Impressions

Question and answers, musings and thoughts...

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Zara
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Re: Impressions

Post by Zara »

<smiles>

I find both of your anticipations applicable, for our characters are complex people who make different choices under various circumstances. ;)

And I'd say our musings are fine in this thread, for this discussion takes a different track than the other. There will always be plenty to say about Catherine, and Vincent, and all the rest.

S wrote:Personally, there’s something more that I love, which is also her peculiar feature. It seems to me that she accepts Vincent completely.


In line with what I said earlier about the connections between Beauty's journey and Beast transformation, I'd augment your insight to propose that Catherine accepts Vincent with her full capability for acceptance at each present moment in the story. Her acceptance grows over time, not because she ever held something back from him or deliberately refused to embrace part of him, but because SHE grows over time and her ability to love and accept and give grows too. That's the whole point of the fable, yes?

S wrote:About Lady Bountiful, I agree. I regret that that beautiful opening of the Suicide Hotline of GBTC is so seldom explored in fanfiction. Rather than giving money, the canon shows that Catherine chooses to give herself, her time and compassion.


I have noticed this lack in fanfiction, and wondered about it. I would also add that Catherine's giving travels a different path than many fanfiction stories show. First, there is in canon a clear dichotomy between Catherine's pre-April-12 giving and post-April-12. She repeatedly credits Vincent and his community with teaching her how to give to others. She was kind and compassionate previously, sure. Our one example in the Pilot shows Catherine listening with care and concern to Eve's troubles at an investor's party. But Catherine was hardly doing volunteer work, using her legal skills outside her father's corporate law offices, or spending personal time assisting the poor. Tom Gunther, for one, would never have gotten involved with such a "liberal" woman in the first place, and Catherine seemed to surprise him when she broke from her expected role at that Pilot party.

Also, Catherine's giving after April 12 always takes the form of "unruly generosity," as you so brilliantly phrased it. She has finite time and energy, so she makes the most of every moment at her disposal. Catherine leaves corporate law for criminal law, working for the city to prosecute lawbreakers. I think it significant that she signs on with the prosecution, siding with victims of crime. That's a complete reorientation of her career and her financial priorities, a tremendous gift to the world at any time, but especially in the world of the 1980s. Beyond her career, her giving is deep and personally invested. She's not someone who dishes up food in soup kitchens or sorts thrift shop donations (although I'm certain she would happily do such important work if the occasion required her to). She does give money to causes (libraries and museums and the like; see "A Children's Story" and "Seige" and "A Happy Life" for examples), but she also shows up to the related social events to enjoy firsthand the environment her donations are supporting. Overall, however, she is drawn most personally to riskier things, more difficult undertakings, than that. Her wealth and prestige give her the power to take more risks. Her personal virtues and experiences give her the motivation.

Catherine mans the phones of a suicide hotline. At Christmas. Heavens, that scene always gives me chills; she's amazing in that conversation, and the one she has with Lena face-to-face. Catherine purchases gifts for people Below with specific recipients in mind, showing that she pays attention to what her recipients specifically need. She works at all hours on her cases for the District Attorney; that's not just a paycheck job to her, it is her primary outlet for giving to others. She applies her formidible intelligence to solving the personal problems other people bring to her, i.e. Lena, Tony Ramos, Michael, Rolley, Brigit O'Donnell, Jacob Wells, etc. She drops everything and rushes to nurse a community infected with plague. Or she drops everything and joins Devin on an unexplained trip to the carnival when he asks for her help. And on and on.

In other words, Catherine's giving is never safe, never simple, never easy, never convenient, and never anonymous. I'd wager even her monetary donations are never conservative. She doesn't fit giving into her schedule like extracurricular activities after school. Giving IS her schedule, her whote new life. I very, very much miss seeing more of Catherine's true style of giving in fanfiction.

Pat wrote: However, if I may anticipate Zara a bit, she may say that her ignoring the rules is an example of her poor risk assessment, although with Lena, it did turn out okay.


I think when Catherine ignores rules, it's more a sign of her ingrained-from-infancy sense of entitlement, fuelling her creative style of problem-solving. Risk assessment is a skill, one that Catherine can learn and expand through experience. Rule-breaking and rule-bending appear to be her habitual method for getting what she wants. Catherine's generosity leads her to want the best outcome for people in need, so anything in her way, including rules, often get shoved aside for the sake of achieving her goals.

S wrote:I'd say that this carefree side of her character may be fascinating for someone, like Vincent, for whom instead a careful risk assessment is vital, although he shares this desire of breaking the rules.


Oh, yes. The power of Catherine's freedom amazes and delights Vincent from the beginning, onward. Yet he keeps more rules than he breaks. And he is always able to justify the breaking of one rule through honoring the imperative of another rule. And he repeatedly admonishes Catherine in Season One to exercise greater caution in her own rulebreaking. We just need to keep in mind that the rules and laws of life Below are not the same as Topside rules and laws. Vincent is a very lawful character. But it's the laws of the underworld that he upholds. His relationship with Catherine increasingly leads him into situations where he becomes poignantly aware that he is breaking many Topsider rules and laws. Perhaps his innately cautious and lawful self is uncomfortable with that knowledge.

~ Zara
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Re: Impressions

Post by Maclurv »

While I agree that Vincent is normally law-abiding and rule-governed, he does kill which does not fit within any rules above or below except in terms of protection and self-defense, applicable in both.

And is Catherine entitled or determined? Being an only child, and on her own from age 10 with just a father, she may likely be determined as entitled. Personally, I vote more toward determined, and in that sense, a creative problem solver in her determinism. For all the excellent reasons you cited above about her generosity, etc, this also makes me vote more toward determined than entitled. Spoiled can be applicable, without leading to entitled necessarily. And she did stretch her Father's indulgence with his firm when she worked there. But with entitlement comes, at least in my mind, a less open way with people, and Catherine showed that in the pilot she was open to just about anyone.

