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The Road to Atheism Pt. 2: The Questioning (Part 2…I guess)

February 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Let’s just face it, religion doesn’t tolerate a lot of questioning. I don’t care how open the religion is, or how much a person may think their priest, Rabbi, Imam, Abbot, etc. is really cool there is always a certain line that cannot be crossed. There has to be, because if that line can be crossed the whole thing falls apart. For a Muslim, you can’t question whether or not Mohammed is the true Prophet, a Mormon can’t really ask if there were really Golden Tablets, a Buddhist can’t question the divinity of the Bhudda. These are the core essences of each respective faith, you either accept these or you don’t. If you don’t you can’t really be held as a member of that faith.

I mentioned last post, and throughout the history of this blog, that I was raised Catholic. I also attended Catholic school. Part of that education was attending religion classes, that weren’t really religion classes. More accurately they ought to be titled, “Catholicism: History and Doctrine.” I want to be perfectly clear here, I’m not knocking them for this, it’s their school they have every right to teach their lessons along with their beliefs. However, in these classes, there are some odd lessons that didn’t serve to help me in my devotion to the religion.

Catholicism being a branch of Christianity, most people reading this ought to be familiar with. If you aren’t learn something, it’s the largest religion in the world knowing something about it, like knowing some Chinese history, is just important. The basic story, amongst all of the branches of Christendom is the same. You have the first sin, that of disobedience by Adam and Eve in the Garden then thousands of years go by, God who apparently tires of the sin decides to send down Jesus, his son, who is crucified under dubious pretenses to cleanse the world of that sin. Three days later he is alive again and then some time after that (specifics vary) he ascends back to heaven.

That’s the basic, Christians will have to excuse me for being glib, I’m just not going to go through the entire bible for this blog. Believing in that thread thin story will make you a Christian, you can go further than that of course–Mormons tack on some more to the story. However that is the basic of the Christian belief. Catholics believe in that and more. You’ve got to accept the supremacy and infallibility of the Pope, the rule of the Vatican, the Mystery of the Trinity, Transubstantiation, etc. I limited that list to those four things because those were the four that I could never accept even as a kid.

Not to say I was some super genius who could see through the story or anything like that. As I said last post, I was a believer. Sure bread turns to meat, wine to blood, that makes perfect sense. After first Communion I thought I had done something special, people were so happy and proud that I couldn’t help feeling the same. Those feelings overroad the nagging doubt that I had in the back of my brain.

Perhaps my atheism is a result of weakness. I know about ten people who will clap their hands in joy of that speculation…on the other hand I know about ten others who need to pick up their jaws and wipe the coffee off the table and floor as well. Let me explain, I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t overcome the feeling that I was lying to myself about the so-called mysteries. Accepting them whole-heatedly wasn’t something that I could do, but I really wanted to, there was always the block in my brain. The wall that could not be overcome, that of what I knew first versus what I was supposed to believe.

Ironically it was the religion classes that caused this. They had the opposite of their intended effect. To argue from analogy: if you had a friend who always talked about his skill in fixing computers but could never explain how he was able to do it, you would begin to think that perhaps he was lying. Or more accutely, if this friend only explained his fixing of computers by likening it to tightening a bolt you would probably not accept his skill. The same went for me.

One of the first “Mysteries” of the Catholic religion is that of the Trinity. The Trinity, bearing a suspicious resemblence to the Roman Triumverate, is that the Universe is rules by God which has three parts but is really one. There is the Father which is the Old Testament Creater God, the Son as Jesus, and the Spirit which shows up in the Bible from time to time plays an important but minor role. These three are not individuals because they exist as one, but are also not merely parts of a whole. They are the whole and they are one. It’s a divinity thing, all religions have one of these things.

As a kid I just used to think of it as a triangle, which to this day I don’t get why that isn’t the symbol of the church. You have three points and one shape, take away one of the points and its no longer a triangle, and the triangle cannot exist without all of the points. I was always told that this was the wrong interpretation. If I remember correctly, we are going to back several years, it’s because the corners of a triangle cannot exist independently. Now, I would merely toss the law of non-contradiction at one of the teachers explaining that a thing cannot not be and be at the same time, even William of Okham (a monk) believed that god couldn’t violate that law. As a youngster we were just told to accept the mystery and move on.

