Explorations (**BD2 Movie Spoilers!**)

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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Postby Knives » Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:56 pm

A very interesting post, December - I can't wait to see your response to the rest of my reply.

Incidentally, maybe part of the reason I have issues accepting/recognizing the series (Why do so many of the fans insist on the incorrect use of the word 'saga'? The poor word has been beaten down enough by fantasy trilogists - don't add to its pain!) as mythic is the lack of, well, mythic elements. Yes, the paranormal abounds, but it reads (and this is as politely as I can make this statement accurately) like fan fiction much of the time; Ms. Meyer's attempts at creating her own mythos/preternatural realm seem clumsy; her attempts to draw on real-world myths are literally nonexistent, to the point of having offended the real Quillettes (*Hopes he spelled that right*) by mangling their mythology. I grew up steeped in myth - Greek, Norse, Celtic, Egyptian, American Gothic, Urban Legends - the list goes on and on, and there's a little voice in my head that says that if I'm not recognizing myth in Twilight, maybe Twilight got it wrong. MAYBE, mind, being the key word.
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Postby Jazz Girl » Tue Feb 09, 2010 10:28 pm

Knives wrote:A very interesting post, December - I can't wait to see your response to the rest of my reply.

Incidentally, maybe part of the reason I have issues accepting/recognizing the series (Why do so many of the fans insist on the incorrect use of the word 'saga'? The poor word has been beaten down enough by fantasy trilogists - don't add to its pain!) as mythic is the lack of, well, mythic elements. Yes, the paranormal abounds, but it reads (and this is as politely as I can make this statement accurately) like fan fiction much of the time; Ms. Meyer's attempts at creating her own mythos/preternatural realm seem clumsy; her attempts to draw on real-world myths are literally nonexistent, to the point of having offended the real Quillettes (*Hopes he spelled that right*) by mangling their mythology. I grew up steeped in myth - Greek, Norse, Celtic, Egyptian, American Gothic, Urban Legends - the list goes on and on, and there's a little voice in my head that says that if I'm not recognizing myth in Twilight, maybe Twilight got it wrong. MAYBE, mind, being the key word.



To the use of the term "saga" to denote The Saga, by definition, we can throw out the Norse or Icelandic narrative definition of saga. So, that leaves either, "a narrative or legend of heroic exploits," or, "a form of the novel in which the members or generations of a family or social group are chronicled in a long and leisurely narrative". To the first, merely because you do not define Bella or Edward as heroes or find their actions heroic does not mean that they are not. And, to the second, well, I think you can at least agree that a story spanning some 15 members of a family, as well as their friends, confidants, conflicted observers and enemies at least meets that definition. Most here define it as such because we feel it is a heroic tale.

Now, as to the mythical elements in the story, first, let's get out of the way that the Quilleute Nation has been quite outspoken in their appreciation and respect for SM in her portrayal of their people, their way of life and their legends and history. Second, and this is an argument I've had with a few individuals over time, why does there need to be any reference or allusion to "real-world myths" (a term that, I'm sorry, is fairly ridiculous in its own right) to make the story mythic at all. The preternatural/mythical elements of vampire and werewolf lore are exactly that; MYTHS & LORE. Where is it written that you cannot create your own elements of them to create a new myth? Why is adding to or adapting existing myth about a non-existant world a negative thing? Yes, before you ask, I am well aware that much of vampire mythology leads back to Vlad the Impaler and his terroristic exploits, and that there is a long existing mythological record. In fact, we know that SM did include a large chunk of "real world" vampire mythology. She just included it as absolute bunk that humans make up to shield their fragile minds, although some of it turned out to hold a little water, did it not? The myth and misdirection of "real world" vampire myth turns out to play a large part in the story. And, in fact, the rewriting of those myths, making them unrecognizable within that context was the entire point. But, truly, you don't recognize the elements of vampire myth...sparkling in the sun is so much different from burning in sunlight how?
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Postby holdingoutforjacob » Tue Feb 09, 2010 11:01 pm

I really don't think that SM was setting out to create a myth. People call it mythical because it contains elements of the paranormal, of the mythic. The legends she created weren't meant to be taken seriously, but were plot devices. While I don't defend the writing as spectacular - believe me, I find faults in it just like you - I think maybe you're taking it a tad bit too seriously, Knives.
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Re: Explorations

Postby Knives » Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:59 pm

See though, I draw a distinct line between "paranormal" and "mythic"; American Gods is an incredibly mythic novel, whereas, say, the Sookie Stackhouse series is not. Myth has a certain resonance, theme, and style, which I don't really see much in the Twilight series. Being mythic does not necessarily mean drawing upon real-world myth, but it does mean being aware of it and learning from it. Which brings me to:

