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June 06 2006

Serenely Conservative. A follow up to the suspect on the set gossip from yesterday.

Not sure if this warrented linking but though I might as well.

It disturbs me that someone could interpret the last article as fact...
Yeah thats what I found odd! Someone read what this guy had to say and took it in, scary!!!
Not even worth a comment.
So many things bothered me about this.Taking the gossip as truth, yes, but also judging actors by their politics. I know that, or personality, is the test some people have for artists and their work but it bugs me. There are plenty of people I do not like or disagree with, but I can still admire their work. Artists even more so. Politicians, less so because there work involves controlling other people's lives, and our future. They can be just so dangerous.

I realize many people view art as dangerous, but quite honestly, as much as I love the acting profession, actors have probably the least ability to create something dangerous than other artists. First they need the vehicle and that takes either other people, or themselves becoming something other than an actor. So the automatic hating of an actor or his work because of his politics, whether liberal or conservative, is pretty lame....IMO. /rant
Actually I think judging anyone by their politics is a bit dubious. It's usually a good idea to find out why a person has a particular political viewpoint first (for instance, I have a lot more time for a right-winger who has actually thought about their position and is open to reasoned argument than I do for knee-jerk lefties who are just anti-Bush 'because' or anti-corporatism 'because' even if my own politics are probably more left than right).

Apart from the anti-social extremes (e.g. Neo-Nazis) to do otherwise is to presuppose that someone can't hold a certain viewpoint and be a caring, rational human being which, for my money, is one of the big problems with political discourse these days. It used to be that people could have radically different views and just agree to differ, now it seems that either side has to portray the other as a bunch of unthinking gun-toting maniacs or woolly headed, commie tree-huggers depending on which side of some ridiculous arbitrary line they happen to fall on (this seems particularly prevalent in the US but it's getting more like that here in the UK too).

The truth is that a lot of the beliefs of both sides can be reached either through careful reasoning by well meaning individuals or through irrational bigotry by unthinking zealots and neither side has the monopoly on either approach.

I agree about separating art from personality/beliefs though. For instance, I really like Adam Baldwin's work and he seems like a very likeable bloke but judging from some of his posts on fireflyfans.net I doubt we'd have much political ground in common. That's OK though since that's not why I watch him.

(also the respondant praising the conservative ending of Serenity made me laugh since i've always thought it was a very liberal ending, guess we see what we want to see ;)
This probably could've just gone in the original thread as its not really worthy of a standalone posting. /agree with Saje, except that I see the ending of Serenity as neither particularly liberal nor particularly conservative. Further proof that it is unhelpful to dismiss the other side of the argument thoughtlessly and without regard for the person behind it. Great points about either side being reachable through careful thought or knee-jerking. However, its probably best that we keep this on topic and not veer into politics. If anyone wants to talk politics there are certainly many many forums available for that (read: not here).
How can we discuss the linked article without talking politics?
Zeitgeist, I assume you are heading off a partisan political discussion rather than a general discussion of the interaction between political belief and either social or artistic interaction. Correct?

I agree Saje, that judging people by their politics is unfortunate. It is also a waste of potential. Potential friendships as well as the potential for understanding another point of view. (I realize that understanding another point of view is what many people are guarding against, no matter what their beliefs.)

Although I had assumed that the writer's admonition not to dismiss Adam Baldwin was pointed toward his work, on rereading I realize that it is actually pointed at him personally and therefore the members of the other Baldwin family personally, and not necessarily at their work at all.

"And to the readers who scolded me for admiring Adam Baldwin, on the grounds that no member of the Baldwin family can be worth a damn, please note that Adam is (a) unrelated to Alec, and (b) an "unabashed conservative." Just one more reason to get those Firefly disks. Great Father's Day gift. (I should get some kind of commission here.)"

(sigh) Either way, I don't like it no matter what the litmus test.

As far as whether the ending is liberal or conservative, (or communist, or libertarian, or Maoist...) I find it absolutely amusing and quite wonderful that the whole movie can be interpreted and embraced by so many groups that are the diametrically opposite of each other. Art. It is a fascinating thing. (he he he)
Anwyn, newcj is correct in that I am just trying to avoid the partisan sniping that sometimes accompanies a link like this.

p.s. - the ending is totally libertarian ;)
Yeah what Zeitgeist said. As long we don't resort to the "your party is the spawn of the devil" and all its supporters "are evil" etc, things are good. I don't particularly see the ending as being overtly political, I think it gave hope and showed that one man (and his crew) can make a difference.

I would love to know what the consequence of Mal's actions were.
Yes, newcj, art is a fascinating thing. I had a Shakespeare professor who said there was no wrong interpretation of the plays, so long as you could defend said interpretation with valid points from the text. Maybe a bit overly broad, but I tend to agree.

I can make the case that Serenity is an anti-Bush allegory, just as I can make the case that it's a re-write of the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. (I lean towards the latter, by the way...man placing himself on God's level, with the inevitably catastrophic results.) And I'm sure there are many other defendable interpretations.

As for the ending, I'm kind of with Simon...Mal moves toward belief and the Operative loses all of his..."There is nothing left to see."

Bleak much?

Mal, once a man of faith, regains a measure of it (how much is clearly debatable) and in doing so destroys the entire belief of another.


Art...fascinating indeed.
Am I the only one who saw Serenity as being a sci fi version of the Hutton Enquiry...?

No one else? Okay, moving on...
It is in the personal interests of all political parties to "edit" the views of those whose opinions differ from their own. We shouldn't be surprised by this.

Interestingly, the greatest threat is always from those whom you consider to be above reproach.
Jackal, Heh (maybe starring Mr. Universe as The BBC ;).

Hmm, fall from grace. I'm intrigued ChrisinVirginia though I can't quite make the bits fit. Was Miranda Eden before the Pax with the Reavers Man after being cast out ? To me, when Mal says he'll show The Operative a world without sin he's saying the only world without sin is a dead one, that 'sin' is a natural part of being alive (and having the freedom of choice that caused the fall of man as represented in The Bible). Interesting perspective though (I can see parallels to the Tower of Babel as well now that I look at it in that light).

I guess to me it feels liberal because it celebrates personal freedom, autonomy and equality which are classically liberal ideas (of course, since they're good ideas, pretty much any political affiliation would claim them as their own ;). BUT you could also make a case that progressive liberal ideas such as equal access to compulsory education are ways of 'making people better' so there are loads of alternative readings (though I reckon Mal is pretty libertarian and Wash is a liberal in the US sense - i.e. basically a socialist but just scared of the 'S' word ;) - the rest i'm not too sure about).

I also think The Operative was left with nothing because all he had was his belief in an abstract ideal (he believed too hard). Mal, on the other hand, could continue even after losing his faith because he also believed in the value of the individual and had regard for the people around him (The Op would sacrifice any number of people, even innocents, to preserve his abstraction whereas Mal knew that if you take care of people, abstractions can pretty much take care of themselves). Or maybe he was just too damn stubborn to quit ;).
"I would love to know what the consequence of Mal's actions were."

That's an interesting thing to consider, Simon. Just because the people had a right to know the truth, it doesn't necessarily mean they wanted to--or will react to it the way Mal expects. Look at Jasmine in Angel. Angel thought what they did was the right thing...but at the same everyone who felt betrayed went crazy (ie Connor, guy on the roof, etc...) It's interesting to think about how this would affect the Alliance's power and trust in those who support unification.
Saje, I wasn't positing that Serenity is a direct allegory for The Fall (unlike The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is in fact a Christian allegory), just that it is a splendid retelling of what happens when men try to play God.

And, as a conservative, I agree with the assessment of Mal, and of the whole Firefly 'verse as being libertarian.

Not to threadjack, but MySerenity's point about Jasmine is interesting. I've always felt that exposing her to the whole world was absolutely essential to preserving the whole world, 'cos look at the one where they "loved her first." Not a pretty picture!

And, yes, a sequel entailing the results of Mal's actions would be very welcome (with lots and lots of backstory!)
"As long we don't resort to the "your party is the spawn of the devil" and all its supporters "are evil" etc, things are good."

Aw, com'on Simon. What if their party IS the spawn of the devil and all its supporters ARE evil...and PROUD of it. Can we then? Huh? Pleeeeeez? (Ok, I have now officially spent too much time around the under 10 year old set.)

"I had a Shakespeare professor who said there was no wrong interpretation of the plays, so long as you could defend said interpretation with valid points from the text. Maybe a bit overly broad, but I tend to agree."

That took me aback a bit. Not because I disagree, but because I take that attitude so for granted. In literary analysis and dramatic analysis that is the norm...at least it used to be everywhere I dealt with it. If you could support it from the text, your argument has validity whether anyone else in the room agrees or not.

When reading your comment it made me think about the way people deal with religious and political analysis of the written word vs that of literature. I guess in both those areas many feel that there can only be one truth, therefore only one interpretation can be valid. IMO, the purpose of the best art is to move people towards personal discovery rather than giving them specific answers. No wonder I never understand all the angst and villification on the basis of a disagreement over interpretation of a text. I automatically approach it all as literature.

The Operative was left with nothing...for now. The question is, what will he find? I felt from the moment that he showed up to speak to Mal at the end of Serenity, that that was not the end of his connection to the stories of the Firfly/Serenity verse. It seemed to me that he would be back if there was a sequel just as much as any of the rest of the crew, and that the crew may take him in down the line.

Yeah, I'd like to know what happens next.

[ edited by newcj on 2006-06-06 19:33 ]

[ edited by newcj on 2006-06-06 20:15 ]
Well, not too much backstory 'cause as we all know Alan isn't going to be in the sequel.
Joss has said that Mal is libertarian hasn't he?..Let's see, yes, here is an interesting article just on this. But the original quote comes from Malene Arpe's wonderful interview with Joss which appears to be gone now.
Well there have been mentions dropped that either Alan or Ron would be willing to participate in future Firefly projects, either prequels or sequels (in flashbacks or holorecordings or something). I certainly never got the impression from any of the interviews either Joss or Alan have done that Alan didn't want to be in any sequels so that's why Wash was killed. It's certainly a possibility but I don't think this "rumour" is solid evidence at all, and I think we can safely assume that it was a creative decision more than anything else.
new cj and Chris in VA:
I have to say that I do disagree with the claim that there is no wrong interpretation of Shakespeare (or whatever text) provided it can be backed up "by valid points from the text." Suppose you have two interpretations that contradict each other. The most basic principle of logic, the law of non-contradiction, says that at least one of them is false. The only way to avoid having one of them be false is if it *doesn't say anything*.

