Explorations (**BD2 Movie Spoilers!**)

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Re: Explorations

Postby marielle » Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:02 am

Wow, heavy discussion here...

Jazz Girl wrote:I've oftened wondered about this part of the phenomenon, honestly. Carlisle awoke with no one to guide him. But, he also awoke with an at least partial understanding of what he was, what the burn might be. But, he staunchly refused to give in, willing to waste away rather than give in to his instinct.

I think it has also a lot to do with their gifts, if Carlisle was from the beginning very compasionate to everything, then there was always the realisation of what he could do and could become, and I truly believed he hated that part of him.
Reading the stories of every character in the book I believe that it was only Rosalie who had the same clean record as Carlisle, she didn't kill to eat because of compassion but I think it was because she was afraid of what she was.
About Alice's record nobody ever said something, besides Edward in twilight, he said Alice would have become a total savage if not for her gift. I think that the vision of a future with the Cullens kept her sane, stopped her from being a total monster but I think she tried not the kill humans to eat, but that she had given in sometimes....

About Bella's transformation, I do think SM should have given her more of a hard time to adept. after her meeting with Charlie the only thing I can find in the book about her dealings with the human scent is when she got back from J. Jenks. that she was happy she didn't kill anyone
I always tought it would be better for the story to fill in the three months SM leaves open, in which she shows Bella's struggles of a new born.
On why she would have been able to resist so easy, I think Bella's shield wasn't the only thing she brought into her vampire life. I think her mothering feelings were so strong when Edward changed her, that it has also become a core trait of her in her vampire life and the will to defend is really strong, to defend herself and those she loves...like she had always wanted when she was human...
These violent delights, have violent endings...Like fire and gunpowder, they consume what they kiss

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Re: Explorations

Postby Knives » Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:52 am

holdingoutforjacob wrote:mm I'm not sure. I don't think they become a "morally bankrupt monster" automatically, but I do think they lose touch with their human lives automatically. In one of the books they said their former lives become like a distant memory.


I'm going to have to join a few others in disputing this idea, hard. There's no basis for the idea of simply shedding an entire life's worth of personality, societal influence, memories, feelings, beliefs, et cetera, and none of the vampires portrayed in Twilight really seem to have done so either (read: Alice's fashion obsession). Losing one's humanity is a gradual process shaped by grief, predation, contemplation, and - perhaps most importantly - sheer boredom. An artist is turned and creates his masterpiece. Perhaps he continues to draw, or paint, for awhile, but eventually it pales. He grows bored or reaches the limit of his skill, and then what? He takes up another hobby? Maybe. But when he begins running out of things which interest him and the urge for art itches, he may turn to torture, mutilation, or dismemberment to get any reaction out of his jaded and exhausted emotions. And when even those perversions begin to pale? Who knows what may happen. I don't see a lot - or, really, any - of the consequences of deathlessness portrayed in the series, and it certainly doesn't help the reader's image of it to experience it from Bella's point of view; her lust for immortality colors how it is portrayed in the series, crippling or destroying Ms. Meyer's chances of portraying it as a curse. And I will, again, reiterate that I don't see a downside. Astoundingly enough, it's not that hard to avoid humanity on Earth. Find a DSL connection, a mansion in the woods, and hunker down for a life of doing whatever the hell you want. Problem solved, no?

That said, I think Jazz Girl's comment that you can often forget that Twilight is a vampire story may be another point of consternation, and perhaps a source of the fanbase's vacillation between seeing realism and seeing myth. I've mentioned that the portions which ground the reader in reality take away from the story's mythic resonance before, but where Jazz sees beauty in forgetting Edward's inhuman nature, I see frustration and needless dichotomy. A book should be all the things that it is at all times, and it's not as tall an order as it sounds like. Read Bloodsucking Fiends (and its sequels, You Suck and Bite Me) by Christopher Moore some time. Are they vampiric love stories that take place on modern Earth? Yes. Are they comedies? Hell yes (I defy you to find someone funnier than Christopher Moore). And it never feels, when reading the novels, as though he is sacrificing any part of the book for any other part. Even more wonderfully, many of the characters are strikingly (and often depressingly) real. The ennui experienced by Elijah, the confusion, empowerment, and fear that Jody takes into the Change with her, the hyper-realized drama of goth moron Abbey Normal - they all fit, and none of it seems out of place - and you never forget for an instant that you are dealing with vampires, love, loyalty, and humor. This is, of course, my humble opinion, but I feel that those times in which you forget the inhuman aspects of Twilight, Ms. Meyer is wounding her own story. There's no reason that a novel cannot be a vampire novel and a love novel, unless one subscribes to the sugared over Disney (see: Victorian & Neovictorian) views of love and romance.

