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July 06 2006

The Existential Joss Whedon. A book about evil and human freedom in Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Serenity. Apparently Joss' works "are part of an existentialist tradition that stretches back from... Jean Paul Satre... to Fyodor Dostoevsky". It's all very deep stuff. Anyhow the book is out in September and is available for pre-order at Amazon.com.

From what I remember Joss got all existentialist in his Objects in Space commentary.

If you're not quite up to speed on existentialism, you could do no worse than check out the relevevant Wikipedia entry and use it as a bluffer's guide.

I loved Joss' commentary on "Objects in Space." It was just amazing, equal parts graduate school course on filmmaking and meditation on existentialism. It just seems a bit odd at first to see the phrase "Sartre to Dostoevsky;" shouldn't it be the other way, chronologically anyway? Seems intriguing, in any case. Cheers, Simon!
Chronologically speaking yes. But then it's a direct quote which I'm loathe to tamper with. I think I'll check this book out and be get all wordy and stuff.
This book sounds like it's going to be totally awesome, or completely shallow and uninsightful. There will be no middle ground, but I sincerely hope it is the former. Regardless, I shall certainly take the time to read it.

Some of my favourite parts of Joss' works are those which ask the tough questions about existence et al, objects in space is pure art if you ask me, and a discussion about how these works are informed by Joss' existentialist/absurdist leanings is like christmas come early. I can't wait.

(wow, what a novelty to actually be able to post, hi everyone!)
Think I may take a look at this. Not tried Sartre yet though I read 'The Myth of Sisyphus' and didn't think much of it to be honest ('The Stranger' was pretty good though). French philosphers seem, to me, to just make pronouncements (albeit sometimes incredibly insightful and profound ones) whereas I prefer the Anglo tradition of argument and analysis (reckon I just prefer seeing 'the workings' ;).

So a look at existentialism/absurdism from an Anglo perspective could be just what i'm after.
Thank you, Simon! It looks interesting, to say the least, though Kierkegaard always gave me fits when I had to read him in high school (though not nearly so much as Kant!!). Sorry, started wandering a little OT there.

As far as the chronology of the existentialist references:

these works are part of an existentialist tradition that stretches back from the French atheistic existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, through the Danish Christian existentialist S°ren Kierkegaard, to the Russian novelist and existentialist Fyodor Dostoevsky.


it does seem a little wonky, chronology-wise. The "stretches back from . . . Jean-Paul Sartre" kind of makes sense, 'cause if we start with Sartre and then stretch back we could get to Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky. But there things get a bit murky, because going back from Sartre, we should then go to Dostoevsky and then Kierkegaard. Technically, though, these two guys were diddy-bopping around contemporaneously from 1821 when Dostoevsky was born until 1855 when Kierkegaard died. Though probably the twain ne'er did meet.

Or did they? I have no idea, because I'm not really up on the bio details (and even a little hazy on the philosophy, 'cause, well, never you mind how many years its been since high school!), I just checked the dates when I read the link--because I, too, thought the chronology a little wonky.

Wow. TMI or something.

Regardless, the book is about that Joe Sweden guy, and anything about The Master must be read. I can't wait!
Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky? Probably never met. Dostoevsky was arrested as an anarchist (around 1846 or so), nearly executed (got his reprieve in front of the firing squad), imprisoned for several years, then exiled for a while, all before any of his major writings, although "Notes from the Underground" reflects a lot of this experience. Typical 19th-century Russian mis-spent youth, I suppose.
I think the arch Angel goes through that ends in the Epiphany episode, season 2 really kind of shows you the existential way of thinking, or arriving to that way of thinking... is it called thinking? Living?

I think Tim Minear said somewhere that it was written to be an existential thing, and I think they nailed it.
"Chapters cover such topics as Russian existentialism and vampire slayage; moral choices; ethics; faith and bad faith; ..."

Random thought upon first reading this: I wonder if the author originally capitalized one or both of those "faith" references.
It just seems a bit odd at first to see the phrase "Sartre to Dostoevsky;" shouldn't it be the other way, chronologically anyway? Seems intriguing, in any case. Cheers, Simon!


English is not my mother tongue, so I am probably staying stupid stuff, but: couldn't "stretches back from Sartre to Dostoevsky" mean "streches back *and backward*" (with "back" used with two meanings, so to say), i.e. with the time span presented backwards?

[ edited by Le ComitÚ on 2006-07-06 15:06 ]
My wife and I met the authors of this book at the Slayage Conference this past May and we're both really excited to read their full work, based on the excerpt they presented as their paper. Sounds fantastic.
The deep meanings and exisentialism and Jossverse: all good things. Sometimes I wonder if they publish such books just because they know we will buy them. It has Joss Whedon on the cover and Exestentialism in the title, so we just have to buy it right?
The timing of this is great! I just had an epiphany a couple of weeks ago (after re-watching the Objects in Space commentary) that the heavy existentialism in both Joss's work and in "House" is one of the major things that draws me to them.
(That, and Hugh Laurie is so very pretty...)
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle
Hobbes was fond of his dram

And Rene' Descartes was a drunken fart
"I drink, therefore I am"
Very interesting! I'm requesting that our library order this and might assign an excerpt to my undergrads this coming fall. Thanks for the heads-up!
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle
Hobbes was fond of his dram

"A gram is better than a damn." (Aldous Huxley)
hmmm - I think we need this for the small departmental Philosophy library that I am currently cataloguing. Now that's a good way to spend University funds!
Though probably the twain ne'er did meet.

Oh, now don't tell me we have to add Mark Twain to the list! ;-)
"Chapters cover such topics as Russian existentialism and vampire slayage; moral choices; ethics; faith and bad faith..."

I wonder if 'faith' is supposed to be capitalized or not; works either way for this book I suppose.
A friend of mine that saw the authors at another conference in February of this year said they gave a paper on Faith and existentialist faith, which she claims will be a chapter in this book. So I'm guess that it is, indeed, meant to be the proper noun Faith... which is great since she's one of my favorite Whedonverse characters.
Chapters cover such topics as Russian existentialism and vampire slayage; moral choices; ethics; faith and bad faith; ..."

Random thought upon first reading this: I wonder if the author originally capitalized one or both of those "faith" references.
[ edit ] newcj | July 06, 14:10 CET


Chapters cover such topics as Russian existentialism and vampire slayage; moral choices; ethics; faith and bad faith..."

I wonder if 'faith' is supposed to be capitalized or not; works either way for this book I suppose.
Standard Genre Trope | July 07, 01:50 CET


Suddenly I feel like I am in one of those absurdist plays...oddly appropriate to the topic. ;-)
Suddenly I feel like I am in one of those absurdist plays...oddly appropriate to the topic.

Yep, newcj. Let's add Ionesco to the mix. Not too OT, methinks. Didn't James do one of his plays?

And, yeah, billz, not only Twain but Samuel Clemens as well. Because he wrote: "the very ink of history is written with fluid prejudice," and if that doesn't put to rest the whole chronology thingy, I don't know what will!

And, last but not least, hello MissKittysMom! I should have remembered to consult our Russian expert! Good to see you in a thread again. (You may have been in many, but I haven't been able to lurk about as much as I had been.) Also been meaning to get in touch and say thanks again for the B***ybot anecdote--and find out if you've recovered from the conference mentioned elsewhere in this thread.

Oops. P.S. Did anyone else notice the arch Angel goes through in dreeze's post? I thought that was cute, and ratherly sweetly ironic. (Not making fun, dreeze, just noticing. . . . :^}

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