I would like to speak of something else to do with madness, after having mentioned that I agree with Tolle and the Cheshire Cat that we’re all mad here. Specifically, I wish to speak of something else I watched during October. I saw the content by coincidence, and coincidentally did it affect me: That is, this episode affected me in a way similar to the way certain other events affect me. These coincidentally similar feelings are a result of a phenomenon which I have concluded must exist, and a phenomenon which I will discuss later on during this post.
I mentioned that Luken and I are watching Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Angel straight through. Now, these may not be the pinnacle of Dionysian expression, but they’re still pretty awesome. No matter how many times they cast for looks over talent or call a Wiccan a Wicca (which is like calling a Protestant a Protesta). Or GAWD, what about that awful music at The Bronze? Or the fact that Willow turned mysteriously gay somehow with no mention of bisexuality? Still, Whedon is pretty good at writing, and I love fight scenes. There are some great moments. It’s a fun little action soap opera. And hey- you had to know I would go for a pretty girl slaying demons.
During October we happened to watch what I feel is a poignant episode. Or poignant for me- maybe some would think it’s just alright. It’s a plot which has been done in a couple of other places, I suppose, but I’ve not seen those shows. This was the one I watched, here and now with Luken, the story I was able to enjoy. And I love many acting choices in it.
First, let me say that the season had begun with Willow raising Buffy from the dead- Buffy, being the Slayer, knew through spirit journeying that her gift is Death. All her life she deals with Death. She had sacrificed herself at the end of the last season to save everyone, and mostly her sister Dawn. But her friends missed her, so Willow used Srsly Pwrfl Magickz and called upon Osiris (a Dionysian/Christlike death/rebirth Egyptian deity) to raise her. Buffy came back to life with some difficulty- it turns out that she’d gone to Heaven, so, when she came back, the world seemed so full of hard edges. She had to deal with what I might call depression, and everyone noticed it. She had troubles readjusting to reality. Indeed, who would want to dive right back in after being in Heaven?
So, the episode of which I speak. “Normal Again”. This is how it starts. Buffy’s archenemies for the season- a bunch of nerds from high school with some powers of various kinds at their disposal- summon a demon to attack her. It cannot physically best Buffy, but it stabs her with one of its poisoned spikes. The poison causes her to either hallucinate or enter another reality- though I am of the opinion that hallucinations ARE reality, because, while you are having them, they are the Now. Maybe I’ll speak more on that another time.
Buffy awakens in a mental health institution in Los Angeles, her old hometown. Her doctor realizes he finally has her attention and that she is not absorbed in her own catatonia anymore. Her undifferentiated type of schizophrenia. “Buffy, can you hear me?” (Warren the geek says the poison has “got her tripping like a Ken Russell film festival.”) The doctor explains to her where she is.
“Do you know where you are, Buffy?” “Sunnydale.” “No. None of that’s real. None of it. You’re in a mental institution. You’ve been with us now for six years.” And here Buffy had thought she’d spent the last six years in Sunnydale. Her parents- neither divorced nor dead- come to visit her with concern. They want to take her home, but they tell her that first she has to get better. She must give up this delusion of Sunnydale and all the imaginary friends she has there. There is no Willow, no Xander, no energy-turned-human magical sister Dawn. And there are no such things as vampires or slayers. The doctor explains how Buffy has made all of these up for her life. “Buffy’s delusion is multilayered. She believes she’s some type of hero.” So Buffy begins to wonder if it is crazy and wrong to be the Slayer. She begins to wonder if the world is far more “normal”. “She’s also created an intricate latticework to support her primary delusion. In her mind, she’s the central figure in a fantastic world beyond imagination. She’s surrounded herself with friends, most with their own superpowers, who are as real to her as you or me. Moreso, unfortunately. Together, they face grand overblown conflicts against an assortment of monsters both imaginary and rooted in actual myth.”
Buffy switches back and forth between this hallucination and her world in Sunnydale. Her friends try to find a cure for the poison. Xander says, “Aw, come on, that’s ridiculous! What, you think this isn’t real just because of all the vampires and demons and ex-vengeance demons and the sister that used to be a big ball of universe-destroying energy?”
