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The TV show has some deeply weird issues with religion. When they want to portray a religious setting, it’s almost always in that Hollywood never never land sort of vaguely Catholic but not really. Lots of crosses, gold, religious portraits, whitewashed walls. Not Orthodox, no mosaics. Not actually Catholic because no matter what the time period, they get stupid simple details wrong. Not Anglican, always way too ornate to pass and always the wrong kind of ornate. In the writers’ minds, religious equals Catholic style, but not any recognizable substance of any one sect of Christianity. The characters just don’t talk and treat religion in ways that fit.



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Mom you're embarassing me

Snow and Christmas trees make for a happy husky. Walks with camera, less happy.
This is in response to http://the-moonmoth.livejournal.com/202962.html and some of the comments over there. My response came out too long to fit in a comment!

I'm coming at it from a Catholic point of view. And that's kind of important, because it means that a large chunk of the mythos I'm working with assumes a standard issue demon is quite literally an angel who turned against God. A near perfect being... changed. I don't think we're ever given any evidence for the Buffyverse assertion (I think Spike actually says it first) that "demons don't change". And well, it's awfully hard to prove a negative. The show doesn't try. At all. And we see quite a bit of evidence for Angel, Spike and Darla all changing. Less so for Clem, Dru, the Master and Mr. Trick (who I think are the next most repeated demons). I'm unsure whether the Mayor should or should not be counted as a demon in S3, and I'm not sure how Anya should be counted on the show... but we've got evidence that she changed from the time when she was human at first to when we first meet her on the show. Bunnies. So odds are very good she changed while she was a demon.

The show's writers are very clear and explicit that they were approaching things from a different religious/philosophical point of view. In Christian terms, I'd tend to say they were working from a predestination framework. (and since the writers are American, a Christian framework is a fair bet) You can't prove that the redemptive framework is true. You can't prove that the predestination one is true. And you can't falsify either one. And some of the bloodiest wars in history have used this exact dichotomy as a major excuse for the fighting. I really doubt there's going to be a major breakthrough in Buffy fandom.

Figuring out whether a Slayer should count as a human or a demon is pretty debatable, but if they're a demon, um... they change too. We don't see much of anything addressing how much demon is "too much" to count as fully human. Or anything explaining how one tells the difference between a demon's soul (because at least some demons have souls according to canon) and a human one.

We also don't get a whole lot of concrete evidence for the idea that a vampire with a soul is a completely different person than a vampire without a soul. There's some stuff in AtS that (supposedly) suggests this. And some fans take the bit in Becoming where Buffy stuffs Angel down Acathla's throat to plug the hole as evidence. But Angel, Spike and (debatably) Darla while pregnant seem to me as different as someone with MPD can be when the identities involved are being especially different. I can maybe buy that ensouling a vamp really ups the odds of them having diagnosable MPD? The whole idea really sounds weirdola and like the writers aren't all that familiar with mental illness and the variety of ways it presents. And it's not all that consistent with the effects of other transformative magic that we see, like the hyena possession. (and the hyena stuff is internally consistent with the rest of the show AND consistent with how folks I know with MPD tend to describe life) The writers go for dramatic mental illness symptoms over common ones, and they go for dramatic symptoms over consistent symptoms too.

Angel says he's a different person. Buffy says Angel's different. But we've got loads of evidence that the characters are unreliable all over the place, and for all kinds of reasons. We don't get shown how either Buffy or Angel came up with their evidence (if there is any). And we don't see any characters doing the kind of experimental stuff we see Giles has done with possession. So I tend to dismiss Angel's claims as being self serving lies, and Buffy's claims on hormonal teenager grounds. God knows I made a lot of dumb decisions under the influence of hormones.

You could probably do a dissertation on mental health in the Buffyverse, and the consistent failure of the characters to follow through on standard recommendations circa 1970. They do not once show a character with mental health issues that are handled in a way consistent with insurance requirements circa 1996. But overall on medical stuff they suck hairy sheeps' balls. I'm thinking a nice long wool, with lots of dung tags and probably desperately in need of spring shearing :P. For a fantasy/SF type show, they're incredibly bad on this. I don't watch enough realistic TV to judge, but they're probably fairly bad by that standard too.

And going back to demons don't change... Spike has a lot of reason to WANT to believe that. He says demons don't change in School Hard. He loves Drusilla madly, desperately, and has done so for nearly 120 years at this point. While fic authors love to portray Dru as sleeping around, we don't actually have much evidence of this. Prior to her and Spike breaking up, the only canon evidence for guys comes up to be Angel and Spike. Just them. Only them. Change for Spike at that point is not likely to lead to good things from his point of view. Even Drusilla getting more mentally healthy is likely to be traumatic. And if she were more capable, then there's more opportunity for conflict with her. Their relationship works as is. Spike doesn't want to renegotiate everything with her. And what we get from Drusilla is pretty consistent with this. She is very upset that Spike went and changed on her later on.

