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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Some terrifying space monkeys maybe got loose?"
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January 25 2008

In the future, there will be robots. Joss Whedon talks artificial intelligence and lots more with the GeeksOn team for a full ninety minutes. Yes ninety minutes. It's one of the best podcasts you will ever listen to.

Direct link to podcast (41.3 MB)

http://www.geekson.com/audio/geeksonepisode088.mp3

Discussion highlights include:
2001: A Space Odyssey, A.I, Blade Runner, The Matrix, The Black Hole, Alien Resurrection and Silent Running
The Sarah Connor Chronicles (and the Summer Glau torso poster)
The Buffybot
Battlestar Galactica
Current comic book projects
Future projects (one or two interesting new tidbits)
Us

Oh wow. This can't download fast enough.
Look, I think i've made it pretty clear that I don't have sound at work. Posting this link so far from 5 o'clock surely counts as cruel and unusual punishment.

*watches clock*
That was so long. And soooo geeky.
I'm designing one myself, but don't tell anyone just yet:)
I wish they'd hurry up with the companion bots.
I'm listening to this while installing Linux on a home-build PC. I'll settle for getting the stupid thing to just find my network hub, let alone achieving self awareness.
Try wafting the hub in front of the case zz9, so that the PC gets the scent of it.

(or maybe it's already self-aware and just can't be arsed ?)
(or maybe it's already self-aware and just can't be arsed ?)

My god, it's me!
Did anyone else go "oooohhh" when Joss briefly talked about using the internet as a creative platform? I hope that one pans out. Btw there was no Goners mention (as far as I could make out) but Cabin In The Woods did get a mention.
If you like what you hear on GeeksOn, please consider subscribing to the podcast if you haven't already. It's free, and a whole heckuvalot of fun.
In the future, there will be robot garbage collectors, I heard.
What I can say? My goal to have a Vice City reference on the front page has finally been achieved.
That was delightful. I'm bookmarking this site - Joss was his wonderful Jossness, of course, but the others were such fun - and so intelligent and charming.

OK, so I think geeks rock. And that was ubergeeky.
I'm hoping my bosses leave the office soon so I can listen to this!! Otherwise I have to wait until I get home tonight.
**sending mind-vibes to bosses to go for a looooong lunch.
Can someone post the "one or two interesting new tidbits about future projects" that Simon mentioned for those of us that are curious but can't listen to the podcast? Thanks.
Now John Mauceri's voice is stuck in my head.
Wow, these guys are REALLY geeks, they interrupt Joss constantly to the point where he has to say 'I want to weigh in on this'.... LOL
Fans would give him the mike, but these guys are much more into their opinions than his!
Simon, I hope you understand the deep admiration and, dare I say it, love I have for you for not only getting a Vice City reference on the front page, but for making it a reference to my favorite part of Vice City.
Geekson hosts Joss Whedon! YESSSSSSS! I love Geekson so much.
Geekson has the proper URL up for the episode (has loads of links on the page etc) so the original link which pointed to the forum now points to the proper page.

love I have for you for not only getting a Vice City reference on the front page, but for making it a reference to my favorite part of Vice City.


Did you know there's a Spike easter egg in GTA: San Andreas?

http://uk.faqs.ign.com/articles/584/584765p1.html

Spike's Crypt:
Go to the Los Santos Graveyard where CJ's mom was buried and look in the crypt. You will see a TV, an armchair and some pizza boxes. This is a reference to Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer whom had a similar set-up in the show.


But getting back on subject, the podcast team made me feel like I was sitting in on the conversation which I rarely get with podcasts, so kudos to them. Also I could quite happily listen to Joss talk about AI etc till the cows come home. I hope he does more stuff like this.
That was excellent, it really was just like a bunch of mates talking bollocks (only witty mates and interesting bollocks). I actually liked that Joss wasn't deferred to that much, it felt easier and more flowy (maybe they already know each other a bit, what with Big J's connection to Lisa Lassek and her apparent connection to the geekson guys ?).

I still think Joss needs to re-watch 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' with a less jaundiced eye though. Klaatu totally doesn't tell us "Buck up or i'll kill you", he says, "If it looks like you're gonna be able to kill us, then it's badass robot time, so sort your shit out". It's the UN but with teeth, shiny badass robot teeth. And given it was made 6 years after WWII ended, you can kind of see where he's coming from.

