Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

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Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby December » Sat Sep 13, 2008 10:02 pm


Welcome back everyone to the Choices thread, also known as Ars Longa Vita Brevis (art is long, life is short). For those who are new to this thread, we’ve re-posted our original introductory statement below. This thread is a bit different from other threads on the Lex, so if you’ve never posted here before
please read our intro first. If you’re interested, you can find our earlier discussion on the original Choices thread here. It’s by no means required reading (!) -- but this is an ongoing conversation and you might find it helpful....

Intro to the Original Choices Thread:


The idea for this thread grew out of a series of private messages exchanged between four of us: December, Truelove1, LisaCullenAZ and IloveTwilight. As it went on we began asking ourselves why we were having our conversation in pms rather than out on the existing threads. We realized that we were looking for a space where a particular style of conversation was possible: thoughtful, passionate and above all open-minded. Conversation where we were trying to reach a consensus -- or clarify our differences -- rather than argue our positions. There are lots of debate-oriented threads on the boards -- and they've generated some wonderful discussion and insights. But this thread is for something different.
Our ideal here is for everyone to get a clearer sense of why other people have the views they do, not to challenge their views -- or change them. THIS IS NOT A DEBATE THREAD.

There aren't that many places on the Lex where it's easy to do this. So please, if you want to contest anything someone says on this thread, ask them to step outside and debate it somewhere else on the Lex. It's easy enough to find a suitable place for it. And remember,
this thread should be a place where everyone feels comfortable posting. There is always a way to state your opinion which remains respectful of the existence of other views -- even views that no one is putting forward here at the moment. Be mindful of all the opinions out there on the Lex. Achieving this is partly a matter of tone. Listen to yourself before you post. If someone says something you disagree with, it's more conciliatory to say "that's interesting, because I felt differently for the following reasons...." than to say "how can you say that?" or "I have to totally disagree...."

Full disclosure -- the four of us are all Edward-girls of one sort or another. You're a little bit in Swoony-girl territory, here. But we hope that everyone who is interested in our collaborative style of conversation will come join us, whatever their views.

And a brief word of warning: a lot of us tend to write at length. Long posts don't scare us. That's why it's Ars Longa....

Which brings us to a crucial request: the conversation here can get pretty elaborate, and it's hard enough to keep track of where we are with a single topic under discussion.
PLEASE, EVERYONE, IF THERE IS A NEW QUESTION YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE DISCUSSED, DON'T JUST PUT IT OUT FOR DISCUSSION! If you pm one of us, we can propose it when the existing conversation peters out. (And please, if someone else does start a new topic, resist the urge to run with it!). If we end up with several conversations going at once, it just gets chaotic.

Especially since there’s no such thing as a dead topic here. It’s never too late to return to a question we’ve previously discussed. We want people to take as long as they need to assemble their thoughts on a subject.

As for our subject, we're interested in the theme of choice. The whole Twilight series revolves around choices: Should Bella give in to her feelings for Edward, knowing that he is not human, and dangerous? Should Edward involve himself with Bella even though he is a danger to her? Should Bella choose Edward, rather than Jake and a normal human future? Should she become a vampire? Should Edward be the one to change her? Should anything matter more than their love for one another? You might say that everything that happens in Twilight comes back to this one central choice of Bella's: whether to give up her human life for love. Vita Brevis indeed....

-- December, llovetwilight, LisaCullenAZ, Truelove1


So welcome, everyone, newcomers and oldtimers, to our second Choices thread. Read, reflect, be thoughtful of one another -- and have fun! We have a lot to talk about....

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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby December » Sat Sep 13, 2008 10:04 pm

So we thought we'd go back to the origins of this thread -- the subject of choices -- and re-examine it in light of Midnight Sun. In particular, the scene after the van accident where Alice baldly tells Edward he is going to fall in love with Bella. Until he sees the vision in Alice's head, Edward has no idea that he loves Bella. Does this foreknowledge colour his feelings for her? Would the future have been different if he'd been ignorant of what was in store for him? Does he fall in love with Bella less freely and spontaneously than she falls in love with him? If this was in some sense a self-fulfilling prophecy, does it change the balance between choice and fate in this story?
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby Ouisa » Sat Sep 13, 2008 10:26 pm

When December and I first started talking about this topic she wrote the following to me. I wrote my post based on that conversation.

