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May 20 2008

What's this apple? Sci Fi Wire talks to Joss at last week's upfronts about Dollhouse.

I just love to read Joss.

Sci Fi Wire always seems to be behind with the news though, here reporting the show has been given a 7 episode order, where it's 13 now.
crossoverman, I think it's been agreed that 7 episodes will air, there are already creative plans for 13 though.
"plumbing the depths"? Is that a reference to the restroom at The Ivy? ;-)
I love how eloquent Joss can be. He is so witty but then pulls these really soulful statements; like putting across that the identity question working not just as a plot issue but being core to Eliza's feelings as well as his own. Then the Garden of Eden ref. Deep. Hehehe. But, no seriously: yay Joss, yay Dollhouse (my new mantra FYI).
Between these engagements, she's this complete innocent and starts to go, 'Hey, here I am in the Garden of Eden. What's this apple, and what do I do with it?'
Ooh, I love that...

How long till January? *really needs to fill in the time*
Poor old apples, they get an undeservedly bad rap (the fruit's not named in the bible and some cultures have it as a fig or some other fruit that was actually, y'know, in the middle east during biblical times).

Interesting comparison to Frankenstein's monster, I wonder who (if anyone) will stand in for the good doctor himself ? Maybe the entire "institution" of the dollhouse ? Joss always asks interesting questions and he even sometimes seems to posit answers that he can't possibly believe (i'm assuming that, as an atheist, the truth as he sees is nothing of us is eternal) - though I guess that's sometimes sorta the point of fiction ;).
There's an apple?

Damn!
(i'm assuming that, as an atheist, the truth as he sees is nothing of us is eternal)

Not daring to think I know what Joss thinks, but as one of millions of people of an atheistic faith, I assume that we're about as durable and recyclable as the rest of the universe. Eternal? That might just be a word. No idea, really.
cabri: Thanks, that brought a smile to my face.

Saje: I've heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. And like Jayne says, "Let's not be excluding people. That'd be rude."

Nebula1400: Let's start up a web rumor about why Fox cut apple footage from the trailer. ;-)
Why is it that when I talk about belief, you always assume that I'm talking about god?

Not entirely relevant, but I couldn't help it! Athiesm, from my purely personal and admittedly limited perspective, is not nihilism, it doesn't imply an absence of spirituality or belief, just not a belief in God or, as I believe Joss called him, the big sky-bully. Buddhists, for instance, are atheists, and believe in rebirth and samsara/nirvana and all sorts of eternal things.

So I could see Dollhouse having a spiritual aspect. There were certainly some interesting implications of the soul/identity issues in Buffy/Angel.

Loved the apple line.

[ edited by Gil-Martin on 2008-05-20 14:06 ]
Graphite is eternal. Diamonds and people not so much. But I get what he meant in the context, religious or not.
Just when I thought I couldn't be more intrigued . . . all this moral, philosophical and metaphorical complexity whipped into a tasty genre pudding.
I've heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.


Only if you know how to aim. And really, only use apples if you're out of rocks.

On topic - or at least, on topicer - I'm an atheist. I'm not part of an 'atheistic faith', I don't adhere to any belief system whatsoever, be it one with gods or just fancy old-timey zen masters imparting wisdom; and I believe that when we're done here, we're done, so we better, y'now, do stuff while we're here. I don't think that's even remotely close to nihilism, which, like anarchism, should be reserved for mopey/angry teenagers.

I read the 'eternal vs. evanescent' quote more figuratively, as in 'which aspects of my personality are inherent to me, and which are imposed by the outside world', basically nature vs. nurture. For me, 'soul' is just a shorthand way of describing that. It's about what makes us, well, us. It's metaphor, not metaphysics. At least, it is to me. But that's what's so lovely about good fiction. In the end, you get to decide what you take away from it.

Amazing how much discussion you can get from a show that won't air for another seven months, huh?
Seven months. Someone needs to start a countdown clock once we get a first air date. *coughgossicough*
Heh, yep, i'm not biting on the "atheistic faith" thing either except to say it is in the sense that anything is ultimately.

