Wednesday, January 17, 2007

black hats & white hats & dull gray mousy hats

I'm still in a cranky, rebellious mode WRT my convalescence. So I've been reading fan fiction from Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe. Then watching Buffy videos on You Tube. Right now I am focusing on Drusilla, the devout young woman driven insane by Angelus as he slaughtered first all of her family and then all the nuns in the convent on the day of her profession, before siring her as a vampire. All very Byronic stuff, with 18th-century gowns and wimples and carriages and raging fire.

Drusilla was introduced in Season 2 of Buffy, the Nancy in the Sid and Nancy romantic doomed couple Spike and Drusilla. Although Spike went on to have a longer character arc, his story was never as compelling as when he was Drusilla's adoring, sarcastic, evil lover. These two were the epitome of artistic "good evil" characters, villains we love to hate and hate to love but do.

What examples are there of bad evil characters? All the best villains who come to mind in fiction are like Drusilla and Spike -- compelling because of the joy they take in doing evil, and the sadness of their knowledge of and regret for their own damnation. Villains in fiction are the "great sinners" that Augustine talks of, the folks Jesus prefers to those who are lukewarm in their affections.

Passion. The passion of the lover. The passion of the Christ. The fierce commitment to good or evil. The aspect of fallen human nature that we most need to keep under the control of reason. The aspect of redeemed humanity that makes us like our Creator.

Fire. Passion. Fiction's job is to untether our passions and let them take us to heaven and to hell, while in real life the last thing in the world we want is to live 24/7 with a passionate companion. We are comfortable when our saints and our sinners keep a distance, and let us turn them off and on by the click of a remote or the closing of the pages of a book.

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