Explorations (**BD2 Movie Spoilers!**)

General Discussion on the Twilight Universe

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Re: Explorations

Postby December » Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:42 pm

Apologies, everyone, for the long hiatus. Real Life intervened. Anyway, to get back to the convo without more ado....

Knives wrote: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.

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....

...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 simultaneously 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.

Ok. (*deep breath*). I’m struggling to articulate my thoughts here: myth is an elusive notion, and I suspect there are some useful conceptual tools for talking intelligently about it which I lack. More important, what I’m gesturing towards with all this talk about “myth” and “fairytales” probably isn’t really myth exactly, but something else: something related, but hard to pin down.

So bear with me.

Perhaps the first thing I should say is that I agree with you and hofj: paranormal or mythic elements do not themselves make a story mythic. Though they do make it fantasy, and thus arguably to be distinguished from realist fiction -- which I think might be JazzGirl’s point? (Though see my latest ramblings on the Bella thread: with Stephenie this is not a straightforward distinction). Anyway whatever I’m talking about, it’s not the supernatural per se, least of all references to actual Native American myths or vampire legends! I’m with hofj: those legends are plot devices. In fact I might even go so far as to say that for Stephenie, making her hero a “vampire” was a plot device of sorts: nothing more than the particular gloss her subconscious put on the essential -- almost primal -- premise of her dream (and eventual novel): a boy torn in two by the overwhelming urge to kill the girl he loves. Twilight is not about a dark, insatiable craving for human blood per se, but something much more abstract and mythic: a beautiful sparkly boy balancing on a knife edge between adoring a girl and destroying her. The fact that Edward wants to drink Bella’s blood is almost incidental to this central truth: it’s Edward’s terrible struggles against his own nature, the eerie overlapping of tenderness and menace, which matter. THIS is Stephtenie’s subject, and you’re absolutely right, Knives, when you observe that all the usual moods and themes of vampire legend: gothic fantasies of darkness, of monsters siphoning off life to prolong life, of blood even, in any vividly imagined -- gorey -- way, are all completely absent. Despite appearances, Twilight isn't really a vampire story at all: it’s much too “nice” for that: wholesome as a family picnic. No surprise that it infuriates devotees of traditional vampire lore!

But these things are absent because they were never of the slightest interest to Stephenie. She didn’t fail at invoking the vampire mythos, she discarded it. The notion of the vampire was simply a convenient cultural shorthand for forbidden, lethal desire -- which what her story is actually about. You’re quite right: if fairies or demigods could have evoked Edward’s battle with his cravings equally successfully, she could certainly have used those instead. (I don’t in fact think they could, which is why her subconscious chose well -- but I take your wider point). And where Stephenie gets drawn into elaborating her vampire world, I have to agree that -- apart from Volterra -- it’s a terrible artistic misstep. Stephenie’s gifts are not those of world-creation, and the more detailed her vampire myth becomes, the more we are distracted from the original “mythic” story -- archetypal morality tale, whatever you want to call it -- which her vampires were originally called into being to tell.

But this is my point. Yes, mythic narratives are often embedded of a rich tapestry of interwoven story (Tolkien’s extraordinary body of invented legend being the preeminent modern example) -- and maybe strictly speaking, to be “mythic” they have to be. But there’s a looser sense of “mythic” which is a freestanding characteristic of narratives themselves, irrespective of their place in a wider mythos, and that’s what I’d argue Stephenie’s original story has got. I’m having a terrible time pinning down precisely what this quality is: some constellation of attributes which doesn’t correspond precisely to “myth” or “epic” or “Romance” or “Faery” or “morality tale” or to our notions of the primal, archetypal, ritual, emblematic, allegorical etc., but overlaps with all of them. And I’m pretty convinced that this -- shall we call it “mythlike”? -- quality is one of the things which gives Twilight its potency and allows it to work on the reader, despite its evident inadequacy as either realist novel or modern mythos. Just as the story of Oedipus doesn’t really depend on its place in the wider Greek mythology to act upon our imagination -- because it’s operating at the most primitive level of intuitive understanding -- I think there are deep, archetypal elements of Stephenie’s story at work below the frothy mixture of girl romance and paranormal fantasy we find on the books’ surface.

