Twilight: Protagonist-Centered Everything

Content Note: Depression, Ableism Language in Text, Ethics of Mind-Reading, Bad Friendships, Disordered Eating

Twilight Summary: Bella has traveled to Port Angeles, where Edward saved her life, took her to dinner, and brought her back home without the knowledge of her father Charlie. During the ride home, Edward confirmed that he is a vampire and can read minds. In Chapter 10, Edward will take Bella to school, Jessica will question Bella closely about their relationship, and Edward will eat lunch with Bella and discuss vampire eating habits.

Twilight, Chapter 10: Interrogations

Title drop here.

Did you all have a nice break from Twilight? I hope that you did; I know that I needed a few days off. As much as I enjoy discussing the many issues inherent in the series, there's the problem that there are whole stretches of time where either nothing happens or the same things happen. And then I start wondering why I'm going through this interminably long book line-by-line telling you what is blatantly obvious from the first three chapters and that way discouragement lies. So a break now and then is probably going to do me some good.

And in that spirit, I'm going to deal with Chapter 10 entirely in one post today, instead of the usual line-by-line treatment. I can assure you that I am saving you so much pain this way -- see that summary statement up at the top about what happens in this chapter? Yeah. And if I think of something else I want to talk about with regards to Chapter 10 later before moving on to Chapter 11, well, we'll do that too. We'll see how it goes, yeah? (Remember that leaving a comment -- even if it's just I LIKE THIS POST -- helps me to stay motivated and un-distracted by the shiny.)

Anyway, instead of dealing with everything in a nice linear fashion, today I'm going to pick out issues topically that bug me. 


Bella starts the morning with a quick glance out the window, and -- now that she understands that the weather is the key to weather Edward will be present in her life or not -- she becomes increasingly aware of the condition of the sky.

   IT WAS VERY HARD, IN THE MORNING, TO ARGUE WITH the part of me that was sure last night was a dream. Logic wasn't on my side, or common sense. I clung to the parts I couldn't have imagined -- like his smell. I was sure I could never have dreamed that up on my own.
   It was foggy and dark outside my window, absolutely perfect. He had no reason not to be in school today. I dressed in my heavy clothes, remembering I didn’t have a jacket. Further proof that my memory was real. 
   [...much later...]
   The fog had almost dissolved by the end of the second hour, but the day was still dark with low, oppressing clouds. I smiled up at the sky.

Forks was initially sold to us as a thoroughly depressing place for Bella and her mother. Indeed, the perpetually cloudy Forks was what caused the breakup of Charlie and Renee's marriage; as much as they both loved each other, Renee couldn't bear to live her life locked away from the sun and Charlie couldn't bear to leave his home town. Every chapter in this book, to my knowledge, has mentioned the weather and the profound effect that it has on Bella's mood. I have even gone so far as to diagnose her with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Now, here in Chapter 10, cloudy weather is something to celebrate because it heralds the coming of the Sparkly Ones.

I want to say that I get the fantasy appeal here. It would be wonderful if the source of our depression and anxiety suddenly became a blessing in disguise as the source of our true happiness. But I'm frustrated and annoyed because there's no depth to this portrayal. For 9 chapters, cloudy weather brought Bella to her emotional knees in anguish; in chapter 10, it's a source of unmitigated joy. I have just enough recent experience with depression to recognize that this is not realistic: it's just another fantasy added to the pile.

And that's okay. I find myself again pointing out that fantasy escapist literature is alright, really. But it strikes me as almost flippant, as though it were written by someone who doesn't understand depression. My fantasy for leaving depression isn't for it to be magically gone tomorrow morning because I know that's not possible. My escapist fantasy version would take a little more time, have a little more of a slow start, include a few more realistic touches to make the final escape seem all the more real. Maybe that's just a personal taste thing.

I Know That You Know That I Know

Edward will pick Bella up today and offer her a ride -- that he openly wants her to turn down as part of his "I'ma be just like a boyfriend, but please don't take it for realsy" strategy to magically not hurt her feelings through all this Because of... Something (but definitely not Jasper!) -- and the entire car ride to school will be a mixture of Bella fearing for her life because of how recklessly Edward drives and Edward relentlessly hectoring her because (a) he can't read her mind and (b) she doesn't react to his vampire revelations in a manner he deems appropriate. I would quote the whole thing for you, expect that it would be punctuated by me screaming in fury every few sentences, so here's an excerpt:

   He turned to smirk at me. "What, no twenty questions today?”
   "Do my questions bother you?” I asked, relieved.
   "Not as much as your reactions do.” He looked like he was joking, but I couldn't be sure.
   I frowned. "Do I react badly?”
   "No, that's the problem. You take everything so coolly -- it's unnatural. It makes me wonder what you're really thinking.”
   "I always tell you what I'm really thinking.”
   "You edit,” he accused.
   "Not very much.”
   "Enough to drive me insane.”
   "You don't want to hear it,” I mumbled, almost whispered. As soon as the words were out, I regretted them. The pain in my voice was very faint; I could only hope he hadn't noticed it.

Poor Edward! He has to, like, communicate and stuff for this relationship to work. And the communication he receives might not be 100% unvarnished truth. Which you have to feel really sorry for him on that point except for the fact that (a) Bella has labored under this condition her entire life and continues to do so in the face of his constant evasions and continual lying and (b) he never once seems to acknowledge that she might have a harder time of things than he because of this limitation.

Vampire Privilege. Check it at the door, please, Edward.

But wait! In this exceedingly dull and frustrating chapter about two young people one young person and one 200-year-old vampire wanting to know each other's feelings without having to ask, there is always the Best Friend ready to barge in and save the day by being a conduit for conversation! Ugh.

   "Good morning, Jessica,” Edward said politely. It wasn't really his fault that his voice was so irresistible. Or what his eyes were capable of.
   "Er . . . hi.” She shifted her wide eyes to me, trying to gather her jumbled thoughts. "I guess I'll see you in Trig.” She gave me a meaningful look, and I suppressed a sigh. What on earth was I going to tell her?
   "Yeah, I'll see you then.”
   She walked away, pausing twice to peek back over her shoulder at us.
   "What are you going to tell her?” Edward murmured.
   "Hey, I thought you couldn't read my mind!” I hissed.
   "I can't,” he said, startled. Then understanding brightened his eyes. "However, I can read hers -- she'll be waiting to ambush you in class.”

And since we had such an... interesting discussion about the ethics of magic this month, here's a good place to bring it up again as a topic. [Note: Comments as part of the ensuing debate must be appropriately trigger-labeled, must not generalize entire groups in support of a point, and must not conflate the abuse suffered by marginalized peoples with other things that are Not The Same in order to make a debate point. If you have privilege, check it, and remember that what is theoretical to you may be life-and-death to others reading along.]

Edward Cullen reads minds. I think he has enough control over this power to turn it off, but I don't remember and I frankly don't much care for the topic at hand. I think there's a certain amount of sympathy available for the Reading Of Minds when that information is merely being used privately within the Cullen family to tweak their behavior in order to remain hidden and safe. (Not everyone is expected to agree with me on that last point, but I'm trying to give Edward some rope here.) But it's another thing entirely when Edward is using his powers to gleefully pry into Jessica's mind in order to get second-hand what he most wants to pry from Bella's mind. (No wonder her subconscious views his power as a psychic attack!)

And boy does he ever. Jessica pumps Bella for information and Bella carefully considers what to tell Jessica that she doesn't mind getting back to Edward, and the whole thing is exceedingly painful and awkward for Bella, this constant lack of privacy and inability to truly confide (related, not coincidentally, to the word "confidential") in a friend without Edward sucking up everything she says and smacking his lips happily with the revelation.

   "See you later, Bella.” Her voice was thick with implications. I might have to turn off the ringer on the phone.
   "Hello.” His voice was amused and irritated at the same time. He had been listening, it was obvious.

And then Jessica, her job done for the chapter, is shuffled off the stage so that Edward and Bella can have a nice private lunch together and dissect everything that Bella told Jessica that by rights she should have been telling Edward (if she wanted him to know it) and that he should have been receiving only from her (if he wanted to know it). Goodbye, Jessica!

OMG Jessica

You know what? No. I'm not done with that yet. A good quarter of this chapter is Bella talking to Jessica in order to reveal her feelings to us in the narrative and to Edward through his mind-reading. And Jessica -- who has been portrayed, lest we forget -- as an unforgiving harpy who talks smack about the Cullens after having been spurned by the handsome and unattainable Edward and who is capable of chilly behavior to her friend Bella when she suspects her of Stealing Mike, is nothing but supportive and kind and encouraging to Bella throughout all this. While Edward and (implicitly) Bella are outright using her for information exchange. I can't quote the whole thing for you, because it would be largely punctuated with my rage-sobs for wonderful Jessica being wasted as a friend for ungrateful Bella, but here's an excerpt:

   "So are you going out again?"
   "He offered to drive me to Seattle Saturday because he thinks my truck isn't up to it -- does that count?"
   "Yes." She nodded.
   "Well, then, yes."
   "W-o-w." She exaggerated the word into three syllables. "Edward Cullen."
   "I know," I agreed. "Wow" didn't even cover it.
   "Please, Bella," she begged. "Give me some details."
   "Well . . . okay, I've got one. You should have seen the waitress flirting with him -- it was over the top. But he didn't pay any attention to her at all." Let him make what he could of that.
   "That's a good sign," she nodded. "Was she pretty?"
   "Very -- and probably nineteen or twenty."
   "Even better. He must like you."
   "I think so, but it's hard to tell. He's always so cryptic," I threw in for his benefit, sighing.
   "I mean, do you really like him?" she urged.
   "Yes," I said again, blushing. I hoped that detail wouldn't register in her thoughts.
   She'd had enough with the single syllable answers. "How much do you like him?"
   "Too much," I whispered back. "More than he likes me. But I don't see how I can help that." I sighed, one blush blending into the next.
   Then, thankfully, Mr. Varner called on Jessica for an answer.

Do you see? DO YOU SEE? Oh my god, how supportive is that? So supportive, that's how much! Jessica is latching onto the least little detail about their evening in order to bolster Bella's confidence that Edward must really like Bella a lot. I mean, there are a hundred reasons why Edward might not be interested in the waitress -- not the least being because she lives in an entirely different town as opposed to being right there at the same school -- but Jessica is spinning a version where Edward is so infatuated with Bella that he doesn't even notice other women. (Later Edward will explicitly confirm this to be true, in the post-conversation re-hash.)

Later when Bella offers one drawback to the relationship -- that she struggles with knowing what to say around Perfect Edward Cullen -- Jessica reassures her that Edward is unbelievably gorgeous, with the implication that Bella's troubles are perfectly natural because of this. And Bella mentally castigates Jessica for being so shallow as to only care about looks. This after such internal monologues as:

   Again, the fabric clung to his perfectly muscled chest. It was a colossal tribute to his face that it kept my eyes away from his body.

