The Third Table

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Re: The Third Table

Postby MRK » Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:10 pm

lol..."oh Mike!"
I never really thought of Edward in terms of my hubby...but he is sorta kinda somewhat but oh not so much like him...lol
meaning...my husband is a little overprotective too :)

December wrote:Though Carlisle is an interesting counterexample. His self-restraint is as great as Edward's, but he's spectacularly less high-handed. Which really just goes to show -- as you were observing in a slightly different context -- that there are no universals where people are concerned, only individuals. And decent individuals come in many forms. For Carlisle, it's compassion that shapes both his relations to others -- his tolerance and forgiveness -- and his extraordinary self-control.



That is the most amazing and spot on description of Carlise I've ever read.
I think you're right...they go about accomplishing the same goal in two very different ways
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Re: The Third Table

Postby Ouisa » Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:53 pm

December wrote:Though Carlisle is an interesting counterexample. His self-restraint is as great as Edward's, but he's spectacularly less high-handed. Which really just goes to show -- as you were observing in a slightly different context -- that there are no universals where people are concerned, only individuals. And decent individuals come in many forms. For Carlisle, it's compassion that shapes both his relations to others -- his tolerance and forgiveness -- and his extraordinary self-control. Edward clearly has different gifts (or weaknesses), and you may or may not find it more attractive to be like Carlisle. But Edward too has taken what he was given, and attained a degree a moral self-discipline I can't imagine coming close to, myself....


Exactly Edward doesn't have that intense compassion that Carlisle does. In fact, now that I think about it the others are for more driven by compassion than he is. Jasper has compassion in his own form not driven by love/charity as Carlisle but by experience from knowing exactly how much suffering he's inflicting. Alice, as we see in MS is also driven by a form of compassion. She strives to know the human's names and lives. This makes them more real to her and easier not to kill. I think Rose actually has a lot of compassion too. I think this also stems from experience. I don't think she could bear to harm another or steal their humanity as she was harmed.

Edward doesn't seem to exhibit compassion as a motivating factor in his choices. In fact he often shows a great deal of (possibly justified) distain for the humans around him. He needs something to drive him to not partake in human blood. He does this through obsessive hyper(self) control and also through his second great loves guilt and masochism. Edward is all about self-loathing as much as he is about control. Edward may judge humanity harshly but no more than he judges himself! I never thought about what a little diva our dear Edward is.
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Re: The Third Table

Postby NoWorries » Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:21 pm

Ouisa wrote:Edward doesn't seem to exhibit compassion as a motivating factor in his choices. In fact he often shows a great deal of (possibly justified) distain for the humans around him. He needs something to drive him to not partake in human blood. He does this through obsessive hyper(self) control and also through his second great loves guilt and masochism. Edward is all about self-loathing as much as he is about control. Edward may judge humanity harshly but no more than he judges himself! I never thought about what a little diva our dear Edward is.


True, true. I hereby submit that Edward's lack of overt compassion (I'm not ready to say it's entirely irrelevant, I'm still thinking . . . ) stems from the fact that Edward has been inside the heads of so many human beings. In his own little god complex-type way, he's making the decision that most humans aren't particularly deserving of or interested in his compassion based on what he gets from their thoughts. In this case, his ability to hear people's thoughts isn't just a characteristic, it's the foundation of his personhood.

Sorry to drift, but I'm trying to relate this to his behavior toward Bella . . . Since he has this added insight into people's thoughts, he's rather at a handicap as to how to behave when in love. By his own admission, he doesn't generally see the best of people. Sure he sees compassionate Carlisle, but Edward's self-loathing prohibits any close association with him. If he's written people off as ultimately self-serving mental prattlers, he's utterly left without a model. Suddenly, he finds himself feeling weird things and thinking weird thoughts about this girl, whom he knows to be different, but he's got so little experience with what follows that he's fundamentally crippled. He's like . . . the emotional Blue Lagoon. He's got Alice and Jasper and Emmit and Rosalie, but those relationships are so specific that perhaps he can't make the leap from what he sees of his brothers/sisters to what he's going through himself. So he does what anyone who's never been in love does: he makes mistakes.
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Re: The Third Table

Postby December » Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:52 pm

Ouisa wrote:Edward doesn't seem to exhibit compassion as a motivating factor in his choices. In fact he often shows a great deal of (possibly justified) disdain for the humans around him. He needs something to drive him to not partake in human blood. He does this through obsessive hyper(self) control and also through his second great loves guilt and masochism. Edward is all about self-loathing as much as he is about control. Edward may judge humanity harshly but no more than he judges himself! I never thought about what a little diva our dear Edward is.