When assertions conflict with each other, at least one of them must be wrong, or meaningless. This is not to say that each of conflicting interpretations cannot be defensible, or worth hearing, but they can't both be right.

(I could be wrong, but I'm assuming that you meant that conflicting interpretations could both be back by valid points from the text.)
There is no absolute truth in Shakespeare, as there would be in mathematics (as per the accepted rules of math); thus, there can be no dichotomous interpretation of the Bard. All we can do is offer an opinion, which may be right or wrong, but so long as we can defend it with "valid points from the text," it cannot be found "wrong," for there is no wrong to find.

Do you recall Joss stating that the only thing in Restless that was placed there to simply not have meaning at all was the Cheese man? That did not stop at least one author from writing a lengthy, witty and intelligent assessment of the meaning of the Cheese man. We are moving into the realm of literary analysis; some act as though there is only one way to read a text; I prefer to think we all "bring our own subtext" to all that we read. We can read Shakespeare as part of the milieu in which he lived, or we can interpret it in terms of our modern age; both are viable and offer ways of finding meaning in what he wrote.
Surely fruit punch mouth that just means you have a difference of opinion i.e. no-one is right, just different ? If you're talking about axiomatic truths or identities then logic is the only tool you need. E.g. if someone claims "Hamlet is not Hamlet" or "Hamlet does not say 'To be or not to be'" then these are either logically invalid or empirically incorrect assertions.

If you say 'Hamlet was mad' and I say 'Hamlet was not mad' then, although they are contradictory points of view, they are both valid opinions provided we can both point to evidence from the text. In other words, opinions don't have to be right or wrong but to be worth anything they have to be justifiable (and internally consistent - clearly I can't claim 'Hamlet was not mad but Hamlet was insane').

ETA: Dana5140 beat me to it. In my opinion ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2006-06-06 21:10 ]
"The most basic principle of logic, the law of non-contradiction, says that at least one of them is false. The only way to avoid having one of them be false is if it *doesn't say anything*."

I'm trying to think of an instance when I would agree with this. It seems very simplistic and unyielding to me. Even in hard science and math (which I know very little about) they find more and more often that the deeper you get into something the more complex it becomes so that to the casual observer the hard and fast rules seem to bend or break. As my brother, who is a self-admitted science/math geek, replied to some statement about 2 + 2 equaling 4, "It depends on the value of 2."

IMO, when dealing with the nature of humanity, the meaning of life, etc. there are often dualities within a situation that can make more than one thing true. There are always answers that will be true for one person or set of people and totally false for others. Art plays with the ambiguities that highlight those incongruities, therefore there is often plenty of room for valid disagreement.

Perhaps the fallacy is someone seeing these things as contradictory and therefore impossible to all be true. Perhaps that is why, when I have tried the seemingly logical solutions to a problem and they have not worked, I try counter-intuitive or seemingly illogical solutions and usually find a solution. Logic can box us in if we don't give room to take into account that there may be more complexity than we yet understand.

I say that E sharp and F are the same note because I look at them on the piano. A musician says they are different notes because they occur in different scales and serve different functions. In our worlds with our knowledge bases we are both right. I, because I am looking at the physical key that is being pushed down for both notes and the musician because he/she is putting the notes in a musical framework. Will the musician say I am wrong? Almost certainly. Will I say the musician is wrong? Not anymore, but I certainly did rather loudly when I was 7. ;-)

...and for an answer more to the point, what Dana5140 and Saje said. I know, I shouldn't bother. Everybody else says it faster and better. Oh well.

[ edited by newcj on 2006-06-06 21:16 ]
Did the ending of Serenity have a political ending? Huh. Hadn't noticed.
Dana 5140:
You say both "all we can do is offer an opinion, which may be right or wrong" and "so long as we can defend it... it cannot be "wrong" for there is no wrong to find."

I don't understand. Opinions can be wrong, but they can't be wrong? If there is, as you say, no absolute truth in Shakespeare, no facts about what the text means, then ANY sentence of the form "Shakespeare meant _______" must be false. It would attribute a meaning that in fact isn't there.

Saje: the laws of logic apply to all meaningful assertions, not just to assertions about logic or math. If you say 'Hamlet was mad' and I say 'Hamlet was not mad' then, as I conceded in the first post, both claims could be interesting and defensible, but they can't both be true.

You say that opinions have to be *internally* consistent. But if you assert that Hamlet was mad, and you *also* assert that I am not wrong when I say Hamlet was sane, then you are being internally inconsistent. Your assertions would commit you to Hamlet being both mad and not mad.
fruit punch mouth, you are assuming that the "truth" is "knowable" in Shakespeare (or other art). I contend that it is not, therefore all we have is opinions and defendable arguments.
new cj:
I'd agree that there are many times in which it looks like two assertions contradict each other, but they don't actually do so, because a term is being used with more than one meaning. In your E Sharp F Sharp example, I imagine that "same note" has different meanings in the two occurrences. Just to use a silly example, I could say "Bush is the worst US President ever but Bush is not the worst US President ever" and as long as I mean different President Bushes, there is no contradiction.

Science doesn't tell us that the law of non-contradiction is false. If it did, there'd be no bar to it also telling us that the law of non-contradiction is true, since both of two contradictory statements could be true.
TamaraC:
No, I would never assume something like that. Somebody might say that Hamlet was mad, and someone else might say that Hamlet was not mad, and we might never know who was right and who was wrong. Just the same, someone would *be* right, and someone would be wrong. Don't mix up questions about whether there are facts with questions about whether we know what the facts are.
Please forgive me for dragging this blog in, but it sounded interesting with the current topic. It is a blog from myspace, titled:
"Bill O'Reilly dropped me from his friends list."

Life is odd. Let me say that I do not consider myself to be a conservative. Nor am I a liberal. As a moderate, there are times that I take extreme stands.

This can be confusing to many of my friends.

The sad fact is, it isn't possible for one ideology or another to be 100% right all the time. Conservatives are absolutely right in that it is important to maintain the course set by our Founding Fathers. Liberals are absolutely right in that it is important to remain flexible to deal with changes that the Founders couldn't predict. Both sides make excellent points. Both sides have been known to espouse ludicrous platforms.

So, what's a centrist to do?

Well, since both sides have good ideas, and both sides make good arguments, how about listening to what they have to say, weighing the issues individually, and making the best possible mix of both? We call this sort of thinking "Bipartisanship".

"But wait!" says the Idealogue. "Oil and water don't mix. You can't blend the divergent idealologies like that."

Sure it does, and sure you can. Even though the two don't mix completely, a portion of each does. You don't allways want water, and you don't allways want oil, but sometimes you need a mixture of both.

So what does this have to do with Bill O'Reilly dropping me?

Well, a casual perusal of my friends page will reveal that I have a number of friends with socialist leanings. I myself am a centrist, but I don't form friendships based on peoples' politics or personal beliefs. I have friends that are Atheist, Agnostic, Pagan, even Wiccan, and here I am, a Catholic. I have friends that are Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, Communist, Socialist, Fascist, even Anarchist.

I only exclude Mimes. A man can only take so much.

Are all of these different idealists my bosom buddies? No. But they are all people whom I respect for their views, even if I don't agree with them.

Which is why I had invited Bill O'Reilly.

No, I don't allways agree with him, and sometimes he makes me blisteringly mad with the way that he speaks to or about some guest or topic. But I respect the man.

It's all part of my "Hate the sin, not the sinner" Catholic way of looking at things.

Why did Bill drop me? Maybe he violently disagrees with one of my Friends or Causes. Maybe he's offended by my sense of humor. Maybe he doesn't like beards, balds, or bellies.

Hell, maybe he's dating one of my exes and he's heard "Stories".

Or maybe he used to be a Fox programming Exec and he's runnin'.
"...because it celebrates personal freedom, autonomy and equality which are classically liberal ideas (of course, since they're good ideas, pretty much any political affiliation would claim them as their own ;). BUT you could also make a case that progressive liberal ideas such as equal access to compulsory education are ways of 'making people better' so there are loads of alternative readings (though I reckon Mal is pretty libertarian and Wash is a liberal in the US sense - i.e. basically a socialist but just scared of the 'S' word ;) - the rest i'm not too sure about)."

Maybe it's just my own political glasses at work, but I allways saw the Browncoat cause(as well of course as Mal's)as being Libertarian, with the Alliance holding the reins of fascism.
But hey Saje, I could be wrong, I'm a doctor, not PoliSci Boy.
Interesting blog quote Curly.

fruit punch mouth, Hamlet can be mad at one time in the play and not mad at another time. He can be fooling himself into believing that he is pretending he is mad when in fact he has gone over the edge, and is indeed mad. One could interpret that anyone who is willing to destroy people he once loved is mad, or simply vengeful. Actors playing Hamlet can make any of those choices and more, and as long as they can find the truth in it, they can create valid performances with none of them being wrong.

IMO the point of art is not a right or wrong answer but probing the questions. It wants us to ask, "When does a need for vengence turn into maddness?" or "What is my definition of madness?" or "Have I been letting myself get caught up in an obsession to the point that I am hurting the people who love me and that I seem mad to most people?" or whatever you find yourself asking. Often the point of the whole exercise can be the exploration of those differences of meaning that we all have flowing through us and through society.

So, I guess my point is that it is not a question of whether any law of non-condradiction is right or wrong, because such a "law" is just irrelevant when it comes to art.

