Explorations (**BD2 Movie Spoilers!**)

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Re: Explorations

Postby Jazz Girl » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:49 pm

Knives wrote:These vampires are still intelligent. They have feelings, desires, and wishes, just like humans do. They have families and share the same religions - many of them still vote the way they used to vote. And yet, they feel - they resonate - more with mythic vampires than I feel the Twilight vampires do or ever could. Why? Part of it is the Cullens themselves. By defining them as main characters, they are the poster children upon which the entire archetype is hung. No matter that, in-universe, they are the exceptions to the rule; the reader interacts with the Cullens, which makes all the other examples feel like inferior or incorrect specimens. Another part of it is the subject of immortality vs. undeath; one a curse, the other a blessing. Aside from a struggle to not kill - one which, if the Cullens are any example, eventually becomes automatic if not necessarily easy - there is no cost for being a vampire. You do not give up your emotions or empathy. You do not lose part of your soul to a raging, bloodlusting, animalistic force. You don't age, grow feeble, or change physically. You do still change mentally, being able to learn, take advantage of new facts, and even grow. Where's the downside? I don't see one.

That's all the time I have left - more later!

- Knives


I think you make a key point. Those vampires you referenced, those in Requiem, feel more like vampires to you. You clearly have a very specifically defined notion of what a vampire can and can't be, do, think or feel. You are, for lack of a better term, a purist who wishes vampires to remain in the established realm. I make no bones with that. There are many out there who feel the same way. However, there are millions out there who look at SM's version of the vampire as a possibility just as likely as the next. There is no rule of law that says she can't change the mythology or the story a little. Make Carlisle the first to really attempt and succeed at living sans human blood. Afterall, the biology could make sense. Humans are, after all, mammals. We are animals. The difference is form and function. At the most base level, we all have warm, oxygenated blood that disperses chemicals and substances to our cells.

I absolutely, however, have to challenge your notion that there isn't a downside to being a Twilight vampire. I think the Cullens most of all would agree with me. I'll take first your assertion that resisting the urge to kill becomes automatic. It is a constant struggle for all of them. We know this from all manner of references in the text of all four novels, as well as Midnight Sun. Resisting is a constant battle of control, of conscious mind contradicting and overcoming utter instinct, of physical ability to conquer pain and suffering. Again, the analogy of lighting ones hand on fire and resisting the urge to immediately dunk it in the bucket of icewater. Yes, Carlisle becomes so proficient at it that he can be exposed to blood without outwardly belying his temptation. But, even he is the first to acknowledge that the impulse, the thirst is always there. And, that thirst only serves as a reminder of a vampire's true nature, which is where the struggle originates. For ones such as the Cullens, who choose to retain their humanity through strength of will alone, the mere reminder of what they struggle against is a torment. It is the basis for Edward's constant battle with himself. His nature is to take and to kill. But, to even have to struggle with that impulse where the woman he loves more than his life is concerned, that's the definition of torture. Add to that the constant question that there is truly no way to answer, the existence of their soul. For that to be a question, particularly for one such as Carlisle, a true man of faith and of God, I don't think I would find that easy at all.

As for surrendering emotions and empathy, I think you have to separate them as we know them. Yes, absolutely, vampires feel all emotions. And, they feel them much more intensely than humans do or, in my opinion, can really truly understand. But, empathy is another thing entirely. Just because you can understand another beings emotions does not mean you take them into consideration, does not mean you identify with them and can act accordingly. To the contrary, we are told that it is really only due to the Cullen's unique diet that they are able to hold on to their empathy and act upon it. Even Jasper, who's gift is to have the emotions of others foisted on him, does not react on those emotions until such time as he stops feeding on human blood. So again, we come back to that downside, that price. The price for holding on to one's empathy, to their ability to act and react humanely comes at the sacrifice of one's true nature and instincts.

You assert that one " do[es] not lose part of your soul to a raging, bloodlusting, animalistic force" And yet, that is how Edward constantly describes himself. That is really how we are shown other vampires who do not make the "vegetarian" choice. Edward is constantly comparing his two sides, his dualities. He talks about seeing himself almost as...TwoFace of Batman fame, if you will pardon the reference. On the one side is the dutiful son of Carlisle, constantly struggling to make himself a better man and worthy (in his eyes) of his father-figure's belief in him, a man worthy of the love and trust placed in him by a beautiful innocent. On the other side is the red-eyed soulless monster who would drain that innocent and any other that stood between him and her for a bare moments satisfaction. Or (in his eyes) worse! Take the life of that woman in a most selfish act so that he doesn't have to worry about killing her or losing her. The line between the two is razor thin and Edward tapdances back and forth along it until he no longer has a choice.