Side note: I'm rebooting work on my own vampire novel, Sanguine. Expect to see snippets of chapters here and there ^_^

- Knives

EDIT: In fact, here is an elegantly crafted link to the basic "mechanics" of vampirism in Sanguine. PMs here, on Giantitp or comments on the thread itself would all be greatly appreciated!
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Re: Explorations

Postby Openhome » Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:09 pm

Knives: I hope you don't mind me restating your arguments here, but I am wanting to make sure I understand your points since the thread is now quite long and they have been dispersed throughout. I am not at all arguing, simply verifying.
First: You don't feel that SM's work rings true as far as creating a mythical world. You believe that she didn't clarify the parameters of her world clearly enough and that she doesn't hit the deeper waters of human thought that we term mythos here. Her book simply doesn't touch on deeper ideas and is only popular because it is about young love (Disney-esque).
Second: You feel that there is a set and defined ideal for vampires, werewolves, etc. that must be maintained in order for a story to achieve literary greatness. Her work deviates too far into a new and unknown vampiric form, and this detracts from the work. (I will give you the point that when she broke her own rules, it was very difficult to overlook and has left us fanfiction writers with huge holes we must work around.)
Third: Vampires must maintain their status as monsters because it is a part of the overall myth of the vampire.
Fourth: Because SM's main vampires have chosen to be good, it detracts from the tale and nullifies other aspects of the story.
Finally: And I agree in part with this one -- SM didn't show the horror side of vampirism. She only showed us the fun stuff and didn't spend enough time showing us the pain and torture of being a vampire. It looks all sparkles and fun.
Please clarify if I am mistaken or have left something out.

Your book sounds very solid. You have set up a well thought out world that has quite a few wonderful possibilities for plots. I will be interested to read some of your characterization, as that is what draws me to a book.
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Re: Explorations

Postby Knives » Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:28 pm

Openhome wrote:Knives: I hope you don't mind me restating your arguments here, but I am wanting to make sure I understand your points since the thread is now quite long and they have been dispersed throughout. I am not at all arguing, simply verifying.


I don't mind at all ^_^ This may, in fact, be helpful.

First: You don't feel that SM's work rings true as far as creating a mythical world. You believe that she didn't clarify the parameters of her world clearly enough and that she doesn't hit the deeper waters of human thought that we term mythos here. Her book simply doesn't touch on deeper ideas and is only popular because it is about young love (Disney-esque).


Sort of. I don't think the books are as deep as they're given credit for. The idea of selfless love and sacrifice in the name of that love has huge mythic resonance, and I feel it is that resonance that draws readers to the books, either because they see that kind of love as an ideal, or because it's simply something heartwarming to contemplate. It's her other attempts at mythic resonance that I feel she fails at.

Second: You feel that there is a set and defined ideal for vampires, werewolves, etc. that must be maintained in order for a story to achieve literary greatness. Her work deviates too far into a new and unknown vampiric form, and this detracts from the work. (I will give you the point that when she broke her own rules, it was very difficult to overlook and has left us fanfiction writers with huge holes we must work around.)


Again, close (this lack of clarity is probably my fault). Vampires/werewolves/zombies/what have you have certain moods, themes, and resonances that I feel Ms. Meyer blatantly ignored. I mean, honestly. There's a Swiss vampire that's powerless without its freaking hat and it still feels more like a vampire than her creations to me. Her attempts to take a creation that does not resonate and jam it into the vampire niche are what irks me, as there are several other niches she could have used (heck, this story could have been told as a Faeries tale. A real one. There are fae whose mere touch is addictive, and their wasting kisses inevitably enslave, and then destroy, their paramours. Tell me she couldn't have done ten minutes of research and used that.)

