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TRADING CLOTHES & RINGING PAVLOV’s BELL

I have never attempted a meta quite like this before. Oh sure, I’ve written metas about Spike and about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a cult television series that ended in 2003 but I still love with wild abandon, but not a meta that includes embedded videos and screen shots, which take up space. This is my first Web 2.0 meta or essay. Also, a confession – every time I write and post a meta – I am afraid. Afraid no one will read it. And if they do, they won’t like it enough to bother responding. I find myself counting the responses – to see how good the post was or how well it was received. Which is silly of course – a sort of behavioral conditioning if you think about it. If a post gets no responses, I will often decide to either delete it or never write anything like it again. It’s almost as if in my own journal, much against my better judgment, I am trading clothes and ringing pavolov’s bell. (Sigh, writing like painting, is a difficult love, chock-full of rejection, and the lucky few get past that. Also, much as the saying goes - does a tree fall if no one sees it, does a post or a piece of writing exist if no one but you reads it?)

The below is a meta on behavioral conditioning, the soul or conscience and its effects on the persona in relation to the character of Spike, a vampire on the fictional television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was inspired in part by conversations with people on my flist, as well as fanfiction regarding the character, and the tv series itself. In a way it expresses why I prefer the television series version of Spike or Canon!Spike to the character most people have written about in their fanfiction. [Warning: Long and may be difficult to download on dial-up.]



History shows and shows so well, nobody Knows that is how I nearly fell, trading
clothes and ringing pavlov’s bell




Aimee Mann’s song Pavolv’s Bell in many ways summarizes my feelings regarding Spike, his journey and the battle going on inside the character. The song is superficially about addiction, but it is also about relationships and our struggle to connect with others. What clothes do we have to wear? What bells to push?

In flashbacks we see Spike trading clothes much as he trades personas. He goes from repressed Victorian to street-wise, tough talking, North London, punk, to Billy Idol wannabe (although he predates Billy Idol by half a century), to Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. He tries on personas and coats, to see the effect, keeping the ones that work and discarding the rest. In the process, he almost loses himself. It is not clear at a certain point who he is underneath the bravado. He is the consummate performer – but scratch the surface and what lies beneath? A poet’s heart, an artist’s soul, and a James Dean Rebel Without A Cause who struggles with society’s constraints, and society’s rejection.

1. The Chip



Spike is introduced in the second season of BTVS as a disposable yet cool bad guy. He attempts to kill our heroine in Wyle E. Coyote fashion, failing comically. Then around the end of the season, instead of having Angelus kill Spike as originally planned, Spike helps Buffy save the world - in order to nab his vampire girlfriend, Dru, who is busy playing footsie with Buffy’s ex-lover now turned super-villian, Angelus. Time moves forward, and Spike re-enters the plot in Season 4, again intent on killing and/or raping Buffy ( see the episodes: Harsh Light of Day, Wild at Heart, and The Initiative). He is a nasty, irredeemable vampire, who tortures, kills, and maims for fun. A regular "Alex" from Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Anthony Burgess' classic sci-fi psychological thriller A Clockwork Orange.



In Kubrick's Clockwork Orange, Alex gleefully enjoys a bit of violence with his mates. He goes about doing the old "in/out" or the occasional "rape" and the beating. He's a regular fiend, talking much like Spike does in rhyming slang (cockney as opposed to North London), with his mates, heavy on the eye makeup and the oh so dashing costume. That is until the government nabs him and conditions Alex to get physically and painfully ill whenever he sees or attempts to do any type of violence.

In BTVS, the Initiative, an army covert operation run by a somewhat deranged psychology professor named Walsh, captures Spike and as Doug Petrie, one of the writers, notes in commentary: “Clockwork Oranges him”. They implant an electronic device into Spike’s brain that will send an electrical shock any time he intentionally attempts to bite, kill, maim, punch, or harm a human. He can't hit humans, kick humans, bite them, or hurt them without feeling intense pain to the cortex of his brain - the equivalent of an intense migraine headache.

The behavorial modification device that the Intitiative uses and is referenced by novelists from Anthony Burgess to Adolus Huxely is due in part to a psychologist named B.F. Skinner . Skinner more or less originated the behavorism movement along with the psychologists John B. Watson and Ivan Pavlov, much to the annoyance of many a psychology major who preferred Jungian/Freudian or psychoanalysis. In college, my psychology classes tended to be slanted towards behaviorism, I think I managed to get one of the few non-behavorists in the department and we still did the pavolian rat experiment - ie. Put a rat in a maze and through a series of behavior modification/stimulus techniques teach it to go the right direction in pursuit of reward.

Skinner's philosophy was:

Changes in behavior are the result of an individual's response to events (stimuli) that occur in the environment. A response produces a consequence such as defining a word, hitting a ball, or solving a math problem. When a particular Stimulus-Response (S-R) pattern is reinforced (rewarded), the individual is conditioned to respond. The distinctive characteristic of operant conditioning relative to previous forms of behaviorism (e.g., Thorndike, Hull) is that the organism can emit responses instead of only eliciting response due to an external stimulus.


A rather good critique of Skinner - can be found here:

The rule, or measuring rod, which the behaviorist puts in front of him always is: Can I describe this bit of behavior I see in terms of "stimulus and response"? Per Watson, "By stimulus we mean any object in the general environment or any change in the tissues themselves due to the physiological condition of the animal, such as the change we get when we keep an animal from sex activity, when we keep it from feeding, when we keep it from building a nest. By response we mean anything the animal does - such as turning toward or away from a light, jumping at a sound, and more highly organized activities such as building a skyscraper, drawing plans, having babies, writing books, and the like."


Pavlovian theory is similar. Pavlov studied neurological responses to external stimuli, and determined through bell experiments with dogs that certain responses could be taught. Pavlov conditioned the dog to believe that whenever a bell was rung, dinner would be served. The dog salivated in expectation of being fed. After a while the dog would salivate just upon hearing the bell, all Pavlov had to was ring it and the dog would salivate - the smell of food was not required. Because the dog associated the ringing of the bell with food, the dog salivated whenever he heard the bell, regardless of whether food was actually served. Pavlovian conditioning was a major theme in Adolus Huxley's A Brave New World. It is also a theme in Anthony Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange.

In BTVS, Spike is arguably conditioned under the Pavolian and Watsonian theory. John B. Watson came up with behaviorist psychology defined as:

Psychology as the behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behavior. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness with which they lend themselves to interpretation in terms of consciousness. The behaviorist, in his efforts to get a unitary scheme of animal response, recognizes no dividing line between man and brute. The behavior of man, with all of its refinement and complexity, forms only a part of the behaviorist's total scheme of investigation.


Professor Walsh sees Spike as little more than an animal that can be conditioned to obey commands based on stimuli much as Pavlov’s dog had been. Her desire to control criminal behavior by these means is similar to Michael Focault’s theory of prisoner rehabilitation through psychological and disciplinary means. Focault believed that the psychologist could change and rehabilitate the criminal mind, that execution or life-time imprisonment was not necessary. In BTVS, the writers test this theory, by exploring the degree to which an individual can be changed based on neurological stimulus. They ask the question – what would happen to a vampire if we inserted a behavioral conditioning device in his head? If we disciplined him to believe that killing humans was painful? If every time he tried to kill someone – he was physically punished, and every time he helped he was physically awarded – treated like a man? And what happens when those awards stop?

Drusilla, Spike’s old paramour and sire, in Crush, Buffy S5, argues upon discovering his current status:

DRUSILLA: I don't believe in science. All those bits and molecules no one's ever seen. I trust eyes and heart alone. (Walks over to him) And do you know what mine is singing out right now? (She takes Spike's hand and puts it over her heart. He stares at her.) You're a killer. Born to slash ... and bash ... and... (gives a little gasp of pleasure) oh, bleed like beautiful poetry. (Dru breathes faster, getting excited. They turn in a circle, still with Spike's hand on her chest. )

DRUSILLA: No little tinker-toy could ever stop you from flowing.

SPIKE: (shakes his head, removes his hand from her) But the pain ... love, you don't understand, it's ... it's searing. It's, um, blinding. (She puts her hand on the top of his head and pulls it down toward her. )

DRUSILLA: All in your head. I can see it. Little bit of ... plastic, spiderwebbing out nasty blue shocks. (moves her fingers across his head imitating a spider) And every one is a lie. (Spike keeps his head bent) Electricity lies, Spike. It tells you you're not a bad dog, but you are.


Drusilla’s argument is similar to the Kubrick’s and the anti-behavorists – which is that behavior modification doesn’t change the behavior long term, it only changes it while the conditioning is still in effect. It acts as sort of pseudo or artificial super-ego, constraining the id and ego from acting out without pain. Instead of twinges of conscience or guilt, emotional embarrassment, it substitutes actual physical pain or neurological pain in the hope that over time the brain will interpret that as the direct result of the action undertaken – sort of like Pavlov’s dog associates the ringing bell with food. For example if Spike attacks humans, he feels pain. But the anti-behavorists argue, as Dru does above – that as long as Spike knows it is the chip causing the pain – then he will not see it as a direct result of his actions, but merely those of a superimposed superego – implanted by an outside source. If he can remove it, he can do as he likes. He has no choice – it is not “his” superego or human soul that is telling him to stop, but an artificial one.

Much as pavlov's dog salivates before the bell rings, Spike's chip seemingly goes off when he intends to harm his victim. Yet, if he doesn't know his victim is human and the victim actually is - it still goes off regardless. This emphasizes what is stated above – that Spike equates pain with the chip not with harming people per se. As he states to Buffy, you’d think they could create a chip that would distinguish between good and bad people. Note he does not see eating people in general as a bad thing, only eating good people or those that Buffy would disapprove of him killing. Buffy has taken on the role of Spike’s super-ego or conscience. In some respects it is Buffy not the chip that is reigning in Spike. It is his desire to win her affection, her love, and those of her mates that in effect motivates him to do good deeds. As long as they positively reinforce his good deeds, he will do them, as long as they negatively reinforce his bad ones, he won’t. He is in some respects the pavlovian dog on a leash.

