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« The World is Waiting for You People with a Club; or, Yes-And Stephen, That's a Seminar | Main | Commonplaces »

Tuesday, 06 June 2006


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The classic literary flebotinum is of course spontaneous human combustion in Dickens' Bleak House.

Jesse A.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this just Whedon's clever, buffified way of referring to a McGuffin?

Scott Eric Kaufman

Stephen, you win. Blowing characters up from the inside solves all problems.

Jesse, the difference is that the McGuffin becomes the focus of the reader/viewer's attention. Hitchcock used it to deceive his audience into believing in the importance of an important thing in order to distract them, whereas Whedon blends it into the background in order to grease the plot-wheels. That makes me sound like I'm knocking The Joss, but I'm really not. He simply lacked the requisite time to transfrom flebotinum into Golden McGuffin.

Adam Roberts

I read a thing somewhere about Star Trek (TNG, actually) and their use of the 'narratons', a force not unlike gravitons that bends reality around the requirements of the plot. 'But why can't we just fly away from this dangerous situation and/or blast them with photon torpedoes, Geordie?' 'It's no good Captain: the narraton field is too strong.'

On the other hand:
fleo (Latin, long 'e'): to weep, cry, shed tears.
bothomie (from Greek, bothos or boethos, 'assisting, auxiliary'): a facilitator.
Hence, fleobothomie, something that helps you cry. Like that episode of Buffy where Buffy's Mum died.


I like the idea of the characters of Buffy being referred to as the Scooby Gang because I never watched that show, but that is hilarious. The four or five of them could easily be the followers of Scooby Doo, Fred, Daphne, Shaggy, and Velma if only they had a big cartoon like mascot for their gang. Well, I have never watched the show so maybe they do have like a vampire or something.

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