And my point is that even the "nature" part of us is far from eternal. You're not composed of the same atoms you were 7 years ago for instance and you very likely don't have exactly the same genotype either. The network of neurons that constitutes your consciousness is in constant flux and isn't the same from one second to the next, nevermind for eternity.

... just not a belief in God or, as I believe Joss called him, the big sky-bully.

Fair point Gil-Martin, atheism tends to go with materialism in my mind because that's the kind of atheist I am (which also doesn't preclude spirituality, just means it can't be supernaturally inspired). But i've met atheists that believe numerous things that make as little sense (to me) as gods do, maybe Joss is one of those (he might still believe in an eternal soul for instance or an afterlife, just not one determined by a god).

(has to be said though, some types of Buddhism have deities or beings we'd identify as such)

I assume that we're about as durable and recyclable as the rest of the universe. Eternal? That might just be a word. No idea, really.

Well, in any discussion like this we need to define "we" (and Joss has already said that's part of what 'Dollhouse' is about). Are "you" your consciousness (including your memories) ? Are "you" your atoms ? Are "you" the particular pattern each are in at a particular time and if so are "you" still the same "you" in 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 50 years ?

Because none of those necesarily lasts as long as the universe. Even if we do have an eternal soul in the Christian sense, I doubt there's arthritis or post-traumatic stress in heaven for instance and are you the same you without your pain ?
Saje,
The idea that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was an apple tree, took root (as it were) in the middle ages, because the Latin word for apple is the same as the Latin for evil, malum. So iconographers began representing the tree as an apple tree, and our good, healthy, temperate zone fruit got a bad rep.

And I guess Capt. Reynolds is the apple of someone's eye.
Wow, cool intel, ta barboo ;).

"Mal. Apple, in the Latin"

Maybe not the same ring but definitely a ring to it ;).
Oooh . . . Latin.

It might be interesting if a religious person with too much money pays for Echo to be programmed with perfect faith -- complete, doubt-free -- to see whether she can then move mountains or heal the sick. Might make an interesting meditation on what makes a saint and what makes a fanatic. Will she come out St Francis or Torquemada, or arc from one to the other?

ETA: Howabout a horror movie maker who wants to film actors who genuinely believe they're being tormented by monsters/psychos to get the most realistic performances and screams? Taking torture porn to a new low.

[ edited by Pointy on 2008-05-20 15:55 ]
I'm just thinking... where can this show's plotline go? It's like Lost, once they get off the island, what can happen next?

Once Echo finds her true identity... then what?

Once Echo finds her true identity... then what?


I would imagine she'll go on the run possibly on a motorbike or in a car. Thus giving Joss and Tim an excuse to use up their Faith the series and Drive scripts.
She may also become an FBI profiler and/or hear the voice of ... someone ... from novelty plastic animals.

Great ideas Pointy, the faith one especially. I'm looking forward to finding out if there's anything Adelle will draw the line at (beyond physical damage of course, gotta take care of your assets).
i've met atheists that believe numerous things that make as little sense (to me) as gods do, maybe Joss is one of those

Maybe he believes in cellular memory. :)
To me it's clearly piffle though. I mean, with all those memories taking up space, where would our homunculi sit ?

;-)
They're the ones with the memories, silly.
Joss said:

What's this Apple?


Joss, that would be your iMac.

Oh, that was lame. Sorry.
To me it's clearly piffle though. I mean, with all those memories taking up space, where would our homunculi sit ?

According to some nowhere near where our memories sit, at least not for us girls...

And as far as where the show would go - I've learned not to worry. I remember thinking about Lost when I first read the premise: who's going to tune in to watch people stranded on an island, there's only so much you can do with that- it won't last. Right.

Wow Barboo, 'That was so...historical.' ;)
But Echo has no way of identifying what is her true identity and what are fragments of previous programming.

Indeed there could be the bluff that what she is "remembering" is not herself, but simply another type of program (a sleeper virus personality?) which those outside the Dollhouse wish to use to bring it down/control it for their own ends etc etc.
That's what I get for being succinct. Why am I always being succinct?