Third: Vampires must maintain their status as monsters because it is a part of the overall myth of the vampire.


Vampires should retain (or maintain) their status as other than human. In a world where feeding on animals is possible, one needn't be a "monster", but her vampires come across to me as superhuman; idealized, in other words. When one ignores the consequences of forsaking one's humanity, it creates flaws in characterization, especially if the goal was to show such a thing as a curse.

Fourth: Because SM's main vampires have chosen to be good, it detracts from the tale and nullifies other aspects of the story.


Because the Cullens are the only vampires with even halfhearted attempts at characterization and are possessed of the most "screen time", the reader naturally associates them with vampirism. The villanous vampires are all shown as either petty, needlessly cruel, stupid, vindictive, or all of the above, further driving the point home - intentionally or otherwise - that the Cullens are what vampires should be like in the series.

Finally: And I agree in part with this one -- SM didn't show the horror side of vampirism. She only showed us the fun stuff and didn't spend enough time showing us the pain and torture of being a vampire. It looks all sparkles and fun.


Yep. That one's down pat perfect.

Your book sounds very solid. You have set up a well thought out world that has quite a few wonderful possibilities for plots. I will be interested to read some of your characterization, as that is what draws me to a book.


I'm actually going to be posting some character profiles on the thread soon ^_^
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Re: Explorations

Postby December » Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:54 pm

Gah. Wish I could be here more at the moment! This is such an interesting discussion -- and it seems to me that you guys are doing a great job of clarifying the issues. Just posting this quick note to say I really hope I'll be done with all my travelling (and ridiculous computer issues) by next week, and be able to jump back in. Sorry to be so useless...
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Re: Explorations

Postby Jazz Girl » Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:32 pm

Hmmm... shockingly enough, I have a few thoughts... :lol:

Knives wrote:
Openhome wrote:Second: You feel that there is a set and defined ideal for vampires, werewolves, etc. that must be maintained in order for a story to achieve literary greatness. Her work deviates too far into a new and unknown vampiric form, and this detracts from the work. (I will give you the point that when she broke her own rules, it was very difficult to overlook and has left us fanfiction writers with huge holes we must work around.)


Again, close (this lack of clarity is probably my fault). Vampires/werewolves/zombies/what have you have certain moods, themes, and resonances that I feel Ms. Meyer blatantly ignored. I mean, honestly. There's a Swiss vampire that's powerless without its freaking hat and it still feels more like a vampire than her creations to me. Her attempts to take a creation that does not resonate and jam it into the vampire niche are what irks me, as there are several other niches she could have used (heck, this story could have been told as a Faeries tale. A real one. There are fae whose mere touch is addictive, and their wasting kisses inevitably enslave, and then destroy, their paramours. Tell me she couldn't have done ten minutes of research and used that.)


I have to say I disagree. Part and parcel of this story of love and sacrifice is the danger Bella faces from the mythical world she makes herself a part of, particularly one where she is what facilitates the danger she faces. She is in a constant state of danger from either her soulmate, who is constantly fighting the pull of her blood, which it is his most feral instinct to consume and, in doing so, killing her, or the family of her soulmate, who poses and have attempted to act on the same feral instinct, or the enemies of her soulmate and his family, who are violent creatures hellbent on killing humans to survive, or from her best friend, who without any intention could kill her in a reaction he can't control, or her best friends friens, who pose the same danger. It is that specific push and pull that is central to all of the issues at the center of The Saga.

Knives wrote:
Openhome wrote:Third: Vampires must maintain their status as monsters because it is a part of the overall myth of the vampire.


Vampires should retain (or maintain) their status as other than human. In a world where feeding on animals is possible, one needn't be a "monster", but her vampires come across to me as superhuman; idealized, in other words. When one ignores the consequences of forsaking one's humanity, it creates flaws in characterization, especially if the goal was to show such a thing as a curse.


