The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

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Maclurv
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The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Maclurv »

The thing that Vincent dreamed of and expected never to have, came with the potential to destroy him. The careful balance he had learned, negotiated within himself and the community, became unbalanced when he fell in love with a Topsider. We begin to see the impact on Vincent, exacerbated by Paracelsus planting mental seeds of doubt about his carefully constructed equilibrium, until his loss of that equilibrium and his Other becoming more pronounced.

Yet it was love that somehow brought him back. So while it had the potential to destroy Vincent, it still had the potential to save him. Which leads me to question what it was that Vincent had to learn about himself, his situation, that enabled him to come back from his peril. Was he fated to have to learn this 'lesson' the hard way, or could he have learned it on his own and prevented what happened to him?

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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Zara »

The hard way was Paracelsus's way. I don't think fate was involved so much as long-term consequences for whatever happened all those years ago in the community's past...coupled with one man's determined hatred for everything that Vincent loved, including Vincent's own balanced relationship with himself. So long as John Pater kept deciding to act out of hatred, there was nothing Vincent could do to prevent being hated.

I think the lesson Vincent needed to learn was that he was fully, unconditionally worthy of a woman's love. Loveable heights, depths, brightness, darkness, shades of gray...because he is at his core both a good person and a good creature. Here I'm going to wade into dangerous waters, because I'm going to bring up something I observe in Catherine that very few people also seem to perceive. Until she decided to walk into that cave at the end of Season Two, she had not given Vincent her unconditional trust and love.

That is the source of Vincent's new peace and contentment at the beginning of "Though Lovers Be Lost": he knows himself completely loved now. For Vincent to learn that lesson earlier, he would have needed Catherine's focused participation, which I don't believe she provided until *everything* was on the line at the same time (the cave). No one can learn on their own that they are loveable. Vincent started learning that he might be worthy of such love in the Pilot and "A Children's Story." We can see his hope and his ecstasy in those episodes, as he experiences Catherine's love, trust and joy even after violence, tragedy and fear. Then "Terrible Savior" and "Siege" revealed the limits of Catherine's trust, and yes, her love too. For the rest of the series until the end of "The Rest is Silence," Catherine struggles with these internal limits, and Vincent struggles right along with her. Her love expands over time, as it should, but it takes a *long* time. That is the point of a romance between a Beauty and a Beast; that is the central question-and-response of the original fairy tale: "Beauty, will you love me so completely that you will wed me?" and "No, Beast, I fear I cannot." I know fans hate this idea. It's so much easier to flip it around and believe that Vincent all by his lonely, emotionally crippled self, is sabotaging his own (and Catherine's) chance for happiness. But that's not the story being told in the TV show.

"Nor Iron Bars a Cage" pointed to "A Happy Life" pointed to "The Rest is Silence." All three episodes contained essential elements of Beauty's decision to commit herself fully and love fully. Vincent could have learned that he was lovely prior to Paracelsus's evil interventions. Indeed, having that irrefutable knowledge alive in his soul would have shielded him from his enemy's assaults. But he did not learn it because his teacher had not yet learned the lesson herself: that loving a beautiful yet fearsome Beast completely would not destroy Catherine, but save her from her fear and fulfill her own potential for true beauty.

Musing back,

Zara
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Maclurv »

Until she decided to walk into that cave at the end of Season Two, she had not given Vincent her unconditional trust and love.


How is it different in that episode to The Alchemist where she walked up to him in the midst of being on Paracelsus's drug? That took unconditional trust and love also, or perhaps you are distinguishing between a drug-induced state (so that Catherine could comfortably believe it was not Vincent's self who acted that way) versus a breakdown within himself that Vincent was experiencing (so that Catherine had to willingly accept that Vincent could be in this state on occasion and willingly accept it).

that is the central question-and-response of the original fairy tale: "Beauty, will you love me so completely that you will wed me?" and "No, Beast, I fear I cannot."


I guess I don't know the original fairy tale very well. Disney seemed to be my source. So, she says 'no' in the original? Then what happens? Does he free her? Does something happen to him?

It's so much easier to flip it around and believe that Vincent all by his lonely, emotionally crippled self, is sabotaging his own (and Catherine's) chance for happiness.