But Spike isn’t so sure, as he argues in Seeing Red, Buffy S6, after his attempt to rape Buffy:

SPIKE: (desperate) Why do I feel this way?

CLEM: (shrugs) Love's a funny thing.

SPIKE: Is that what this is? (Clem looking uncertain) I can feel it. Squirming in my head. (puts hand to his head)

CLEM: Love?

SPIKE: The chip. Gnawing bits and chunks. (Spike puts his fingers against his head as if he's trying to dig his way into his skull. ) You know, everything used to be so clear. Slayer. Vampire. Vampire kills Slayer, sucks her dry, picks his teeth with her bones. It's always been that way. I've tasted the life of two Slayers. But with Buffy... (grimacing in anguish) It isn't supposed to be this way! (angrily) It's the chip! Steel and wires and silicon. (sighs) It won't let me be a monster. (quietly) And I can't be a man. I'm nothing.


Spike is wondering why he has gone against his natural impulse to rape and kill Buffy. Why does he feel wracked with guilt and remorse after attempting to rape her? Why did he stop? By the same token, he also wonders why he tried to rape her at all - shouldn't he have stopped? Shouldn't his conditioning under the chip have stopped him? Shouldn’t his feelings for Buffy have stopped him? How could he treat a woman he loved in this manner? Granted the chip or electronic implant no longer works against Buffy (due to how she was brought back from the grave), but wouldn't his conditioning per Pavlovian theory have made him think twice? Wouldn’t it have kept the id in check?

Anthony Burgess and Stanley Kubrick ask the same questions in A Clockwork Orange, providing different answers. After the government successfully alters Alex’s behavior, a group of activists get together to deprogram Alex from his conditioning. In Kubrick's film version - Alex goes back to his raping, murdering, and thieving ways without a glimmer of remorse. In Burgess' novel - Alex discovers that the bit of violence is rather boring, it no longer holds any appeal, and turns his back on it, reformed.

In BTVS, the answer is not as simple. Spike is to a degree deprogrammed by his S&M sex with Buffy and the mixed messages Buffy and her friends give him after she returns. He discovers that he can hurt her, without pain, but the hurt is requested and is pleasurable to her. It is not against her will nor is it forced upon her at least not until Seeing Red. When he does attempt to rape her, he is strung out, possibly drunk, and desperate - not quite himself. But that doesn't excuse his crime - and freaked by it, not to mention her horrified response to it and the knowledge that he has irredeemably hurt her and in a way he promised that he never would -he runs off to find a soul – the item that he believes will prevent him from hurting her – something stronger than the chip and his love for her, something that is his, and not forced upon him from an external source or an authority outside of himself.

Why does he decide to get a soul? Why not get the chip out?

This has been debated for years. Many people still believe that he did not require one.

Over the years, Spike has been arguably conditioned to see the chip as a bit of a blessing - it allows him to be a part of the heroine's group, it prevents her from staking him, and it provides him with access to her. Perhaps in his head, not to mention Dawn's, the chip functions as a mechanical soul. He can be good now.

BUFFY: He's a killer, Dawn. You cannot have a crush on something that is ... dead, and, and evil, and a vampire.

DAWN: Right, that's why you were never with Angel for three years.

BUFFY: (quietly) Angel's different. He has a soul.

DAWN: Spike has a chip. Same diff.


Can he be good without a soul? Is the chip enough?

The chip only stimulates pain under certain circumstances - as Spike himself states, if there is no intent, it does not go off. And he can find other ways to hurt them. The fact that he doesn't may have to do with their behavior towards him. He gets Buffy when he sacrifices himself to Glory, is tortured protecting Buffy’s secret - Buffy kisses him. He loses Buffy and is ostracized when he kidnaps her, chains her up and threatens her. He gets her friends approval when he sacrifices himself for Dawn, he loses it when he threatens them. Much like the pavlovian dog - Spike is ringing the bell that gets him fed.

But when they are not around or when they reinforce negative behavioral patterns - such as the one's Buffy inadvertently reinforces by her own negative behavior towards him, Spike regresses to who he once was. She cannot be his compass. She can't be responsible for him twenty-four seven. If he changes, he will have to do so without her help.

The conditioning can only go so far. She does, unintentionally, place the idea of a soul in his head. Stating that he cannot be good without one. Over and over again, Buffy tells him that a soul is required in order for him to be a "man" in her eyes. Not a thing.

In the season 6 episode Smashed, after they’ve made out twice, Spike confronts Buffy and again asks if they can form a relationship.

Spike: A man can change.
(She again stops walking and faces him.)

BUFFY: You're not a man. You're a thing.


He discovers in the above scene that he can hit her and gleefully goes off to kill things. If he is not a man then he will bloody be a monster. His response is to the negative stimuli she’s provided. When he hits her and does not receive the expected shock, he reacts with glee.

Open on the street, downtown, night. People walking around, talking, etc. Spike walks out from an alley, looks around, grins. Pan across the street. Lots of people going about their business.
SPIKE: (to himself) Look at all the goodies.
(He continues looking around, pauses as he spots something. Closer shot of a young blonde woman standing on the corner, looking at her watch, looking around, hugging herself as if she's cold. She turns and starts to walk away. Spike moves to follow her. Cut to an alley. The young woman walks along, still hugging herself, looking nervous. Suddenly Spike steps out in front of her. She screams.)

SPIKE: That's right, you should scream. (She tries to get away but he moves to intercept her. She looks scared. )

SPIKE: Creature of the night here, yeah? (indicating himself) Some people forget that. (He advances on the woman. She backs away, shaking her head fearfully, backs up against a wall.)

WOMAN: Please.

SPIKE: She thinks I'm housebroken. She forgot who she's dealing with.

WOMAN: Anything you want, please-

SPIKE: Just 'cause she's confused about where she fits in, I'm supposed to be too? 'Cause I'm not. (pacing back and forth) I know what I am. I'm dangerous. I'm evil.

WOMAN: (scared) I-I'm sure you're not evil.

SPIKE: Yes, I am. I am a killer. (moves closer to her) That's what I do. I kill. And, yeah, maybe it's been a long time, but ... it's not like you forget how.


The chip keeps him from hurting the woman, but Spike chooses to hurt her. He is a bit confused about it – talks himself into it. And is to a degree rebelling against Buffy, who has rejected him. Demonstrating what he’d do if the chip ceased to work and Buffy ceased to show she loved him. Take away his ability to obtain Buffy and take away the chip – Spike reverts to his old ways. But he does have to talk himself into it. But Spike does not go after his soul because of Buffy, but rather because of this line stated here in The Gift and the one later in both Smashed and Seeing Red
.
Spike: "I know you can never love me. I know I am a monster. But you treat me like a man and that..."


Spike himself has come to believe that he cannot be good without a soul. That he can’t be a man. But he also believes that the soul will restore him to who he once was, much as he believes it restored Angel to who he once was. His conviction is not based purely on Buffy, but rather his own actions towards Buffy, the fact that he can hurt her, that he cannot be trusted, and that the chip does not prevent him from doing things that will and do cause her pain.

Spike: "It would cause her pain...and I can't live with her being in that much pain."
(Intervention)

Spike is motivated to get the soul, because he realizes without it – he is beneath Buffy, he cannot choose to be a man or a monster. The chip prevents him from being the monster, but it does not provide him with the ability to be a man – to have the same moral structure and choices that Buffy and her friends do. His moral structure is still the opposite. The chip in effect suppresses that moral structure, while superimposing a contrary one – but he is aware that it is external. As he states to Buffy in Sleeper, “the chip is something that was done to me, I had no choice regarding it.”

2. The Soul

The concept of a soul has been debated by philosophers for years.

The Soul has numerous interpretations/definitions and for most of them go here. I've included a few of the more interesting interpretations below:

1. G. I. Gurdjieff taught that nobody is ever born with a soul. Rather, you must create a soul during the course of your life. Without a soul, Gurdjieff taught that you will "die like a dog".

2.Sikhism considers Soul (atma) to be part of Universal Soul, which is God (Parmatma). Various hymns are cited from the holy book "Sri Guru Granth Sahib" (SGGS) that suggests this belief. "God is in the Soul and the Soul is in the God."[47] The same concept is repeated at various pages of the SGGS. For example: "The soul is divine; divine is the soul. Worship Him with love."[48] and "The soul is the Lord, and the Lord is the soul; contemplating the Shabad, the Lord is found."[49]

3. Jewish views regarding the soul - for example:
Saadia Gaon, in his Emunoth ve-Deoth 6:3, explained classical rabbinic teaching about the soul. He held that the soul comprises that part of a person's mind which constitutes physical desire, emotion, and thought.

Maimonides, in his The Guide for the Perplexed, explained classical rabbinic teaching about the soul through the lens of neo-Aristotelian philosophy, and viewed the soul as a person's developed intellect, which has no substance.

4. Islam:According to a few verses from the Qur'an the following information can be deduced: In part 15 verse 29,[43] the creation of humans involves God "breathing" souls into them. This intangible part of an individual's existence is "pure" at birth. It has the potential of growing and achieving nearness to God if the person leads a righteous life.

5. Science: Much of the scientific study relating to the soul has been involved in investigating the soul as a human belief or as concept that shapes cognition and understanding of the world (see Memetics), rather than as an entity in and of itself.
An oft-encountered analogy is that the brain is to the mind as computer hardware is to computer software. The idea of the mind as software has led some scientists to use the word "soul" to emphasize their belief that the human mind has powers beyond or at least qualitatively different from what artificial software can do.