Catherine did seem attracted to men early on who would try to control her, which led to her chafing against the restrictions and ultimately getting out of the relationships. Perhaps this was a pattern established with her Father, although to a lesser degree of control. Meeting Vincent showed her that a man did not have to control someone in order to love them. So she also needed to learn how to change her half of the relationship, the response she might normally make.

I like your amendment that Catherine accepted wholeheartedly to the degree of her present moment. She was growing and changing, and capable of more at different times.

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Re: Impressions

Post by Zara »

Pat wrote:While I agree that Vincent is normally law-abiding and rule-governed, he does kill which does not fit within any rules above or below except in terms of protection and self-defense, applicable in both.


I'm not quite sure what you statement means. Can you clarify, please?

Yes, Vincent's killing is analogous to the world Above's societal license for soldiers and police. But he is not a soldier as we think of a soldier, nor a police officer, nor even quite an ordinary civilian performing acts of self-defense. He makes too many protective acts, too often, to fall into that last category. He lives by a different legal structure. From the underworld's point of view, one of Vincent's several roles among the people is to be the community's chief guardian, and he keeps a proactive watch. He and Isaac Stubbs operate along similar lines: you do whatever you have to do to come out alive (and to keep other people in your care alive), using what you've got. On the street there are no rules. That reality influences underworld law very much, and highlights Vincent's instant decisions and powerful speed during conflicts. A fight in the underworld is not a boxing match and not a trial in court. One enters Death's domain when one walks the city's streets after dark. At the same time, Vincent is not a vigilante like Jason Walker; Vincent doesn't go looking for trouble. Nor does he kill to take what he wants from others, like Mitch Denton. Vincent's killing breaks Topside laws. It does not break Tunnels law.

I think I'm trying to say that Vincent's world has definite rules which make a distinction between killing and murder, yet also make frequent allowance for the shedding of blood. Killing is permitted. Murder is not. The law Below requires its people to never instigate violence. Responding to already-enacted violence with violence, however, is a recognized possibility. Vincent kills within the bounds set by his community and his own conscience. His world leaves greater space for the act of taking a life than Catherine's does. Vincent will never go on trial in his world for any of his standard defensive or offensive measures, nor will he ever be punished Below for manslaughter, voluntary or otherwise. But this is why Vincent is completely shattered by the death of Paracelsus. John Pater's final scheme taught Vincent how to do murder. The Tunnels community accepted that killing within the flexible gray areas of its rules. Still, Vincent's lawful heart had to cope with his new identity of Murderer. And of Patricide.

Pat wrote:And is Catherine entitled or determined?


I understand the distinction you are making. In light of your definitions, determination certainly comes to the foreground. For my part, I say "entitled," because Catherine's privileges are a cultural entitlement. You know me, never stopping at an individual focus. ;) So I'm not saying that Catherine is spoiled or personally assumes that she deserves to behave in rule-bending ways. I wish to suggest that at Catherine's echelon of society, she is primed to take advantage of extra freedoms the mainstream world allots to wealthy, physically beautiful, Anglo/Western-culturally refined individuals. And Catherine claims that power on a daily basis. She uses that power to pull all manner of crazy stunts, to use Joe Maxwell's phrasing. Indeed, most of her conflicts with Vincent and others in the Tunnels arise due to a clash between upperworld power and underworld principles. Between Catherine's Topside entitlement and Vincent's Topside disenfranchisement. It takes Catherine some while to begin to understand what it means to be part of a world where all of its people are truly, genuinely equal. It's nothing she is used to.

~ Zara
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Re: Impressions

Post by Maclurv »

Bear in mind I am on vacation (which means a Mike's Hard Lemonade or two) so I may not make the best sense, even if I ever have! I can agree with what you said about Vincent. I have just thought that Vincent breaks his own rules (and perhaps even Father's) when he makes the decision to go and visit Catherine those 8 months later.

Yes, I can see your point from the echelon point of view. Very different perspectives abide Above and Below. That is what makes Catherine such an oddity to them, why would a person like her want to be down here with us? Of course, they are happy for Vincent, yet still, it is something for them to ponder.

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Re: Impressions

Post by 222333 »

*
Thank you for your thoughts. Here are mine.

About Catherine: another fundamental trait of her character, for me, is perfectly summed up in what Zara said:
I think it significant that she signs on with the prosecution, siding with victims of crime.

*
She is generous AND outraged. I think that “outraged” has the same meaning in English like the Italian “oltraggiato”, but perhaps even more, as we don't have that fitting "out-rage" in our word. She’s a victim herself, and she does not forget. Perhaps not even forgive. She’s been forever changed by her attack. She never wants to feel so powerless again (that “Never!” that she says to Isaac) and, for me, it’s evident that she projects all this in the people she’s helping.

Zara: She doesn't fit giving into her schedule like extracurricular activities after school. Giving IS her schedule, her whole new life.

*
Exactly. But there is this strong component of “self-something” in what she does/lives. A sort of competition. Which is completely absent in Vincent, instead.

Zara: Catherine's generosity leads her to want the best outcome for people in need, so anything in her way, including rules, often get shoved aside for the sake of achieving her goals.

*
Yes. And she hates to be a loser. Now, for Catherine, meeting Vincent, meeting the world Below, and, symbolically, for all of us meeting the “inside” of ourselves means to learn that it’s okay to lose, as love is not only for the winners. And love can give you the strength to accept to forget (and to forgive). And to become stronger in a better way. But it’s hard. In fact...

Zara: It takes Catherine some while to begin to understand what it means to be part of a world where all of its people are truly, genuinely equal. It's nothing she is used to.

