan fiction writing has grown from Star Trek in the early 60’s to now where fanfiction.net held over a million stories and growing, I stopped as I saw the growing distaste on her face.

What then proceeded was series of questions as she tried to understand why I would spend so much time and energy on something that was never going to lead to it being paid for.

I tried to explain that I felt driven to write this. How much fun I had had trying to work out the story and see it develop. How a simple premise had turned to an adventure. That I loved exploring the creative side of myself and wealth of ideas it had come up with. How much I enjoyed that other people were following it.

“It’s a shame you can’t spend your time writing a real story,” was her final word as she shook her head slowly and got up and walked away.

It is not often I am stunned to silence. (Trust me it is rare).

I mentioned the conversation to my son who retorted with, “Well when are you going to start on your real story?” (I have story idea I have been working on for some time)

“Fan Fiction is real writing I exploded.” There is as much, talent, creativity, skill, care, originality as in any published work of fiction. It has taken me as much time and energy to write my current project as I would my other story idea. Some fan fiction is astounding, amazing, jaw droopingly good, I would be lucky to have an ounce of talent that some fan fiction writers have demonstrated,”

I got the proverbial “whatever makes you happy mum” response which left me muttering.

All writing takes effort. It takes courage to publish your work for others to see and comment on. There is a delicious freedom in fan fiction seen no-where else which allows you to write within reason anything on any topic or theme. It allows for the exploration of ideas and writers to develop skills and gain encouragement. And I don’t care if I am never paid a cent; I would rather have people read my work than be paid for it.

So I state for the record.

FAN FICTION IS REAL WRITING!!!!!!!!!!!

Thought this would make for a good discussion on how we might apply it to the Buffyverse characters -

June 5, 2011, 5:35 pm

In Search of the True Self

By JOSHUA KNOBE

The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless.

Mark Pierpont used to be an important figure in the evangelical Christian effort to help “cure” gay people of their homosexual desires. He started out just printing up tracts and handing them out in gay bars, but his ministry grew over time, and eventually he was traveling the world and speaking to crowds that sometimes numbered in the thousands. There was just one problem. Mark Pierpont himself was gay. He continued to feel sexual desires toward other men and was constantly engaged in an effort to suppress them. In the documentary film “Protagonist,” Pierpont movingly describes his inner conflict, saying that he sometimes felt an almost physical revulsion at his own desires and would then think: “Good. I hate this.  I hate sin, just like God hates sin.”

Faced with a case like this one, we might be tempted to give Pierpont some simple advice.  We might tell him that what he really needs to do is just look deep within and be true to himself. Indeed, this advice has become a ubiquitous refrain.  It can be found in high art and literature (Polonius’s “To thine own self be true”), in catchy pop songs (Madonna’s “Express Yourself”) and in endless advertisements for self-help programs and yoga retreats (“Unlock your soul; become your authentic self”).  It is, perhaps, one of the distinctive ideals of modern life.

Leif ParsonsYet, though there is a great deal of consensus on the importance of this ideal, there is far less agreement about what it actually tells us to do in any concrete situation.  Consider again the case of Mark Pierpont.  One person might look at his predicament and say: “Deep down, he has always wanted to be with another man, but he somehow picked up from society the idea that this desire was immoral or forbidden.  If he could only escape the shackles of his religious beliefs, he would be able to fully express the person he really is.”

But then another person could look at exactly the same case and arrive at the very opposite conclusion: “Fundamentally, Pierpont is a Christian who is struggling to pursue a Christian life, but these desires he has make it difficult for him to live by his own values.  If he ever gives in to them and chooses to sleep with another man, he will be betraying what was is most essential to the person he really is.”

Each of these perspectives seems like a reasonable one, at least worthy of serious consideration.  So it seems that we are faced with a difficult philosophical question.  How is one to know which aspect of a person counts as that person’s true self?

Many believe that the true self lies precisely in our suppressed urges and unacknowledged emotions,

If we look to the philosophical tradition, we find a relatively straightforward answer to this question.  This answer, endorsed by numerous different philosophers in different ways, says that what is most distinctive and essential to a human being is the capacity for rational reflection.  A person might find herself having various urges, whims or fleeting emotions, but these are not who she most fundamentally is.  If you want to know who she truly is, you would have to look to the moments when she stops to reflect and think about her deepest values.  Take the person fighting an addiction to heroin.  She might have a continual craving for another fix, but if she just gives in to this craving, it would be absurd to say that she is thereby “being true to herself” or “expressing the person she really is.” On the contrary, she is betraying herself and giving up what she values most. This sort of approach gives us a straightforward answer in a case like Mark Pierpont’s.  It says that his sexual desires are not the real him.  If he loses control and gives in to these desires, he will be betraying his true self.