December wrote: But the way Alice talks to Edward it in MS, she implies that it's too late for Edward to affect the outcome: the chips are going to fall where they were always going to fall and nothing he does can deflect them; the shadows creeping towards Bella -- either death or half-life -- are going to take her willy nilly. Alice offers him no escape route, no possibility that he could change things by choosing differently -- because, she says, he loves Bella too much to let her go.*

Edward is determined to defy Fate and spare Bella the doom Alice sees descending: "I could choose a different path. There was always a choice. There had to be." But of course in the end, Alice's original vision comes to pass. So was he mistaken in thinking they had another choice?


I was very struck by that section of the book as well. In fact Edward's reactions to it softened my made of stone heart and I think I truly began to see him at that point. But that's a different story really.

December's musings are quite similar to what I have been pondering since reading Midnight Sun. As I read about Alice's visions, I've thought a lot about something Stephenie once said on the old philosophy thread.

personal correspondence #12 wrote: Alice is a fatalist. She knows her own future, and she follows it.


I'm not sure if that is entirely correct. Alice does see the future and then follows is but does she see the future or does she make it?

Alice does not truly see the future. Alice sees possibilities and out comes based on the choices of the people involved. In this manner the future is very fluid and can change as soon as the people involved change (which I will concede can be difficult when people as stubborn as B and E are involved.) But my point here is when Alice sees and accepts a certain possibility she then "follows" it by basing her decisions on the original possibility. The Cullens all seem to follow along with this. Her visions can then be thought of not as prophecy but as self-fulfilling prophecy

I'm a special education teacher in training so that's my frame of reference for most things. In school they teach us to be extremely careful in labeling a child. Once you label a child, if often creates a self-fulfilling prophecy for both you and the child. You tend to never expect the child to perform above a certain level, and thus never inspire them to do more than that. Once the child becomes aware of the label they begin to believe that they cannot exceed it and therefore don't.

Alice sees the potential for two outcomes after Bella and Edward's meeting. Alice will love Bella as will Edward. Bella will die in Edwards arm either as a snack or as a newborn vampire. Alice (the teacher) chooses to believe they will become sisters and thus does everything in her power to bring Edward (her student) to her expectations. And she does quite well at bringing her prophecy to fulfillment. Once Edward learns of the prophecy he initially fights it but then becomes resigned to fulfilling it as well.

In life I find that when a person says "I have no choice" what they are really saying is "I have no choice I am willing to make or "I have no other alternative I'm willing to accept the consequences of" Edward, Alice and Bella are bound by the vision with seemingly no other choice. But are they really? Or are they just living up to self-fulfilling prophecy.

Of course what this really is my sad attempt to intellectualize and distance myself from the idea of fate. I've never liked the idea of fate and not having choices.
Last edited by Ouisa on Sat Sep 13, 2008 10:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby SparklingDiamond » Sat Sep 13, 2008 10:38 pm

Alice sees the potential for two outcomes after Bella and Edward's meeting. Alice will love Bella as will Edward. Bella will die in Edwards arm either as a snack or as a newborn vampire. Alice (the teacher) chooses to believe they will become sisters and thus does everything in her power to bring Edward (her student) to her expectations. And she does quite well at bringing her prophecy to fulfillment. Once Edward learns of the prophecy he initially fights it but then becomes resigned to fulfilling it as well.


Yes, he does fight. He wants to prove her wrong. He wants to prove to himself that he is not capable of hurting her in anyway, let it be killing her out of sheer bloodlust, or killing her out of love. To him, either option is horrid. He has fought his killer instincts for so long, he refuses to see this side of himself. He even says, "Bella deserves more than a killer." That's how he sees himself in relation to her. Alice's visions seem to amplify this.

Every step of the way, he tries to talk himself out of loving Bella. He tries to turn a blind eye to what is right there in front of him. Bella is enamored with his every move, yet he refuses to see it. When he looks at her, he sees only the relfection of his deluded self image in her eyes.

Yet, he loved her from the very beginning. They had an instant chemistry, just for him vampire/human chemistry is deadly. That instant protection he felt for her in, "First Sight." It was love from the beginning, he just didn't know what it was until Alice pointed it out. Leave it to a man! :) After living a loveless, well romantically loveless life, for over 100 years I suppose I can't blame him for not seeing it himself until someone who had experienced romantic love first hand points that out to him.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby Nena » Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:18 am

December wrote: Until he sees the vision in Alice's head, Edward has no idea that he loves Bella. Does this foreknowledge colour his feelings for her?