Well there's certainly some truth in this. Which is to say, Edward's revulsion at being (or having been) a murderer is mediated in some sense, through his own moral ideals and his determination to be a certain kind of person. Rather than the sheer, empathetic horror that someone like Bella, say, would feel. Edward doesn't like the idea of hurting people, but it's the idea of disappointing Carlisle that really gets to him in that Biology class. What decisively stops him from killing Bella's stalker is the desire to be worthy of Bella: contrasting her innocence with his own prospective blood-guilt. Again, he's thinking about himself and his soul (or conscience) rather than his intended victim.

So in this sense, it's not a completely selfless -- or anyway un-selfregarding -- desire, but I don't know that this makes it less admirable. We're in deep TUGMP territory here, really (or even EdCon *grin*): whether or not the desire to be a good person somehow taints the effort to be good or makes it significantly less laudable.

That said, though, I'm pretty certain (if hunches about a fictional character have any validity whatsoever!) that Edward stopped killing people because it began to upset him. Even if he didn't experience it as a clear flash of empathy for his victims (who were obviously more difficult than most people to empathize with!), he just didn't like killing them. Not-hurting people feels better than hurting them, for vampires like the rest of us.... And I guess I'm not bothered what precise compound of self-regarding and selfless motivations impels any of the Cullens to embrace their difficult way of life. It's a strenuous enough discipline that they're welcome to whatever makes it possible!

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Hi Noworries! I think we cross posted....

No Worries wrote:He's like . . . the emotional Blue Lagoon.

Hahahaha....

Not sure I followed the last part of your post. What exactly do you feel that Edward isn't clued up enough by his past experiences to get right where Bella is concerned?
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Re: The Third Table

Postby nissanmama » Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:56 pm

NoWorries wrote:but he's got so little experience with what follows that he's fundamentally crippled. He's like . . . the emotional Blue Lagoon. He's got Alice and Jasper and Emmit and Rosalie, but those relationships are so specific that perhaps he can't make the leap from what he sees of his brothers/sisters to what he's going through himself. So he does what anyone who's never been in love does: he makes mistakes.
There is something very mortal about the difference between personal experience and intellectual understanding. Edward recognizes this and makes this statement himself. He even tells Bella that she's bringing out these very human feelings and instincts in him that have been long buried. Role models give us behavior to copy until we learn from our own successes and failures. The role models Edward has access to in the form of the other Cullen couples, plays, movies, literature, and people who's minds he's read for a century aren't the same as that kinesthetic thing that happens when through choice and consequence we mature. I live with a seventeen year old and he has moments of compassion, but his world is largely self-centered. Until he forms his own connections (he's never had a girlfriend) it's not likely that he'll feel compelled to act on someone else's behalf or begin to get "the big picture" of relating to people in general. Right now his biggest demands are to not upset his teachers and get along with his siblings. Like my son, in order to avoid human blood, Edward largely stayed away from the public and his world was small, meaning mostly spent with the other Cullens. It wasn't until he connected with Bella that he was required to expand his little world to include her, her family, the Quileutes and so forth. It had to be an uncomfortable stretch. Frankly I think he's got pretty good composure. Pushing FS that quickly to make that kind of change would no doubt be frought with mistakes and verbal carnage.
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Re: The Third Table

Postby December » Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:47 pm

Sorry about this! The edits I was writing to my earlier post got lost in a computer crash this afternoon and had to be entirely redone. I think at this point I'm just going to repost the thing in its entirety....

Alcyone wrote:In MS he doesn't sound in love; he just sounds obsessed. Creepily so. When he calls it love, it sounds more like a euphemism. There's just something about it that "love" I don't believe, as if it's contrived rather than flowing naturally.

Well, it's an interesting question. There's definitely something to your observation about the dry and obsessional character of MS. Much as I love that book, I have to agree that you never get that exhilarating sense of the romance of this story which absolutely leaps off the pages of Twilight. But I'm inclined to think that this isn't so much a giveaway of Edward's true psychology (he doesn't really love her the way she loves him) as a problem of narrative. For me, it's more plausibly (or at least interestingly) seen as reflection of the tremendous disparity between Edward's story and Bella's. This is not boy meets girl. This is vampire meets girl -- for him there is so much more to this love story than the romance of it.