Again, it all boils down to choice. What I see here is you believe vampires shouldn't have the choice, or be able to make it without wasting away. What I see is that the ability and struggle to make that choice and to keep making it, torturous encounter after torturous encounter, does not make them less vampire, just more human.
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Re: Explorations

Postby Knives » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:13 pm

Jazz Girl wrote:As for surrendering emotions and empathy, I think you have to separate them as we know them. Yes, absolutely, vampires feel all emotions. And, they feel them much more intensely than humans do or, in my opinion, can really truly understand. But, empathy is another thing entirely. Just because you can understand another beings emotions does not mean you take them into consideration, does not mean you identify with them and can act accordingly. To the contrary, we are told that it is really only due to the Cullen's unique diet that they are able to hold on to their empathy and act upon it. Even Jasper, who's gift is to have the emotions of others foisted on him, does not react on those emotions until such time as he stops feeding on human blood. So again, we come back to that downside, that price. The price for holding on to one's empathy, to their ability to act and react humanely comes at the sacrifice of one's true nature and instincts. [/color]


Here I have to disagree with you; I don't see a loss of emotion and empathy in even the most feral vampires portrayed by the series. Victoria tries to strike at Bella; Aro manipulates peoples wants and fears in order to get his way. These vampires, certainly the most inhuman in the series, are still playing on people's emotions, even if their motivations for doing so are revenge, malice, power, or possibly the giggles. Let me tell ya, it's really hard to do that without empathy. I actually have diagnosed empathy problems (read: Ausperger's Syndrome), and it's really hard to deal with people when you can't comprehend why they could have done whatever it is they just did.

Compound upon this the fact that many of the vampires portrayed have powers that should sharpen their empathy. Alice's prophecy. Edward's mind-reading. Jasper has to have some kind of empathy to get any use at all out of his power. The list continues on and on. Your statement of, "More human, less vampire" is the exact problem. They stay more human. They never get more vampiric. One of Requiem's Damned starts out very human and ends, in a best-case scenario, as a self-controlled monster that doesn't get caught and tries not to kill humans when feeding (but doesn't feel too incredibly bad if they do). They might be damn hard to kill in some senses, but once you find the trick to it, they ash pretty easily, and centuries of hatred, fear, paranoia and xenophobia will really wear down on a body.

Contrast this to the vampires of Twilight. They're immortal. They're effectively invulnerable. They conceal their existences as a matter of convenience, since the only weapons capable of actually killing them are nuclear weapons (PM me for further explanation on that statement). They can band together in groups without being driven apart by competition for resources & Beast-induced paranoia. They can form real relationships, emotional bonds, and meaningful connections. They can learn, grow, and change in all manners but the physical - and, frankly, why would they want to change physically (with the exception of pregnancy, which all vampires everywhere run into problems with)? They're beautiful, super-strong, hellishly fast and possessed of senses far beyond a weak, inferior human body. Like I said, I don't see a downside. If you don't want to eat humans, don't live near them. You can find a like-minded group of vampires. Get sick of them? Find another group. You've only got forever to do it in.

Now I must go. Damn library >.<

- Knives
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Re: Explorations

Postby ringswraith » Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:03 pm

I'd like to contest the notion that the vampires are not driven apart by competition for resources. This is debunked by Jasper's origin story, regarding the vampire wars in the South. Even the little "coven" he belonged to suffered from infighting, and he had inklings that Maria wanted to destroy him at least once or twice. Most of that was for territory, and therefore hunting grounds.

The problem here is that we're treated to a view of mostly nomads (in small groups to begin with) and tight-knit covens (the Cullens) where all this becomes less apparent.