Getting older, they correctly realized that the, “be quiet and nod your head” explanation wouldn’t float anymore. So in one grade, it had to be later than sixth but earlier than my freshman year in high school, the water metaphor was used. For my part, I never accepted the water metaphor on scientific grounds. Again, not that I was a genius but because it’s a shitty metaphor.

The water metaphor explaining the trinity works like this. Water is one substance, but can exist in three different phases: gas, liquid, and solid. Of course all elements exist in one of these three, water is used because it is the one that we are the most familiar with. No matter which phase water is in it is still water. So it goes with god, whether it is the father, the son, or the spirit it is still god. You can also float an ice cube in liquid water while having evaporate in minute amounts (on a hot day for instance) simultaneously. This is supposed to explain how three different natures of the divine can exist at the same time but be three distinct entities. The trouble for me then was that I it didn’t make a bit of sense.

Skipping two later learned facts: that of the fourth phase of matter being plasma, and how the only atomic difference between a solid, gas, liquid, is the motion of the atoms…it’s a bad metaphor. In order for the metaphor to work, and I recently explained this in class, you would need an identitical amount of water to exist as solid, liquid, and gas at the exact same time. Water is either gas, liquid, or solid but never all three coincidentally. Point this out got me sent into the hallway.

It was the first of a long line of being excused from religion classes for my impertinence. Let me remind the reader once again, that I wasn’t pointing out the hole in the argument to be a smart ass. At that time I legitimately wanted to know. Being sent out for that was the worst thing that could have happened to me as far as religious development could have been. Being sent out into the hall, first off isn’t that much of a punishment in the first place. I could be bored in the hall just as much as I was in class, only now I could stand up pace around a little bit. The point is to shame you if other people walked by, or if the principle did. What didn’t work for them, was that it really gave me time to think.

My thought was that I hadn’t done anything wrong. I was being thrown out for asking what I felt was a legitimate question to a member of the clerical orders, a nun in this case. I thought I was helping. It was in the mere disagreement with established authority that I was being punished, at the time I didn’t realize that was the case. It was a mystery to me why I was in trouble. Sitting out in that hallway I suppose that I merely just did my time and waited to be let in pondering over the fact of my punishment.

I get that there are going to be articles of faith in every religion, things that cannot be explained or that have to explained by seemingly arbitrary explanations. Yet they should be left at that. Teaching kids religion, I feel is a bad idea anyway, but if you are going to do so don’t call something a mystery and then try to explain how it works. That just invites the type of questioning that I got in trouble for. Blurring the line between the unexplainable with an attempt at explanation isn’t practical and the smarter of the population will point out that it’s approaching an ontological contradiction (although I doubt those words would be used).

Being sent in the hall for asking questions embittered me. That was certainly not helpful at all.

Categories: religion

About those last five pages…(New Moon Ch. 21.2)

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Two weeks ago (I’ve been bad at this) I concluded by complaining that as chapter 21 ended, we still had five more pages to go. Then I misplaced my book, I don’t know where it went but I assume that it has something to do with my daughter (you think I do this for myself?), she tends to hide things on me. Three year olds are like that. This week I knew that i needed to write something, anything really that was new in order to hang on to the relatively few readers that I have. Every week I re-read the previous post in order to get my bearing and re-establish the horrible memories that my academic brain had blocked out the week before.

Then I read this line from last post, “ they walk by Heidi and some other people that are going to stand trial. It’s a useless detail, utterly useless because we don’t need to know who they are, nor get hinted at as to their fate. I’m willing to bet that we don’t even need to know who Heidi is either.

Re-reading that line, and then checking the blog of the other person that also subjects themselves to this horrible horrible adventure i realized something: this is a lot more insidious than it sounds. Bella makes a point about Heidi being dressed revealingly, and that she’s leading a crowd of people, a crowd so large that Bella had to press against the wall to let them pass.* They aren’t in chains, they aren’t in shackles, in fact they are being led by her so as far as we know they are coming of their own volition. By the time Bella and company get down the hall the screaming starts.