When we come to the question of politics and religion however, people are concerned with right and wrong. Personally I think the absolute right and wrong are unknowable in religion and changable in politics, so I prefer art. ;-)
FPM: I very carefully put that second use of the word "wrong" in quotation marks to indicate that I meant it in a different sense than being an absolute. If we accept the rules of math, in base 10, that 2 means something and 4 means something, then 2+2 can only equal 4; it can never equal 6 or 220. Here, there is an "absolute" truth. However, in interpreting Shakespeare, there is no absolute truth; thus, there is no "wrong" way to interpret him. We can argue, we can come to consensus, but if there were only one possible way to read him, there would be no need for literary criticism at all. That way lies totalitarianism, so to say.

We can hold with "Hamlet is mad" and "Hamlet is not mad" because there is no one correct answer. Hamlet is both mad and not mad. Sara Sidle started sleeping with Gil Grissom when? At the end of the final scene of the final episode of this season or before? Yes. We cana argue both answers. In the absence of truth, who can tell? Did Willow and Tara kiss at the end of New Moon Rising? Yes. And No. Well, which is it? They can't both be true. But yes, they can.... :-)
I hope I didn't imply that any interpretation of art is as valid as any other interpretation of the same work of art. There was a discussion here some time ago about whether Buffy's death in Season 5 was a sacrifice or suicide. I felt very strongly that it was the former, and that the latter analysis utterly vitiated the entire thrust of the season, and even the whole series. There was a lot of discussion about this from both sides, and I still feel I'm "right."

That said, there are plenty of other areas where disagreement over meaning and artistic intent may differ and not really matter all that much.

The Hamlet is mad/not mad is a great example...viewing the play each way (and even more ways, as newcj shows) can be a very enriching and enlightening approach to take when reading or producing or watching the play.
new cj:
Of course Hamlet can be mad at one time, and not mad at another. Those are not contradictory statements. I think that often what people mean when they say that a contradiction can be true is that it isn't really a contradiction. But sometimes I think two interpretations of a text really are inconsistent with each other, and then they cannot both be correct.

Dana5140: Putting shudder-quotes around a term isn't very helpful. If there is no "wrong" way to interpret something, but there is a wrong way to interpret it, I don't know what that means. Handy rule: use quotation marks to quote somebody, or to talk about a word ("wrong" has five letters), but not to vaguely disassociate yourself from what the word literally means.

I will agree with your point that there are some claims about fictional worlds that are not true or false, since nothing in the text or footage settles it. An example of this would be to claim that Buffy got an A-minus in senior year English lit. But I'd say that if the text plus the intentions of the author don't determine that the text is an allegory about, say, the 1950s red scare, then it isn't such an allegory.

And let's not bring totalitarianism into it. The belief that there is such a thing as truth is not an endorsement of the suppression of anyone's opinion. In fact, if there is no truth, then it would not be true that we have no need for literary criticism and it would not be true that that way lies totalitarianism. The view that there is no truth is self-undermining, since it entails its own non-truth.

Why can't we say that texts have meanings, and that the texts are imbued with certain meanings by the author of the text, and that sometimes reasonable people can disagree about what the meaning is, while acknowledging that there must be a fact of the matter about what the meaning is (just as reasonable people can disagree about whether an accused person really committed the crime, but still agree that there must be a fact of the matter about whether or not he did so)?

Chris in VA: I agree with what you just said.
I think that depends what you mean by 'true' fruit punch mouth. When I assert 'Hamlet was not mad' i'm using a shorthand. What i'm actually saying is 'In my opinion, Hamlet was not mad'. You can then assert that 'Hamlet was mad' or 'In my opinion, Hamlet was mad'. My opinion is then still internally consistent since I don't believe you're 'wrong' in the sense of being incorrect (i.e. having a belief which is contradicted by the state of the world), I just believe we disagree since, to me, there is no correct or incorrect answer in this instance, just my opinion and yours.

We're both just expressing an opinion since there's no 'gold standard' to check our assertions against i.e. no truth to be discovered just more or less plausible opinions depending on how you interpret the evidence (some people would say that Shakespeare's opinion would be definitive but personally I think his POV is no more or less valid than any other justified opinion since art is a collaboration between artist and audience which is to say my interpretation is partly what makes it art).

Imagine that Shakespeare wrote Hamlet deliberately to be ambiguous (50% mad and 50% not mad). Would Hamlet's sanity either way still be a matter of fact ? Would there still be a 'true' answer to the assertions 'Hamlet is mad'/'Hamlet is not mad' ?

Note that this doesn't apply to the hard sciences since they have the real world as their 'gold standard'. Any assertion about the world around us is either true or false even if we may have trouble finding out which (these are facts).

Lioness, thanks for the link, very interesting and insightful review.

Curlyshuffle, I agree the Browncoats were libertarians though given that the Alliance seems to be voted into power I can't really agree that they were fascists. Authoritarian certainly but not a dictatorship and I guess there's not a lot of evidence for much more censorship than we have now (with various news agencies 'spinning' the news etc.). To me they're basically the exemplar of the adage 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions'.
Saje, fascisim is not necessarily predicated upon non-elective siezure of power.

Generally, it refers to a highly nationalistic and militaristic culture (U-Day a manifestation of that, I think), regime-wide economic corporatism (Blue Sun, methinks), and a charismatic leader (here's where the label collapses, seems to me.)

But, yes, the Alliance certainly has the trappings and overall feel of fascism, to be sure.
"I hope I didn't imply that any interpretation of art is as valid as any other interpretation of the same work of art."

I, on the other hand would say exactly that, if you can back up your argument. Whether the points you use to backup your arguement actually succeed or not is a whole 'nother thing.

"There was a discussion here some time ago about whether Buffy's death in Season 5 was a sacrifice or suicide. I felt very strongly that it was the former, and that the latter analysis utterly vitiated the entire thrust of the season, and even the whole series. There was a lot of discussion about this from both sides, and I still feel I'm "right.""

It depends if we are talking about Joss's intent, which he has uncharacteristically stated publically, or we are talking about the story totally divorced from the stated intent of the author. IMO there a solid case can be made for it being suicide, but a stronger case can be made for it being a sacrifice. Whether it changes the season and the series into something a specific person does not like does not change the validity of the argument. The fact that any interpretation will have an impact on the meaning of the rest of the season and series means the choices made by the actors and director are important. A bad choice for the story is not necessarily a wrong choice according to the text or what has been seen so far.

IMO the best choice of interpretations of Buffy's actions at the end of S5 is that she sacrificed herself and that the relief on her face was a combination of finally understanding that there was a way to save Dawn, to save the world and that her Gift was not killing but dying to save the people she loved and billions of others. It helps the series and the characters. That does not make it right, however, or at least it does not make all other choices wrong. It makes them different, and IMO, not as good artistically.

" But sometimes I think two interpretations of a text really are inconsistent with each other, and then they cannot both be correct."

...only if you are disagreeing with my interpretation. ;-)

Yeah what Zeitgeist said. As long we don't resort to the "your party is the spawn of the devil" and all its supporters "are evil" etc, things are good. I don't particularly see the ending as being overtly political, I think it gave hope and showed that one man (and his crew) can make a difference.

I would love to know what the consequence of Mal's actions were.


Simon - I agree, I don't see the ending of Serenity as political - I think the intent of the message is about hope, and seeing the character of Mal talking about love (which is a big moment for him) and River being free.

That said, if we found out the consequence of Mal's actions - then I think it'd be political. If there had been a final scene in the movie -- which I know some fans pushed for -- showing, for example, the Browncoat army uprising beginning again, then I'd see it as a political message.

One of things about Firefly and Serenity I've found is that people all side of the political spectrums can relate to it -- it's very universal messages and problems. The Alliance is not really bad, it's just big. They assert control over the masses, but believe it is a climate where that has to happen. They want to make things better, which brings huge problems, and debately makes things worse. But the people 'against' that carry guns.

Firefly has this thing, where a huge number of people can relate to the world it shows because it's just like now -- it's how the future probably will be. Huge numbers of people also don't want to see that future - they want to see a future with escapism. It's what made the show special, and what makes it hard to sell.
newcj: if you can back up your argument.

The key phrase in your very excellent post. I've been argued out of some deeply held interpretations of things on occasion. But not The Gift!

gossi: also an excellent post, the last paragraph especially. But I'd say killing 30 million people (however inadvertently) and creating the Reavers is making things non-debatably worse!

I don't see a resurgence of the Browncoats...but a fragmenting of the Alliance's central power (surely there were only a handful of ultra-insiders who knew of Miranda, and the others would have to be mighty angry)...Damn, I so want another movie...and a Spike movie...and a Ripper movie...and Episode 1 of Season 6 of Angel...
OMG. I was going to mention that Stephen Baldwin is a Christian and very opposed to Alec's liberal views (so you can't just stereotype people or assume "guilt by association"), and that Mal is clearly libertarian (so I don't get the original poster's claim about the "conservative" ending), and I walked into a graduate school course in Philosophy, Drama and Political Science! I'm going to have to go back and read this thread again to make sure I "get" the ideas discussed here -- it's really an education! :-)

And, ffs, what is The Hutton Enquiry, Jackal? Must I Google every thread today? ;-)
Billz, the Hutton Enquiry was a fun period in British politics (which I can only vaguely remember) in which Dr. David Kelley (or River) found some sort of information out about the Iraq war (possibly on the weapons of mass destruction, or lack of) and he later commited suicide. The BBC (Mal and Mr. Universe) reported his death as being coerced (or something) and upset the government (Alliance), who then brought in Lord Hutton (The Operative), who was of some importance but I'm not sure why, to carry out an investigation that led to Greg Dyke, the director general of the BBC, being fired (hip hip...).

Despite this being featured on the news for what seemed like forever, causing mass withdrawal across the country when it was resolved, that's all I can remember. You probably would have been better off Googling it.

[ edited by Jackal on 2006-06-07 00:24 ]
Agreed CiV, fascism doesn't need to involve seizing of power (Hitler was obviously voted into office for instance) but surely there has to then be a lack of accountability to any electorate i.e. dictatorship along with suppression of opposition by force and censoring of other viewpoints ?