Sabotaging is, perhaps, too strong a word choice here. I have frustration that more direct conversation about each other and their relationship was never portrayed. I love that Vincent quoted literature, yet I wanted Catherine to explore a bit more directly (yes, I know as viewers we don't have to have everything spelled out for us) just what all Vincent was capable of, both good and bad. Maybe it's my own curiosity level, but if I were to encounter someone like Vincent, at some point I would be asking about that so that I understood more about him. Likewise, I would have enjoyed some more direct conversation about what would each have to sacrifice/what might each gain if they were to have a more 'traditional' relationship. Yes, we got the 'go with care' speech, but I wanted to know more about why the care was needed from each of their perspectives. So the continued lack of conversation for me felt like perhaps there was a reluctance to engage in such (or writers with no imagination or under direction not to, or whatever) and then my imagination goes to why would such a reluctance exist? This is one reason that poor Father gets maligned a bit because he becomes a convenient 'fall-guy' for allegedly creating doubt and/or a poor self-image in Vincent to account for this lack of discourse or progress in the relationship. Anytime there are large gaps, there will be ideas flowing in to fill them, not all of them well thought out. :)

Vincent could have learned that he was lovely prior to Paracelsus's evil interventions. Indeed, having that irrefutable knowledge alive in his soul would have shielded him from his enemy's assaults. But he did not learn it because his teacher had not yet learned the lesson herself: that loving a beautiful yet fearsome Beast completely would not destroy Catherine, but save her from her fear and fulfill her own potential for true beauty.


What a lovely thought! Does the story need Vincent to suffer the slings and arrows of Paracelsus prior to discovering his (and Catherine discovering her)state of being loved? Would we learn as much if Vincent had learned it earlier and we had seen that knowledge help shield him from his assaults?

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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Zara »

Maclurv wrote:
Zara wrote:Until she decided to walk into that cave at the end of Season Two, she had not given Vincent her unconditional trust and love.


How is it different in that episode to The Alchemist where she walked up to him in the midst of being on Paracelsus's drug? That took unconditional trust and love also, or perhaps you are distinguishing between a drug-induced state (so that Catherine could comfortably believe it was not Vincent's self who acted that way) versus a breakdown within himself that Vincent was experiencing (so that Catherine had to willingly accept that Vincent could be in this state on occasion and willingly accept it).


Yes, that is exactly what I am distinguishing. "The Alchemist" is Catherine's turn to lovingly respond to Vincent in the same vein whereby he lovingly responded to her during "Dark Spirit." In "The Rest is Silence"/"Though Lovers Be Lost," Catherine is embracing the Beast in his entirety, in his filthy, violent, most inhuman reality. She walks into that cave knowing they will either live together or die together, but her trust in their togetherness is complete. Her committed love is fulfilled. She is ready to wed her Beast. Her choice triggers his transformation.

Maclurv wrote:
Zara wrote: that is the central question-and-response of the original fairy tale: "Beauty, will you love me so completely that you will wed me?" and "No, Beast, I fear I cannot."


I guess I don't know the original fairy tale very well. Disney seemed to be my source. So, she says 'no' in the original? Then what happens? Does he free her? Does something happen to him?


Disney wreaks utter havoc with folklore. *backing away from that soapbox for the time being* Here is my B&B retelling in a nutshell. Someday, I'm going to polish it up, but this will do for now.

Once upon a time, a successful Merchant and widower fell upon hard times. He lost his fortune, and his family had to leave their luxurious home in the city to live in relative poverty in the countryside. One day, news reached him of a business opportunity in the distant city. He prepared to venture forth in pursuit of former glory. Before he left, he asked his daughters what gifts he could bring them upon his return. His eldest daughters asked for finery and decorative baubles. But his youngest child, Beauty, asked only for a rose.

The Merchant ventured forth, but met disappointment in the city, for the opportunity did not reach fruition. He began the trip home dejected and despairing. During this return journey, he lost his way. By accident (or fate) he discovered a great castle in the midst of a tangled wilderness. Having nowhere else to go, the Merchant entered the castle. Without seeing his host, he was received and tended with the highest civility. He spent the night in comfort and safety. Waking, he breakfasted and prepared to return home. As he was about to leave, he saw roses growing in the castle garden. Remembering Beauty's request, he plucked a rose from the briar and turned to leave.

He was stopped in his tracks by the most fearful apparition imaginable. A terrible Beast confronted the Merchant in great anger. Had not the Merchant been treated as an honored guest in the Beast's domain? Yet this guest dared to thieve, taking for himself what was not offered, the beautiful roses the Beast prized above all else in his realm! The penalty for this crime was death. The merchant tried to save himself, explaining that he wished only to grant the request of his daughter, that he should bring her a rose upon his return.

Hearing this, the Beast relented. "I will spare your life if your daughter will come to my castle of her own free will. You may return home to ask her if she will do this for you. Your life is forfeit if she will not consent. Now go."

The Merchant fled in horror and made his way home. He related his sorry tale to his family and gave Beauty her rose. "It is dearly bought," said he. And he told her all that transpired in the castle of the Beast.