Does that mean we can’t simply enjoy that frothy confection? Not at all. It’s a brilliant edifice of fantasies, shrewdly constructed. And there’s a telling underlay of psychological realism woven through the fantastical which gives the froth substance -- more than enough to keep us engaged. (Or so I’ve argued elsewhere). But to answer your question, hofj -- are we taking this story a tad too seriously? -- I’m not sure we are. Seems to me that there really is a serious dimension to this story; that Stephenie meant this as a morality tale as well as a delicious romance; that it was shaped by her need to grapple with the moral and theological issues raised by her original dream premise. So that it’s legitimate to ask how she does it, and whether she has pulled it off. Which is (I think) where Knives and I have got to.

Now I still haven’t explained very well WHY I’m claiming Twilight has these mythlike undercurrents, or where exactly I think they lie. And that’s not something it’s easy to precis, because it grows out of the whole way I read this story. Perhaps you can get a glimpse of “where I’m coming from” from some of my old posts on the original Choices thread -- the place where a lot of these ideas were first hammered out. You might find the whole conversation illuminating, in that it has a subtly different take on Stephenie’s story than commonly found here. For now, perhaps I could quote something I wrote somewhere else a while ago:

the story of TW made a kind of emotional, almost mythopoeic sense. The large bold shapes all added up to something even if the details were preposterous, examined close-up: a mythopoeic narrative about love triumphing over darkness through sacrifice and suffering. You had a boy and a girl in love. He worshipped the ground she walked on, dreamed of nothing but to devote himself to her, cherish her, protect her (as he well could, being nearly omniscient and omnipotent) -- and also to kill her. For her part, she adored him so helplessly (and selflessly) that she would walk open-eyed to her destruction to return that love. A heroine who in effect had slipped out of life into the world of mythology, of perfect lovers and impossible, epic choices and a passion so strong it has no place -- as Bella herself observes -- in the real world. Pretty powerful stuff. And Stephenie carries this grand and romantic premise to its grand and romantic fulfillment: the boy's strength and goodness triumph over his own dark nature, the girl's courage is rewarded, and love is ascendant. Curtain falls on mythic romance.

I guess it seems to me that the story Stephenie lays out for us -- at least in the sequence from Tw to Ec (and I’ve written elsewhere about why I think BD is discontinuous with that story) -- turns on the abstract, spiritual implications of the sacrifices which Edward and Bella choose to make for one another. Choices which reverberate through her story and lift it to the level of contemporary myth-making. As Truelove1 put it once: the sacrifice of everything for love. Pretty mythic, in my book anyway...

Knives wrote:In myth, vampirism is an unholy curse; in Twilight, it is physical transcendence into the realm of immortal perfection. What incentive is there to remain human, aside from the murky question of one's soul...

Oh gracious...

*stops short*

Ok, so now I really am at a loss where to begin to find common ground in this conversation because it’s FOUNDATIONAL to my reading of this story that being a vampire -- one of Stephenie’s vampires -- is at best a glass half-empty: a doom as much as a blessing. Yes, it is eternal love, immortality, speed, strength, beauty, but also a half-life of unnatural changelessness and loathsome desires and a painful, unending battle against temptation. I’m pretty convinced that Stephenie means us to understand this. Even if the sugary denouement of BD ends up fixing our gaze firmly on the rose-tinted side of the bargain. The fifty-odd pages of discussion on the old Choices thread are pretty much predicated on this premise. To the point that I don’t think I could begin to summarize why I believe this: it’s woven into practically everything I’ve ever written here! If you’re interested I can point you to some relevant pages. But I think we'll need to hammer this out before we can get much further here....(*grin*).


Openhome wrote: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?

Yes, exactly! If you’ll forgive me for quoting something I wrote last summer on the Bella thread:

Twilight is a fantasy: archetypal, shot through with wish-fulfillment, sprung out of a dream-scenario so rife with psychological overtones that it really doesn't bear thinking about too closely! This is meant to be a story about impossible, unattainable (and literally eternal) love -- a love so deep, so unreasonable, so unanswerable that it could actually justify the appalling sacrifices which (as Stephenie certainly sees it) Bella is prepared to make. What Stephenie is doing is more like a piece of myth-making or a fable, than writing a novel about real-life love.