(in fairness we don't know the Alliance doesn't do this but I don't remember much evidence that they do either, certainly not on a system wide level)

U-Day is just a celebration of victory over an enemy as far as the Alliance are concerned (a victory of order over chaos, the rule of law over revolution, from their perspective obviously, not Mal's). Today (in the UK anyway where it's still the 6th) is the anniversary of D-day which though not widely celebrated is at least noted by anyone with an awareness of history and for years after WWII VE day was commemorated (and still is on 'big' - i.e. round numbered - anniversaries) but I don't see ours as a particularly militaristic culture (nor fascist quite yet ;).

Joss has said in the past that the Alliance aren't evil, more misguided with elements of corruption. I think the idea wasn't to present a bunch of totalitarian tyrants but a warning about what could happen to pretty much any government that grew too arrogant and started treading on the rights of minorities to please the majority (however good their intentions) as well as the perfect 'villain' for a Western which are traditionally all about rugged individualism.

BTW gossi, I don't think the ending is overtly political but when one man (with quite a bit of help) makes such a difference that an entire society is affected it's pretty hard not to see any political message in there (it ain't promoting communism, that's fer sure ;).

(billz, the Hutton enquiry was an investigation into the events surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly, a UK government weapons expert who killed himself after it came out that he was the source for BBC allegations that the government had 'sexed up' a dossier reporting WMDs in Iraq - i.e. made their existence seem more likely. The report cleared the government so completely that a lot of people feel it was a bit of a whitewash though the then head of the BBC resigned as did the journalist involved and various others. It was quite a scandal over here about 3 years ago, back before deaths in Iraq became just another news item)
Saje,
If 'Hamlet is mad' is just shorthand for 'In my opinion Hamlet is mad' then when you say such a thing you're not talking about Hamlet; you're talking about your own mind. Your statement is true as long as you do in fact have such an opinion. And if I say 'Hamlet is not mad' as shorthand for 'My opinion is that Hamlet is not mad' then we can both be correct because we haven't disagreed. I've said something true about my mind and you've said something true about yours (just as if you'd said 'I'm bored' and I said 'I'm not bored' -- no contradiction).

But if I'm committed to the truth of 'my opinion is that Hamlet is mad' I'm also committed to the truth of 'Hamlet is mad'. Wouldn't it be absurd to say 'Hamlet is not mad, but in my opinion he is.'?

Again, I concede that there sometimes may be no way to know which opinion is correct. But I think you're conflating truth with knowledge. There is a fact about the how the dinosaurs went extinct, even if we don't know what it is. (And I know you concede this about science; I just don't know why you don't recognize this distinction when it comes to the meanings of texts. You admit that reality is the gold standard, but that sometimes we can have trouble figuring out what reality is.

You really think that Hamlet is a collaboration between you and Shakespeare (and all of us)? I think Shakespeare imbued the meaning of his text with all the meaning it has, and if you want to give text some meaning, you need to write it yourself.

What if Shakespeare wrote Hamlet so as to leave it unsettled whether Hamlet is mad? Then it is unsettled whether Hamlet is mad, and assertions that Hamlet is mad wouldn't be true.
"You really think that Hamlet is a collaboration between you and Shakespeare (and all of us)? I think Shakespeare imbued the meaning of his text with all the meaning it has, and if you want to give text some meaning, you need to write it yourself."

I've gotta completely disagree. I can only think of one example right now, and it doesn't totally show my point, but I'll try.

There was some discussion on here a little while ago about whether Shepard Book was a Christian preacher, or just some holy-ish guy. Let's say that after an extensive study, it's proven that Book was a Lutheran. It's proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, and everyone believes it. Now, Joss didn't mean to make Book a Lutheran. When he wrote Book, he did not write a Lutheran preacher. However, it's true. And now that we know Book's religion perhaps we can use it to predict his actions during the times we didn't see on screen, or his feelings during the times we did. Book's religion now has meaning, because it is important to the story. Even though Joss didn't imbue this meaning into Book, it's still there. It's there because we found it. Us, the audience. Joss gave us Book, we interpreted Book, us and Joss collaborated.

I know, right? Pretty bad example. Sorry, I tried.

Disclaimer, just in case: It's hypothetical. I don't know whether Book was Lutheran.
This is going off topic from me -- sorry -- but I had to pike on this one..

Regarding The Hutton Thing -- I was one of the people who spotted the document the UK government posted (on it's website) had the hidden information which lead to the explosion of the media, which lead to much more digging, at which point David killed himself.

It's a very long, complex tale which I think -- unfortunately -- many people don't understand or simply don't care about (which I get - it went on in the media _forever_).

Ultimately, the UK government put out it's 'Case for War' document on the interweb. Which is fine. However -- and this is the bit I don't think is actually known (hello, world) the document was a Word document. If you email or post a Word document online, it's possible to use special tools to 'reverse engineer' the document, to see text which has been removed/edited/added during it's revisions, along with who made the changes.

Ultimately, at the time it became clear the UK goverments case to war document for Iraq had some problems. As in, put in gossi speak, it was a load of utter bollocks. It actually had a section stolen from a 14 year old's website IN THE DOCUMENT, copied and pasted from their site. Not kidding. The media was somehow made aware of small problems with the document -- such as it had been heavily censored/edited and hyped up during editing.

That lead to many media folks looking at other documents and issues, at which point it became clear that the government had openly made up speculation about weapons of mass destruction. Queue David Kelly, who got stuck in the middle of the media outcry, and then he died.

The director of the BBC - a position appointed to be clear of the government to create an open media - ended up having to leave the position.

The situation as it turned out? There were no weapons of mass destruction. It's fairly common knowledge now the UK government did, in fact, make up it's case to war -- and I can personally say parts of that case to war was written by a 14 year old.
Ormaybemidgets:
I'm curious. What could possibly prove that Book is a Lutheran if Joss didn't mean to make him a Lutheran? If there is something in the text (written by Joss) that entails he's Lutheran, then he's Lutheran in virtue of something Joss did, and not in virtue of anything that *you* did. It puzzles me how you could think otherwise.

"It's there because we found it." I think you have that the wrong way round. If we find things, it's because they're there, and not vice versa. Fossils aren't there because we found them. Because they were there (and because we looked), we found them, but it isn't because of us that they're there.
What could possibly prove that Book is a Lutheran if Joss didn't mean to make him a Lutheran?

For instance, if the only Christians Joss have ever been around were Lutherans. Say he knows only of Lutherans, he's only met Lutherans. But he thinks that he knows all about Christians. He thinks he's pretty well-informed, and that he can accurately portray a non-denominational Christian. So he writes Book, and he writes him as a Christian. In Joss' mind, and if you asked him, he would say that Book absolutely isn't a Lutheran. Joss would say that he wrote Book based only on broad Christian ideas and nothing specific. But we know, without a doubt, that Book is a Lutheran.

Another thing to mention not related to this example: meanings are people-specific. In Veronica Mars episode from last season, Logan remembers that he once saw Lucky in a locker room wearing a catcher's mask and pouring bleach on his foot. It was meaningful to Logan that he was pouring bleach on his foot, it made him think, "hey, this guy's kinda weird". It was meaningful to Veronica that he was wearing a catcher's mask, to her it meant, "baseball is related to him being kinda weird". People will see different things and those things will be important to them for different reasons.

I'm un-saying that. It's not really related to what we're talking about, as the topic is more things that can be proven, and the kind of meaning discussed above isn't the kind that can be proven.

[ edited by ormaybemidgets on 2006-06-07 02:15 ]
Hi Chris (is this discussion political or just everywhere?),

I agree with Chris and the Gift.
It was sacrifice.

And Joss intended it as such. He said so on New Years Eve 2005. He said it was NOT sacrifice.

He posted that night..yes.. he cybertouched us that night.

But the sentiment that Serenity's message was overtly conservatice... hmm... I don't know.

Being an admitted abiding, bleeding heart, tax and spend, ACLU card-carrying liberal, I tend to project. And the notion that "liberalism" is simply the idea that "human perfectability" is achievable... is a little like saying that "conservatives" are just about a laundry list of reactionary causes.

Nothing is ever quite that simple.

That Mal was anarchic--- yes.

That Mal didn't like being told what to do--- yes.

That the Alliance was paternalistic and its experiments on human beings were evil attempts at controlling simple human instincts--- yes.

But does that set up a dichotomy between a "conservative" and "liberal" interpretation?

hmm doubtful...

No liberal would control simple human instincts like sexuality...Anymore than conservatives are completely laissz-fairez about EVERYTHING (case in point gay marriage).

Burgess' Clockwork Orange was a more direct (and admitted) attack on a "welfare state". He was REALLY conservative.
And, as an abiding liberal, and an effete English major, I just didn't care for that book or movie-- it seemed to revel in cruelty.

Besides... the theme was pretty typical-- Man is innately depraved.


Joss , who is infinitely more optimistic seems to say...

"Human evil is human created. We are not innately depraved.
People will be good in spite of not having contact with civilization , without religion and without an enlightened society (the Reaver myth).... No... Human evil comes out of that terrible desire for perfection (regardless of political ideology)"

In my world Joss speaks with parentheses!
It was sacrifice.

And Joss intended it as such. He said so on New Years Eve 2005. He said it was NOT sacrifice.


I'm assuming you meant: He said it was NOT suicide.
Well. In regards to the Hutton enquiry, which I had meant to ask about, but got sidetracked, I say "Wow." And thanks Bilz for asking for clarification. I knew something was going on in the UK about the whole thing, but between the fact that US events were depressing me to the point of not being able to turn on the radio or news and a few other distractions were going on in my personal life, I missed even that many details. (sigh)

As far as the political message, I think it was a great big "Beware" and "Don't be complacent about what your government is doing." that was aimed at everybody, liberal and conservative alike. The urge to make people better is both a liberal and a conservative urge, it is just the definition of better and the best way to achieve it that can sometimes be different. Best of intentions etc, etc.

"You really think that Hamlet is a collaboration between you and Shakespeare (and all of us)? I think Shakespeare imbued the meaning of his text with all the meaning it has, and if you want to give text some meaning, you need to write it yourself."

