Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby navarre » Tue Oct 07, 2008 12:58 pm

In so many ways, my heart goes out to Alice. The reason being is that bascially she has been alone all of her life - case in point, she has never had a real, true, close girlfriend - one with whom she could share her secrets, laugh with and have her understand and like Alice for who she is. I know, she has Jasper and the rest of the Cullens, but she is not close to Rosalie and Esme is more like a mother figure than a best friend. Now, as far as how I see her visions, it's my understanding those are based solely on the decisions made that are concrete and can change when the mind of the subject changes. That tells me that in this case of Alice seeing Edward falling in love with Bella and Alice's future close friendship with Bella was solid and unchanging and a true vision of the future and not some emotional/subjective "blip".

Yes, Edward could have tried to change that particular future scene, but in the end, Bella was always meant to be his and he to belong to her.

I, too, feel that initially Edward was fascinated with not being able to read Bella's mind, then he about exploded with desire to kill her because of her scent - a scent that tied him to her always. She was La Tua Cantante( his singer) and he got to taste her blood when he had to save her from James' venom. As Edward stated in BD, "I've tasted your blood and there is no other blood more potent than that". Then when Edward decided to try to get to know her, to see if he could figure out the inner workings of her mind through facial expressions, reactions and so forth, he found himself fascinated with her in spite of himself and from this and the following conversations they had with each other, he discovered her true inner beauty, her kind and gentle heart, her intelligence - and that is when the 'stone started gathering the moss' so to speak; it snowballed after that.

Everything she did and said stirred life into his soul, hearing her speak his name in her sleep made him feel like " a man that had been submerged and now surfaced - changed forever"(I'm paraphrasing from MS).

Poor guy, he really did not stand a chance against this fragile,human girl no more than she stood a chance against someone as otherworldly as Edward Cullen.

Something else occurred to me, that bascially both Edward & Bella were fragile. Physically Edward was unstoppable, unbreakable, immortal, but his heart was like glass; could be easily broken by Bella.
Physically Bella is as fragile as glass - this was described to us in MS by Edward, but her heart and mind were strong; had to be with what she went through to get what she wanted. I thought that was kind of interesting to me.

In the end though, these two were each others strength, each others existence, each others universe. Two strings, twined together, cut one - you cut both. Beautiful!!

I hope I did not bore anyone with my rambling - sometimes even when you think about what you want to say, it does not always make sense when you type it all out.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby December » Mon Oct 13, 2008 11:32 pm

Well, we seem to have reached consensus that Alice’s artless remark doesn’t itself change the future. Yes, it makes a difference to Edward, as Cullengirl points out, to know that love is for him too, but he'd almost certainly have fallen for Bella anyway (or continued falling for her!), even if Alice hadn’t tipped him off.

But I’ve been thinking recently about Alice’s vision from another angle: whether either Edward or Bella was ever really free to choose a different path, or whether they were always effectively destined -- or doomed -- to fulfill that vision. Fate vs Choice: it’s a question we’ve returned to again and again on this thread -- but it struck me that this scene from MS really sharpens the issue.

Yes, we already knew from TW that Alice has seen Bella as a vampire right from the word go. Conversely, we know her visions are mutable -- as she tells Bella in EC, if Bella were to waver in her determination to become a vampire, Alice’s vision of the future would change.

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

Edward is determined to defy Fate and spare Bella the doom Alice sees descending: "I could choose a different path. There was always a choice. There had to be." And there is a time when he almost seems to be succeeding. “I’ll admit it: you’re better than I thought. You’ve got the future all snarled up and senseless,” Alice concedes.

But of course in the end, Alice's original vision comes to pass. So was he mistaken in thinking they had another choice? Was the ending of Edward and Bella’s story ordained? Is it true that some envious harpy, or benevolent angel -- as Edward variously fantasizes -- has uniquely fashioned Bella to love and be loved by him? Was it always going to end this way? Or are they in fact freely choosing the path Destiny appeared to be forcing upon them?

And then there is Breaking Dawn. The events of BD more or less vitiate the choices Edward and Bella have arrived by the end of EC. Or at any rate, so completely reshape their dilemma as to make those painfully-weighed decisions irrelevant. Does their ability to choose even matter any more, if unforseen accident** -- Bella's pregnancy -- drives Edward back onto those two original alternatives -- see Bella dead or a vampire -- with no alternative path left to them?


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*And note that NM doesn't exactly prove her wrong: on Edward's own admission, his resolve was pretty much at breaking point anyway when Bella jumped off the cliff and took matters into her own hands).

**and I really wish I understood why this spectacular eventuality so completely escapes Alice's foresight....
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby LisaCullenAZ » Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:12 pm

Was it always going to end this way? Or are they in fact freely choosing the path Destiny appeared to be forcing upon them?