I came here to give you the facts.
It is no concern of ours how you run
your own planet -- but if you threaten
to extend your violence, this Earth
of yours will be reduced to a burned-
out cinder.

(there actually isn't much - or any - new stuff about new stuff that I could tell, he mentions 'Dollhouse' and not being against the idea of writing for DC - please write Batman, please write Batman, please write Batman* - but apart from that, just embryonic internet based stuff which he hopes to be able to talk about soon)

* never did stay to the end of that lecture on subliminal messages
Geeklings! That's awesome!
Did anybody else wish someone would bring up the Minds from Iain M. Banks' Culture books? No?
You might be a geek if Joss misquoting Box from Logan's Run made you just a little bit sad. Otherwise, a great podcast.
Yeah, good point dreamlogic, they're vastly superior to the Culture humans, literally off the chart smart but still with distinct personalities, some of them are even what you might call comparatively unevolved (like the "Psychopath" class ships). And the ship names are fantastic (I like the "Frank Exchange of Views" or the "Now Look What You Made Me Do" and the various riffs on "Gravitas" also tickle me ;).

I guess they're not really robots though (even if the discussion did extend to AIs too). But yeah, Iain Banks has been writing about superior AIs since the mid 80s. Cracking books.
That was excellent, it really was just like a bunch of mates talking bollocks (only witty mates and interesting bollocks). I actually liked that Joss wasn't deferred to that much, it felt easier and more flowy (maybe they already know each other a bit, what with Big J's connection to Lisa Lassek and her apparent connection to the geekson guys ?).

Aaron Hendricks of GeeksOn just happens to be the brother of Christina Hendricks (Saffron in Firefly). Christina and Lisa Lassek were guests in a 2005 episode (in which Christina outs herself as a role-playing game enthusiast). This might just explain how they got the Big J to pay a visit to their little podcast.
In the Culture (or on its edges), you have some AI's "playing God," to an extent - like the Sleeper Service and the Grey Area, but this is not disastrous. Banks makes a pretty good fictional argument that even high-level AIs who engage in questionable uses of power don't cause the Culture to fail. It's a pluralistic society where everyone has peers to drag down their egoistic grand designs.
I think it would be better if there weren't so many people. I couldn't tell who was who, and no one got to finish a thought without being interrupted.

Still an interesting topic and an entertaining podcast, though.
Did anyone else notice how he didn't mention the Buffy comics?
He talked about "cleaning up his obligations" and waiting for one or more "things to fall," but not as if he's enjoying writing the 8th season of Buffy (or that it will still be produced after Dollhouse finally goes into production).
I've been a fan of GeeksOn since mid-2005, and people are right about the things they're complaining about... Matt and Peter sound the same, and it can be hard to tell them apart if you're not such a long-time listener that you can pick out the subtle differences in their two voices. I still have trouble with it.

They do interrupt each other a lot, and they're all really opinionated. Aaron, who is basically the front-man of the group, is incredibly opinionated, and often has to be shouted down by the other guys just so they can get a word in edge-wise. To a new listener this can be off-putting. To us veteran listeners, it's just how the show is.

Joss wasn't there to be interviewed or worshipped. He was there to participate in a discussion with five other people, and I thought it was awesome just hearing him in there mixing it up with a bunch of other geeks, and having to defend his opinions just like we all do.

Still, I can tell the Four Geeks were being deferential to Joss's opinions. None of them even challenged his dis of Data on ST:TNG as being a Spock rip-off.

Again, if you aren't a regular subscriber to GeeksOn already, go back and listen to some of the previous episodes, particularly if you can find some in the archive that touch on subjects you're interested in. These guys are hard-core fans, and they've got a lot to say about everything. And join up on their forums... we'd love to have you, and we get each other going over there pretty good.
Very fun, geeky discussion. It will be interesting to see how Joss plays with some of these themes in Dollhouse. Also nice to hear Joss mention a get-together at Nathan Fillon's and yet another reference to Nathan's X-Box addiction.
I wish the hosts had let Joss and Lisa talk more. Joss was just hilarious with his fast comebacks. He was so good that I started taking notes, for those who can't hear it. One guy says, "Why is JAWS so scary?" And Joss says, "I'm sitting freaking here." I think he referred to us on the Internet as his favorite artificial intelligence. He'll check to see what's happening and think, "I didn't know I looked like that in the bathroom."