And I find it very interesting that where Spike is saying demons don't change, Angel is saying they do. I think Angel is right here, largely because his statement fits the evidence. I don't think Angel is always wrong or always a bad guy. But it's real interesting that the folks who are most invested in Spike as a bad guy are most invested in Spike being super-truthful right here... And he's demonstrated that he lies and he lies a lot. Sometimes they're effective, sometimes they're not, sometimes he lies to himself. And Spike gets things wrong all the damn time. He's not perfect. Nor is Angel.

So I tend to think Spike isn't actually special. Except maybe for the speed at which he changes.

I tend to hold both him and Buffy as accountable for the mess in S6. Really guys, no is an important word. And Spike at least old enough to know better. Since Buffy has memories of dealing with a 2 year old when she's 8, she should know better too. Ow is also a pretty important idea. And it's very clear that they both actively and repeatedly choose to ignore no and ow AND not take any actions to mitigate this set of choices. If the writers were playing fair, the end result would have been one of them dead. And odds are good it'd be Spike. Given his usual self preservation skills, he was probably just as depressed and suicidal as Buffy. Shocker, a relationship between two depressed and suicidal people is unhealthy? NO SHIT. It's not like Spike hasn't spent at least 2 seasons trying to commit suicide by Slayer before this!

I'd love to see someone good at handling premodern (think Shakespeare and earlier) psychology ideas in fiction do some analysis on BtVS and psychology. The more I look at the show and the logic, the more it feels like the writers are trying to force the characters into a very set mold, and it doesn't feel like a current one to me.
1. genderswap

I have a really strong sense of myself as being female, to the point where dealing with imagining myself as male to deal with a first person male POV character is a bit difficult. The older I get, the more flexible I get about this, but I actively hate the idea of being male even moreso than I hate eating fungus or crustaceans. So genderswap fiction really bothers me unless it's temporary.

2. bodyswap

I'm also pretty damn attached to living in my body. It's a pretty sucky body, but it's mine, and while it has a lot of manufacturing defects, it's also very very very predictable and I love it lots. I would not object to risk free options to fix the existing body, but changing bodies is deeply distressing to me.

3. drunk!fic

Alcoholic grandparents. 'Nuff said probably :P. Also, can get rapey very easily.

4. huddling for warmth

I'm almost always a bit cold. Having someone help warm me up is AWESOME. Hate being cold. Hate hate hate. Bonus points if you're using the huddling for warmth to show intimacy with someone who isn't a romantic partner, since I have spent a lot more time snuggling with my sibs and parents than my partner.

5. pretending to be dating/married

Meh. This one doesn't really do it for me and tends to feel a bit rapey.

The mirror trope, where an established couple is pretending not to be feels a lot less rapey and is generally funny to me. It's a lot easier to do weird stuff in an established relationship where you have lots of trust and good communication.

The other related trope is just plain pretending to be something you're not, and that's total catnip for me. Let's pretend was the way almost all of my favorite games started as a kid.

6. secretly a virgin

Kind of hate this one, kind of don't. It's really easy for this to get rapey and icky. If you keep a sharp eye on the rape culture traps, it can wind up pretty awesome. It's easier to do with a male protagonist being the secret virgin, since a lot of the damaging rape culture BS about virginity is aimed directly at women. Male protag can wind up feeling like it reinforces the rape culture crap too tho, so it's not exactly easy.

7. amnesia

Hate this in general. Actual amnesia is a pretty serious medical condition, and fiction doesn't usually portray it very well. (really, fiction tends to be bad on medical conditions in general, especially mind altering ones) Whee magic!amnesia where a spell did it tends to be more fun, tho I deeply question how easily such a spell would be fixed. Brains are messy messy things.

Trying to deal with medically realistic missing memories such as from dissociation or traumatic stress can be a lot more interesting. Again, it's hard to do well, but since it's less romanticized, you get less baggage.

I can see the catnip allure of this, but I have a lot of memory issues with neurological and psychological bases, and it's very rare for something to read as convincing where the character's symptoms are complex enough to be real, and their feelings are complex enough to be real. It's really hard to get across the IRL version, and in fiction it can be very confusing if a character is simultaneously having 3-6 conflicting reactions to a problem, especially if they then go on to deal with it in an effective way. And well, that tends to be how it goes IRL... you just deal because there isn't another choice.

8. cross-dressing

Only works for me in historical settings where everyone's already in something of a "costume" from my POV.