I mean, let's go back to the very beginning and that archetypal dream-scenario in the Meadow: a boy and a girl desperately in love -- and he wants to kill her. On Bella's side you have the compulsive (and yes, in its own way, obsessional) attraction that impels her to give herself to him, knowing that it may mean her death. Not an ordinary romance, but still it's entirely the love which occupies her field of vision -- dominates it indeed to the exclusion of everything else including commonsense instincts of self preservation. On Edward's side, you have the same desperate passion, but it is overshadowed -- and all but overturned -- by the violent craving which leaves him poised on a knife edge between adoring Bella and destroying her.

Of course, there’s something a little creepy about Bella’s love too (as Stephenie’s critics have pointed out). We are shown a girl so possessed by love that she can’t stay away, even if it literally kills her -- but very little concrete detail to explain what it is she’s fallen in love with beyond a velvet voice and a divine physique.* But Stephenie has so perfectly captured the almost physiological exaltation of that fascination, breath by breath and heartbeat by heartbeat, that we are pulled in hypnotically too. Whereas Edward’s story, in this pulse-by-pulse perspective, is very rarely given over to the elation of being in love. Indeed, if love were reliably at the forefront of Edward's mind, his problems would be solved. For Edward, first love unfolds against a dark and terrible backdrop of violent desires, unbearable temptation, grim foreknowledge -- and pain.

Love, for Bella, is like the exquisite scent that wafts from Edward’s jacket when she borrows it in Port Angeles: delicious, intoxicating. When Edward reclaims his jacket the next morning, he in turn breathes Bella’s scent lingering on it -- deliberately, painfully immerses himself in it. This is what love is for Edward -- burning now (as he puts it) so he will be more inured to the agonizing thirst when he sees Bella later. The contrast really couldn’t be starker.

Contrived rather than flowing naturally? Well, yes I should think so. There is nothing about loving Bella that is easy for Edward: it’s a triumph of sheer bloody persistence, and an appalling capacity for self-immolation, and the arrogant determination to do down a fate that of course overtakes them both in the end. On the other hand, I don’t think he does it out of mere delusion that he is in love, or self-regard or even self-destructiveness. He does it because he falls in love with her and his world is turned upside-down.

If you think about it, MS is only parenthetically a love story. Yes, it’s the story lurking at the back side of the tapestry of TW -- but what one begins to realize (and this was true even before MS appeared) is that the underside to Bella’s story is much darker and more complicated than she or we readily recognize. In truth, Edward’s whole life and self are upended not once but twice, when Bella walks into his life. Bella sits down next to him in Biology, and in that instant a century of confidence in himself as moral being -- as a rational being, as an autonomous individual with the freedom to decide who he is and what he will do -- is smashed to pieces. (And this is Edward, remember, for whom control is everything (*grin*)). He comes within millimetres of murdering a score of people for sheer physical gratification. As he himself describes it, it shakes his sense of self to the core....

He comes so close to returning to the very bottom of that moral abyss of inhumanity which the Cullens have painfully pulled themselves up from. And is instead drawn upwards to reclaim his humanity to an extent that transcends anything he could have dreamt of. Not only because his relationship with Bella begins to search out and revive human impulses he thought dead and buried; Edward tests his capacity for self-denial nearly to destruction, and finds himself possessed of a self-control that (as Alice says) outstrips even Carlisle’s. Where Bella is concerned, at any rate, Edward attains the kind of total imperviousness to temptation that has taken Carlisle centuries to perfect. For love...

So yes, MS is a love story: Edward and Bella’s love for one another is the radiant spindle around which this other story of darkness and suffering and redemption turns. But it is also so much more that it’s scarcely surprising if the love story shines less unanswerably bright here than it does seen through Bella’s rose-tinted spectacles....


________________________________
*though I think Stephenie leaves Edward and Bella’s relationship underspecified deliberately, to allow their love story to be a kind of Everyromance.
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Re: The Third Table

Postby dimber » Tue Oct 21, 2008 3:32 pm

This is a service post...I'm just trying to see if I'm able to write on the Lex again. Sorry for bothering anybody :roll:

Mod Edit: I think it's working now. I am looking at your profile and I don't see anything wrong with it. Let me know if it happens again. ~Nena
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Re: The Third Table

Postby Ouisa » Tue Oct 21, 2008 3:44 pm

December wrote:So yes, MS is a love story: Edward and Bella’s love for one another is the luminous spindle around which this other story of darkness and suffering and redemption turns. But it is also so much more that it’s scarcely surprising if the love story shines less unanswerably bright here than it does seen through Bella’s rose-tinted spectacles....


Thank you December for again allowing me to see the story through your eyes. Perhaps it is that I only read MS once, on a badly scanned copy, or perhaps it is that I've just always been reading "badly scanned" copy when Edward is involved but I missed so many of the things that you so poignantly highlight in this post.