But...the characters who people that myth are not mythic in the slightest. Of course, they're not exactly realistic either: Edward is an obvious confection of fantasies; Bella has been made -- deliberately -- a kind of under-specified Everyteen. But Stephenie has an undeniable knack for making them vividly real to the reader. Their voices may be cliched and predictable, but somehow they ring true to life. In this sense, yes they are "realist" characters. And paradoxically, this is one of the things that gives the myth-making its power: readers "relate" to Bella and are pulled into her story; the vividness and immediacy of her narration gives Twilight an emotional power which true myths don't have for a modern audience.


Openhome wrote: 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.

Well as you’ll have gathered, I couldn’t agree more. One doesn’t have to read the series this way: the delicious, featherlight romantic fantasy which Stephenie has concocted for us is pleasure enough. But I don’t think you’re wrong to read more in them than that. There's more to Stephenie than meets the eye: one has only to look at The Host to see that -- a book transfixed by the solemn themes (love and sacrifice, the double-edged gift of immortality, the preciousness of being human) one finds peeping out through Twilight's sweet adolescent romance. If you haven’t done so already, you might enjoy reading through the old Choices thread in the Lexicon Archive -- you’ll find yourself in good company there!

*looks back at length of post and blenches apologetically*
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Re: Explorations

Postby Openhome » Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:21 am

Knives wrote: 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?


I think that the one thing which is lost in the popular (shallow) cultural interpretation of the stories is the devastating loss of their humanity, and their daily, minute by minute, struggle to maintain their chosen morality. To me, the vampire life was so hard, and honestly boring, and I felt that each of the Cullens, while still alive, had truly lost a great deal in their change. The never ending battle to fight against their own base desires and needs was what Stephenie wanted to portray, I believe. It has been utterly lost in the transition from book to movie, and doesn't even come up much in the book discussion. That "lost" state is what each vampire was fighting against, and it is indeed an important factor in almost all mythology.

Note the apple on the front cover of Twilight. What does it represent? Temptation and fall; the two oldest themes of mythos. Edward represents the monster who tries to find a salvation that he can never attain. Bella is the innocence lost.

Stephenie made rock hard vampires and Tolkien had a ring. Both represent in their own way the ultimate temptation. Do you remember Galadriel in Lothlorien as she fought her desire for the ring when Frodo tried to give it to her? To me, the vampires fight the same thing. They could give in and consider themselves as gods just as others of their kind did. They could have given up on everything and simply enjoyed the erotic pleasure of killing humans, but they didn't. In fact, Edward fought against undeniable temptation, and Bella was his reward. The innocent saving the monster. Deeply mythological again.
December, you are utterly brilliant! :D I loved reading your essay (dissertation?) on the mythos and the true definition.

Perhaps the key difference is simply found in the pragmatic approach. If a story touches a core truth of humanity to such a degree that we are illuminated about them -- or argue about them :D -- it is indeed mythos.
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Re: Explorations

Postby rollie715 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:42 am

Wow, I am totally blown away by the depth of thinking and comments that have gone into this thread. I usually think of myself as a deep analytical thinker, but compared to you guys, I feel inadequate and embarrassed to even lay out my thoughts in this company. It appears as though some of you have a history or backgound involving studying literature and becoming knowledgeable on the various literary types and apparent rules associated with each catagory. I claim no such experience or education and would be severely limited in any attempts to converse on that level. I did attempt to read every post in this thread and try to understand what it is you guys are talking about.

So, from a middle aged regular guy's perspective, and one who does not do much reading or even spend time understanding literature, I found myself personally drawn to these books and have spent some time analyzing why. Vampires, Humans, Relationships, Love, Immortality, all complex subjects that have somehow been combined together in a way that affects us so much. I agree, that given detailed analysis, SM as an author is lacking in so many areas that could easily be criticized, but even though I noticed that while reading, it did not detract from my desire to engulf myself in the story and to continue to keep reading. In fact I found myself pausing often to reflect or even ponder on deep subjects and even applying them to my own life.