The human survival strategy depends heavily on adoption of the intentional stance, a behavioral strategy that predicts the actions of others based on the expectation that they have a mind like one's own (see theory of mind).(Or that the mind conceives of a universal consciousness or universal soul.)


Or go Here for a definition of the conscience.


Conscience etymologically derives from the Latin conscientia meaning "privity of knowledge", or "with-knowledge". The English word implies internal awareness of a moral standard in the mind concerning the quality of one's motives, as well as a consciousness of our own actions. Thus, conscience properly considered philosophically may be first, and perhaps most commonly, a largely unexamined "gut feeling" or "vague sense of guilt" about what ought to be, or should have been, done, not necessarily the end product of any sustained process of personal rational consideration of the morally relevant features of a problematic situation (or the applicable normative principles, rules or laws), and perhaps arising from prior parental, peer group, religious, state or corporate indoctrination, which may or may not be presently consciously acceptable to the person ("traditional conscience").


In his Cultural Humanist Q&A - Joss Whedon was asked point blank, if the vampire with the soul, Angel and his formerly soulless vampire alter-ego, Angelus were separate people and to describe what a soul was - or at least give an idea. This question had been posed before but in another way. Each time Whedon answers it - he makes it clear that he does not define a soul by religious terms, so much as by psychological or scientific terms. Whedon defines a soul as a super-ego. (Note, I do not necessarily agree with Whedon’s definition and I’m guessing from Buffy as well as other works, Whedon is somewhat agnostic about it himself.)

Whedon stated at the Q&A:

"Angel and Angelus are the same and different, in that they have two different moral structures. The demon soul is one moral structure and the human soul is another one. That was the framework of our series."

Definition: According to Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, the superego is the component of personality composed of our internalized ideals that we have acquired from our parents and from society. The superego works to suppress the urges of the id and tries to make the ego behave morally, rather than realistically.


http://psychology.about.com/od/sindex/g/def_superego.htm

In Freudian theory, the division of the unconscious that is formed through the internalization of moral standards of parents and society, and that censors and restrains the ego.


http://www.answers.com/topic/ego-superego-and-id#

(You can also go to wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Id,_ego,_and_super-ego)

The superego is why we feel the pain of embarrassment, it is what shows us the consequences of our actions and is often considered the same as a conscience.

According to Freud - it does not exist at birth. We are not born with it, but rather it is internalized over time. Children are innocent, they will do horrible things without realizing these are wrong until told otherwise - they have no superego, this is taught. But some psychologists view it as innate, something we are born with, that is passed down to us that is akin to a soul. Some religions may even equate the superego with the soul or the soul as the totality of the human personality separate from the body. Giles in Buffy seems to equate a soul thusly – when he states to Buffy and the gang in S1, that the vampire is a demon that takes on the human persona but is not the human. This definition of a vampire dates back to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.


Giles: A vampire isn't a person at all. (clears his throat) It may have the movements, the, the memories, even the personality of the person that it took over, but i-it's still a demon at the core, there is no halfway.


Bram Stocker’s Dracula:


Dr. Seward: But there was no love in my own heart, nothing but loathing for the foul Thing which had taken Lucy’s shape without her soul.

Arthur: Is this really Lucy’s body, or only a demon in her shape?

Van Helsing: It is her body, and yet not it.


Yet, Angel throws Gile’s explanation into question, and continues to do so. Stating to Buffy:

Angel: When you become a vampire the demon takes your body, but it doesn't get your soul. That's gone! No conscience, no remorse... It's an easy way to live. You have no idea what it's like to have done the things I've done... and to care. I haven't fed on a living human being since that day.


Spike has a superego prior to getting a soul - that is the demon or demonic superego. The demon's soul replaces the human's soul. But its morality is the opposite of a human's. It promotes evil. Chaos. Glories in violence and the spread of vampirism. Bucking death.

From Bram Stoker’s Dracula:


Before we do anything, let me tell you this; it is out of the lore and experience of the ancients and of all those who have studied the powers of the Un-Dead. When they become such, there comes with the change the curse of immortality; they cannot die, but must go on age after age adding new victims and multiplying the evils of the world…


While the human version of the superego - promotes the opposite. The super-ego in the human wants what society dictates, the morality of that culture and age.

The idea that the soul in the BTVS series acts as a super-ego is reinforced in the episode Living Conditions - where Buffy’s roommate systematically removes portions of Buffy’s soul. Without her soul, Buffy gives in to the id, her ego and id take over. She takes another girl’s sandwich because she wants it. Or she will punch someone because she feels anger. Societal constraints ingrained over time are gone. As soon as she retrieves her soul – she listens to them again.

Just because you have a super-ego, does not necessarily mean you will listen to it. This is explored in depth in the series through various characters, specifically Faith and Warren who ignore their super-egos and follow their id’s and egos. They suppress and/or rebel against super-ego.

Spike over time, in part due to his chip, listens to the ego and id. The ego is the personality - the mind, the part of us that thinks through things, our name, our knowledge. While the id is well what we desire, dream, covet, want and yearn for. Spike is ruled and has been most of his existence by id and ego. One can love with ego and id – but as Drusilla states not wisely but quite well.



As William, the man, Spike was ruled primarily by his superego - the rules of society, its dictates. When he becomes a vampire - he says the hell with society's rules. He glories in the id/ego and rebels against the superego which once kept him repressed. Although the demon soul that now inhabits him relishes and encourages his wildness.

Angel is the opposite. As a man, Liam cared nothing for the superego, he rebelled against it. Went on drunken orgies, stole, and rebelled against Daddy. As a vampire - he
is almost all superego. Repressed. Even as Angelus - everything he does is for the demon superego - to obtain the demon world's approval and respect. He even chides Spike, telling him that they shouldn’t brawl and bring notice to themselves, that it is all about the artistry.


ANGELUS: No. A real kill. A good kill. It takes pure artistry. Without that, we're just animals.

SPIKE: Poofter!
(Angelus shoves Spike and the fight is on. Angelus snaps a metal rod in half, lifts Spike up and slams him down on his back, raising the makeshift stake. Spike stops it inches from his heart and smiles up at Angelus.)

SPIKE: Now you're gettin' it! (Angelus drops the rod and backs off.)

ANGELUS: You can't keep this up forever. If I can't teach you, maybe someday an angry crowd will. That... or the Slayer. (Spike sits up, suddenly interested.)

SPIKE: What's a Slayer?


Substitute the names Angelus and Spike for superego and id, and have the same discussion. Spike wants the thrill, the rush, the challenge. He gets off on it. Rules are for “poofters” and “sissies” – which is who he once was as a human. While Angelus likes the artistry. There are rules to be followed. Guidelines. And he throws the “slayer” at Spike much as someone might throw a cop or prison at a wayward child as a threat. But the id sees it as a challenge.

The same is true of Angel. Superego rules his world. He doesn't eat anything but blood. He is a "vampire". He follows the rules - which is the realm of the super-ego. This is why Angel and Angelus are the same yet also different - they have the same id and the same ego, personality and desire remain, what has changed is the superego that rules them - which the id and ego in Angel have always catered to. This is why when Angel loses his soul – he is evil incarnate, there is no human desire or love left in him. It is why the Judge, who is also all demon super-ego, machine like, with no id or ego, cannot burn Angelus. The id does not exist in Angelus and if it does, he suppresses it. He kills to please the super-ego. The reminder of love or human desire sickens him – he sees it as weakness. The id to Angelus is weak, and should be suppressed.

Angel likewise sees his human desires as weak and fights against them – for it is his human desire for Buffy that costs him his soul. If he gives in to his “id” he loses everything. As a vampire – he must cater to the super-ego. Being a hero, a champion, his destiny precludes all pleasure, all joy. It is why when given the choice, he turns down the option to become human – because it goes against the dictates of the super-ego. Of course he can’t do this 24/7, he does slip up. He does fall in love. He does drink too much. He does at times cater to his id – but when he does, he is punished for it.

Spike is the opposite. As a vampire, he's ignored the dictates of the super-ego. As he states - he follows his blood, his desires, his heart. Or at least he's attempted to.
He can't entirely, of course. This is why you see him in conflict prior to getting the chip. The id and ego don't want to destroy the world - they are rather enjoying it. They don't want to be the ultimate evil if it means going to hell and losing Dru to Angelus...so they basically tell the old super-ego to go to hell and follow their gut.

Spike is rewarded for suppressing the super-ego. He enjoys life with wild-abandon. Even with the chip – he compensates. He can’t kill humans? Fine, he can kill demons. Bigger challenge anyway. He can’t have Drusilla? He goes after Buffy and has sex with Harmony. He sees nothing wrong with using Harmony for sex or with Buffy using him for sex . But William, the man he once was – would. The chip isn’t enough – it only takes away the ability to eat humans, but Spike has found other ways to get off – such as making fun of humans, stealing from humans, and engaging in a bit of gambling and smuggling on the side.

So what happens when Spike of all people chooses to get a soul? Note, unlike Angelus who has a separate super-ego/soul forced upon him and is now forced to choose good, Spike goes after it on his own. Spike, who has to a degree rebelled against the super-ego and denounced his human soul/persona – seeks it out. By seeking it out, he has not only acknowledged its importance, but unlike his demonic super-ego, granted it some leverage. True he was a fiend as demon. But he did not follow the rules. As the Mayor stated – “we never knew what he was going to do next.” We don’t with the id and ego.


BUFFY: Why? Why would you do that—

SPIKE: Buffy, shame on you. Why does a man do what he mustn't? For her. To be hers. To be the kind of man who would nev— (looks away) to be a kind of man. She shall look on him with forgiveness, and everybody will forgive and love. He will be loved. (Spike embraces the crucifix, resting one arm over each side of the cross bar, and resting his head in the corner of the vertex. His body is sizzling and smoke is rising from where it touches the cross.)