The concept of continuing self in traditions that include re-incarnation is only, as far as I understand it, sometimes mistranslated as "soul." It's really not the same concept. I'm trying to think of a wordier, more detailed response. In the meantime, anyone who has a minute can take deep breaths, maybe close their eyes, and try to locate their "self." Don't worry, it's not supposed to work. That's what "other" is for.
Found it !

(my homunculi had it in his pocket)
But Echo has no way of identifying what is her true identity and what are fragments of previous programming.

That's OK--It's all about the journey.

Or maybe there's a photo album.
In a different thread I suggested that what Joss is exploring is the same issue of identity that he looked at in the Buffyverse in terms of what it means to become a vampire, but from the reverse direction. People who are vamped in the Buffyverse keep their memories, but lose their "soul" whatever it is that makes an individual themself. The Actives lose their memories, but do they keep some part of their essential self? Echo seems to be in some sense an inverse Spike, the vampire who kept enough of his own identity to go looking for the rest; she keeps something of her memories, enough to want to go looking for more.

Very intriguing stuff.
Onthedrift - Serendipity. I'm actually reading the Hebrew Bible right now just because I'm interested in the origins of the Western religions, and that fun fact was mentioned in a commentary I read on Genesis.

More proof that the world does revolve around Joss.
I think this show will take a more existential point on Echo's... whatever (soul, memory, personality... what makes up Echo).

But Echo has no way of identifying what is her true identity and what are fragments of previous programming.

That's OK--It's all about the journey.

Or maybe there's a photo album.
jcs | May 20, 19:25 CET


I agree, jcs, that it is all about the journey. What better way to explore one's "self" than with the Hero's journey? Recollecting from high school English class here- the Hero's journey (by Joseph Campbell) had 12 levels in it, and as a person moves through the levels. He is quoted from one of his books when regarding the various religions' depictions of God/gods/faith as such: "Truth is one, the sages speak of it by many names." He believed that the various gods captured a person's stage in their life of the discovery of their "self". The levels are cyclic and never stop.

Heart of Darkness, Macbeth, Streetcar Named Desire & Lord of the Flies are some good works to examine when reviewing this idea.

With this in mind, I, too, consider myself an atheist.
Since I still haven't thought up that wordy reply - homunculi is plural.
Just to hop back on to this whole atheism/soul/eternal aspect of identity discussion, I should probably elucidate my earlier reference to Buddhism a little, as the reason it popped into my head was that I thought Dollhouse may progress along similar lines. Ok, I have a tendency to waffle so I'll try to keep this succinct!

Impermanence is a big deal in Buddhism (to varying degrees in different schools, but always a big deal). Basically, all things are impermanent. So, no soul, as such a thing implies permanence. This is where a Buddhist belief in rebirth differs from a Hindu belief in reincarnation, which does involve a soul that, put on an over-simplified way, gets a new body. The continuity, or eternity, in Buddhism is a little fuzzier.
Essentially, we are not the same people when we are 5, or 15, or 50. Except that we are. Even though we're not. Similar thing with rebirth. There's something eternal going on, in a sort of cause-and-effecty kind of way, but at the same time everything is different because all that was has passed away.
Which ties into identity/memory issues, and could be along the lines of whatever metaphysical yumminess Joss was hinting at. Maybe. Just a thought.

Incidentally, this is exactly why I'm so excited about this show. The very concept goes so deep, and is so universal, even more so than any of Joss' previous work. And yet we still get the funny, and the excitement, and Eliza looking pretty. Its going to be an awesome ride.

Hmm, I kinda did waffle a bit, huh? Sorry guys, just keep scrolling...
Since I still haven't thought up that wordy reply - homunculi is plural.

Good point. Frankly, i'm starting to wonder about the whole concept now.

