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Serenity is MalContentment

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Preservation Jul. 15th, 2010 @ 06:22 pm
This is to preserve all these beautiful people's essays

I'm going to be teaching a serenity class next year

On Reavers Oct. 19th, 2005 @ 08:04 am
Okay, this is more scientific than literary theorizing, so I'm not entirely sure it belongs here. If not, let me know.

The more I see The Big Damn movie, the more fascinated I become by the Reavers. I started to ponder a few questions about the mechanics of Reaverness, and the following essay is the result.

On Reavers. Spoilers for Serenity.Collapse )

Joss mini- movies Oct. 17th, 2005 @ 04:34 pm
Backstory of River's time with Blue Sun...

Session 1
Session 22
Session 165
Session 416 pt.1
Session 416 pt.2


Who do you want to be Oct. 10th, 2005 @ 01:25 pm
She sits in a dark room. The only light comes from a computer monitor. It is a dim light, barely enough to illuminate her silhouette. That's alright, there is no one there to see her. Alone. "We live as we dream...alone." Joseph Conrad. To put a dream to words, "She was.... a gift."

Not she, me. Why do I find it necessary, imperative even, to try to capture a character who cannot be captured? River Tam is not someone who can be caught in a net of words. Her essence transcends my ability to describe. Try, though, I must. My failings will not be complete. An eye, a pinky, the left ventricle, some piece of River will be bared, just as I bare myself in what follows.

Staring, thinking, fingers unable to move except to type that they aren't able to move. Immobilization. Then a burst of inspiration, an idea hanging on by a thread. Love. These two extremes are the life that River lives. She is not the weapon, what the Institute tried to make her. She is whatever she defines herself as.

"What am I?" she wants to know in "War Stories."

And we're sad because we think we don't belong here
We're guilty 'cause we think we should be stars
Floating in a navy soup, we're sailing
There you are

These lyrics from "Universe" by Sarah Slean (used by my favorite River vid) show River's problem. It isn't what was done to her, but what she does with that. She tells Simon that she is "broken." One of my favorite icons at the Browncoats states "Don't try to fix me. I'm not broken." Much pain in this world is caused by thinking we aren't what we should be, that we are somehow broken.

No matter what was done to us, we aren't broken. We still have free will. We have the ability to say "It's just an object. It's not what you think." We can do that with any event in our past. We can do that with any trait we posses. In the words of Martin de Maat, "You are pure potential."

When River picks up the stick and depowers that particular trigger, she understands what she does, she just doesn't comprehend the significance of it.

Major spoilers for SerenityCollapse )

First Serenity essay Oct. 1st, 2005 @ 01:52 pm
This is what I consider my best Serenity essay, though I do have others and am working on another one.

I hope you enjoy

Central Metaphor for SerenityCollapse )

So what do you think?

Coming soon to a lj group near you Sep. 27th, 2005 @ 03:16 pm
Hello everyone,

Sorry this group wasn't as active as I hoped. That will all change. I've seen Serenity twice already and have about half a dozen essays to post, plus one I am working on linking Firefly to Serenity. I will be posting these Monday, safely nestled behind a cut tag.

I ask that ALL essays regarding Serenity be placed behind a cut tag. Our friends across the pond won't get to see Serenity until October 7. Not everyone will get to see it opening weekend (though I recommend this, because it will determine if there is a BDS - Big Damn Sequel). I don't want anyone spoiled for this under any circumstances.

I look forward to seeing everyone's impressions of the movie.


To Keep this Phoenix Flyin' Sep. 24th, 2005 @ 01:19 pm
Dear Malcontents,

I have been dropping by every LJ community listing "Firefly" or "Serenity" as an interest to remind you all how important it is to the future of stories told in the 'verse that the film "Serenity" do well in the box office next weekend, and for the following three weeks after that.

Please go. Buy as many tickets as you can afford. Bring family, friends, and homeless guys off the street. Anyone you can. If the film does well, we will have more stories to analyze, more character points revealed that we can discuss, more entertainment from high quality sources.

The time is now. Please do all you can.

Thank you!

The farce that Shindig is Jul. 12th, 2005 @ 02:33 pm
This ties back to a discussion last month we were having on ATPoabout the existentialist "anti"-hero. Random's (as usual) excellent, well articulated post cut through to the heart of the matter for me, that matter being Joss' characters. What follows is my attempt to apply that to the Firefly episode, "Shindig."

Or, to put it another way: the classical hero is the hero of the epic; the existentialist hero is the hero of the farce.

Farce (from Wikipedia): A farce is a comedy written for the stage, or a film, which aims to entertain the audience by means of unlikely and extravagant - yet often possible - situations, disguise and mistaken identity, verbal humour of varying degrees of sophistication, which may include puns and sexual innuendo, and a fast-paced plot whose speed usually increases even further towards the end of the play, often involving an elaborate chase scene.

Unlikely situations: Kaylee requiring a dress to help Mal do crime, especially after he insulted her about her desire to have it earlier. Badger having to turn to Mal for help since Mal's airs will help him get the contract. Mal stumbling into a duel, one that is fought with swords, to protect the honor of a woman he repeatedly insults.

