Found myself wondering if Jossian evil is nihilistic or Satanic, or some graded mixture of both, and where vampires fall on a spectrum, since despite watcher rhetoric, we really don't know how much host and demon are comingled. These terms are my own; I'm just building throwaway dyadic tensions to help myself think.
nihilism 1 a : a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless b : a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths [m-w]
With nihilistic evil--as I imagine it--demons wouldn't necessarily be out to destroy all that is good. They just wouldn't care if they did. They'd pursue their own ends, have no empathy whatsoever, and follow their demonic natures in a moral vacuum.
With Satanic evil, you could imagine that demons were created with a dark purpose, as evil tools that are meant to battle good. Satan is a fallen angel, so his nature was twisted. If demons came from that kind of source, they might have a twisted moral insight. They might actively *hate* good, but they also might understand it. They could be debased, but the nature of their evil might be almost human--sadism as we it expressed by our more stellar vamps seems to imply a measure of humanity and empathy. They understand very well the pain they cause, because they can feel it too.
I suppose there could be another kind of demonism--where the demons are like aliens and have no frame of reference for humanity, and might enjoy causing pain simply because they like the music the screams blend to make, or something. But vampires, planted deep within their human suits, don't seem alien in that way.
If you threw out the idea of a spectrum with only two points and shadings inbetween, you could just theorize a mish-mash of demon "flavors," their natures shaped in different ways. Just as there seem to be many Jossian "hell" dimensions that aren't necessarily "Hell" as we're used to the idea, then maybe demons are just a widely varying collection of species defined only by being non-human. Magical. Some darker, some lighter (angels are demons, yes?), others neutral, without affiliation. So you could have demonic forces springing from the earth in a more or less "natural" way; you could have "chaotic" and Dionysian demons; minor deities and ancient gods, etc. We've already seen many types of demons on both BtVS and Angel that seem to be family-oriented and relatively peaceable.
It almost seems as if BtVS is in fact working toward a realization like that, in the way that it explores Buffy's own "demonic" nature. Good demonism? If so, Kalima got there ahead of most of us with the brilliant Daemons Luminati.
All of this extrapolation doesn't really help with this weekend's problem, where during an imaginary conversation between unsouled Spike and Xander, Spike described many of his past misdeeds with an unvarnished explicitness that Xander couldn't deal with. And since he was in my head, I couldn't deal with it either. If you're going to play with unsouled Spike, and give him a Scooby S.O., how do you reconcile his past? His lack of regret? His demon nature? Can a human really love a demon *as* a demon or as some kind of demon-human hybrid, or can they only love the human surface? And if they do love, is it through deliberate self-delusion? Willful ignorance?
I've been shaping this metaphor where unsouled Spike is a kind of wild animal, a dog or wolf. It once ripped out the throats of the village's children, but it didn't know any better. It just followed its nature. And they capture it, but Xander can't kill it. He decides if he can master it, train it, leash it and make it heel with loyalty, then it can be allowed to live. If the beast is used only in the service of good--to kill other wolves that might attack them, not people, then its existence is justified. Why would you take that trouble though? The beast would also have to have some inherent qualities that make killing it seem a crime--it's beautiful, it's strong, it's demonstrated loyalty to its pack and a fierce protectiveness, etc. But what if you stopped seeing it as beautiful--what if Spike all of a sudden started looking no more attractive than some snake-bellied, shifty-eyed shitheel on death row in Texas, some guy who'd killed women and buried them on his land? Who'd raped children?
There's almost a risk in going too deep past the surface of the Jossverse. You poke it and it might collapse like a souffle. I think there are some unresolved Spike issues in both my series and I don't know what to do with them. The soul, for Joss, has been a kind of Get Out of Jail Free card. If you play it that simply, you can gloss over quite a bit--of all the characters, I think it's actually Anya who is right now the most existentially problematic.