Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby GrayceM » Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:46 am

andypalmer wrote: Ironically enough, probably the most convenient career choice for vegetarian vampires would be as a novelist...


What a great idea... :lol:

Though I would disagree with the Cullen children not being able to influence their employers. Think of Emmett helping Park Rangers by going around campsites making sure that all the food is put away correctly...Alice working in a designer dress shop after school. Granted they couldn't pull this off for long, but why would they need to? ...Just a few months before school is out...then move on to other things. Teenagers are not known for their reliability in the work force, and it the standards we have for adults can not be met when they still have school to consider, which is a child's job for all intents. It is stated in the books though that Edward has the ability to manipulate using his charm or money to get many things. Their classes are rearranged, he buys Bella's way into colleges. The cars, man, think of the cars! I do not believe that Carlisle is responsible for all of the "good fortune" they have.
Last edited by GrayceM on Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby December » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:13 am

GrayceM wrote:Ok here's my thinking on this. I don't think that the Cullen children have a more difficult time being around humans...strictly basing this thought chain on the fact that they have repeated high school numerous times in an effort not to stand out to humans, as opposed to being home schooled.

Hmmm. Well, clearly Jasper has a terribly hard time of it (see Ch 1 of MS). For the rest...it's something they've got good at, but that's not the same as saying it isn't painful and difficult. I think Stephenie really means us to understand that resisting the temptation to drink human blood is an ongoing and at times Herculean struggle. I grant you that the books often fall short of making that clear. But it's something Stephenie herself has frequently stated (see for instance PC#12).

As for why they do it, I think it's both a way of keeping themselves "in training" for the difficult life they have chosen (remember how Edward tells Bella in TW, "if I hadn't been denying my thirst for the last, well, too many years, I wouldn't have been able to stop myself"?), and of trying to cling to their humanity, by living something a little closer to human lives. Also, as Edward observes, living as a nomad gets tedious -- and Carlisle's work means settling in human communities. Given which: yes, you're right, they're less conspicuous doing what ordinary humans their age would do: go to school. So there's a practical imperative here.

But given what it costs them to court temptation so intimately every single day, I think there has to be more at stake than lowering their profile (as you say, they're pretty conspicuous whatever they do!). I've always believed that what really drives them is the determination to disavow their monstrousness as far as they can. Edward's choice of the word "deny" is not incidental: the Cullens are not just resisting their thirst, they are doing their best to live as if it weren't there -- as if they were still the humans they once were.


That being said...and I'm still unsure of the timeline here...but how long was Alice a vampire before she came to her "conscience"? For that matter, how long does it take for that conscience to win over instinct?

You know, I'm not sure it's really a matter of conscience winning out over instinct. Apart from the Denali coven (who have their own distinctive history of relations with humans!), so far as we know Carlisle is the only instance of a vampire spontaneously abandoning their natural way of life out of conscience. Edward, Esme, Emmett, Rosalie all become vegetarian vampires because they are taught to by Carlisle, from the moment of their creation. Yes, it's guilt that eventually drives Edward back to the vegetarian way of life after his rebellious phase, but his conscience was first awakened by Carlisle. Alice is a little different, but it's not the spontaneous awakening of a moral sense in her case either. She abstains from human blood -- even before joining the Cullens -- because she's foreseen that she is going to. A nice, paradoxical case of self-fulfilling prophecy. Edward is quite clear that if she hadn't, she would probably have been a total savage. And Jasper is vegetarian for her sake. So I'm not sure time is relevant here.

But in answer to your question of chronology, Alice is made a vampire around 1920 and joins the Cullens in 1950. The Cullens are in Hoquiam some time after 1935.See here for an exhaustive timeline for the Twilight saga.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby GrayceM » Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:22 am

Well, that was certainly enlightening. I admit that compared to some of you I am still a newborn in the Twilight universe. I was in the middle of another series which is still not complete so I did not read the books until after the first movie came out. After reading the pc from Stephenie I can see that though I may not be winning the race, I'm at least on the same track or going the same direction as the other drivers. :?

Here's what I got from MS..."It had been two weeks since our last hunting trip. Not an immensely difficult time span for the rest of us. A little uncomfortable occasionally - if a human walked too close, if the wind blew the wrong way...""I was used to the way that scent made me feel - the dry ache in my throat, the hollow yearning in my stomach, the automatic tightening of my muscles, the excess flow of venom in my mouth...
That was all quite normal, usually easy to ignore."..."Jasper should just accept his limitations and work within them. His former habits were not conducive to our chosen lifestyle; he shouldn't push himself this way."


I can understand that it's not so much being easy for them to be around humans, but more that they've been doing it so long it's second nature. I guess my only real issue is that it seems to be so much more of a struggle for Jasper almost as though he were the last one to slip up. That he tasted human blood last and for them it could have been 15 years ago, much as remembering an incident last week would be for us. Because while it wouldn't necessarily be easy, wouldn't it eventually become less of a struggle for him? Wouldn't his suffering lessen after a while? If it were just at the beginning I guess I could see it more clearly, but he seems to suffer more through the entire saga, at least more than the rest do...maybe I'm still missing something.

