Entering the home stretch with BD part 2 coming out soon.

First of all, I noticed fewer comments last article. I’m guessing many took my promise of this book as a threat. So… I guess I’ll send it to whoever comments the LEAST on these. Oh yes, I know who you are. Especially you, Jason. And Sara, I’ll find you too.

Anyway, to speed things up, let’s look at two chapters at once.

15. Bella’s Vampire Semiotics

This chapter discusses the principles of semiotics and uses incidents in Twilight as teaching examples of these principles.

It’s… it is actual philosophy and using a subject matter for actual teaching. I… I don’t know what to do; this is good! How did the editors let this slip by? Really, here’s the close of the chapter:

[Charles] Peirce would never want us to accept his theory blindly – he would want us to test it.

So try it out. Test it. I provided three examples here from Twilight. … But there are three other books. Take a scene where Bella is discovering or learning and try to determine whether it fits the pattern of icons, index, and symbol.

See? Ok yes, it is annoying that this essay is taken exclusively from the first book and yet they decided to stick it in the “Breaking Dawn” section but… they don’t ram anything down our throats. They don’t even really endorse or praise Twilight, instead just using a commonly recognized feature of our culture to give us a frame of reference for the philosophy taught. It’s the standard by which all of these pop culture and philosophy books should be judged. I’m going into critic limbo! My world is adrift! I’m lost! Confused! Help! I I need something to criticize!

Bella considers the using cold medicine as a sedative to be a wanton misuse of drugs. By contrast, Peirce regularly used morphine, ether, opium, and cocaine (all legal at the time) to combat his various mental conditions, such as manic-depressive disorder. … Throughout his life, Peirce had a difficult time conforming to conventional morality; and during the stuffy Victorian age, his reputation for “immorality” got him into trouble time and again.

Ah, there we go. It’s a minor nitpick but how stuffy could the Victorian age be when they had more legal drugs than we do now? That… seems like a weird juxtaposition.

Imagine it: if the whole book had been up to this essay’s standards, I would have ended up recommending it.

16. Space, Time and Vampire Ontology

Now THIS chapter… this chapter… It shows what happens when you stretch a premise too far and try to make a square peg fit into a round hole. It’s primarily focused on Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and its contribution to ontology, the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of being or existence. Fair enough, I even found the explanation of a priori vs. a posteriori knowledge useful. Off to a good start. Then we get things like…

Staying out of the sun is a self-imposed limitation (although one that’s enforced by the Volturi). It isn’t an ontological limitation. Thus, the vampires in Twilight are much more atemporal beings than Dracula-vampires. Could the absence of external time restraints explain their ageless quality?

Alright class, who noticed what the author forgot?

One at a time please.

Vampires. Have. To feed.

Which means, that vampires are very much still ontologically temporal, they have external time restraints. How do you miss something this basic?

Not only time but space is practically irrelevant for the vampires in Twilight. Supernatural speed enables vampires to traverse great distances very quickly. Because they don’t need to breathe, they are excellent swimmers. And their incredible strength allows them to jump over (or move) any obstacle in their way. As a human, Bella is limited in terms of space; it takes her a long time to travel great distances by foot. Edward, by contrast, is able to travel short distances in the blink of an eye. … External space is compressed to the point of irrelevance.

Oh, by missing lots of basic facts. So if external space is irrelevant, then would there be any concern for Alice to reach Italy in time to save Edward in New Moon? Wouldn’t it be pointless to “lure the tracker away” in the climax of Twilight? This doesn’t make any sense. Heck, light is so fast it’s near instantaneous on earth, but that doesn’t make space “irrelevant” to light. On the contrary, the greater distances of space are what prove that light is confined to the laws of space like anything else. Including vampires! Now you might say that the speed of vampires give them a wider personal space than normal humans, but not that external space is irrelevant.

Alice’s ability to see the future is bound up with space and time. When Alice sees a possible future event, two things are occurring. First, she is seeing a future event in the present, which means she is experiencing the future as overlapping with the present. Time is being collapsed such that the time period between present and future is eliminated.