I will admit that for me, the brief bit of MS we were allowed is probably my favorite of the series. It was wickedly funny in ways that the other books are not, (just as my unedited ARC of The Host was) And it was breathtakingly captivating!

After reading your post I'm resolved to read MS again. I always saw TW/NM/EC as a parable of temptation and choice. Perhaps I will read MS and look for suffering and redemption. (Or I just might read the "Wretchedly in love" line in the banner I made you over and over and over and over and .....oh no you really are turning me into a swoony!)
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Re: The Third Table

Postby December » Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:24 pm

Ouisa wrote:perhaps it is that I've just always been reading "badly scanned" copy when Edward is involved

hahahahaha...

(Or I just might read the "Wretchedly in love" line in the banner I made you over and over and over and over and .....oh no you really are turning me into a swoony!)

Me culpa (*grin*). And yes....I might just have to join you in that.

And by the way I adore you...in dangerous, frightening ways.

Ok. Sorry everybody. Swoony interval over!
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Re: The Third Table

Postby Alcyone » Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:27 pm

Ouisa! No! Come back! Don't go into the dark side! ...Er, wait, you and I are the dark side. ....DON'T GO INTO THE LIGHT! The tunnel, STAY IN THE TUNNEL! OUISA! DON'T LEAVE ME WITH THE MANIACAL, RABID EDWARD FANGI--I mean, oh look bunnies!


December wrote:But I'm inclined to think that this isn't so much a giveaway of Edward's true psychology (he doesn't really love her the way she loves him) as a problem of narrative. For me, it's more plausibly (or at least interestingly) seen as reflection of the tremendous disparity between Edward's story and Bella's.


Nope, it's still Edward's fault. Don't try to convince me otherwise. Blaming Edward for everything bad makes me happy. Not to mention I live in my own world and in my world my logic--even when completely illogical--will always trump whatever you say no matter how rational and well-thought out. *maniacal grins*

I mean, let's go back to the very beginning and that archetypal dream-scenario in the Meadow: a boy and a girl desperately in love -- and he wants to kill her. On Bella's side you have the compulsive (and yes, in its own way, obsessional) attraction that impels her to give herself to him, knowing that it may mean her death. Not an ordinary romance, but still it's entirely the love which occupies her field of vision -- dominates it indeed to the exclusion of everything else including commonsense instincts of self preservation. On Edward's side, you have the same desperate passion, but it is overshadowed -- and all but overturned -- by the violent craving which leaves him poised on a knife edge between adoring Bella and destroying her.


Yes, because the world's clumsiest girl isn't self-destructive enough. She needs a repressed, controlling vampire with too many issues to enumerate to seal her fate. Oh joy.

Of course, there’s something a little creepy about Bella’s love too (as Stephenie’s critics have pointed out).


A little? How about a hell of a lot?

We are shown a girl so possessed by love that she can’t stay away, even if it literally kills her -- but very little concrete detail to explain what it is she’s fallen in love with beyond a velvet voice and a divine physique.*


Which nails the precise reason why I first began to have problems with this relationship. After the third breathless, gushing description of Edward's Adonis-like beauty, I was ready to enter a diabetic coma. We had nothing to go on character-wise; it was almost like he was just a pretty face and it is perfectly acceptable to change all your priorities just for a pretty face. I was raised to believe that physical traits are important--if the physical repulses you, it doesn't matter how wonderful a character the person has, you'll always turn away--nevertheless, character is still the most important and the only means through which to judge someone. However, we had nothing.

Of course, we were later introduced to his character and I promptly began wondering if injecting an air bubble into a vein and waiting for it to get lodged inside a capillary would be more entertaining and less painful than Edward...

But Stephenie has so perfectly captured the almost physiological exaltation of that fascination, breath by breath and heartbeat by heartbeat, that we are pulled in hypnotically too.


Except this romantic masquerading as a cynic who never actually read the book nor cared to until she heard about Aro.

Whereas Edward’s story, in this pulse-by-pulse perspective, is very rarely given over to the elation of being in love.


But we do get a blow by blow showcase of his god complex, his stalker characteristics, his insufferable arrogance (this coming from someone who admits to being insufferably arrogant and then shudders at the thought of sharing a characteristic with Edward)...

Indeed, if love were reliably at the forefront of Edward's mind, his problems would be solved.


Nope, I vote that if Emmett could finally yank the stick out of his butt, Edward's problems would be solved.

Love, for Bella, is like the exquisite scent that wafts from Edward’s jacket when she borrows it in Port Angeles: delicious, intoxicating.


