Buffy - I touch the fire

[Clocks of the Long Now

Summary: Four years after the gang helped Sunnydale perform its swan dive into Hell, a terrifying new enemy emerges from an unexpected quarter.  As secrets are revealed and old friends are reunited, the greatest Apocalypse of all looms ever closer.  Will they save the day one last time?

Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season: Post-Chosen, Post-NFA
Characters: Lots
Chapters: 45
Word Count: ~200,000
Warnings: Graphic violence, adult language, sexual situations, character death, rabbits.
The characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox studios and maybe various other entities that I am unaware of but totally respect and admire.  This story is not meant to infringe upon anyone's rights, only to entertain.


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Author's note: This is basically a "Season 12" story, with bits and pieces of (non-canonical) Seasons 8-11 fleshed in along the way.  I've been told by some readers that it is a "Spuffy" tale, but I'm not so sure.  It's definitely not a Gillow or a Xandrew or a Fawn, but all of those people and more are deeply involved in the goings-on.  So, basically, this is just a possible continuation of the show that appeared in my head, set after the BTVS and AtS TV shows ended.  I guess that's all a long way of saying "Spuffy-friendly Ensemble Future Fic," so I'll just say that and shut up.


Part 1: Rome Mania

1: Trouble Again

2: What the...?

3: Touchdowns and Interceptions

4: Red Falcon

5: Nicked

6: Enemies, Closer

7: In the Land of the Blind...

8: A Door in the Walls

9: The Bloody Cavalry

10: RE: Spike

11: Infernal Rackets

12: Big Game

13: The Wrong End of the World

14: Lost and Found

15: Three Excellent Questions

16: Out of the Woods

17: Passover

Part 2: Angle of Attack

18: London Calling

19: Cute D'état

20: Departments of Education

21: Watchfulness

22: Happy Hour

23: Housecalls

24: Thicker Than Water

25: Depth Perception

26: The Eyes Have It

27: Breakthroughs

28: Fish and Chips

29: Safe as Houses

30: Be Thou Chased

31: Boldly They Rode

Part 3: The Zero Hour

32: Pistols at Dawn

33: Scary Monsters

34: Boys Who Suck

35: Paving the Road

36: Rematch

37: No Cigar

38: Parallel Lines

39: Santa Muerta

40: The Real Me

41: The Ups and Downs of Modern Architecture

42: Auld Lang Syne

43: The Long Now

44: Of Rabbits and Hats

45: Belongings










It's been a long time since I posted anything, so I thought I'd check in and post various fanly (that's like fannish but more manly) things that I'm working on, thinking about working on, or that other people have worked on or thought about working on... if that makes sense.

Okay, on with it:

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The Monomythology of Buffy

I've been having lots of thoughts lately about the mythology of the Buffyverse, particularly in relation to Joseph Campbell's theory of the "monomyth" - a detectable pattern of the hero's journey that seems to crop up across many cultures and eras.  The theory holds that, when deconstructed, most stories about mythological and religious heroes appear to share the same underlying structure.

In his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell proposed that this structure was made up of three elemental stages - The Departure, The Initiation and The Return - which could be further broken down into a seventeen-step heroic journey that explored common themes, rites of passage, archetypes and psychological components.  The theory has influenced many postmodern artists and critics since its publication, and attracted its share of flakes and wannabes as well.  George Lucas, for instance, proclaims loudly to anyone within earshot that he purposely composed Star Wars to mimic Campbell's structure, but Lucas loudly proclaims a lot of silly things.  It's entirely possible (probable?) that George overheard someone comparing Star Wars to monomyth at a party once, and decided it would make him sound smart if he said, "I meant to do that."  That's because sometime during the 20th century race to deconstruct everything that wasn't welded directly to the Earth's core, self-awareness in art became a badge of honor, and promised the artist a pat on the head from the same structural critics they were borrowing pencils from back in Semiotics 101.  By the time the first fully postmodern generation of students were graduating college in the 80's and 90's, we started seeing conscious reconstructions of "the journey" everywhere in popular art.  Most of these turned out to be lazy, emotionless irony-fests that confused the deconstruction of form with the absence of meaning.  But there was always the chance that, someday, a gang of kind, clever souls would attempt to faithfully reconstruct the monomyth without stripping it of the fundamental insights about human nature that made it resonate so deeply in the first place.

So, was "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" that self-aware monomyth of which the ancient prophecy foretold oh shit, wait, that's just more monomyth?

The stories of the Buffyverse certainly appear to be aware of their own construction, so I thought I'd apply Campbell's component structure and see how well the patterns align.  But rather than belt out some dry, boring snoozefest of an essay, I decided to try exploring Buffy's journey visually, selecting images from the show to help flesh out a possible synchronicity with that thousand-faced hero who keeps reappearing in our most enduring legends.