9. forced to share a bed

Can get rapey, most authors do an ok job of avoiding the rapey.

10. truth or dare

Meh. IRL tends to be a very peer pressury situation, and fiction doesn't use it that way. Tends to feel wildly unrealistic as a result and I kinda loathe how the IRL version tends to be super rapey and fictionally it pretty much never is. Very very very very very mixed feelings here.

11. historical AU

Historical fiction tends to be total crack for me, historical AUs not so much. Historical AUs with a high level of joyous history geek would probably make me run in circles screaming with squee. Since I'm a huge geek about historical cooking and textile technology tho, a lot of stuff that passes muster even with Ph.D historians winds up being obviously and screamingly historically inaccurate to me. Stuff that doesn't leave a lot of fossilized evidence is easier to reconstruct than you might expect, and a lot of the conventional wisdom on how it worked is laughably wrong.

I'm also hugely fond of reading primary source stuff, and I've read quite a lot of late Republican Roman classical stuff in Latin and huge amounts of English primary source stuff. If you're looking at primary sources, the story tends to be really complicated, even when you've got very limited sources... and a lot of historical fiction reads as much simpler.

12. accidental-baby-acquisition

Hate in general. The real version is a horror novel mostly, and the fictional version is pretty much always an adorable fairy tale. Ew.

I would not automatically mind horror novel versions.

13. apocalypse fic

Hate. I don't do dystopias.

14. telepathy curtain fic

I tend to like domestic details. Don't much like telepathy tho it can appeal to me in a heavily fantasy universe.

15. High School / College AU

I generally avoid this stuff like the plague. I probably wouldn't mind stories that try to portray actual high schools or colleges, with or without magic/SFnal elements, or ones that try to fix particularly terribad media depictions of high school or college. In general tho, high school and college are pretty horrible, and it's pretty rare for them to be depicted in a way that's as horrible as they really are. Also, doing that tends to drop you smack into a dystopia, and then I run screaming.

16. Meet the parents

Meh. I'm really indifferent to this. Either it makes sense from a story POV or it doesn't.

Something I wish was a trope and doesn't really seem to be is sex as physical pain relief. Basically it's the mirror of "ooh, hurts so good", and for me it's a lot easier to relate to. Whee :P chronic pain issues :P.

I'd also like a lot more boring/unromantic physical problems. Asthma, diabetes, allergies, eczema and arthritis are all common, boring as hell to have, and super annoying to live with. Dealing with the normal boring crap isn't fun and it shows a character off in depth. Nagging injuries that healed well but not to 100% also common, annoying and a pain in the butt.
Was a super light Cure week. Lots of assignments that aren't physically possible (like sit in a place in your home where you don't usually sit for 10 minutes), or were basically done (like frame art). I did pretty ok on maintaining the trash habit. This is turning out to be a really helpful habit, because if there isn't any trash to take out, I need to clean up and generate some. Since we've been keeping lots of papery clutter around, this is pretty easy to do. The combo of the trash habit and a daily housework assignment seems to be producing good synergy.

The one assignment that took some thought was to pick my project for the month... it was easy. Clean off the coffee table. It's small and well defined. And it fits with the substitute flowers step of keep the breakfast tray clean.

The weekend assignment is kind of nasty/huge. Our kitchen is pretty messy. I started by making today's trash bag be about cleaning out the fridge. I also got an early start on habits by stripping the sofa slipcover (with Bill herding me) and getting the bed stripped... weekends are for washing linens en masse.

I was pretty much made of fail on photography this week, but it was also pretty gloomy. I got a bunch of pictures for the architectural orders project when I went out today.


I took my icicle inspired triangle obsession, and my lack of awesome light, need for tripod practice, and my lack of baseboard documentation and... yeah. Not perfect, but fairly interesting looking none the less.
Photos: none so far

I have two ideas that I should do something with: early morning shadows on snow, and something with the icicle cascades on the far end of the 16's loop. I'm not really sure how to tackle either, so they might take a few tries.

For today, it's probably easiest to get the tripod out and just crank out tripod exercises.

I'm working through an Apartment Therapy style "cure", and I'm realizing one of the steps is wrong for us. Buy flowers is a good idea, but for me it should be the breakfast tray that gets the focus. It's really nice when the breakfast tray is clean, the sugar bowl is full, the candles are fresh, there's a fresh towel, and there's a supply of tea lights for the teapot warmer. Even better when the teapot and coffee press are fresh scrubbed, and there's space for a plate of pastries. To go along with the clean breakfast tray, I need to make a batch of apple cake so there is an easy breakfast for most of the week.