My answer is quite simplistic, so I hope I don't devalue the question with how I view it! But... YES, they freely chose their path. That's my answer. :)

Were they made for eachother? Yes. Was it supposed to be this way? Yes. But could they have fought it? If they really wanted to? Of course. The problem (or beauty, if you want to see it that way!) behind the whole situation was that neither of them really truly ever wanted anything other than to be together. Edward loved Bella enough to try and keep her safe from him, but he never really was sold on being apart from her forever. He tried it, and realized that path was yet another he just didn't want to take. So though they could have fought it if they wanted, they just never wanted bad enough to make it work any other way!

I hope I'm making sense... If Edward wanted it bad enough, he would have figured something else out. But his choice was made, in his heart of hearts, and he wasn't as committed to staying away as he thought he could be. He even admitted that he was about to come "crawling back" to Bella in New Moon. Any other option, besides a future together, was never compelling enough for either of them to change their minds. Alternate paths were available to them. They just didn't take them! They weren't comparable or compelling enough to really be viable options.

We talked about this, in similar terms, when we mentioned Bella's quote, "I never really had a choice." Well, we know she DID have a choice! Of course she did. We just know the choices were so uncompelling and undesirable compared to the one she really wanted, and the other options available to her just weren't strong enough to sway her original decision.

So I think that's what's happened here with Edward and Bella yet again. They were drawn together by some destined force and pull, surely. I acknowledge that. But the choice to stay together and make it work -- against impossible odds! -- was theirs, and they deserve full credit for their own happiness.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby SparklingDiamond » Tue Oct 14, 2008 5:01 pm

What is a choice really? Especially in terms of love. Love is the one thing that you should never settle for, although many do. Jobs, houses, clothes, cars…. In those situations there are so many choices that sometimes you have to settle for what is less than what you really desire for obvious reasons.

But love is a different story. What constitutes a choice in love? I feel that, in love, a real choice is an equally earth shattering option. In order to constitute a true choice, it has to be something that would make you consider taking it. Once the stars aligned and Bella and Edward’s eye’s met in the cafeteria, that was it. There was something so otherworldly about their relationship that no other “option” could ever possibly compare. It was no contest. Is it really a choice if you’re settling? I don’t think so. It’s just settling.

I also believe that they knew this, no matter how hard they tried to fight against it. Their efforts were fruitless. Bella knew all along there was no other choice because she was so angry with herself for basically, leading Jacob along. She was “playing love” with Jacob. She had the real thing with Edward, and she knew that. Jacob was a “just in case” type of option, she would/could never have really chosen him. An option, does not a true choice make. Only if there was a character who could match her feelings for Edward and vice versa would she have truly had a choice.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby Li'lBit » Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:01 pm

LisaCullenAZ wrote:
Were they made for eachother? Yes. Was it supposed to be this way? Yes. But could they have fought it? If they really wanted to? Of course. The problem (or beauty, if you want to see it that way!) behind the whole situation was that neither of them really truly ever wanted anything other than to be together. Edward loved Bella enough to try and keep her safe from him, but he never really was sold on being apart from her forever. He tried it, and realized that path was yet another he just didn't want to take. So though they could have fought it if they wanted, they just never wanted bad enough to make it work any other way!

So I think that's what's happened here with Edward and Bella yet again. They were drawn together by some destined force and pull, surely. I acknowledge that. But the choice to stay together and make it work -- against impossible odds! -- was theirs, and they deserve full credit for their own happiness.


YES! This is it exactly for me. In every instance they had a choice, but not one that they could live with. Perhaps it's a matter of semantics. Is having a choice that's unbearable really having a choice at all? On the other hand, saying that there is no choice doesn't acknowledge the effort and thoughtfulness that goes behind such decisions - and there was thought here. There was weighing of consequences, but on the scale the balance is so uneven that the choice is obvious.

December wrote:Does their ability to choose even matter any more, if unforseen accident** -- Bella's pregnancy -- drives Edward back onto those two original alternatives -- see Bella dead or a vampire -- with no alternative path left to them?


Edward only ever had those two alternatives. As a human being, Bella would eventually die unless she became a vapire. Death or vampirism was her fate from birth with or without him (though the vamp alternative would have been so unlikely as to not be counted without encountering him). I think it's safe to say that I won't even have that much choice when it comes to my own life - I'll have to settle for Rosalie's "happy ending". :)

Bella's had a lot of accidents that nearly took her life and Edward has always insisted that he preferred her death (and his soon to follow) to taking her life to make her immortal. The difference here was that the choice was already made. It had been taken out of his hands, which freed him to embrace it. Bella was going to be changed either by him or not. He still had the choice here to let her die and to die with her. He knew he wouldn't have to return to the Volturi this time, he had an angry werewolf ready to oblige him. It was still a choice if he wanted it. But the choice had already been made. He had already committed to changing Bella when this "accident" occured.* The only thing that changed was the how and when - and that was due to Bella's own choice.
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* And I agree - where was Alice's vision on this one. . . even if fuzzy, there had to be SOMETHING! Maybe she was giving them privacy? I don't know.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby SparklingDiamond » Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:35 pm

Is having a choice that's unbearable really having a choice at all? On the other hand, saying that there is no choice doesn't acknowledge the effort and thoughtfulness that goes behind such decisions - and there was thought here. There was weighing of consequences, but on the scale the balance is so uneven that the choice is obvious.