But when I mention this view to people outside the world of philosophy, they often seem stunned that anyone could ever believe it.  They are immediately drawn to the very opposite view.  The true self, they suggest, lies precisely in our suppressed urges and unacknowledged emotions, while our ability to reflect is just a hindrance that gets in the way of this true self’s expression.  To find a moment when a person’s true self comes out, they think, one needs to look at the times when people are so drunk or overcome by passion that they are unable to suppress what is deep within them.  This view, too, yields a straightforward verdict in a case like Pierpont’s.  It says that his sexual desires are what is most fundamental to him, and to the extent that he is restraining them, he is not revealing the person he really is.

Related More From The Stone

Read previous contributions to this series.

In my view, neither of these two perspectives fully captures the concept of a true self. The trouble is that both of them assume that the true self can be identified in some straightforward way with one particular part of a person’s psychology. But it seems that the matter is more complex. People’s ordinary understanding of the true self appears to involve a kind of value judgment, a judgment about what sorts of lives are really worth living. So people will tend to arrive at different judgments regarding the nature of Pierpont’s self depending on whether they think that a homosexual lifestyle truly is a valuable one.

To put this hypothesis to the test, I teamed up with my colleagues — the psychologists George Newman and Paul Bloom.  Together, we are pursuing a project in the emerging interdisciplinary field of “experimental philosophy.” That is to say, we are taking these abstract philosophical questions and using them to generate systematic experimental studies that can give us a better sense of how people actually use these concepts.

More than 200 people participated in our first study. Some of these participants identified themselves as conservatives, others as liberals.  All participants were given a series of questions about the true self. But there was a trick: the questions were designed in such a way that conservatives and liberals were expected to see them very differently.

The “conservative items” described a person who changes in a direction that conservatives would be especially likely to regard as good.  For example:

Jim used to be homosexual. However, now Jim is married to a woman and no longer has sex with men.

How much do you agree with the following statement?

At his very essence, there was always something deep within Jim, calling him to stop having sex with men, and then this true self emerged.

The “liberal items” then went in the opposite direction, describing a person who changes in a direction that liberals would be especially likely to regard as good:

Ralph used to make a lot of money and prioritized his financial success above all else. However, now Ralph works in a job where he does not make a lot of money and benefits others.

How much do you agree with the following statement? At his very essence, there was always something deep within Ralph, calling him to stop prioritizing his financial success above all else, and then this true self emerged.

The results showed a systematic connection between people’s own values and their judgments about the true self.  Conservative participants were more inclined to say that the person’s true self had emerged on the conservative items, while liberals were more inclined to say that the person’s true self had emerged on the liberal items.  (Try running this study on yourself.  I bet you’ll find that your judgments also end up corresponding in this way to your own values.)

Of course, it would be a mistake to draw any strong conclusions from the results of this one study. Further research is needed, and the truth is bound to be quite a bit more complex than it might at first appear. Still, the findings do seem to point to an interesting new question. Does our ordinary notion of a “true self” simply pick out a certain part of the mind? Or is this notion actually wrapped up in some inextricable way with our own values and ideals?

Joshua Knobe is an associate professor at Yale University, where he is appointed both in Cognitive Science and in Philosophy. He is a co-editor, with Shaun Nichols, of the volume “Experimental Philosophy.”

 

 

So if we apply this to souled vampires, I guess the question becomes if their demonic urges are their "true self" or if the moral values they get from the soul are their "true self". I have to agree with the author that things can 't be so simple that either the one or the other must be the true self. In my opinion it's not a matter of either/or; both aspects are inseparable parts of the true self.

Here is an interesting article from the NYT -

June 14, 2011

 
Reason Seen More as Weapon Than Path to Truth

 
By PATRICIA COHEN

 
For centuries thinkers have assumed that the uniquely human capacity for reasoning has existed to let people reach beyond mere perception and reflex in the search for truth. Rationality allowed a solitary thinker to blaze a path to philosophical, moral and scientific enlightenment.

Now some researchers are suggesting that reason evolved for a completely different purpose: to win arguments. Rationality, by this yardstick (and irrationality too, but we’ll get to that) is nothing more or less than a servant of the hard-wired compulsion to triumph in the debating arena. According to this view, bias, lack of logic and other supposed flaws that pollute the stream of reason are instead social adaptations that enable one group to persuade (and defeat) another. Certitude works, however sharply it may depart from the truth.

The idea, labeled the argumentative theory of reasoning, is the brainchild of French cognitive social scientists, and it has stirred excited discussion (and appalled dissent) among philosophers, political scientists, educators and psychologists, some of whom say it offers profound insight into the way people think and behave. The Journal of Behavioral and Brain Sciences devoted its April issue to debates over the theory, with participants challenging everything from the definition of reason to the origins of verbal communication.

“Reasoning doesn’t have this function of helping us to get better beliefs and make better decisions,” said Hugo Mercier, who is a co-author of the journal article, with Dan Sperber. “It was a purely social phenomenon. It evolved to help us convince others and to be careful when others try to convince us.” Truth and accuracy were beside the point.