Beauty took the rose and determined to present herself to the Beast. Arriving at the castle, she met the Beast face to face. "Do you come here freely?" asked the Beast.

"I do," Beauty answered.

"And you will stay hereafter in my realm, with me?"

"I will."

"Then your father may go free. Welcome to your new home. All that I have is yours. Anything you desire, if it is within my power to grant, I will provide it for you."

So began Beauty's new life with the Beast. She wore the finest clothes and enjoyed the most beautiful furnishings and adornments. She spent her days exploring the magical realm, delighting in its wonders. In daily conversations with the Beast, she discovered that he was kindhearted and as intelligent as a mortal man, however strange and ugly he might be. Yet she dreaded the moment each evening when, after supper, the Beast asked her simply and inexplicably, "Beauty, will you wed me?"

Each night he asked this question. And each time he asked, Beauty answered, "No, Beast. No, I cannot marry you." In great sorrow, the Beast accepted these refusals. Then he left her for the night.

One day, Beast came to Beauty and found her melancholy. Beauty explained that she missed her family and wished to visit them again. Beast told her that he could deny her nothing. She was free to depart from his castle and his company. "But if you do not return before the dark of the moon," warned the Beast, "I shall die from the pain of your absence."

"I promise to return to you, dear Beast," Beauty replied.

The Beast gave Beauty the magical means to travel swiftly to her father's house, and instructed her as to how she could return again to the castle. Beauty went home at once, to the astonishment of her family. Her father was overjoyed to see her alive. Her sisters was envious of her good fortune. Beauty enjoyed their attention and occupied herself with the daily life of the household. The days passed. Beauty found many pursuits appealing and became distracted by the demands upon her time made my her family and friends. The dark of the moon came...and went.

One night, Beauty had a vision of the magical realm she had left behind. She saw the Beast lying upon the ground, alone and lifeless. The vision faded and Beauty sprang up in terror. She activated the magic and transported herself to the castle of the Beast. All was quiet there. The Beast did not come to her. She began to search for him, and at last she found him lying beside the garden pool, cold and still.

"Beast! Beast!" cried Beauty. She feared he was dead. When he did not answer her, she scooped up water from the pool with her hands and bathed her poor Beast's fearsome face.

The Beast opened his weary eyes. "You broke your promise, Beauty," he said. "And so I die. But I give thanks for this final blessing of your presence before I go."

"No, Beast! You must not die! You must live! Do not die! Your bride does not want you to die! For I love you! I love you and wish to dwell here with you all the rest of my days!"

"You love me, Beauty?" asked the Beast.

"I do."

"And you will marry me?"

"I will."

The Beast transformed from his monstrous form into a handsome prince. He told his amazed Beauty that long ago an evil spirit cursed him. He must live as a hideous Beast until someone expressed the willingness to love him for who he was and give him their hand in marriage. Beauty and the Prince were married and lived happily thereafter.


Details change from version to version. There's a magic mirror in some tales, which allows Beauty to observe the ordinary world and her family. In some stories, her father falls ill and Beauty wants to return home to tend him. The time allotted for the separation varies. I use the dark of the moon; others use three days or three weeks, or some other measure. In some stories, Beauty has sisters, in others she does not. In the oldest versions, Beast does not transform into Prince until *after* Beauty has not only proclaimed her undying devotion, but also accepted him into her bed. That's the adult rendering, and I prefer it.

Disneyification does nasty things to the Beast. I also feel it does dangerous things to Beauty, because it flattens her out into a character who cannot change. There is no room for Beauty to grow in Disney's tale. The only thing that changes is her opinion of the Beast's character...because the Beast's character undergoes all the hard work of growing to match Beauty's perfection. Hooray for a heroine who reads. But what a dangerous message for girls: Yes, dearie, if you are good enough and strong enough and moral enough, even a violent and cruel potential lover might just see the error of his ways and become a tame beastie who treats you well. Why, he might even be a prince in disguise! So hang in there!

*shudders*

Maclurv wrote:Anytime there are large gaps, there will be ideas flowing in to fill them, not all of them well thought out. :)


Too true.

Maclurv wrote:Does the story need Vincent to suffer the slings and arrows of Paracelsus prior to discovering his (and Catherine discovering her)state of being loved? Would we learn as much if Vincent had learned it earlier and we had seen that knowledge help shield him from his assaults?


It would be a different story offering different lessons if the title lovers had achieved this knowledge earlier. Honestly, I think it would be the more powerful and creative story. It is pretty easy to show the pattern of Evil Breaks...Brokenness Hurts. It is harder to add Love Mends Brokenness. It is even more difficult to show the deeper, more uncommon pattern of Love Protects Against Brokenness...Evil Threatens...United Love Transforms Evil. We would have learned *a lot* from that.