In my opinion, yes. This knowledge gives hope to a self proclaimed unwanted monster. Even though Edward does not go around complaining with his family, we know he hates himself and describes his life as eternal damnation. The idea of being loved by someone different from his kind, gives Edward a chance to dream of what could have been if he was human, opens the possibilities of a life he thought would never be possible for him. I would imagine that with this new found information, he started to fantasize the "what if's" and gave him the motivation to be stronger when it comes to his instinctual desires.

December wrote: Would the future have been different if he'd been ignorant of what was in store for him?


This is one is a really hard to answer for me, and the more I think about it, the more I feel like I don't know Edward. People may disagree with me, but I find Edward a very unpredictable character. I have been looking forward to MS for that reason. I couldn't wait to get in that boy's head for once and for all. I don't know why but I would think that if Edward didn't know from Alice what was in store from him, he would have still obsessed over Bella. I think his gift is also his weakness. Just the fact that he can't hear Bella makes it worth taking the risk to find out why she is different from everybody else. When I try to place myself in Edward's shoes, I think that little fact would will me to do whatever to find the "why?" of the exception. I find Bella a likable character, she is not perfect, but she has a great heart. I would think that while researching Bella's mystery, Edward would get know her good nature and feel attracted to her.

December wrote: Does he fall in love with Bella less freely and spontaneously than she falls in love with him?


I think they both fall equally free, spontaneous and hard for each other, and I also feel like they both have the same motive: The curiosity of "why is he like that?" and "why is she like that?". Bella does find him attractive from first sight but she is more amused by the mysteriousness of the Cullen clan than by their beauty (again, just my opinion) and for Edward of course, the silence that surrounds Bella, sparks that interest for her. It almost seems inevitable.

December wrote: If this was in some sense a self-fulfilling prophecy, does it change the balance between choice and fate in this story?


No, I think it this way: We all know our fate, and what is that? you may think. We are all going to die. We know this, we don't know when it's going to happen, we don't know how and we don't know why, but we know it will come to pass. Does that knowledge defines our lives? I don't think so. We still have choices to make, we don't dwell on it (ok, I would think most of us don't) and while those choices don't change the outcome of our fate, they do change the why, the when and the how. Ok, maybe this doesn't even compare or have anything to do with. I started this post around 4am while at work and I am falling asleep so I may not be making any sense, lol. I may just be rambling so please ignore ;)
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby TrueLove1 » Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:17 pm

Until he sees the vision in Alice's head, Edward has no idea that he loves Bella


I don't think it's a self-fulfilling prophecy at all because we are watching Edward fall in love with Bella in a very natural way before there is any solid vision about it from Alice.

Edward’s first instinct was to shield Bella, physically shield her, from Jessica’s poisonous thoughts. This happens when he can see her, but her scent (the thing that provokes his vampire instincts) hasn’t found him yet. So, his initial reaction to her is something very, very human. Of course, later, when he can smell her, his humanity is subjugated by the overwhelming instinct of the vampire, but if you think about it, the first sign of love is right there in the cafeteria when he has the urge to protect her. He has never felt this before and the experience confuses him.

During the whole scene in the cafeteria, Edward’s ideas are bouncing back and forth between his simple frustration over the unexplained silence of her mind, and the subtleties about Bella herself. He notices the way she sits with her shoulders slumped and correctly surmises that it’s hard for her to be the “new girl”. His attention is captured by the crease in her forehead as she sits thinking; he is reading Bella in a very human way. The way, in fact, that one might start to pay attention to a person (or see a person) who they ultimately realize a love for. Stephenie takes us through those steps of initial discovery with him and she shows us that there is something very human happening to Edward in the cafeteria, even on that very first day.

When he comes back from Denali and Edward sees Bella again for the first time since experiencing her scent, he’s in the cafeteria again and becomes aware of her. He’s listening to Mike and Bella and Jessica. Bella tells them she’s only going to have a soda (because she sees Edward and loses her appetite). Mike suddenly exudes a “protective concern” for Bella in his thoughts and Edward gets jealous. He doesn’t know it’s jealousy yet, but he can’t figure out why it should bother him that Mike has these thoughts about Bella at the same time that he starts thinking…uh oh…IS she ill????? He has concern for her and her well being right from the onset. We are being shown, by Stephenie, the natural human reactions that he’s having; that anyone would have toward someone that they eventually realized a great love for. When they leave the cafeteria he finds himself trying to distinguish the sound of her footsteps from everyone elses as if they were unusual or important, and then he denies himself again and thinks: what am I doing that for. “How stupid”.

