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October 31 2002

(SPOILER) Excellent post connecting Baudelaire and BtVS It's up at the Buffy Cross & Stake. Catch it fast before it leaves the board.

That post is brilliant.
This is really worth reading.
oi, my head----wow!
I couldn't believe it when I read it. It's just TOO good!
Rather than let it expire off that server, I'm going to copy and paste it here so it can be re-read and saved.

Besides that they rhyme?

At is a reference to Baudelaire. Who the heck is (or rather was) this guy? And why do the folks at ME (who presumably are behind the website) want us to look into him? What are we meant to take from this reference?

For starters, Charles Baudelaire was a poet during the mid-1800s. He was a suicidal drug addict with syphilis; a cynic who often wrote of dark creepy subjects like death and vampires; and he seemed to have a pretty dim view of women all being whores. Not the most cheerful guy --- even as poets go.

So he’s a dark thinker, what are we supposed to get from that?

Looking at the poem “Le vampire” (in its original French then with a couple of other translations), I see how one could take the narrator to be Buffy and the vampire to be Spike. But that’s far too obvious a conclusion (what with the whole, Spike being a vampire thing) especially for ME. Consider the reverse: Spike as the teller of the tale and Buffy as the vampire. Then look at another Baudelaire work, “Les metamorphoses du vampire” (and translations).

It was rumoured last year; it’s been done in hundreds (if not thousands) of fanfics. But IS Buffy actually a vampire?

Stupid question, right? She has a pulse; she breathes, eats (if you call non-fat yogurt, eggplant sandwiches and the like “eating”), tans... OK, given the literal definition (“a dead person that leaves the grave at night to drink the blood of living people” --- thanks Oxford) and the fact that she can do so many of the things a vampire in Buffyverse cannot (i.e. go out in daylight without bursting into flames; wear all manner of trendy crosses around her neck without burn marks; check her hair and makeup in the mirror --- though after “Selfless” I wondered if she actually had) I’ll concede that she’s not a vampire.

Consider, however, an alternative definition: “changing of a human into a soulless creature by sucking out the essence that defines that being” (thanks Ramses). This is largely what we’ve been led to believe (through Buffyverse) it is to become a vampire: when a person is turned, the essence of who they were leaves control of their body to the demon that takes it over. Buffy has on more than one occasion expressed her fear of losing herself to the slaying. Following the death of her mother, Buffy (already seriously into Slayer mode and closed off from others) becomes more focussed on her “job” and more cut off from her friends, etc. To Giles in “Intervention” (5x18), she tries to explain her feelings saying,

“Strength, resilience: those are all words for hardness. I'm starting to feel like being the Slayer is turning me into stone.” (more interchange between Buffy and Giles, then) “To slay, to kill: it means being hard on the inside. Maybe being the perfect Slayer means being too hard to love at all. I already feel like I can hardly say the words.”

She reiterates the feeling of having lost her humanity (or the person she used to be) near the beginning of “Once More With Feeling” (6x07) with lines like “Nothing seems to penetrate my heart,” and “I can’t even see if this is really me, and I just want to be alive,” then again at the end with “This isn’t real, but I just want to feel.” Now through what we’ve seen this season to the end of “Selfless” (7x05), Buffy has thrown herself even more militantly into slaying declaring herself “the law” and attempting to kill a woman who last year was the fiancée of one of her best friends and an active member of her gang of Scoobies.

Buffy the Slayer has taken over Buffy the person.

Consider now what a vampire does in order to survive: it sucks the life from its victims. Feeding off the essence of that being, leaving behind an empty shell. Hmm... an empty shell. Where have we heard something like that before? From Spike, in “Crush” (5x14) to Buffy: “You think I like having you in here? Destroying everything that was me, until all that's left is you, in a dead shell. You say you hate it, but you won't leave.” In this case, through being near her, Spike feels he’s losing himself and changing to become something more like Buffy.

A souled Spike later echoes the notion of Buffy more literally “feeding” from him in “Beneath You”(7x02): “No touching. Am I flesh? Am I flesh to you? Feed on flesh. My flesh. Nothing else. Not a spark. Oh, fine. Flesh then. Solid through. Get it hard; service the girl.” Spike sees his body/himself as Buffy’s means to sexual fortification: sustenance (as would be a person’s blood to the vampire that drains it). Looking back at season 6, he certainly seemed to be providing for her in that regard at least.

So back to Baudelaire’s poems: In “Le vampire”, he describes how this vampire (a term he often used in his work to refer to women) has danced into his life and attached itself to him “Comme un forçat à la chaîne” --- like a convict in chains/to the ball and chain. (Hmm… chain, leash, handcuffs anyone???)

In the second poem “Les metamorphoses du vampire” the narrator says (“elle eut de mes os sucé toute la moelle, et que languissamment je me tournai vers elle”) that the vampire has sucked his marrow, the inner most part of himself, literally (but consider the figurative for the B/S scenario) and even weak, he still turns to her. (“So weak. Did you make me weak?” --- Spike from BY)

Seemingly without explanation, Spike is drawn to Buffy: he keeps coming back to Sunnydale. Similarly, Buffy is drawn to vampires (not just those she quickly dusts): Angel; Dracula; Spike. But to Spike, her “attraction” seems stronger than to the others. In considering this reciprocity, I can’t help but think of the crypt door scene from “Dead Things” (6x13) during which each is drawn to the other, sensing the other’s presence.

But more than that, Spike has over the years continued to challenge Buffy’s sense of self and tried to get her to see that her power is rooted in darkness. A darkness he urges her to embrace. Consider again DT: the balcony scene. If you can get past the very erotic visual, the tone of voice and the heavy breathing, ponder Spike’s words: “You see: you try to be with them, but you always end up in the dark... What would they think of you... if they knew who you really were? That's not your world. You belong in the shadows...”

In “Restless” (4x22) we get some inkling of the dark origins of the Slayer. The first Slayer tells Buffy that “[the slayer lives] in the action of death, the blood cry, the penetrating wound. [She is] destruction.” Sounds pretty darn dark to me. (Partyman and others suggest we’ll see more of the roots of the Slayer’s power later this season, and Spike will be one to show Buffy at least part of that.)

Will Buffy continue to drain the essence of Spike? (And has she been doing so to others: Her friends? Her watcher?) Who knows? But as is suggested in Baudelaire’s “Le vampire”, “Tes baisers ressusciteraient le cadaver de ton vampire!” --- Huh?

Your kisses will resuscitate (or bring life to/revive/restore/etc) your vampire.

(And who was the “vampire” that would be brought back "to life" just in case that got lost in this not so little ramble? Buffy.)


Some of us haven't seen _any_ of season 7, damnit.
I can't help it, I live in Australia.
It's incredible. She makes more sense of the last 3 seasons than Marti Noxon has. She understands Noxon's direction and writing more than the author herself.

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