I wasn't suggesting that they were attending school strictly to keep suspicions down for us humans. I understand that their resolve is strengthened more by being around the very thing that they should avoid, given the choice they have made. I was simply stating that they are around a lot of humans every day whereas if it were not able to be done there are alternatives. Except for Esme, none of them stay at home and don't venture out among the humans in the community.
I see this not only as a way to enforce their convictions, but also that after a while, it becomes tolerable and less of a struggle. Carlisle says that it the restraint may be harder for him if he took an extended vacation from the hospital. And Edward tells Bella, after he takes her to the meadow, that it will be more difficult for him tomorrow because he's had the scent of her in his head all day...he's become "desensitized". For Jasper though it seems that he never gets used to this.
We know that Jasper developed a "conscience" without any outside guidance. And we know that he was searching for a different kind of life when he finally found Alice. So I can't sign on that he's a vegetarian only for Alice's sake. I guess that's why it doesn't fit as well, for me, that he doesn't become "desensitized" also, being around humans all day and given the length of time that he's been doing this and that he had essentially made the same choice.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby December » Fri Jun 25, 2010 9:24 am

Here's what I got from MS..."It had been two weeks since our last hunting trip. Not an immensely difficult time span for the rest of us. A little uncomfortable occasionally - if a human walked too close, if the wind blew the wrong way...""I was used to the way that scent made me feel - the dry ache in my throat, the hollow yearning in my stomach, the automatic tightening of my muscles, the excess flow of venom in my mouth...
That was all quite normal, usually easy to ignore."..."Jasper should just accept his limitations and work within them. His former habits were not conducive to our chosen lifestyle; he shouldn't push himself this way."

Great point. I'd forgotten about that passage -- thank you for pointing it out!

This is one of the really tantalizing, even frustrating, things about this series: the way Stephenie herself seems to equivocate about just how difficult being a vampire is. Sometimes she really does make it look pretty straightforward; other times...not. And it's not obvious that there's any way of reconciling the two except to say: she may have been undecided -- or unclear -- about it herself. You've definitely put your finger on something important here.

I don't get it about Jasper either. I believe Stephenie has suggested that it's harder for him because he'd spent so many years satisfying his bloodlust before renouncing it; but it isn't obvious why that should still be so, fifty years on. Maybe one just has to just treat it as unanalyzable fact: whatever the reason, he really suffers more than the others do.

You're definitely right that being around humans makes resisting the thirst easier. It's a great question how far that's a matter of (as it were) toning up the muscles of their self-control: strengthening not only their convictions but their capacity to be strong in the face of temptation. And how far it literally habituates them to the scent of blood -- the way Edward says that constant proximity to Bella helps desensitize him -- so that less strength of will is actually required.

Mind you...in MS, he suggests that it's not necessarily so much about desensitizing himself to the scent (so it affects him less) but of habituating himself to the pain, so he finds it easier to bear. (That remark about the jacket...). So maybe it doesn't actually hurt them less; they're just more used to the pain....

In Carlisle's case, we're certainly told that constant exposure to blood has finally made his thirst truly easy to manage -- but the implication is that it's taken centuries. And he's been subjecting himself to the severest trial he possibly could, working in a hospital....

When it comes to Jasper, I think I'd want to say that the "conscience" he developed is something slightly different from what we've been discussing. Because that was about murdering other vampires: the direct correlate to the conscience which stops us from killing one another. That is, I think, a different matter from developing the sense that to kill humans for their blood is wrong -- even when humans seem in so many ways a different species, even when it's the diet you naturally crave with every sinew in your body, even when it HURTS to go without. For Jasper, scruples about the first didn't independently translate into scruples about the second -- which is why it makes sense for Edward to say Jasper is chiefly sticking to his vegetarian diet in order to stay with Alice. (And it's notable that Jasper still doesn't have quite the same moral revulsion against killing humans which, say, Edward does -- he does, for instance, consider "cheating" before the fight against the newborns). But yes...it's very hard for us to wrap our minds around the mentality which allows vampires to feel scruples about killing one another and leave humankind outside the boundaries of those moral sentiments. One of the intriguing things about Bree Tanner is the ease with which it invites us to empathize with that state of mind! As Knives would say, a spooky reminder of how easily one can exclude groups one has designated as "other" from the reach of one's conscience.

Except that... in the newborn vampires' case -- as has been said many many times -- there are overwhelming psychological and physiological pressures driving and even perhaps justifying that callousness. As we see from Bree resisting that savage newborn thirst is torment almost beyond bearing. So it's not really fair to equate their attitude too closely with the deliberately cultivated indifference and savagery which has made the atrocities littering our human history possible.

grayceM wrote:I admit that compared to some of you I am still a newborn in the Twilight universe.

Well goodness, so were we all once upon a time! It's great that you're interested in pursuing these questions....

