Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby Ouisa » Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:08 pm

NW: Normally I wouldn't post such things as it isn't always conducive to the types of conversation we like to have on these threads but you know what, I agree with you. Yes I know. The earth itself is gonna implode.

One of my biggest problems with BD, is that Bella's sacrifices are just whisked away and end up not being sacrifices at all. But you are right. The essential question is not what choice is to be made in order to obtain what consequences. The question is and always should be on making the right choice regardless of the consequences. Bella made the choices and the sacrifices she did to be with Edward, to be a vampire believing her consequences to be difficult to endure. The choice remains intact and still potent. (However that said, I do think when making moral choices both intent and consequences are relevant...but that's a post for the TUGMP)

Personally, being one who likes the characters she reads about to suffer, I regret that she "gets off easy." But sadly, I think the ending of BD suits many, including Stephenie.

As for dear Edward. Well it's well known that I don't like the guy. But I've never doubted his love for Bella. I've doubted the methods he uses to demonstrate that love, but never the existence of the love. I have no doubt, even before reading MS, that Edward is wretchedly in love with her during the period of TW/MS. I don't think that if it was a self-fulfillment of Alice's prophecy or even obsession. I think the blood lust would be impossible to resist were it not that he truly loved her.

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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby Visitor » Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:20 pm

Well, I had planned on adding my two cents to the discussion only to find that NW had taken my two cents, invested it in the market (before the crash) and made it into a tidy fortune of well reasoned arguments with her one post. In other words, she took the words right out of my mouth. ;)

So I’ll just add this . . . Like Ouisa said many people are not comfortable with their heroines and heroes getting everything they want at the end of their journeys. This is especially true in the TW universe where it seemed that the previous books had practically conditioned us to expect a ‘not-so-happy’ ending for Bella. And even for Edward, who, let’s face it, seemed to be specifically created to suffer. So it’s reasonable to no longer see the value of all of the previous choices the characters made in light of BD.

But then you have to consider this . . . Bella chose to marry Edward believing she’d go childless. Edward chose to marry Bella believing that she could do better. Bella chose to let go of Jacob believing that she would never be able to love him enough. Those were all difficult choices. And yet the choices themselves (and the trajectory of those choices) were almost completely unaffected by the goings on in BD. It’s the rewards that changed. That is not the fault of the characters.

Bella, having received the gift of a child, should not then be expected to shun it in favor of her previously held beliefs about a life of eternal solitude with Edward. If the choices lost any luster at all, they did so in light of our own misconceptions about how the story could have/should have gone. The characters choices did not become less. Just over powered and overlooked by all the manna coming down from the heavens of BD.

In fact, it can be argued that the only character in the series seemingly gifted with the greatest amount of freewill in the beginning, is ultimately the one who wound up with the least amount of actual choices in the end. Because if there was any storyline nullification through “choice” going on in BD, it happened the moment Jacob imprinted on Nessie. But as for Bella and Edward, I don’t think the same can be said.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby Li'lBit » Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:06 pm

Visitor wrote:But then you have to consider this . . . Bella chose to marry Edward believing she’d go childless. Edward chose to marry Bella believing that she could do better. Bella chose to let go of Jacob believing that she would never be able to love him enough. Those were all difficult choices. And yet the choices themselves (and the trajectory of those choices) were almost completely unaffected by the goings on in BD. It’s the rewards that changed. That is not the fault of the characters.


I agree with you here, and have struggled to understand why Bella getting everything bothered me a little considering my affinity for happy endings all around. I've realized that one of the reasons that I loved the Cullens were that they were so "good" even though it took superhuman effort; because choosing to live the way they did despite the pain was admirable and something I could aspire to. It made me want to do the hard (or even nearly impossible) things to be a better person - and it made me aware of that trait in others around me and appreciate it more.

My ability to resist human blood isn't really special, considering that it's not even remotely appealing to me. I was so looking forward to admiring Bella for that kind of strength (not just her "gift" but something she really earned). I wanted to see her with that same strength of character and determination that I had come to appreciate in the Cullens. I wanted her to belong with them not just because of her gift or her beauty. In one way I'm glad that she doesn't have to suffer that way. I'm happy that she got her happy ending. . . but I'm sad not to be able to hold her in the same esteem as the others.

And that might be a bit off topic, because although the question of choice is generally closely tied with consequences, it seems to be less related in this sense. After reading and thinking about BD for awhile I realized that it's not entirely a matter of choice being rendered futile in that book as much as consequences that seem not to make sense in the context of the books the way I had read them to that point (and maybe that was a fault in my reading). The confusion really threw me and still does if I try to think too hard about it. :) I love the example of choice with a little "c" and Choice with a big "C". I think that hits the nail on the head.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby pubesy » Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:34 am

i can't believe id did not find this thread earlier!