It seems that attempts to classify this work using traditional understandings does not quite work, as her writing doesn't follow any preconceived rules but instead shifts from one style to the next, while still keeping the main threads alive. I can appreciate that she may not have had as much formal training or experience as many novelists. It seems like an unstructured piece of work that has at it's core some great content.

In regards to Myths or Reality, this story has drawn me in so far personally, that it becomes a Reality in my mind. Even though my brain tells me there is no such things as Vampires, my feelings have accepted them as an alternative reality and I embrace their life and live their choices and actions with them as if they are real. To me, even though the setting is Mythical, the issues and principles being dealt with are Real. I know the story is Fictional, but the subject matter is more then Real, it contains elements of Moral and Eternal principles that reach out and touch me.

As to whether this story conforms to pre accepted standards, such as being true to historically established myths or following some accepted theme or story line, I think as an author, Stephanie wrote a fictional story claiming to be her own making and not claiming to follow any pre-established pattern. I believe she has the license to develop the setting any way she desires. Her characters do not have to fit into how we think they should. She does not have to conform to our way of thinking. Instead it is just the opposite, at least with me. In experiencing the adventure she has laid out for me, I accept without question the world in which she describes, even if I don't understand how it could be so. In fact it may be this element of trust we exercise that allows us to fully experience the path her characters follow. By spending less time questioning and more time absorbing what is offered may lead us to the deeper experience.

Regarding the issue of lost souls, part of me says again, there is no such thing as vampires, but the other part of me says if God created them, then he has a purpose for them and and if he has provided a way for them to be saved then he will. I accept that in some alternative reality then I am in now, this could be true. It may have nothing to do with my own reality, but I accept it anyway. To me, anytime there is a discussion on the lost soul theme, it also has to include the definition of what is a soul and how does it relate to the eternities. The idea that a normal human has a soul which can be saved or lost as determined by circumstances and that certain beings such as vampires are in a state where their souls may be lost is beyond my abilities to fully comprehend. In TW if I remember correctly, both Carlisle and Edward expressed hope that maybe there was a chance that their souls could be redeemed after all.

So I didn’t agree with my father’s particular brand of faith. But never, in the nearly four hundred years now since I was born, have I ever seen anything to make me doubt whether God exists in some form or the other. Not even the reflection in the mirror......I’m sure all this sounds a little bizarre, coming from a vampire. But I’m hoping that there is still a point to this life, even for us. It’s a long shot, I’ll admit. By all accounts, we’re damned regardless. But I hope, maybe foolishly, that we’ll get some measure of credit for trying.
Carlisle Cullen, New Moon, Chapter 2, p.36

Stephanie did not explain to us the path a vampire would travel to get from their current tormented state to one where they were released of this trial and move onto a better life, similar to the path many humans believe in for their own destiny, but she did keep the book open for that possibility as she allowed some of them to speak about. In my own optimistic view, I think she intended to end the happily ever after story with the conclusion that Edward and Bella did rise to a better life, and somehow even though it was not mentioned, the vampire's curse would be a phase that was left behind.

That's about all I have to say on this for now. I'm guessing with a little interaction, I will get better at this discussion and actually contribute a little more as I better understand what we are really talking about.

Thanks
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Re: Explorations

Postby December » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:25 pm

Rollie, glad you’ve found this convo! We all come to the discussion of these books from different backgrounds and perspectives -- a degree in literature is certainly not a prerequisite (or even necessarily an asset!). At least I hope it’s not, or I’m certainly disqualified...(*grin*). The current topic can be approached in terms of “literary” categories -- as Knives and I were somewhat inexpertly attempting to do -- but it’s really about something more fundamental: groping to explain what it is we find in Stephenie’s story that takes us beyond the mere pleasure of a “good read.” For which the only qualification is being a thoughtful reader.