What makes this truly absurd is that none of the characters find any of this absurd. Kaylee proudly hangs her dress in her room. Badger and Mal cement their business relationship. Mal goes ahead with the duel, even when Inara comes to free him. While she is there, he continues to insult her, believing it is her profession he is disgusted with because it pretends to be something it isn't.

Everything in this episode is pretending to be something they aren't. Mal and Kaylee dress up to fit in at the party. The partygoers aren't the sophisticated people they pretend to be. The men are more interested in Kaylee's comments about engines and ships than they are all the fancying up of the other women. Atherton pretends to care about Inara, wanting her for his personal companion, while at the time really seeing her as his property, nothing better than a fast car to make him appear better than he is. The piece de resistance is River. She calls Dodger on his false airs while adopting a similar persona herself.

This episode fits every point of a farce and I doubt anyone here would argue that it isn't.

Now why a farce? What does this give to the story? That is what I will concentrate as I do my episode analyses from now on.

This setting, this dramatization of the real world sets up the absurdity that the existential hero must somehow come to terms with. Kaylee wears the dress and helps Mal, even after he has insulted her. Inara tries to help Mal escape and when he refuses, tries to help him by teaching him how to use a sword. Mal, put in the ultimate absurd situation, agrees to follow the rules of a society he doesn't belong to. It is he that is the sheep walking on two legs, but walk he does.

All the characters in this farce are put in absurd situations. All characters in this farce accept these absurdities, much as Camus' Sisyphus accepted pushing up that rock. In this acceptance, they become free to use their free will to deal with the situation the best they can. Mal even blithely remarks how he isn't a great man, reconciling his less noble emotions with an acceptance of them.

Was there a lot of character development this episode? We see River the most lucid she has been. Mal is one to already accept the absurd, not cursing the gods, but just trying to keep flying in an absurd universe. Inara, who was going to leave the ship because she couldn't deal with the absurdity around her, decides to stay, thus accepting the universe a bit more. Kaylee is just Kaylee and rolls with the punches, even when they hurt.

That is how I see the episode. What about you?
Song in my Head: Now

Firefly's relationship to Buffy and Angel Jun. 10th, 2005 @ 09:14 am
You'll have to forgive me if what I post isn't what you are used to seeing. I joined way back when, but got off all Firefly boards when the movie stills came out. I didn't want to be remotely spoiled. I didn't even see the trailer until after I saw the movie. I came to Firefly via Buffy and Angel. I spent most of my time at a board called "All Thing Philosophical on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel the Series." (I am lunasea) They for the most part didn't get Firefly.

In my opinion, the three shows show a progression in how Joss presents his existentialism. Buffy is centered around how Joss gives his life meaning. As Marti Noxon said in an interview with the CBC Program "Ideas"

I think that he does feel like it's sort of a meaningless void, and what matters is the struggle to find the good. And the relationships you build with people while you struggle. And in some ways you'll never find it, but the quest and the questors, and the people that you find, who are not necessarily your family, are the only thing that lends the journey meaning. I think that is his major theme.

That is a very good summation of Buffy. I doubt anyone can argue with that (well I'm sure they could, but they'd be wrong). Not all Buffy fans like Angel, even though it is the spin-off. They have any number of complaints. Most of those complaints can be traced back to one thing, Angel isn't just about what I've quoted above. It makes some strong statements about existentialism on a metaphorical level. (If anyone is interested in this, I have several essays, I'd be happy to either post or link).

So we go from, just giving life meaning through the journey and family/friends, to dealing with the existentialist's view of the universe illustrated on a metaphorical level, to Firefly.

Anyone who has watched the commentary to "Objects in Space" cannot deny that Firefly is written from an existentialist's perspective. I'm going sum up existentialism with one sentence: It is the universe laid bare. It isn't something you can intellectually comprehend. You can understand it, but not comprehend, to paraphrase River. You can't comprehend, because the belief itself, the subject of "Jaynestown," is required to comprehend comprehension itself.

Comprehension is understanding the significance of something. In existentialism there is no inherent significance to anything. It is us that give things significance, imbue them with meaning. That is the task set before Mal and all the characters. For whatever reason, their life has been turned upside down. That stripped life bare, took away what they thought gave their life meaning. Firefly is about giving something meaning again.

Most of my Buffy friends don't like Firefly or at least are head over backwards in love with it like I am. Even though they love all things Joss, this wasn't something that could reach into them like his other shows. For me, this up front, in your face raw existentialism was something that hit me in all cylinders.

Take a piece of paper. Now rip it. Tear it however you want. Is that now damaged? It has changed. The word damaged implies that it is supposed to be something particular that it is no longer. The opening of Mal's eyes and River's new mental state are only damage if you assume that humans are supposed to be a certain way. That is not an assumption an existentialist can make.

Firefly constantly caused me to challenge my assumptions about the characters and about myself. That imbued the show with meaning for me. A bold existentialist statement...who could ask for anything more.

Jun. 9th, 2005 @ 09:38 pm
Hi Browncoats. I am one of the fortunate few that have seen Serenity. This community was created to analyze Firefly and later Serenity at a more intellectual level. I am posting my impression of the central metaphor of the movie. You can't get any bigger spoilers than what follows. PLEASE DON'T CLICK ON IT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT!!!!

The central metaphor for Serenity the movie, MEGA HUGE SPOILERSCollapse )
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