But Alice only knows something once someone's mind is made up. So even if Edward doesn't know that he is in love with Bella, consciously, he must know on a subconscious level. I appreciate your perspective on this, but I'd say that his conscious would have eventually caught up with his subconscious.

I like this point. I really do. i never thought of it in that sense. I would even go one step further and say that for alice to have such a premonition, BOTH Edward AND Bella must have subconsciously desired to be together.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby cullengirl » Wed Oct 22, 2008 11:30 am

I do believe that Edward and Bella had a choice when they began their relationship. Though Edward warned her repeatedly and vocally. The key here is that he made his warning vocally as a reminder to himself, most importantly, and to make Bella aware, but were those warnings really that thorough? To me, it was a little of both. Perhaps if Edward kept saying he was good for Bella, could he end up with the likes of Mike Newton, Eric Yorkie, and Tyler?

Ouisa wrote:One of my biggest problems with BD, is that Bella's sacrifices are just whisked away and end up not being sacrifices at all.


Ditto, Ouisa. Bella gets everything she wants in the end: Jake at her side, Edward as her mate, immortality, connection to her family, etc. If we are to see Bella and Edward's relationship thru the lens of what happened in BD, it seems as if Bella and Edward's relationship was a means to an end. An end that resulted Nessie. SM has stated that the purpose of BD was Nessie's creation. So, taken that into consideration, Bella and Edward had to be together.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby Visitor » Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:29 pm

cullengirl wrote:If we are to see Bella and Edward's relationship thru the lens of what happened in BD, it seems as if Bella and Edward's relationship was a means to an end. An end that resulted Nessie. SM has stated that the purpose of BD was Nessie's creation. So, taken that into consideration, Bella and Edward had to be together.


Mmmm. Not exactly. Especially if you consider the fact that Bella and Edward were together at the end of TW (the original and the post publishing deal version). What you’re suggesting would only be true if there was a question at the end of TW as to whom Bella would end up with. BD may have belittled Bella’s choices to a degree. But I don’t think BD was powerful enough to completely negate the foundation story itself . . . the story that was created prior to a NM, Eclipse OR BD. In TW, Bella and Edward were very much in a relationship even without the addition of Nessie.

I think SM may have seen Nessie as a way of expanding on the type of life Edward and Bella could have together. I don’t think we are supposed to infer that Nessie is the only reason they exist together as a unit.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby SparklingDiamond » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:17 pm

Visitor wrote: I think SM may have seen Nessie as a way of expanding on the type of life Edward and Bella could have together. I don’t think we are supposed to infer that Nessie is the only reason they exist together as a unit.


I completely agree with you here, Visitor. I'm not sure that SM intends us to think that the only reason Edward and Bella were ever together was to produce an imprintee for Jacob. To say that the only reason that Edward and Bella exist as a couple is for this sole purpose, is to insinuate that the main plot point is to find a mate for Jake. If that were the case, why tell the story of Bella and Edward's love at all? Why not just let Jacob narrate the entire story, if the major plot premise is for him to find a mate? But... that's not the story we're presented with.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby Lacuna Scion » Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:55 am

So was he mistaken in thinking they had another choice? Was the ending of Edward and Bella’s story ordained? Is it true that some envious harpy, or benevolent angel -- as Edward variously fantasizes -- has uniquely fashioned Bella to love and be loved by him? Was it always going to end this way? Or are they in fact freely choosing the path Destiny appeared to be forcing upon them?

Fate and choice are different but intertwined. I think your choices lead you to your fate; therefore your fate is not set in stone. Edward could have decided on so many occasions that he didn't want to endanger Bella and leave (and not actually come back). Bella could have chosen to go back to her mother, that loving an immortal isn't healthy. Those are choices.

They could have been torn apart by other circumstances not related to choice. What if (god forbid) Charlie had died in TW? Bella was only 17; she would've gotten shipped back to Renee and Phil and Edward can hardly get to her in the Valley of the SUN. That would be more like fate.

I do believe that E and B are an exceptionally good match, but that doesn't necessarily mean they would've had a happily ever after. They can be perfect for each other and never be together. I don't know if they were destined to be together. They seem to be, per Alice's premonition, but that may not have been accurate. I think they chose the path that makes them both as happy as they can possibly be.

Does their ability to choose even matter any more, if unforseen accident** -- Bella's pregnancy -- drives Edward back onto those two original alternatives -- see Bella dead or a vampire -- with no alternative path left to them?

Can they force their minds to choose one way or the other? Absolutely. Will they? Probably not. Though the choices are limited they still exist. They're limited, and not because others are too hard, but simply because some circumstances only have two outcomes. Bella would either die or a Cullen would have to change her. Most of us only get the former. But because Edward has some kind of soul or heart or moral fiber (whatever you want to call it) he's not going to let her die in his arms when he knows what her choice has been all along.