Oh, yeah, Jessica is real shallow because she states factually that Edward is gorgeous. And you, Bella, are real deep because you see the superhero behind the vampire. *Blech* And then when Bella finally changes the subject to Jessica's love life, Jessica obligingly gives Bella her space and lets the two of them talk about her and Mike, but you just know -- the text doesn't outright say it, but don't we know Bella well enough by now to hazard a guess? -- that Bella is probably rolling her internal eyes at how easily distractible and self-centered and shallow Jessica is.


While We're On The Subject Of How Perfect Bella Swan Is

But of course Jessica is sweet and supportive here and now instead of being catty and vindictive as in prior chapters not because of some complex character growth that took place off-stage, but rather because this chapter is about how utterly perfect Bella Swan is.

We've already gotten to see that in action a bit -- all the girls at school (minus Blond Lauren of the Scam Artist Victims) flock to her, all the named boys at school fall for her, and her hotness is so overwhelming that she's able to inspire Good Citizens into becoming gang rapists after a single glance. (How else to explain the perfect crime statistics for the sleepy port city and Edward's utter disinterest in following up on the would-be rapists in a legal fashion? Simple: once the catalyst -- Bella -- was removed from the equation, the reaction was halted.) Plus, Edward was unable to so much as notice the Hot Waitress and Sexy Hostess because he was so absorbed in Bella's charms.

But those things are circumstantial. Edward could have been distracted by his blood lust. The girls could be friendly to Bella because they're nice people. The boys could be interested in her as a power struggle between the three of them over who will land the New Girl. So let's make it very very clear that Bella Swan is a special snowflake. 

   "Something you said to Jessica . . . well, it bothers me." He refused to be distracted. His voice was husky, and he glanced up from under his lashes with troubled eyes. [...] "Do you truly believe that you care more for me than I do for you?" he murmured, leaning closer to me as he spoke, his dark golden eyes piercing. [...]
   "Yes, I really think that." I kept my eyes down on the table, my eyes tracing the pattern of the faux wood grains printed on the laminate. The silence dragged on. I stubbornly refused to be the first to break it this time, fighting hard against the temptation to peek at his expression. [...]
   "What makes you think so?" His liquid topaz eyes were penetrating -- trying futilely, I assumed, to lift the truth straight from my mind. [...]
   "Well, aside from the obvious, sometimes . . ." I hesitated. "I can't be sure -- I don't know how to read minds -- but sometimes it seems like you're trying to say goodbye when you're saying something else." That was the best I could sum up the sensation of anguish that his words triggered in me at times.
    "Perceptive," he whispered. And there was the anguish again, surfacing as he confirmed my fear. "That's exactly why you're wrong, though," he began to explain, but then his eyes narrowed. "What do you mean, ‘the obvious'?"
   "Well, look at me," I said, unnecessarily as he was already staring. "I'm absolutely ordinary -- well, except for bad things like all the near-death experiences and being so clumsy that I'm almost disabled. And look at you." I waved my hand toward him and all his bewildering perfection.
   His brow creased angrily for a moment, then smoothed as his eyes took on a knowing look. "You don't see yourself very clearly, you know. I'll admit you're dead-on about the bad things," he chuckled blackly, "but you didn't hear what every human male in this school was thinking on your first day."
   I blinked, astonished. "I don't believe it . . . ," I mumbled to myself.
   "Trust me just this once -- you are the opposite of ordinary."

Several of you have already picked up the "every human male" quote in the past, but it's just too egregious to pass over.

Bella Swan, ladies and gentlemen, is so hot that she transcends any kind of personal preference or alignment on the Kinsey scale. Gay men want her. Asexual men want her. Men in committed relationships want her. Men who prefer blonds gaze on her and suddenly find that they don't. Men who are older than her and are in positions of authority over her -- as we must glean that teachers and principals and counselors and nurses are included in Edward's awkward "every human male" parsing -- want her, jailbait status be damned. No man can help himself in the face of her overpowering hotness.

And if that doesn't just make your stomach churn, I don't know what will.

It's another fantasy, I get that. I do. It's the Nora Ephron In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind thing. [Source. Content note: Reinforcement of harmful patriarchal beliefs about men, gender generalization, ableism.] It's the Fantasy Of Being Thin / Beautiful When I’m thin, I will be the kind of person who struts down the beach in a bikini, making men weep thing.

But it's a fantasy that is essentially self-centered, that places Bella -- or the reader -- at the literal center of everyone else's emotional universes. Sexual orientation, personal preference, monogamy, and respect for one's position as a person of authority are all tossed out of the window in order to bolster Bella's desire to be overwhelmingly beautiful. That's a fantasy that is fine in small doses and with the acknowledgement that it is indeed a fantasy; it's a fantasy that can be utterly destructive in larger doses and with the belief that such a state of Objective Beauty is actually attainable and pursueable. 

Speaking of Kate Harding

And just in case you wanted to take Twilight as the Good Girl's manual to attaining the above fantasy, it's important to remember that the everyday stuff matters if you want to reach Bella Swan levels of perfection and desirability. Take, for example, food.

At breakfast:

   When I got downstairs, Charlie was gone again -- I was running later than I'd realized. I swallowed a granola bar in three bites, chased it down with milk straight from the carton, and then hurried out the door. Hopefully the rain would hold off until I could find Jessica.

At lunch:

   He stepped up to the counter and filled a tray with food.   "What are you doing?" I objected. "You're not getting all that for me?"
   He shook his head, stepping forward to buy the food.
   "Half is for me, of course."
   I raised one eyebrow.
   He led the way to the same place we'd sat that one time before. From the other end of the long table, a group of seniors gazed at us in amazement as we sat across from each other. Edward seemed oblivious.
   "Take whatever you want," he said, pushing the tray toward me.
   "I'm curious," I said as I picked up an apple, turning it around in my hands, "what would you do if someone dared you to eat food?"
   "You're always curious." He grimaced, shaking his head. He glared at me, holding my eyes as he lifted the slice of pizza off the tray, and deliberately bit off a mouthful, chewed quickly, and then swallowed. I watched, eyes wide.
   "If someone dared you to eat dirt, you could, couldn't you?" he asked condescendingly.
   I wrinkled my nose. "I did once . . . on a dare," I admitted. "It wasn't so bad."

The entire rest of the chapter will be Edward and Bella talking, until Bella suddenly notices that the cafeteria has cleared out and that it's time for class. It's entirely conceivable that, off-text, she's been scarfing down a full square meal in between tense questions and gazing liquid pool topaz eyes. (You think I'm making that last one up. I wish I was. I really do. The writing in this chapter burns my soul.)

But I don't think it's likely. Not in the face of all the other eating habits Bella has evidenced thus far in her novel. Not in light of the fact that tension -- and her conversation with Edward is nothing if not tense -- repeatedly has been shown to constrict her appetite.

If that's the case, then the entire sum of Bella's food intake for the day is a small granola bar, a swig of milk, and possibly an entire apple. (Note that she's not shown biting into the apple. I'm generously assuming that if she touched it, she ate it.) Dinner for the day -- which should have occurred in Chapter 11 -- is not mentioned at all, so we cannot confirm or deny whether it took place or not.

I want to be very clear: Bella's eating habits may not be unhealthy for Bella. Everyone has unique caloric needs, each body is special, and thin people and/or people who eat sparingly should not be subjected to body policing any more than fat people should. In fact, just to be clear, let's quote that post from Melissa McEwan because I know that not everyone clicks through on the links when they're trying to hold on to a coherent narrative early in the morning:

(Thin people, especially thin women, similarly get portion-policed: If I'm full after half a sandwich and ask for a doggy bag, that's the least I can fucking do and good for Fatty Boom Balatty, but if a very thin woman is full after half a sandwich and asks for a doggy bag, she's "starving herself." Can't fucking win.)

Quoted for truth.

So to be very, very clear, I am not judging Bella for her eating habits.

I am judging her author for the eating habits she decided to imbue her fictional and -- possibly not coincidentally -- Objectively Gorgeous character with.

Well, okay, "judging" is a strong word. Let me take that back. I still believe, and always have, that S. Meyer should write whatever pleases her to write. I'm also hesitant to criticize this choice here because Bella strikes me sometimes as a strong Author Insert character and it's very possible that Bella's eating habits reflect S. Meyer's own, so then when I criticize her choice to make Bella like herself, I'm criticizing a woman for writing about her own experiences and how is that helpful to the cause, Ms. Ana? So I'm not judging.

But I don't like it. I don't like it because it's just too convenient. Bella is Objectively Gorgeous in a very conveniently "natural" way. Rarely does the novel mention makeup or time spent attaining beauty through cosmetic products. Nor does Bella exert much exercise; on the one hand she's disabled (she even uses the term this chapter to describe herself, albeit with "almost" in front of it) in a way that prevents most forms of exercise, and on the other hand, exercise would supply her with some kind of hobby other than doing housework and mooning about with a tattered Jane Austin anthology in one hand.

A lot of people are genetically naturally thin -- that's kind of what Set Points are all about, in fact --  so there's really nothing wrong with a Thin Protagonist Who Doesn't Work Hard For It. By all means, I prefer them that way because it fits better with Set Point theory and stops being a You Can Be This Too! dream of oh, well, if I just worked out an extra 45 minutes a day like Bella does, then maybe. But a protagonist who is Objectively Gorgeous and Naturally Thin and rarely eats more than a few mouthfuls a day makes me incredibly uncomfortable. It's hard not to read pages and pages of the narrative calling loud attention to Bella's Not Eating and not feel like I'm being shown a direct correlation between these things.

And, you know, from a creative standpoint it particularly fluffs my marshmallows in a vampire novel. Bella will have to give up two things in order to be with her Twue Wuv: sunlight and food. We're already seeing in this chapter that sunlight is now Totally Optional as far as Bella is concerned if it means seeing her darling Edward. And she won't even have to really give up sunlight because it's not lethal. She can frolic all day long on the beaches of Isle Esme as long as no White People observe her sparkling radiance.

So that just leaves us with food. Which vampires can't enjoy. Edward says that the pizza tastes like dirt. (Presumably not just because it's made by a school cafeteria.) Bella will be giving up every flavor on earth except the one: blood. But that's okay! Because it's not like she eats anyway! Problem solved forever! ARGH. (At least the Sookie Stackhouse books -- the ones I've read anyway -- tried to genuinely explore how hard it would be to be in a relationship with a vampire and all the things you'd be giving up.)

And I've Run Out Of Steam

Given that I'd originally titled this post "My Beloved Asshole and Me" and I was going to talk about how awful Edward is in this chapter and I apparently didn't get to any of that, I reckon there'll be another Chapter 10 post in the near future. Stay tuned. I found this new format refreshing and easier to speak to; please let me know how you feel (yes, you!) in the comments.