As for finding a like-minded group of vampires, I'm assuming you mean vampires that don't feed on humans? I believe the only ones we know of are the Cullens and the Denalis (please correct me if I'm wrong). The Cullens are already somewhat of a freakshow to the rest of vampiredom, and the Denalis are pretty isolated that we only ever hear them being referenced to by the Cullens. What I'm saying is, if you were a newborn and refused to drink human blood, you wouldn't be likely to hear about the Cullens or the Denalis unless some older vampire told you (assuming they even wanted to do that in the first place).

All that being said, with some notable exceptions with regards to Edward, the "thirst for blood" thing is quite downplayed in my opinion. I think we won't really see much of that until MS is published. But I've always thought that, while the series lays certain "rules of the universe" down, it's also quite eager to break those same rules:

1. Carlisle's practical immunity to the lure of blood
2. Edward's ability to resist Bella, as well as taste her blood without feeding and killing her
3. Jacob's level of control over his phasing
4. Bella's remarkable level of control for a newborn- including the manifestation of her power

Just to name a few.

(Now I must admit to being guilty of something similar to #2 when I wrote Giovanni for my fanfic.) I didn't really care about these things because I enjoyed the story, and am willing to see past them. But you do realize these once you start really looking into the books (like I have when I started doing some research for my fic).
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Re: Explorations

Postby Knives » Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:49 pm

ringswraith wrote:All that being said, with some notable exceptions with regards to Edward, the "thirst for blood" thing is quite downplayed in my opinion. I think we won't really see much of that until MS is published. But I've always thought that, while the series lays certain "rules of the universe" down, it's also quite eager to break those same rules


Aaah - someone brought it up. I'd almost forgotten about this particular notion, which I think should be explored (he he. Thread name drop. Okay, done being juvenile now. Sorry ya'll) a bit further, because how one interprets these instances of in-setting rules and how they are broken determines quite a bit about how one interprets the series. Lemme think of a few examples:

Author Incompetence: The rules were arbitararily broken for the sake of what Ms. Meyer thought was for the good of her story. Her lack of vermisilitude should be ignored (possibly necessitating ignoring Breaking Dawn - yes the whole book) and the rules of the setting should be held as inviolate. Her creations should be judged on those rules.

Suggestions: Those "rules" were patterns that had here-to-fore been observed, but the full story hadn't yet been revealed. The characters should be surprised at these exceptions to apparant rules and explore them further. Fanfiction and/or further books in the series may - or perhaps - should include these as seriously examined aspects of the world. Characters should be judged based on how they acted & reacted to the rules of existence as they knew them and by their views & actions regarding the "change" in the "rules".

Face Value: Take the series as-is, without judgement or further inferance. Also known as "pleasure reading". I somehow doubt anyone in the discussion did this.
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Re: Explorations

Postby Jazz Girl » Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:02 pm

Knives~ You confirmed my point about empathy perfectly. My point was that, while the transformation enhances their emotions, every example of a non-veggie vamp we have shows a complete lack of empathy. It is only through their choice to forego human blood that the Cullen Clan and Denali Coven can live in such close quarters without killing on another, a theory confirmed both by Jasper and Carlisle through The Saga.

As for the idea of in-setting rules, therein lies the crux of the argument. Where one sees blatant author disregard or incompetence, another sees intentional variation. But, in this case, both from in-setting rules, as well as those rules laid down by the genre or mythology one might expect to find.
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Re: Explorations

Postby rollie715 » Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:24 pm

I'm not sure if you are covering this view or whether I am seeing things differently then what I read in your posts, but from what I see, it seems SM has started with a dream she said she had, and that this dream was made up of concepts and ideas she had either previously embraced or felt strongly about as she attempted to form a story out of it she could write down. I'm thinking the concepts she intended, may be the core content that many readers are attracted to, but the glue that holds it together and the settings she created to hold them may be where the real weakness is. Maybe some of the differences with her vampires from historically accepted versions either had to be made or were made without caring about them in order to capture the ideas she really wanted to portray. Then as she continued with her use of that platform, further attempts to carry her core messages were more difficult as she tried to explain in more detail how things worked. I have run into this same problem personally as I've attempted to use my own allegories to explain or carry a subject, the further into the details I get, the greater discrepancies occur.

Knives wrote:
Author Incompetence: The rules were arbitrarily broken for the sake of what Ms. Meyer thought was for the good of her story.