I certainly agree with you that Stephenie has the knack of dragging us headlong into her story so that, as you beautifully put it, “we live her characters’ choices and actions as if they are real.” Her fantasy may be thin and lack the elaborate hinterland provided by world-building fantasy writers. But the solid emotional reality of her characters’ responses to the fantastical situation they're in gives her story a stubborn hold on our imaginations. We believe in Edward and Bella, their dilemmas, their struggles and their joy. And yes, as we accompany them on their journey, we accept without question the landscape through which they are passing -- to the point of speculating about what lies beyond those hills or down that unexplored fork in the road. It becomes a permanent addition to our imaginative geography.

As for souls... The question of vampires, sin, morality and salvation in the Twilight universe is very complicated because Stephenie’s own position seems equivocal or even inconsistent. Are vampires murderers or merely cougars? Vicious killers damned eternally for the blood on their hands -- or a species of their own, as innocent as the killerwhale that takes the baby seal? Are their souls forfeit at the moment they lose their humanity, or do the lives they live thereafter get weighed in the Divine reckoning? Put together the books' conflicting implications, and everything Stephenie has said herself (in the famous TUGPM conversation collected in PC#12 for instance) -- and it’s hard to know what we’re meant to think. Even Edward’s own statements are contradictory: he holds himself uncompromisingly to account for the murders he has committed, and yet it is he who suggests to Bella the analogy between vampires and killer whales.

One possibility is that Stephenie is simply confused -- or undecided -- between the relativist and the moralist view of her vampires’ cravings. I suspect that she may well have found each view persuasive at different moments, without necessarily reflecting on the dissonance between them. But I think there is in fact a way to reconcile these two apparently contradictory perspectives: and that something like this -- whether or not she articulated it explicitly to herself -- is what Stephenie had intuitively at the back of her mind. And now I have to apologize for referring so often to the old Lexicon Archives -- but these issues have naturally gripped readers from the start and this particular question was thrashed out at length there. Rather than repost what I wrote then -- how vampires can be both blameless beasts AND capable of sin (and redemption!) -- I’ll just link to my original post. I recommend the entire conversation which my post is part of; it's well worth reading and discussing.


Openhome wrote:I think that the one thing which is lost in the popular (shallow) cultural interpretation of the stories is the devastating loss of their humanity, and their daily, minute by minute, struggle to maintain their chosen morality. To me, the vampire life was so hard, and honestly boring, and I felt that each of the Cullens, while still alive, had truly lost a great deal in their change. The never ending battle to fight against their own base desires and needs was what Stephenie wanted to portray, I believe. It has been utterly lost in the transition from book to movie, and doesn't even come up much in the book discussion. That "lost" state is what each vampire was fighting against, and it is indeed an important factor in almost all mythology.

What can I say? Yes, yes, yes! Couldn’t put it better. I’m assuming that you’ve had a look at the conversation on the old Choices thread, but if not, I do hope you will. These ideas are not discussed very widely on the Lex, but they have certainly been discussed in depth there! As for the movies, I couldn’t agree more that the grim recognition of what being a vampire means has pretty much gone by the boards there. Robert Pattinson’s own take on Edward may be grounded in that darker perspective (as his comments on the role suggest), but the films as a whole are working against him here: almost to the point of undermining his interpretation and making Edward come across as morose rather than tortured. (Or anyway, tortured only in the manner of any “tortured” emo adolescent). But the brutal fact is: this is a boy suffering the torments of the damned -- not just searing temptation but acute pain -- to take his difficult place beside the girl he loves. And in their hard-won love, he finds the triumphant reaffirmation of his lost humanity. But you’d never know it from Twilight The Movie. Grumble, grumble....

(*steps down from her The Book Is Always Better soapbox*)
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Re: Explorations

Postby Knives » Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:45 pm

Wow - December, that was an excellent post, and it is going to take me some time to fully examine it before I reply to it in detail. However, I do think I should address some of the differences in opinion between you and me - and myself and Jazz Girl - with regards to vampirism, damnation, morality and choice. Luckily, all of those themes have wonderful mythic resonance, so I'm not going off-topic. I think.