*
Well, who is? And although that world is also “her world” inasmuch she’s a woman “of two worlds”, she is also “a woman living in New York and trying to be happy”. In this, I think, the balance between the two worlds – between the two souls, the two pulls, etc. – is much harder for her than for Vincent. Vincent is not and never will be a man of two worlds. He needs Catherine for this.

Zara:Catherine accepts Vincent with her full capability for acceptance at each present moment in the story.

*
It’s so preciously true – and so difficult. Precisely because she’s still that woman living in New York. She dreams picnics and Fifth Avenue icecreams for him. Not because she wants him different, but, I think, because she feels the unfairness of his condition. Back to square one: she sides with victims, and, from this point of view, Vincent is a victim as well.

So, about Vincent:

Pat: I have just thought that Vincent breaks his own rules (and perhaps even Father's) when he makes the decision to go and visit Catherine those 8 months later.


Zara: Oh, yes. The power of Catherine's freedom amazes and delights Vincent from the beginning, onward. Yet he keeps more rules than he breaks. And he is always able to justify the breaking of one rule through honoring the imperative of another rule. And he repeatedly admonishes Catherine in Season One to exercise greater caution in her own rulebreaking. We just need to keep in mind that the rules and laws of life Below are not the same as Topside rules and laws. Vincent is a very lawful character. But it's the laws of the underworld that he upholds. His relationship with Catherine increasingly leads him into situations where he becomes poignantly aware that he is breaking many Topsider rules and laws. Perhaps his innately cautious and lawful self is uncomfortable with that knowledge.

*
What I’m going to write is just my impression, I don’t think I can support it with detailed evidences in the episodes, it’s just how I like to think. For me, Vincent in the general perception has been invested with too much solemnity and nobleness. He is a Beast – absolutely noble, please don’t get me wrong, but beast nevertheless. I like to think that he may feel like a “caged” beast sometimes, and that he finds his way to “be” a beast. For the better and for the worse. He's a young man full of energy and dreams. He climbes the NYC rooftops and rides subways, but not only. Mitch is terrorized by what he has “unleashed”, Mouse says to Catherine “you die, Vincent will kill me anyway”, all of Father’s warnings I can remember go ignored. I think that he is fully aware of what (=how different) he is, that he’s one of a kind. Only Vincent can understand what it means to be Vincent. So, I think that rules and laws, for Vincent, are neither those of Above nor those of Below. He is different, and he knows it. I don't think he tries to mimick the normal people, not even the tunnel dwellers. Knowing himself is both his blessing and his curse. For me, he is aware that he *must* live a different life, in order to be himself, not just try to sublimate his inner differences (which he does a lot). And doing so, he keeps wondering who and what he is (“I have ideas…”), although he knows that he won’t ever find a reply (“I’ll never know”), so that his balance, as well as his behaviour, rules included, are a continual work in progress. Especially in his relationship with a woman. And Catherine is THE woman, first of all because she’s the person who goes closer to understand him (“she’s the end of my aloneness”), just because of her full, growing, ever learning acceptance, which was immediate and immediately perceived by him (“I knew that from the beginning, when you trusted me”). I think that the root of their relationship, more than in “him”, it’s in “her”, in this refreshing acceptance – which never faltered, even, and especially, when she saw him mauling the thugs. Her immediate acceptance and siding with him *as a Beast* that kills and roars, protecting and hugging him, opened up a whole new, unexpected dimension for him, but it involved also for her a new dimension about law and rules. She was ready for this, as she, even more than he, is the “outraged” (out-rage) victim who had no ways to punish those who harmed her.

S
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Re: Impressions

Post by Maclurv »

Sobi said:

She’s a victim herself, and she does not forget. Perhaps not even forgive. She’s been forever changed by her attack. She never wants to feel so powerless again (that “Never!” that she says to Isaac) and, for me, it’s evident that she projects all this in the people she’s helping.


I like your summary here. I wonder if this is where some of her 'reckless' decision-making comes from, where she wades in without quite clearly taking the temperature of the water? Understandably, she feels passionate about this from her personal background of experience. And if she can use her social strata to her advantage in waging war on behalf of victims, then why hesitate?

But there is this strong component of “self-something” in what she does/lives. A sort of competition. Which is completely absent in Vincent, instead


I need more about this, please. Not clearly understanding as it is. Interesting-sounding, though!

She dreams picnics and Fifth Avenue icecreams for him


I agree that Catherine wants it for him because it is unfairly withheld from Vincent in her view. Nicely brought back to siding with victims!

He is a Beast – ... and that he finds his way to “be” a beast....I think that rules and laws, for Vincent, are neither those of Above nor those of Below. He is different, and he knows it.... he is aware that he *must* live a different life, in order to be himself, not just try to sublimate his inner differences...I think that the root of their relationship, more than in “him”, it’s in “her”, in this refreshing acceptance – which never faltered, even, and especially, when she saw him mauling the thugs. Her immediate acceptance and siding with him *as a Beast* that kills and roars, protecting and hugging him, opened up a whole new, unexpected dimension for him, but it involved also for her a new dimension about law and rules. She was ready for this, as she, even more than he, is the “outraged” (out-rage) victim who had no ways to punish those who harmed her.


Wow. Had not thought of things in this way. I would also add that it is this acceptance of him as a Beast that seems to be problematic for him to believe her, his source of doubt in their relationship. How often does she bear witness, to his protective violent acts, to his inner struggle, and still he says she does not see him as he truly is.

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Re: Impressions

Post by Zara »

Pat wrote: I would also add that it is this acceptance of him as a Beast that seems to be problematic for him to believe her, his source of doubt in their relationship. How often does she bear witness, to his protective violent acts, to his inner struggle, and still he says she does not see him as he truly is.