And... thanks.


Yamikuronue said...

Coincidentally, this week I finally managed one of my two weekly deconstruction posts for the first time since I moved, and sure enough, it was full of "my god why am I reading this it's the same shit over and over" @.@

Your post was much more fun :D

I wonder if there's not something to be said about the "human" qualifier. Why aren't Emmit and Jasper taken with her beauty? Because they're mated for life with supernatural vampire mating. So their relationships are important enough to prevent them from noticing other women at all, but say, the principal's 30-year solid marriage with three kids doesn't stop him from being smitten?

When I read Twilight I kept waiting for the reveal that she was half-vampire to begin with, hence the supernatural allure (minor version of sparkles) and mental block (minor version of vampire power). But no. She's just a Mary Sue that way.

Ana Mardoll said...

NICE CATCH. I hadn't thought of that, but you're right: at no point is there any sexual tension with Emmett or Jasper. (Again, this is SO not Sookie Stackhouse / True Blood, which seems pretty blatantly to be a Harem Fantasy in my view.) Emmett slips immediately into Big Brother, and Jasper is permattached to Alice.

Another thing that hit me yesterday about Sookie-versus-Bella (yes, I've been watching a lot of True Blood) is that Sookie has to seriously consider whether her vampire lovers are only with her because she tastes so yummy. Bella could have had angst about that, but as far as I know, it's a non-starter -- she's just yummy because Edward has imprinted on her, and he never takes a taste because this is Abstinence Porn and that means No Sex, No Blood.


Jurgan said...

That was a good one. Don't feel the need to force yourself into a format you're not comfortable with. You don't have to go line-by-line, just make sure to provide quotes to back up your points (for those of us who aren't reading the book along with you). See ya next week!

Brin Bellway said...

You know what? I'm going to do it. I'm going to read along. May any and all relevant gods have mercy on my soul. *goes downstairs* *gets Mom's copy of Twilight* *reads Chapter Ten*

I do want to know what you're thinking ---- everything. I just wish...that you wouldn't be thinking some things.

...*sigh* *headdesk*

you didn't hear what every human male in this school was thinking on your first day.

First thought: Is that supposed to make her feel better, knowing they were lusting after her body?

Second thought: Every human male? All one of them?

Third thought: Wait, that phrasing would include teachers.

Fourth thought: I wonder if I would find even more levels of creepiness and discomfort if I kept thinking about this. I'm not sure I want to know.

It's another fantasy, I get that. I do. It's the Nora Ephron "In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind" thing.

You get it? Well, at least somebody does. I'd expect a dualistic rage: "How dare you think my body has value independent of being my vessel?" I know I don't want to be reminded that this body is what others see when they see me, what they think of when they think of me.

(I suppose I should know better than to assume other people will think as I do. That usually comes back to bite me.)

"But apparently," he interrupted me, "your number wasn't up in Phoenix. So I'd rather you stayed with me."

I thought he hadn't realised yet that leaving wouldn't help her get rid of the Plot?

"You should tell Charlie, though. [...] To give me some small incentive to bring you back."
I gulped. But, after a moment of thought, I was sure. "I think I'll take my chances."

...what. Why... *more sighing* *more headdesking*

"Are you like a bear, too?" I asked in a low voice.
"More like a lion, or so they tell me," he said lightly.

You take care of the kids while the women do all the hunting?

robotxorange said...

I like this post! :D

GeniusLemur said...

Is the book going to continue in this vein? Is it going to turn into *shudder* LEFT BEHIND, where chapter after chapter is spent talking up how wonderful our leads are, even as it inadvertently shows they're horrible? And the plot is forgotten in the rush to heap praise and privilege on our leads?

Yamikuronue said...

See, I really wanted to like Sookie Stackhouse, because there's so much more thought and the author seems much more aware of the unfortunate implications, but by the third or fourth book I got so tired of the "silly little me has no idea what I'm doing with my love life, tee hee, everything is my boyfriend's fault because I'm too innocent to know better" vibe I was getting from the main character, so I stopped reading.

chris the cynic said...

"More like a lion, or so they tell me," he said lightly.

Thus explaining the involuntary thrill that shoots through Bella when she hear's his name. How did I put it?

Damn you Edward Aslan Mufasa Cullen! Your name sends a deep shiver through me and I like it not.

Omskivar said...

Yes. Yes it is. (Do you follow Fred Clark's Left Behind deconstruction? You know how Buck just got a Range Rover? Bella ends up with an SUV that can withstand a freaking missile attack.)

depizan said...

This is very much a YMMV thing, but... I'm a naturally thin person and Bella's eating (or lack there of) bothered me because under normal circumstances food is very important to me (I'm the person at work who jokes that my boss is trying to kill me when I get scheduled for a lunch five hours into my shift instead of four) and the only* reason for me to eat like Bella is massive stress. There could well be naturally thin people who naturally go long periods of time without eating much. I just know that if I ate a granola bar and a swig of milk for breakfast, the only thing I would be thinking about in a couple of hours is FOOD OMG FOOD FOOD FOOD SO HUNGRY FOOOOOOOOOD. So it comes off somewhere between unnatural (why isn't she hungry, what is her body running on? thoughts of how pretty Edward is?) and as another sign that she's possibly not okay (she's not calm about everything, she's so stressed she's not eating, holy crap!)

*I have, on occasion, been so engrosed in something that I forgot to eat. But as soon as I'm un-engrosed, I realize I'm desperately hungry and rush off to consume (for me) mass quantities of the nearest available food.

Omskivar said...

I couldn't make it past the first book; Sookie was just so judgmental about all the private thoughts she was hearing that it made me want to throw the book in the trash. I much prefer True Blood, at least you're not constantly stuck in Sookie's head the entire time.

Ymfon said...

Twilight Saturday, yay! I think I prefer this format, but I've neither read the books nor ever tried to write a deconstruction of anything, so I'll trust to Ana's expertise.

Yamikuronue said...

I almost forgot about that! Yeah, I kept telling myself "Obviously her judgementalism is a character flaw and any day now she'll learn a valuable lesson.... any day now..." Much like I kept telling myself that Bella would someday realize how the fleeting pleasures of youth aren't worth trading the adult you would otherwise become...

Sherry Hintze said...


I really, really do enjoy reading your deconstructions. I don't usually comment because I either haven't read the source material, or it was so long ago (Narnia) that I've forgotten the vast majority of it. But I love critique and analysis and you do it so well.

I haven't read Twilight. I had specifically planned not to read Twilight, because I keep hearing about how poorly written it is and I don't like the dating/stalking dynamics. But a well-written recap that gives me enough of the book that I don't have to read it myself - bring it!

I can't decide (going on your summation; haven't read the original) what I think of Edward and Bella using Jessica as a conduit so they don't have to communicate. On the one hand, it seems kind of underhanded and as though they're using it to avoid actually talking to each other. On the other, if Edward can read Jessica's mind and can't help himself, maybe he deems it slightly more honorable to tell her than to have all this knowledge about Bella and leave Bella in the dark about it? Or maybe it's just his version of silly games to play with humans.

Edward telling Bella what "every human male" was thinking the first day she walked into school... was that necessary, Edward? I think he meant to compliment her, to tell her she was irresistible. I'm not sure how that would have made me feel in high school, but now I think it would make me feel uncomfortably like prey. (Also, are there no lesbians or bisexual females at the school? Or are they just erased?) I suppose the phrase could have been shorthand for "every heterosexual human male of appropriate age - and maybe some who aren't of appropriate age - and also every homosexual and bisexual female, again within the correct age range" but I suspect it was, instead, either sloppy writing or sloppy thinking.

And I should quit now, as I'm getting very frustrated toward Twilight and I'm not even reading it! Looking forward to the next Twilight deconstruction post.

Sherry Hintze said...

I meant to say also - but the last comment was getting long - I have not seen True Blood, but I do love the Sookie Stackhouse books. I know there are some problematic elements, but I find Sookie oddly relateable.

She has a real job, as a cocktail waitress, and she can't just blow off work, because money's tight already and she needs to support herself. She encounters all these supernatural creatures (vampires, shapeshifters, weres, maneads... ) and her thoughts are not "freak out!" but more along the lines of "what do I do with *this*?" and "well, at least his brain is quiet. kinda restful." She is outclassed/outgunned by every supe she meets and possibly by many of the humans, too. Rather than throw up her hands and wait to be rescued by 'her' vampire, she plots; she finds or improvises weapons; she manipulates; she acts.

On the downside, yeah, she's snoopy, she's judgey, she's impulsive, and she's way too possessive over the males in her life, whether she has a right to be or not. She does not seem to play well with other women often. I actually kind of prefer her with flaws than if she were straight-up perfection. Room to grow, or something.

Ana Mardoll said...

( Just for the record, shameless self promotion is encouraged here. ;) )

Ana Mardoll said...

Also: Is here really only 100? Well, that's alright then. (Shades of Jessica's actress in Scott Pilgrim deciding that X deadly exes isn't so unusual.)

Ana Mardoll said...

I hear you on the depression, but... I tell myself that the Mary Sue process ( life is awful, none of my friends are worthwhile, helloooo vampire ) could be at fault. Depression could rise organically from that, maybe?

Ana Mardoll said...

re: Sookie, yeah, it's hard for me to stick with the books, because I do get a strong "have my cake and eat it too" vibe in that regard. But I keep planning to try.

Ana Mardoll said...

I think what I like most about the Sookie books is that despite their problems, there seems to be a genuine undercurrent of vampires not being ideal perfect boyfriends, but rather boyfriends with a whole unique set of problems. Like living a night life and having to give up Italian food.

depizan said...

Content Warning: Ethics of Mind Reading

I think that there are a ton of ethical problems with mind reading, to the point that it only seems potentially ethical in a world where everyone can read minds. To do so when you are one of the few people who can seems horribly problematic. Even though Bella can't have her own mind read, she can - as you note - have no privacy from Edward, except by not telling anyone else in her life anything. Edward is spending his entire unlife with a huge advantage over everyone he interacts with - he can read their mind, they cannot read his. He has privacy, they do not. This is an assholetastic way to be. (Now, if he has no choice, then I feel bad for him, but I would expect that an ethical person cursed with unavoidable mindreading would be doing their damnedest to find a solution to that problem. The fact that he doesn't even consider it is yet another item on my lengthy list of "what is wrong with Edward.")

It doesn't seem to occur to Bella, either, that this mind reading thing is problematic. She doesn't confide in Jessica so that Edward can't find out about her, but it never even occurs to her that poor Jessica doesn't have that luxury. (And, yes, I realize she can't exactly tell Jessica, but you'd think the concern would pop up in her mind.)