The story, per se, did not require Vincent to suffer any more than he already had. But it did require some kind of response to the themes of violence, rejection, and commitment in the show. Pressured by all the forces in play, the storytellers did the best they could in the conditions they had to work with.

~ Zara
Maclurv
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Maclurv »

My thanks for such a good rendition of the fairy tale! I had not meant for it to be so much work, but I enjoyed reading it. :D

It is even more difficult to show the deeper, more uncommon pattern of Love Protects Against Brokenness...Evil Threatens...United Love Transforms Evil. We would have learned *a lot* from that.


When you put it that way, I have to agree with you. I would love to see more examples of good, healthy, well done relationships on shows rather than the drek we get now.

Catherine is embracing the Beast in his entirety, in his filthy, violent, most inhuman reality. She walks into that cave knowing they will either live together or die together, but her trust in their togetherness is complete.


What about Father? Can he reach this same (obviously not the same sort of love) level of acceptance with the whole of Vincent? Granted, he had experienced Vincent reacting aggressively to him in The Alchemist (I think it was that episode) by slashing him in the arm. Yet, both times he tried to hold back Catherine from going to Vincent. Has he not truly accepted Vincent in his entirety or is this only possible for romantic love in your opinion?

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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Zara »

Oh, I've been meaning to do write-ups of many fairy tales. You just gave me a great excuse for this one. ;)

Maclurv wrote:What about Father? Can he reach this same (obviously not the same sort of love) level of acceptance with the whole of Vincent? Granted, he had experienced Vincent reacting aggressively to him in The Alchemist (I think it was that episode) by slashing him in the arm. Yet, both times he tried to hold back Catherine from going to Vincent. Has he not truly accepted Vincent in his entirety or is this only possible for romantic love in your opinion?


Wandering into the archetypal psychology for a moment...

A father creates a son. (Let us set aside the mother, for this exercise, as Vincent's mother is not at issue here). This father pours himself into a new individual, then separates, and the son becomes a Self. If all goes well, the two related individuals remain cooperative and loving toward one another. This happens to living things at a cellular level, and the process proceeds behaviorally as well, motivating human societies at the broad end of the relational scale. Father gives Vincent all the unconditional acceptance Father is capable of. Father's personal boundaries necessarily differ from Vincent's. Vincent tells Father in "What Rough Beast": "You have educated the man. You have nurtured the man. Read him poetry. Taught him to love. But the Other? You don't understand. You don't understand its power." This is no failing on Father's part; this is an aspect of the child which is not and cannot be part of the parent, but only of the child's own Self. In Vincent, it is a Beast-Self, which has special meaning, and which allows us to look at their relationship through the distancing lens of fantasy in order to perceive things we might not otherwise observe in a completely factual scenario. In Father's sphere of being, his role has been to protect everyone (including Vincent) from the unrestrained Beast...and from people's unrestrained reactions to the Beast. His total acceptance of Vincent's full Self is limited because Father's identity cannot expand to include all of what Vincent is.

Catherine, however, finds in the father's son a mate for herself. The nature of her relationship with Vincent is not to stay separate, but to merge with him and his full reality, just as Vincent is seeking to merge with her. This is why he is drawn Up into her world, and she Down into his. These particular lovers cannot live exclusively in one place or the other due to environmental factors beyond their control or responsibility. So their union blazes a new path, constructs a new foundation for a special dwelling place where their love can flourish. Call it a borderland. Catherine's acceptance of Vincent at any given moment in time reveals her level of acceptance toward herself, and her openness to creating a new Self through this gradual process of joining with him. She's always on her way; she makes vital progress throughout the story. In "The Alchemist" she tells Father: "What did you think I'd do when you brought me here? Leave him alone like this? I have no choice!" In "What Rough Beast" she tells him: "I have...watched. I have seen him when he loses himself...Part of me shares that with him!" In "The Rest is Silence," she says, "Father. He is my life. Without him, there is nothing." Catherine is the only one who can and does unite with Vincent. She is the only one who can accept all of who he is; the woman and the provider of the type of loving acceptance Vincent has been longing for all his conscious life.

So. No, Father cannot attain the level of acceptance which the adult Vincent needs. Father can, however, support Vincent with the level of acceptance Father is capable of giving, and he withholds nothing in the way of love from his son. Father has not fully accepted Vincent's entire being for the basic reason that Father does not comprehend the boundaries of Vincent's entire being. They do not relate on equal footing in that regard. Catherine and Vincent, on the other hand, *are* equals, a matched pair. Full understanding and full acceptance of Vincent's Self is only possible when romantic love unites these two Selves into a reciprocal partnership that expands both individuals into a new construct, a new life. They share their united boundaries and thus find freedom and fulfillment within their new sphere of existence. Physically, this is expressed via the procreative work of sex and childbearing. Spiritually, this is the essence of true love and the core of genuine romance. That is what I observe happening in the TV series.