The Nature of Vampirism - This is the most fundamental disagreement between fans & anti-fans, and is exhibited here between Jazz Girl (Fan) and myself (Anti). So, what the hell is a vampire when we get down to it? A vampire is a concealed predator; a skulking, sneaking thing which steals life to prolong its own unholy existence. More importantly, vampirism deals with themes of survival, betrayal of trust, sexuality (and homosexuality), faith & faithlessness, blood, death, and the lure of immortality. You can see some of these themes (Faith & Faithlessness, light Death, Lure of Immortality) in Stephenie Meyer's vampires, but they feel wholly different from almost every vampire I've ever read. The closest I can think of are Anne Rice's vampires, who are still - and this is the most important distinction - forced to kill in order to survive. By removing that sense of urgency, that single, all-defining element, Ms. Meyer created an entirely different beast. The vampires of Twilight know that they can live without human blood, and while it is annoying to consume animals, that also makes it thoroughly immoral to be preying upon human beings - and there's almost no two ways about that statement. You don't have to eat innocent people, so doing so is only motivated by the vampire in question being a complete and total jerk.

Part of the difficulty in discussing this is, however, Ms. Meyer's total ignorance of the myths she chose to draw upon. A lot of people make the statement that Jazz Girl did - that you can "make vampires whatever you want to" - but the fact of the matter is that you can't. Certainly, you're capable, but the resulting creation is never going to be accepted into the body of myth because it does not resonate with the archetype. Part of what December was driving at, above, is the idea of Myth as Archetype - legends which resonate with us no matter the difference between age, generation, technological development, et cetera. Ms. Meyer's story is rife with those resonances, but her creations are not.

The library computer is about to kick me off, so I'll discuss Vampiric Morality (the sticking point between December & myself) at a later time.

Hope to hear from ya'll!

- Knives
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Re: Explorations

Postby rollie715 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:03 pm

Knives wrote:The Nature of Vampirism - This is the most fundamental disagreement between fans & anti-fans, and is exhibited here between Jazz Girl (Fan) and myself (Anti). A lot of people make the statement that Jazz Girl did - that you can "make vampires whatever you want to" - but the fact of the matter is that you can't. Certainly, you're capable, but the resulting creation is never going to be accepted into the body of myth because it does not resonate with the archetype. Part of what December was driving at, above, is the idea of Myth as Archetype - legends which resonate with us no matter the difference between age, generation, technological development, et cetera. Ms. Meyer's story is rife with those resonances, but her creations are not.
- Knives


Howdy Knives, good to hear from you again. I'm new here, but enjoy discussions along these lines.

Even though I'm not quite up to speed on the proper use of the words Myth and Archetype, I can follow your logic with regards to building a story based on previously accepted understandings of what a Vampire should be. The idea that "the resulting creation is never going to be accepted into the body of myth" makes me think there is a group of people out there, of which you might be a part of, that hold these previously accepted definitions as somewhat sacred and maybe are a little offended when an untrue definition is used or even accepted. It is amazing to me how there can be such an "Anti" response to a subject which is totally made up and fictional to begin with. I can understand that response as it seems to me to be similar to the passion used by the people who are "Fans" who use the same obsessive tendancies to defend their own views.

Having said that, my own personal reaction is based on a defensive stance, that as an author , and I realize this has been stated by others, SM should be able to define her fictional vampires any way she chooses. Why should she restrict her story or even her vision to preset rules? I would think the creative process would perform better when allowed to move unrestricted. Would a disclaimer at the beginning of the book satisfy the critics? I do not not think so, as she has mentioned this subject in interviews and it has no effect on this kind of critic. I believe you when you say this creation will never be accepted, but I'm not sure that it has to be accepted by the group you refer to. The majority of Fans, myself included, not only accept SM's setting and definitions, but get completely emmersed in them as if they were true. The inconsistencies and imperfections in her writings do not matter to us as we experience what the stories really have to offer us. I do not claim to be a literary expert, but I know what I like, and what moves me, and this saga does. To me, it does not have to conform to previously accepted literary guidelines to warrant the obsession or should I say passion that I feel for the whole thing.