When people write about robots, Joss said, "it's always about us," about human interaction.

He hates "Weird Science" and played off of it in the first BtVS episode with Warren and his robot girlfriend. He's disturbed by the idea of people creating things to love them, boost their ego, etc. He talks about someone giving his son a faux dog with a chip that, when petted, says, "I'm so happy to see you!" This theme will get explored in "Dollhouse." Others mentioned the ickiness of guys with Real Dolls.

He considers "The Day the Earth Stood Still" "horrible fascist bullshit."

Re: vampires. He said eternal youth is "reprehensible" because death is a part of life. Our culture doesn't want to see people age. "That's incredibly destructive."

He said he understood that some people don't like the Summer poster because, well, it shows a naked, dismembered female, like "Boxing Helena." But he liked the poster because of her expression (what Summer said herself) and he understands that, in the Terminator franchise, she's being built (not made powerless.)

He talked about evolutionary morality, and how it makes sense that humans would have an intrinsic desire to help each other, not just attack.

In BSG, he prefers Athena to Boomer.

In Star Trek: TNG, Data was "too much the Spock" and who has time to put on all that makeup in the morning. "They never didn't hit you in the face with a frying pan." Joss liked the holographic Doctor in Voyager better.

The hosts put down Keanu, and Joss was "deadly serious" about "the importance of Keanu."
I dunno Jim in Buffalo, I think he said Data was "the Spock" i.e. he filled the same niche in the crew, the outsider that brings insights about humanity. You could say Odo was "the Spock" on DS9 and either Seven or the Doctor were the 'Voyager' Spocks. He's right too, I think, that Trek is unashamedly and overtly (even unsubtly) about ideas. Which is a double edged sword obviously since unlike Joss, they're not quite as willing to submerge the idea in the drama and I think there's room for both kinds of approach (sometimes when you submerge stuff, you lose it ;).

It's a pluralistic society where everyone has peers to drag down their egoistic grand designs.

True dreamlogic but the Minds facilitate that to a fairly large extent (they literally catch people when they fall for instance). Without the AIs (including drones etc.) I doubt people would be able to live their lives of leisure. Anarchist utopias are all very well until the sewers overflow, then no-one's volunteering ;).

It is a very robust society though, I think the point he's making is that freedom equals robustness, that it's precisely the many varied, sometimes conflicting, points of view that make the Culture so strong, that its liberalism is what makes it so resistant to attack (from within or without). I guess it was probably also a response to Thatcherism, Banks is an old school lefty.

(and the Sleeper Service only acted alone when it found the actions of the group it had been working with to be morally objectionable - like you say, for the most part the Minds "police" each other pretty well)
This thread is approximately 10,000x cooler for the GTA reference.
Almost finished listening to this, finally. Remind me never to mention my guesses as to the ultimate plot of BSG anywhere Joss might read them. Apparently, if he hears a guess and it turns out to be right, he'll kill you.
Thing about that, bix, is the smallest, most random comment (that may not be anywhere near a spoiler) can fire up an electric storm of synapse bursts and suddenly you know the end of Harry Potter before the book's released. And yeah, that tends to happen most to writers. They know the tells.

Or Joss is just looking for an excuse to go ape-shit and sack-of-hammers on a BSG fan.
It's bizarre that a show's host would talk more than the guests!

That being said, I can't believe Joss didn't like The Day the Earth Stood Still, but I didn't interpret that film the same way he did. The way I saw it, the film attempted to highlight the fact that we would be naive to think that we're the only intelligent beings in the entire universe and if we try to import our unique brand of solving all major problems with violence, then others in the Universe who are vastly superior to Humans in terms of technology will give us a taste of our own medicine by squashing us like a bug - and so they should because the only way we'll learn is by getting our butts seriously kicked!

I only listened to the entire 90 minutes because I wanted to hear some more about Firefly/Serenity and was left disappointed :-(
What a great link. Thanks Simon. Like Suzie I took notes and I was enchanted by the format. It did feel like you were sitting with your geek friends. I didn’t worry about who said what as the content is more interesting to me then the personalities.