No more than seeing a video of another land on my TV “collapses” space and overlaps my living room with Iraq. Or that watching historical footage eliminates the time period between present and past. For all we know (and how much they’re explained), Alice sees the future the same way we see the past: via some sort of medium. If the future and present were overlapping/collapsing, then when the future event arrives that Alice “saw” she should “freeze up” and/or act out the same actions she did previously as her past & future selves “sync” for a moment. (trust me, I got a degree at Trek U) (Although that would have been funny if, during the fight with James, she suddenly had to start drawing the dance studio she earlier sketched.) Again, there is a fine line between seeing something and experiencing it. We’re told very clearly that Alice sees the future, not that she experiences it.

And yes, the author wants to bring up Edward & Aro and make the same claims about their powers, that they collapse space and time. However the conclusion:

Since the past, present, and future are meaningless in the face of eternity, and space does not present an obstacle, we have a good clue here for understanding vampire ontology: they do not exist in space and time in the same way that we do.

Except… the vampires aren’t all alike. If time is meaningless, the Alice shouldn’t be the only one to see the future. If space is meaningless, then Edward shouldn’t be described as the “fastest” Cullen. They wouldn’t need to eat. Vampires do occupy space and time like everything else! THIS IS A BAD WAY TO TEACH ONTOLOGY!

Know what’s a good way? TV Tropes.

Then…

But perhaps the problems that Bella encounters because of the dangers vampires like James and Victoria pose are just manifestations of a deeper problem – namely, the conflict between Bella’s imposition of Kantian space and time with Edward’s suspension of it.

Yep, they bring the pregnancy into this.

Once Bella becomes pregnant, however, the conflict between Edward’s suspending Kantian world and Bella’s world is no longer superficial. Her pregnancy creates a direct physical, biological, and ontological conflict between the world of humans and the world of vampires, threatening her life. If Bella has the child, she will likely die. Sadly, humans and vampires appear incompatible, at least at first.

Does anyone else see how the above is self-contradicting? 1) If humans and meyerpires are incompatible, then pregnancy shouldn’t have resulted at all. 2) pregnancy is very temporal, there is a beginning, middle and end. A lot of human cultural metaphors about time involve birth. Heck, some additional proof of vampire atemporality would be that female vampires don’t get pregnant. If Edward does not exist in time as humans do, then his sperm cannot induce pregnancy because it’s impossible for them to “intersect” the egg. 3) For the baby to grow at all she must occupy time, the speed of her growth does not negate the fact that she grows (any more than that a mayfly’s life span is a day means they are outside time).

How did I end up knowing more about Twilight than these fans? What is wrong with me?? While I take my meds, let’s close out the chapter:

As we have seen, if the ontology of vampires involves the suspension of Kantian space and time, humans are at a significant disadvantage. And it turns out Bella was right to insist on becoming a vampire!

Yes, the author just praised Bella’s decision because it makes Bella better. That’s just… No, 2 more chapters to go, let’s just move on.

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Comment

  1. lilyWhite on 10 November 2012, 20:18 said:

    It shows what happens when you stretch a premise too far and try to make a square peg fit into a round hole.

    Nah, Chapter 16 is totally trying to fit a square pig into a round hole.

    (And it’s not the only chapter that deserves to be likened to Maradonia.)

  2. Soupnazi on 10 November 2012, 20:29 said:

    How do what is…

    Bleh bleh! I can’t even read the quotes you provide. They’re just so bizarrely nonsensical.

  3. Brendan Rizzo on 10 November 2012, 20:39 said:

    What the hell is this? Is this a philosophy text using Twilight to provide its examples? There must be some mistake; there is no way something like this can be real.

  4. Pryotra on 10 November 2012, 23:26 said:

    Bella considers the using cold medicine as a sedative to be a wanton misuse of drugs.

    Live dangerously. Take NyQuil even when you don’t need it.

    It’s a minor nitpick but how stuffy could the Victorian age be when they had more legal drugs than we do now?

    They also had porn. I’d say that the author is thinking about the stereotype of the Victorian age without really considering very much about the reality. While there were teetotalers and puritans, there were also plenty of people who weren’t. Rather like any time.

