Saturday, 12 August 2000

From "Buffy the Vampire Disciplinarian: Institutional Excess and the New Economy of Power"

By Martin Buinicki and Anthony Enns.

This relationship between vampires and discipline is particularly appropriate given that, according to Foucault, the exercise of disciplinary power is directly linked to the notion of the soul. Foucault argues that the soul is produced in the act of punishment, and thus the history of the creation of the modern institutional apparatus is also a “history of the modern soul”: “[The soul] is not born in sin and subject to punishment, but is born rather out of methods of punishment, supervision and constraint” (29). In other words, the notion of a soul is inherently connected with forces of control, and rather than simply “slaying” the soulless, as her title suggests, Buffy’s exercise of disciplinary power actually rehearses the process by which souls are produced and sustained. This connection between discipline and the soul is most explicit in the character of Angel. In an inversion of the traditional Faust myth, Angel is punished for his evil deeds by being given back a soul, which causes him to experience torment and guilt. His punishment and his soul are thus inseparable, and for as long as he retains his soul, he continues to be punished.

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