Ok, so I understood that my comment last week that they were going to be tried for some crime against vampiredom, but given the time that it took for them to get into the room and the time the screaming started (almost zero) I have to amend that statement. They aren’t vampires, they are food. Bella doesn’t register any kind of moral objection? Fine. I’ll accept that because she was just almost killed and I hear that it can be pretty traumatic itself.

What I want to be concerned with is what those people thought they were going to do? I won’t get into my fellow blogger’s complaint that those people are going to go missing. That’s probably why they were lured in during a tourist event. No one in that small town is going to miss tourists, if in fact anyone noticed that they were gone. They were being lured by a scantily clad extremely beautiful woman (it’s not that specific but given the gushing descriptions that Meyer has attributed to all  the vampires in this novel I think it is safe to assume) through a sewer and then a large stone hallway I think they thought they were headed to an orgy.

How else could she do it? If a beautiful woman tells you to she wants to invite you to a party you might go. When she gets another person, you might be done, by the fifth person if you aren’t getting skittish it means you are either oblivious or into it. What else could she have promised them? Why else would she need the tantalizing gear? Remember, these are the good guys, the bad guy is still in the woods of North Eastern Washington State.

I just needed to be clear. If I do the next book, I’m counting the accidental porn.

__________________
*I apologize for the lack of quotations but, again, I can’t find the book.

Part I: In which we cover something along the lines of personal identity

February 26, 2012 1 comment

This is the presentation that I was referring to in last night’s post. It lacks a conclusion because I will literally just stop talking and make a face that my students would be familiar with. Enjoy.

 

The subject, that which we refer to when we refer. The question that Libera wants to ask is when this conception of “subject-hood” emerged, or more particularly when was it introduced. We can understand that at some point the thinking being must have self, or does it. The question that we are being asked is when did we begin to act under the presumption that something must be at the center of action?

 

The first emergence that Libera credits with this adoption was Aristotle, of course. In the case of Aristotle we have subject predication. The subject is that which can be predicated. In other words, if we can attach a predicate to something it is subject. If that thing is not predicable itself it is the prime subject, the subject by which all things are predicates (or have the potential to be predicates of).  “I think,” to use the Cartesian example can be broken into two sections: “I” being the subject and “Think” being the predicate. Under Aristotle’s analysis, to utter this phrase is to assert that the “I” is the subject, the ego uttering I, as I refers to the sense of self. “I” is unpredictable, in other words, it cannot be turned into a predicate under any circumstance.[1]

 

All of this is related to Aristotle’s conception of the prime substance. Ultimately anything that is, that we experience is going to be predicable if it is not already a predicate. What is not predicable is the sense of consciousness, the personal sense of consciousness that we all experience. When Descartes utters “I think” he is placing the word “think” in a certain boundary that must encompass “I.” “Thinking in this respect cannot just float around in the aether along with “Table” or “chair” as it would in Plato. It is not existent unless it is inhered in a subject. “Thinking” does not exist unless something is doing the thinking.[2]

 

All Descartes really accomplished in his goal of seeking a metaphysical foundation for knowledge was in phrasing something that Aristotle had already accomplished, and using it in a unique way. The Greek hypokeimenon, the Latin subiectum, is merely the underlying thing. In the case of human experience that underlying thing, is the sense of self, the subjecthood of the individual.

 

Descartes was indeed, “staking everything on his own priority as subject.” Because if not for that none of Descartes’ later projects could be justified at all. Without that “hypokeimenon” there is nothing for him and he must fall into, gasp, empiricism without further justification.

 

The question for our purpose is whether the beginning of the modern conception of the subject is generated in Descartes. For that I offer my opinion that Descartes just appropriated Aristotle’s conception.

 

Heidegger attempts to cleave the Cartesian notion from the ancient notion by stating that the Cartesian distinction between the three types of substances: material, thinking, and god (res extensa, res cogitans, divine). Subiectum, is a thinking substance while Aristotle did not make this clear of a distinction (although to be fair, he doesn’t claim that hypokeimenon in the person is material either).