True and false. Again, it goes to interpretation. Just because living off of animals is possible does not mean that it so without searing pain, conflict, and many other dire consequences. And, I also think this goes back to the previous point and SM's use of the moods and resonances of vampires. We all know that vampires are inherently and horribly dangerous to humans, that they are driven to kill us. We know this. It is a fact that we don't question. Accordingly, if a vampire were to reveal itself to us, our initial reaction would be one of fear and revulsion. So, in reading The Saga, SM does not need to establish that Edward and the Cullens and every other vampire are dangerous to her. We already know it. I think the reason why we doubt the validity of her vampires is that she does far too good a job establishing that the Cullens are something different, that they do not pose a risk.

Knives wrote:
Openhome wrote:Finally: And I agree in part with this one -- SM didn't show the horror side of vampirism. She only showed us the fun stuff and didn't spend enough time showing us the pain and torture of being a vampire. It looks all sparkles and fun.


Yep. That one's down pat perfect.


But, also, you have to keep in mind that the original audience for The Saga are young adult readers, an age group generally thought of in the 11-16 category. It is a testament, in my mind, that The Saga's audience expanded so far beyond that. And, yes, today's 11-16 year olds are quite used to being exposed to inhuman violence, blood, guts, and gore. But, I rather enjoy the less graphic nature of The Saga. It gives the dark without cutting off the light.
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Re: Explorations

Postby Openhome » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:04 pm

Hi Knives!
Thank you so much for answering me. I know we agree on some, but disagree on most of these topics, however, I really do want to make sure I know where you are coming from correctly. I hate arguing the wrong point. Unfortunately, it happens a lot to me. :oops:
Knives wrote:Sort of. I don't think the books are as deep as they're given credit for. The idea of selfless love and sacrifice in the name of that love has huge mythic resonance, and I feel it is that resonance that draws readers to the books, either because they see that kind of love as an ideal, or because it's simply something heartwarming to contemplate. It's her other attempts at mythic resonance that I feel she fails at.


I understand this from the point of view that we don't really get to see that much of the mythical world. I think, however, that Jazz Girl did a good job of answering this. We don't see it because this book is written in first person from the perspective of an outsider to that world. However, I might suggest that getting too much into the workings of that world would have only deterred from the book.

I would also suggest that there are some other fairly deep ideas (or at least questions) within the love story that go beyond the love story. Those include: What is death and life? What is the nature of evil, and what does it take to "be good?" Are we what nature dictates, or can we be more than that? What are souls, and how do we know they are there? Can a person become more than the sum of their parts dictates?

Again, close (this lack of clarity is probably my fault). Vampires/werewolves/zombies/what have you have certain moods, themes, and resonances that I feel Ms. Meyer blatantly ignored. I mean, honestly. There's a Swiss vampire that's powerless without its freaking hat and it still feels more like a vampire than her creations to me. Her attempts to take a creation that does not resonate and jam it into the vampire niche are what irks me, as there are several other niches she could have used (heck, this story could have been told as a Faeries tale. A real one. There are fae whose mere touch is addictive, and their wasting kisses inevitably enslave, and then destroy, their paramours. Tell me she couldn't have done ten minutes of research and used that.)


On this one we must agree to disagree. As a historian, I define mythos and myth as separate entities. Mythos are those beliefs, manifested in stories or characterizations, that have as their center a human truth. Love, sacrifice, duty, etc... The truths remain and stand the test of time. This is why the great myths of the ancient world still hold truths for us.
Myths are the creatures and stories created by each culture in an attempt to define mythos. They change from generation to generation with regularity.
One changes the other does not. Again, there is NO defined parameters that have withstood the test of time for vampires except that they come out at night and kill people by sucking blood. That's it. They can sparkle or be striped or dress as drag queens on Sunset Strip, but only those two things define them for what they are. Mythology changes, mythos doesn't.

Vampires should retain (or maintain) their status as other than human. In a world where feeding on animals is possible, one needn't be a "monster", but her vampires come across to me as superhuman; idealized, in other words. When one ignores the consequences of forsaking one's humanity, it creates flaws in characterization, especially if the goal was to show such a thing as a curse.