I still maintain that Catherine does not provide evidence of full acceptance in this regard. Vincent says that Catherine does not know him, does not see him completely, ***because Catherine tells him, again and again during two full seasons, even when he addresses the topic directly, that she sees only the man that she loves, a gentle man with no demon inside (or outside), kind and gentle and strong, etcetera and so forth.*** Yes, yes, thank you Catherine for doing what most Topsiders cannot do, for holding fast to the noble identity Vincent cultivates, the goodness he recognizes in himself, and values and nurtures with great and deliberate care. But she simply will not discuss his darkness with him, nor listen to what Vincent has to say about that side of himself without immediately trying to correct him, override his perspective with hers, reject his questions and ideas about his own interior reality. I have to wonder if this is more than what our ordinary culture trains us to do, if nothing else to be polite, when someone attempts to share uncomfortable emotions with another. I don't view this thorn in their relationship as a problem with Vincent believing Catherine...but rather the reverse: she will not believe him. She eventually told Father that part of her shares Vincent's struggle. She even questioned whether that struggle fed her own motives for putting herself in danger, for making "reckless" choices (Catherine's word). Maybe that is why she cannot face Vincent's depths? Because she cannot face the darkest deeps of her own outrage? Because she does not accept the Beast which lurks within her own Beauty?

~ Zara
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Re: Impressions

Post by Maclurv »

Zara said:
But she simply will not discuss his darkness with him, nor listen to what Vincent has to say about that side of himself without immediately trying to correct him, override his perspective with hers, reject his questions and ideas about his own interior reality.


While I see the point you make, I read the situation a bit differently. (not really news, is it!) Just pulled a quick two transcripts: The Alchemist and Arabesque. Granted, there are other scenes like you describe which I don't think have been transcribed yet. Here is dialogue snippets from the first: (right after Catherine comes to him after his dosing with the drug)

CATHERINE
What is it, Vincent? What are you thinking?
VINCENT
(Sighing, keeping head turned away from her)
How ashamed I am. That you saw me as I was,
(Turning head to look into her eyes)
and how grateful I am that you were there.
She places her hand on his shoulder and he covers it with his.
VINCENT
You saved my life, Catherine.

Later, when Vincent makes the decision to go confront Paracelsus:

VINCENT
It is mine (kindly insistent).
I have seen the demons Paracelsus has unleashed.
Felt them inside of me…How can I explain?
You become…disconnected. As if the dark side
of your imagination eclipses all compassion…all dignity.

At the closing moments of the episode:

VINCENT
(Moving towards her)
Catherine, I understand why you expose yourself to danger.
CATHERINE
Because there are some risks worth taking.
VINCENT
And there are some things worth risking everything for.

Here, Vincent admits that Catherine has seen him in a way that is true in his view, and that he is glad for it. She doesn't dispute this in any way, just accepts it; he goes on further to describe the inner turmoil produced by the drug, alluding to his dark side, and she accepts his thoughts; then lastly, he recognizes that risks are sometimes necessary, even understanding why she is so risk-oriented.

From Arabesque

The scene on the balcony

VINCENT
There are moments… images
I remember so clearly. Burning so deeply.

CATHERINE
(Gently)
Tell me about those moments.
(Stepping closer to him)

VINCENT
(Looking at her)
It was a time when I first felt the tremendous joy
that dreams could bring. Intoxication of sending your heart
soaring into the realm of hope, at that same time that I
(sighing)
learned that for me, dreams could bring
more pain than I could ever bear.
Enough pain to destroy me; even those around me.

CATHERINE
How? What happened?

VINCENT
(Forlornly and with head hanging)

CATHERINE
You can tell me…you can tell me anything…

VINCENT
I once thought that, but there are things.
Things that I had dreamt away.

CATHERINE
(Upset)
We’ve never withheld the truth
from each other…never.

VINCENT
(Looking closely at her)
I know.

and then later

VINCENT
Catherine.

CATHERINE
(Turning and smiling)
I wonder if I’ll ever not be surprised to see you there.

VINCENT
(Bowing head)
We’ve never withheld the truth from each other.

CATHERINE
No.

VINCENT
Catherine, there are things I must tell you
about who I am…and what I am.

CATHERINE
(Approaching him)
Vincent, to me… you’re beautiful.

VINCENT
What I have to tell you is not beautiful….
It’s terrifying and shameful, but it is the truth.

CATHERINE
Then I want to hear it.

VINCENT
It’s about Lisa and what she meant in my life.

CATHERINE
(Expectantly)
Yes…

VINCENT
(Looking up recalling)
I would watch her dance. She would dance
in the Great Hall alone, for herself….me.
There was nothing in the world as beautiful as Lisa.

CATHERINE
(Understanding)
And you desired her. There is no shame in that.

VINCENT
(Shaking head as she does not fully understand)
For me there is.

CATHERINE
Why?

VINCENT
(Ashamed and deeply upset)
Because I hurt her. Because in my desire
I forgot who I was, who I am.
(Weeping)
As she moved closer I wanted to hold her…
She was dancing and I felt a pull.
It was pulling me, to her and I reached out for her.
Suddenly, in her eyes I saw a fear of me.
I saw myself, but I couldn’t let go of her.
(Looking down at hands)
These hands wouldn’t let go of her and I hurt her.
(Sobbing)
And I knew that these hands
were not meant to give love
(Balling hands into fists)

CATHERINE
(Clutching his hands – kissing and caressing against face)
These hands are beautiful!
These are my hands

VINCENT
(Crying)

She stands kissing each of his hands in turn, and looking up to reassure him. Their foreheads touch as his tears continue to fall.

In this episode, she requests information from him, and listens to his answer. Then later, it is he who decides to edit what he can tell her.