 

The Cartesian sense, though, is inherently dualistic as it would be odd to call something “Cartesian” without a dual nature (i.e. spiritual and material), in fact “Cartesian” is almost a synonym with “dualism.” The interaction problem will always persist in any terming. What the Cartesian sense of subject is going to have trouble with, as always, is where the person begins and the material ends.

 

Hobbes, earlier will offer the Stoic position that “I” must be material. This is because, unlike Descartes, he isn’t violating Ockham’s Razor, if the self is material than it fits within the body, where it is located isn’t something the English Translator is going to address. If it is incorporeal, it means that it has no body, for corporeality implies body and body implies substance. Futhermore Hobbes’ materialism isn’t going to tolerate such spirit things which do not exist in his conception.

 

If the subject is material, then yes, we must account Hobbes with that creation. However, the subject, the I more popularly conceived is something spiritual but that something is still rooted in the predicable of Aristotle.

 


[1] Aristotle’s Categories V, 2a30-35

[2] 1028a15-18 Metaphysics

Categories: philosophy

Philosophy and Literature

February 25, 2012 Leave a comment

In the beginning of the semester I had to the last minute panic again. It’s getting to the point where I feel bad about doing the panic because it ought to be so routine. The semester begins, I find out that certain classes are no longer being offered, aren’t what they were advertised to be, or are in conflict with other classes that I am already taking or need to take or whatever; and then I have to figure out a last minute deal to keep full time status while at the same time preserving some amount of sanity in regards to the commute. This semester I landed in the first class outside of the Philosophy department: Philosophy and Literature.

The class billed itself as an inquiry into the relationship between the worlds of philosophy and the worlds of literature. The professor himself expanded on the class by stating that we would further discuss the relationship of an author to the two subjects. So far, so good, however I thought we would be leading toward writings that are considered literature but actually contain philosophical arguments, i.e. the Brothers Karamazov or Notes From the Underground, The Stranger, etc. I figured going into the class that I would write something about the arguments put forth in conspiracy theories.

With the relationship of the author to these worlds I was a little set back but then found my footing. I adjusted what was initially going to be my paper into a discussion of the type of world that a conspiracy theorist perceives himself (it’s almost always a “him”) to exist in. The troubling thing about either of those topics is that there is very little academic literature on the subject but that’s always workable in itself.

As the class progressed I began to have that feeling of dread in which the class was pulled out from underneath me. Instead of reading anything that I thought we would be reading, the subject matter of the works seems to be more critical theory than anything else. If you are ignorant to the concept of critical theory than I truly envy you. Critical theory is a branch of English/Literature departments that personify every stereotype of ultra-left wing socialist academics that hate America. Anytime I hear someone like Glenn Beck talk about how academia is seeking to undermine the United States I know that they aren’t referring to most college instructors, but rather a slim minority of them and most of them work in critical theory. Deleuze is one, Noam Chomsky has been adopted into it, Foucault*, etc.

I will say that since the Fall, I’ve been up on the readings for my classes in a way that I have never been before. In other words: I’m walking into every class having read all of the prime material…secondary material not so much, but the prime it’s down. I owe this to Gwen’s pre-school that gives me eleven extra hours a week in which to do it. All of that being said, for the last three weeks in this class I have no idea what I am reading. I do it, I understand what each individual work has been saying, but I have no idea why I am reading it.

This week, is a rather dense article entitled “When Did the Modern Subject Emerge.” It refers to the idea of the sense of self that each individual has and the difference between ancient (Greek/Roman) understandings of it and the modern conception. It’s a blast, let me tell you. While it is dense, and intellectually challenging I sort of get it. I also sort of have to given that myself and another have to present on the topic during class. What I do not understand is what this has to do with the stated purpose of the class. Do I need to understand the sense of self in order to understand the relationship between philosophy and literature…maybe but it’s not obvious. Do I need to understand this paper to comprehend the author’s relationship to their own work? That’s even less clear.