Yes Hamlet is a collaboration. In fact because it is a play rather than a book, it was written to be the collaboration of not just the writer and the reader, but the writer the actor and the audience. The writer wrote the text with the understanding that the actors would imbue that text with life and their own interpretation. Originally they had the writer there to tell them what he had intended, but almost every writer in the performing arts, that I have read interviews with or essays by, has commented on performers finding things in their work that they had not intended. (An argument could be made about the consciousness of what the author wrote. That it was there because the writer unconsciously, but purposely, put it there, but if it takes the actor to bring it to consciousness it is still a collaboration.) The interaction between live actors and a live audience was also expected (hoped for, wished for, prayed for) when it was originally written. One of the facinating things about live theater is the way a work will change with the interaction of live performers and a live audience. Nuances change that can sometimes lead to radical changes in understanding or interpretation without the text changing at all.

"There is a fact about the how the dinosaurs went extinct, even if we don't know what it is. (And I know you concede this about science; I just don't know why you don't recognize this distinction when it comes to the meanings of texts. You admit that reality is the gold standard, but that sometimes we can have trouble figuring out what reality is."

Part of the problem also is what kind of text we are talking about. We have been talking about art, which is not about creating one level of meaning, but several at the same time and is often about questions rather than hard and fast answers. Technical writing in a field like engineering, or even propaganda would have the kind of right and wrong that you have indicated you expect to find in literature. Perhaps by trying to apply the laws of logic to art you are illustrating that the point of art is not logic and often the best art breaks laws.
FPM- see, this is where we part ways. I do not think authorial intent provides truth or meaning; I believe that reader intent is what is important. I do not have to agree with anything Joss says about why he wrote what he wrote (and I am not taking issue with anything he wrote, so please, keep that in mind). For example, I disagree with the reasons given for killing Tara- despite allk that has been written about this, I read it my way. Am I wrong? Of course not. And neither is Joss, in what he says. I follow very closely Barthes "death of the author" as a significant point with regard to intepretation of texts. Which I sort of thought you were saying when you said "Why can't we say that texts have meanings, and that the texts are imbued with certain meanings by the author of the text, and that sometimes reasonable people can disagree about what the meaning is, while acknowledging that there must be a fact of the matter about what the meaning is..." But I am not real sure, as I cannot interpret the text here. There is the fact that the author might have had a meaning, but not that any reader will necessarily accept that or believe it. LOL. Oops, bad thunder, and bad storms here in IA, better log off...
In every literary analysis and creative writing class I’ve ever attended, the perspective has *always* been that a text is a collaboration between the author and the reader. I’ve sat in creative writing classes and listened to people take wildly different interpretations of stories that I have written, but I couldn’t just leap up and say “No it’s not! It’s not there! That was not my intention!” Because it is stressed over and over that the author’s intention is *not* the ultimate truth, but rather as valid and malleable as anyone else’s interpretation--since often the people who were reading the story the “wrong” way have evidence to back them up: things that I hadn’t realized, or that I was sure could only be read in just one way. Because they saw things that I didn’t intend or interpreted things in a fashion I the author did not, does that make them wrong? No, because art is a collaboration between the author and the reader. I could either accept the reality (half the audience finds the character unsympathetic) or I could react to it by trying to make him more (or less) likable. Either way, it’s a collaboration. The audience *always* contributes to the tale. It’s not that the story doesn’t have meaning, it’s that in the process of reading it (or watching it or whatever), the audience *adds* meaning and without that the piece is not whole. Thus, the piece is always in flux, as each reader/whatever takes his or her own perspective on it.

Take some examples from the DVD commentaries. In “Objects in Space,” Joss mentions how his wife was the one to point out that Early’s reaction to the crew is individually tailored (Simon can be reasoned with, Kaylee can be terrified, Book must be immediately incapacitated, etc). Joss didn’t set out with that intention; had Kai not pointed it out to him, he might never have realized it. But once the audience collaborated with the author, he saw what they had interpreted and interpreted it in a similar way. So even the creator’s interpretation can be changed by his audience, when they point out something he didn’t intend.

Or take the commentary to “Lullaby,” during the birth/death scene in the alley where Fred is leaning over Darla and Angel with that jacket draped over her head. Mere Smith teases Tim Minear that “That’s a lot of Christian symbolism for an agnostic,” and Tim Minear explains that it wasn’t his intention, it was simply due to the practical concern of keeping water off the actors’ faces. I hadn’t noticed the Virgin Mary symbolism until Mere Smith pointed it out, but now I agree that it’s there. Tim Minear (if memory serves) seemed a bit reluctant to acknowledge it, though--since it wasn’t his intention. And that’s the kind of disagreements that develop: one person sees something and argues it’s important, another person sees the same thing but feels it isn’t very important. “Fred represents the Virgin Mary” vs. “Fred represents Fred with a jacket over her head.”

And because art is a collaboration between the author and the reader, I’d argue that “Hamlet is mad” and “Hamlet is not mad” are *both* right because they’re not the same Hamlet! The story is different for every reader because every time it is a whole new collaboration. Oftentimes there is something of a consensus, but there are always differences. There is no definitive Hamlet; as demonstrated above authors can often achieve things that they didn’t intend--if those achievements are pointed out to them and they like them, they’ll often accept the new interpretation. Thus, Shakespeare’s own view of Hamlet was no doubt constantly changing based on the reactions he was getting from his audiences. It’s this collaboration with the material that I think is what allows Serenity to be a political movie without being a partisan one; Joss puts in several weighty political questions, but in the collaboration the viewer applies his or her own perspective.
STL:
It may well be that people in the literature departments *say* that texts' meanings are the result of collaboration between author and audience. It doesn't make it so. I think they say this because it makes literary criticism a whole lot easier. "Richard III is an anti-imperialist allegory." "But Shakespeare couldn't possibly have meant any such thing!" "So what?" It makes interpretation much easier if things somehow automatically mean just what you think they do. You needn't bother with evidence, in that case.

If what looked like Virgin Mary symbolism was unintended, it wasn't Virgin Mary symbolism, I'd say. Or is it that on your view there can't be such a thing as misinterpretation? If I think Shakespeare's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are a parody of Beavis and Butthead, despite the fact they WS died centuries before they came along, can I possibly be right?

I will grant that actors and authors can collaborate. If the actor who played Early contributed something not in the script then he was a collaborator. But *Kai* wasn't a collaborator. She just watched the damn thing on tv.
You needn't bother with evidence, in that case.
Everyone has been pretty clear in saying that an opinion is only taken seriously when the conclusion can be backed up with passages from the text.

If I think Shakespeare's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are a parody of Beavis and Butthead, despite the fact they WS died centuries before they came along, can I possibly be right?
You could be right if Beavis and Butthead were closely based on a mythic duo whose story was written before Shakespeare's time.

But *Kai* wasn't a collaborator.
But she was. She exposed the meaning in something that Joss had (probably) given meaning to subconsciously. More than likely, in his mind, he'd thought, these people have to give up, how would that happen? Simon is needed, he will have to be talked to but not physically harmed. Kaylee's will wouldn't be broken, she will have to be intimidated. Book won't be intimidated, he will have to be incapacitated.

[ edited by ormaybemidgets on 2006-06-07 05:46 ]
I agree with STL. And fruit punch mouth - if you go back in time (in the whedonverse at least) you can find years worth of discussion on this very topic (intent vs intepretation) in the character of Spike. I read up on all the different opinions and it was fascinating because so many people, including Joss and Marsters and the fans had such radically different experiences of Spike.
And not to muddle the dialogue too much because I am not completely in the know in this area of Philosophy and Lit. Crit but postmodernism is turning all of the former ideas of truth, interpretation and intention upside down and indside out. Please, no need to point out the literary lowbrowness of my argument - I'm the admin assistant in a Philosophy department NOT one of the professors.
ruthless1: I'll take lowbrow over post-modern any day of the week. Basically, the thrust of my remarks has been that po-mo is rubbish, intellectually bankrupt.

ormaybemidgets: but if *I* can be a collaborator with Shakespeare why would I have to find evidence for all my interpretations in the text? The textual evidence requirement shows that, deep down, you realize that it has to be there, in the text, in the first place.
Just a great discussion continuing here that I've been trying to follow all day. And it's great that the exchanges have been uniformly on a polite level.

My tuppence is that post-modernism in its most bowdlerised form - "everything is relative", "there is no such thing as objective truth," especially as far as the hard sciences are concerned - *is* rubbish, and some of what passes for high-brow philosophy is little more than word-play. IMO.

OTOH, I tend to agree with the majority view in this thread that art is less concerned with stating truth than with asking questions, and that the viewer/listener/reader necessarily participates in that process. (Even so, I am most unwilling to follow Barthes on his journey into fragmentation and "disentanglement," thanks very much.)
For instance, in the Fred/Virgin Mary example. In that scene, Fred sort of looks like the Virgin Mary. If during her time on the show, she never did anything that would cause someone to compare her to Mary, then I'd have to say that the scene in Lullaby was not symbolism, it was only a coincidence. If, however, someone could make an intelligent argument for why the Fred/Virgin Mary thing was symbolic in that scene, then I might accept it. In that case, it would be something that wasn't intentional, but that still existed. There would be textual evidence, but it wouldn't have been placed their by the writer on purpose.

Edit: Completely unrelated. Does anyone remember this scene? Someone had said something like, "when I drop this piece of chalk, it will fall, and it will break" and someone else thought it wouldn't. Then the first person dropped the chalk, but something happened, like the wind caught it, and it hit the guy's shirt and rolled down his body, then came to his shoe where it slowly rolled and then stopped completely on that little ridge that you have sometimes near your toes, and the chalk wasn't broken. Anyone remember?

[ edited by ormaybemidgets on 2006-06-07 06:49 ]
Survived the tornado- one was sighted over the athletic arena at U Iowa earlier in the day, but no one hurt and no damage to my knowledge. Anyway, FPM, here is a problem: "Basically, the thrust of my remarks has been that po-mo is rubbish, intellectually bankrupt." That's pretty unfair. It's quite obviously an influential movement, and hardly intellectually bankrupt. It can be argued against, but I think it unfair to simply dismiss it- it has had influence on everything from literature, music and architecture, to my area of endeavor, biomedical research. I can't argue the issues as well as I like; I'm self taught, so to say, in modern lit crit and philsophy, but I do manage to read all kinds of stuff, from Derrida and Foucault and Lyotard, to Barthes, Baudrillard, Rorty and Adorno. Let's give credit where it's due.