“Back when I saw my first vampires-” Buffy confesses to Willow, “I got so scared. I told my parents, and they completely freaked out. They thought there was something seriously wrong with me. So they sent me to a clinic.” (“What if I’m still there? What if I never left that clinic?”) Poor Buffy; I can empathize. I experienced déjà vu again- my mother has often thought me to be either A) possessed by a demon or B) the antichrist, annnnd… ohhhh I do not really want to relive those memories. (The universe, however, demands it, and demands it of everyone- until they’ve got their memories and karma all straight and tucked away nicely.) “I was only there a couple of weeks. I stopped talking about it, and they let me go. Eventually, my parents just forgot.” Parents who abandoned her in a facility. Siiiigh. Buffy at least is shown to love her parents… I might tell mine as much, but I hate being around them. I have such conflicted feelings. I want to love them, because that seems normal- everyone should love their parents. It is even a Mosaic commandment. They are, after all, a part of me, as they are a part of the universe, and they are human and therefore deserving of love. Buuuuut… well. Maybe I’ll talk about that another time too.
I have read other writing on this episode, and while some of it is reading into coincidence which may have no meaning, I did read one thing I liked. Someone was comparing Spike to the doctor. Spike is a cuckolded vampire- he is still a demon, but more human than most demons, and he has been forbidden to harm humans by a scientific brain chip. He used to be William the Bloody, one of the only vampires capable of killing a slayer. He is a white man in a black coat. He fights with Xander, and Buffy begins freaking out and hallucinating again. She then sees a black man in a white coat, her doctor. With a caduceus and everything, so you’d think you could trust him. The doctor tries to tell Buffy how to get better. But so does Spike, at least as well as the demon can, because he loves Buffy. As much as a demon can love, anyway. Spike: “Thinks none of us are real. Bloody self-centered, if you ask me.”
Willow discovers that the poison’s antidote is a potion making use of the same poison. Spike and Xander capture the demon and Willow concocts the potion. Spike: “Oh, balls. You didn’t say it was a Glarghk Guhl Kashmas ‘nik!” Xander: “‘Cause I can’t say Glarba-” Buffy wonders whether her concerned hallucination-mother is more real than the magical emo!teen sister for whom she gave her life. Dawn lashes out angrily at Buffy’s attitude toward reality, and therefore toward she herself, and Dawn runs dramatically out of the room.
Willow gives the antidote to Buffy and tells Spike to make sure she drinks it. This is when Spike offers his own advice for the episode. Spike tells Buffy to get over her martyr complex. He also tells her that if she doesn’t, and if she doesn’t buck up, and if she doesn’t tell her friends about them- he will. Buffy had been using him for sex, you see. Spike then leaves in a huff… leaving Buffy free to dump out the antidote into her trash.
This is where things take a turn for the nasty. Buffy tells her hallucination parents and doctor that she wants to get better. So she tries to choose the “normal” reality. But then they tell her to get rid of her mental traps… they tell her to slay her anchors to that reality. So she goes back to Sunnydale to kill all of her friends. This is a red flag- any reality could be as real as the next, but even if one doesn’t think so, I think one ought to still follow the law of love. She made a mistake. She tried to murder people. And the figures in the institution encouraged it. This cannot ever be good. This would make one suspicious, I should think- but we will forgive Buffy, I think, as it must be very jarring to switch realities so suddenly.
Luckily, Willow’s girlfriend, Tara, tried to come to the rescue. This helped Buffy’s friends enough that Buffy had to struggle a little, leading the hospital!Buffy to start freaking out a little. Her mother gave her a pep talk. She told Buffy that she is a strong survivor and that she will always be there for her. Suddenly, Buffy becomes capable of incorporating her mother into her psyche, I suppose. She tells her mother goodbye.
Sunnydale!Buffy returns to save the day, killing the demon who poisoned her and saving her friends and family. She may not be all sunshiny glad-to-be-alive-smiles, but she’s chosen her reality and feels a little more secure in her self. And indeed, her friends do forgive her easily, because they love one another, and she realizes how lucky she is to have such friends.
In the last shot, the doctor shines a light into her eyes, declaring that they have lost Buffy to permanent catatonia. Joss Whedon says that one could take this episode either way- one could think that Buffy is the slayer living in Sunnydale, or one could think that Buffy is an insane girl in a Los Angeles institution, and that the entire series is her hallucination. This would explain a lot. This would also make the entire series of Angel her hallucination. Whedon says he prefers the Sunnydale version, as I do, of course. But I still think both universes are real- though Sunnydale is the one we pay attention to. Sunnydale is the reality Buffy chooses. So the hospital is only temporarily real, I suppose.