As this paper seeks to explain the idea of substance, a prime focus in the history of philosophy, I get it. Between Aristotle and Descartes it makes a good deal of sense, but how is the nature of substance related to that of an author unless there is the attempt to claim that the author is the substratum which makes up the work. That would be a stretch because whether the author continues to exist or not matters little to the existence of the work, which is what the entire concept of substratum is. At some point I hope I find traction because March is approaching and I need to get that paper written by the end of it.

_______________________

*To be fair Foucault isn’t as bad as Chomsky but he’s still bad. His followers on the other hand…even Marx looks at them and thinks, Damn slow it down.

Categories: Uncategorized

Good and Virtue (LS 60, 61)

February 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Much of philosophy, its history has been consumed with the notion of good/bad/evil/vice etc. In other words it has been concerned with morality.  As the Greeks identified the concept of virtue with the concept of goodness it further culminated in the idea that in order to be a good person one must know how to be good. Various philosophies and theologies all have their conceptions of the good, and for the most part—they are all pretty similar. Let’s just agree that generally the numerous guides on how to live match up. Where they diverge is in the conceptions of the genesis of those ideas, and some trivial particulars that can be labeled as amoral. Since most of morality is based on the idea of common sense, it is up to the various schools of philosophy (and religions) to explain why.

This is an appeal to our rational natures. It’s not simply enough that we are good or that we refrain from vice we have to know the important question, “why is it good?”

The Stoic answer is one of an appeal to nature. As rational beings we are compelled to act according to the nature. This is our innate tendency. We acquire this naturally,[1] as the mind arises out of the things accordance of nature (i.e. instinct, proper function) to reflect we arrive at the concept of the good.[2] This is intrinsic good, not comparative.[3] The good-in-itself, is that which is good in essence of the act itself. It is not good because of the consequences of the action.

This is the supreme good, this is that which draws the soul naturally toward itself.[4] In order to arrive at this good the rational mind is necessary. It is in this that we are further differentiated from the animals and plants. Without reflection one cannot find the natural inclination to be good. Animals, without this ability are therefore without the good. They are “indulgent,” living only in accordance with their natures based on the proper functions of the instinct.[5] While the animals can be perfect, their perfection is only in regard to their own nature.[6]

It is important to stress that good is based on knowledge. Knowledge, achieved through both observation and practice.[7] This applied goodness to action, the Stoic stress on moderation applies here. They have, according Seneca, grasped “moderation, courage, prudence, justice, and gave to each its due.[8]

Further is that certain goods are those that are goods as a process, i.e. experiential goods such as joy, delight, modest socializing. Other goods are those that are goods in state, i.e. perdurant goods such as well organized leisure, undisturbed stability, and manly concentration.[9] These are goods as some generate happiness, others complete happiness, and certain goods do both.[10] While this concept may be objected that certain goods are going to be “more good” than others the Stoic belief is that all goods are equal and that consequently all vice are equal.[11]

These goods, instilled in a person and thus considered “virtue” are just one. The confusion of the perception of the different virtues is a matter of perspective not of essence. Virtue is likened to sight, in that “sight” is one sense, it is universal, but it perceives different colors and different objects.[12]

The virtuous man is wise and thus incapable of vice, he “does everything well is a consequence of his accomplishing everything in accordance with virtue, which is expertise with the whole of life.”[13] To go against virtue is to go against reason and thus we have the origin of vice.

Again, vice is unified, a person in vice is vicious no matter how much vice they involve themselves with, as Plutarch says, “just as in the sea a man an arm’s length from the surface is drowning no less than the one who has sunk five hundred fathoms, so even those who are getting close to virtue are no less in a state of vice than those who are far from it.[14]

Through repeated practice vice can be subsumed underneath the aegis of reason, and thus restrained. Vice is merely the superimposition of impulse over reason. Vice can never be removed completely from the individual[15] given the intertwining of impulse within the individual, nor ought it to be. In order to do so would be to remove the impulse from the person. The vice is intrinsic within the individual while the good ought to be superior.