Now, in this episode, when he is trying to tell her about himself, and says...'about who I am...and what I am,' She does respond with 'Vincent, to me...you're beautiful.' I see this more as support to his 'what I am' which alludes to his possible view of himself as an animal/beast, who scares people who look upon him, so she responds that she sees him as beautiful. He presses on, and she then accepts his need to speak. Then when he is rejecting his hands as instruments of love (rejecting himself?) she claims those hands as hers and states they are beautiful. Again, I don't see this as refusing to hear him, rather a rebuttal to his statement - these hands that you consider dangerous, not for love, I take them and claim them, I see beauty, beauty born of love. So I see it not as a correction, in that he is wrong, but as a counter argument to help him rethink his own position. She is also contrasting herself with Lisa, to show him that not all women are the same.

You have spoken before of this episode, how Vincent left her hanging with what happened, then later finally tells her about it, as his need to think it through before sharing it (introversion at work). Yet he could have shared that need with her rather than just exiting. I can understand that talking about your dark side isn't easy, and the prospect of it potentially destroying the relationship only adds to the pressure of keeping it to yourself. So Vincent's reticence is understandable. But I also understand Catherine's desire to buttress his self-concept, with her desire to essentially declare upfront that there is nothing he could say that could substantially change how she sees him. I see that more like a dare - tell me what you will, and see if I am not standing here, still loving you. But Vincent often chooses not to pursue his point.

And I will point out that at the end in Arabesque, after her statements, they quietly stand, heads touching, with her allowing him to cry. She is giving him the opportunity to do what he needs to do, whether it is talk, or in this case, cry because of whatever his feelings are (for what Lisa did to him, or for Catherine's acceptance?)

She even questioned whether that struggle fed her own motives for putting herself in danger, for making "reckless" choices (Catherine's word). Maybe that is why she cannot face Vincent's depths? Because she cannot face the darkest deeps of her own outrage? Because she does not accept the Beast which lurks within her own Beauty?


Interesting thought. I will point out that when practicing with Issac, she goes to attack him for real with a bat before he gets through to her to stop, and says, 'Is that you?' and it does pull her up short to realize what she is capable of when given the proper motivation. Is she fully aware of all her darkness? Probably not. I could also argue that this Beast that lurks within our Beauty is also evidence for why she does accept Vincent and sees the beauty in him, because she knows the beauty in her that exists with the darkness. Vincent focuses too much on his dark side, Catherine too little, perhaps.

Stretching unused brain muscles from vacation,

Pat
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Re: Impressions

Post by Zara »

Thank you, Pat. :D You've made your argument quite easy to follow here!

Pat wrote:...there are other scenes like you describe which I don't think have been transcribed yet.


They are probably in the Relationship Data document I compiled a while back. :)

I'm not sure I can respond very well to your thoughts. I feel too close to Vincent's character about this issue. I'll try to be succinct.

Pat wrote:Here, Vincent admits that Catherine has seen him in a way that is true in his view, and that he is glad for it.


I do not believe that Vincent believes his intoxication revealed his true self any more than Catherine's intoxication in "Dark Spirit" did in her situation. He speaks of "the dark side of your imagination," not of the soul or the self. Demons here = effects of drugs, poisons, which Paracelsus has unleashed upon all his victims, 50 of whom have died. And while he was deeply grateful for Catherine's presence and support, he was by no means glad. My take, anyway.

I can understand your good point that Catherine is accepting Vincent's statements in this scene. Silence leaves open many possibilities.

Pat wrote:...then lastly, he recognizes that risks are sometimes necessary, even understanding why she is so risk-oriented.


I was just thinking about this issue today because I watched "The Beast Within" at lunchtime. "No Way Down" and TBW in particular point out that Vincent is the one who tried to instruct Catherine in the art of risk-taking, being himself a person who has successfully lived with great risk all his life. He's not learning or recognizing anything new here. Rather, in the final scene of "The Alchemist," Catherine is quoting back to Vincent the words he spoke to her in "The Beast Within." He says he understands why she exposes herself to danger. He already stated earlier that he believes her suffering in the Pilot is causing her to become risk-oriented...and Catherine both confirmed this idea and added that she wants to spare others from harm. Vincent completely understands the desire to spare others. Where they have disagreed is the matter of when and how to establish a limit for personal risk-taking. I read the final "Alchemist" scene as the moment when Vincent gives in to Catherine's persistent pattern of behavior. He is making a statement of love, performing an act of "if you can't convince her to do otherwise, join her in the high-stakes risks she prefers." After this episode, Vincent never brings up the risk-taking subject again. I think it becomes an off-limits topic that comes back to bite the lovers in "The Outsiders" and again at the end of Season Two. In "The Alchemist," Catherine ended up getting her way. That's not the same thing as accepting Vincent's thoughts or priorities.

Pat wrote:I see this more as support to his 'what I am' which alludes to his possible view of himself as an animal/beast, who scares people who look upon him, so she responds that she sees him as beautiful.


Certainly a valid view. I should point out that Catherine's motivation in these moments is always supportive. Absolutely. I just doubt that she's willing or even able to fully empathize with Vincent's perspective and evaluate how her style of support so often undermines his internal balance.

Pat wrote:Then when he is rejecting his hands as instruments of love (rejecting himself?) she claims those hands as hers and states they are beautiful...So I see it not as a correction, in that he is wrong, but as a counter argument to help him rethink his own position.


Maybe. But remember that Vincent is describing a memory in this moment, and he specifically uses the past tense to speak of "these hands." He also used the past tense to speak with Lisa about how, "For so long, I couldn't forgive myself..." where the phrasing implies that after the long time was over, forgiveness did come.

What happens to the story if its audience assumes that Vincent accepts himself in the present day, instead of assuming that he rejects himself? It is very, very easy to assume that exceptional people and outcasts of mainstream life must reject themselves on some level. Movies have been hammering that ugly line ever since the birth of motion pictures.

Pat wrote:She is also contrasting herself with Lisa, to show him that not all women are the same.


Does Vincent believe that all women are the same?