~ Zara
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Maclurv »

Father has not fully accepted Vincent's entire being for the basic reason that Father does not comprehend the boundaries of Vincent's entire being. They do not relate on equal footing in that regard.


So based on this understanding, would this also apply to any sister/brother relationship (ie other tunnel residents Vincent grew up with)? Would Vincent have but one person in his life (Catherine) who has

Full understanding and full acceptance of Vincent's Self is only possible when romantic love unites these two Selves into a reciprocal partnership that expands both individuals into a new construct, a new life.


Are there not parallel tracks that achieve a similar, or nearly similar, level of knowing one another? For example, the very truest meaning of a 'best friend?' How important was Vincent's dream of ever having love? If Catherine had not come into his life, would that feeling of unrest that he expressed in one of his letters have grown to a proportion that could have led to his downfall, if not even his demise, if he did not have this level of full understanding through romantic love to help him meet these challenges that confronted him?

Also, after more thought about this, is this true only for 'true love' or love with one's soul mate? Or had things gone better in Arabesque, would Vincent have been able to have Lisa achieve the level of understanding of him? (granted, she would have to change a lot, but...) I guess I'm asking if more 'ordinary' love would achieve the same ends? I'm defining ordinary as those people who would admit that the person they love is not a 'soul mate' but that they love the person nonetheless.

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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Zara »

You ask the bestest questions. :mrgreen:

Here are my best present answers. They could change via further examination. I find your questions instructive.

Maclurv wrote:
Zara wrote: Father has not fully accepted Vincent's entire being for the basic reason that Father does not comprehend the boundaries of Vincent's entire being. They do not relate on equal footing in that regard.


So based on this understanding, would this also apply to any sister/brother relationship (ie other tunnel residents Vincent grew up with)?


I'm thinking yes...with the caveat that different people will be able to overlap different boundaries with Vincent, and so accept variable qualities of his character. Existing as he does at the heart of a community where the people all accept him in different ways, for different reasons, but with similar loving intentions, Vincent has a very fulfilling life apart from Catherine. But however close or intimately well they know and love each other, brothers and sisters are not meant to merge in the way that lovers are.

Maclurv wrote:Would Vincent have but one person in his life (Catherine) who has
Zara wrote: Full understanding and full acceptance of Vincent's Self is only possible when romantic love unites these two Selves into a reciprocal partnership that expands both individuals into a new construct, a new life.


Are there not parallel tracks that achieve a similar, or nearly similar, level of knowing one another?


Parallel and similar, yes. Deep and beautiful, certainly. But not an exact fit for Vincent, personally. True, many people find they do not need romantic love to fuse Self with Self and find fulfillment in relationship with another/others (including best friends). However, Vincent seems to be wired in such a way that only a woman's sexual love will complete him. (Hence, the influence of the original fairy tale there.)

Maclurv wrote:How important was Vincent's dream of ever having love? If Catherine had not come into his life, would that feeling of unrest that he expressed in one of his letters have grown to a proportion that could have led to his downfall, if not even his demise, if he did not have this level of full understanding through romantic love to help him meet these challenges that confronted him?


Vincent's dream of love is essential to his character. It is his only way out of his aloneness. Without Catherine, he very well could have succumbed to the shadow of desolation he described in his first letter to Catherine, which I believe was the weight of his dream pressing upon his current reality. He could also have accepted an incomplete life by setting the dream aside, embracing his aloneness, and developing a different identity. But he would have to choose, either way: pursue or release. It is a choice he makes regularly even after Catherine becomes a part of his life. Being the powerful dreamer that he is, he most often chooses to pursue, even when the dreaming gives him pain.

His strength to withstand the pain and pursue the dream shattered when Paracelsus finally convinced him that he was an evil monster unworthy of love. After this brutal excision of Vincent's positive self-regard, Vincent had neither his dream, nor his choice to accept a different dream...and his sense of Self fragmented and dissolved. Ultimately, Catherine could bring him back from the abyss because her heart knew Vincent through and through, even if she was unable to access or express this deep knowledge until they all reached Vincent's bitter end. Father could not encompass all of Vincent's brokenness; Catherine could. And so she joined her Beloved in the dark cavern and held all their combined pieces together and refuted Paracelcus's dehumanization...with personhood. I think she accepted the burden of Vincent's dreaming in that moment. When he could no longer pursue the light that gave him Hope and Self, she did, for both of them. That she succeeded in restoring the one who is "her life," is proof of their union. The child they conceived physically signifies the creation of their new Self, and also symbolizes a metaphysical marriage of soul with soul.