Oh my upchuck reflex.

When Edward reclaims his jacket the next morning, he in turn breathes Bella’s scent lingering on it -- deliberately, painfully immerses himself in it. This is what love is for Edward -- burning now (as he puts it) so he will be more inured to the agonizing thirst when he sees Bella later. The contrast really couldn’t be starker.


I'll admit to this image being one of the few I liked (and not because Edward is suffering, though that may be partly it). I'm an author who likes to torture characters. I like pitting everything against them just to see how they stand the blows. Pain and suffering bring out one's true personality, stripped of all facades. At least with this, I agree with you. He withstood the agony with certain grace, even if his actions toward the source of his suffering may be irrational, creepy and sometimes downright frightening. I understand self-immolation, the desire to change one's fate, even applaud it. But I can't condone many of his actions toward Bella. The need to torture oneself doesn't mean you can torture another even of Bella is just as masochistic and senseless in this as he is.

...Am I incapable of saying something nice without working in an insult somewhere?


If you think about it, MS is only parenthetically a love story.


Actually, it was supposed to tell us more about the other characters, be in their heads (or at least this was the only thing I was looking forward to). There was very little I can say I learned from MS that wasn't present in some form in the other books. So MS is a failure to me. Bad dog! No biscuit!

Yes, it’s the story lurking at the back side of the tapestry of TW -- but what one begins to realize (and this was true even before MS appeared) is that the underside to Bella’s story is much darker and more complicated than she or we readily recognize.


Speak for yourself. After several other YA novels, novels and manga relating to a vampire-human romance, I predicted almost every hurdle in their relationship and all of Edward's conflict (sans the prudyness. Kuroe is not a prude). Made it unoriginal to boot. *sigh* I think fate just fashioned this book to be something I wouldn't care much for. Then, introduced a character to make sure I'd hate it and, because of that hate, be unable to escape it and even end up ingratiating myself into the Internet fandom. I'm just all-around screwed.

In truth, Edward’s whole life and self are upended not once but twice, when Bella walks into his life. Bella sits down next to him in Biology, and in that instant a century of confidence in himself as moral being -- as a rational being, as an autonomous individual with the freedom to decide who he is and what he will do -- is smashed to pieces. (And this is Edward, remember, for whom control is everything (*grin*)). He comes within millimetres of murdering a score of people for sheer physical gratification. As he himself describes it, it shakes his sense of self to the core....


Another moment where I liked Edward. I like him half-crazed to sane. More likeable. Like with Port Angeles. If it had been a friend or relative of mine, I'd have driven the man down with my tank-like four-wheeled vehicle. Then, hit him in reverse and forward again if he tried getting up. (Yet another thing I was taught. If when driving at night, someone runs into the way to try to make you stop and every instinct is screaming danger, run him/her over. Then back up and drive over him/her again if they're still alive. Dead people can't talk. Then drive to police. And I was taught this by a lawyer.)

I am capable of not commenting on the control comment. That would just be too easy. *smirk*

He comes so close to returning to the very bottom of that moral abyss of inhumanity which the Cullens have painfully pulled themselves up from.


Actually, he made his own abyss. That god complex of his... Was it firefly who mentioned he would have been more likeable if he'd snacked on infants too? I second that.

Where Bella is concerned, at any rate, Edward attains the kind of total imperviousness to temptation that has taken Carlisle centuries to perfect. For love...


We'll just always butt heads, it seems. You are perfectly content with his acquiring this imperviousness through love, while I would prefer it to be mostly due to his own character. Love may have provided the catalyst, but I would consider so much more a stronger character if he'd slaved there without needing that catalyst, through sheer strength of will. Or, as had been touched on before, if he simply showed some form of compassion as his family does, rather than sheer selfishness. Hence why I like him in the Biology room. And why Carlisle pwns Edward.

So yes, MS is a love story: Edward and Bella’s love for one another is the luminous spindle around which this other story of darkness and suffering and redemption turns.


He was redeemed? When?

But it is also so much more that it’s scarcely surprising if the love story shines less unanswerably bright here than it does seen through Bella’s rose-tinted spectacles....


Uh, she passed rose a long time ago. I think she's on fuschia now.


*though I think Stephenie leaves Edward and Bella’s relationship underspecified deliberately, to allow their love story to be a kind of Everyromance.


But the relationship is just wrong! It is so radically antifeminist and so obviously balanced to favor one direction, rather than both... Doesn't really qualify as an Everyromance. More like a nightmare masquerading as a dream.
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