God in the Machine

Literally "God in the machine", Deus Ex Machina originally referred to Greek plays, where the "gods" would be lowered onto the stage with ropes in order to provide a quick resolution to the story. Today, Deus Ex Machina refers to any improbably and/or overly convenient character or mechanism that comes out of nowhere and saves the character(s).


"I don't get it, Big Dan..." -George Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Friday, June 04, 2004

Buffy, post-graduate

As promised, let me pause and review a book I just finished, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale. (ed. James B. South)

The subtitle, I presume, is from Paul's classic exhortation in scripture to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling." This book certainly treats BtVS with fear and trembling, approaching it for its commentary on life rather than about a young blond valley girl who fights baddies.

Each of the 22 essays are written by either psychology professors or leaders in the field of study, and all are written for post-graduate level work. This book, it quickly becomes clear, is not just attempting to make a buck off the Buffy label, but actually sees the insights loyal and mature viewers saw years ago. It also, for those of us who care, puts names to the ideas we saw in the episodes but didn't know how to articulate.

I was entranced. Having done several years of post-grad work in ministry and pastoral care issues, the psychology aspects fit right in. I don't suggest this as reading for those who just happened to like the show: you should have some interest in how people work.

The chapter topics are heady, to say the least, and include (among others) "Faith and Plato", "BtVS as Feminist Noir", Feminism and the ethics of violence", "Between Heavens and Hells: The Multidimensional Universe in Kant and BtVS", "A Kantian analysis of moral judgement in BtVS" and "Fascism, Christianity and the Eternal Demon."

No light read this. I loved it, and the variety of authors and writing styles, along with the familiar Buffy situations and quotes, made it worth my time.

What am I reading now?

I just started re-reading On Death and Dying, the Kubler-Ross classic and a biography of Winston Churchill.


Blogger Joel said...

Thanks for the review, Dan. I love psychology and god knows I love Buffy, so I think I'll have to pick this up and give it a read sometime this summer.

Besides, with Buffy gone for a year now and Angel gone, as well, I'll love reintroducing the world into my life.

Of course, I also have dvds for that . . .

8:11 PM  

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