[1] Diogenes Laertius 60C

[2] Cicero On Ends 60D

[3] ibid

[4] Epictetus Discourses 60F

[5] Seneca Letters 60H

[6] ibid

[7] Seneca Letters 60E

[8] Ibid—See also Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics for a different take on why these attributes are considered virtues.

[9] Stobaeus 60J

[10] Stobaeus 60M

[11] Diogenes Laertius 60O

[12] Plutarch On Moral Virtue 61B

[13] Stobaeus 61G

[14] Plutarch On Common Conceptions 61T

[15] Plutarch On Stoic Self-Contradictions 61R

Categories: Uncategorized

The Encomium of Xavierre

February 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Simone de Beauvoire is primarily known for two things: the first is being one of the first and most important of the modern feminists the second is being the life long partner of one of the most important Existentialists-Jean Paul Sartre. She was also, however, an novelist and an existentialist herself. In fact, her writings are partly inspired by the cafe discussions between herself, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty. It is probably facetious to say that either one of them were more important to Existentialism than the others as it would be nigh impossible to sort out when, amid all of those conversations, the genesis of one idea took place.Simone de Beauvoir was also a novelist, she applied her theories of existentialism to her characters’ voices and in thought. I can’t decide if this is a cheap way out or not. On the one hand it’s easy, too easy to do this. You don’t have to write proofs or large philosophical explanations, you can just have a character say something and that’s it–because it’s fiction. On the other hand, to do this well is very difficult. By “well” I mean without sounding heavy handed or preachy about it. It’s easy for a person to tell when another is trying too hard to be profound or intelligent for merely intelligence’s sake and it always sounds pretencious. 

Beauvoir captures this well. When the characters sound pretencious and we don’t like them for it, it is because they are supposed to sound like that. It’s a fine line to walk and perhaps that is what makes the technique so effective. For this we have the novel “She Came To Stay.”

“She Came To Stay” is a fictionalization of the relationship that the author had with Sartre and another woman prior to the advent of WWII. It centers around a playwrite Pierre, his girlfriend Francoise, and the woman they invite into their relationship Xavierre. While the they are supposed to share their love, it’s not a mutually sexual relationship. Instead it is only Pierre that involves herself with Xavierre in that respect, but given the alleged openness Francoise is permissive of them. Most of the novel involves long discussions on the nature of time, consciousness, and a certain absurdity of life as a looming war encroaches upon them.

Xavierre is the youngest of the three. She is around the age of 17, while Pierre and Francoise are around thirty. The latter two are both employed Pierre as the playwright Francoise as a novelist. Their maturity often runs into conflict with the impertinence of Xavierre who cares little for time, appointments, or consequence. This leads to numerous conflicts as Pierre begins to adopt a possessiveness over Xavierre and Francoise alternates between jealousy over the Pierre’s affection toward Xavierre and hating the young girl for being so solopsistic in her own life. Xavierre herself alternates between extremes: she either totally throws herself into something or acts under such a sublime apathy that it is almost infuriating to see her not care about the importance of the world around her. For instance she regards the upcoming war as something that will be an inconvenience in her life. At the end of the book [spoiler alert], Francoise finally succumbs to her hate for the girl after an affair she had with Gerbert (a relatively minor character who was involved with Xavierre) becomes exposed that she turns up the gas in her room, while disengaging the meter that would turn it off. In effect she desires her death through suffocation-a death that she will be entirely able to get away with given the emotional instability of Xavierre as well as a rather public suicide note that she later recants.

Xavierre is portrayed as being the antagonist of the plot. It is she, according to Francoise that has driven apart the idyllic relationship between herself and Pierre. Instead I offer, that it is not Xavierre but both Francoise and Pierre that were the true villains of the story. To understand this rather controversial point of view, I offer a couple of points that should illustrate why this is the case.

The first is the age difference. Francoise was initially fascinated by Xavierre’s temperament and it was her that invited Xavierre into the life of the Parisian bohemians in the first place. This temperament never changed, and it is indicative of her youth. She didn’t care about the future indicating once that she only cared about the present. Of course she did, she’s still a teenager. Her seeming maturity on some subjects is only because the consequences didn’t matter to those specific situations. Her go ahead and do it attitude is only beneficial in some situations while Pierre and Francoise seem to think that this doesn’t apply in all situations they are of course correct. Without the extra decade of life experiences Xavierre cannot know correct behavior in all situations. She’s a kid and for them to expect her to act as an adult is their fault not hers.