Pat wrote:You have spoken before of this episode, how Vincent left her hanging with what happened, then later finally tells her about it, as his need to think it through before sharing it (introversion at work). Yet he could have shared that need with her rather than just exiting.


Speaking Extravertlish under duress, including translating a silent exit into, "And now I need to stop talking about this for a while," comprises a special circle of hell for many introverts (myself included). The discomfort of such moments can be literally overwhelming. I know it seems a simple little thing, an easy thing, to just share one's need. But it's neither simple nor easy. Energy for sharing anything/everything is finite. When that energy is used up, it is gone. Period. There is nothing left to say, and no power left to pursue any further discussion. If Catherine is daring Vincent in that moment, such a challenge would only serve to drive him away faster. It would be sucking energy away from him at an accelerated rate. Like a flame burning up all the oxygen in an enclosed space. It creates a vacuum that is unendurable for the depleted party. It can feel physically like suffocation. One does not stop to say, "I need air," when one cannot breathe.

Pat wrote:Vincent focuses too much on his dark side, Catherine too little, perhaps.


When you can maim or kill someone with a careless touch of your hands, focusing vigilant attention on that capability is a necessity. Vincent's focus is balanced until the latter half of Season Two, when the level of violence in his life has escalated beyond all previous experience. I leave interpreting Catherine to you in this matter. ;)

Yes, Catherine accepts Vincent. That is the theme of the story from the Pilot onwards. But she accepts him on her terms, not his. This is the core of my position.

Hoping you had a refreshing vacation,

Zara
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Re: Impressions

Post by Zara »

And S, I wish to thank you specifically for this insight:

S wrote: She was ready for this, as she, even more than he, is the “outraged” (out-rage) victim who had no ways to punish those who harmed her.


You do share immensely valuable impressions, my friend. I am reminded of Wendi Pini's second B&B graphic novel, where Catherine takes on attacking hordes in the dream world. Her out-rage is a vital component of her character. Add it to the other qualities we've been listing here.

~ Zara
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Re: Impressions

Post by Maclurv »

From Zara:

Yes, Catherine accepts Vincent. That is the theme of the story from the Pilot onwards. But she accepts him on her terms, not his. This is the core of my position.


This nicely leads into my thoughts this morning. Is this not true for all of us? Is not our understanding of one another based on our terms, as you put it? And in thinking about this, perhaps the deeper, darker side of ourselves is best kept under guard, and not shared, because if we did, our fear of irreparably changing how the other views us would become true, despite the best intentions and all the love the other has for us. Perhaps it is our job to understand our own darker aspects, and a battle best fought within. So for the other person in our lives not knowing the darker sides, it really doesn't change the relationship materially. So, in this sense, perhaps it is Catherine's intuition that is saying to Vincent, 'you need not go there,' and so she goes with the supportive reply rather than encourage the darker.

I just doubt that she's willing or even able to fully empathize with Vincent's perspective and evaluate how her style of support so often undermines his internal balance.


I suppose I am equally sensitive about Catherine as you are Vincent. :) But I wade in, none the less!

How can a human fully empathize with a Beast? Perhaps that is expecting too much. And the question occurs, is it necessary in order for her to accept him? I guess I am coming to believe that it is not. I would like to understand how Vincent's internal balance is undermined by an external force. I see external forces (whatever the source, such as Paracelsus' manipulations, or in your example, Catherine's support) as a stimulus, to which Vincent must respond, and how to respond is part of that internal balance; yet that is his choosing how to respond, and his understanding that internal balance includes how his choices play out in his nature. (begins digging a foxhole in which to dive, and cautiously peering up to watch for lobs :) )

What happens to the story if its audience assumes that Vincent accepts himself in the present day, instead of assuming that he rejects himself? It is very, very easy to assume that exceptional people and outcasts of mainstream life must reject themselves on some level. Movies have been hammering that ugly line ever since the birth of motion pictures.


I grant you this point, as I actually see that scene more as a memory than a present feeling. I do think, however, that for people who have learned not to reject themselves, it is a more tenuous victory. As you allude, the contrary has been hammered into them from such an early point, that it can be difficult to hold onto the re-conception of themselves when under times of great stress. So, too, could Vincent experience moments of questioning himself, until working his way back to the sense of self he has created.

Does Vincent believe that all women are the same?


No, I don't believe that to be the case. However, as a woman, it never hurts to position oneself as different from a previous person who has caused hurt or problems. It is a natural tendency, I think, to point out that 'I am not like her.'

When that energy is used up, it is gone. Period. There is nothing left to say, and no power left to pursue any further discussion.


Thank you for this. (I also had to chuckle with your 'extravertlish under duress'). You may actually speak 'extravertlishly' better than I do 'introvertlishly.' The idea of running out of gas so completely, in this respect, is hard for this extravert to imagine, let alone experience. To think of an analogous situation, the best I can come up with would be to lock me in a quiet room, by myself, and leave me there. And while I would eventually be driven mad, I think, I would be creating conversations with myself, activity with myself, in an attempt to forestall that from happening. And the energy would never be depleted to that degree. From your comment, I can understand Vincent's response better.

While refreshing, vacation indulges my lazy too well, getting back in the grove is hard work!

Pat
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Re: Impressions

Post by Zara »

Pat wrote: Is this not true for all of us? Is not our understanding of one another based on our terms, as you put it? And in thinking about this, perhaps the deeper, darker side of ourselves is best kept under guard, and not shared, because if we did, our fear of irreparably changing how the other views us would become true, despite the best intentions and all the love the other has for us. Perhaps it is our job to understand our own darker aspects, and a battle best fought within. So for the other person in our lives not knowing the darker sides, it really doesn't change the relationship materially. So, in this sense, perhaps it is Catherine's intuition that is saying to Vincent, 'you need not go there,' and so she goes with the supportive reply rather than encourage the darker.