~ Zara
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Zara »

Maclurv wrote:Also, after more thought about this, is this true only for 'true love' or love with one's soul mate? Or had things gone better in Arabesque, would Vincent have been able to have Lisa achieve the level of understanding of him? (granted, she would have to change a lot, but...) I guess I'm asking if more 'ordinary' love would achieve the same ends? I'm defining ordinary as those people who would admit that the person they love is not a 'soul mate' but that they love the person nonetheless.


In the real world, "ordinary love" is just as precious and powerful as "soul mate" love, so please understand that I have no desire to denigrate any form of love with my reply. :) In our fairy tale, the ideal of "soul mate" love is a recurring theme and stands as a corrective model to the trite, sex-focused relationships in other contemporary stories being trotted out during the 1980s (and today as well, alas). None other than a soul mate will abide the Beast. Nothing less than extraordinary love could withstand the forces arrayed against the existence of a part-human-part-animal creature. Catherine's struggles to grow, and adapt, and accept, all testify to the immense challenge these forces pose. So I would say, no. For Beast and Beauty, ordinary love will not suffice.

~ Zara
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Maclurv »

I suspected that

For Beast and Beauty, ordinary love will not suffice.


My questions come from what you have been writing, which is interesting :D , and also from thinking about what I titled this topic area, The Balancing Act That Is Vincent. In what respect is balance? What contributes to or takes away from that balance? Since Love is Everything, it is appropriate that the love Vincent and Catherine find together put Vincent in a place where he finds full acceptance, and more importantly, belief in that acceptance.

Which leads me to another question. (see how that works? :) As a couple, they had made considerable progress before Paracelsus did his last number on Vincent. But isn't Vincent a strong character? Earlier you had said

It's so much easier to flip it around and believe that Vincent all by his lonely, emotionally crippled self, is sabotaging his own (and Catherine's) chance for happiness.


so I presumed from that (yes, almost as dangerous as 'assume' :) ) that you consider Vincent to be a fairly well-centered character, especially with the addition of Catherine into his life, and her growing love. So why did he succumb to Paracelsus? Or did he realize he needed to 'break' to find out if Catherine could indeed love the 'whole him,' and if not, was willing to pay the price?

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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Zara »

Pat wrote:Since Love is Everything, it is appropriate that the love Vincent and Catherine find together put Vincent in a place where he finds full acceptance, and more importantly, belief in that acceptance.


Oh, beautifully stated. Thank you for that thought!

Pat wrote:In what respect is balance? What contributes to or takes away from that balance?


I think Vincent's balance constitutes his internal truce between his desire for peace and his capacity to act violently in order to protect the peace. (Peace encompassing the lifestyle of justice, honesty, calmness, security, growth and healing which characterizes the Tunnels culture that has nurtured Vincent from infancy. You can examine this culture in closer detail...and have, elsewhere. :) ) Vincent's task is to balance risk and safety, for himself and for those he loves. His role inside his community as a protector gives him an appropriate outlet for discovering a functional bridge between the two conditions. Within his own world, Vincent has found a balance of ethics, instinct, duty, and love, which allows him to justify his violence and celebrate his secured peace. It is the added burden of leaving his world to protect Catherine that initially breaks and unbalances Vincent's equilibrium. Paracelsus capitalizes upon that imbalanced weakness, then exploits it to the greatest possible extent.

Pat wrote:So why did he succumb to Paracelsus? Or did he realize he needed to 'break' to find out if Catherine could indeed love the 'whole him,' and if not, was willing to pay the price?


I don't think Vincent broke deliberately, or to test Catherine's love. He's suffered from insanity in the past, and his terror in "The Rest is Silence" tells me that he never wanted to experience that personal hell again...nor have his loved ones experience it through their proximity to him.

Rather, I believe Vincent succumbed to Paracelsus because his enemy was hammering at that weak spot in his identity where Catherine's love and acceptance had not yet entered in to stay. Not only were Vincent's doubts about his own recourse to violence unshielded by Catherine's love, but Catherine's own actions and reactions were already striking him there, long before Paracelsus added his cruel attacks. The combined assault of love and hate broke him apart.

Vincent's unresolved doubts and fears reflect Catherine's unresolved doubts and fears. He was always ready to confront these fears in a meaningful way, encouraged by moments of gracious acceptance from his Beloved...until Catherine kept bringing new refusals into the picture at unpredictable intervals. Then Vincent became unsure of how much of himself Catherine could accept during/after any given incident and his confidence in his own judgment began to decay. His Self was expanding into Catherine's Self and world, but he had no consistent counterbalance to keep himself centered in this new, expanded terrain. Paracelsus invaded at a very vulnerable time in Vincent's life. Vincent simply wasn't ready for him. It does say a lot, though, about the power of love in all its forms, that Paracelsus had to go to such tremendous and repeated lengths before he finally managed to exact the vengeance he desired.

