Anna S. (eliade) wrote,
Anna S.

evil and other things

I had long, amazing dreams last night and it would be really cool if I could remember them. In the only part I recall at all well, Spike and Willow merged and became a new person, a woman named Nina, with all the benefits of both their bodies--like, a human's tolerance to sunlight, but also vamp strength and stamina. They'd appear as separate people when talking to each other, in the convention of shared-body movies. They somehow had a child, a little girl that Spike took care of while I was off flirting with a comic-book geek who vaguely resembled a serial killer. My dreams have been full of fannish characters lately. The night before it was Mulder and Oz. (A combination that puzzled me at first, then suddenly made sense.)

I signed up for rubywisp's S/X ficathon. Seems like lately there's a hundred thons going at any given time, and they just pass me in a blur, but how could I resist this? I poke you all to sign up. I mean, those of you who like that sort of thing. Wink wink nudge nudge...insert vague and complicated hand gesture here.

Massage last night has reduced my neck pain for the moment, knock on wood. Maybe I can get some work done today. The last two days I've been pretty useless, not to mention savage. In the grip of excruciation, I made a list of all kinds of things that annoy me--the sound of people cruching apples, heavy doors in public buildings, etc--and almost posted that. But the whim has passed along with the worst of it. I hope.

I'm feeling a pressure to write something, anything, as if there's a pipe leak filling my head up with water and it's looking for a place to spurt out.

Sometimes the Souled!Spike in my head starts talking to Xander or whatever flavor-guy of the month is mooning over him, and tells all these stories about the horrible vampire things he's done, trying to demonstrate that he's no good. And then it's like painting oneself into a corner: "Well, good point, how *could* someone love you when you've raped an eight-year old girl at Dru's instigation, or carved the fetus out of a pregnant woman and crunched it up like a sweet pip from a pomegranate?"

These are the places canon doesn't go, so why should I? But sometimes I dwell, and think of Spike describing how they used to take girls off the street and tie them down, and how he'd rape them and hurt them until they were worked up to a peak of terror, "like seasoning the meat." And only then feed from them.

And I wonder: why doesn't he just kill himself; or, why isn't he at a constant fever-pitch of anguish and despair now that he's got his soul back--but of course, it's not that hard to imagine a mindset where you let your past crimes sit undigested in a pocket of your psyche. It makes me think about the phrase "the banality of evil."

I'm lifting this long quote from an online essay; not even the editorial notes are mine:
Arendt's first reaction to Eichmann, "the man in the glass booth," was — nicht einmal unheimlich — not even sinister." (4) She argues that "The deeds were monstrous, but the doer ... was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous." (5) Arendt's perception that Eichmann seemed to be a common man, evidenced in his transparent superficiality and mediocrity left her astonished in measuring the unaccounted evil committed by him, that is, organizing the deportation of millions of Jews to the concentration camps. Actually, what Arendt had detected in Eichmann was not even stupidity, in her words, he portrayed something entirely negative, it was thoughtlessness. Eichmann's ordinariness implied in an incapacity for independent critical thought: "... the only specific characteristic one could detect in his past as well as in his behavior during the trial and the preceding police examination was something entirely negative: it was not stupidity but a curious, quite authentic inability to think." (6) (emphasis added) Eichmann became the protagonist of a kind of experience apparently so quotidian, the absence of the critical thought. Arendt says: "When confronted with situations for which such routine procedures did not exist, he [Eichmann] was helpless, and his cliché-ridden language produced on the stand, as it had evidently done in his official life, a kind of macabre comedy. Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality, that is, against the claim on our thinking attention that all events and facts make by virtue of their existence." (7)
And then this:
The apex of detachment of Eichmann's mind between the reality of such events, and a logical process able (11) "to wrest" his speech and thought was described then by Arendt in the final moment of Eichmann's death. Eichmann was incapable of articulating anything other than what he had heard all his life, in such a way that "...these 'lofty words' should completely becloud the reality of his own death." (12) With such description, Arendt for the first time utilizes the term banality of evil: "It was as though in those last minutes he was summing up the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us — the lesson of the fearsome, word-and-thought-denying banality of evil." (13) (emphasis added) Such a "lesson," whose potentiality denys word and thought, did not seem to frame the usual standards of evil, such as pathology, self-interest, and ideological conviction of the doer, and so on. Almost 10 years after Eichmann in Jerusalem, Arendt reaffirms in Thinking and Moral Considerations this same dimension of evil: "... the phenomenon of evil deeds, committed on a gigantic scale, which could not be traced to any particularity of wickedness, pathology, or ideological conviction in the doer, whose only personal distinction was a perhaps extraordinary shallowness." (14) Arendt stressed a kind of phenomenon in which the doer exposes an impressive superficiality, in which Eichmann became the factual example. With the following question Arendt substantially circumscribes the main delineation in which the banality of evil will be the result: "Could the activity of thinking as such, the habit of examining and reflecting upon whatever happens to come to pass, regardless of specific content and quite independent of results, could this activity be of such a nature that it 'conditions' men against evil-doing?" (15)
Is Spike--Spike with a soul--thoughtless? Not critical enough of his past? At what point might he start to change? Why does he do good now--is it a kind of thoughtless impulse, a tidal drift? Is it hard for him or just indifferently easy? Does he have nightmares?

I haven't really written souled Spike yet. If I did, at length, I think he'd be far darker and more tortured than the Spike in canon. Self-hating, self-hurting, always on the brink of hurling himself into the sun or seeking out the families of those he's killed. Even just telling stories in my heaed, the deeper I go into a narrative, the more likely I am to end up in a sticky, difficult place where I'm trying to figure out how to give Spike love. Sometimes through Xander I try to call up a kind of Christian but romantic love that forgives and heals. It's hard, though.

This kind of thing makes me realize I'm nowhere near done working through my BtVS issues. I've barely scratched the surface. The question is how long I'll stay smitten. Passion might burn out before I'm done telling stories. That'd be sad. But it might be one of those inevitabilities of fandom.

Not that I'm close to that point with BtVS. I have no reason to think I am.

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