I think this impetus is very true for most of us. Well stated, my friend. Yet I have found that not sharing the depths and shadows of ourselves, trying to face inner forces alone, creates a barrier to complete intimacy with the beloved. Perhaps in the background I have been comparing the relationship of the title lovers with my own marriage, and then I feel sad and frustrated on behalf of the fictional characters because they come so close to the joy they seek, yet they fall short because one of the lovers does not release cherished expectations about the other's reality. It changes everything, when we can stop hiding our deeps and darks...and know we are loved for being all of ourselves just the same. Catherine's fears of Vincent's (and perhaps her own) depths prevent a shared and open exploration.

Pat wrote:...begins digging a foxhole in which to dive, and cautiously peering up to watch for lobs :)


Silly. *jumps in to offer hugs*

Pat wrote:How can a human fully empathize with a Beast? Perhaps that is expecting too much.


Verily. Which is why I fail to understand why so many fanfiction tales give us a version of the human Beauty who comprehends her mopey-Beast completely, understands him better than he understands himself, and knows better than he what they must do to solve whatever problems they are facing (the answer is often "we must make sweet, sweet love, the sooner the better!"). I agree that it is not necessary for Catherine to fully empathize with Vincent in order to accept him. I believe an increase of expectation-releasing empathy is required, however, in order to allow intimacy to grow and bloom. Such empathy in Catherine's case would require her to examine herself more closely in light of the questions she has about negative emotions where Vincent is concerned. She begins to do this in "What Rough Beast" when she is speaking candidly with Father about what she shares with Vincent during violence, and what she fears to be true about herself.

Pat wrote:I would like to understand how Vincent's internal balance is undermined by an external force.


Here again, perhaps my own romantic relationship has colored my perceptions. I don't consider a genuinely intimate partner an external force. In accepting each other as deeply, purely, and passionately as they have, these two lovers are no longer external forces for each other. They are still two distinct individuals, certainly, but they are steadily internalizing vital portions of each other, which influences and reshapes their identities from within. Catherine has an access to Vincent's internal balance that no one else has, not even Father, who is closer to Vincent than anyone other than Catherine. Her influence over Vincent's life and self is tremendous.

Pat wrote:I do think, however, that for people who have learned not to reject themselves, it is a more tenuous victory. As you allude, the contrary has been hammered into them from such an early point, that it can be difficult to hold onto the re-conception of themselves when under times of great stress. So, too, could Vincent experience moments of questioning himself, until working his way back to the sense of self he has created.


Ah, but my statements were applying to a mainstream audience, not the exceptionals and outcasts. Mainstreamers are taught to assume that exceptionals reject themselves. This allieviates the burden of responsibility for being part of the society which does the outcasting, and it transfers imputed righteousness from the injured to the injurers. It's a kind of ethical robbery and it feeds pernicious stereotypes of disability, race, and other externally assigned markers of "outsideness." Forgive me, please, for making so opaque an allusion.

Pat wrote:You may actually speak 'extravertlishly' better than I do 'introvertlishly.'


American English and Extravertlish are the official languages of United States culture. Life gets even harder than it already is if residents are not at least conversationally familiar with both. ;)

Peace and light,

Zara
Maclurv
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Re: Impressions

Post by Maclurv »

but my statements were applying to a mainstream audience, not the exceptionals and outcasts. Mainstreamers are taught to assume that exceptionals reject themselves.


Okay, I may be missunderstanding this. Is it your suggestion that the exceptionals and outcasts do not feel the rejection for and of themselves? I may be trapped in the mainstream audience here, and if so, apologize for getting this wrong. Given my own background (not very deep in this sense, yet it is all I have to go on), I have had a hard time accepting my gifts, as it were, and have always used deflecting humor to help gain acceptance of others, rather than them use the cutting humor on me. Wanting to be 'normal' (whatever that is) to fit in, is this not a form of rejection? This is the sense I mean for Vincent.

I think I am envious of your marriage!

Pat
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Re: Impressions

Post by Zara »

Yes, I have found the one whom my soul loves. (Song of Songs 3:4) We are living our happily ever after. :)

Now, to recap:

Zara wrote:What happens to the story if its audience assumes that Vincent accepts himself in the present day, instead of assuming that he rejects himself? It is very, very easy to assume that exceptional people and outcasts of mainstream life must reject themselves on some level. Movies have been hammering that ugly line ever since the birth of motion pictures.


Pat wrote:I do think, however, that for people who have learned not to reject themselves, it is a more tenuous victory. As you allude, the contrary has been hammered into them from such an early point, that it can be difficult to hold onto the re-conception of themselves when under times of great stress. So, too, could Vincent experience moments of questioning himself, until working his way back to the sense of self he has created.


Zara wrote:Ah, but my statements were applying to a mainstream audience, not the exceptionals and outcasts. Mainstreamers are taught to assume that exceptionals reject themselves. This allieviates the burden of responsibility for being part of the society which does the outcasting, and it transfers imputed righteousness from the injured to the injurers. It's a kind of ethical robbery and it feeds pernicious stereotypes of disability, race, and other externally assigned markers of "outsideness." Forgive me, please, for making so opaque an allusion.


Pat wrote:Okay, I may be missunderstanding this. Is it your suggestion that the exceptionals and outcasts do not feel the rejection for and of themselves? I may be trapped in the mainstream audience here, and if so, apologize for getting this wrong. Given my own background (not very deep in this sense, yet it is all I have to go on), I have had a hard time accepting my gifts, as it were, and have always used deflecting humor to help gain acceptance of others, rather than them use the cutting humor on me. Wanting to be 'normal' (whatever that is) to fit in, is this not a form of rejection? This is the sense I mean for Vincent.


My friend, I do not know if you are trapped or not. But I've been talking about this issue with my husband and these are some thoughts we'd like to share.