You state: "If I think Shakespeare's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are a parody of Beavis and Butthead, despite the fact they WS died centuries before they came along, can I possibly be right?" If we address this as stated, we know factually this cannot be true; B&B came hundreds of years after Shakespeare; thus, it is on its face not a viable opinion. This is not about the propriety of proving ANY opinion at all wrong- I can have the opinion that the moon is made of green cheese, but that does make the opinion correct in terms of whether the moon is actually made of green cheese. We are dealing here with matters of interpretation, though- is Hamlet mad or not? Did Willow and Tara kiss after the candle was blown out? These opinions can be supported by information from the text. Textual analysis.
(Joss) posted that night..yes.. he cybertouched us that night.

Woah. Too many jokes.
ormaybe midgets: If, however, someone could make an intelligent argument for why the Fred/Virgin Mary thing was symbolic in that scene, then I might accept it.

Aside from the striking visual imagery (I just checked out some vidcaps of it, and it really is astoundingly evocative of images of Mary), what was happening in the alley was a miracle birth, something completely new to the world. Just as the birth of Jesus was.

Fred was effectively mid-wiving the event. The symbolism isn't precise, of course, but that's sort of the nature of symbolism.

[ edited by Chris inVirginia on 2006-06-07 16:26 ]
Who is John Derbyshire?
The man who spawned a long - and for some still standing boycott of TNR sponsors - Amazon by his "Kill Chelsea" - still linked here
http://www.nationalreview.com/derbyshire/derbyshire021501.shtml
What puzzles me, in light of his "Kill Chelsea" article is - why isn't he on the Alliance's side on this? (Well, I missed the original article on Firefly, so, John, if you are consistent and you do cheer the Alliance's human engineering - forgive me for unjustly accusing you). And here's a sample of that Derbyshire unique sensibility:


Chelsea is a Clinton. She bears the taint; and though not prosecutable in law, in custom and nature the taint cannot be ignored. All the great despotisms of the past — I'm not arguing for despotism as a principle, but they sure knew how to deal with potential trouble — recognized that the families of objectionable citizens were a continuing threat. In Stalin's penal code it was a crime to be the wife or child of an "enemy of the people". The Nazis used the same principle, which they called Sippenhaft, "clan liability". In Imperial China, enemies of the state were punished "to the ninth degree": that is, everyone in the offender's own generation would be killed, and everyone related via four generations up, to the great-great-grandparents, and four generations down, to the great-great-grandchildren, would also be killed."
For starters, highly staked, he's a novelist, essayist, critic, author of more than a few books.

Secondly, it seems pretty clear that this was satire. Admittedly, not very clever or deft satire, but not a clarion call to stone the former First Daughter in the streets.

I mean, come on.

(Oh, and TNR is the abbreviation for The New Republic; National Review is abbreviated as NR.)
FPM: The reason I accept that there is Truth (big T ;) which corresponds to knowledge (i.e. a justified true belief) in science is because there is (once you accept the fundamental assumptions about the consistency of reality and our ability to know it through our senses, which I do). Things in the world exist or they don't. They have certain properties or they don't. Intent, subtext, my having a bad day or a great one are all (or should be) irrelevant. If a tree falls over in a forest and there's no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound ? You betcha. That's physics. Is the noise disconcerting or soothing ? Neither without someone there to be disconcerted or soothed. That's interpretation. If i'm disconcerted and you're soothed I may think you're crazy but I can't really say you're wrong (assuming you actually were soothed by the noise).

Art, however, arguably doesn't even exist outside the minds of the creator and his audience and is different things to different people. They say 'You can never read the same book twice' because what you see in a book changes with you over time despite the fact that the same words are there in the same order. Does that mean you were wrong the first time you read it (and presumably, therefore, every time since you can never be sure you've gleaned all the truth - small t ;) - from the text) ? I'd say not.

I think, fundamentally, we disagree because you hold the author as the final arbiter of the truth of his/her work whereas I don't. When you assert 'Hamlet was mad' (or not) I think you're actually saying 'Shakespeare intended Hamlet to be mad [or not] which makes it true' and I agree that Shakespeare's intent is a matter of fact (albeit probably unknowable), I just don't agree that his opinion is definitive.

For what it's worth when post-modernists start claiming that, for example, 'history is just interpretation', I become puzzled. Historical accounts are certainly interpretive but historical events either happened or they didn't and the fact that we can never know the Truth in some cases doesn't mean there isn't one (or that we shouldn't strive toward it). But I think some of the ideas about questioning fundamental assumptions and the importance (in some spheres) of subjective experience are good ones so I can't agree po-mo is 'intellectually bankrupt' (just often over-extended - 'everything is relative' for example is obviously non-sensical because it is itself an absolute statement).

The Virgin Mary/Fred example is really interesting. I hadn't noticed that at all but now - I also looked at some vidcaps - it seems pretty obvious (and amazing that Minear didn't intend it). As you say CiV it was a miracle birth.
I came across a good definition of postmodernism in Chuck Klosterman's book "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs": "Any art that is conscious of the fact that is, in fact, art." Now, this is not a technical definition of course, but it captures the issue well. Klosterman then goes on to offer this: "I once read a movie review by roger Ebert for the film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Early in the review, Ebert makes a tangential point about whether or not film characters are theoretically "aware' of other films and other movie characters. Ebert only touches on this issue casually, but it's probably the most interesting philosophical question ever asked about film grammar. Could Harrison Ford's character in What Lies Beneath rent Raiders of the Lost Ark? Could John Rambo draw personal inspiration from Rocky? In Desperately Seeking Susan, what is Madonna hearing when she goes to a club and dances to her own song? Within the reality of one specific fiction, how do other fictions exist?"

I think this cuts to the real matter of postmodern philosophy- not the idea that there is no objective reality, that interpretation is only left to the reader of the text, etc. I think the more basic idea is that of understanding how texts relate to one another, to the author and to the reader.
Dana5140 - glad to hear you got missed by the tornado and thanks for clarifying postmodernism. It's a tricky tricky topic because it's a theory that can't be reduced to a sentence or two. Kind of like the whedonverse I imagine.

I want to stay in this thread but I have to go write a paper on gender and popular fiction - I'm analyzing a supernatural romance written in the vein of BtVS. Have we REALLY come a long way baby? Or does the heroine just end up alone AGAIN?
*discuss amongst yourselves*
Have we REALLY come a long way baby? Or does the heroine just end up alone AGAIN?


Yes we have and isn't that the whole point of being a hero? Being alone seems nobler some how.
Vroom - Simon here I go off topic. It's nobler, yes, but it's really not healthy and it's not a very inspiring model to follow. Yep - Mal and Buffy - very great superheroes to admire in many ways but they are still isolated wounded heroes that we would avoid like the plague in real life (IMHO - and only because they are such killers onscreen - I love their wittiness but the killer part of them - not so attractive.) This is where interpretation and art meet, play around, have a dance or two and flit off into the sunset - because one man/woman's hero (Mal, Buffy) could be another alliance officer's(school psychologist, police officer, principle, nightmare. Of course this is mixing art and RL so it could be dismissed but it's fun to ponder.
Apologies if I just muddled everything up. I even feel muddled.
Well, Buffy -- and to a large extent, I suspect, Mal are supposed to be super heros - just very different kinds of heroes.

Personally, it doesn't bother me the angle that the characters are alone. They both find families in their friends, but when it comes down to it they face life alone -- which I can relate to (and respect), as it's entirely how I see life, and how I live my life.
At risk of igniting a bit of a to-do, which I honestly do not wish to do, I would like to offer a comment, which, FPM, please do not take as a comment about your writings in this thread. But in my experience, those who tend to dismiss postmodernism fall on the conservative side of the political spectrum. I am not sure why this is, except perhaps that this idea of a mutablew truth flies in the face of some sort of absolutism ethics; I am not sure. But I always wanted to explore this in some way, just don't know how.

In Buffy, we often see intertext, metatext and other sorts of text, ie, Dawn in trouble, must be Tuesday- that's a self-aware, postmodern line there. It refers to the fact that Buffy is a show that is on on Tuesdays- art aware that it is, in fact, art. And the show, of course, was full of that kind of self-referential material. What would be scary would be Joss working some Buffy stuff into Firefly!
"OMG. I was going to mention that Stephen Baldwin is a Christian and very opposed to Alec's liberal views (so you can't just stereotype people or assume "guilt by association")"

The whole guilt by association thing did really bug me when I read the article. Though the author indicates other parties were the ones who condemned AB on the basis of his name, he also does not indicate that it is a problem. In fact by the way he defends him, he is indicating that he has no problem with condemning, on the basis of a disagreement about politics, all Baldwins related to one who you have most likely never even met. As I know very little about the Baldwin family…actually any Baldwin family…I did not know whether all of the Baldwin brothers spoke with one voice and had gone about campaigning for particularly objectionable things like the legalization of child pornography or the violent overthrow of the government to make way for the Kingdom of Baldwin or something. I doubted it though, because even I probably would have heard something about it.

ETA: Of course after reading highly staked's post above, I see how into the satire the writer of the article is. Guilt by association might be a running gag that he and his readers share. Then again...naa.

"I do not think authorial intent provides truth or meaning; I believe that reader intent is what is important."

Dana, here we separate. (Really glad you survived the tornados though.) I have a problem with the audience co-opting the author’s work too completely. It is a collaboration, but IMO the author has a unique and unassailable place amongst the pantheon of collaborators and can/should never be lumped in with every other member of the audience in the value or validity of his/her contribution. The vision of the piece came from him/her and in a very real and, in a fair world, legal sense he/she owns it. It starts there. The author supplied the roots and trunk of the tree. Everything branches off from there. The author may have made the original intent very obvious or left lots of room for the audience to fill in the blanks. He or she may have tried to say something specific only to have it misunderstood, rejected, or hijacked by the audience or a group not connected to the author. Even if the hijacked work eclipses the original work completely, the author's original intent still holds a uniquely important place in its history.

