Guilty pleasures. It’s a funny term.

The word “guilty” implies wrongdoing, or having committed some offense, yet I think “guilty pleasures” usually refers to enjoying something that is somehow embarrassing, not something illegal or wrong.

One of my guilty pleasures is watching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. I was actually surprised that I found myself so enjoying that show, but once I got into the second season, I was hooked. The show is funny, surprising, and also has some of the most creative and memorable episodes I’ve ever seen. (For a couple of examples, check out season four’s “Hush,” much of which is without dialogue, or season six’s “Once More, With Feeling,” an episode done as a musical.) 

The show also has one of my favorite TV characters ever, Drusilla (played by the beautiful Juliet Landau). She’s a vampire who’s psychic and very eccentric. She also has some of the quirkiest lines of an already quirky show, like:

“I met an old man. I didn’t like him. He got stuck in my teeth. And then the moon started whispering to me, all sorts of dreadful things.”

Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Image from buffy.wikia.com

One of her lines that stuck with me is in the season two episode, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” In one scene, Drusilla has grabbed Xander (one of the main, human characters) to save him from another vampire, and they have this fun exchange:

Drusilla:  Your face is a poem. I can read it.
Xander:  Really? It doesn’t say “spare him” by any chance?
Drusilla:  Shhh. [bares her vampire teeth] How do you feel about eternal life?
Xander:  Don’t you think we could start with coffee? A movie, maybe?

The line that has stayed with me (and is, believe it or not, the inspiration for this post) is “How do you feel about eternal life?” Mostly I like it because of the context and the way she said it in the show, but it’s also an interesting question.

The line might pop into my head at any random time. The other day, as I rode bike, I mused on the line and a related question, “If you could live forever, would you?”

Of course, how a person answers that would depend on the “rules” of the thought-game. For instance, is the question to be taken literally, as in living forever in your current body? Will your loved ones also live forever, or will they die? Is the “eternal life” a result of being turned into a vampire? Does it refer to the continuing of the “soul” after the body dies? Or does it come from some kind of fountain of youth, or the technology to put our brains/minds/selves into an android body?

These sorts of conceptual mind games are one of the ways I spend time as I’m out walking, running, or biking. Almost always, I find the enjoyment part of this mental wheel-spinning to be the exploration of the parameters of what may at first seem like a simple (or simply silly) question.

“What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?” [Bogus question. If an unstoppable force exists, by definition there is no such thing as an immovable object, and vice versa. Is either condition even possible in our physical universe?]

“If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear, does it make a sound?” [Interesting question. Is sound to be taken as vibrations transmitted through the air, or is it to be taken as the perception of such vibrations? Does “no one” include all living creatures, and would we even grant that animals can perceive sound in the way “sound” is defined for the purpose of this conceptual game?]

Yes, my admission to spending (wasting?) time this way is a little embarrassing because, well, I’m not sure any purpose is served aside from self-gratification. On the other hand, maybe there’s some value in exercising the mind in this way. What do you think?

Do you have any guilty pleasures? Why are they “guilty?”

Oh, and what is the sound of one hand clapping?

One hand

Guilty pleasures and mind games

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