Once, the first time I truly tore the veil for myself in this life, there eventually came a point when beings came unto me and tried to give me further revelation. They told me that I was insane, that I had been insane for a long time, that I had never truly lifted up my head and been awake and dealing with reality. As they tried to reveal this to me, they also told me that they were taking me home. It was as though they had gathered for some concerted effort, almost like an intervention, and it was like they were dragging me towards this revelation almost, to show me plainly my errors versus the truth. They were dragging me towards a reality at home with them, where they would take care of me forever and ever. I rebelled against this idea- the idea of failure. The idea that I would have been insane and would have amounted to a madman, needing to be taken care of because I had not been able to survive as a functional person. It seemed as though I had been mad since childhood, creating delusions for myself to escape reality. It was as though I could remember having been sane- as though there were primal memories back before my humanity. When I was One with all that is, before I decided to play pretend.
But like I said, I rebelled against the idea that I would be insane. I told the beings, such as they were, that I remembered something real. I remembered being on a mountaintop in Los Angeles, doing something- I was not sure what, but it must have been something being that I had been human. They are doers. All That Is began to separate from me once more, throwing me down into the trash and litter of the not-so-nice Los Angeles streets. Anyway, I eventually returned to normal human reality and went home. Which was not some home on some plane I could hardly describe in language, but rather, our apartment. I chose the apartment home over the otherworldly home. I know I made the right decision; that passive failure was no reality for me. Besides, I have mentioned before how I am a co-creator of the universe (as many others have realized about themselves). I create my own reality, and this I truly saw in great magnitude that night. If I do not want to be a patient, I will not be a patient.
The only reason this happened to me, that I should have been told that I was insane, and the reason I liked this episode of Buffy so much, is because of the phenomenon which I mentioned in the beginning of this post. The phenomenon is this: I must have some fear of being insane, or being labeled insane, and taken somewhere- involving home, but I think also an asylum. This very nearly happened to me, after all. It is one reason I do not want to go home- the home with my original biological family. So why would I fear such a thing? Indeed, I have often wondered what I might fear- if I encountered one of Harry Potter’s boggarts, into what would it transform? This? It may be a fear I do not even want to admit to myself. And how does one overcome such a fear? Remember: The best weapon is love. Love your demons. Temperance and love will incorporate whatever one needs into one’s psyche. (Or, if it were Potter’s universe, I would make the demon ridiculous, of course.) I am not yet sure how to love this demon, but I am noticing it now.
Is it that I do not want to be taken care of instead of surviving on my own? Is it that I am afraid I will be locked away and forgotten, left unloved for a boring eternity?
In the course of my first adventure in veil-lifting, it was something like, since I was One with all, I knew everything- I knew the Truth- but I would by no means call this enlightened. Everyone knows everything and nothing, as some Pacific Northwest tribal grandmas like to say. But I was not enlightened. I was simply reminded of the Truth. It is different for everyone. But Luken has a theory about the way that I do it for myself and others: He says it is like slamming oneself down into the darkest depths of sleep, that is, death. Perhaps that is what it is for him, at least. Of course one need not trust what one sees in sleep any more than one need trust what a hallucination imports; they are real in their own way, but one need not be afraid of nightmares- they are only one’s subconscious. And then as one reawakens, one is reborn. So was I after that vision. So you don’t really need to do it often, since it only shows one what one knows anyway. But it is a good reminder at least once in life.
Now here’s one example why I would nevertheless not call myself enlightened: That night, I could no longer deny my relationship with God, even to lie to myself, yet I became more wretchedly miserable than I had ever been: In fact, as soon as I had been on this little adventure, it is said that I did one of the sleepiest, worst things one could possibly imagine. Afterward Luken would passionately demand of me how I could ever do such a thing, especially at such a time, when I knew! I ask myself that often too. This is why I have problems forgiving myself. I know everyone says it is the right thing to do, and I understand it, but I have still never been able to bring myself to do it.
Well, on to happier matters, Ganymede. :) Let’s go slay this Glarghk Guhl Kashmas ‘nik demon.