Hell, Edward's power is a problem for everything. Are his grades in school the result of his efforts, or does he just read the smart kids' minds as their answering the tests? When he was showing off to Bella in Bio, was that his knowledge or Sally in the fifth row's knowledge? If you knew a person who could read all minds but yours, would it be ethical to introduce them to anyone, knowing that every person they interacted with would potentially have their entire life layed bare to this person?

What if you're a mind reader and you find out that someone is going to commit a crime? Or is a victim of one? What do you do? Okay, a sparklepire might be able to stop the criminal, but that's frought with it's own problems. But in the case of a victim....? You know something you have no right to know and little ability to act on. That should be upsetting. The fact that these problems have to have happened to Edward at some point and he uses his mind reading casually anyway makes him an awful, awful person. RAGE.

TheDarkArtist said...

Content note: eating disorders, depression.

I'm liking the one-chapter-at-a-go format, even if you spend more than one post dissecting the whole chapter. I love the Left Behind deconstructions that Fred does, but for a person like me who's read all of the posts multiple times, and authors as bad as those authors, a lot of ground gets covered multiple times. So, I think this format is actually more useful to a deconstruction. (Not putting down Fred's writing, I'm a huge fan of it.)

As someone (a male, at that!) who has an eating disorder, who was married to a woman with an eating disorder, I have to say that the portrayal of Bella's eating habits also makes me feel pretty uncomfortable. As you pointed out, no one should be the Food Police to anyone else, so I'm also not trying to be judgmental.

However, the unfortunate implications of the way Bella is portrayed as eating are hard to miss. I'm the opposite of Bella. I deal with stress and depression by binge eating, and that makes it difficult to keep my weight where I need it to be medically. But, it's not healthy, what I do. I know it. My doctor knows it, and when you're stressed enough to cause a problem with your life, that's a medical issue.

So, maybe it's just me being an armchair psychologist, but I don't know how healthy that kind of portrayal is in a book that seems to serve as a kind of wish-fulfillment fantasy. I think it would be disingenuous to say that people aren't affected by the media that they consume, and these books have a very personal effect on some readers. That's fine, but I worry that a young girl who reads these books might take to heart the idea that if you eat nothing but a granola bar and an apple in a day and lose weight, that they're healthy. That's just planting the seeds for anorexia, in extreme cases.

From experience, I know that the opposite feeling also comes with that. My wife refused to find a job, or go to school, or do anything, really, when she gained weight. "They won't hire me anyway / I can't pass school anyway / No one wants to see me in public ... because I'm fat." Of course, it's not the author's job to be responsible for other people's emotions, but it's still problematic.

Maybe I'm off base, but it just strikes me in my gut as feeling a bit ... unfortunate, that's all.

Smilodon said...

Content note: Food and judging and anxiety.

I think we might share a metabolism, depizan. And when I get to the point of "only eating a granola bar and some milk and maybe an apple", it means that my anxiety is at 11.

Also, to rant for a moment, maybe being skinny and eating too little means that you're doing food wrong and everyone should judge you. But I'm average-skinny and I get a lot of snarky comments for eating too much, because I'm obviously just doing it to tormet my coworkers who are on diets. THERE IS NO WAY TO WIN.

fizzchick said...

delurking to say thumbs up on the new format. I like the super-detailed orderly ones too, but there's no need for every post to have the same format, especially if it's more spoon-spendy than you can deal with. (Aside: Saw you use spoon-spendy over on slacktivist, and love it). And yes, the food thing is unfortunate.

TW: Mention of eating disorders. Why is it so rare to have a female character who has a healthy, uncomplicated relationship with food? Far too many of them either act part way to anorexic, a la Bella, or talk about devouring sweets and feeling guilty about it, with bingeing seen as THE alternative to starving yourself/making yourself unhappy (e.g. most of the recent food porn/mystery novels). Why can't we have someone who enjoys food, enjoys cooking and eating it, and gets as excited about a fresh-from-the-garden tomato as a good slice of chocolate cake, without having food occupy an unhealthily large chunk of their thoughts? /TW

Anyway, Ana, thanks for highlighting things I wouldn't even think about, like how much it sucks to be Suzy in the 5th row called down to the principal's office and asked why you showed your test to Edward Cullen. Most books lapse at one point or another on the "this is the protagonist and so everyone cares deeply about his/her life" issue, but it's rarely so blatant and unrelenting as you've shown it to be in Twilight. Usually there's at least a servant who makes it clear that they were going about their own life until interrupted by the protagonist, or something. In the whole high school cafeteria, no one is talking about how Mike scored the most amazing goal at the last soccer game, or the upcoming band trip, or how annoying it is that Mrs. Jones won't accept late homework even when you're sick. No, they're all focused on where the Cullens and Bella are sitting/what they're doing. Blech!

GeniusLemur said...

Yep, sure do.

Ana Mardoll said...

Anyway, Ana, thanks for highlighting things I wouldn't even think about, like how much it sucks to be Suzy in the 5th row called down to the principal's office and asked why you showed your test to Edward Cullen.

Ha, all credit goes to you and depizan for thinking of that, because I sure didn't. I was thinking that Ed has probably memorized All School Ever because he's just *that* awesome, but realistically, I think this is more likely -- that he dips into people's heads as needed. Unless vampires are just THAT different from humans in terms of memory retention, that would be much easier, and you're right -- it would suck to be poor Suzy.

Incidentally, I've been re-reading James Randi's Flim-Flam recently and at one point there was apparently a bit of an internal scare at MENSA -- some of the members were concerned that they might not all be "intelligent" so much as telepathic and pilfering smarts from surrounding people. So, quite ironically, this has been discussed as a Real Thing in the Real World. (One wonders if Edward is aware of those discussions. Psychic abilities were quite a popular news item for a very long time. In Twilight-verse is Uri Geller a vampire? Inquiring minds wish to know!)

BaseDeltaZero said...

Edward's awkward "every human male"

Normally, I'd be willing to forgive something like this. Sure, it'd be a bit more accurate (and funny) if he then said "... well, except the gay ones. And the teachers, mostly. And the asexual ones. Plus, there's always the lesbian girls.... and then there was this sparrow, but it may have just thought your hair would make partiuclarly good nesting material - animal thoughts are hard to decipher. And we can't forget Mike, since he's actually a lizardman..."

Yeah, it'd be funny, but I don't think funny was really what they were going for...

It is a bit odd they felt the need to specify 'human'...

You get it? Well, at least somebody does. I'd expect a dualistic rage: "How dare you think my body has value independent of being my vessel?" I know I don't want to be reminded that this body is what others see when they see me, what they think of when they think of me.

Vessel, sure, but there are certainly a lot of people who take great pride in their pretty cars...

Not a woman, but while I can understand the sentiment of wanting someone to like you for your body... I certainly wouldn't like it if they *disliked* your mind... or with myself in the liking/disliking position...

Yes. Yes it is. (Do you follow Fred Clark's Left Behind deconstruction? You know how Buck just got a Range Rover? Bella ends up with an SUV that can withstand a freaking missile attack.)

The fuck? HOW?! One could hope this 'SUV' is at least the hulking metal brick surrounded by HEAT mesh that a vehicle capable of surviving a missile attack actually would be, rather than your usual chromed-up luxury model, but somehow I doubt it. Does it have one of those interceptor launchers like Raytheon's Quick Kill or Trophy? Is it just made of pieces of vampires? (Which still wouldn't make *much* sense, but...)

redcrow said...

>>>Remember that leaving a comment -- even if it's just I LIKE THIS POST -- helps me to stay motivated and un-distracted by the shiny.

I like this post.
(But I still have nothing of substance to say, at least not on-topic. I'm sorry.)

depizan said...

Is it just made of pieces of vampires?

Bwahahahaha! That would infinitely improve the books.

JonathanPelikan said...

-o rly owl-

JonathanPelikan said...


Fucking Edward Cullen. This guy... dis gai is unfokin believabul.

I literally find a new facet to my hatred for him every tine he shows up or says or does anything. So smug and arrogant and stoopid and and he doesn't even acknowledge that things like privacy and rights exist unless You're Special and even then... and we haven't even gotten started with Dis Guy yet! \

St. Jebus said...

I'm a long-time lurker, but I just wanted to stick my head out of lurker-space to let you know that I like this post. Keep up the good work - I look forward to all of your posts!

Thanks a bunch.

chris the cynic said...

Good, because sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who uses the recommends posts for that.

Is here really only 100?

Recalling that Twilight takes place in a time-warp with literally impossible dates, we are currently sometime in impossible-2005, and Edward was born in 1901 and, unless we've made it to June 20th, he hasn't had his 2005 birthday yet.

Also, apparently, he's from Chicago, so he is totally related to the Left Behind crowd somehow. What else could explain the similarities?


I hear you on the depression, but... I tell myself that the Mary Sue process ( life is awful, none of my friends are worthwhile, helloooo vampire ) could be at fault. Depression could rise organically from that, maybe?

That's my hope. I feel like there's some sort of overlap where setting out to write a character (with no thought to depression one way or the other), and doing it badly, somehow ends up with a very realistic depiction of depression. Except, you know, instant magic vampire happy times. Don't think that has a parallel.

If it were slower than sure.

More shameless self promotion:
Coping with depression via vampires
(From 11 months ago.)

depizan said...

Good, because sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who uses the recommends posts for that.

I will try to be better about that when I start posting installments of my next fanfic short story. I've got to keep in mind that one's own shameless self promotion makes other people feel better about promoting themselves.

Amaryllis said...

Bella will have to give up two things in order to be with her Twue Wuv: sunlight and food.
My first thought was, it's so not worth it.

My second thought was, how shallow of you. Isn't love better than chocolate?

My third thought was, and what does Edward give up for Bella? Besides, whether or not love is worth it, Edward Cullen isn't worth it, so shut up, self.

I'm confused about the mind-reading thing: is it "on" all the time? Does Edward hear everybody's thoughts like a constant background music?D oes he have to make an effort to tune in to someone in particular? Can he turn it off if he wants?

Bitterblue spoiler::

Bar bs gur punenpgref vf na vaibyhagnel zvaq-ernqre. Ur uvqrf vg sebz nyzbfg rirelbar, orpnhfr zvaq-ernqref ner havirefnyyl ybngurq nf zragny Crrcvat Gbzf. Naq jurarire ur qbrf gryy fbzrbar, gur hfhny erfcbafr vf gb chapu uvz va gur abfr.

Frrzf yvxr n ernyvfgvp ernpgvba gb zr.

... there goes the oven timer...

GeniusLemur said...

Unless I'm greatly mistaken, the nuts and bolts of Edward's telepathy is this: he knows whatever he's supposed to/wants to this scene. It's effectively the author just telling him.

And frankly, it makes sense that way. I mean, if the nuts and bolts were thought out and consistent, there might be restrictions or even downsides to his power. And that'll never fly in a fantasy this shallow.

BaseDeltaZero said...