Unfortunately, this is the dillema that I find myself in after BD. Before that book, I would have wholeheartedly said that Bella had a very good choice in Jacob. However, that book made it painfully clear that Jacob was never meant for Bella. He was never a choice for her. He was destined for her daughter, the daughter of Edward and Bella. Thus, seemingly stealing the choice from their hearts and minds.

Now, one could argue that a choice would have always been to walk away. However, after experiencing a world moving love such as that between Edward and Bella, to decide to walk away for nothing? Who would do that? To me, it's like saying I have the choice to poke myself in the eye or to not poke myself in the eye. But, why would I poke myself in the eye? That wouldn't be very intelligent. I wouldn't consider it, so does that still mean it counts as a choice if I would never consider it? Technically, the option is there, but realistically, it's not.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby Destani » Thu Oct 16, 2008 10:47 pm

I don't see love as a choice...ever. I have never actively thought about whether I wanted to love someone or not. One day, you just realize you are in love. So I don't believe they had any choice about falling in love once they saw each other. And their love was so deep and so true that it nullified all other options. Could Edward have stayed away after that first day of school? Yes. Could they have continued to ignore each other until they graduated and went their separate ways? Yes. Could they have ended the relationship at any time? Yes. But as others have stated before me, they didn't have any reason to do those things. There was no other option or choice that made them even remotely content. When they were apart, all they felt was pain.

Bella might have chosen to settle for Jacob, but that would have been like amputating a hand instead of your whole arm. Jacob helped her to cope with her pain, but she still wasn't complete without Edward.

Edward put up a good fight because he at least had motivation. He didn't want to take Bella's life or her soul. But there was nothing to keep him occupied without her. He was too consumed by his love for her to have any semblance of a life without her. So it was inevitable that he would give in eventually.

I believe that we do have choices in some things, but others are destined to happen no matter what. In this situation, Alice's vision was destined to happen because Edward and Bella would never do anything to prevent it. Edward only postponed it for a while.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby Shakespeare » Sun Oct 19, 2008 11:07 pm

Well, there certainly seems to be a lack of free will.

I don't think that the theme of the book is centered around making choices. Instead, it is the illusion of making choices. Bella certainly has options to consider for her future, but, in the end, does her choice actually matter? Look at some of her main choices.

Bella had to decide if she wanted to be a vampire or live her entire human life. She chooses to be a vampire. However, this choice does not actually affect anything. Had she chosen to remain human, Edward still would have been forced to change her in order to save her life. She would still be a vampire.

Bella had to choose between Jacob and Edward. She chooses Edward. However, due to the imprinting and the abrupt ending of romantic feelings between Jacob and Bella, she essentially gets both of them.

Bella had to choose between eternity with Edward and a real family. She chooses Edward. However, due to her pregnancy and Charlie's attitude, she gets both.

Other more minor choices, such as the decision to go to college, are also nullified by the situation.

For all of these, no choice is actually needed, and therefore, the ability to choose is simply an illusion for Bella.


For love, the illusion is rarely even present. Many of the love stories deal with imprinting, which involves absolutely no choice. Bella and Edward's romance was predicted by Alice before Edward realized that he was in love. When the discovery is eliminated, much of the choice is as well. Edward expects himself to fall in love with Bella, so, in his mind, he paints her as someone perfect. He tried to resist, but, subconsciously, he had already shaped her into his ideal girlfriend. They were only meant to be together because he thought they were.


I suppose this could be explained by fate (or some similar force) preordaining her life. But, if that were so, Alice's power would be basically infallible. Or maybe it is. We are told that it's not always right, but, outside of the situations with werewolves, is she ever wrong about the future? I don't remember any occasions.

So was he mistaken in thinking they had another choice? Was the ending of Edward and Bella’s story ordained? Something seems to be keeping them from making their own choices. I'd say it's a combination of fate and a lack of consequences for their actions, if that makes any sense.

Is it true that some envious harpy, or benevolent angel -- as Edward variously fantasizes -- has uniquely fashioned Bella to love and be loved by him? No, that part's psychological.