Again, we see the vampire world as Bella sees it. It is entirely different in Dark High Noon (MS) as Edward tells his side of his life (his non-existence as he calls it), and one of the reasons we all wish this would be completed is so that we could see the true nature of vampires. Her vampires do suffer (just as Jazz said) every minute of every day. Bella doesn't see it or get it. I wish to high heaven that SM had done a better job at having Bella suffer as the others had, but she didn't.
I think she intended to show us the darkness of vampirism in MS, and will in Bree's story, but the manuscript was leaked, and that ship has sailed. However, she clearly meant for them to suffer for their choice of living as they do. In the BD, Garrett clearly stresses this point when he says that their willingness to sacrifice and suffer is what makes them able to live in a loving family. No one else but veggie vamps can do that.

By the way, their suffering, and the fact that they miss their humanity does come across in Eclipse. And the very small glimpse we get of the Volturi and James does give us a hint at just how evil and lethal the vampires really are. Perhaps your problem with them is that they are so un-human. They have no weakness like normal vamps, so they have no desire to return to their lives.

Finally: And I agree in part with this one -- SM didn't show the horror side of vampirism. She only showed us the fun stuff and didn't spend enough time showing us the pain and torture of being a vampire. It looks all sparkles and fun.


Again, I agree to an extent, but I do think that she tried. The movie didn't help anything. We see the saga through Bella, and until the end of New Moon, she doesn't understand the true evil of the vampire nature. Even in the lobby of the Volturi's castle, she is unaware of what she says in regards to their nature. The story isn't a vampire tale. It uses vampires to talk about love, trust and redemption. It uses the most damned to talk of salvation. She changed the myth -- it's allowed, Tolkien changed elves forever -- but the mythos remains intact.
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Re: Explorations

Postby Jazz Girl » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:12 pm

Openhome~ I think you keep coming back to the heart of the matter, here. We see everything through Bella's eyes Bella's perspective of Edward and his family allows her to see past the darker parts of his nature. The darkness that we see in vampires, we only see when Bella is exposed to nonCullens. Even then, the argument can be made that her exposure to nonveggie vampires is still viewed through a certain lense, namely ones that needs to see vampires as, at the very least, redeemable creatures that are not inherently evil. Think of how she see's Laurent in New Moon. He is clearly there to kill her. His eyes should have given away his return to his traditional diet immediately, not to mention his completely unexpected appearance, stalking her through the woods, taunting her, all of those behaviors should have been a give away of his intentions. But, all Bella truly sees, even as he stalks around her, preparing to kill her, is proof that Edward truly was real, a connection to his world.

If one chooses to read DHN, there is a different perspective on vampires. Albeit, it is still skewed. But, their true nature as killers above all else is still the focus. The view is still softened by Edward's softening heart and how he starts to view the human world in the context of Bella in his life.
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Re: Explorations

Postby December » Tue May 04, 2010 5:55 pm

What can I say? Stranded by the Icelandic Volcanic ash plume (no, really), and then trying to pick up the pieces on finally getting back home. Now at last I'm free to return to this exciting thread -- but I'm awfully late to the party. So forgive me for dredging up topics from so many weeks ago. Such great discussion it's hard to know where to start (and I'll probably need a couple of posts to tackle it all...).

A few plain bravos first, maybe:

Openhome wrote:I always think of the words "baptism by fire" when I think of SM's vamps. Not only at their changing, but with every breath, they endure burning. That simple description holds so many hidden truths for anyone who looks deep enough.

The beauty of not presenting those ideals in religious dialogue is that she could bring forth the deeper truths and allow them to be seen and accepted by anyone who struggles with the deeper questions of human existence. Those ideas can become the object of secular discussion because they are presented in a popular and secular format. That SM could write five books so steeped in the fundamental questions of humanity is a tribute to her skill. That is why we were talking about it in more secular terms. Since the books are a secular phenomena, it is appropriate, I believe, to include everyone.

What can I say? So true!