As evidenced above – Spike got the soul to become a “man”. The super-ego/soul, “William”, or the man that he has become is disgusted with what Spike the vampire did. His position on the cross – is something that William the super-ego would dictate. Spike probably isn’t religious or rebelled against it, but William may well have been. He embraces the symbol of his super-ego, the authority that his super-ego adheres to.

But unlike the demon’s super-ego, the man has not replaced what was already there. It is added. Spike’s id, ego, and the demon super-ego are still intact, along with the chip in his head. These are all battling for dominance. His old super-ego comes complete with all the societal rules that he once rebelled against. As he states in subsequent episodes – the soul is not all pennywhistles and moonbeams, love, it is about the self-loathing. As wretched and evil as I was, I never truly hated myself, not like I do now. With his human moral structure intact – he now understands the full impact of what he did to Buffy – his attempt to rape her, the attempts he made on her life and others lives, the people he killed, and the people he still wants to kill. The demonic desires raging inside him. He is compelled now to suppress the id. And that’s the change in his persona – it is no longer the chip that is suppressing it – but Spike himself. As demonstrated by his refusal to sleep with Anya again, or for that matter to act out of jealousy either in regards to the Principal or Angel. He’s not perfect – the id is still there.

Spike to Buffy in Sleeper: I can barely live with what I’ve done, if you think I’d willingly add to the body count – you are insane.

Does he feel remorse? Certainly. As is demonstrated in the episode Sleeper – when he remembers what he has done and is repulsed by his own actions. The vampire sucking blood is no longer fun – it repulses the super-ego. It is not Buffy’s revulsion that he is reacting to, but his own. Granted this may not extend to Robin Wood, but having a super-ego doesn’t automatically make one good. Or perfect. 24/7. Angel often fell off the wagon. Plus, Spike, to give him some credit – does not kill Wood. He actually goes out of his way to save Robin on more than one occasion. And in Lies, tells Buffy that he gave Wood a pass – he did not kill him, even though Wood attempted to murder Spike, on account of the fact that he intentionally and brutally stalked and killed Wood’s mother. He stops himself out of respect for the woman that he did murder. The mother. The woman – whose coat he still wears. His super-ego prevents him from killing Wood, even though both ego and id desire it.

3. The Trigger

Oh don’t deceive me, oh never leave me…how could you use a poor maiden so…

"early one morning as the sun was rising, I looked into the valley down below, I saw fair maid weeping, oh don't deceive, oh never leave me, how could you treat a poor maiden so..."


For the video of Early One Morning - go here, because I can't figure out how to post it without losing content.

In the Machurian Candidate, the 1962 film based on Richard Condon's 1959 best-selling poltical thriller, the lead character, Shaw, played by Laurence Harvey in the film version, is conditioned to be the unwitting assasin whose actions are triggered by a Queen of Diamonds playing card. It is gradually revealed during the film that Shaw's mother, Mrs. Islein (portrayed by Angela Langsbury), is the operative who holds the trigger. She's literally the Queen of Diamonds. When confronted she insists that she had no idea that her son was the assasin, and that she will grind her associates to dust - then gives her son a decidedly non-maternal kiss. The trigger was associated in part with Shaw's relationship to his mother and his desire for her approval - it was her that causes him to kill. There is no clear father presence, he has a step-father. And he hates both parents, particularly the domineering mother who has shaped and controlled his life.

After Spike gets his soul, the First Evil places a trigger in Spike's head. Similar to the one in The Manchurian Candidate - the trigger causes Spike to go into a hypnotic state, he becomes the vampire, and he is little more than the tool of the agent triggering him. The trigger, we soon discover, is based on an old English folk song that Spike’s mother used to sing him – entitled Early One Morning. Much like the Manchurian Candidate - the song is associated with the mother, who in this case is not so much domineering as dependent on him. The song is about a young maiden who has been deceived and abandoned by her lover/husband, much as Spike's mother was most likely abandoned by her's. The point of view is third person – and has been sung by male and female folk singers alike, everyone from Pernell Roberts to Eva Summer.

In Buffy, the first evil sings it to Spike disguised as Spike, and as Drusilla. It is also sung by his mother in a flashback. In flashbacks, we are shown that William was the sole caretaker of his mother. Outside of their servants there were no other family members or individuals living with his mother. She was dependent on William. And he was devoted to her. Her approval and comfort – was all he cared for, outside of the attentions and respect of Cecily, who he adored from afar.

The nature of William’s relationship with his mother is alluded to but never clearly defined – in Lies My Parents Told Me and Fool For Love. We are shown William reading poetry to his mother, his insistence to Drusilla that he must return to her, that she is expecting him, and his concern regarding her illness. It is clear that she is dying, possibly from tuberculosis or consumption – since we see her coughing up blood in William’s company. After he is turned by Dru – William is motivated to turn his mother into a vampire – as an attempt to save her. But it doesn’t quite turn out the way he would have liked. She turns on him – accuses him of desiring her in a sexual manner and derides his poetry and manhood. So he stakes her.

William could not leave his mother to go off with Drusilla. Nor could he merely kill her.
The song that she must have sung to him since he was a small child – has clearly been ingrained. It has become part of what Freud would call the super-ego. To leave a woman, to abandon her is the worst thing that he could ever do. He reacts to the song much in the same way he reacts to the chip, much in the same way Pavlov’s dog reacted to the bell.

Spike – never leaves Drusilla. Drusilla dumps and leaves Spike. When she returns, he has moved on and refuses to abandon his new love for Dru. But he is not lying when he tells Buffy that killing Drusilla for her is no small thing. In some regards it would be a bigger sacrifice for Spike than Angel’s staking of Darla in Season 1. Dru is his vampire mother. Yet, at the same time, his offer to kill Dru in Crush is a repeat of what he did when he was first turned – he sired his mother then killed her, moving on to Dru as his new mother, new super-ego. Unlike Angel/Angelus – Spike went to female role models or women as super-egos, hence the reason the First mainly plays the roles of Dru and Buffy in Spike’s head. This may also be why Angelus throws the female slayer in Spike’s face – he may realize that a powerful woman is the only guidepost that Spike understands.

For all we know – Spike never had a male role model. Angelus may well be the only one.
In Angel’s back story – we do not see his mother, she is not given a name or a face, and is barely mentioned – while his father on the other hand is larger than life and mentioned repeatedly. And Angel trades his father for the Master. And rebels against the Master just as he rebelled against his father. It is also Giles that Angel has a relationship with in BTVS not Joyce. While Spike develops a close relationship with Joyce and barely acknowledges Giles.

Spike won’t leave Dru – he takes care of her when she is ill, caters to her( School Hard – What’s My Line). And when Joyce gets ill – he comforts Buffy (Fool for Love). Buffy in a way takes over Drusilla’s role. Harmony never quite manages it. Harmony never quite reaches that level of importance, he never takes her seriously. In some respects – he takes out his fury regarding women on her. It’s not until after he gets a soul – that he acknowledges his behavior towards Harmony was wrong and backs off. (Harm’s Way). In Harm’s Way – he apologizes to her, or comes about as close to an apology as he can manage. Comforting her. He seems to acknowledge, without saying anything that he knows she cared for him and he was wrong to abuse it.

The trigger exists partly because Spike believes he did abandon and fail his mother. That he failed her dictates. The first is stating through the song that he has failed both his mothers, the demon one and the human one. That he can’t win. The soul means nothing. You’ve never listened to it before, why would you now? And if that is what you need – if Buffy was your superego, while the chip suppressed the demonic one – how about I do the same with the trigger? I condition you through a song that gives you pain. A hypnotic suggestion ingrained in a long suppressed and painful memory of a painful failing – something you promised you’d never do, just as you promised Buffy that you would never intentionally hurt her – you failed both times.

Through the song – the First Evil suppresses both the artificial/man-made super-ego or chip and the soul. The First becomes Buffy, plays both Buffy and Dru – both taunting Spike, forcing out the monster inside, the one that desires blood. And the monsters attacks mostly women – because women are the super-ego, they constrain him, they are his achilees heel. Without them…he can be the wild beast, indulge. With Angel it is the opposite – when he indulges women – the id is released. He gives into it. Women allow Angel to be the wild beast.

Spike overcomes the trigger with the help of Wood – who is representative of the kill that Spike is the most proud of. The one kill that he does not want to show remorse for – and stated “wanted it”. It’s not until Damage that he is forced to see that even that kill was wrong. Nikki was his equal, bad-ass, and a mother – which I think was the key factor. It’s similar in a way to Buffy – who becomes like a mother when Dawn enters her life and Joyce is removed from it. Spike’s attraction and love for Buffy grows after Dawn enters her life. For Spike – it is about mothers – they are his god, so to speak. The thought that his biological mother despised him – is enough to make him reel. The soul can’t handle what happened to his mother. And it is the leverage the demon needs to obtain dominance. What breaks the cycle is when he relives it and by reliving it through the eyes of his soul, not the demon, he realizes that he did not abandon or deceive his mother. That his mother did not hate him. She wanted release.

In Chosen, Buffy returns the favor. She releases Spike. She allows him to move on. Prior to Chosen, she asks him to stay. Begs him not to leave, giving little in return.[First Date, S7]And he can’t leave her – because of well the song, which lies at the center of his super-ego, it defines him.

Yet, at the same time, he is no longer the 26 year old Victorian gentleman who sat at his mother’s knee while she sang a folk ditty about men leaving women in the dust. He has changed. He retains the poet’s heart, but it does not define him. He can suppress the super-ego and still does on occasion. What separates him from Angel is that he does not allow the super-ego to dictate his choices. He does follow his blood. He does enjoy being alive or undead. He may feel guilty, but he does not require approval – well except perhaps from women, who remain to a degree his achiles heel in part because of the song.

Without the soul – I’m not sure Spike would have been able to come to this epithany. To choose his own path. As he states to Wood and Buffy, “ I got my own free will, now. I'm not under the First's or anyone else's influences now.”