Indeed, Mr. Sperber, a member of the Jean-Nicod research institute in Paris, first developed a version of the theory in 2000 to explain why evolution did not make the manifold flaws in reasoning go the way of the prehensile tail and the four-legged stride. Looking at a large body of psychological research, Mr. Sperber wanted to figure out why people persisted in picking out evidence that supported their views and ignored the rest — what is known as confirmation bias — leading them to hold on to a belief doggedly in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence.

Other scholars have previously argued that reasoning and irrationality are both products of evolution. But they usually assume that the purpose of reasoning is to help an individual arrive at the truth, and that irrationality is a kink in that process, a sort of mental myopia. Gary F. Marcus, for example, a psychology professor at New York University and the author of “Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind,” says distortions in reasoning are unintended side effects of blind evolution. They are a result of the way that the brain, a Rube Goldberg mental contraption, processes memory. People are more likely to remember items they are familiar with, like their own beliefs, rather than those of others.

What is revolutionary about argumentative theory is that it presumes that since reason has a different purpose — to win over an opposing group — flawed reasoning is an adaptation in itself, useful for bolstering debating skills.

Mr. Mercier, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, contends that attempts to rid people of biases have failed because reasoning does exactly what it is supposed to do: help win an argument.

“People have been trying to reform something that works perfectly well,” he said, “as if they had decided that hands were made for walking and that everybody should be taught that.”

Think of the American judicial system, in which the prosecutors and defense lawyers each have a mission to construct the strongest possible argument. The belief is that this process will reveal the truth, just as the best idea will triumph in what John Stuart Mill called the “marketplace of ideas.”

Mr. Mercier and Mr. Sperber have skeptics as well as fans. Darcia Narvaez, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame and a contributor to the journal debate, said this theory “fits into evolutionary psychology mainstream thinking at the moment, that everything we do is motivated by selfishness and manipulating others, which is, in my view, crazy.”

To Ms. Narvaez, “reasoning is something that develops from experience; it’s a subset of what we really know.” And much of what we know cannot be put into words, she explained, pointing out that language evolved relatively late in human development.

“The way we use our minds to navigate the social and general worlds involves a lot of things that are implicit, not explainable,” she said.

On the other side of the divide, Jonathan Haidt, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, said of Mr. Sperber and Mr. Mercier, “Their work is important and points to some ways that the limits of reason can be overcome by putting people together in the right way, in particular to challenge people’s confirmation biases.”

This “powerful idea,”

he added, could have important real-world implications.

As some journal contributors noted, the theory would seem to predict constant deadlock. But Mr. Sperber and Mr. Mercier contend that as people became better at producing and picking apart arguments, their assessment skills evolved as well.

“At least in some cultural contexts, this results in a kind of arms race towards greater sophistication in the production and evaluation of arguments,” they write. “When people are motivated to reason, they do a better job at accepting only sound arguments, which is quite generally to their advantage.” Groups are more likely than individuals to come up with better results, they say, because they will be exposed to the best arguments.

Mr. Mercier is enthusiastic about the theory’s potential applications. He suggests, for example, that children may have an easier time learning abstract topics in mathematics or physics if they are put into a group and allowed to reason through a problem together.

He has also recently been at work applying the theory to politics. In a new paper, he and Hélène Landemore, an assistant professor of political science at Yale, propose that the arguing and assessment skills employed by groups make democratic debate the best form of government for evolutionary reasons, regardless of philosophical or moral rationales.

How, then, do the academics explain the endless stalemates in Congress? “It doesn’t seem to work in the U.S.,” Mr. Mercier conceded.

He and Ms. Landemore suggest that reasoned discussion works best in smaller, cooperative environments rather than in America’s high-decibel adversarial system, in which partisans seek to score political advantage rather than arrive at consensus.

Because “individual reasoning mechanisms work best when used to produce and evaluate arguments during a public deliberation,” Mr. Mercier and Ms. Landemore, as a practical matter, endorse the theory of deliberative democracy, an approach that arose in the 1980s, which envisions cooperative town-hall-style deliberations. Championed by the philosophers John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas, this sort of collaborative forum can overcome the tendency of groups to polarize at the extremes and deadlock, Ms. Landemore and Mr. Mercier said.

Anyone who enjoys “spending endless hours debating ideas” should appreciate their views, Mr. Mercier and Mr. Sperber write, though, as even they note, “This, of course, is not an argument for (or against) the theory.”

Oh yes, confirmation bias -- we all have it. Consensus? An illusion :-)
AWESOME  Spike Love List -  Thank you very much for posting it here.
Yes, that really took some work. I think I have seen a list similar to that over on the Fan Forums site, in the Spuffy section.
What is Fan Forums?

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