More on this later. I look forward to more discussions on the subjects of "vampirism, damnation, morality and choice" as you mention..

Rollie
Last edited by rollie715 on Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Explorations

Postby vampirenerd » Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:56 pm

Knives wrote:The vampires of Twilight know that they can live without human blood, and while it is annoying to consume animals, that also makes it thoroughly immoral to be preying upon human beings - and there's almost no two ways about that statement. You don't have to eat innocent people, so doing so is only motivated by the vampire in question being a complete and total jerk.- Knives


Wow, there are certainly a lot of different views expressed in this discussion and I love it. I am new to this particular thread but I have read through everyone's posts and, for the most part, understand their thoughts. Imo I agree with KNIVES about what a vampire is. Throughout history the vampire has been portrayed as a soulless "murderer" for lack of a better word. Vampires require human blood to survive and they get this by seducing and tricking humans. When you take away that element, that NEED for HUMAN blood, and say that it's not a necessity but a choice then you take away what a vampire elementally is. I think when you use the killer whale/baby seal reference it is more applicable to the vampires of other authors and not SM's. Those vampires have to drink human blood to survive. Twilight vampires don't. It just seems that SM has taken what a vampire is, what we've all always read/seen them to be and completely change it.

OPENHOME, you mentioned that the "loss of humanity" that the Cullens have to endure, and the "struggle to maintain their chosen morality" is lost to most people. IMO, I don't really see them giving up their humanity. Let me explain, yes in all sense of the word they are no longer human. They don't eat, breathe, or sleep. But they still go to school, Carlisle is a doctor, Rose has her cars and Alice spends entirely too much money on clothes. There is never a real portrayel of them giving up humanity. They still act and feel as humans do. I agree that there is always a constant struggle there for them to maintain their morality. They know they don't "need" to drink from humans so they choose not to but there is always that desire for human blood. I agree on that aspect that they are struggling against their desires but it seems that they have pretty much got it under control if they can exist in the circumstances they put themselves in (ie going to a high school).

I'm sure I haven't expressed myself clearly and I know there are points I meant to make that I've forgotten but this is my opinion on this discussion.
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Re: Explorations

Postby Openhome » Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:40 pm

Archetype: Hi guys! I would like to address Knives position first. As far as vampires and vampire mythology, most of our modern culture sees the soulless evil ones from the perspective of popular fiction. That is simply a fact, and will not change. The truth of it is that there truly is no archetype other than the images created by our ancestors and passed down to us. Those images, cultural imagery until they are put into the written form, change with each generation. In the middle ages, and still today in Eastern Europe, the vampire was more like a zombie, a decaying dead body that stole the life from the living (a mythical representation of the unfair and terrifying mystery that is death). If you are talking about archetypes, the Cullens might be more related to our views of fallen angels. However, that is a discussion for another time.

What are modern vampires? They are any being that is beautiful to the point of being irresistible, yet are still utterly evil. They are the ultimate embodiment of corruption, unable to even enjoy the goodness (symbolically as well as physically) of the sun. They are corrupt not because of nature, but by choice. For the worst of them, they chose to become the dead for vanity's sake -- their pride led to their fall.

As to morality, I think you hit on the major nerve of it. If you are made by nature to kill to survive, it isn't a moral dilemma at all. I don't condemn my cat for killing the mole because it's what he is supposed to do. (I do however condemn him for putting it on my bed at night --I HATE that!!) If a vampire, or a person, can choose to do no harm, are they not morally constrained to do so? That is a truly epic question, and one that has been discussed here before. However, I would love to hear your take on it.

