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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Sometimes you just wanna duct tape her mouth and dump her in the hold for a month."
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February 08 2013

One man's myth: how Joss Whedon showed me the crack in the invisible wall. A very interesting essay about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and mythology.

Belief is the dividing line between a great story and a myth. And as much as Buffy’s story has enthralled me, I have never even for a moment, consciously or unconsciously, believed it was true.
I assert that the author misunderstands myth. I would instead propose the meaning suggested by J.R.R. Tolkien in his essay On Fairy-Stories: a myth or
“fairy-story” is one which touches on or uses Faerie ["Magic"], whatever its own main purpose may be: satire, adventure, morality, fantasy. [...] The magic of Faerie is not an end in itself, its virtue is in its operations: among these are the satisfaction of certain primordial human desires [...] to survey the depths of space and time [or] to hold communion with other living things. A story may thus deal with the satisfaction of these desires, with or without the operation of either machine or magic, and in proportion as it succeeds it will approach the quality and have the flavour of fairy-story.
I will leave it up to you to decide whether Buffy indeed brings us closer together or surveys the highest truths of our lives and our deepest desires. I will cite just one more passage from Tolkien:
all complete fairy-stories must have [...] the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous “turn” (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale): this joy, which is one of the things which fairy-stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially “escapist,” nor “fugitive.” In its fairy-tale—or otherworld—setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of [...] sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.

It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the “turn” comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art.
Does Joss show us a "crack in the invisible wall" through which we can see Tolkien's "Joy beyond the walls of the world"? I think that he does.
I haven't finished reading yet, but I have to point out that Jesse was never in the opening credit sequence, as much as Joss wanted him to be.
Several major mistakes in the retelling of the story; it didn't incline me to take the rest wholly seriously.
Similarly, Buffy’s goofy friend Xander often feels like a nobody, so on Halloween night, when a spell brings everyone’s fears to life, he turns invisible.


Oh, how none of that is true...
He does become invisible to his friends on Halloween night in Fear Itself.

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