The moment where (paraphrase) “Everything is better with Wookies and I am including sex” and someone makes a Wookie sound which hauls the conversation to a stop for a moment made me laugh hard. I enjoyed imagining what the expressions were on a few faces.

I don’t know who said (paraphrase), “Our emotions are mirrors of the emotions that we see. If you love me then in some way I am going to reciprocate that emotion. So if you present me with the illusion of love then I am more likely to respond with genuine love. And I find that dangerous”, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a thought provoking statement and in the context of “artificial life” and the illusion of love and sex dolls it may be a barometer to a very chilling direction that social interaction could be heading. I am going to have to find the movie The Perfect Fake now.
Yeah, Joss is a wookby, he's out and he's proud ;).

That comment about emotions wasn't Joss BTW (though it was partly inspired by his animosity towards "robo-pets" that profess affection - especially for kids - that they can't possibly feel), which is another reason I didn't mind the free-for-all, nobody gets deference format - everyone else also had worthwhile stuff to say.

I don't think it's a chilling direction we're heading in either, I think we've always been there. We anthropomorphise the things around us, whether it's animals, cars, computers etc. In days gone by, we'd do it with the natural world, hence gods. I reckon it's the same short-circuit that shows us faces in clouds, it's just in our "theory of mind" rather than in our pattern recognition "software" - we see ourselves (and more generally, intent) everywhere, maybe because otherwise we're left with meaningless lumps of matter. Maybe we'd actually rather that our PCs had it in for us than that they're mere symptoms of a deterministic, purposeless universe where stuff just happens ?

(didn't take notes because I have the ones someone else took i.e. the recording of the podcast ;)
I know I lose all credibility with this crowd by saying this, but the stand-out for me was that Joss associates William Daniels (KIT in Knightrider) with 1776. William Daniels will first and foremost be John Adams from 1776 for me. The moment of silence on the podcast until someone else mentions St. Elsewhere, seemed appropriate to the group, but Joss is obviously not just one kind of Geek -- he has layers. As we all have seen so often before, we theater nerds/geeks can claim Joss too. ;-)
This podcast is, in fact, brilliant. More later.
Loved listening in on such a spirited philosophical conversation! For me the highlight was the discussion of AI (the Spielberg movie), one of my favorites for its visual beauty and the painful intensity of David's doomed love for his mother. I loved the ending, but it never occurred to me that the beings who discovered David were AI and not some form of alien (organic) life. That they should be AI makes the ending so much more resonant, I love it, but I don't remember it being made evident in the movie. What was the tell, what am I not remembering? Must Netflix right away!
Loved the link! Was it just me or was anyone else just jealous as all hell? I so wanted to be in that room and be asking questions and putting in my 2 cents. After listening to it twice my head is just spinning with thoughts. A random splatter...

Ultimately, I think the purpose of the AI/robot question in story comes down to the old "what does it mean to be human?" Only by distilling the concepts and the questions into form can we then look at them and examine ourselves. The AI/robots are no different a tool to this end than that of other forms of creation where the word/feeling/idea are given concrete form. We stand apart from all other creatures because of this ability to take a part of ourselves and give it form. Because of this we can examine life through Jossworld. :D

We anthropomorphise the things around us, whether it's animals, cars, computers etc. In days gone by, we'd do it with the natural world, hence gods. I reckon it's the same short-circuit that shows us faces in clouds, it's just in our "theory of mind" rather than in our pattern recognition "software" - we see ourselves (and more generally, intent) everywhere, maybe because otherwise we're left with meaningless lumps of matter. Maybe we'd actually rather that our PCs had it in for us than that they're mere symptoms of a deterministic, purposeless universe where stuff just happens ?


I think it goes beyond that a little bit. We humans will bond with and feel connected to anything--pets, cars, ancient indescribably bad clothing choices... The first instinct after the immediate survival of this particular manifestation of a biological entity is to connect with another. We don't even have all that high of requirements. Just sharing a love for cheese or some undervalued writer's work with some unknown pixels on a screen are a reassurance that we are not alone.