~ Zara
Maclurv
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Maclurv »

I think Vincent's balance constitutes his internal truce between his desire for peace and his capacity to act violently in order to protect the peace.


I think balance can be considered many ways (at least I hope so, otherwise, it will be a short topic! :) ). We've been discussing the balance of Vincent's psyche from acceptance/non-acceptance of love. You've raised the peace/violence balance, which in many respects, addresses the beast/human balance. Then you raise this, another balance:

Vincent's task is to balance risk and safety, for himself and for those he loves.


Which is something that has been raised in relation to Catherine, as her views on risk/safety may not always coincide with Vincent's, at least for herself.

And yet another balance:

Vincent's unresolved doubts and fears reflect Catherine's unresolved doubts and fears.


By being so intertwined, how can one not be an influencing force on the other. As Catherine begins to accept, she encounters a situation that calls her to question the acceptance. As Vincent begins to accept her acceptance, Catherine's action calls him to question her acceptance. Such a ballet that occurs between the two.

There is also the balance (for us all, not just for Vincent) between the known/the unknown about ourselves. How much self-awareness we have, vs how much self-doubt we entertain. For Vincent, this is the area of his 'Achilles tendon.' How can it not be - he needs merely to look at himself to know how set apart he is, and this he tends to not want to do (although is his distaste for mirrors canon or fanon?). Despite being raised with love and acceptance, he still doubts that romantic love is for him. Father did contribute to this doubt, reinforcing 'the love that can never be,' and 'it can only bring you pain. In areas of vulnerability, it is too easy for us to make one step forward with great effort, then when something causes us to question ourselves, we often take two steps back, as if to atone for our effrontery to go so far beyond our self-doubt. Vincent shows this vulnerability while showing great self-awareness in almost all other ways. Paracelsus did indeed know where to strike. He sharpened the arrow by wrapping it with a cloak of revelry - glorifying in his nature to be violent, praising it as his ultimate acceptance of himself and his power. So he gets Vincent to question his worthiness to be loved, and to question his ability to retain his sense of justice and ethics, all of which point to his human-ness. He loses his balance, and falls. Until Catherine walks into the cave, casts her fate with his, and proves love is the fulcrum by which we all seek our balance.

Pat
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Zara »

Sweet.

Yes indeed, balancing is a multifaceted undertaking. I'm glad you have steered us toward this realization.

Pat wrote:although is his distaste for mirrors canon or fanon?


We have two specific clues from canon. First, in the Pilot, Catherine cannot find a mirror anywhere in Vincent's chamber after she removes the bandages from her face. She must make do with an old headlight reflector. Second, in "Ceremony of Innocence," Vincent tells Catherine: "There are no mirrors in this chamber. But there are mirrors in the soul, and I cannot live with what I see there." He does not keep a mirror in his inner sanctum.

However, we do see Vincent spending significant time at the Mirror Pool during the series, sometimes watching the stars and the sky, other times viewing his own reflection. His dreams of Catherine tend to contain mirrors ("Nor Iron Bars a Cage," "Remember Love," "When the Bluebird Sings," etc.), he looks at his reflection in Narcissa's divination bowl without undue hesitation, he has no problem viewing portraits of himself (indeed, he expresses pleasure with the paintings in "Ozymandias" and "Bluebird"), and he refers to his own face as a mirror for other people ("Brothers"). Perhaps his face via reflected/painted images is a mirror for himself as well?

Distaste may not be what is happening in Vincent with regard to mirrors. I think maybe we can take the Mirror as a recurring symbol in the story, one which reflects (hee hee) the shifting foci of Vincent's balancing act.

I also think you have described that work of balancing within Vincent and between the title lovers with great clarity and insight. Thank you.

:)

Zara
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by 222333 »

*
I have tried many times to compose a reply to this thread, but it’s difficult. I have lots of thoughts crossing my mind. The first thought is of course that what I read in the past posts is beautiful and consistent, and you know how much I admire consistency. The second is that it does not sound “right” to me. From a very general point of view, I guess it’s because such approach puts V and C in a “special” category, which is not close to me enough to be inspiring. You also know how much I like the symbolical meaning of “everything” in this show, but it is a symbolism that I can use myself, for my human growth. The growth of a human being who perceives and wants to feed in tales telling that life is much more than what you have “inside” or “outside”, and “that truth is love”. For this, I think, I consider so important that B&B is credible, apart from the fictional Vincent who represents the “unseen”, “invisible” “un-tamable” element of our lives, credible as well in its own way. And that’s why I hate Paracelsus, as an incredible character.