In the subsequent discussion between Edward and his siblings, they talk about whether he should go to biology or not and Edward wants to go. He writes it off as curiosity, but both he and Alice see in her head that things will be ok. At that point Alice’s vision tells her nothing more than that Edward will more than likely not hurt the girl (and she says she’s “93% sure.”) She’s confused (Alice) at that moment and is looking at Edward questioningly, trying to figure out what has changed, that “firms up” her vision and makes her so sure Bella is not going to be hurt by Edward. I think, since we have the advantage of Alice’s visions, we are meant to see this as a turning point.

When he's in biology with her again, he notices every little detail about her. She’s doodling, and it’s trivial but it’s important to him and he doesn’t even know why. She looks at him, and while he looks back into those brown eyes he realizes the hate that he felt toward her for disrupting his willpower with he irresistible scent has “evaporated”. He’s holding his breath so her scent is not disturbing him. He’s back to his more “human” nature and all he can think is: how can anyone so vulnerable justify hatred. He notices her expressions and tries to imagine what’s behind them; he touches her accidentally and feels the warmth of her like an electric shock up his arm. Stephenie herself has said that this moment wasn’t about the difference in their skin temperature, it was about that “Zing” you get when you touch someone you’re attracted to for the first time.

During the whole scene in biology we can see what he can’t. He’s captivated by her; by every look, every line in her brow. He sees her beauty for the first time. He’s afraid she might be repulsed by the coldness she felt on his skin. More than being worried about IF she felt an unusual coldness, he worries that she might be repulsed by him. He can’t imagine that she wouldn’t be.

There is so much more, though. Every time he looks at her he is discovering something else that interests him, or captivates him. When he saves her from the van and asks if she's ok he describes the relief as so exquisite it was almost painful. He says he knew his top priority should be threat of exposure but he can't stop thinking about her and whether she is ok. He describes the feel of her warm body pressed against his and how it's disrupting his thoughts...

I bring all of this up not to get off the subject, but to show why I believe that Edward opens himself up to falling in love with Bella every single time he sees her or looks at her or talks to her, right from that first day in the cafeteria. What he sees in Alice's head is, in my opinion, a result of the path that his heart has already chosen to take. She doesn’t “know it” until he does. Maybe she articulates it first and it scares and confuses him, but whether he’s been able to put a name to it or not, he is falling in love with Bella of his own accord, and Alice can see nothing that isn’t already a choice in Edward.

So, in the end I believe that Edward's free will in loving Bella is not affected by Alice's vision.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby LisaCullenAZ » Sun Sep 14, 2008 2:21 pm

Yes, TrueLove1, I find myself (unsurprisingly) in agreement with you. And as much as I try to think of something new to add, I really can't say any of it better than you have. I would just like emphasize the point about how Alice's visions work.

We know that Alice can only see the future based on what path you are on. When the directions of your own thoughts and feelings change, the possibilities of the future before you suddenly shifts... and we know that Alices' vision will then adjust to harmonize with the path these new thoughts and feelings are taking you. I think that's an important point to understand. It's the distinction between the putting the horse in front of the applecart and not vice-versa.

December says Edward had no idea he loved Bella until he saw it in Alice's head. This only means Edward didn't recognize his own feelings, and could't make sense of all those conflicting thoughts. It doesn't mean those feelings were absent. They were always there, and they were real. Imagine Edward's postion! He was so confused, so new to this, and until that point at a loss to give these new emotions a name or a reason. Alice, however, could see in that instant exactly where he'd put himself. At that moment she is able, through her powers, to see exactly where Edward's own choices had brought him, and where they would eventually lead him.

So in all, Alice's vision is a confirmation rather than a cause of Edward's falling in love with Bella.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby llovetwilight » Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:37 pm

YAY for Choices!!!

SparklingDiamond wrote:Yet, he loved her from the very beginning. They had an instant chemistry, just for him vampire/human chemistry is deadly. That instant protection he felt for her in, "First Sight." It was love from the beginning, he just didn't know what it was until Alice pointed it out. Leave it to a man! :) After living a loveless, well romantically loveless life, for over 100 years I suppose I can't blame him for not seeing it himself until someone who had experienced romantic love first hand points that out to him.



This is my view on it too, SD. It reminds me of Edward discovering that the odd feeling he was having toward Bella's would-be suitors was jealousy. I really enjoyed reading that section of MS. I was giggling all the while as Edward puzzled over what the strange sensation he was experiencing was, for such a smarty-pants, he sure took long enough to figure out that he was feeling jealous! :roll: Edward’s heart already belonged to Bella… his brain just didn’t know it yet!