Vampirenerd hello and welcome. The Cullens have, for the most part, won their battle with their vampiric nature and can almost perfectly pass as humans. However, i would like you to think about their view of themselves. None of them is able to truly relate to humans. This is mentioned time and again in the books, they simply aren't human any more, and the charade they carry on is merely that, a hoax. Even if you see them as human, they do not see themselves that way, and for good reason. Each one longs in their own way to keep the humanity and the memories of that time, yet in each character, we see that they are not able to do so. Most of them lament the loss, and so I cannot agree that they have retained their humanity at all.
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Re: Explorations

Postby Jazz Girl » Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:43 pm

Knives wrote:The vampires of Twilight know that they can live without human blood, and while it is annoying to consume animals, that also makes it thoroughly immoral to be preying upon human beings - and there's almost no two ways about that statement. You don't have to eat innocent people, so doing so is only motivated by the vampire in question being a complete and total jerk.- Knives


But, in my opinion, this is a gross oversimplification. Yes, in the strictest sense, our vampires can survive without human blood. However, as you have so aptly pointed out previously, it is not just an instinct or drive for them to drink human blood. The mere presence of humans causes them torturous burning pain, scorching fire that literally causes all other functions to cease. Resisting human blood is akin to them setting their hand on fire and then resisting thrusting their arm in a nearby bucket of water. Yes, the Cullens and Denali Clan have learned control, have learned to resist. But, that is a mark of their extraordinary nature, not the lack of primal need in that instinct. As Edward himself explains, when the feed, they are much less in control of their civilized nature, much more ruled by their animalistic tendencies. It is why the Cullens are always careful to hunt away from people. Because they know that the presence of human blood would risk all that they've worked for. In Jasper's case, those instincts to feed, to sate the need, took over completely. It is much more than just a jerk being a jerk.

The other question I would raise is this: has there ever been a discussion in our long vampire myth and lore about if a vampire could live withouth feeding on humans?? To my recollection, I've never, in all the vampire tales I've read, seen anything where a vampire has tried and died, thsu proving that vampires must by nature and definition feed on humans. Even in Twilight, this was the rarest of rare. Aro tells us they didn't even know it was possible until Carlisle succeeded. They thought he would go mad and give in or wither and die.

To say that SM has removed their vampiric nature altogether is a vast and sweeping conclusion, I think. They are still forced to kill to survive, regardless of the rank of the meal on the food chain. They (and by the collective I mean Twi-Vampires in general) still hunt, conceal their existence through subterfuge, stalk their prey, are erotic and sexualized by nature (I'm pretty sure Edward wasn't the only one inspiring lusty feelings in the female staff of FHS, and I don't even want to know what the male staff thought of Rosealie). All of those elements of a "true vampire" are all still there.

The introduction of the ideas of choice and self indulgence vs self denial merely serve to open the discussion about the difficulty of living a good (or what some might term a moral) life. They serve to introduce the discussion of right and wrong and how we define it, redemption, evil and all those other things that swim just beneath the surface of this teenage vampire love story. But, the long and short of it is, yes, they are vampires.
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Re: Explorations

Postby vampirenerd » Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:13 pm

JG, personally I agree that SM's characters are esentially vampires. I was merely stating that SM took what we normally think of as a vampire and changed it. In most vampire legends/stories a vampire has to drink human blood to survive. SM takes away that element and we're left with a set of vampires who can now choose to not kill humans. In the past a vampire was a tormented being, having to kill off humans to keep himself "alive". Now though, they can choose to not kill humans and there is nothing to be tormented about. I agree that they still thirst for human blood but they also say that as long as they are well fed on animals than the thirst is completely manageable (or else they wouldn't be able to be in such close contact with humans).

Morality is a major theme in Twilight. Because they are able to live off of animal blood they have the choice to not kill humans. I agree that if you have the ability to make the choice than you are morally obligated to make the right one. It's the same with humans in normal day to day life. We have the choice to kill some random person or not and our morals should lead us not to. It's the same way with the vampires. The Volturi know that it is possible to live off animals but yet they choose to continue to kill humans. Obviously their morals aren't as strong as the Cullens'.

As to the humanity question I guess it all depends on your definition of humanity. I use the definition "the quality or state of being human; human attributes or qualities". They may not technically be humans but the still have the attributes and qualities of humans. I agree that they feel the loss of their "human" lives, and wish to keep their memories but in this instance I feel that humanity and memories of their human life don't necessarily go hand in hand. I don't feel that the loss of their human memories has made them anyless human. They still have the ability to love, to get mad, to care about things. I think it is that, there ability to see humans as more than food, that allows them to keep their humanity.
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