Someone mentioned in the podcast that empathy is the key to morality which I also thought was kind of interesting especially since they seemed to think it has to be taught and is perhaps not our natural state. I believe the cruelty of children was mentioned. I don't know about that. A normal healthy preverbal baby will sit for ages playing that game where they give you something for the sheer joy of sharing what they have.

Maybe it all just comes down to once again that good old fear of the unknown, that fear of the "other" which until it is recognized to be us we will continue to demonize.

I think I'll stop now. I'm not sure where all that came from...
I think I am officially a geek. (I took copious notes.) There's more, but I won't subject ya'll to it out of mercy.
shinyscouser, were robots in Firefly and Serenity? I don't think even Niska's pet would count.
I haven't had a chance to listen to more than 15 minutes or so - and it's killing me - but I will later today when I can, but I'm already pretty charmed by the whole thing; it's got that smart & dear MST3K intimacy. (And by the way, was anyone else a little surprised that in that room full of geeklings *grin* nobody mentioned when Overdrawn at the Memory Bank came up that Mike and the Bots had riffed this film but good? Or did they later?)

Simon: "Btw there was no Goners mention (as far as I could make out) but Cabin In The Woods did get a mention."

Sadly, the last thing I know that Joss said about Goners was - and I quote:

*low quietly-distressed moan*

End quote.

*sigh*

(I'll be back to say more later, I betcha...)
I realize I'm already overquota on this thread, but ... I'm pretty sure it was Joss who made the joke about Wookies and sex. Breathestory, Joss also took issue with the idea of cruel children, arguing that they have a capacity to be caring. He suggested that we may be born with the ability to empathize.

The conversation went beyond the idea that we anthropomorphize and bond with animals and objects. One thing that I got out of the discussion is that it's dangerous when we want/need unearned affection and obedience. Thus, you've got guys like those in "Weird Science" or like Warren who dream of the ideal woman who fulfills all their fantasies but has no needs of her own. Joss examines this a lot. You've got Warren trying to use magic to rape women. (He, Jonathan and Andrew see it "only' as tricking women into sex, but Warren's ex names it for what it is.) You've got the physics guy in "Angel" who wants to freeze his soon-to-be-ex in bed, sort of an eternal rape, since it would be against her will. There's Spike who realizes the limitations of the Buffybot as well as Harmony, a real woman who lets herself be used. Mal doesn't want the obedience of Saffron, when she's playing the wife as chattel.

Similarly, an issue with robots is the idea of people building the perfect slave.
shinyscouser, were robots in Firefly and Serenity? I don't think even Niska's pet would count.

Well, the mechanism inside Niska's skyplex was robotic but that's not what I was referring to.

I was under the impression that the last five minutes or so was about Joss' future projects, irrespective of robotic participation - even though the majority of the 90 minutes was dedicated to that subject. For example, there was mention of Wonder Woman and from my knowledge of the original TV series starring Linda Carter, there were no robots in that program either - but it was mentioned. As was X-Men.
Sadly, the last thing I know that Joss said about Goners was...

Yeah, but I'm still leaving it on here until I hear otherwise.
Robots are the perfect slave - they do what we ask them to without there being a moral issue (since they aren't moral agents). It's more complex with genuine AI, sentient beings should have rights (unlike many of the sentient beings in the Buffyverse ;). Course, how you judge sentience is right at the heart of the issue.

One thing that I got out of the discussion is that it's dangerous when we want/need unearned affection and obedience.

Sounds like a parent/child relationship ;).

Also, i'm not a psychologist but isn't a theory of other minds something that kids develop in stages (a big one being around 3 ish, when they learn that not everyone knows what they know) ? For me it's hard to believe we have empathy before we have knowledge of other people's wants and desires. Are we born knowing how to parse facial expressions for instance such that we even know when someone's upset (that's not rhetorical BTW, if anyone knows i'd be interested) or do we learn to associate certain expressions with certain outcomes as we grow ?

My own feeling is that empathy is still the most reasonable basis for a moral framework - had a long discussion about it a while back on the .org (in a comics thread. Obviously ;) - but some people get very hung up on the idea that morality has to be inherent in some way to be worth anything.

And yep, the "Everything's better with Wookies ..." line was classic Joss - hi-larious ;).
"shinyscouser, were robots in Firefly and Serenity? I don't think even Niska's pet would count."