The roadmap I came up with isn't intended to be a precise record of the story's timeline.  One of the discoveries I made while designing this image was that, while the journey was becoming undeniably visible in the broader story, there were also many smaller permutations of it woven into individual subplots and arcs.  Moreover, certain archetypal characters fulfill different roles at different times, and some stages and themes are repeated or slightly displaced.   At some point I realized that, if I tried to include it all, the resulting diagram would be a nightmare of overlapping and concentric circles, crisscrossing arrows and other powerpoint-y stuff that would make it confusing and unpleasant to look at.  Therefore, not all of my chosen images are intended to be direct and/or chronological analogs to the text they appear beside.  Sometimes, I chose them because they evoked a certain time period in Buffy's life rather than a specific event, and other times I chose them because I thought they depicted a particular theme well, whether or not the theme in question was directly related to the scene the picture was taken from.

In all cases, however, I selected my pictures in the hopes of sparking further thought and discussion, because one hundred hours worth of television isn't easy to summarize, even if a picture is worth a thousand words.  In that spirit, feedback and suggestions are welcome.

"Lostboy, you pretentious blabbermouth you!  That's an awful lot of text for someone who claims he wants to show me a picture."

Okay, tru dat, tru dat.

:::::::::::::  Click the picture below to view the full-size image (1280 x 1024)  :::::::::::::


Since I thought this picture might evolve and change somewhat based on feedback from friends, I thought I'd append a section detailing any edits I make.

1. After a conversation with eilowyn, I began to rethink my choice for step eleven, since it relied too much on a single scene to describe something very complex.  So, I substituted the shot of the hero's illuminated face with a shot of her by the campfire of "Intervention", being told "love will bring you to your gift" by her spirit guide.
2. After conversations with several people, I decided to add a screenshot from "Welcome to the Hellmouth" to step two, to reinforce the idea that Buffy wants to refuse her destiny again when she first moves to Sunnydale.

Why the Buffyverse?

I was reading a fanfic musing over at shapinglight's journal.  I started to respond, but it was getting a little long-ish, so I decided to do a post instead.  It's an interesting read in general, but this question in particular stood out to me:

Which leads me to wondering why it is that the Buffyverse is still the only fictional world invented by other people that I want to fanfic? Am I just hidebound and complacent, do you think? Or are there still lots of meaningful things to say about the Buffyverse and its characters?

This is something I've asked myself plenty of times before, and I'm not sure if I've ever come up with a satisfying answer, or if I'll be able to now. I also started writing after both shows had already ended, and I recall that even back then several older and more prolific writers were declaring fandom dead, sometimes with a fairly snobby "Après moi, le déluge" sort of attitude. For a short while it felt like the comics might spawn a revival, but so few writers liked the comics (and so many couldn't even tolerate them) that this particular revolution seemed to die at the beer hall stage.

Even so, I think maybe the more pertinent question is, why is anyone still writing Buffy fanfic at all?

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Thanks! (Plus, some thoughts about lying)

I know I've been missing of late, but I just wanted to pop in to say thanks to whoever nominated my essay, Rules of Engagement, at the No Rest For the Wicked Awards, in the category "Not Fade Away".  I suppose I was in an essay-writing mood all last year, and while I didn't get around to writing everything I'd planned, I was fairly proud of the work I did manage to produce.  This was especially true for "Rules", not least for all the intelligent, lively and (mostly) amiable conversation it sparked in the comments section.  I also encourage you guys to read all the other essays nominated (I'm slowly working my way through them myself, and what I've read so far is excellent).

While I'm on the subject, I might as well talk a little about the "mostly" part.

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Order of Things, Blood Freak

Awesomest Buffyverse Monsters (Part 2)

(Note: The LJ upgrade royally screwed me the first time I tried to post this.  Sorry for any comments I might have deleted when I was finally able to undo the nightmare of abstract art that the update software spit out.  Here's hoping that the second time's a charm.)

So, a few weeks back I listed the first 5 of m top 10 fave Buffyverse Monsters.  Now, without further ado, here are my next three picks...


Beginning of The Endzaat1SMit_conquered_the_world

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Hush - doodle

Awesomest Buffyverse Monsters (Part 1)

True Story: a conversation on another post inspired me to write about alternative sources of authority in the Buffyverse.  I decided I was going to blow everyone's minds with a scathing takedown of presumptive authority that even my sworn enemy and world-famous crazy person Jacques Derrida might envy.  So, I sat myself down and said, "Self, why don't you sit down (oh, duh, you're already sitting doofus) and write a long, dull, boring, migraine-inducing treatise about esoterism, individuality, personal liberation, creative destruction and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah SHUT UP, LOSTBOY U NERD!"

Luckily, I didn't follow through with this dumb plan.  Instead, I decided to write about my most favoritist subject in the whole wide world:


I know what you're thinking.  No, no, I promise I'm not gonna get all "Joseph Campbell, Hero's Journey, Power of Myth" on you here (although, every Buffy fan should really consider reading some Joseph Campbell... and not the "Wikipedia" articles about them, the real, actual books... I'm just sayin', yo).  I mean, sure, monsters represent all kinds of different things -- alienation, fear of the unknown, the manifestion of our yada-yada-et-ceteras.  Also, some monsters have glowing eyes that shoot laser beams, though not many monster-historians are willing to acknowledge this.