I'm going to stop here because I feel my coherency fading. Thinking about all this makes my head spin (in the best possible way :D nothing like an intellectual thinktank). But I'll have to come back to this. I have much more to say... I think.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby LisaCullenAZ » Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:35 pm

he's not going to let her die in his arms when he knows what her choice has been all along.


That line gave me tingles! Say it again to yourself, and really think about it. *shiver* I makes me wonder...

If there had been a situation in which Bella was dying unexpectedly, as opposed to the health issues she had from the pregnancy, where they were given time to talk and prepare for what was likely coming, would Edward have reacted differently? I mean, if Bella'd just got hit by a bus one day and was dying in his arms in the street, would he have carried her off and still honored her wishes? Without skipping a beat the way he did after Renesme was born? Edward has known of Bella's desires on this matter since the end of Twilight. He saw it confirmed by her and validated by his family in New Moon, and watched it become an even more informed decision for both of them in Eclipse. So it wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) be a question for him in a time of urgency or calamity. But still I wonder to myself: If Bella and Edward hadn't had all the time to discuss and prepare and accept what would to do in a situation like that, as her life-threatening pregnancy had allowed them to do, would it have been harder for him to react so calmly and quickly as he did in Breaking Dawn?

I'll answer myself. First of all, in an unforseen disaster situation in which Bella was suddenly facing death, I DO think Edward would go along with her wishes and chang her rather than lose her, reacting the same way he did after her gruesome labor and delivery in the fourth book. But I'm not sure he would have been as collected as he seemed to be in that particular scene. I think maybe he would be more tortured, more torn, as he was in Twilight when James had bitten her and Alice was suggesting that this was his chance... though I believe even then he would have taken that chance if changing her and death were her only two options. But I'm talking more now of his composure. I'm not sure of how his composure would be. I would like to think -- in this pretend situation I keep referring to where Bella is found dying out-of-the-blue -- that after maybe struggling within himself for a moment or two, he would be resolute and decided and would take action; maybe proudly. But maybe NOT in the sensible and almost serene way he kept himself when he changed her in Breaking Dawn. Wasn't that shocking to read? Sheesh, it was for me. Jacob freaking out, screaming at Edward that Bella was dying, and Edward calmy going through the steps to change her... *shiver again* Not at ALL how I pictured it. :?

Anyway, it was just a thought. I liked yours, Lacuna Scion :)
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby December » Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:31 am

So right about the tingles, Lisa. As usual....

It's funny, but my own guess about this hypothetical situation where Bella is suddenly run down by a bus (what is it about this thread and hypothetical buses?) is different from yours. That is to say...I do agree with you that, from within the imaginative frame of BD itself, it's hard to picture Edward coolly stepping into the breach and changing Bella without missing a beat, if he hadn’t had the weeks of Bella’s pregnancy to prepare and reconcile him to this eventuality.

But surely that’s because there’s nothing in BD to remind us how much things have changed since we first saw them at an impasse at the end of TW. Nothing to recall the stunning transformation which NM and EC have brought to their relationship: Edward’s (reluctant) acceptance of Bella’s choice to become a vampire. (And how could there be, when BD’s basic storyline -- which is the storyline of FD -- predates both books?). The story of BD is grounded in a different reality, the reality that left off with TW -- even if it’s been tweaked to pay lip-service to everything that’s happened since then. It tempts us to forget the long, painful journey that Edward and Bella have taken -- to the point where he can look her in the eye and say “Tonight. Today. The sooner the better.”

But it did happen. Put BD out of your mind for a moment (*grin*), and think back. Edward was ready to change Bella; Bella was decided on her fate. All that honeymoon flummery about last-minute postponements helps to muddy the waters nicely, but the fact is that their minds were made up. Whether in two weeks or two years, they were walking steadfastly towards the moment when Edward would take Bella in his arms -- living, not dying -- and take her life in cold blood. Having resolutely set out on this path, would he hesitate for an instant if an ill-timed bus changed that hideous “sometime soon” into “now”? I don’t think so.

But...the Edward we see in BD -- the Edward who is completely bouleversé by Bella’s pregnancy in BD? That’s a completely different story.

Literally.

You can’t really make sense of Edward’s devastation -- the desperation of his response -- unless you believe that somewhere, deep down, he’s still not reconciled to Bella’s transformation.* That fundamentally, this is the Edward of TW (plus fifteen months): still profoundly ambivalent about changing Bella -- and desperately in need of the twist of fate that allows him to make her immortal without the guilt of taking her life. Would that Edward need every agonizing moment of Bella’s pregnancy to bring him to that perfect readiness we see when the crisis comes? Probably....

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*Yes, I know: we are offered his terror of her dying too quickly as an excuse -- but honestly, doesn’t that fall a little flat?
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