Wow. Jewelry is certainly a luxury, but to say that the only thing people get from wearing jewelry is the satisfaction of flaunting wealth is incredibly narrow-minded and, like all narrow-minded things, completely wrong. Jewelry is pretty. People like to wear pretty things. I like to wear pretty things. And that's not even taking into account liking to wear something that has sentimental value, or that you're proud of creating, or that you think makes you look nice, or that even shows your religious or political affiliation, which a lot of jewelry does.

Yet, an education or professionally cooked food are intolerable frivoloties.

The earth has a sustainable population with minimal technological usage. That population is not seven billion.

A non-moron would note the first part of the sentence.

Divide it by 7 billion. It works out, roughly, to 10,000 per capita. Do you make more that 10 grand? I make sandwiches at a sub shop, and I make more than 10 grand a year. On a global scale, every person that makes 10,030 is taking 30 bucks a year away from someone, somewhere else. Because there's only 63 trillion to go around in the first place.

You're making the assumption that that 63 trillion is an absolute. It isn't. It can be increased by efficiency and increased production.

Producing...what, exactly? If you mechanized sewing shoes, then the shoe-sewers go to college and....what? The US is currently a service economy- we shuffle papers to make orders for stuff made in other countries. Everyone can't be a service economy. Nor can everyone be an artist, or a scientist, or a doctor.

Not necessarily college as technical school. They then go to work producing... goods for the other 85% of the world that currently can't afford anything but the 15%'s scraps. Alternatively, they... do nothing (well, not 'nothing' but no formal job...). Because your productivity has now reached a level best summarized as 'lol', and when you reach the point at which 'you can afford to provide the whole world with goods using a small percentage of the world's labor pool, the correct answer is 'Leisure Society Party Time!' not 'FUCK THE BROWN PEOPLE'. If you're that worried people will become lazy and slovenly, you can have everyone work in shifts - say, Group A takes over working for 3 months, then they can faff off to do whatever it is they're going to do while Group B takes their turn...

Have you even read Vonnegut's 'Player Piano'?

Because Kurt Vonnegut is omniscient, and his opinions on society should be taken as gospel. Also, there is no such thing as artistic or intellectual jobs that you really can't replace with a computer, without that computer also qualifying as a citizen... and it's not like anyone actually likes doing work...

Besides, we already know from Star Trek that involuntary work has been eliminated in the future, and we all act out solely out of desire for self-improvement. (And green skined babes?)

Randy Kay said...

Oh my goodness, that part where you quoted Melissa McEwan was great; while I do think that fatphobia is much, much more prevalent, I did have an experience last summer where I realized that women of any size just cannot win when it comes to food. For context, I'm fairly petite, and I exercise a lot as I'm in the military and must meet certain physical standards. I was visiting a friend in Baltimore, and she was insistent upon a certain sandwich place, which meant we ended up walking about three miles in 95 degree heat. By the time we got there, I felt sick to my stomach, so all I ordered was a cup of water. The (male) sandwich worker fixed his eyes on me, with a patronizing look, and said, "Y'know, its okay to have some food." I was so angry! I snapped at him that I wasn't hungry, and told him to just give me a water. As my friend and I waited for her food, I overheard him sighing and telling a co-worker of his that I was obviously rude to him because I was cranky from being hungry.

It was an incredibly galling situation, perhaps moreso because I was unable to complain to his manager as at that moment I fled for the bathroom due to my upset stomach. But I know that if I'd been a man, I never would've been treated that way.

Anyway, thank you for your Twilight post; as usual, I really enjoyed it =)

chris the cynic said...

I don't think we're ever given details because I don't think there are details beyond it functioning as the plot demands, but I can tell you that it's not just audio. He can see what people are thinking if they're the visual type.

depizan said...

My third thought was, and what does Edward give up for Bella?

I think you hit on something important there. All he gives up (so to speak) is getting to nom her tasty, tasty blood. And, frankly, the sacrifice of not eating your significant other is pretty minimal.

Bella, on the other hand, gives up food, her family, and, really, any semblance of a normal life. She can't have a career. She can't - demon baby aside - be a parent. She would require a front person if she wanted to be a writer or artist. While she has her own private island, she can't really travel freely, the way a human could. She can only make new friends inside the vampire community, lest she risk their lives or them finding out her secret.

And yet, even as I write the above, I realize most of it is bullshit. Dr. Cullen manages a normal life. It's only through lack of creativity on either the other "good" vampire's parts or on Meyer's part that stop them from all having normal lives.

Which doesn't actually help with Bella being the only one to give things up. It makes it worse, because she doesn't have to give up anything (except food) and yet she will anyway. For Edward. Who is definitely not better than chocolate.

depizan said...

He can see what people are thinking if they're the visual type.

Isn't that supposedly how he drives?

Which makes it even worse! AUGH! That's more like finding films of people than just finding their diary or whatever. Holy frack! He's likely gotten visuals of intimate things people around him have done, and fantasies, and embarrassing moments and hell can he even tell the difference between memories and fantasies/imaginings/dreams? THERE IS SO MUCH WRONG WITH USING THIS POWER.

chris the cynic said...

I'm going to recommend we make, "Who is definitely not better than chocolate" Edward's new epithet*.

Now most of the examples of epithets I know are of divine beings or heroes or whatnot, so that's a class Edward doesn't belong with, but let me give some examples, tack Edward onto the end, and see how it fits.

Rosy fingered Dawn
Gray eyed Athena
Swift footed Achilles
Horse breaking Hector
Whiny Aeneas
Definitely not better than chocolate Edward

Oh, and I just remember wine-dark sea, which is probably not a god** but you can never be too sure.


* Which I initially misspelled as epitaph, probably as a result of habit but possibly as a result of wanting to kill the bastard.

** And definitely not a hero.


The Aeneas one was given by a class of university students, not an ancient author, but it fits. It really does fit.

Asha said...

Well, that would explain a few things about Edward. Instead of reading minds, he just has S.Meyer in his head instead? That would explain how he seems to warp ethics and reality to suit his whims.

depizan said...

Which I initially misspelled as epitaph, probably as a result of habit but possibly as a result of wanting to kill the bastard.

It would work well for that, too.

Here lies Edward, who was definitely not better than chocolate.

Though that rather implies that whoever killed him ate him, too. Perhaps it's not such a good epitaph.

Silver Adept said...

The new form works wonderfully and well.

I think we're on the same track here - I was thinking about all the OH GODS NO consent issues around Edward Cullen being a mind reader, and the fact that just being around him means that everything in your mind is open to him. Which then made me wonder if he can turn off the mind-reading, because it being always on and always in a hyper mode could make for an interesting character issue - Edward its a jerk to everyone because the choices just won't shut up and they tell him everything he needs to know about everyone being just a dumb, angry, lustful human. (It would also make Jasper more interesting, as that would mean his emotional manipulative powers would be always on and he'd have to keep a tight lid on everything, lest he basically kill people with a moment of rage or depression. Or bloodlust, like when Bella cuts herself.)

Of course, there's no indication in the text that this is the case.

So I think I'm with everyone here that the kind reading powers give rise to a lot of ethical questions, if Edward can control them, and questions of how he managed to survive the initial period, if he can't. (Much like the character in the Bitterblue spoiler above, I suspect.)

Bella, don't treat your friends like pawns. It generally leaves you without friends...which, I realize, its what you want, but there's still no real indication that Edward isn't phenomenally dangerous and that you won't turn up as a corpse somewhere that very few people mourn.

Also, if Bella is so Objectively Beautiful that she its able to make every man stare and have lustful thoughts about her, including the ones that aren't attracted to women or Know Better, shouldn't we be seeing more obvious effects of this, like Bella having her own low-grade glamour that turns heads, which means eyes on Bella, which should cause her to freak out because it's going against her desire to remain anonymous and blend in as much as possible.

Y'know, things like this that might appear if you gave a second thought about how all of your plot elements interact with each other.

Beroli said...

Edward never makes an effort to not read anyone's mind. As he just indicated while interacting with Bella, he thinks of knowing what everyone's thinking as his right, and is offended that Bella's mind is abrogating said right.

Jasper only influences emotions when he consciously chooses to, and thinks of it as exerting control over physical responses (heart rate, etc.), even though that makes very little sense when you consider that he can influence vampires as well as humans. However, Jasper always senses emotions and prefers to be around happy people. In Breaking Dawn when Edward tells Bella that Jasper wants to be around her all the time now that she's so happy, Stephenie Meyer doesn't address at all that Jasper should find Bella to be torture to be around most of the time, because she (Stephenie Meyer) doesn't appear to recognize Bella's constant misery as anything other than feeling completely normal.

Ana Mardoll said...

I want to say, thank you. To all the lurkers, but really to EVERYONE in this thread. This is why I write these posts, because somehow you all come up with Edward's new epitaph, composed by his cannibalistic killer who greatly prefers chocolate, and the next thing I know I'm crying with laughter. This. Is. Epic.

esmerelda_ogg said...

Ana, another lurker who likes this post and is delurking just to say so. (And who, in addition, has read Twilight - and boy, that was an uphill struggle, Sisyphus should be glad he just had to push that boulder - anyhow, I've read the entire book and I hate definitely not better than chocolate Edward.

And I don't like Bella Sue very much either.

Kay said...

About Bella and depression, I'm not sure I agree. When I was hospitalized in a teen psychiatric unit, we were warned pretty thoroughly against starting relationships while we were recovering because it could mask the depression. It's possible that the nurses and doctors there were being extra cautious or actually had other reasons for not wanting us to start relationships (and the advice extended to post-release), but from what I've experienced of both depression and teenage crushes/first relationship euphoria, it seems plausible to me.

Caretaker of Cats said...

Bella: Every human male? Are there other species in this school I should be worried about?

Edward looked at her and sighed. "There's something you need to know about Mr. Banner..."

Ana Mardoll said...

I did not know that, so thank you. I value personal experience because I know it's not always easy to share. :)

Except now you have me thinking that wouldn't Carlisle have some training to diagnose depression? Really, the deeper we go, the more unethical the entire family seems for going, essentially, YOU LOVE HER? YAY. MAKE WITH THE VAMPIRE ALREADY.

★☆ keri ☆★ said...

tw: depression, religion

she (Stephenie Meyer) doesn't appear to recognize Bella's constant misery as anything other than feeling completely normal.

And, you know, that's almost the most troubling part (for me).

I'll be completely honest and a little bit off-topic, but I have been fairly deeply mentally/emotionally scarred by growing up in a religious household, and it influenced my depression a lot. Knowing that Meyer is involved with a religion that's not all that different with the guilt and expectations that I had makes me concerned for her here (though I really can't judge and for all I know, she's fine - the statement you made, Beroli, could indicated differently, though!) I might not care much for this book series, but I don't wish that kind of thing on anyone ever, not even a tiny bit.