[ edited by Saje on 2008-05-21 00:36 ]
I agree with you, Gil-Martin. I think that both the Buddhist approach you mention and the jouney of self-discovery/re-discovery are eternal (until they're *not*). We re-make and find new things about ourselves everyday. Echo is literally starting with a blank slate. I wonder what she'll fill it with... :)
i've met atheists that believe numerous things that make as little sense (to me) as gods do, maybe Joss is one of those

Glad to see someone else agrees that Joss is like a (writing) god, I've tried to push Joss==Oghma, but keep butting heads with the crowds supporting Joss=robot and Joss=big-brainy alien.
And don't forget Joss=ordinary mortal that entered into a Faustian pact with the Devil. We're small but growing (well, membership is holding steady at least).
Faustian pact, you say? Perhaps with a midnight meeting at some crossroads or summat? Ok, I'm in!
And in this way our ranks swell ! Yeah, midnight, cross-roadseses, membership badges, the whole shebang. Gotta respect tradition. In fact, I don't think a storm would be going too far, I mean signing away your eternal soul isn't something you do everyday, why not push the boat out a bit ?
From a Theravada Buddhist perspective rather than the more commonly known Mahayana "denomination": The term "soul" works perfectly well to describe the spiritual part of us that reincarnates. And although what someone said above (sorry, can't remember who) about the Buddhist concept of reincarnation being a bit more "fuzzy" that the Hindu version may be true, reincarnation is indeed a basic tenant of Buddhism.
Cause and effect, taken to the spiritual, cosmic level. Which is what the widely misunderstood "impermanence" is all about. Impermanent, but infinite and eternal.

You're not composed of the same atoms you were 7 years ago for instance and you very likely don't have exactly the same genotype either. The network of neurons that constitutes your consciousness is in constant flux and isn't the same from one second to the next, nevermind for eternity.


Saje that is as good a definition of the Buddhist concept of reincarnation as I've heard, specifically Zen (which is a whole other can of atoms, yet basically the same). :-)
Our atoms still, but constantly recombining, in a constant state of flux.

Or you could just go with Aerosmith's "life's a journey, not a destination". ;-)

Glad to see someone else agrees that Joss is like a (writing) god, I've tried to push Joss==Oghma, but keep butting heads with the crowds supporting Joss=robot and Joss=big-brainy alien.
OneTeV | May 21, 08:13 CET


Still gotta go with Shiva, Joss-wise (he who both creates and destroys). And dances in the process. ;)

ETA: gods, how I love this forum. :D

[ edited by Shey on 2008-05-21 14:23 ]
Yeah but Joss only has two arms ... I'm being overly literal again, aren't I ?

;-)

Saje that is as good a definition of the Buddhist concept of reincarnation as I've heard, specifically Zen ...

Well then that's no bloody use to me, think i'll keep looking (to paraphrase Woody Allen, "I don't want to reincarnate through my atoms recombining in an infinite and constant state of cosmic flux, I want to reincarnate through coming back to life" ;).
Yeah but Joss only has two arms ... I'm being overly literal again, aren't I ?


Yeah, but that's OK, as long as you continue to be overly smart and witty, as well. ;-)

"I don't want to reincarnate through my atoms recombining in an infinite and constant state of cosmic flux, I want to reincarnate through coming back to life" ;)


Actually no contradiction there, in Buddhist logic. Sometimes Woody Allen isn't nearly as smart as he thinks he is. Although I realize that will be considered by some as blasphemy, at least I'm staying on topic. :)
Well, may not be a logical contradiction, but it's still funny. Blasphemer! ;-)
Maybe its just the sort of Buddhists that I hang out with/have met being picky (mostly westerners and FWBO members. That's Friends of the Western Buddhist Order to the uninitiated - popular as it is not tied to any particular cultural tradition, though more Mahayanan than Theravadan) but they don't like using the word 'reincarnation' as that makes people thing of the Hindu belief, and leads to misunderstandings such as a couple of people have already mentioned. The term 'rebirth' seems to be preferred, as it is more appropriate. Although, its all complicated translation issues really, and to do with a wider problem whereupon Eastern religions are described using Western monotheistic terminology, like soul and god and what have you. Which is so irrelevant to this discussion that I'm just going to shut myself up before I even get started!
Which is so irrelevant to this discussion that I'm just going to shut myself up before I even get started!
Gil-Martin | May 21, 22:44 CET


Oops, too late. ;-) And I now may be guilty of double-blasphemy. :D

My most immediate experience with Buddhism was in Thailand, but that's a whole different kettle of atoms.

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