    How did I end up knowing more about Twilight than these fans?

    Hm…probably because you actually thought about it. Rather than the usual fan who just got caught up in the emotions of the moment and never actually thought during the entire thing.

    This whole book sounds like a massive headache. Nothing that the author says really makes any sense, the work itself is contradicting her (I’m assuming it’s a her.) and it feels that like the author’s just trying to justify reading it and saying ‘Oh, Oh, lookie here, this is a smart book.’

    And you know…meyerpires are frozen in the mentality that they’re killed in, but it’s not that they’re outside of time or anything like that. They’re in time but unable to move with it. And since Edward can only read surface thoughts (the thoughts that a person is having at the time) and Aro can only read the thoughts of a person up until the time he touched them, both powers are limited by time…

    And now I sound like I know more about this stupid series than most fans do…

  5. Nate Winchester on 10 November 2012, 23:33 said:

    This whole book sounds like a massive headache. Nothing that the author says really makes any sense, the work itself is contradicting her (I’m assuming it’s a her.) and it feels that like the author’s just trying to justify reading it and saying ‘Oh, Oh, lookie here, this is a smart book.’

    Well to be fair there are several authors in this book grouped together. Some are better than others. (like chapter 15) Only one that I’ve seen has written two chapters.

    You should look at some of my archives for some real train wrecks. ;) Wait till you see the feminism chapter.

  6. Finn on 11 November 2012, 00:03 said:

    Not only do SMeyerpires need to feed, they can also, as hard as it is, be killed by physical means.
    At least I now know what Ontological Inertia is now :D

  7. Taku on 11 November 2012, 03:19 said:

    You should look at some of my archives for some real train wrecks.

    How many chapters are there left? Have we had one about Post-Colonialism and the Native American werewolves?

  8. Pryotra on 11 November 2012, 15:23 said:

    Wait till you see the feminism chapter.

    headdesk

    Twilight and feminism do not belong in the same sentence together unless there’s an ‘isn’t’ involved.

    How many chapters are there left? Have we had one about Post-Colonialism and the Native American werewolves?

    How about one where we discuss how enlightened Meyer was for taking a real tribe with real beliefs and a real cosmology and just bastardizing it so that it can be shoehorned into her little fetish fest.

  9. Nate Winchester on 11 November 2012, 15:32 said:

    There are 2 chapters left.

    Have we had one about Post-Colonialism and the Native American werewolves?

    Well there’s sort of this one. One of the remaining 2 might have something, but remember, I’m doing this blind as we go. ;-)

    Twilight and feminism do not belong in the same sentence together unless there’s an ‘isn’t’ involved.

    Oh Pryota, if I didn’t like you, I’d so link some of the archives here just to watch your brain shatter.

  10. Pryotra on 11 November 2012, 16:21 said:

    Oh Pryota, if I didn’t like you, I’d so link some of the archives here just to watch your brain shatter.

    My brain is shatterproof. I’ve read Hush Hush.

    I’ve also read the archives just now. Thank you for being the only other person that I’ve even met that thought that Imprinting=brainwashing=slavery.

    Thought the very thought of Bella Swan the feminist model did made my head hurt.

  11. swenson on 11 November 2012, 18:07 said:

    I would just like to say that Nate made me read the chapter on feminism, and I haven’t forgiven him yet. Nor will I.

    There must be some mistake; there is no way something like this can be real.

    Much to my dismay, I’ve seen scans from it. It’s real.

    [The Victorian era] also had porn.

    Very dirty porn. Very very dirty porn.

    On the topic of the article itself: I can’t really say much about the first chapter. That’s about as good as philosophy about Twilight can get—examination of the book on a structural level, not using it as some guide to life. And it’s true that Twilight, like every other piece of writing (or creation in general) can certainly be analyzed on a semiotic level. So… pretty good job on that one!

    The second chapter, however, reads like the author learned what “ontological” meant, thought it sounded cool, and made up a conclusion that they then tried to find evidence for, rather than actually analyzing the book and drawing conclusions from that.