The second is Pierre. While Francoise seems to think that they can introduce a third into their relationship and still maintain equilibrium she is deluded. Pierre’s desire for the Xavierre is veiled by his intellectualization of her. That he desires her is no secret but he lacks honesty about it in order to shield Francoise from the obviousness of the issue. Pierre is going to be temporarily attached to Xavierre for the simple fact that she is new. Indeed, that is the fascination with the character from their entire circle at first. She’s new, but once her quirks-originally interpreted as being eccentricities-lose their shine she’s is viewed as a pest. Perhaps Pierre’s willingness to involve himself in the threesome is based on the idea that he can openly have an affair that isn’t even really an affair given the permission he has to do it. No matter what is motive is, his behavior toward her is anything but altruistic. At no point does he ever truly regard Xavierre as an equal. She’s something to be owned and molded into a follower of his, an object that is supposed to worship him. When she bucks away from him, falling into the arms of Gerbert, the obsessiveness that he portrays, pacing back and forth in Francoise’s apartment, the inability to discuss anything else aside from the wonderment at whether they are necking or having sex, culminating in his looking through the key hole of her apartment. The moment Xavierre shows any independence he immediately becomes angry with her. The final straw comes when he accuses her of being possessive, seeking to control him; this of course is more revealing about his character than anything else. It was his wish to control her, to own her love for which he did not reciprocate at all. He knew she wanted to sleep with him but he dangled that in front of her for months stringing her along. Her reaction of being angry with him is perfectly normal, as all she did was begin to move away from him and his possessiveness didn’t allow him to do so.

Francoise: Francoise’s anger at Xavierre is both reasonable and unreasonable at the same time. The jealousy is reasonable, Pierre has eyes for a yonger woman now, but in reality: what did she expect? Again I find the fault with Pierre on this one, if he had just gotten on with it and slept with her he would have tossed her away and that would have been the end of it. The trouble with Francoise is that she is the architect of the whole situation, she propses the tripartate relationship knowing Pierre’s desires. For what reason could she have in doing this? Xaveirre is taken on by Francoise as a project. She wants to educate the girl, wants to bring her into the social set of the theater scene, wants her to love Pierre just as she does; in other words she wants Xavierre to become her. Why Francoise didn’t propose the sexual relationship between the three of them, seems like an odd ommission on her part given the intimate lesson she could have provided in that sphere.Francoise’s main problem was that she was initially enthralled with the prospect of educating the young girl into becoming her while at the same time ignoring the concept that this other person possessed her own consciousness that wanted to exercise it’s own freedom. When it did, is precisely when Francoise began to hate her. Perhaps like Dr. Frankenstein, Francoise did her job only too well.

In conclusion Xavierre is the victim here. Thrust into a world she is not prepared for, carried by two people with ill designs on her, that she reacts with disdain and cynicism toward their value systems may be interpreted as annoying but valid.

Categories: Uncategorized

Pornography (New Moon Ch. 21)

February 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Brendan Gill, a writer for the New Yorker once defined pornography as being a film in which you notice that the characters spend more time going through doors, getting in and out of cars, in other words–transitioning from one location to another then doing anything else.* While this sort of definition leaves out the more visceral substance of pornography it makes sense. The characters, aren’t really characters at all, they are place holders for the action. There is no real plot development, no character growth, nothing that we could say that we learned–perhaps other than the bill for the cable guy is apparently open to interpretation. By Gill’s definition we might actually be able to say that Twilight is pornography.