Was it always going to end this way? Or are they in fact freely choosing the path Destiny appeared to be forcing upon them? They probably aren't freely choosing their path, considering Edward's initial opposition to it. Something either psychological or metaphysical prevents them from deviating from their chosen path.

Does their ability to choose even matter any more, if unforseen accident** -- Bella's pregnancy -- drives Edward back onto those two original alternatives -- see Bella dead or a vampire -- with no alternative path left to them? I don't think there was a choice at that point. Edward never considered just letting her die. Instead, the situation shows that their choices were pointless.
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby Li'lBit » Mon Oct 20, 2008 12:35 pm

Shakespeare wrote: Was it always going to end this way? Or are they in fact freely choosing the path Destiny appeared to be forcing upon them? They probably aren't freely choosing their path, considering Edward's initial opposition to it. Something either psychological or metaphysical prevents them from deviating from their chosen path.

Does their ability to choose even matter any more, if unforseen accident** -- Bella's pregnancy -- drives Edward back onto those two original alternatives -- see Bella dead or a vampire -- with no alternative path left to them? I don't think there was a choice at that point. Edward never considered just letting her die. Instead, the situation shows that their choices were pointless.


I agree with you that a seeming lack of consequences (or getting everything they want no matter what they choose) seems to negate the importance of choice in the books. It was something that made Breaking Dawn a little bit difficult for me to read (though I like the book on it's own).

I do see the above examples just a bit differently though. Edward finds the ability to make choices when he initially feels that he doesn't have a choice (killing Bella in Biology class for instance). I'm not sure that changing his mind after being initially opposed is really a lack of choice. I think he fights himself over almost anything that he wants. He's used to denying himself - with a few exceptions that he feels safe with (such as speed). He doesn't give in to drinking her blood after all, but does give in to his feelings for her - not because of some outside power but because he doesn't want or choose to resist her anymore. I do think he comes to a point of no return - but that seems to me to be after his initial choice to pursue his feelings for her. (Although SD makes an excellent point and it's possible that love itself has to be considered an outside force here that overpoweringly influences the decision).

As for the second, I think solely in the context of Breaking Dawn you're absolutely right. There is no other consideration than saving her life. In this instance, however, it's not so much that there wasn't a choice as that the choice had already been made. In the past Edward had been willing to let Bella die a normal human death (though he refused to be the cause of it). When he was faced with her possible death in Twilight he saved her from the venom that would have saved her life - knowing that she might not make it (and planning his own death by Volturi in the meantime).
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Re: Choices aka Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Postby NoWorries » Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:46 pm

I pretty much 99.9% agree with your sentiment, Shakespeare -- BD was a big, awkward negatory for me -- but there are some slight differences of perception that, since reading, I've adopted in an attempt to *try* and sniff out the story as I thought it was intended.

Shakespeare wrote:For all of these, no choice is actually needed, and therefore, the ability to choose is simply an illusion for Bella.


Is choice an illusion if it's only negated after the fact? Bella still had to decide these things, before the universe benevolently (and conveniently) rewarded her with what she might have wanted had she not already decided that she wanted the other thing(s) more. If, for example, I have to choose between a Lotus Elise and a Boxter S and I choose the former only to win the lottery the day after taking delivery, then additionally purchase the Porche, I've still had to make the decision. That I was spontaneously rewarded with a lottery win (and therefore both cars) doesn't change the fact that, for 24 hours, I thought I'd chosen and married myself to the Lotus.

Where we get tainted is, I think, in the consideration of the larger, universal theme from our uniquely omniscient position. We know that she didn't have to choose because we've seen that she gets everything in the end, anyway. But Bella doesn't have that perspective. So for me, we're dealing with 2 kinds of "choice" in the Twilight Universe: little-c choice, wherupon one must make a series of decisions based upon information and emotion, and big-C Choice, as in, counter to preordination. The series can still be about little-c choice, even if the big-C Choice skews in favor of preordination. Especially so because SM wasn't, I don't think, setting out to tell an allegorical story about fate and its implications. She was telling the story of Bella and Edward and the (little-c) choices they at least *thought* they had to make in order to be together.

Shakespeare wrote:Bella and Edward's romance was predicted by Alice before Edward realized that he was in love. When the discovery is eliminated, much of the choice is as well. Edward expects himself to fall in love with Bella, so, in his mind, he paints her as someone perfect. He tried to resist, but, subconsciously, he had already shaped her into his ideal girlfriend. They were only meant to be together because he thought they were.


But Alice only knows something once someone's mind is made up. So even if Edward doesn't know that he is in love with Bella, consciously, he must know on a subconscious level. I appreciate your perspective on this, but I'd say that his conscious would have eventually caught up with his subconscious (just an assumption I'm ok making, particularly since most evidence that he's . . . confused . . . comes from a book that's unfinished).
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