    What kind of people wrote these essays, by the way? Are they legitimate writers and critics and philosophy types, or are they just random people picked off the street?

  12. Asahel on 12 November 2012, 00:04 said:

    Are they legitimate writers and critics and philosophy types, or are they just random people picked off the street?

    They’re college students who signed a waiver so that their philosophy professor could use their assignment essays.

    Nah, I’m just kidding, but wouldn’t that be funny?

  13. Taku on 12 November 2012, 04:00 said:

    Are they legitimate writers and critics and philosophy types, or are they just random people picked off the street?

    If they were legitimate critics, they wouldn’t be writing in favour of Twilight.

  14. Epke on 12 November 2012, 08:07 said:

    Because they don’t need to breathe, they are excellent swimmers

    No: being able to hold your breath for longer periods of time is an advantage, but it doesn’t make you a good swimmer. Aerodynamics, technique, strength, training, talent… these things make you a good swimmer. If anything, not breathing makes them good at exploring the world beneath the waves, but they could all be as efficient as a rock when it comes to actual swimming.

    Alice’s ability to see the future is bound up with space and time. When Alice sees a possible future event, two things are occurring. First, she is seeing a future event in the present, which means she is experiencing the future as overlapping with the present. Time is being collapsed such that the time period between present and future is eliminated.

    Oh, yes, Alice’s ability. As explained by Meyer, her Sight is based on decisions people make: someone decides to eat a bagel and Alice sees him/her choke on it. Easy enough, if it weren’t for the fact that her ability is riddled with holes: the weather doesn’t make decisions, so how can she predict it (unless it’s the same glowering sky mentioned in Twilight, then it may in fact have a personality)? Why couldn’t she see what James (and later Bella) were up to, despite focusing on them so much? James had already decided his plan of action and Bella had mulled it over for hours, knowing full well what choices she’d make. How could she not foresee Bella’s papercut in New Moon: I mean, she did wrap the present and made the decision to use the Wrapping Paper of Certain Death.

    And it turns out Bella was right to insist on becoming a vampire!

    Yes, because sacrificing your humanity to become a blood-sucking monster who views humans as inferior and themselves as above the law (not kidding, Meyer said this herself) and morality of the cattle-like human herd is just the right thing to do. Never mind it that she wanted to become a vampire to become beautiful and immortal so she’d never have to deal with ageing or supposedly lose Edward. I don’t think she cared about it at all before she met him, but when she saw what he had (the money, the clothes, the beauty, the immortality), she went “Want! Want!” and hasn’t looked back since. God, and her comment about how Edward’s little rebellion when he went off and killed hundreds of people who he “knew” were evil (surface thoughts, you twerp!): “I guess it sounds… reasonable.” Reasonable? You little-

    Uh, it seems that the authors are the same as the editors: Rebecca Housel, J. Jeremy Wisnewski and William Irwin. They’re a former, assistant and current professors respectively.

  15. Brendan Rizzo on 12 November 2012, 20:12 said:

    If these people are professors, then our education system is doomed.

  16. Pryotra on 12 November 2012, 20:15 said:

    But they’re also Twilight fans. I think that a fan’s IQ drops by about twenty points when talking about it. For all we know, these guys could be perfectly lucid on another subject.

  17. Shy on 13 November 2012, 09:45 said:

    On Star Trek there is a term called ‘technobabble.’ Basically it’s when they turn technology and science into magic. They have a situation, they want to explain it without really explaining it, so they throw in a bunch of random, scientific terms in a way that sounds smart, but isn’t really.

    I feel as if this writer has basically done the equivalent with philosophy.

    ‘Kantian’, really? Please tell me that the writer isn’t trying to use Kant as one of their BS philosobabble bingo words. By Kant’s categorical imperative, the Meyerpyres and their actions would be considered immoral anyway.

  18. Nate Winchester on 14 November 2012, 17:12 said:

    Aaaaaand it looks like my efforts to get it all done before release have failed on account of me losing the book. (how did that happen? he asked in an effort to throw off Freud)

    Look for the series to conclude next week so I have something to be grateful for at thanksgiving.