Wednesday, 07 June 2006

The Mirror of Flebotinum; or, Medieval Buffy (Sadly Sans Trolls) [Welcome readers of Whedonesque. For more entertainment, click here and here.] The Little Womedievalist forwards an item of interest to medievalists and Buffy fans alike: For those of you who haven't spent the past two quarters in an intensive paleography seminar, that paragraph opens Hoc est speculum fleobothomie . . . The rough translation reads "this is the mirror of flebotomy." Now a phlebotomy is nothing more than a venous extraction of blood by a trained phlebotomist. But if we pretend medieval manuscripts adhere to some code of regularized spelling, "fleobothomie" almost sorta kinda puns Joss Whedon's infamous "flebotinum." Since he only revealed the existence of this mysterious substance in the commentary track to the first episode of the first season of Buffy, its orthographical heritage is about as pure as what one likely finds in medieval manuscripts. You know, pure as whimsy. Almost every appearance of the word demurs in ignorance. But no one challenges the definition: Whatever technological or mystical or manuscriptical explanation the plot requires. Giles finds a book or Willow hits the web or Xander trips over an ancient relic which just so happens to be the key to resolving whatever conflict the Scooby Gang happened to encounter. Easy enough. But what would "the mirror of flebotinum" be? The dark designs of the writers' collective unconscious reflecting their creative inadequacies and daring them to put pen to paper? Would it challenge writers: "You can't write Buffy's way out of this one!" Or would it whisper the limits of audience flebotinal gullibility? "You can have Willow fall in love online . . . but if you turn her lover into a cyborg demon they'll all laugh at you." I just don't know. Bonus points to the person who can identify the best flebotinum in canonical literature. I have some candidates, but since my memory's now notoriously unreliable, I'll let you have the first crack at it.

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