The soul provides Spike with the capacity to choose good. He still has the demon soul. He still has dark inside him. It is a metaphor of sorts for the battle between light and dark that rages inside us all. How to know which voice to listen to? Spike’s battle is a human one. And how to live with the crimes of the past? Even if you were under a different moral structure or guide when committing them. Spike – has learned that it is not excuse, he could have resisted those desires, he does resist them with the chip – to a degree. The question that the writers leave unanswered is to what degree does the super-ego control us, to what degree are we responsible for our actions – when it is not guiding us? And to what degree can external measures such as a chip truly change behavior? What comprises human identity? And how much control do we have over it? How much if any free will?

Spike at the end of the story, as seen in the Angel Series finale, Not Fade Away, has obtained free will. He chooses to aid Angel and his friends. He chooses to fight Angel’s fight, even if it may or may not be the right one – it feels right to him. He chooses to stay with Angel and not seek out Buffy, not rejoin her or her friends. He chooses to follow his conscience or super-ego. Buffy is not guiding him, Angel isn’t, he guides himself and goes into that dark alley, by Angel’s side, to fight demons, even if it means his own destruction. He has changed and he has chosen his own fate. His chip has been removed along with the trigger. He is no longer ringing pavlov’s bell and trading clothes .

Date: 2009-10-24 05:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] frenchani.livejournal.com
You must have spent a lot of time writing this!!!
Isn't it extraordinary that a tv show make us do such things?

I'm avoiding some parts of your post now because I'm a bit in a hurry but I wanted to leave a comment, because I know how frustrating it is to write a long post, to put so much in writing it, and wait for comments afterwards.

I won't talk about the soul because it would require more room than a comment window allows, and I'm not discussing the trigger because it would lead me to ramble on about my old theory about the First Evil...

Concerning the chip, I think that it was never meant to be a conditionning device, or rather it was a control device for the Initiative and it may have been considered a conditionning device by certain characters, but it was just a plot device for the writers, which doesn't mean it had no effect on Spike's journey, but Drusilla got it wrong. The chip didn't change Spike's behaviour, the chip changed his environment. The chip forced him into living with the humans because he needed help and a place of refuge("Pangs"), besides the chip made him even more of an outcast as he used to be in the demon world because demons were the only creature he could fight and kill and Spike was a warrior so he joined the slaying business with gusto. The chip was the next step after the season 2 truce in making him switch sides. Above all, human beings became Spike's familiars( and it worked the other way round too, hence Willow saying that they couldn't let him commit suicide because they KNEW him), the chip forced Spike to bond with them, feel empathy even(especially with Dawn), so they could no longer be "happy meal on legs" to him. Once he part of Buffy's world, and not just Buffy's business like demons usually are, Spike could fall in love with her which would be a new catalyst in his journey.

I think that the chip played its role in season 4 and at the beginning of season 5 but slowly became pointless because there were stronger bonds at work, preventing Spike from regressing.

Date: 2009-10-24 06:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Thank you for the comment. And yes, far too much time, an embarrassingly long amount of time. Still played with it. Adding a whole bit about the Manchurian Candidate.

In the post - I did not include this quote, but Willow does state at one point in S7, in the episode Killer in Me, that she hunted for info on the chip and refers to it as "behavorial conditioning through the ages". Walsh also refers to it in behavorist terms. She may have intended to condition him to be her personal killer or not, we have no idea, she dies and the Initiative disappears before we can find out. So, yes, I think Walsh probably saw it as a conditioning device - she was a behavorial psychologist after all. And the writers literally state they Clockwork Oranged Spike and make direct references to both that film and the series The Prisoner - so I'd say that it was intended as more than just a plot device - they clearly thought it out and what it meant to both the character and the series. I got that from interviews and commentary during the airing and afterwards. (It's not like Angel's curse or the amulet, which really were little more than convienent plot devices).

Also while the chip's prevention of Spike's ability to bite - does allow him to change his environment. But that is to a degree his choice. How he adapts to the chip is not conditioned. How he chooses to relate to the Scoobies isn't. And how they relate to his isn't. It does provide him with the ability to change and it does provide the man inside, his personality, to come out - it suppresses the demon super-ego or rather aids in that suppression. I don't believe he could have gotten to the stage he is at the end of S6, without the chip. If it had been taken out prior to the soul - he may well have reverted earlier and sought the soul earlier.

Date: 2009-10-24 06:39 pm (UTC)
ext_15284: a wreath of lightning against a dark, stormy sky (spike-gorgeous)
From: [identity profile] stormwreath.livejournal.com
Very interesting! I particularly liked your insight into the trigger and how it worked: I have to say I'd never actually listened carefully to the words of 'Early One Morning' and thought how they applied to him.

I wasn't sure if you were saying the soul IS the superego, though, or simply that it works kind of like one but not really, because the superego still exists even in a soulless vampire?

Demon soul vs. human soul

Date: 2009-10-24 09:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Thank you.

It is a bit confusing, because the series doesn't use the word "demon soul". But Giles does state that when the human dies, the soul leaves, the demon soul or entity inhabits it. A better example may be Illyria who destroys Fred's soul then inhabits Fred's body. Fred's body still retains the personality and id of Fred, what has been inserted is the personality/id and superego of Illyria. The only thing gone is Fred's former super-ego, but Fred's ego is still there.

Demons have souls. But they are "demon" souls. Or the moral structure of a demon.

The best example is Angelus and Angel. Both have super-egos. Both cater to it. But one super-ego is about destruction, chaos, evil - demon, while the other is about good, being a champion, heroism, and order.

One is human. One is demon.

The human soul is like a conscience or a human super-ego, if you will. A demon soul - is well what motivates the demon to destroy, further the cause of demon kind, to make more vampires.

sorry for short reply

Date: 2009-10-24 06:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wenchsenior.livejournal.com
Time constraints also force me to comment at less length than I'd like.

When I saw this post, I expected a well-written and well-reasoned meta (as your posts always are), but I didn't expect to encounter any ideas substantially new to me (after all, I've spent many an hour analyzing this show, and many a mountain of meta has been written in the last decade).

However, you've dug into several details re: the Spike/Id, Soul/Superego idea that were new to me (particularly the analysis of the folk-song trigger and the role of Spike's mother), and really really interesting. I had never thought through all the implications of linking Spike's attitude/interactions with women to the Superego (apart from Buffy).

But I want to especially thank you for providing a fresh perspective on Angel's Superego issues. It's funny that your post was about Spike, and yet I came away thinking, "I really need to rewatch AtS, with Shadowkat's ideas in mind!" I enjoy the two vampires as inverse foils of each other but, again, I had never carried the idea as far as you have in my interpretation and understanding of Angel (who has always remained a bit more opaque to me as a character than Spike).

Thanks so much for this meta. I'll comment more later, if I have time.

(edited to remove paragraph fragment)

Re: sorry for short reply

Date: 2009-10-24 09:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Oh thank so much!!!

Yes, the Angel/Angelus super-ego idea came to me while I was writing it last night - it had been percolating in my brain for quite some time - that remark Whedon made at the Humanist Q&A. And then it finally hit me, with a bit of help from Dollhouse and a bit of fanfiction (Barb Cummings' Necessary Evils) which hammered on the fact that Angel never eats human food and Spike does - that Angel is to a large extent governed by the superego. He suppresses the id and ego and abides by the super-ego's rules. Which is incredibly ironic - considering that as a human, Liam, he was the opposite. It's why WRH and Jasmine are the big villians in his series - both are authority figures, super-egos, with rigid rules and order.
Spike on the other hand as a human, was a lot like Angel is now. He repressed his urges. He was suppressed. When he becomes a vampire he goes in the opposite direction.

Date: 2009-10-24 07:49 pm (UTC)
ann1962: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ann1962
Interesting stuff.

I love the comparison between Alex and Spike. Great connection. The passion with which they both act really works. I haven't seen that movie since college, but it was one that friends and I saw many times. I wonder if I could stomach it today.

Date: 2009-10-24 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Yes, I've wondered much the same thing myself regarding A Clockwork Orange. I may read the book instead. I do have it.
I bought it to quote out of and to read the 21st chapter - which is quite different than the film version. Kubrick's version is in some respects deadlier and more horrific than Burgess. But that was Kubrick - he did the same thing to Stephan King's The Shining (the book is no where near as terrifying as Kubrick's film).

I even studied A Clockwork Orange in college - it kept popping up in my classes, especially the cultural anthropology and
psychology and philosophy ones. That and Trading Places with Dan Ackroyde and Eddie Murphy. Those two films I had memorized by the time I graduated. LOL! And no, I'm not sure I could stomach A Clockwork Orange today, although I've admittedly seen worse on television. There are episodes of Dollhouse that rival it. ;-)

Date: 2009-10-24 09:32 pm (UTC)
ann1962: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ann1962
I have had so many copies of this book, and every time I lent one, it wasn't returned. I stopped purchasing them. It must have happened 5 or 6 times. LOL I studied it in college too. The professors were fixated on the language and making sure we had used the translations for Burgess's word choices. I don't remember much else of what they talked about. We did watch the movie in the class, and most people hadn't seen it. The shock of the movie became the discussion rather than the book. Fair enough given the visuals of the movie.

I swear every time I try to dip into Dollhouse, there is a graphic scene or something very unsettling on the fly by. I can't give it a chance, because my luck with it has been horrible. I hate that I can't watch it or heck, like it from what I've seen. Last night the one guy was flipping out on the Asian woman one moment, and then taking her picture and sticking it in a drawer, each a different version of the woman. This show will be the hole in my Whedon canon of work.
(deleted comment)

Date: 2009-10-24 10:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Oops, I just re-read that post and it comes across odd. I meant to say that I can see why you'd have difficulty with it.
I do. Most people do. Very few people on my flist like it. It's a tough series to watch and not one that I think children should - unlike Buffy/Angel/Firefly. What I mean by saying kids shouldn't watch is just that it lacks the wit and lightness of the other shows, its content is violent and graphic in a way that leaves you feeling sort of itchy afterwards. It is almost too dark? I'm still not quite saying it right.