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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby andypalmer » Fri Jun 25, 2010 5:50 pm

December wrote:When it comes to Jasper, I think I'd want to say that the "conscience" he developed is something slightly different from what we've been discussing. Because that was about murdering other vampires: the direct correlate to the conscience which stops us from killing one another. That is, I think, a different matter from developing the sense that to kill humans for their blood is wrong -- even when humans seem in so many ways a different species, even when it's the diet you naturally crave with every sinew in your body, even when it HURTS to go without. For Jasper, scruples about the first didn't independently translate into scruples about the second -- which is why it makes sense for Edward to say Jasper is chiefly sticking to his vegetarian diet in order to stay with Alice.
I have to respectfully disagree here. Jasper describes that he started becoming depressed because he could feel the emotions, the fear, of those he was killing; that experience wouldn't be limited to just vampires. He didn't know of another way until he joined the Cullens (with perhaps a preview from Alice, though that's still in question), but killing humans was certainly getting to him. Yes, he is more willing to kill to protect his family, even humans, but that comes from decades of living in a more dangerous environment and knowing first hand of the "justice" of the Volturi when secrets are not kept. He has a natural role of protector and is more than willing to put aside his own desires and scruples to defend his family.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby December » Fri Jun 25, 2010 6:58 pm

Hmm, interesting. And certainly psychologically plausible; I just don't remember reading anything which actually suggests this is so. But (true confessions) Jasper's chapter is not one I reread much -- bit too much of the sparkly superhero army, slash-and-burn, vampires-are-just-as-perishable-as-humans, side of Stephenie's story for my taste (See Bree's Explorations)...*grin*

Anything further you or GrayceM know of that suggests killing humans was beginning to bother Jasper would be great to know!
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby ringswraith » Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:28 pm

andypalmer basically hit it in his post- Jasper could sense the emotions of those he fed on, and he started to... "not like it" is a bit strange to use but I'll go with that. Jasper knew what he was doing, compounded doubly by the emotions he felt from his prey, resulting in a sort of depression since he didn't want to inflict such emotions in someone but he knew no other way to quench his thirst. He even goes so far as to try to kill less, but he still had to feed. I believe Jasper even mentions that Peter is the one who correlated this depression of his to his feeding.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby GrayceM » Sat Jun 26, 2010 8:38 am

That's it exactly. I have an electronic reader so I'm not certain about the page number but what I show is pg 320-323 of Eclipse, from Jasper's own words.
"My life continued in the same violent pattern and the years passed. I was sick of it all for a very long time before anything changed..."
And "I didn't understand what was wrong with me, until Peter noticed that it was always worse after I'd hunted.
I contemplated that. In so many years of slaughter and carnage, I'd lost nearly all of my humanity. I was undeniably a nightmare, a monster of the gristliest kind. Yet each time I found another human victim, I would feel a faint prick of rememberance for that other life."... "It was stronger for me - this borrrowed memory - than it was for anyone else, because I could feel everything my prey was feeling. And I lived their emotions as I killed them." ... "...and I wandered away from Peter and Charlotte. Civilized as they were, they were, they didn't feel the same aversion I was beginning to feel."..."I was so wearied by killing - killing anyone, even mere humans"


But in reading over this section again, I suppose I can see that he lived this lifestyle much longer still than he's been with the Cullens. I don't think he regrets his decision, just that it is still an adjustment for him. Maybe he's restraining himself more than necessary and that's why he's still suffering more than the others...? Or possibly it's that I'm projecting from the movies. Time to read the books again. :D
I could not pull up Bree's story on Stephenie's site so I will have to buy it. Is it worth it?
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby andypalmer » Sat Jun 26, 2010 9:42 am

GrayceM wrote:But in reading over this section again, I suppose I can see that he lived this lifestyle much longer still than he's been with the Cullens. I don't think he regrets his decision, just that it is still an adjustment for him. Maybe he's restraining himself more than necessary and that's why he's still suffering more than the others...?

This is purely opinion, but I suspect it has to do with the following:

1. Jasper went from feeding when he wanted to having to restrain himself. It's a pretty drastic contrast and one in which he is struggling to find the self-discipline to handle. This is partly because he thinks less of himself than the rest of the Cullens due to his violent past.

2. At its core, the Cullens avoid feeding on humans because they value human life. I'm not sure if Jasper's primary motivations aren't avoidance of the emotions of his prey and not disappointing Alice. If the sanctity of human life is third place behind those motivations, it's no wonder he struggles. Not valuing human life to the same level as the others probably contributes to his self-image problems (as mentioned in #1).
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby December » Sat Jun 26, 2010 4:32 pm

Grayce, Rings, Andy -- thank you.

I don't know why this didn't register more strongly on me when I read it. Clearly I need to ignore my inner resistance and go back and read this chapter properly.

I think you're probably right, Andy, that what makes this so difficult for Jasper is how heavily the craving weighs in the balance for him. So that, in its way, his situation is like Edward's vis a vis Bella: the thirst is so overmastering that resisting it simply DOES take that much more Herculean an effort than for the rest of the Cullens. Obviously, it's not as extreme as in Edward's case, but it's a comparable kind of challenge.
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