Jazz Girl wrote: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.

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.

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.

Beautifully put, Jazz Girl. To read this is to be vividly reminded just what it is about this story that grips one by the throat.

Knives wrote: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.

Hee.

But more seriously, I suppose the answer to this is: it's because the Cullens feel instinctively the preciousness of being human and, yes, mortal, that they cannot live lives which would be less difficult to bear by simply heading off to the Gobi Desert.

If you like, it's axiomatic to Stephenie -- and by her characters -- that simply being human is an irreplaceable gift, which every soul will instinctively mourn losing. So that the Cullens feel driven to cling to the remnants of their lost humanity -- which means, inter alia, living as close to humankind as they can manage rather than avoiding temptation by retreating to the wilderness. (I think Edward says as much, somewhere). Perhaps there's also an element of prudential forethought here too: staying "in practice" by living among humans keeps the Cullens strong enough to resist the thirst they might otherwise succumb to if they accidentally encountered a human after years in isolation. (As Edward tells Bella, "if I hadn't been resisting temptation for the last, well, too many years, I wouldn't have been able to stop myself.").

But the whole question of whether the Cullens' life of self-denial could be made easier is really secondary to the books' basic premise (which in the end, I think we simply have to take as axiomatic) that forfeiting your humanity is a bitter loss. Does Stephenie properly ground this premise for us? (And I don't mean by that: does she prove it (it's a premise), but rather: does she make it imaginatively persuasive to us as a truth of her world). I think a fair answer would be: not entirely. For one thing, she's obviously not clear in her own mind whether being a vampire is a sparkly superhero destiny -- as Knives would argue (and some of the glimpses we get of the Cullens' happy-go-lucky, baseball-playing lives would confirm) or a dark and painful doom. Nor whether the' monstrousness of being a vampire lies in their hideous desires (which would still be ghastly to feel, even if you removed yourself from temptation), or simply in being cut off from the natural life of humanity (eating, changing, having children, growing old). The fact is: the books vacillate between these two views (though I suppose it could be argued that it's partly falling in love with an innocent human girl -- and wanting to kill her! -- that really brings brings home to Edward something he may have found it possible over the years to forget: just how unnatural and monstrous he is).

Part of the trouble, I suspect, is that Stephenie's own take on her vampires simply wasn't consistent: she was torn herself between the romantic fantasy of an all-powerful, semi-divine hero who can bestow the gift eternal life on his beloved, and her own deep (and religious) conviction of the sanctity of human existence. The tension between these two conflicting impulses is a faultline running straight through the series, and probably does a lot to explain the three great "problems" various readers have had with Stephenie's story: Edward's decision to leave Bella in NM, Jake's role in Ec and, well, the shape of BD. (Sorry if that's a bit telegraphic: this post is long enough already that I don't think I'd better try to spell this thought out here -- but I can elaborate if desired).

But I think this is the heart of your disagreement with Stephenie, Knives. What she on some deep level takes as self-evident -- the sanctity of being human, not just in God's eyes but as experienced by humans themselves -- you find patently implausible. It's a difference of first principles, and as such requires you to make a major imaginative leap to see what on earth she could be getting at. Not helped (as noted above) by her own ambivalence where the superhero-upside of her vampires' existence is concerned. (Squinting hard to overlook BD helps here... *grin*). But I think it's indispensable for understanding how JG, Rollie, Openhome and I see her vampires.

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

hahaha. Don’t be so sure! Pleasure reading works too. In fact, maybe it’s the mark of the author’s success in pulling us headfirst into a compelling story, that one is so willing to overlook occasional lapses of consistency, and simply rule them out of mind. Or as Rollie put it (rather more articulately):

Rollie571 wrote: 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.