I like it, but I'm aware that it is definitely not to everyone's taste in part due to that graphic violence - graphic in way that is harder to stomach than the violence on Supernatural or Buffy or Angel was. Possibly because it is more horrific and the monsters are human ones?

Date: 2009-10-24 11:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kd0206.livejournal.com
I generally just lurk and think about your meta for a few days...Will be doing the same thing with this.
I often thought about Clockwork Orange, in the Kubrick sense, when they first chipped Spike. And I am in agreement that the chip changed his enviorment not his behavior.
Beyond that...I have to go think. Thanks!

Date: 2009-10-25 10:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Thank you for the response. I really appreciate it.

Date: 2009-10-25 05:41 pm (UTC)
lynnenne: (spangel hand porn)
From: [personal profile] lynnenne
This may also be why Angelus throws the female slayer in Spike’s face – he may realize that a powerful woman is the only guidepost that Spike understands.

That makes total sense to me. Very insightful.

Date: 2009-10-25 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Thank you! ;-)

Date: 2009-10-25 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gabrielleabelle.livejournal.com
Huh. Interesting. Thanks for the thinky-thoughts.

I never have interesting comments when reading meta. Sorry.

Date: 2009-10-25 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Appreciate the response all the same. And well understand that...I have that problem when I read fanfic. LOL!

Date: 2009-10-25 07:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rebcake.livejournal.com
This might be the most incredible Spike meta I've ever read. I've often name-checked Clockwork Orange and The Manchurian Candidate as they relate to Spike's experience, but you went about 2 miles deeper than I've ever considered. Your clear explanation for the perfection of the trigger to Spike's entire existence is completely blowing my mind. This is one for the books. Do you mind if I rec?
Edited Date: 2009-10-25 08:26 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-10-25 10:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Not at all! Please rec! Rec away!(I'm too shy to pimp my own stuff.)

And thank you so much for your response. I did a lot of work on that post, and worried a little over it.
So really appreciate the feedback!

Date: 2009-10-25 10:00 pm (UTC)
shapinglight: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shapinglight
I promised myself that I would come and read this when I had the chance and now have. I wish I could think of something insightful to say, as this meta deserves it, but I'm sorry to say that currently, I've got nothing.

Very much enjoyed it and am pretty much in agreement with what you say (and again wishing the soul quest story had not been so mucked about).

Date: 2009-10-25 10:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Thank you for the response!

Understand not having insightful things to say, this happens to me a lot when I read fanfic and posts online.

Date: 2009-10-26 01:28 am (UTC)
gillo: (Sad Spike)
From: [personal profile] gillo
By the same token, he also wonders why he tried to rape her at all - shouldn't he have stopped? Shouldn't his conditioning under the chip have stopped him? Shouldn’t his feelings for Buffy have stopped him? How could he treat a woman he loved in this manner? Granted the chip or electronic implant no longer works against Buffy (due to how she was brought back from the grave), but wouldn't his conditioning per Pavlovian theory have made him think twice? Wouldn’t it have kept the id in check?


The chip no longer worked against Buffy, as you say, and so much of their sex had involved "little nasties" that any taboo against rough handling of Buffy had passed its sell-by date. He also knew she was at least as strong as him - she did stop him by kicking him away, after all. And his words during that scene indicate extreme confusion on his part. On later reflection to Clem, he recognises that he can't rely on the chip to make him a good man, which is why he goes on his soulquest.

In Burgess' novel - Alex discovers that the bit of violence is rather boring, it no longer holds any appeal, and turns his back on it, reformed.


I think Burgess makes it clear that Alex has grown up - i's not that the violence is boring so much as that he no longer has a need for it - and he foresees a time when his son will go through identical stages - so violence is part of the human condition, to be worked through before full humanity can be achieved. The cure has "worked all right" by teaching Alex to think.



And the Judge, of course, sees Spike and Drusilla as contaminated with humanity because of their love. (Interesting that he sees it as mutual and mutually damning of the "demon soul".)

With his human moral structure intact – he now understands the full impact of what he did to Buffy – his attempt to rape her, the attempts he made on her life and others lives, the people he killed, and the people he still wants to kill. The demonic desires raging inside him. He is compelled now to suppress the id. And that’s the change in his persona – it is no longer the chip that is suppressing it – but Spike himself.


But he is also able to recognise Buffy's abuse of his unsouled self - to judge his idol and recognise her flawed humanity, an important step for him.

Without the soul – I’m not sure Spike would have been able to come to this epithany. To choose his own path. As he states to Wood and Buffy, “ I got my own free will, now. I'm not under the First's or anyone else's influences now.”


An interesting parallel to Angel's declaration that he is not under any control - human or demon - before attempting to smother Wes. The absence of control for Angel allows him to kill; for Spike it allows him to choose not to kill.

Fascinating extended argument, making me think many further thinky thoughts. A great deal of work went into this - thank you for the effort!

Date: 2009-10-26 03:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Thank you for the wondeful response. This is just a place holder - letting you know that I got it, appreciated it, and will get back to you later when I've got the time. At work now.

Generally speaking - I do agree with everything you stated above. Thanks again.

Date: 2009-10-27 12:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
The chip no longer worked against Buffy, as you say, and so much of their sex had involved "little nasties" that any taboo against rough handling of Buffy had passed its sell-by date. He also knew she was at least as strong as him - she did stop him by kicking him away, after all. And his words during that scene indicate extreme confusion on his part. On later reflection to Clem, he recognises that he can't rely on the chip to make him a good man, which is why he goes on his soulquest.

Oh I think he knew that the chip no longer worked on Buffy - but he didn't understand why. Any more than Buffy really did. And I think he thought that even if it didn't work - he'd never ever hurt her. As he states in Entropy - "I don't hurt you."
And I'm not sure you can say she's necessarily stronger than he is - a lot of fans state this, but if you re-watch the series - specifically Lie to Me,
School Hard, Harsh Light of Day, Out of My Mind, and
What's My Line - you'll note that they are evenly matched, much like Spike and Angel are evenly matched.
When fighters are "evenly matched" - this means that one or the other can win at any given time. Spike is evenly matched with slayers - that is why he took out two. But that's irrelevant to the argument above - because even if she was normally strong enough to kick him off - he knew in that sequence that she was injured (he comments on it) and when he does attack her it is as a result, a significant betrayal of trust.
He does hurt her - something he didn't think he'd do.
He thought he had control. Yet...and here's the confusion, a part of him wanted to, that's his modus operandi, that is what his demon soul tells him is the right thing to do - so he's wondering why the hell didn't I do it? What didn't I keep coming? (She may have kicked him off, but again she is injured, has no weapons and they are in a confined space - with her almost naked (only a robe) and Spike fully clothed. It wouldn't have taken much for Spike to attack again.)
So two things are going on in his brain - 1) why did I attack her initially. and 2) why didn't I keep going, why didn't I rape and kill her? Is it the chip that kept me from it? No, the chip doesn't work against Buffy. Is it love that I'm feeling? This doesn't feel like love. And if it is love or the chip that kept me from doing it, then why did I to begin with?

Spike has changed. He's changed enough to stop and not keep attacking. Rewind to Out of My Mind - and that Spike would not have hesitated to kill her. He would not have backed off. What has changed him? That's the question he must be asking himself.

TBC...sigh.







Part II.

Date: 2009-10-27 12:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
I think Burgess makes it clear that Alex has grown up - i's not that the violence is boring so much as that he no longer has a need for it - and he foresees a time when his son will go through identical stages - so violence is part of the human condition, to be worked through before full humanity can be achieved. The cure has "worked all right" by teaching Alex to think.

An interesting story about A Clockwork Orange that you may or may not know - the US publication did not originally contain the 21st chapter or the last chapter, where we see Alex turn away from violence. The US publishers were in disagreement with Burgess regarding that chapter, Stanley Kubrick was also against it and does not show it in his film. Burgess critiqued his US publishers and Kubrick - stating that leaving it out rendered his tale little more than a political allegory, it took away the character growth, the fact that he believed people could change and the metaphor for growing up.

There is an on-going argument between three schools' of thought - behavorists (who believe that human beings can be changed through behavioral conditioning and that this is ethical in some cases), anti-behavorists who believe they can't be, and the middle group which I think the Buffy writers may well fall into - which believes as the French philosopher and psychologist, Michael Foucault did, that changing the environment and perspective of an individual will aid in changing their behavior. Timothy Leary in the 1960s at the bequest of the US government used psychotropic drugs such as LSD in experiments with his patients - specifically Korean and Vietnam War vets to see if this was true. It is actually, but not with predictable results. Joss Whedon's Dollhouse actually delves even deeper into the ethics of this practice and its results. To what degree if any can personality be changed or alterred by psychological influences.
And to what degree does the original personality remain intact?

Burgess did two things with Clockwork, which Whedon similarly does in Buffy - he used it as a metaphor for "growing up" and he asked the question about the degree to which environment or external forces play a role.

And the Judge, of course, sees Spike and Drusilla as contaminated with humanity because of their love. (Interesting that he sees it as mutual and mutually damning of the "demon soul".)

They aren't pure demon. Vampires are typically hated by the demons because they are half human - their humanity is still there. The Master was revered because his humanity had melted away over time - he was becoming pure demon. The Mayor wanted to ascend to the pure demon state, but his humanity or human feelings for Faith enabled Buffy to kill him. As long as they held on to the id/ego and didn't go pure demon super-ego, they were considered weak, pathetic, impure.

But he is also able to recognise Buffy's abuse of his unsouled self - to judge his idol and recognise her flawed humanity, an important step for him.