I know that this question is no longer relevant to the conversation, but as I am a pedantic sort, I wanted to point out that Mr. Universe's better half would qualify. Now the question as pertains to the podcast is was she truely better? ;-)
newcj, I totally forgot about the lovebot while listening to the podcast. But of course it's relevant. It's a rated adult part that ties into Joss's rant against fake puppies. It certainly played sad to me that Mr. Universe died with his "mate" looking on indifferently. Then he programmed her to speak to Mal, but she gave the same information to his enemy. Joss is clearly pro-human mate.
When will I learn to not start something like this at 1 AM? I'll just save it, I tell myself. Yeah, right.

I so want to hear some version of Joss's take on "the importance of Keanu."

We here at whedonesque are his "favorite AI's" .... how cool is that?

I no longer feel like such a freak for sensing some fascist undertones in The Day The Earth Stood Still.

And I loved that on one subject, everyone did defer to Joss, the being unwilling to hear any guesses about the ultimate resolution of BSG because "if you're right, I'll have to kill you".
It was so funny but you could hear in his voice that he was dead serious (well, not so much about the literal killing) & I was just going "Yes!!" because I feel exactly the same way. ;)

Thank you Simon!
This was so much fun I listened to it twice. Pod Joss sounded like he was enjoying himself while engaging with that which primes his Love Pump. If he likes competing for the floor with half a dozen other opinionated geeks -- and it could be (with the addition of caffeine- or alcohol-infused beverages) Geek Heaven (or George Bernard Shaw's idea of Hell) -- maybe he's found a pod salon.

My two cents on Why Robots Fascinate:

Robots embody ideals the way human beings long to. Not just idealists, but all humans are capable of conceiving what it would be like to always be ready to work, always patient, always intelligent, always selfless, to always remember everything we've ever heard or seen, to never be upset, never be cranky, etc. Our power of abstract thought means our ideals constantly judge us, so it's perfectly human to think that objects that look like us but are as infinitely and patient, selfless and ready to serve as household appliances would judge us, too. Not logical, but human in that non-linear way of ours. Robots objectify our ideals. All of them are in some way what we want to be and suffer for not being.

Couple of good (near exact) quotes:

“What makes us human is our inability to resolve things, the fact that we’re flawed, the fact that we’re gonna die and we can’t deal with it, so we build copies, so we try to keep ourselves alive forever, so we are in L.A. and have facelifts.” (By the way, I found the "Danger" arc of Astonishing X-Men dull when I read single issues, but great when I got a chance to read all six at a sitting.)

“The idea that became interesting to me is that vampires are eternally youthful, which is reprehensible to the balance of life. Death is a part of life. The inability to accept that is what makes them demons to me. The idea that we put in Angel was, ‘You Get To Die’ was his big reward that he was looking for, because that meant, ‘I could start living and having that cycle,’ which I think we’re doing everything in our power--particularly culturally--to avoid. We don’t want to see people age. We don’t want to see snow fall on that land. We just want it to be eternal spring, and that’s incredibly destructive.” (Ernest Becker showers insight on this desire in "The Denial of Death.")
Yeah those comments interested me too Pointy because I can't figure out whether they're just inconsistent viewpoints, a bit of the cognitive dissonance that Joss sees as a kind of indicator of humanity/sentience, or whether Big J has unconsciously given us his opinion of people

"What makes us human is our inability to resolve things, the fact that we’re flawed, the fact that we’re gonna die and we can’t deal with it, so we build copies, so we try to keep ourselves alive forever..."

and

"Death is a part of life. The inability to accept that is what makes them demons to me."

Or maybe just some people ;).
Yeah, I don't think it was his opinion of people at large, but rather some things he sees people and society as a whole doing that he thinks are wrong. And I agree with him on those points. I'm trying to remember what book/story/whatever it was that first brought to my attention the idea that immortality isn't compatible with humanity. That knowing we are temporary is one of our better traits. It was a long time ago. It'll probably come to me later.
Huh, I didn't even notice that until you pointed it out, Saje, but there is a contradiction. Becker would distinguish between the crap things people do to deny that they're going to die and the stoic facing of the fact coupled with an attempt to find meaning in the light of that fact. Maybe Joss makes that distinction, too. One thing his religion of narrative certainly insists on doing is facing the fact of death, and it may aim to give participants in the story ritual the strength to face that fact by showing how one can transform death from life's great absurdity to the most meaningful gift we can give -- "The Gift." Interestingly, just as Joss yearns for a religion of narrative, Becker yearned for a religion of psychology.
Hmm, to me death doesn't add meaning though it does maybe add a sense of urgency to the search for it ;). Not castigating anyone's choice of purpose though since, IMO, there's none "out there" to be found, so we each just have to find it within ourselves, basically make one up. In which case, anything that's not hurting others is OK, right ?