In an on-going work such as a series of some kind or a play that is still being developed, the author may make adjustments to make his or her vision more clear or change his work as his vision is changed by the interaction his work has with the audience. Both are valid. The audience has the right to react positively or negatively but it is still the author’s work. Once it is totally finished the audience’s analysis is valid, but it is separate from the author’s intent. The audience informed the work to a degree while it was being formed, and in a play, they will continue to have a strong impact on the performance of the work, but the author’s intent does not diminish to the level of any audience member. It may only be able to be gleaned from the work itself, but it is still an important underpinning to the interpretation of the work. It admittedly no longer belongs totally to the author once he/she puts it before the audience, but it does not cease to be his/her creation either.

Inadvertent images: IMO an image is just that. If it was meant to evoke and illuminate the text, it is an integral part of the overall work. If it is something inadvertent and connects or illuminates the text and story, than it is a happy accident or an unconscious addition and again is part of the overall work. If it is inadvertent and does not connect to the rest of the overall text, it is just an image.

Fred as a Madonna: Although I don’t know Ats all that well, doing a whole Conner as Jesus thing seems a bit far fetched. On the other hand, the visceral understanding for the audience that Conner’s birth is a miracle and that this child is special may be heightened by the Christian imagery. That shot may have “looked good” when they filmed it partly because most people involved had seen those Madonna images all their lives simply by being raised in a predominantly Christian country. They may not have consciously looked at it and said “Madonna” but they recognized that the shot evoked the feeling they needed…while keeping the actor from getting too wet. It did not have to have great meaning that tied into the overall storyline in order to help that moment work. In other words, what everybody else said...only with more words. ;-)

"Have we REALLY come a long way baby? Or does the heroine just end up alone AGAIN?"

I don't know. The stereotype used to be that the heroine ended up finding her true place under the wing of a powerful man, married, finally subservient and happy. An ending where she was alone and okay with it was a breakthrough. So I guess we have come a long way if that is the new stereotype...

[ edited by newcj on 2006-06-07 18:43 ]
I'm not sure Dana5140 but I think a post-modernist would have to say yes (it's actually intimately related to the 'no objective reality' idea in that showing actors watching themselves is effectively saying no reality can be elevated above another, the unreality we are currently watching is no more or less real than the unreality the actor is watching or the one we're watching from). The one you give is a good definition of post-modern fiction, BTW, but it doesn't sum up the whole movement (for good or ill).

I think John Rambo from the novel could be inspired by Rocky (if 'First Blood' hadn't been written years before that is) but something about Stallone playing one fictional character being inspired by his portrayal of another just doesn't sit right with me. Given that the actor portraying one role knows what they look like, wouldn't it be strange to them to see an exact replica of themselves on screen ? I think some mileage could be got from the idea as a slightly gimmicky one-off (the Arnie movie 'Last Action Hero' touches on some of these points, albeit in an Arnie movie kind of way ;) but for normal fiction it'd be too distracting and make suspension of disbelief too hard (as when actors break the fourth wall, a little goes a long, long way).

Slightly off topic but has anyone read The Dark Tower books ? In the last couple Stephen King actually writes himself into the story and though it's distracting at first it does (IMO) work because of the nature of the story and what he's trying to say (to me a very post-modern statement about the importance of fiction in his - and our - lives).

I think the 'lone hero' idea is partly romantic (last/first/only are inherently romantic ideas - 'Last Starfighter', 'Last Jedi', 'Chosen One' - that evoke feelings of specialness and uniqueness) and partly wish-fulfilment. We all want to sniff the air (or at least think we do) but most of us spend a lot of time kissing the dirt.
"Have we REALLY come a long way baby? Or does the heroine just end up alone AGAIN?"

I thought Buffy was very far from alone at the end of "Chosen."

Dana5140, I think the Buffyverse and FFverse have to be totally apart...we have the future with Fray, and it doesn't seem to jibe at all with the Alliance, etc. Of course, my timeline could be totally flaky, but the decidedly non-fantastic (apart from terraforming, etc.) tone of Firefly, the only way I could see Buffy appearing in it would be as an old TV show from the 20th and 21st centuries of Earth That Was.

Which would be pretty cool, actually!
Chris iV - you are correct. Buffy does not stand alone at the end of Chosen.

Simon - I am veering off again....

She has a new family and it's very non-traditional and wouldn't fall under what, in the recent past has been called a "core" value in our American culture. She is making a new grouping in a postmodern world where "traditional" descriptions of family and community are no longer the most relevant. To me I think encompassing these new defitions of something like the word family is a value that postmodermism can explain. It's a breakdown and redefinition of a very traditional word. I'm not prosyletizing here - just using this specific example as to why postmodernmism shouldn't necessarily be dismissed. These alternative groupings in Buffy or real life aren't going to go away just because someone says that they are not part of the "greater" truth.
Saje,
I agree with you that there are objective historical facts, even if accounts of history given by people are subjective, interest-relative, and so forth. But I think there are objective facts about what texts mean, as well, and so interpretations of those texts match the facts or they don't. I don't believe that meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

Dana5140: Well, if one defends the view that the audience is collaborator with the playwright (artist, whoever) then I don't see how you can rule out the interpretation of Hamlet that says it's an allusion to Beavis and Butthead. If Shakespeare has a 21st century colloborator -- me -- and when I read Hamlet I feel reminded of B&B, then don't we have to say on this view that the B&B allusion is *there* because I *found* it? You're trying to resist the utterly absurd implications of the view, but I don't see how you can. If the interpreter of the text is elevated to the level of a colloborator on the text, then *any damn interpretation* no matter how absurd could be right. And that's just silly. (Of course, it's different if there is a *genuine* collaboration between Shakespeare and someone today, like a Baz Luhrmann remaking Romeo and Juliet. That film could be about things Shakespeare didn't intend.)

I don't think Post-modernism is essentially the sort of examples you gave of fictional characters acknowledging their fictionality, or something like that. That might be a symptom. Po-mo resists definition because its advocates rarely will accept any definition of it. Po-mo, as I understand it, denies that texts have any objective meanings, so if you try to give a meaning to the phrase 'post-modernism' you're already going wrong (on that view). I don't think this view is warranted. I don't dismiss the view lightly, but only after much thought and research. The fact that it is influential doesn't mean it isn't bunk. History is full of influential but completely wrong-headed ideas.

FWIW, I'm socially and fiscally extremely liberal. I'm for higher taxes, more welfare, gay marriage, legalization of drugs, amnesty for illegal immigrants, and I'd want Bush hanged as a war criminal if I weren't against the death penalty. But I do think some of the more wooly-headed aspects of leftism that emerge in academia as po-mo are just lazy thinking.
"I think John Rambo from the novel could be inspired by Rocky (if 'First Blood' hadn't been written years before that is) but something about Stallone playing one fictional character being inspired by his portrayal of another just doesn't sit right with me. Given that the actor portraying one role knows what they look like, wouldn't it be strange to them to see an exact replica of themselves on screen ? I think some mileage could be got from the idea as a slightly gimmicky one-off (the Arnie movie 'Last Action Hero' touches on some of these points, albeit in an Arnie movie kind of way ;)"

I always thought this kind of thing worked in comedy much more easily than in drama. Pulling the audience out of a comedy can be ok as long as they are laughing. It is more dangerous in a drama.

Example: I have always gotten a kick out of the running Boris Karloff joke in "Arsenic and Old Lace." The psychotic villian had plastic surgery by a drunken doctor who had just seen the movie of Frankenstein and therefore accidentally made the villian look like Boris Karloff. It is a funny and ironic concept that makes the villian furious everytime it is brought up or discussed. Unfortunately, when the movie was made they did not have the extra twist of the joke that the play had had. In the original stage production the role of the villian was actually played by Boris Karloff. If it had been a drama, Boris Karloff playing a character who is enraged by having been made to look like Boris Karloff, would have been distracting to point of the piece...unless of course it is sort of experimental and had something to do with self-hatred...or something...

"Dana5140: Well, if one defends the view that the audience is collaborator with the playwright (artist, whoever) then I don't see how you can rule out the interpretation of Hamlet that says it's an allusion to Beavis and Butthead. If Shakespeare has a 21st century colloborator -- me -- and when I read Hamlet I feel reminded of B&B, then don't we have to say on this view that the B&B allusion is *there* because I *found* it? You're trying to resist the utterly absurd implications of the view, but I don't see how you can. "

Pardon me for answering something pointed specifically at Dana, but if you were able to make a case of a connection between B&B and Hamlet based on the text of both pieces, (it cannot simply be that you "feel reminded of B&B")it would simply be that you are making a case that B&B was alluding to Hamlet, not the other way around. And though I quite happily know nothing about B&B, that case might not be an absurd concept at all. I would have no idea without reading the argument. Shakespeare has after all influenced lots of writers of all genres in the last few hundred years.
The only way I could stand the Buffyverse and Fireflyverse meeting would be in oblique, sort of fannish ways. Joss, for instance has said (with tongue somewhat in cheek) that in the 6th season of Firefly, when he'd become decadent and run out of ideas, Mal et al would've walked into a bar, sat at the end of which would be Spike, moaning about how nothing really changes all that much and people are still people. Little blink and you'd miss 'em nods are fine with me but to try to totally integrate the two 'verses would be folly I think.

I think the 'chosen family' idea from Buffy/Angel/Firefly is really interesting but i'm not sure how post-modern it is (though as I say above I agree that all of po-mo shouldn't be dismissed, just the crazy bits ;). 'Family' isn't being broken down or redefined as I see it (most of the characters have some blood relations around), it's being extended to include people we choose to hold dear to us. The meaning is the same though, it's just to whom it's applied that's become broader.

FPM: Surely parody (as in of Beavis and Butthead) implies intent on the author's part ? Intent which couldn't be there thanks to cause and effect. Are there possible similarities between R&G and B&B ? Maybe but I think you'd have a hard time finding support in the text (of Hamlet that is, I don't know the 'text' of Beavis and Butthead that well ;).