I really have a lot that I want to say about this kind of thinking, problematic elements in Twilight and some other MG/YA books I've read recently, and the religious affiliation of the authors, all of which worry and upset me, but this isn't the place. I'd like to find somewhere to have the discussion, though, because I would like someone to show me where I'm wrong in seeing links (the false positive rate via anecdata, you know?). I keep typing up brief intros in response to some of the posts on your blog, Ana, and then deleting because it isn't appropriate, but I don't really have my own blog to go from. :(

Mary Kaye said...

I don't see any reason to *believe* Edward when he says Bella is superlatively beautiful. Edward lies all the time, and even if he isn't lying, the evidence is pretty much against him here. I don't think you could get to Bella's age being that kind of everyone-thinks-you're-gorgeous and not have some inkling of it, and Bella doesn't.

I also doubt that kind of everyone-thinks-you're-gorgeous actually exists. I occasionally see a woman who really turns my head. When I point them out to my husband, his response is invariably "Huh? Really?" He doesn't point his out so much, but I suspect we are mutually blind to each others' preferences in women. (And I kind of doubt either of us would notice Bella. Skinny angsty teenagers, not a hot item for either of us.)

graylor said...

My god, Twilight is so bad it makes the Anita Blake books look good. Anita winds up as the human servant (=mystic mind bond) to a vampire. Said vampire delights in taking her out to eat because he can taste food through her now that she's his servant and he has really missed food over the centuries.

Makabit said...

TW: Weight, weight loss, calorie counting, body issues.

Just going to say that, as a high school teacher, the eating pattern bothers me, and I'm not going to make any bones about it. YES, people have different body types, nutritional needs, etc., but a granola bar, glass of milk and an apple is max about 500 calories, assuming whole milk and some chocolate chips in the granola bar. Dinner is an open question, but somehow I doubt she's eating enough then to offset her daytime intake.

My grandmother ate more than that, and she was a little under Bella's weight (at less than Bella's height) her entire adult life. And she was, from childhood, a famously picky eater, who was the despair of her mother and the doctors. She told my mother once that she always wanted to weigh 115 pounds, which was what 'glamor girls' were supposed to weigh, but she never made it that high until her first pregnancy.

Now remember, Bella's probably not done growing. This is not a petite adult woman, this is a teenager. Granted, she is at the end of her growth years, while the boys are still in the thick of theirs, The healthy ninety pound teenager who doesn't have a big appetite still has a slice of pizza and eats pepperoni off her friend's third slice. Also, despite Bella's every physical and emotional liability being harped on, this is, as far as I can see, not. It's presented as totally normal, when NOTHING about Bella is presented as normal.

This is being presented as a form of virtue, both her weight and her eating habits. And it pisses me off, as I talk to my students about why, "I had some Chia seeds" is not an answer when asked why you and all your friends are not eating any food at lunch time.

(From Ms. Makabit: "Chia seeds are a novelty gift. They are not lunch.")

Rikalous said...

On telepathic plagiarizing: There's a book I read once about a group of kids who get sent to the "this is the only place left that will touch someone as disruptive as you" school because they were unknowingly psychic. One of them lit fires with his mind and had no idea why things kept burning around him, one was precognitive and was always interrupting his teachers because as far as he could tell they were done talking, and so on. The telepathic kid, nicknamed Cheater, got around his problem by rewording the first thing answer that came into his head so it didn't look like the answer the guy two seats down wrote.

Given that Edward can not only do that, but sample from anyone in the class and tell how confident they are in their answers, Suzy in the 5th row probably isn't getting into any trouble. Then again, it's not like the Cullens have a great record as far as secrecy goes.

Jeldaly said...

I love you. A lot. And especially your more acidic posts on, like, everything. And I agree about the new format: when you deconstruct chronologically, the point you're trying to make tends to get diluted by random ramblings (not that we don't enjoy those :P).
I commented! *is proud of self*

Makabit said...



Are there any books or resources out there for fat ladies who are pregnant? I've been hunting, but all I find is stuff like "How to lose the weight after Baby", and "How to feel OK about being Fat for Baby", and the like. I'm looking for something with real health information, advice about managing health care professionals, maybe advice on getting decent maternity clothes...

depizan said...

I don't see any reason to *believe* Edward when he says Bella is superlatively beautiful.

If anything, that makes it worse. Far more plausible, of course, but now, instead of truthfully telling Bella that she turns all men, ever (or at least in the school) into slobbering lust monsters (which, while creepy, might be good to know), he's a) telling her a deeply disturbing lie and b) slandering her fellow students, the male teachers, and any other men in the school.

Yeah, he's clearly the ideal man.

depizan said...

TW: dieting, body issues, eating disorders

I googled Chia seeds and learned things I didn't want to know. D: (Mostly because I'm very disturbed by extreme dieting, since I've known several people with eating disorders.)

Actually, Bella's clumsiness could well be explained by her not eating enough. At least get clumsy (also irritable, headachey and distracted) when I haven't eaten in too long. I'm fairly certain that Meyer didn't intend that interpretation, though.

BaseDeltaZero said...

Sisyphus should be glad he just had to push that boulder

Now I'm imagining a kind of mobius-Twilight. It never ends, it just loops back in on itself in a perpetual cycle of bad writing.

chris the cynic said...

I also doubt that kind of everyone-thinks-you're-gorgeous actually exists.

Based on Meyer's description of why Bella is the (second?) most beautiful girl in Forks yet perfectly average in Phoenix, what Meyer believes that such people do exist, but states that Bella isn't actually one of them. Rather, if I understand Meyer's description correctly, there is an objective ranking in which all (I'm guessing female) human beings can be placed from least beautiful to most beautiful and Bella, while toward the middle of the scale overall, is at/near the local maximum in Forks.

The idea that personal preferences might differ doesn't appear to enter into it.

chris the cynic said...

For the record, I think Suzy in the 5th row will be fine. Edward's not going to be satisfied having merely human results so he's not going to plagiarize from just one person. He's going to take the best answers from the entire class, and the odds that on any given test one person will have enough of the best answers for the reaction to be, "This test looks like Edward Cullen's" seems low.

GeniusLemur said...

But it does dovetail with what we've seen. After all, how many suitors does she have? Despite passively driving them away? How many girls glommed onto her as a new friend? And they all pretty much have to be attracted by her looks, don't they? They certainly aren't attracted to her sparkling personality.

And yet S. Meyer is on record as saying Bella is NOT beautiful. Guess she forgot about it, kind of like she forgot all about the "sub-special-irresistable taste" plot point a couple chapters back when Edward was furious and had her trapped in his car. Meyer's bad enough to be a Hollywood scriptwriter.

Ana Mardoll said...

And this is interesting, because as you note with the use of "second", the Twilight Companion explicitly calls out Lauren as Objectively Prettier. But apparently the boys largely snub Lauren through a combination of Lack of Novelty, Bad Attitude (LOL LOL LOL), and Social Status that they aren't sure, from Day 1, that Bella has.

Amusingly, it occurs to me that Edward doesn't say what, PRECISELY, all the men are thinking. So while the implication seems to be drool-inducing lust, it could be a low-level "helloooo new student" kind of thing.

And it would be interesting if Edward The Telepath's feelings were based in part on EVERYONE around him going full red alert for the Hot Chick, but no, Midnight Sun is determined to undo that facet by insisting that Edward had seen her face going in and determined that she was perfectly ordinary and nothing to get excited about *until* he was hit full in the face with the in-person glamour. Bleh.

GeniusLemur said...

And we all know that ordinary-looking, depressed, colorless, catty, arrogant, rude, judgmental people are renowned the world over for their in-person glamour.

chris the cynic said...

And yet S. Meyer is on record as saying Bella is NOT beautiful. Guess she forgot about it

Actually, no. She remembered, she has an explanation but since this is something that was based on her own real life experience she didn't feel the need to share the explanation in the text (that I know of) presumably on the basis of real life things don't need explanations:
In Scottsdale, surrounded by barbies, I was about a five. In Provo, surrounded by normal people, I was more like an eight. *

She went from not being sought after to getting "dates every weekend with lots of really pretty and intelligent boys" assures us that nothing about her had changed.

This accompanied her transition from high school to college so one might speculate that various things did change, not the least of which being around new people and no longer confined by others existing expectations could allow you to be a different person. It could be that the move away from home, or the fresh start changed things. It could be that she moved into a place with standards of beauty that weren't lower but just different, it could be that amoung an older crowd beauty wasn't the highest priority, it could be that its' easier to ask out a stranger than someone you've known since the age of five, it could be any number of things. But Meyer attributes it solely to how she stacked up against the local competition.

The people in the one town were objectively high ranking barbies. The people in the other town were objectively low ranking normals. And amoung the normals she was considered beautiful where amoung the barbies she had been average. The barbies, those dehumanized drones of the standards objective beauty, didn't cease to exist so she'd still be perfectly average overall, but Provo doesn't function on the overall ranking, it functions on how you rank against other people in Provo. That seems to be the idea at least.

So the idea in Twilight is that Bella is average, but in the provinces, among the "normal" people, average is a pretty high rank such that objective average is provincial beautiful.


*I think there's probably a lot to say about dividing people into "barbies" and "normal people" and the myriad ways that's problematic, but that's not what I'm after here so I'm just going to run with the terminology provided.

GeniusLemur said...

Yes, but- "EVERY human male." "You are the OPPOSITE of ordinary." Between the reaction of every single male in the school and the personal judgement of Edward, who's lived long enough to see every kind of woman and is never wrong, the implication is clear.

chris the cynic said...

"EVERY human male."

Objective scale.

You are the OPPOSITE of ordinary.

She smells really good and is the only person he's met in the 86ish years since he became a vampire whose inane human babbling he cannot hear. She is an enigma, wrapped in a bayblon, inside a one world faith.

Even if he's being honest, he has reasons other than her looks to be saying that.

Edward's perspective, as provided by Meyer, of Bella's first day at school:Today, all thoughts were consumed with the trivial drama of a new addition to the small student body here. It took so little to work them all up. I'd seen the new face repeated in thought after thought from every angle. Just an ordinary human girl. The excitement over her arrival was tiresomely predictable—like flashing a shiny object at a child. Half the sheep-like males were already imagining themselves in love with her, just because she was something new to look at.

Thomas Keyton said...

and (b) he never once seems to acknowledge that she might have a harder time of things than he because of this limitation.

As, in fact, does his entire family, whom he has lived with for over a century and allegedly loves.

What the hell is wrong with him?

What the hell is wrong with him?

What the hell is wrong with him?

When does this enter public domain? I want to live long enough to read/watch Jessica the Vampire Slayer and give the writer all my money.

★☆ keri ☆★ said...

Oh ew ew ew. Is that an actual quote from Midnight Sun, Chris?

I feel so skeeved out by Edward right now (and a little bit by Meyer that she thinks this is a good thing? which totally conflicts with my feeling sympathy for her that she seems to think Bella's misery is normal, as Beroli pointed out yesterday.

chris the cynic said...