I wouldn't say she ignored them blatantly, nor would I equate it to author incompetence, but I do think she consciously made changes or described her vampires according to the real messages she was trying to tell. It seems the fans who express devotion to the series, are getting the core concepts as intended by the author, but don't really care about the weakness of the carrying platform. As for being competent, I think she succeeded in portraying the messages she really wanted us to receive in spite of her lack of experience and expertise as an author.
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Re: Explorations

Postby vampirenerd » Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:57 pm

ringswraith wrote:All that being said, with some notable exceptions with regards to Edward, the "thirst for blood" thing is quite downplayed in my opinion. I think we won't really see much of that until MS is published. But I've always thought that, while the series lays certain "rules of the universe" down, it's also quite eager to break those same rules


I think that is one of my main problems with SM's vampires is that their thirst for blood is downplayed so much. The first thing you think when you think about vampires is the fact that they drink blood. This is true for any vampire in any book/movie and it just seems to not be a big theme with the Twilight vamps. Also, it really irks me that, like you pointed out, she does lay down her own rules but then breaks them. It doesn't bother me as much that she changed the rules for vampires as it does that she breaks her own rules. If you're going to create your own race of vampires with their own rules at least stick to those rules.
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Re: Explorations

Postby Jazz Girl » Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:14 pm

vampirenerd wrote:
ringswraith wrote:All that being said, with some notable exceptions with regards to Edward, the "thirst for blood" thing is quite downplayed in my opinion. I think we won't really see much of that until MS is published. But I've always thought that, while the series lays certain "rules of the universe" down, it's also quite eager to break those same rules


I think that is one of my main problems with SM's vampires is that their thirst for blood is downplayed so much. The first thing you think when you think about vampires is the fact that they drink blood. This is true for any vampire in any book/movie and it just seems to not be a big theme with the Twilight vamps. Also, it really irks me that, like you pointed out, she does lay down her own rules but then breaks them. It doesn't bother me as much that she changed the rules for vampires as it does that she breaks her own rules. If you're going to create your own race of vampires with their own rules at least stick to those rules.


Though, to me, one of the most magical things about the story is that, at times, you can almost forget it is a vampire story at all. It is, at it's heart a love story, that just happens to involve vampires and shape shifters and humans, all inhabiting the same place. SM does this completely intentionally. It's not an accident that we can, at times, for the most part completely forget that Edward and the Cullens are vampires. Because Bella does. She loves Edward, the man. Not Edward the vampire. This is where much of the drama of the story comes from. Bella never cares what he is, just who. It is Edward who cannot let go of his vampiristic nature, who is constantly aware of the danger that he and his world present to Bella. To Bella, he is just the man she falls in love with; beautiful, intelligent and strong. We know that they cannot escapt it, and indeed it comes rushing in often to remind us in the most dangerous ways that Edward is, first and foremost a being who is just as likely to kill Bella as love her if he can't control himself, that he is surrounded on all sides by creatures that would hurt or kill her.

As for SM changing her own rules...maybe I'm just better at suspension of disbelief. But, to me, she who writes the rules has the most right to bend or break them. But, mostly, I am a firm believer in the idea that there are exceptions to every rule, even new ones.
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Re: Explorations

Postby vampirenerd » Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:35 pm

I agree with you Jazz to the extent that it is nice that Bella loves Edward for WHO he is and not WHAT he is. It makes sense then that we would see them more as humans than vampires because that is how Bella sees them. But to me if you wanted to just make it a love story don't add the supernatural. And I guess the rule thing will have to be something we just disagree on lol. I agree with the fact that she can make her own rules and make her vampires behave the way she wants (even if I don't like it). I just wish she would've stuck with those rules and not allowed certain people/circumstances to break them. But it's her story, so I guess she can do what she wants and the end it is still an amazing saga.
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Re: Explorations

Postby dazzel21 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 1:15 am

This is what makes the Twilight saga unique from the rest, it doesn't dwell on a single genre. It's not only about good versus evil or love above all else rather it emphasizes more on the choices each and every one of us is presented with. Being a vampire it goes to say that they should drink human blood but the Cullen's chose a different path from the rest. They chose to drink animal blood instead. A very noble and brave thing to do. Like what Edward had said, "They don't want to be a monster." In life we always have choices, our fate may not be how we want them to be but we could always chose the path that we think is best for us given the said circumstances. Some may "fall of the wagon" along the way but in the end its still their choice that will separate them from the rest...
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