Mainstream hammering says, "This is how disabled, or disenfranchised, or disempowered people live. This is who they are. Because we say so." This message has the greatest impact on people who have no other experience of non-mainstream life. This is also why honorable storytelling is so necessary and precious; good storytelling argues that stereotypes do not portray truth. Only people who believe or fear that the lie describes reality have to struggle to hold onto a different set of beliefs. Vincent's world is not overrun with such stereotypes. He is one of many Topside-rejected people who, living separate from the mainstream world, now accept themselves as part of a different way of life: a better way of life. Everyone experiences questions and doubts about self and identity during the course of their days (our Vincent character included), just as everyone goes through the process of creating a personal sense of self. But those who do not reject themselves enjoy a stronger foundation for selfhood. Overculture assumes they are weak because of all the ways they are different from, or "deprived" of, mainstream experiences. If that is weakness, so be it. Yet in the midst of such worldly weakness, the exceptionals can be strongest of all.

One of our society's greatest illusions, one of its greatest control mechanisms, demands that a person has to put on an act to fit in, to align oneself with a specific ideal of personhood and so fend off society's habitual dehumanizing practices. For some people the acting is contrary to their nature and no matter what they do they cannot adequately perform. For some people the act is not who they are but they can still pull it off. And some people don't have to act; they naturally fit the mold. Then there are other people who don't bother with the act at all. Mainstream norms hold no power over them. This really throws a monkey-wrench into everyday power structures of mainstream society. The people who are most accepting of themselves are least swayed by the expectations of others...unless they choose to move in that direction, for any number of reasons. In reality, those who appear to fit in the best are often the most afraid of being ostracized. Fear of exclusion belongs to those who fit within "normal" parameters, not those who live outside those boundaries. Those who believe the illusion and participate in it have the most to lose from rejection.

So I'm/we're saying that the fearful mainstream world assumes non-mainstream people like Vincent MUST want to be part of their world. MUST want to fit in with the world that has already rejected them. MUST value what its society values. MUST suffer constant pressure to seek approval and acceptance despite whatever it is that keeps them different from overculture ideals. Because these are mainstream fears and obsessions.

Honestly, most "misfits" I know are glad that they do not fit in. They don't think of themselves as misfits, for they are not misfits or outcasts by their own standards. For the most part, they are more concerned with stopping mainstream attacks against themselves and other outliers, while also finding ways to communicate alternative ideals in Mainstreamlish. It can be very difficult (ye gods, well nigh impossible at times) to explain to outsiders what one's differences mean to oneself, personally, or to try to prepare strangers for the challenge of meeting someone who lives outside the stereotype-box. Yet these non-mainstream people don't reject themselves or their own natures, and they find acceptance and love within other contexts. People who dwell outside the mainstream really don't want to be "normal." For them--for us (for I must include myself and my husband here)--mainstream life is not a desirable way to live.

Vincent lives a good life in the underworld of New York, where he loves and is loved and lives among people who value everyone for being themselves. It is only in his capacity as a mirror to others that Top-Down rejection comes into play. No one Below, including himself, rejects Vincent. It's people from Above who are apt to look into Vincent's face and see, not Vincent, but only the shape of their own fears, the dimensions of their own ugliness ("Brothers"). Topsiders generally assume that whatever vision they see...is all there is to see. Rejecting Vincent in whole or in part, the assumption follows that Vincent must also reject himself, must feel rejected and internalize that pain. That is false. Vincent as BG and I understand him does not feel that hostility about himself. Yes, Vincent does feel the direct and painful effects of others' rejection, whether this comes in the form of physical blows or harsh words or other cruelties, but he does not reject himself simply because others choose to. The love you experience by accepting who you are is far greater than any pain outsiders could ever inflict. Vincent demonstrates self-acceptance from the Pilot onward. He knows and enjoys a healthy self-respect. Vincent loves his life.

~ The Wilder Ones
Maclurv
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Re: Impressions

Post by Maclurv »

Love the name!

How I do love this show and all the wonderful discussions it has exposed me to (and rather humbling ones at times!). Thank you for that explanation. Sigh. Much to think about.

From Zara: Yes, Vincent does feel the direct and painful effects of others' rejection, whether this comes in the form of physical blows or harsh words or other cruelties, but he does not reject himself simply because others choose to.


So in the Pilot, when Vincent says he has never regretted who he was until now, or when crying over his hands in the final scene of Arabesque, these are not examples of wishing he were different? Can we not wish we were different, while knowing it is not possible, and accepting who we are? For example, women often wish they were bustier, less bustier, hippier, less hippier, or men wish they were more athletic rather than not. (not a perfect example, in that women can undergo surgery, but not speaking of it in that way). Or a Vet wishing he/she had not gone to Iraq to avoid the PTSD, or a paraplegic wishing he/she could walk. Yet in wishing, is it a form of rejection?

Rejecting Vincent in whole or in part, the assumption follows that Vincent must also reject himself, must feel rejected and internalize that pain. That is false.


Do we not feel the pain of rejection because inclusion is such a driving force in our psyche? To be exiled (the community uses this as punishment, and comments on how hard it is) is very difficult. We put ourselves out 'there' and hope for acceptance as we are, and when not accepted, not included, does it not hurt at least a bit? But this does not follow in my logic that we must also reject ourselves. It can mean that, perhaps, if we experience enough rejection that it makes us question ourselves, and if not strong in our identity, then perhaps it leads to self-rejection or self-loathing. I don't really think I believe Vincent was rejecting himself in these scenes (or any others like that). But I can see pain.

Yes, Vincent does feel the direct and painful effects of others' rejection, whether this comes in the form of physical blows or harsh words or other cruelties, but he does not reject himself simply because others choose to.


Yes, this I can see.

I may be too steeped in mainstreamlish myself, but I hope I am moving toward better understanding in asking the questions.

Pat
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