Is that an actual quote from Midnight Sun, Chris?

The quote comes straight from Meyer, but yes. It's from an extremely early version of what would eventually become Midnight Sun.

bekabot said...

"In Twilight-verse is Uri Geller a vampire? Inquiring minds wish to know!"

All hucksters are vampires, in both that universe and this one.

JonathanPelikan said...

Hard to really grasp a full and healthy understanding of the human race when you hate it so deeply. Meyers outright says as much, and her hate for humanity really is one of those deeply-held values and opinions that permeates an author's stuff, from the voice of Bella's narration to objective parts of the story.

Sherry Hintze said...


Makabit, it's not a book, but I've gotten a lot of good reading out of The Well-Rounded Mama blog:

On top of the author's own well-researched weight and pregnancy info and analysis, there are links to birth blogs, links to size-acceptance blogs, lists of recommended books - surely something among them will click?

On general fat health/size advocacy, I also like Ragen Chastain's Dances With Fat blog:

It's very good about breaking down articles and studies and advocating for the right of individuals to live in and maintain their bodies in whatever way they choose. "You are the boss of your own underpants." It sometimes comes across a bit militant, I think - which I find easier to take when I remember it's a push back against so many, many messages that being fat is not okay and fat people are not okay, and maybe that needs to be said a bit emphatically for it to sink in.

Maybe not what you're looking for, and that's okay, but maybe worth a look, at least. Hope one of these helps!

Kay said...

I keep forgetting that Carlisle's a doctor. That does make it more sketchy. And for that matter, haven't Edward and Rosalie been to medical school? I guess we could argue that Edward's too close to the situation/ unable to recognize emotion without telepathy, but shouldn't Rosalie notice? Maybe that's why she's so pissed off.

Redwood Rhiadra said...

When does this enter public domain? I want to live long enough to read/watch Jessica the Vampire Slayer and give the writer all my money.

Under current law, 70 years after Ms. Meyer dies. (i.e. probably not in our lifetime)

Under the ACTUAL law, not as long as the Disney Corporation has lobbyists.

ZMiles said...

I like this post.

Especially like the discussions of the ethics of mind reading. I first thought about that when it came up in the Dresden Files (where "you can't read minds; it's evil" is one of the Seven Laws of Magic), and it drew some attention there because it seemed more innocuous than the rest of the Laws. But I think you make good points here about what an invasion of privacy an actual mind reader would be, and what a violation of boundaries that would be.

Smilodon said...

The idea that Edward can't turn off his telepathy made me think of Hitchhiker's Guide - Douglas Adams at least understands that this sounds terrible, not great.

To quote from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Triology of Five

The Belcerebon people used to cause great resementment and insecuity amongst neighouring races by being one of the most enlightened, accomplished, and above all quiet civilizations in the Galaxy.
As punishment for this behaviour, which was held to be offensively self-righteous and provocative, a galatic tribunal inflicted on them the most cruel of all social diseases, telepathy. Consequently, in order to prevent themselves broadcasting every slightest though that crosses their minds to anyone within a five-mile radius, they now have to talk very loudly and continously about the weather, their little aches and pains, the match this afternoon and what a noisy place Kakrafoon has suddenly become.

Isabel C. said...

In fairness, I'd assume that the Should Know Better guys (committed-monogamous, inappropriate position) would still have the thoughts. They just wouldn't act on them, and/or would feel varying degrees of guilt afterwards: "Wow, would you look at that ass--NO NO STUDENT NO NOT GOING THERE LA LA LA LA."

Guest said...

The other thing that I can think of is that Forks is a pretty small town. There were more kids in my high school than there are residents of Forks. There may also be a "someone who isn't a second cousin or closer!" effect...

chris the cynic said...

Forks is a small town , but it's not like Bella is the first immigrant. Mike is from California, Jessica is from Texas. They're not new but they're also probably not related to much of anyone around unless there's even more immigrants from those specific parts of those two states.

Will Wildman said...

I love this post. I also like its format. The text of Twilight itself is awkward enough that I don't feel I'm missing out on a lot with fewer quotes, and I think tackling-by-subject has some advantages (though presumably not all of them) over strict chronology.

Also, whole-chapter-at-a-time does not bother me. Fred Clark has very specifically set out with the thesis that the LB series comprises the Worst Books In The World, and he has elected to demonstrate this by writing entire blog posts on as little as each individual paragraph and all the fail therein. I don't think you've got the same thesis or objectives, so his style doesn't necessarily relate to yours.


TW: Consent and issues thereof

Regarding mind-reading, I think so much depends on how much control Edward personally has over it. I tried to think about why this was, and I ended up with the overall concept of 'immorality requires choice'. So a wizard in the Dresdenverse could be called evil for reading minds, because that requires an action on their part. And if Edward knew that getting vampired would give him telepathy, volunteering for it might have been immoral (though I think it would depend on the circumstances). But as I recall, he didn't have a choice in his vamping, and no one knows what one's VamPower will be prior to transformation, so the morality of telepathy doesn't come into it, as I see it.

So we've got Edward with his mind-reading that he apparently can't turn off. (I assume this because it obviously makes him deeply upset to listen to people's thoughts all the time, so if he can turn it off and doesn't, that's some type of addictive behaviour.) This on its own doesn't seem immoral to me, for the reasons above, because he doesn't have a choice in the matter. Well, strictly speaking, he could choose to move far, far away from the rest of the population, but I'm not sure I'd agree that a mind-reader is horribly immoral if they want to take part in standard human society.* So then we've got an individual hearing thoughts all day, and this absolutely could be immoral - invasion of privacy** being the first thing, but there's also potential to use people's thoughts against them. On the other hand, if said telepath was striding like a model down the corridor and heard the thoughts of some student, deep in depression and feeling isolated and helpless, not saying anything to anyone, I don't think it'd be immoral if they used this information-that-they-shouldn't-have, approached said student, tried to strike up conversation, and start steering them towards things that could help them. Would others think it was?

*Mind y'all, I'm still not sure why the Cullens think they're least-noticeable hanging out in a small town where everyone knows their names and stares at them all day, rather than down on their personal islands forever.

**This again is where choice comes in - 'invasion' is a transitive verb, it requires a thing to be acted upon and changed, but Edward doesn't have to act in order to pick up thoughts; they get broadcasted at him. There isn't really a good analogy for this, because humans tend not to have entire extra senses unbeknownst to everyone else around them.

Will Wildman said...

TW: Invasion of privacy

I'm trying to think of an analogy for secret uncontrollable mindreading powers. We could take it visual - say there's someone who can see in a vastly greater range of the spectrum and so they have Supermanesque 'x-ray vision' and while they can see I am wearing clothes, they can also see my body through them (and my bones and my lungs and the contents of the bookshelf I'm standing in front of). I want to use the phrase 'this disregards consent', except that I'm blaming someone's retinas here - they can't turn it off. The place where consent comes in is whether this person with supervision is looking at me without asking or after I've asked them not to.

Now, that should be easier to solve, because I'm pretty sure there are some engineers out there who would be happy to make a visor that absorbs all light outside the visible spectrum, and I'm pretty sure our enhanced-vision person will easily be able to pay for it after they get a job as the best and fastest MRI-analogue in the world. So are there things Edward could do to cut off his telepathy? Tinfoil hats?

I feel like a lot of the morality of mindreading is easily elided in Twilight because Edward is a frakking horrible person and everyone should be so lucky as to exile him from society, but the same power in the hands of a normal person would seem a lot murkier to me.

Smilodon said...

People in the real world can't read minds, but there are "human-lie detectors" who have the ability to highly effectively read other people. And there's no consent problems there - in my mind, concious prying is wrong, but it is different if someone can't help it (even if it's because of previous training that gave them the skill). I would be furious if someone wiretapped my phone, but we had crossed lines for a while, so I ended up hearing some of my neighbour's conversations, and I didn't think anything of it. And if this is an uncioncious trait, I feel like deliberately handicapping a person because of my discomfort over their abilities is generally wrong.

In Babylon 5 Ivonava's mother was forced to take sleepers to surpress her psychic talents, since the general population didn't trust pyschis. Losing her abilities drove her into a depression. In contrast, it's presented as a good thing when Bestir is forced to take sleepers before he goes on the station, since he's previously proven himself an untrustworthy person who very well might misuse his powers.

depizan said...

Wait, Edward is upset by his mind reading powers? I don't remember that.

I'd also have some doubts about his self-report because he a) uses them to drive (?!) and b) does not appear to do anything in text to save himself from people's thoughts. In fact, he goes out if his way - going to high school repeatedly - to place himself in a situation where he's surrounded by people for hours on end. Also, he fraking uses them - instead of his eyes - to drive! (Sorry, but I just can't get over that.)

If he truly has no choice in the matter, it's different, yes. I'm just not sure he's an example of a mind reader without choice. Anyone have the book handy to double check?

Will Wildman said...

He doesn't identify himself as upset by his powers, to the best of my knowledge, but he hates everyone everywhere and still subjects himself to the full presence of the thoughts of hundreds of teenagers every day, while constantly judging them for it. Under the circumstances, he's feeding himself greater temptations for violence, which he won't follow through on, and therefore putting himself into a permanently stressed and agitated state for no purpose.* I feel confident that a therapist would suggest to him that maybe he should try not reading people's thoughts and see how that affects his psyche.

*Well, there is a purpose - he's watching out for indications that the Cullens have been noticed (@#$%ing OBVIOUSLY because everything they do is basically designed to be super-attention-grabbing) and if anyone suspects they are vampires (no Because Jasper). But that's external to what telepathy does to his attitude, so it doesn't really reflect on my hypothesis that Edward would be happier if he could turn off his mind-reading, ceteris paribus.

redsixwing said...

I like this alot! (It won't let me link the photo, so you'll have to imagine a sketchily-drawn person hugging a giant, fuzzy, disgruntled quadruped.)

Bella REALLY does not deserve Jessica's friendship - which honestly made it all the more touching, to me. (Hey. I may have amused myself throughout these awful books by secretly shipping them. Stop judging me.)

Smilodon said...

Based on my memory of the books - telepathy, like most of the rest of vamperism, is presented as a good thing. I don't think Edward ever tries to turn his powers off, so we don't know if it's possible. Which initially made me think it wasn't, because who would willingly listen to a few hundred high school students' innermost thoughts all day? But, given that Bella is able to turn her power aside enough that Edward can hear her thoughts in Breaking Dawn, Edward probably could stop or at least redirect his power if he really wanted.

Ana Mardoll said...

Yeah, if Ed really can't help his powers, then I'm inclined to give him a pass on the reading. I'm less sold on the sharing though; he tells Bella a lot about what he hears, I think. And he also uses it in conversation to, iirc, disconcert people, so that's.... an issue.

