(I have no idea where I found this! Not my writing, will add a source when I’ve got one. But Buffy Studies forever, right?)
Willow—alone among the Scoobies—has the power to choose between redemptive and destructive behavior. She is not bound by prophecy (like Buffy), or mediocrity (like Xander) or logic and propriety (like Giles). She is free, and thus, completely dislocated, bewildered and confused. For no identity satisfies her, no power can ever truly embody her, and after losing herself in ‘dark’ magic, no amount of atonement can erase the memory of what she inflicted on others through word and deed. Her hybridity, her ability to choose, comes with the loss of any meaningful sense of belonging, intimacy or certainty. Like Buffy, she is faced with the knowledge that she doesn’t know “how to live in this world if these are the choices. If everything just gets stripped away. I just don’t see the point” (Buffy 5022). But, also like Buffy, she knows that the illusion of safety, of a morally-governed universe, of a destiny not eclipsed by suffering and most likely death, is her only comfort. And it is, after all, the maintenance and defense of any human certainty, however small, that drives these characters to avert apocalypse season after season: not the assumption that there is any one suitable ‘way’ to live in the world, but rather the continual realization that the world itself is worth saving, that causes them to fight, even against themselves.
Willow’s role within the program is as ambiguous as the program itself. She is not a model heroine, nor is Buffy, since neither can ever fully juxtapose themselves against negative powers—whose meaning is forever deterred by signifiers like “darkness,” “the First,” or Spike’s “big bad”—without violating the gossamer-thin line that separates them from those powers. Willow, more than anyone, knows how easily these lines can be transgressed. Again, like the program itself—which the viewer expects to be what Jacques Derrida might call a text with an “edge,” but is instead an open-ended system—Willow’s negotiation with the monstrous is a journey through dark, open terrain rather than a carefully defined block of cells (Derrida 256). She is engaged in a process of becoming, and is, in her own words, “not all grown yet.”
As the program nears its conclusion (there are, as I write this, only six much-hyped episodes left), it becomes increasingly clear that Willow’s power and influence will be one of the strongest determinants of the final narrative. But she has driven that narrative from the beginning, and it is the rich history of her character—all of the awkward moments, turned phrases, and bursts of emotional intensity—which in itself composes the material of that narrative. The genealogy of these characters is the genealogy of the narrative itself, for Buffy is read by the audience not as a plot-driven system—an endless recession of soporific story-echoes, returns and repetitions), but as an evolving dialogue between its characters. Willow does not, then, have to arrive at a final transformation or defining moment, because—like the other Scoobies—she is the story. And she will continue to tell, (un)tell, and retell herself, pushing against the very limits of what can be said, of what might be embodied, in her search for existence without foreclosure. She must be crayon-breaky Willow/scary-veiny Willow at the same time, and find both loveable, both inhabitable—because it is not, as Buffy suggests, being “finished” (6003) that is most important, but rather the dark and seductive expanse of the story itself, with its critical gaps, eager to be reimagined.
Eileen Myles’ new book contains a blog entry on the choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch, who died earlier this year. It concludes with an injunction that feels impossible for me, at this juncture, but nonetheless remains “our job. As a people. To not believe ourselves so much. But to believe our bodies.” A difficult occupation, believing our bodies, as our bodies are always already occupied. Reflected in our fluids, amidst the bacteria, are the truly threatening parasites: communications devices that fragment my body and transport “me” elsewhere, a temporal regime that submits my body to external demands of productivity. Now, as before, a feminist approach questions how we have constructed the philosophical, economic, and legal bodies that govern our selves, and demands that we tap our tactile bodies - cyborg, queer, of varying color, age, and form - for the multivocal responses.Kareem Estefan
When Guillaume, as quoted by Bersani, makes the fascinating remark, “When no-one really exists there is room for everyone,” we should see shame as the last gasp of someone really existing, of the ego as it begins to fall foul of itself, to outreach its own (representational) grasp. In shame the personal is beginning to give way, and the abjection, the mortiﬁcation, the humiliation is a literal form of self-holding.Adam Phillips, Intimacies
Now I feel desperate and afraid
Friends tell me I’m wise but I just want to grow up. No I’m still aching, always. The present-tense fallible, the trust yourself to mine what you need, the you can’t intellectualize yr way out of this mess, the “you need to re-establish the integrity of your emotions so that their violence can become a health and you can go on becoming”, the don’t be afraid, the be afraid but go on. Don’t stay home. Your parents don’t protect you anymore. No one is protecting you but they’re all rooting for you, believe it. Or don’t but just know that you are the one for yourself. You first and foremost are the one for yourself so go on. Midway on my life’s journey I found myself in a dark wood, the right road lost. To tell of that time - ? Submerged - ? I don’t - ? I -? I- I-I-I??? And then? And then (GET. GOING) and then though? And then? You can’t skip this you want to skip this but this, you can not skip. Skip everything else but this, you, here, your life in this time, this will not be skipped, this is unskippable
I can’t telescope and I don’t know what I mean and I’m heat and violence and ambivalent but also, burning
Words are boring
Words are a gaping lack and idk even devolve though, just devolve
I can’t trust myself and why should I? I am not the expert? Oh am I the expert? Oh are there multiple options here? Can I be expert but not exactly, just, like, a waitress? Like a mediocre waitress? Like a preoccupied waitress who’s got better things to worry about but really needs to not get fired? Can I waitress?