My statement that Ms. Meyer's attempts to create her own mythos are clumsy - Probably a bit more provocative than I intended it to be, but I nonetheless stick by my statement; Ms. Meyer's paranormal creations fall a bit flat. Some of my points have been made on the Science thread (vampires with diamond skin can't move; vampires with diamond skin can't be lit on fire unless stupid enough to stand still with their mouths opened; vampires with diamond skin and a whole host of other supernatural advantages should be ruling the world, not hiding from their inferiors, et cetera), others have to do with the resonance of myth and theme. When Ms. Meyer chose the word "vampire", she was, willingly or not, inheriting centuries of mythic evolution, cultural expectations, and the works of other authors, all of which - amazingly - have some commonalities in terms of mood and theme. The biggest reason that many vampire fans scream blood and death at the series is because Ms. Meyer completely violated these moods and themes while simultaenously making her interpretation incredibly popular. She could have called them just about anything else - fairies, immortals, demigods, whatever - but she chose vampires, and the series suffers the consequence of that choice.

Now, her interpretation of werewolves - excuse me, shapeshifters; we don't see the Children of the Moon in the series - is rich and vibrant; it redefines myth, rather than violating it. It's interesting and intriguing. Do I think she slipped up in quite a few places (imprinting, the entire sorry mess with Leah Clearwater, how the hell are they managing to harm vampires in the first place)? Yes. But on the whole, her attempt at werewolves was recieved much better than her attempt at vampires, for all those reasons that I mentioned above - and partially because she didn't attempt to explain them with science she doesn't understand (another big source of knocks against the series - all Ms. Meyer had to do was not say anything on that score, but she chose to speak, and thus opened Pandora's Box).

As far as Jazz Girl's point on her using real-life myth as falsehood - other authors have done that before, yes, but the myths have alwyas contained seeds of truth. Furthermore, there is quite the bit of difference between sparkling in the sun and burning in it. The film Nosferatu introduced burning in the sun as the idea that corrupt and unholy creatures of the night cannot survive the pure, righteous light of day; sparkling in the sun, on the other hand, is portrayed (by the writing, if not necessarily by Edward himself, who has some unflattering views of his condition) as the sign of physical perfection. In myth, vampirism is an unholy curse; in Twilight, it is physical transcendance into the realm of immortal perfection. What incentive is there to remain human, aside from the murky question of one's soul (and any just, merciful, or loving god wouldn't damn someone JUST for becoming a Twi-Pire, believe you me)? That's why I used the phrase "violating myth" above; instead of redefining the vampire into her own creation, Ms. Meyer created something which she chose to call a vampire. See the difference?
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Re: Explorations

Postby marielle » Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:00 pm

December wrote:So without further ado, let's get back to the discussion of Twilight, myth and realism.... How do YOU read the Twilight story? Fluffy romance or morality tale? Realist novel or fairy story?). Is it just a supernatural novel with the trappings of myth, or does it have a genuine mythic dimension?


I love this question... I have been following the discussion in the Bella thread, and like me a lot of people relate to Bella and there fore defend her when someone else is claiming she is doing things wrong or even putting it harshly has a mental disorder... I so want to defend her as well....
I defend Twilight with every ounce that I have... when ever someone says something not in line with my thought about character, actors who play them, or the story, I'm all over them like a mama lion...

But I have to remind myself that although I would love for it to be real it is a fantasy story... for me it's best rewritten Romeo&Juliette there is...
So every comment I make I have to check if it is my heart who is speeking or my commen sense...
if the twilight saga should be read as myth or realist novel........... I don't know... Vampire stories have been around for as long as humans can remember, it was Stephenie who brought them into the 21th century, but where do the stories come from, fear, knowledge, badly told stories and legends...same goes for werewolves...

Stephenie, has used mythologie to tell a great love story like so many other writers before her and after her. she has placed in my eyes the old legends and myths into this world and made them sound plausible, because there are still places in this world where things can live undetected. even more the vampires and werewolves she describes are so much like humans that we could actually see them walking through the streets of seatle on a rainy day or on the edge of a meadow in the shadows... that's why twilight saga is so captivating, we can place it in our world.... and I think that goes for every good book that is ever written....
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Re: Explorations