Great point. Without a soul he thinks their abusive relationship, the sexual one, is okay. He means it when he says he's not complaining about the fact she's using him. He really doesn't see any problem, to him it's natural. And well, it makes her more like him. Spike just wants her to bring it out in the open, to admit to it. What he says in Never Leave Me and Beneath Me underlines this point: "Nooo touching. Am I flesh to you? Flesh solid through. Feed on flesh. My flesh. Make it hard. service the girl." Or "You used me. You told me that of course. But I didn't understand that then, not the way I do now. You hated yourself and took it out on me." He didn't understand that she hated herself or why she would. He thought she was playing matyr. He didn't understand her guilt. Or why she wanted to die. He's immortal - he bucks death, he's loving it.

Part III - Angel

Date: 2009-10-27 12:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
An interesting parallel to Angel's declaration that he is not under any control - human or demon - before attempting to smother Wes. The absence of control for Angel allows him to kill; for Spike it allows him to choose not to kill.

Hadn't thought of that. Yes, exactly. What Angel is most afraid of is his human feelings. Note in Amends - that it is not his feelings for Buffy or Buffy's love or faith in him that he cherishes or holds on to (rather that is what the First is using to destroy him - the First even finds a way to make Buffy and Angel share an erotic dream). Angel even tells Buffy in Amends that the part of him that must be killed is the man, the part that wants to lose himself in her, to seek comfort - the part that loves her. What saves him, what keeps him alive - is the snow from above - the symbol of his super-ego or soul's guiding force. It's also ironically what dooms Angel - it is why he will never be happy and never stop pushing the same rock up the same hill.

Date: 2009-10-26 10:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] candleanfeather.livejournal.com
First let me thank you and congratulate you for this piece of meta. It's a joy to read such thourough and indepth analysis. I read it yesterday and it made me think a big part of the day; I've myself a piece of meta on the subject of the chip that has been brewing for a long time now in my list of WIP, your work helped me to coalesce some thoughts better.

Prior to your's I've various interpretations about the role of the chip. Most of them irritate the hell out of me: the most rough ones basically transform Spike into a bot, it explains everything the character does or feel post season 4, a few firings of the device and here we have doggy Spike sitting down at the feet of his mistress; the most ingenuous ones enter into very complicated analysis of its psychological effects which have the great inconvenience of not being able to be supported by elements of the text.Happily your work escapes these patterns and you pay attention to elements that show things are very far from being that simple. I meet many of your conclusions though I often put my own perspective onto them, some of them I'm more reluctant to accept. So let's discuss these if you agree of course.

First of all, if I understand you correctly, you support the idea that Spike in season 5 is going under some phase of conditionning, comparing him to some Pavlov's dog. You even use the word "deprogrammed" in regard to his situation in season 6. Two remarks:

- I don't think the the word conditionning in the very specific way you're using it and the comparison you're making can apply to season 5 (or 6 for that matter). First of all Pavlov's work in this experience concerns what's called conditioned reflexes : obtaining simple physical answers to simple stimuli through repetitions of the stimulus in controlled environnement, the scientist deciding what's the desired answer. Spike isn't in a controlled environement, the situations never repeat themselves, the Scoobies and Buffy aren't expecting anything from Spike (she continuously rejects him at the beginning of the season and muddies the code of conduct : she beats him for the fun of it even though he has been telling her the truth. He even protests against it which shows he is aware of said codes), the situations are complex and the answers needed are complex. And last, Spike isn't a passive agent, he is actively looking for a way to obtain her affection, he tries various strategies (one could almost reverse your proposition and say that's Spike who is trying to use their social conditionning) looking for the desired effect. But more importantly what Buffy reinforces in Intervention is not a behaviour, it's the fact that it's "real": Spike's actions are grounded on a genuine feeling. So much more than conditionning, season 5 is for me the the season of experimentation and learning, where Spike reconnects with his humanity. I'd accept though the idea of conditionning in the sense where learning is considered as a form of conditionning by psychologists.


Date: 2009-10-27 12:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
I agree to an extent with the non-behavorists in that Pavolv's experiments were not only unethical (he did the same thing with his daughter) but also non-conclusive. To determin whether or not it would work - would require a controlled environment - but that means you are doing more than just conditioning the responses, you are also controlling the subject's environment and surroundings. (Which is exactly what Pavolv did with his daughter.)

Spike's situation is actually a far more realistic take - because here you have Pavlov's dog so to speak escaping and re-entering the same environment that you took him out of, left to fend for himself, with one major alterration - you have defanged him. Spike and the Scoobies refer to the chip much the same way one might refer to neutering a dog. Which makes him helpless and dependent on the Scoobies for about three episodes, until he figures out that he can fight demons and actually take care of himself.

Spike also does have physical responses to stimuli, keep in mind the writers are not psychologists but film scholars and sci-fi geeks. But they are asking a far interesting question with Spike than if they'd kept him in the controlled environment (a la The Prisoner series with Patrick McGoohan).
Which is - what happens if you release a vampire who will feel pain whenever he tries to hurt humans back into society?

You are correct the super-ego that Spike seems to use as a guidepost is not a scientifically workable one. Giles tries to act as one but is quickly dismissed - Spike does not trust or respect male authority figures. (fitting that it is a female one that inserts the chip in his head). Buffy not Giles is the authority figure Spike responds to and always has - it is the difference between Spike and Angel. Angel always went to Giles with infor or with a deal or sought out Giles, Spike seeks out Buffy and ignores Giles or dismisses him as irrelevant.

That said, please don't misunderstand - I don't mean to state that Season 4 or Season 5 are seasons of conditioning. I think the conditioning has allowed
Spike's humanity to come forth - the humanity is represented by his id and ego. The demon super-ego, the demon urges are what is being suppressed to a degree by the chip. The chip is a bit like the trigger the first uses, but causes physical as opposed to emotional pain. Buffy enrages Spike - but he can't hurt her, he can't punch her, so he finds a way to manage his anger towards her by salvaging a mannican that he dresses up in her clothes which he punchs.
He finds ways to unleash his rage - so it is not at humans.
The chip has conditioned Spike to find another way. Without the chip, Spike would have fought Buffy or tried to kill her - as is shown in Out of My Mind, when he thinks he got it out.

Buffy reinforces certain reactions by her own actions. That's not to say she is necessarily responsible for his actions. But that she unwittingly causes him to react a certain way. By leaving Dawn and Joyce with him, and asking for his help, she reinforces his feelings for Joyce and Dawn - which he associates with her, and associates with her treating him in a positive light - bringing out his humanity. What she is doing, perhaps without realizing it, is treating him like a "man". That's what happens at the end of Intervention - Buffy stops treating Spike like a "bad dog", a "Quaismodo" or a "vampire" and she treats him like a "man". It is how Spike is starting to see himself as a result. Contrast Spike's speech to Xander in Intervention with his speech to Angel in School Hard and Innocence. In S2 Spike says - we are vampires, we do kill people. Or "we are demons! demons don't change", while in Intervention, he tells Xander - "I'm not a monster."

In the Gift - Spike tells Buffy point blank why he loves her and why he is there: "I know I am a monster, but you treat me like a man." It is that positive reinforcement on top of the chip that brings out the human side, and aids in the suppression of the vampire.

In S6...it is arguable that it is the man that attempts to rape her not the vampire. But the vampire that is confused as to why the man did not carry it through and kill her at the end.

Date: 2009-10-26 10:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] candleanfeather.livejournal.com
Second part

- In return, the comparison with Pavlov's dog is perfect in the context of season seven with the trigger: you find in it all the ingredients of this scientist's experiment : the same stimulus provoking automatically the same physical answer.

- There's one reading though where your comparison with Pavlov's dogs could work in season 5 and it is by establishing a link with your third party : one could consider that Teh Spike Buffy relationship partially reactivated the social conditionning of William and parts of his relationships with his mother. That's certainly, at least for the mother part, what certain writers are suggesting in the commentaries but I'm a bit reluctant to entirely comply to this retroactive reading because I'm not sure during season 5 or 6 the writers were thinking along these terms with such a precision. Spike is a character who got build gradually, and I like to consider the stages of his construct.

So again a great thank you for this brilliant analysis.

Date: 2009-10-26 03:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Thank you for the wonderful response. Unfortunately do not have the time right now to write back at length. But will certainly do so eventually.

In the meantime - I think regarding the above, it depends on how we wish to analyze it - via the Doylian method (ie. what the writer's intended/or authorial intent - which I think like you state, may be a bit hard to apply in totality), the Watsonian (what we fans see in the text based on our own perspective), or a little bit of both. I'm sort of doing the little bit of both, leaning strongly towards Doylian (but that's more due to how I was taught to analyze text/visual media more than anything else.)

Will get back to you on everything else - later. At work now. ;-)

Date: 2009-10-27 01:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
-- Except the trigger in S7 unlike the chip and Pavolv's bell is based on emotional pain not physical need or physical pain.
The result is similar perhaps, but the cause is different.
Spike suppresses his humanity and becomes the monster in Conversations with Dead People through Lies, to avoid the pain that the First's trigger recalls. Pain that echoes the pain that caused him to hunt the soul in the first place.

So the stimulus is not the same. Even if the reaction may be more evident. Also we don't have a controlled environment,
so again...it is conditioning that brings forth another portion of Spike's persona, while suppressing the other part.
I think the comparison with Pavolv's dog in both cases works on a metaphorical level far better than a literal one - which I more or less intended. The literal argument falls apart.
The writers are more metaphorical than literal anyhow. ;-)

--- I'd say that comparison with Pavolv's dog in S5 should be more metaphorical than literal here. The chip suppresses enough of the monster for the man to come forth - note it does not have to work that hard. The man, as we see from S2-The Initiative in S4 is already evident - after all he does put Drusilla before killing the slayer in Lie to Me, and he goes out of his way to save Dru in What's my Line, also his jealousy regarding Dru and Angelus is what motivates him in part to help Buffy save the world in Becoming. The man is in part why Dru dumps him, it's why he becomes soft, and it is arguable that he was well on his way to falling madly in love with Buffy before the chip got inserted. What the chip did was enable that love to take root, I'm not sure it could have if the chip was not inserted - because the demon super-ego was still there - cheering on Spike's gleeful love of mayhem and destruction.