Using it to prevent harm could be interesting. Didn't Mel Gibson do that in "What Women Want"? But I think there's a point there that he'd actually been a terrible boss to someone and was in a position to grow and be a better person. I'm not so sure with a complete stranger.

Will Wildman said...

There's a Canadian TV series called The Listener that involves a paramedic who was uncontrollably telepathic as a child and had to be trained to learn to control it. It pays attention to the morality - he tries not to listen in on people (partly just because if he hears everyone's thoughts it's overwhelming) and in particular, if a friend knows about his telepathy and he hears their thoughts, he tells them and apologises. There are other times when he'll read people secretly, i.e., adventures, like when he's trying to track down a missing person and so will say something provocative to a suspect and then scan their thoughts for the next ten seconds to check if they do recall something they aren't admitting.

(The show is generally not amazing, but the writers aren't daft either. I saw one episode involving transgender youth that was 1) intelligent and progressive, and 2) really just an entertaining hour of TV. I didn't feel like I was watching a Very Special Episode.)

Brin Bellway said...

I like this alot! (It won't let me link the photo, so you'll have to imagine a sketchily-drawn person hugging a giant, fuzzy, disgruntled quadruped.)

Last I checked, you can't embed images, but you can still link to them.

depizan said...

Ah, see I saw the telepathy and the hating everyone as two separate things. That's certainly an interesting hypothesis.

Actually, I'm not sure I read Edward as hating people so much as considering them far beneath him, and vaguely icky. Which isn't an improvement. Unless one considers "Oh, I don't hate you, I just consider you a cockroach" to be an improvement.

Have I mentioned I don't like Edward?

chris the cynic said...

I think that for Edith she can't turn it off, but a lot of the time it all runs together into an incomprehensible background noise she's familiar with. It's like people are speaking their thoughts out loud (or holographically projecting them as the case may be.) She's become good at filtering so that certain things will stand out even if she's not paying attention because she doesn't want someone to be hurt just because she wasn't listening. It's sort of like that thing that they tell you about confidentiality not applying in the case of immediate harm to others or yourself.

As a result, most of what she actually hears are thoughts that raise to the level of shouting. Like you weren't trying to eavesdrop in the cafeteria, but the person was speaking so loudly you couldn't help it.

And possibly there's occasional diagnosis going on which violates all kinds of consent, but she justifies it to herself on the basis that if the person being diagnosed could hear other people's thoughts they'd know to go to the nurse and from the nurse to psychiatric help. Yes, she'll try to cheer up depressed kid, but a lot of the time her ultimate goal in that it to steer a person toward the medical attention they need so that their mental wellbeing does not hinge on a psychic vampire knowing they need help right now.

Edith tries to go on a basis of minimum intrusion while still keeping her hands clean of, "You could have stopped [horrible thing]."

And, as mentioned previously most of her dealing with horrible things is in tandem with Jasmine the the traditional operation going:
separate the parties
hit the offending party with enough guilt that they'll realize what they almost did was very wrong.

Or, in the case of self harm:
hit the person with relief that they didn't go through with it.

In either case monitor all parties closely afterward. It's not enough to just be present at the crisis, follow up visits are necessary to make sure things actually were fixed.

There is recognition that this is probably not morally ideal, but it's what works for Edith (and Jasmine.)

Oh, and Edith would never reveal someone's thoughts to someone else outside of immanent danger of harm.


Ben: "What's he thinking?"
Edith: "Why don't you ask him?"

chris the cynic said...

For unknown reasons this popped into my head this morning:

Bella ends up with an SUV that can withstand a freaking missile attack.

I roll to disbelieve.

Clearly what happened is that the chameleon circuit on her truck was unintentionally activated and made it look like an SUV and all of the scenes with the SUV are like if there were scenes where the TARDIS is accidentally stuck in the form of a refrigerator box. The Doctor might not appear to be upset, and he might go on with his life, but you know that on the inside he's desperately trying to figure out how to turn the TARDIS' exterior back into a blue box, because every second that goes by while it's a cardboard refrigerator box instead of a wooden police box is bringing him that much closer to losing his cool.

Silver Adept said...

Or worse, some six year-old kid and his quantum-locked tiger companion will figure out how to open the box top and go gallivanting of to the realm of the dinosaurs.

Cupcakedoll said...

Something in this post reminded me of Edith and Ben, what was it... oh yes, comment by Sherry Hintze up there, something about 'every human male" = "every heterosexual human male of appropriate age - and maybe some who aren't of appropriate age - and also every homosexual and bisexual female, again within the correct age range" That great amount of precision sounds Edithish, except I don't think Ben is supposed to be so handsome he turns all heads. In my mind he looks pretty average.

This then segued in my mind into "...and every gay or bisexual male of appropriate age, also one teacher but Jasmine and I are keeping an eye on her." And that led to me wondering how they'd tell the police about the evildoers they discover which led me to imagine the vamps using Jasper's power to give Chief Swann or one of his officers a lovely warm feeling every time he looks in a certain hollow stump and an even lovelier feeling whenever he acts on the notes he finds there. Clicker-training by vamp powers.

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little said...

When does this enter public domain? I want to live long enough to read/watch Jessica the Vampire Slayer and give the writer all my money.

Will this do, for now?

Team Human: Friends don't let friends date vampires.

I've heard the authors describe it as beginning with the idea, "What if Twilight were told from Jessica's point of view?"

Also, in looking it up to provide y'all with the link, I discovered IT'S OUT NOW I MUST RUN DOWN THE STREET TO THE NEAREST BOOKSTORE AND PICK IT UP IMMEDIATELY. So thank you!

Brin Bellway said...

*reads excerpt*

...yes. Brilliant.

*looks at ebook* *looks at shiny new online-capable debit card*

I suppose I should probably finish the previous ebook first. But this one looks awesome.

chris the cynic said...

"What if Twilight were told from Jessica's point of view?"

Well there goes that idea. More seriously I'm glad that someone did it because the odds of me getting around to it were always going to be running from slim to none. Been thinking about it since the copyright thread at Slacktiverse, haven't written a word yet. (Jessica the angry vampire doesn't count.)

Ice said...

Also, apparently, he's from Chicago, so he is totally related to the Left Behind crowd somehow. What else could explain the similarities?

Oh, man I would love to read this crossover fanfiction*... Well, not really, what I mean is that I would love for people who are more talented and awesome than me** to deconstruct the amazing levels of fail that would be involved with a piece of fiction like that...

* I'm thinking Edward is the great-grand-uncle of Rayford Steele, and the smugitude was so strong in him that it was passed down as a genetic trait even though Edward didn't actually procreate***.

** Seriously, Ana, your deconstructions are right on par with Fred Clark's LB deconstructions for awesomesauce and general wonderfulness.

*** Wait, would that make Renesmee Rayford's great aunt? Nomenclature for relatives that are that distant was always pretty confusing for me...

Ice said...

I haven't googled Chia seeds yet. I'm just assuming that they are the beginnings of Chia pets.

*googles Chia seeds*

Oh man, I wish I had never heard of Chia seeds. "Gelling action fills you up". What?

Serioiusly, what?

Laiima said...

If I drew my diagram correctly, I think Renesmee would be Rayford's 1st cousin-2x removed.

I have a first cousin, E, and she has 1 son. If I had kids, my kids and E's son would be second cousins to each other. If I had grandkids, and E had grandkids (which she does), those people would be 3rd cousins to each other. And so on.

I actually have 23 first cousins (including E); 13 of them have kids of their own, and 2 have grandkids. Since I myself don't have kids, I'm on a different 'level' if I compare myself to my 1st cousins' kids and grandkids, which is how terms like '1x-removed' or '2x-removed' enter the picture.

So, E is my first cousin because her father and my father were brothers. E's son (also E) is my first cousin, 1x removed. E's son, K, is my first cousin, 2x-removed.

If Renesmee is equivalent to me, then Rayford is equivalent to K, which means they are 1st cousins, 2x-removed to each other.

Laiima said...

I bought some Chia seeds months ago because supposedly they add a lot of fiber to your diet. Unfortunately, they taste horrible, so a tiny handful is all I ever ate of them. Sounds like that worked out for the best.

Ice said...

I am so terribly impressed that you were able to explain that in such a way that it didn't make my head hurt! Once you get into removed cousins and such, it gets terribly confusing for me.

The fact that we now have a better idea of how Rayford and Edward (members of the Smuggest Gene Pool in the World) are related to each other just makes me happy!

Laiima said...

I repeatedly revised my explanation to make it as clear as I could - I'm glad you found value in it. Yay, genealogy!

Ice said...

I have 40-something first cousins, and who even knows how many second cousins, removed cousins, etc... Let me put it this way: in my family, we are all just cousins, ish.
So it is unusual indeed that I would ever say this, but YAY GENEOLOGY!

Laiima said...

Oh, I agree. I actually personally use 'cousin' to refer to anyone I'm related to in any capacity that I really like. Spouse's uncle-by-marriage, who's my favorite of his relatives? Cousin L. A third cousin of mine, living in Australia, whom I've only met in person once? Cousin Y. Most of my first cousins, whom I don't really know, and don't much like? Well, *technically* they are indeed my cousins, but generally I would just call them by their names. (That is, I'm not drawing attention to how, to me, they're *not* 'Cousin Marty', because I really like him; instead, they're just 'Marty', whom I happen to be related to.)

The day I realized that my brother's then-girlfriend (whom I really liked) was somehow/distantly related to Spouse's uncle-by-marriage, who's my favorite of his relatives? One of the happiest days of my (genealogy-tinged) life. Sadly, my brother broke up with her, and although she and I stayed friends for a while, eventually we had a falling out. I still think of her as Cousin T though.

Wogglebug said...

Makabit, I advise starting with the Well-Rounded Mama at Good luck!

Timothy (TRiG) said...

I'm naturally thin, have a hearty appetite, and find it very easy to skip meals if I'm doing something interesting, like reading the Internet.

Speaking of which *checks time* *goes to get a take away*



Timothy (TRiG) said...

So Shakesville has some strange setup which allows only direct Disqus login, not login to Disqus through OpenID. So opening Shakesville in one tab immediately logs you out of Disqus in all other tabs. What the hell?


depizan said...

If only Bella was depicted as being interested in something. Besides Edward - though I still maintain that it's difficult to tell if it's interested-and-forgot-to-eat or so-stressed-can't-eat with him. Which is a terribly important distinction. Though it really reads more like Bella doesn't care about food, which will make her a great vampire, but is kinda strange in a human. (Not that there aren't people who don't care about food, of course, but, I don't know, Bella just

Timothy (TRiG) said...

And besides, no matter how interested I was in something, I'd still eat if the food was already right there in front of me.

You're right. It does read as if Bella just couldn't be bothered to eat. Who needs food anyway?

I did know a guy who claimed to not enjoy food, and who said he ate just to fuel his body. But even so, he did eat.


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