Postby Jazz Girl » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:11 am

But, again, it's a matter of who is it that says what a vampire truly is or isn't? I mean, the basic tenets are there. Preternaturally strong and beautiful creatures that must drink the blood of humans to survive. The rest is window dressing and different explanations. Again, some feel that the changes that SM made to her versions of vampires, their lore and legend, are not dark enough or bloody enough. My thought is that that is an excuse. There are plenty of examples, even within The Saga, of dark and bloody and violent. The Volturi, Victoria, James...the list goes on and on. SM focuses on the select few who try to retain their humanity. But, even that angle isn't a new idea. Look through vampire myth and you see stories of vampires who attempt to battle the demon within, to protect humanity rather than feed off of it. One can't honestly say SM "violated" the themes and moods because they are just that...moods and themes. They are suggestions and guidelines and general directions. They are not tenet or dogma that must be rigidly adhered to, otherwise her vampires are not vampires. Again, you are not dealing with stories based in reality. You can make a vampire anything you want to make it, in as long as that basic idea of a blood drinking beautifully mesmerizing creature is at the center. Just because some choose not to agree with her version of vampire-dome does not make it any less.
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Re: Explorations

Postby Openhome » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:36 am

To touch on both of your points, I think the draw of Twilight is that SM brought a very real, yet very undefined heroine into an impossible situation and let the goodness in her, and those around her, win. As you have touched upon, Bella is truly very undefined as a person. That is perfect for us because a 42 year old woman like me can remember my self being like her just as fully as a 17 year old can. I realize that she isn't a Tolkien, but her method is much the same (with less description of the world around her). She took creatures that are unlike anything we know, and made them real enough to see ourselves in them, yet undefined enough that we can all fit somewhere in their characters.
That is, in the end the strength of all mythos. We can all be Juliet, or Frodo, or Samwise, or Lucy who walks through a wardrobe, or Alice who is lost in a rabbit hole -- because we have all felt impossible love, immeasurable loss and loneliness, improbable courage, undeniable wonder, and unrelenting confusion. Seriously, who HASN"T met someone that reminds them of the Mad Hatter?
As Jazz Girl put so well, SM merely upped the ante with her vamps. They are more beautiful, more eternal, more deadly, and truly more evil (changing babies?!?) than those before them. That makes the Cullens, and particularly Carlisle, that much more heroic, because they have turned their back on omnipotence to try and keep what humanity and goodness they have. This is not just mythos, it is religious in its theme. In every culture, those who give up power to love and serve are revered above all others.
Perhaps I am reading much more into the stories than I should. Maybe it was a silly dream that became a best selling book and then a blockbuster movie and that is all it is. Maybe it's a mindless fad that had led now to werewolves.,zombies, and now angels. But I truly think SM is deeper than most people give her credit for.
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Re: Explorations

Postby marielle » Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:59 am

Jazz Girl wrote:Again, some feel that the changes that SM made to her versions of vampires, their lore and legend, are not dark enough or bloody enough.

I think that is why the whole story is so loveable. SM has made the whole Vampire myth more approachable. If she made the Cullens dark it would have been not a very good love story because she would need to explain a lot why Edward is able to fall in love with a human. and besides in every story, myth or legend there is good amongst the dark and Evil. In Twilight there are only the Cullens and Tanya's Family who are trully good. the rest of them are the dark blood drinking creatures...

Jazz Girl wrote:Again, you are not dealing with stories based in reality. You can make a vampire anything you want to make it, in as long as that basic idea of a blood drinking beautifully mesmerizing creature is at the center. Just because some choose not to agree with her version of vampire-dome does not make it any less.

Yes, I think people who are commenting on the story and comparing it with myth or an other vampire story forget that this is a fantasy story, writters can make their characters do and be what ever they want.... until we have prove that Vampires exist and are different...(which probably won't happen)

Openhome wrote:She took creatures that are unlike anything we know, and made them real enough to see ourselves in them, yet undefined enough that we can all fit somewhere in their characters.

I trully believe that this is one if the strengths of the saga.....Like Harry Potter, it a bit more defined, but we still can place ourselves into that world... and that makes in my eyes a good sweeping story
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Re: Explorations

Postby Knives » Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:53 pm

For future reference, I haven't forgotten this thread; instead, I await December's reply, which should be forthcoming soon(ish) ^_^
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Re: Explorations

Postby December » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:15 am

Heh. I haven't either.

One reason I'm being dilatory is that I realized that a lot of what I've been saying depends on -- or takes for granted -- things I wrote about at some length on the Old Lex. Rather than restate it all here -- and it doesn't paraphrase very well! -- I though I'd post some links as part of my reply. At the very least, it might give you a clearer idea of what I've got in mind when I say I'm gripped by the moral or mythological dimension of the story. So that we're not talking at cross purposes.

Only snag is, we've been having some technical difficulties with the old Lex Archive (discovered recently that a lot of posts got cut off when it was transferred to the current format), so I'm trying to get that sorted out. Hoping it will all be up and running in a day or so!

Be seeing you!

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