The approach outlined in these posts places the lovers in a mythical position, which is absolutely okay and one that respects and founds the whole development of the series, even more consistently than what the writers did. But doing so, it places them also too far from us, from me. Catherine is a flawed character which finds her redemption drawing Vincent back from death. Vincent is a flawed character which is made “man” by the sublime and terrible acceptance of his mate. Now, I love those flawed characters and I love precisely that they are flawed, what I don’t love is that in that fated approach, they find their closure, and become something other. And Vincent becomes comfortable with himself and his dangerous side, his focus becoming something else, the Above being only a place of anger and evil. And especially, Catherine becomes “disposable”. Her parable is completed, and she sacrifices herself until the supreme sacrifice. That done, we can honor her and move on, a stepping stone. Apart being not fair, fairness being a whole important chapter in my approach, in such trajectory she is not inspiring. Or not in a way I like. And it’s no wonder, Zara, that you also prefer Diana, who is much more “real” and inspiring. Which I very well understand, given these premises.

Given these premises, this un-inspiring (for me) approach is flawless, and if I want to be consistent, I should follow such trajectory myself. That is why I reject it, and put my full stop at the end of A Kingdom by the Sea, before all this happens. At that point, I still see possible what you so perfectly described, Zara:
It would be a different story offering different lessons if the title lovers had achieved this knowledge {=state of being loved} earlier. Honestly, I think it would be the more powerful and creative story. It is pretty easy to show the pattern of Evil Breaks...Brokenness Hurts. It is harder to add Love Mends Brokenness. It is even more difficult to show the deeper, more uncommon pattern of Love Protects Against Brokenness...Evil Threatens...United Love Transforms Evil. We would have learned *a lot* from that.

Before the Dark Turn, we don’t see all this happening in the series, but we see it still possible, we see the slow approach to it, and I can daydream about it. This offers me two beautiful opportunities: to be and “stay” in love with the show; and to be inspired by a love story which is in progress, as you say about Catherine, always on her way; she makes vital progress throughout the story; and the same is valid for Vincent.

Yes, to do it I must make an arbitrary decision, as it’s not what the series show. But I feel entitled to do it, because, as I have said many times, this is just entertainment. I’m sure that you are not misinterpreting this as diminishing it and you know how much I love this entertainment anyway. I am still aware, though, that it does not have the strength to offer me the ground needed for supporting a different development, implying a higher kind of sacrifice and a different kind of tale. B&B has deep religious roots and resonances, but it’s not a religion. Catherine is not the Holy Spirit <wink>, she’s a woman in love. Vincent is not Jesus and he wants to love Catherine, not to be resurrected by her, and Father is just a loving, flawed father, the capital F only symbolic, his powers limited and rooted in a very human love.

When I was completely and horribly crushed by the 3S, one of the reasons why it happened is that the story appealed to these religious and symbolic undercurrents, but then it left me alone to cope with my killed hope, as… it’s just a TV show. Powerful enough to make me fly, but not enough to raise me up when I’m broken.

This is what I managed to understand better myself while trying to write it down. The thoughts are still bubbling in my mind though...

S
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Maclurv »

Sobi,

such approach puts V and C in a “special” category, which is not close to me enough to be inspiring.


Could you explain this a bit more for me? I'm trying to understand how you see it as "special."

I can understand your desire to have characters who can feel 'as if' for you, so that you can apply what you understand from the show to your own life and/or development. Zara is the mythical expert here, yet in much of what she writes I can accept in more general terms for how Vincent or Catherine work through their concepts of the relationship.

to be inspired by a love story which is in progress, as you say about Catherine, always on her way; she makes vital progress throughout the story; and the same is valid for Vincent.


This came up in BBTV. I wish they had been able to go on as a couple and show a more adult relationship, one in which they talk about issues, and resolve the problems that stand in the way of their being together. There are enough dysfunctional relationships on TV. It would have been nice to have one more functional, even if contained within a structure of a fairy tale.

I would have been interested to see George RR Martin's original plan. He wanted to explore the costs of Vincent's violence, a coming to grips with that side of himself, and keep in it the coming together through love that Catherine's pulling him back to her provides. Then I could hope that the adult relationship aspect might have come into the show more and get the story I would have liked. :D

B&B has deep religious roots and resonances, but it’s not a religion.


No, it's not. Yet it can teach us universal truths in a way that is meaningful and entertaining. Nothing wrong with that!

Pat
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