(but I do agree Pointy that one of the things fiction often does is render death meaningful, give it a point, cosset us to some extent - possibly one reason so many people are so unfond of Tara's death ? And also one of the reasons why 'The Body' is so powerful IMO, because it doesn't)

... immortality isn't compatible with humanity. That knowing we are temporary is one of our better traits.

Well knowing is certainly one of the things that makes us human Sunfire (AFAIK, no other animal is aware of its own future death) and that knowledge informs pretty much everything we do IMO but i'm not sure that a finite lifespan (in practical terms I mean, obviously all life is finite eventually, that's just physics) is necessary to be human - it's certainly part of the definition now but that's only because it's true now if you see what I mean, it's circular reasoning I think. If we were already immortal then that would be part of the definition of humanity and, no doubt, we'd find a way to make that one of our better traits ;).

Accepting death probably frees you up to do more in life but at the same time, not accepting our limits, always struggling is fundamentally human IMO, I agree with Joss on that point.
Hadn't thought of "The Body" and "The Gift" as companion pieces, but they do show two opposite views of death. Joyce's is an absurd disaster, but Buffy's is the logical, heroic climax to her life. Well done, Shakespearean Antithesis Dude.
Don't stop now, Saje and Pointy, your posts are as much fun as the podcast. "Shakespearean Antithesis Dude" may be the coolest thing I've heard anyone called in almost ever ;-)
My brain is still working on untangling that one, but I'm almost certain it has more than one meaning.
Or less.
Err, robots go smash ! ... Nope, i've got nothing else. ;-)

(but I also like the characterisation of Joss as Shakespearean Antithesis Dude at least partly because it sounds like a super-hero who's secret weapon is a well thrown iamb and a stunning sense of rhythm ;)
It's slightly stolen. I dimly recall reading in the New York Times about a classical acting expert (someone who coaches classical actors, not some dead Greek dramaturge) who said the key to Shakespeare's seeming ability to capture all of life in his plays (as well as to delivering his dialogue) was his use of antitheses -- opposites. IOW, weighing both:
(a) To be
(b) Not to be
Along with everything else and its twin. I pictured Shakespeare sitting in an Elizabethan pub starting to say, "On the other hand . . . " and interrupted by Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson and someone named Fletcher loudly groaning.
But true enough, Shakespeare gives both sides their due, and it definitely adds to his power. Pod Joss (for which phrase you express no love, although it simultaneously evokes both the the theme of synthetic humanity explored in the robot discussion and the agenda of People for Ethical Attitudes toward Creative Humans ((PEACH)) of encouraging artists to engage that which they love) does the antithesis thing really well in Season Five, where he fully explores the absurdity of death in "The Body" on the road to exploring the profound meaning of death in "The Gift."
:)

[ edited by Pointy on 2008-01-28 16:26 ]
OK, my problem with Pod Joss is that for me it evokes Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The good one, with Donald Sutherland. Oops .... my bad.
But on the other hand ........ ;-)

But seriously, it's true that no one does the antithesis thing better than Joss. There are a number of examples that come to mind, but yours was stated beautifully, Pointy.

And Saje you actually did have something, I'm thinking Joss himself would get a LOL out of that. And bonus points for replacing the really scary Pod Joss image in my head with something I can't begin to describe. (There could be a cape of some sort) ;-)
I picture Saje's superhero as having soliloquies tattooed all over him -- in black ink on one half of his body, in white ink on the other half. Seems fitting somehow.

[ edited by Pointy on 2008-01-29 15:43 ]
Heh, and in between a thin grey line with "The Real Truth" in tiny print repeated over and over again ;).
And "bring your own sub-text" tattooed on his forehead ;-)
Poor Joss!

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