I am not the best person for the job but it’s my job, but I’m the only person for the job even though it’s so precarious
Precarious location when there’s no one else to take over for you. Precarity but like, not disposable. Like I’m not safe here in this job but it won’t leave me either so maybe I am safe? Am I safe? What am I so worried about wrecking? What am I so afraid I could destroy? What destructive power do I have, unbeknownst to me? What’s my paranoia
Well I feel anxious
And I miss you
And I am very scared
But this paranoia my paranoia, this existential dread my existential dread, there were a thousand ways it could be used, and going to meet you could be one of them
But this is my job no matter how much I fuck it up. I have tenure
Like here are your polyvocalities, Emily, here is your mixed genre unfinished out of necessity because you’re not like ready to say anything but there is still speech. You still speak. Unwise, you speak. You open your mouth, ache. You don’t open your mouth, swelter. Ache and swelter, swelter and ache, like all the young women enamoured of their own intensities
JE: Why do we feel it’s forbidden to have pleasure outside of the family? Why do we feel that so intuitively when we first encounter the outside pleasure?
AP: I think because our mothers and fathers demand—they need us to need them. It’s intrinsically narcissistic. It’s disloyal and it’s endangering, because insofar as it’s disloyal, you lose their protection, so you’re radically unmoored when you’re going after that thing outside the family.
It’s only in an initial state of privation that you can begin to have thoughts about what it is you might want, to really imagine or picture it. It’s very difficult to know what we’re frustrated by. In making the case for frustration I want to make it more interesting, such that people can talk or think about it in different ways.Adam Phillips
What I would suggest is more time wasting, less stimulation. We need time to lie fallow like we did in childhood, so we can recuperate. Rather than be constantly told what you want and be pressurised to go after it, I think we would benefit greatly from spells of vaguely restless boredom in which desire can crystallise.
I only trust people who are funny, men or women, or who admit to having made horrible mistakes. There is such a revolution taking place right now in sexuality and power relationships that critical consciousness will have to come from bodies we don’t even know exist yet. Thinkers can only do half the job. The world is like a child we never dreamed we would have, a big disappointment, out of our control, and here only for reasons to do with DNA and other personal histories—not our fault, so to speak. We are responsible for the child but we don’t know how it feels about us. Half the story is missing.Fanny Howe
Chapter Titles from Kristeva’s Powers of Horror
Those Females Who Can Wreck the Infinite: The Two-Faced Mother, Life? A Death, Courtliness Affronted, Carnival – In Hysterical Fashion, Society – In Paranoid Fashion
I will grow my hair long like an emblem of my desire to survive, I will flip my survival around cutely, with great sex appeal, like a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader who finally (!) MADE THE TEAM, like I just said yes to the dress, like better watch out I’m going for the knockout and I’m going to buy a cute Macbook circa 2002 while wearing bunny ears, like you’re from the 70s but I’m a 90s bitch, like Chuck came to find me in Paris and I was wearing the loveliest gown, like I feel sartorial joy, like I’m going to marry Cohen (ew!), like telling Colin Firth that nice guys don’t kiss like that and he growls “oh yes they fucking do” and kisses me hard, again! I don’t need to pretend that I invented post-its anymore! I am so much funner than Sylvia Plath. I am Josie AND the Pussycats. I am wearing expensive makeup and I am unapologetically feminine and I wanna be cool tall vulnerable and luscious and I just want to be happy and I want to be Simone de Beauvoir making out with Sartre and I wanna be easy breezy beautiful covergirl and I’ve got the most radiant smize in the room but I don’t need Tyra Banks to tell me so! I feel like Lizzie McGuire as a Spice Girl
Outside, you try to conform to an alien order.
Exiled from yourself, you fuse with everything you meet. You imitate whatever comes close. You become whatever touches you. In your eagerness to find yourself again, you move indefinitely far from yourself. From me. Taking one model after another, passing from master to master, changing face, form, and language with each new power that dominates you. You/we are sundered; as you allow yourself to be abused, you become an impassive travesty. You no longer return indifferent; you return closed, impenetrable.
Keep on going, without getting out of breath. Your body is not the same today as yesterday. Your body remembers. There’s no need for you to remember. No need to hold fast to yesterday, to store it up as capital in your head. Your memory? Your body expresses yesterday in what it wants today. If you think: yesterday I was, tomorrow I shall be, you are thinking: I have died a little. Be what you are becoming, without clinging to what you might have been, what you might yet be. Never settle. Let’s leave definitiveness to the undecided; we don’t need it. Our body, right here, right now, gives us a very different certainty. Truth is necessary for those who are so distanced from their body that they have forgotten it. But their “truth” immobilizes us, turns us into statues, if we can’t loose its hold on us. If we can’t defuse its power by trying to say, right here and now, how we are moved.