And Ouisa makes a really good point regarding Alice’s gift. There are so many times that her visions are hazy, or not concrete because some choice that will affect the outcome had not yet been made. This is a major point in my belief that Alice’s visions do not sway the outcome of what is to be, they do not take away choice because they are based on choices made.


Truelove1 wrote:Edward’s first instinct was to shield Bella, physically shield her, from Jessica’s poisonous thoughts. This happens when he can see her, but her scent (the thing that provokes his vampire instincts) hasn’t found him yet. So, his initial reaction to her is something very, very human.


Yes! There are many indicators that he is falling in love with her (without his knowledge) before Alice's vision... which makes perfect sense: in order for Alice to have such a concrete vision of the future possibilities, Edward would have to be in love with Bella (and her scent) already.

LisaCullenAZ wrote:December says Edward had no idea he loved Bella until he saw it in Alice's head. This only means Edward didn't recognize his own feelings, and could't make sense of all those conflicting thoughts. It doesn't mean those feelings were absent.


Lisa, I could have quoted your whole post and followed it with a big YES! :D I feel the same way that you do about this... after being alone for so long (and never having experienced romantic feelings before) it is no wonder that Edward is a little dense in this area!
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby Li'lBit » Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:35 am

I lost track of how many people I'm agreeing with here. . . so I'll just add the way my own brain came to the same conclusion.

I can see how Alice's visions can be viewed as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and in a way they might actually be that sometimes. But not in the traditional way of thinking. Most of us try to make educated choices and then we have to cross our fingers and hope for the best. Alice's visions give her a clear view of the consequences of people's choices. You can see the end from the beginning. Rather than negating choice, I think this makes their choices more informed.

I don't think Alice is as much of a fatalist as Stephenie led on. Maybe she was being flip, or maybe she really does believe that about Alice, but I don't think it's supported by the text. Alice embraces the futures that she loves. When she sees a course that she (and her family) are on, and she likes what she sees, she runs with it. BUT when it's something she can't bear she helps affect change to make that possible future disappear. She keeps a close eye on Jasper - but seeing him feed on a student in his future doesn't make her sigh and say "well, it's inevitable" - it sends her into action to make a change. We see it over and over again through the series. . . with Edward and the Volturi in New Moon, and even with the final battle in Breaking Dawn.

The reason she's so sure of Edward's future isn't just that she's seen it clearly - it's that she knows Edward, and more than that she's felt Vampire love and she knows the inescapable pull of it. She knows that he won't be able to resist being near Bella and her visions just confirm that.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby December » Mon Sep 15, 2008 2:23 pm

I'm afraid I'm boringly in agreement with everyone here too! Something certainly draws Edward to Bella the moment he sets eyes on her. As he observes, it's as if she had been deliberately fashioned by fate to attract his notice -- and he immediately finds himself not only intrigued but also inexplicably concerned for her. And yes, by the time Alice drops her little bombshell, anyone more clued up than Edward would have realized that his reactions to Bella -- so meticulously surveyed by Truelove -- are telling him something! Even if, as Stephenie says, Edward only falls irrevocably in love with Bella over the six weeks that he is ignoring her, he is already well on the way.

On the other hand...I think it remains an open question whether Alice's disclosure affects what happens next. She's not just opening Edward's eyes to his true feelings -- the way any friend might point out something we've been blind to in ourselves. She's also telling him what WILL happen: "Can't you see where you're headed?" I think this is what Ouisa was getting at with her analogy to the self-reinforcing expectations imposed on children. It is possible to stop yourself from falling all the way in love -- as Edward himself observes in the next chapter. (Did I love her? I did not think so. Not yet). But Alice's visions have only made that even harder for him. (Alice's glimpses of the future stuck with me though, and I could see how easy it would be to fall into loving Bella. It would be exactly like falling: effortless. Not letting myself love her was the opposite of falling -- it was pulling myself up a cliff face, the task as grueling as if I had no more than mortal strength.).

Yes he is doing his best to stop himself -- and yes, what defeats him seems to be his own heart, not mere fatalism. As Lilbit rightly points out, Alice's visions allow the Cullens to make more informed decisions. Knowing what will happen to Bella if he doesn't do something spurs Edward to try and harden his heart enough to leave. And it's his love for Bella -- the abrupt vision of her going off with some other boy -- that breaks him. But if he hadn't known he was doomed to love Bella -- and never get over her -- might his resolve have weathered that test? Even as he struggles against the net he and Bella are caught in, he feels the weight of destiny fighting against him. ("You really should stay away from me I warned her." Would she escape the future I was threatening her with? Couldn't I do anything to save her from me? How can this not affect him?
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