Freud once claimed that love and death mark the driving forces of human existence. Having fallen in love with the undead of Twilight, we might well say the same thing about this vampire tale.

Such begins the introduction titled “undead wisdom” (the plethora of jokes to be made from that title, I leave you to capable commentators). While I might disagree with Freud about a lot of things, I cannot argue with him on this. Much (if not most) of human art, culture and more cannot be understood without a context of death and love. As the authors go on to point out in the introduction, death is our ever-vigilant, ever-present foe. One which we are powerless against, save for one weapon: love. The Christian Bible itself could be summed up in one sentence as: “Love conquered death.”

Which brings us to the obvious question: What does any of this have to do with Twilight? 67.3% of this very website is devoted to disputing that there’s any love in Twilight. And save for that of taste and literature, death seems to be missing as well. Ok, ok – maybe the “vampires” are supposed to be dead. If we’re going to argue over semantics with a philosophy book, we’ll never make it past the first page before the zombie rise.

The Twilight books confront love and death, and so much more, in a way that facilitates a strange recognition – that the dead are indeed wise, and that they are sometimes wise in matters of the heart, even when that heart doesn’t beat.

I’m sorry, but no, the series does not “confront” anything more than carnal desire. And from what little I’ve read and absorbed from cultural osmosis, there’s not a wise being to be found in any of the books. In wanting to avoid eating humans, the Cullens live among them. That’s like a family of recovering alcoholics taking up jobs in a brewery. Hell, Carlise works in a hospital (a very bloody place). And the stupidity of Bella need not be repeated. If we’re making stuff up on the fly, let me tell you kids about the time I fought a clan of ninjas and how from that we can learn the importance of dental hygiene.

The following two paragraphs give some general overviews of Death & Love. Not much to argue about there and, if you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re familiar with the basics.

In the world of Twilight, death is not inevitable, and the purest form of love seems to have been found. …blah blah stuff about the human condition.

The Twilight saga is full of love and death, as well as a host of other topics central to the way we understand ourselves and navigate the world.

This part just bugs me. No, the purest form of love hasn’t been found and the saga is not full of love. It is full of Eros. Wait, I’m getting blank stares. Let me explain.

One of C.S. Lewis’ best and most philosophical works is the book, The Four Loves. In it he describes… well you can guess. The four loves he defines are affection (like parents to children), friendship, eros (romantics love, sex), and charity (perhaps best defined as: concern for others). Now, how many of the previous four are actually examined in the series? We see glimpses that Bella’s parents love her and she’s said to have friends, but are these really any more than informed attributes? Is the love between Bella and Edward ever anything but eros (whereas the truly most epic romances usually demonstrate all four loves between the two principles)?

This book aims to help you with just that, asking such questions as: What is the nature of love? Is death something to be feared? How should feminists react to Bella Swan? Is there a moral obligation to be vegetarian? What is it like to experience the world as a vampire? What does it mean to be a person? How free are we?

Wait… what’s that? Dare I hope? Dare I… believe that this book might accept, even address certain “anti” claims? Oh you are cunning bastards you are. Now I must read through to see where the authors dare tread.

Forks, Washington, is a small town; unfortunately, minds can be very small places, too. But philosophy has a way of opening up both…

I’m reminded of the bumper sticker, “Beware opening your mind too much less it falls out.” The principle being-

…It allows us to see what we hadn’t seen before and allows us to explore issues we might not otherwise explore. Only literature rivals philosophy in this capacity, making our examination of the Twilight saga the perfect place for literature and philosophy to meet.

-that you can be led into believing anything. And if you asked me, I’ll take literature (even bad literature) over philosophy. At least the former gives you some support for your suspending of disbelief. No offense philosophy fans, but let’s see if the rest of the book changes my mind.

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Comment

  1. Danielle on 11 March 2010, 15:20 said:

    That’s like a family of recovering alcoholics taking up jobs in a brewery.

    Heh. Kind of like my extended family—one of my uncles is an alcoholic, and last I heard he was working in a pub. Funny how it seemed smart when Carlisle did it.

  2. NeuroticPlatypus on 11 March 2010, 18:58 said:

    It allows us to see what we hadn’t seen before
    and allows us to explore issues we might not otherwise explore.

    (S)he made a rhyme!

    Anyway, good article, Nate.

  3. Penny on 11 March 2010, 19:22 said:

    Huh. I see the Twilight series as not really dealing with the subject of death at all. In Twilight, undeath seems to equal blissful immortality with a lot of material gain thrown in, at least where Bella and the Cullens are concerned. There’s really no depth whatsoever . . . but hey, we all know that already.

  4. LucyWannabe on 11 March 2010, 20:01 said:

    Ohhh, can’t wait to see where this goes. Will it be a trainwreck? Only time will tell.

  5. Tolly on 13 March 2010, 08:08 said:

    Lucy – If it turns out to NOT be a trainwreck, I hereby vow before whichever diety you prefer, I will eat my philosophy textbooks.

  6. Artimaeus on 13 March 2010, 11:18 said:

    I’ve never been a big fan of C.S. Lewis’s philosophy, but I’d have to disagree that that only romantic love is embodied by the protagonists. Yes, Bella is pretty much all Eros. Her love is based on how strong/gorgeous/perfect he is. But with Edward, I got the impression that Meyer was trying to make it seem like he was battling his carnal, romantic desire (symbolized by bloodlust) for the sake of a different “more pure” type of love, like parental affection of charity of sorts (lots of people have compared Edward to a protective father, Freud help us). His MO is something along the lines of, “I’m going to stalk to keep you safe every second of every day, but I’m not trying to get into your pants.”

  7. LordFeanor on 14 March 2010, 16:45 said:

    I’m glad that you like Lewis (Lewis is truly awesome). And I’m glad you have many disagreements with Freud, he was as crummy a philosopher as Ms. Meyer is a writer.

    I think the sort of love that Bella and Edward apparently show in Twilight is only “skin deep”. It’s not even really love, it’s lust. Bella is “special” and Edward is “hot” (???). And as for death, the Vampires are “undead” aren’t they? It’s not about death, it’s about not dying. I’m assuming I’m not the only one who didn’t throw the book across the room because Bella didn’t die, even though she should have. Bella DOESN’T DIE, which is a big reason why the book is so incredibly irritating. Why on earth can’t her heart literally stop beating every time she says it does? I feel rooked.

  8. Steph (what is left) on 15 March 2010, 22:25 said:

    67.3% of this very website is devoted to disputing that there’s any love in Twilight.

    By a staggering coincidence, that is also the amount of statistics that are made up on the spot.

    No offense philosophy fans, but let’s see if the rest of the book changes my mind.

    Um. I’m not holding my breath.

    But I am holding my breath for the rest of the series. I can’t wait!