As has been mentioned a few times, saying no opinion is definitive is categorically not the same as saying all opinions are equally valid. An opinion that can't be backed up with sensible reasoning based on the text isn't worth much, if anything. For instance I can claim Hamlet is an alien from the planet Uttrsrssgjhk-nus but in the absence of any evidence from the play itself that's basically a worthless musing (in fact, i'd say it's empirically wrong along with claims like 'Hamlet is a woman' since the text actually states otherwise, leaving very little wiggle room on my side of the collaboration). There are a lot of things you can say about works of literature which are objective facts, but not everything.

ETA: newcj, yeah, I agree that it works better in comedy I think partly because comedy doesn't need to be realistic, just funny (e.g. the kind of magic realism in shows like Scrubs). Your example has the audience taking part in the joke (on several levels in the stage play) making it funnier, whereas I don't see how the same idea in a drama would make the story more dramatic. If anything, quite the opposite since it'd pull viewer's out of the 'reality' being portrayed and back into their own (which presumably isn't that dramatic or they wouldn't be watching a film ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2006-06-07 18:51 ]
Klosterman again, dsicussing of all things Billy Joel: " Actually, it turns out I was completely wrong about htis: When I eventually had the opportunity to interview Joel (months after the completion of this essay) I asked him about "Laura," and he said it was about a family member. He noted, 'There's a complete giveaway line where I sing, 'How can she hold an umbilical cord so long.' Now, who the hell could that be about?' Obviously, I can't argue about the meaning of a song with the person who wrote it. But I still think my intepretation is more interesting than his truth."

This is what we have all been discussing in a nutshell. :-)

Thak you all for the kind words about our weather. Today is gloriously sunny. And my garden did not get hit with hail so is flowering.

Anyway. I do not diminish the importance of the author and his or her intent in what he/she writes. I am mainly interested in reading they write and enjoying it, and watching their tv shows and enjoying it. But at the same time, I do believe that it is important to consider the audience when you write, that they may see things you do not- remember, there was a huge outcry over Tara's death that took Joss very much by surprise. newcj, I have never said the author's work is not his/her work, simply that a reader is necessary to bring meaning to that work. None of this Sinead O'Connor tripe about not caring whether anyone buys her word- in that case, go sing in the shower and don't sell your music as a commodity. I do not want to devolve into my older argument, repeated so many times, that we also have to consider that we are dealing not just with art, but with commodity. SO I will not go there. We are talking about the construction of meaning. Buffy was rich, because so much could be read into it. I think it highly likely that were a vote to be held today, BTVS would win as the best show ever put on TV. There is reason; it affected us, caused us to think, caused us to interpret Buffy's (and Willow's) world in light of our own experiences. It was universal. No other show has ever done that as well.

FPM: i dnot rule out that interpretation, I just say it cannot be read as fact. But as an opinion, it is an opinion.

I think stating that pomo denies all objective readings is a bit far. Derrida was definitely misunderstood and also suffered from significant attacks from the right because of that misuderstanding. With his recent death it was interesting to read the commentaries that were published, some lauding him, others attacking him. I found him a compelling person, whose writings were so dense I had trouble cracking them. I found him far more compelling than Foucault, who I think late in life simply liked being seen as a provocateur. Derrida felt deconstruction was nothing more than a method one could use to get at meaning in text, but that meaning ultimately had to be constructed by the reader. While I agree there are a lot of fuzzy-headed leftists(Camille Paglia, for example), I would prefer them to narrowminded conservatives, personally. David Horowitz comes to mind here. Hateful.

Chris, I agree with you, but I could see Joss somehow working a Buffy reference in for the viewer, ie, naming a minor character Willow or putting something in a scene harkening back to Buffy- like the little R2D2's that show up in Lucas films. I watch CSI, and one character is, of course, Catherine Willows....
Chris, you are absolutely right. It's NR not TNR. And that's pretty much the only point you made worth responding to.
Dana5140: I think this has about run its course, and we've seen where we agree and disagree, but I wanted to add one thing. Camile Paglia, whether she is fuzzy-headed or no, shouldn't be classified as a leftist. She's extremely critical of feminism (or at least of notable forms of it) and she's even more critical of post-modernism, deconstructionism and all that. She's hard to classify, since she doesn't fall neatly with the conservatives either -- she's nothing like Horowitz -- but I really wouldn't call her leftist at all.

Derrida made it difficult to critique his view by saying that any sentence of the form "Deconstructionism is _______" is not true. OK then.
"Chris, you are absolutely right. It's NR not TNR. And that's pretty much the only point you made worth responding to.
highly staked | June 07, 19:05 CET "


Gee, and we were having such a nice, mostly polite discussion.
He also wrote an autobiography that never discussed anything that happened during or about his life. :-)

Paglia calls herself a leftist, or so I read some years ago. Agreed she is critical of feminism. I'd love to hear her thoughts on Buffy, though- that might be fascinating.
Livia Soprano was the very best character on the Sopranos After she was gone, the series never quite reached the writing quality level of the first season. Livia was modeled (and named) after the poisoner wife/mother/grandmother from I Claudius and Chase was going to base the entire evil family concept around her. She's still mentioned in the therapy sessions and missed by many - and so is Nancy Marchand who died - the only reason Livia has to be written off.
What's with the recent wave of ferocity against good actors who died? (Reminded of similarly outrageous comments on Glenn Quinn/Doyle)

But I fully agree on Dawn and everyone on that list that I actually know of.
Dana5140 - may I marry your mind? Is that too presumptious?
high staked, I think you are on the wrong thread. The onion list is up the page a bit.
ruthless, let me go check with my wife. If she says it is okay, no worries.
(*goes and checks*)
She say that would be fine. Let's go get our minds hitched.
:-)
Excellent! And since it's only a mind marriage - no need to bother with ceremony or rings or even bodies! Woot! It seems I just avoided all the typical marital problems.
*pats self on back*
But does a marriage between two minds meet the strict standards being set for the definition of "marriage?" And if it does, is Dana5140 in danger of breaking any bigamy laws? ...And what about the children?

I'm sorry, I don't mean to be a wet blanket. I just worry.
Oh, heavens, won't someone think of the children, indeed. Lucky you're here to watch out for them newcj ;).

Because it's my nature i'm already thinking about the divorce. Would Dana5140 have to hand over half his mind in the settlement ? Or worse, if your minds were co-habiting would ruthless1 lose half her mind's 'house' (or 'brain' as we call it in the cod-law profession - sorry, didn't mean to deluge you all with complex legal terms) ?

And who'd get the dog ?
highly staked: in future be more tactful and less rude.
Sorry to come in so late again, but I want to give thanks to all the UK posters who responded about the Hutton Enquiry. *shakes head* I can't believe I never even heard about it here in the States, although I do remember hearing that someone committed suicide (which the press here compared to the supposedly "suspicious" suicide of Vince Foster, the Clintons' law/real estate partner and friend, but I don't remember the coverage going much further than that). Didn't hear anything else, not about Lord Hutton, not about the excerpt from a teenager's website, etc. When we (I) did hear that the WMD reports were "sexed up," it was related to a British national security memo being leaked, and someone feeling they had to come clean about it -- no enquiries or suicides or mass resignations. Un-be-liev-able how some in the government think that the public is so easy to fool and then unbelievable that they don't suffer the consequences of lying, covering up, cutting and pasting documents that eventually result in soldiers dying, etc. Thanks so much to Jackal for making that incredible comparison of events to the plot of Serenity. (Though I assume Lord Hutton doesn't carry a Samurai sword. But if he did -- dude, that would rock! Samurai Lord! ;-))

Again, I am going to have to go through this thread again to absorb all the ideas and information being presented. Awesome thread, Whedonesquers of all countries! ;-)
billz - I got so much more information about the Hutton Enquiry by watching the BBC. They kept commenting on how little coverage America was giving it. I recall seeing it on primetime news a few times but never any references to the text being lifted from a 14 yo's website. It is indeed scary stuff but things like this are happening so frequently these days that I am not suprised by them anymore. Just deeply saddened (and to be honest outraged) for the tremendous loss of life that has happened because of these coverups.
Now - onto MY brain and the upcoming brain wedding. I just don't think a divorce is at all possible. I just don't have that much mind left to go halving it all willy nilly. But thanks newj and Saje for looking out for the dogs and children.
You want half my mind, you sure won't get much. :-)
But the dog, no. He's old, diabetic, and loves me far too much, and you cannot have him. As for the kids, I have one getting married next week (in Kalispell, Montana, of all places) and given how much money this has cost, and that I have 3 more to go, and all over 21, you can have them. I keep the Buffy DVDs.
So you are working out the prenup, and we are part of it! That is so sweet. I don't know what everyone is talking about that online communities cannot be as close as those in physical proximity.

Dana5140, congrats on the marriage of one of your children. It seems like I was in Kalispell once. I'll have to look it up on a map to be sure though.

BTW, what IS in Derrida's autobiography?
Thanks. This is being held at the Beltan Lodge, literally outside the entrance to Glacier National Park. My step-son is in a master's program at U Montana (Missoula) and his fiance, an English grad at UM, is from Kalispell.

AS for Derrida's autobiography, I could not explain it in a hundred years. Truly! But it tells nothing of him. And, all of a sudden I am scared, it might be Foucault's, idiot that I am.

A quote though, from a book on him; " This may have freed the text from a single authoritative interpretation, but it left Derrida open to the charge that such a text could seemingly be given any interpretation. " and then the book notes that Derrida haad reservations about Barthe's "Death of the author."
Ok. Twenty years ago I spent a few days hiking in Glacier NP with some locals that were kind enough to let a lone Easterner hook up with them. (One does not hike alone in Grizzly country.) I stayed in a youth hostel in a "town" on the Western border of the Park. Two outhouses no waiting and a kid (goat variety) who thought she was one of the dogs. It was a fun time. Nice people.

If you got the authors wrong, I won't tell and we will not speak of it further. (silently zips lips closed)

Still interesting.

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