Oddly, the writer's paid enough attention to what they did before with Spike that you can apply the mother issues retroactively...he caters to Dru over Angelus, and goes to Buffy over Giles, and is kinder to Joyce. There is a pattern emerging there, even if it was not originally intended.

Thank you so much for the replies! Sorry for the lengthy response. There is a reason I'm not on Twitter. ;-)

Date: 2009-10-28 08:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] candleanfeather.livejournal.com
Sorry for this delayed answer, I tried to post a reply yesterday but lost it and couldn't stay properly logged in.

"Sorry for the lengthy response. There is a reason I'm not on Twitter. ;-)" LOL but there's absolutely no need to apologize; it was a very agreable and rewarding exchange. In fact your additional explanations greatly helped to clarify the meaning you put behind the word "conditioning". It appears we have rather similar readings of Spike's journey and how the the chip affected it. I totally agree that without it Spike would have merrily went on on his road as a monster,the chip changed his condition but the ways he reacted to this change were his, some of it the result of conscious choices, others the result of his peculiar personality. So, in this sense, as a whole his behaviour isn't something artificial imposed from the exterior but something grounded in real feelings and real traits of his personality. That's also were the idea of an "uncontroled" environement -by which I mean different from a laboratory- is important, he's learning the way human beings are learning, by intercourse with others.Thinking further about Spike's journey, there's has been an element that has often intrigued people : why does Spike begin to value being treated like a human being. One could say it's Buffy's system of value that's has been tainting him. I think there's much more depth than this to it: first William saw himself as a good man and found pride in this idea, second, Spike really reveled in his life as a vampire, as a monster because he had power. Being a monster when you have the power is certainly fun. But with the chip he experiences what it is being a monster without power: without it the monster becomes an object of laugh, scorn and humiliation.

And finally to end this long reply, I just wanted to underline that you gave one of the best definition of Spike's character I've ever read.
"He is the consummate performer – but scratch the surface and what lies beneath? A poet’s heart, an artist’s soul, and a James Dean Rebel without A Cause who struggles with society’s constraints, and society’s rejection." The (bad) poet part is really what makes Spike's originality as a character and what makes him (for me) such a compelling character.

This essay definitively goes into my memories.

Date: 2009-10-28 04:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Thank you! I enjoyed your responses and yes, I think we do have a similar perspective or see the character more or less the same way. And are compelled by him for similar reasons.

This comment in particular struck me:

Thinking further about Spike's journey, there's has been an element that has often intrigued people : why does Spike begin to value being treated like a human being. One could say it's Buffy's system of value that's has been tainting him. I think there's much more depth than this to it: first William saw himself as a good man and found pride in this idea, second, Spike really reveled in his life as a vampire, as a monster because he had power. Being a monster when you have the power is certainly fun. But with the chip he experiences what it is being a monster without power: without it the monster becomes an object of laugh, scorn and humiliation.

Throughout the series - the following bit is repeated in different ways: the vampire is the "personality" of the human. What we were in life, what we loved, what we feared influences who we are in death. Darla states it to Angelus in "The Prodigal" - telling him that by killing his father, he is now doomed to forever seek his approval. It was what Liam wanted most. And Giles tells Willow - in the end, we always influenced by who we were. So, what influenced Spike the most? Need for female approval and love - to be seen by them, his poetry, his love of art and sensual things, and to be a good man. When you turn him into a monster - that influences the monster. But he doesn't change completely.

A good comparison would be to Illyria/Fred - Fred's soul is gone. But Illyria retains enough of who Fred was to feel what Fred felt, to feel pain in regards to those Fred loved. The feelings aren't external, they are part of Illyria. The demon is in the human's body and has the human's mind, the human's personality.
That has not been erased.

Also, I agree - I think the chip enabled Spike to see things from another angle - how human's view a monster,
and the limitations of being a monster. Enough - to realize he prefered being the man. The Spike journey in S4 in some respects is similar to Riley's - where both are forced to see how the other half lives. Both are the victims of behavorial conditioning, both get out of the controlled environment, both work around the conditioning...but both also experience its effects and to a degree see the other side.

Date: 2009-10-29 05:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angearia.livejournal.com
You know, I've read this, but I feel like I've yet to fully process it.

I think one of my favorite parts was in how you established Spike and Angel as opposites based on their reactions to their superegos. It's something I've understood, but never heard expressed that way.

In the end, you're making me wonder where does Spike go next? What has he become? Oh, I'm mourning AtS Season 6 that never was. I'm afraid I don't see the extension done as strongly in IDW's comics.

Thanks for the very interesting meta.

Date: 2009-10-29 05:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angearia.livejournal.com
I've had some more thoughts. That Spike's formation stemming from William being rejected by both his peers (society), his romantic love interest (Cecily), and his mother - that in becoming a vampire, he invests all these roles in Drusilla. She's easily understood as mother and love interest, but she's also his reason for being - she is his society. So while he doesn't care much for what vampire society expects from him, he cares very much for what Drusilla expects and becomes her wicked prince.

And when Drusilla rejects him, he then turns to Buffy to be his love interest and his society of imposed morality. Though interestingly the roles of rebirth crossover with the two (Buffy's resurrection). In a way, she does cause him to be reborn, but it's something he himself chooses and in making that choice, he goes from trading clothes, to reclaiming a part of himself and his own agency.

Date: 2009-10-31 03:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
I agree.

Spike's quest for the soul is also to a degree a metaphor for growing up. The vampire in the Whedonverse was often used, specifically in Buffy, as a metaphor for arrested development, for the preternatural teenage Peter Pan. Alex in Clockwork Orange is also in a way a metaphor for that evil Pan image. And Pan from mythology is the adolescent fairy/god who plays mischevious tricks.

When Spike gets a soul - he is forced to finally grow up. To deal with his mother issues. He faces them head on through Buffy, the First Evil, the Trigger, and his back and forth with Robin Wood. And finally, is able to break with the cycle. I think in Touched - Spike's speech that he loves Buffy - is the first sign we see of his maturity. It is a very different Spike that lands in Angel S5, in some respects he's more mature than he was in Buffy. He is making his own choices.
His speech to Wood in Lies echoes Angel's speech to Wesley in S3 Angel - both say, I'm not under anyone's influence, this is me. Both threaten to kill, both attack, but they don't actually kill. They stop. If they didn't have a soul - that would not have been the case.

Spike's death and rebirth mirrors Buffy's. He seeks his soul, he sacrifices himself, he comes back a ghost of himself, then finally whole and stops trading clothes. Buffy much the same way ...seeks the secret of her nature - her dark soul/the demon side - the insect reflection, and falls off the tower, then is reborn, and chooses her own path. She inspires his journey. They are in a way reflections of each other - counter-parts.

Date: 2009-10-31 03:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
I agree - I don't believe comics in general regardless of the writer/artist can do Spike's journey justice. For a simple reason, we are missing a key component - James Marsters. It's the same thing with the Buffy comics...in a way, they will always be missing something, just as fanfic does, or any adaptation that does not include the actors that formed those roles. Each actor's interpretation of the character - gave that character another dimension. Marster's interpretation of Whedon's lines, how he emoted, what he did - informed how the writers in turn wrote future scenes. As good as Brian Lynch may be with dialogue or Urru with art - he can't do what James Marsters did.

In some respects, I rather love the Juliet Landau/Lynch interpretation of Drusilla - because it gives the comic a dimension that is missing.

The perfect comic of course would be one that Whedon collaborated on with his actors, along with a "good" artist such as Urru (but this is admittedly subjective on my part) but that is impossible. The best we can hope for is what we have...which is the Whedon/Lynch/Urru collaboration for ATF
and the Whedon/et al/Jeanty for Buffy. (shrugs). That's why I read them as informed by the series but not necessarily a true continuation of the series (or not part of the TV's show canon.) We are missing that key component.

Date: 2011-07-19 01:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashmh.livejournal.com
Spike has a superego prior to getting a soul - that is the demon or demonic superego. The demon's soul replaces the human's soul. But its morality is the opposite of a human's. It promotes evil. Chaos.


I once encountered a website with a list of demons or "daemons" that were more or less described as morally gray. Some of their actions promoted good and some, evil. Like human beings. Even Mutant Enemy has created demonic characters that are not evil or have not chosen the path of evil; while at the same time, created human characters that have.


Yet, we continue to view demons - even in Buffyverse - as automatically "evil". Why? Why have fans constantly failed to let go of this "black and white" view on different species featured in both "BUFFY" and "ANGEL"?

And I have another question. Why is chaos viewed as only evil?

Date: 2011-07-19 02:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
I myself don't view chaos as evil, nor do I view demons in the Buffyverse as automatically evil - Clem is a good example.

However - it is clear in the mythology of the series - example: The First Evil?? That the demon inside the vampire is evil. The human personality however affects the demon - so you get a spectrum.
But if you look at episodes such as Surprise/Innocence and Chosen/Dirty Girls/Bring on the Night and Conversations with Dead People - not to mention interviews with the writer and commentary - that the writer sees vampires as evil. Why? The writer's view is the act of living forever by taking the lives of the living is evil, to defy death by devouring life is evil. The demon devours life. The vampire is representive of someone who wants to be eternal at the cost of others, at their expense and that is evil.


Date: 2013-02-23 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] kikimay
Such an interesting meta! Sorry, I also don't say much after a good meta, but I really loved reading it and I like your explanation on Angelus/Super-ego and Spike/id.
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