Ok, that's quite enough disjointed remarks from me for one evening....
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Re: Explorations

Postby Knives » Wed May 05, 2010 11:22 am

Welcome back December! I've been awaiting your post ^_^

December wrote:[color=#125]If you like, it's axiomatic to Stephenie -- and by her characters -- that simply being human is an irreplaceable gift, which every soul will instinctively mourn losing. So that the Cullens feel driven to cling to the remnants of their lost humanity -- which means, inter alia, living as close to humankind as they can manage rather than avoiding temptation by retreating to the wilderness. (I think Edward says as much, somewhere). Perhaps there's also an element of prudential forethought here too: staying "in practice" by living among humans keeps the Cullens strong enough to resist the thirst they might otherwise succumb to if they accidentally encountered a human after years in isolation. (As Edward tells Bella, "if I hadn't been resisting temptation for the last, well, too many years, I wouldn't have been able to stop myself.").


Hrmm. An interesting thought, though I am, again, not so certain that even the Voulturii have "lost" a hell of a lot of humanity. They may be immortal jerks, but I can point you to quite a few jerks in human history :p

But the whole question of whether the Cullens' life of self-denial could be made easier is really secondary to the books' basic premise (which in the end, I think we simply have to take as axiomatic) that forfeiting your humanity is a bitter loss. Does Stephenie properly ground this premise for us? (And I don't mean by that: does she prove it (it's a premise), but rather: does she make it imaginatively persuasive to us as a truth of her world). I think a fair answer would be: not entirely. For one thing, she's obviously not clear in her own mind whether being a vampire is a sparkly superhero destiny -- as Knives would argue (and some of the glimpses we get of the Cullens' happy-go-lucky, baseball-playing lives would confirm) or a dark and painful doom. Nor whether the' monstrousness of being a vampire lies in their hideous desires (which would still be ghastly to feel, even if you removed yourself from temptation), or simply in being cut off from the natural life of humanity (eating, changing, having children, growing old). The fact is: the books vacillate between these two views (though I suppose it could be argued that it's partly falling in love with an innocent human girl -- and wanting to kill her! -- that really brings brings home to Edward something he may have found it possible over the years to forget: just how unnatural and monstrous he is).


Truth - when authors vacillate like this, it seriously harms their message and their work, and it always manages to show.

But I think this is the heart of your disagreement with Stephenie, Knives. What she on some deep level takes as self-evident -- the sanctity of being human, not just in God's eyes but as experienced by humans themselves -- you find patently implausible. It's a difference of first principles, and as such requires you to make a major imaginative leap to see what on earth she could be getting at. Not helped (as noted above) by her own ambivalence where the superhero-upside of her vampires' existence is concerned. (Squinting hard to overlook BD helps here... *grin*). But I think it's indispensable for understanding how JG, Rollie, Openhome and I see her vampires.


You know, I never thought about that - I've spent so much time analyzing psychology, writing non-humans, roleplaying as non-humans and thinking in non-human fashions that I forgot that someone might think it's, y'know, sacred to be human. Which strikes me as somewhat goofy, really. What the hell makes us so special, aside from the thumbs and the iPods? What happens when (not if) we find sentient lifeforms besides ourselves?

And honestly, I have issues with the worldview presented to begin with. Humanity is a hardy species, and we've bounced back from collective traumas, terrors, and atrocities beyond imagining. We pulled through the Ice Age and the Crusades. The tribes of Native America still live in defiance of best efforts to the contrary. The Holocaust. Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Chernobyl. Despite the disasters and setbacks and, frankly, plain bat-crap-insanity of many of the things we do to ourselves and each other, humanity has held on, just as cussed and determined as the day homo sapiens sharpened a flint rock into a hand axe and went to fight the Great Cat. I can't see vampirism as anything different, psychologically - yes, it's a tragedy and a violation, but you're still alive, aren't you? Most people that aren't driven irrevocably mad are going to see vampirism as just one more enemy to defeat, and if human history has proven anything, it's that we're very good at taking the fight to the enemy.

I dunno, maybe it has to do with my lack of religious conviction and, more accurately, my longstanding misunderstanding and mistrust of faith. Who knows, maybe I'm the only one here who finds it a bit off that they'd just throw their hands up, call themselves Damned and give up, but I know pretty well that I wouldn't.

Awaiting replies ^_^

- Knives
Openhome wrote:Knives, I believe that..
wait for it...
you are right.
Knives
Jump Starting Bella's Truck
 
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