The other major step for the weekend is clean all the floors, which just sounds overwhelming. Change sheets is a usual weekend chore, wash the slipcover, and take out a load of trash each day... much less overwhelming. I think if I focus on the daily bits, the floor task won't be so bad.
So um, brain got eaten by Christmas and New Year's. It ranged from Very Bad to delightful, and I was naughty and didn't empty the camera much, so I am behind on my composition exercises (not the taking pictures part, or the thinking about it while I take pictures part, but the thinking about it after part). Also, it snowed. A lot. Despite all this, I did not actually go screaming insane, and I have been relatively productive.

Also, I did something Clever with the lens cap. So I'm kind of sticking with having the body cap lens on for a bit til I work out a solution.

Also, I'm *really* lusting after the macro lens. I shall have to save pennies. A macro lens is way more exciting than a spinning wheel.

As far as composition goes, I'm using one of Thom Hogan's articles about photography for a good short list of stuff to focus on in photography. "The funny thing is painters and sculptors don't have this problem--the classic art world has a great deal of deep discussion about both composition and style that is absolutely applicable to photography. Artists talk of line, shape, value, texture, hue, direction, perspective, proportion, balance, harmony, negative space, contrast, repetition, depth, and a host of other terms that have specific meaning and long histories of development." I could just as well use the ideas mentioned in the quote for drawing or sculpture or knitted tams. It isn't a huge deal what art form you're working in, what matters for basic exercises is doing the work. I'm getting to the point where value and contrast with the new camera are just about automatic. Kind of hard to have a picture if you don't have something in the way of light and dark to work with, and the more accurately I understand how the camera breaks up the light and the dark, the easier it is to take good pictures.




See? Not duct tape, but there's definitely dark and light!

direction

Dec. 19th, 2012 10:36 am
As in I was meditating on the idea of direction and composition this morning. Not that it did anything directly in the pictures I produced. Today's themes appear to be hue (mostly in the vein of PLEASE GOD GIVE ME SOME), contrast, and perspective/field of view. I have one picture I sort of like, and a lot of unsuccessful stuff where I went best two falls out of three with equipment. End result, I'm still not sure how to get jpeg color settings that really make me happy.

The idea I came up with for direction first was a panorama. That's a pretty concrete way of looking in all directions at once. Even small panos tho aren't something that particularly thrills me to design and execute. And "all directions at once" isn't really talking about direction anyway. Direction is super important to the idea, but it's not about direction really. Since I have such a strong negative reaction to the idea, it might be good to try and execute the panos where I can sort of see that there might be an idea there. I don't know that I'd get any direction thoughts out of it, but I'll probably learn something. I'm also realizing that I just plain don't like most panoramas that I've seen. I tend to pretty cordially loathe them. So now I'm wondering if there are any non-photographic works that are considered panoramas, or if there are artistic styles that use the form a lot.

Bill suggested that line or flow might be a better way to approach the idea of direction. I have some ideas in that vein, and some of what I wrestled with today was working on that approach. Sadly, working on is not the same as actually working with. Sort of lost track of the interesting bit in the flurry of technology, so the pictures got muddier and muddier as I kept struggling. I *think* I can kinda see how to fix the idea or engage with a similar one and get less of a mess.

Made apple cake, with allspice and ginger as well as the usual cinnamon and vanilla. I'm thinking of making a second batch for Christmas as a way of keeping the boys from freaking out my mother in law as they demonstrate their New! Improved! food vacuuming abilities.

It's snowing and kind of gross out. Again. I'm gonna be *really* good at working out the cloudy light settings on the new camera at this rate. Probably should make myself take a walk and do a couple rounds of color saturation exercises and some meditation upon composition. Snow is a lot better for that than rain :P.
B&H Photos had the Panasonic G3 kit on sale for $299. I managed to get one, and I've spent the day fiddling with it. Right now I can't do terribly well with it. It's like an SLR in terms of handling, so there are tons of options to learn. The goal for today was to learn to swap lenses and manage some fully automatic pictures. I did that, and managed to work out how to change ISO and exposure compensation too.

My prior camera was a Canon 780IS point and shoot, so the two menu systems aren't very similar. I've had a lot of fun taking pictures with it, but I was definitely running into limitations. A teensy point and shoot is not the best camera for taking pictures at a dark climbing wall. And while the depth of field on a teensy point and shoot is great in macro mode, there are limits to how well macro works without a "real" macro lens. The new camera will let me use a real macro lens, and the low light performance is orders of magnitude better.

It's still a bit sad tho, I've used the point and shoot for several years, and I've gotten really fast at knowing exactly what to do to set up technical illustrations quickly or to get a bird picture without scaring it. I need to practice a lot to get as fast with the G3.

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