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Rules of Engagement: Violence and Hyperreality in the Buffyverse

rebcake recently posted a poll regarding the onset of Buffy and Spike's sexual relationship in the BtVS episode "Smashed."  I answered "neither" and began to post a comment to explain, but it started to get long-ish, so I thought I'd just do a long-ish blog post instead.  What I wrote turned out to be somewhat off-topic in terms of her poll, and more generally related to a recent fandom dust-up about the episode's final scene.

At the climax of the scene in question, Buffy initiates sex with Spike after what she perceives to be a major boundary between them has been shattered -- or "smashed," if you will.  I think the violent nature of this boundary (due to Buffy's resurrection and a technical shortcoming of his chip, Spike can now physically hurt her) is probably what drives so many people to lash out at this episode, and at the fraught onscreen relationship of these two characters in general.

But I also think there's a basic map-versus-territory problem at work here, where the show's self-contained, ultra-violent hyperreality is being conflated with reality itself.  In a shoebox universe where violent stabbings, rocket launchings, chainsawings and acrobatic kung-fu fights are a staple of our heroes' everyday lives, I find it strange that this one brawl between Buffy and Spike (and not their first; not by a longshot) would cause such a ruckus.

The usual answer I'll hear is some variant of the saying "No means no" -- suggesting that Spike's pursuit of Buffy and his instigation of their fight was a violation of her consent.  According to this reading, Spike and Buffy cease to be characters for a little while; their individual motivations, personal histories and series-long dramatic arcs are set aside.  For the sake of the argument, they are converted into mere props for a polemic about sexual predation and violation, in which Spike assumes the role of the generic predator and Buffy that of the timeless victim.  The same kung-fu theatrics that were exciting, mythic abstractions in prior battles are now considered to be direct analogs, meant to describe real-world intimidation and assault. For this reading to make sense, the interior rules of Sunnydale must be forgotten for the duration of the scene.  They are momentarily swapped out for the rules of our reality, only to be swapped back in again whenever it is personally or politically convenient to the reader.

This postmodernist approach to the series -- and to art in general -- has always deeply bugged me.  It's as though someone has handed me a connect-the-dots puzzle, then commands me to throw away my pencil and derive the picture's meaning by contemplating a single dot, or perhaps to ignore the numbers and just connect them in whichever way I want, to make the picture that I'd most like to see.  After all, if everyone's answer to the puzzle has equal merit, then what's the point in following the clues?

But the search for the big picture has always interested me far more, and in the case of BTVS, that picture isn't so much drawn in pencil as it is etched in blood...

WARNING:  Spoilers below the cut.

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Buffy - I touch the fire

Midnight Empire (6/?)

Midnight Empire
Chapter 6: Distortion

Summary: When the Slayer and her gang come to New York City, they quickly discover what it's like to work the toughest demon beat on Earth, battling ancient prophecies, supernatural fiends, outrageously high rents and more.  Unfortunately, nothing in the city is as it seems.  The streets are paved with deadly secrets, and before long the Scoobies and their L.A. counterparts find themselves drawn into a thousand-year-old conspiracy that threatens to destroy the world.  Sequel to Clocks of the Long Now.

Fandoms: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel
Season: Post-Chosen, Post-NFA
Chapters: ?
Word Count: ?
Rating: R
Warnings: Do not drink while operating heavy machinery, slippery when wet, beware of dog
Disclaimer: The characters from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" are owned by Joss Whedon, David Greenwalt, Mutant Enemy, Fox studios and maybe various other entities that I am unaware of but totally respect and fear.  This story is not meant to infringe upon anyone's rights, only to entertain.

(view previous chapters)

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The Importance of Being Angel

So, I closed my poll.  The result wasn't close and didn't look like it was gonna be, and the topic chosen required a lot of work, so I thought I should get cracking on it right away.  It's coming along fine, but it's gonna take a bit more time to cook -- with myths like this one, I've discovered you have to do a lot of long, boring research and transcription in order to properly debunk them.

In the meantime, a conversation I was having over at Barb's Journal got me to thinking about something else: how important is Angel?

I mean, obviously, Angel is a hugely important character in the Buffyverse --  he's technically the reigning protagonist of one half of it, thanks to his spinoff show, and his (to some fans, infamous) reappearance in the BTVS comic book series posed him as a character of nearly godlike significance to the plot, theme and characters.  But how important was he on the original "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" TV series?

No, this is not a troll for "Bangels."  This post has nothing to do with who Buffy really, really loved-loved, or wanted to settle down, marry and have bouncing baby bloodsuckers with. I also personally like the character of Angel, and am a huge fan of his TV show, which I sometimes think gets too little credit from BTVS purists.  Still, I do tend to think that Angel stopped being an important part of the "Buffy" saga after season three.  As far as I can tell, there's just not enough of him around in seasons 4-7 to cobble together a meaningful continuation of his narrative there.  

But, I'm willing to peel the coffin lid open a little and examine it.  Let's look at some numbers, first...

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