No it’s not porn porn, but it’s a type of porn. It’s certainly fantasy fulfillment for a certain segment of the population. I would be open to debate on this topic because like the characters in actual porn, there is no development. The plot is merely a vehicle for certain situations to develop, and if I read this book to myself while someone plays bass in the background the similarities really work in my favor. We have had one character, pining for another, throw herself into the arms of a third, all the while ignoring any facet of common sense, and who (as Gill points out) constantly changes scenery. In fact the first four pages of this chapter detail a walk through two hallways, a couple of doors; to which even Bella remarks as to the endlessness of it. Which is pretty bad considering that Bella is the stand in for the author. When even the creator is sick of something in their world one has to wonder why it’s there in the first place.**

The stone antechamber was not large. It opened quickly into a brighter, cavernous room…”

I haven’t pointed a good thing in a while, but I will say this: Meyer has used the term “ante” in “antechamber” more correct than a lot of bloggers I have read. “Ante” means “before” or “pre” not “against.”

Once everyone has been collected, there is going to be a meeting of sorts. The vampire herald, Jane, enters in the room and is greeted by the chief (we assume, at this point we haven’t learned who he is), “He drifted forward, and the movement flowed with such surreal grace that I gawked…”

And I was just done complimenting her too, “surreal” is a synonym for bizarre. It doesn’t mean unbelievable, or incredible, it means strange to the point of absurdity, irrational–not anything like the way it’s being used here.

The chief, Aro (seriously), is happy not only to see Jane ok, but also to see Bella, Edward, and Alice all alive and ok. He’s happy, a little too happy but I guess this is an attempt to portray him as being eccentric. He congratulates himself on not killing Edward yesterday, chides Edward for wanting such, and expresses marvel at Alice’s talent.

It seems that Aro’s mutant power…I mean vampire power, is that he can hear thoughts as well. Only as long as he is touching the person in question. This limitation is buttressed by the fact that while Edward can only receive current thoughts, Aro downloads the entire brain. After a bit Aro’s brothers come in, Caius and Marcus and instead of thinking that everything is wonderful they are bored. This is nice.

What often gets missed in tales of the deathless,*** is the immense amount of time they actually have. They don’t just view the future as being a long time that they are going to live, they view their life as going through the rest of time…i.e. all of it. The alternate ending to the movie “Death Becomes Her,” handled it well as the two women who had gained eternal life began to become bored. There was nothing they could do, furthermore they were already shallow superficial women to begin with, so if these vampires are really older than the Roman civilization I somehow doubt they give one fuck about whether or not a human and childish vampire were alive. This bores me and i only have sixty or seventy more years ahead of me.

Aro’s mutant, er vampire power does save us from having to read a recap though, “But he (Marcus) just touched Aro’s palm briefly and then dropped his hand to his side. Aro raised one black brow.”

Aro has the story, somehow. Shouldn’t he have touched Bella, Alice, and Edward to get the rest of the story on this one? What the hell does his brother know? That answer is as ridiculous as the situation itself. Marcus, the one that touched, Aro can telepathically determine relationships. That’s it, he’s surprised that it’s so intense between Edward and Bella but that’s all of the information the can possibly give to Aro.

They segue into a discussion about Bella, of course. Bella is immune to Edward’s telepathy so Aro wants to know if she’s immune to him. Fair enough, it turns out that she is. Then it’s Jane’s turn. Jane has a power that we don’t know about, but apparently it’s enough to turn Edward feral. Angry he is, much clouded are his thoughts as he launches himself at Jane–but is cut down on the floor sniveling. Jane’s power stopped him but it cannot affect Bella. The conclusion is that Bella is immune to vampire powers.

Except that she’s not. Alice can see her future, not just the general future but specific things. She saw Bella jump (or, sigh, fall) further is that Marcus can perceive her emotions as well. This conclusion means that either Aro is an idiot or the plot is literally forgetting what just happened. Either is possible.

It seems that one of Aro’s brothers is actually the reasonable one though, Caius reminds Aro that their law still claims them. We don’t know if he means all three or just Bella and Edward but the law is the law. What’s at stake is that Bella is a human, she’s seen too much, and she’s not food. It’s a security issue. Edward gots to get got as well because he won’t leave Bella to die nor will he turn her. Aro asks him if he will eventually turn her and Edward locks up.

Bella pleads but since Edward knows best he won’t answer. How to resolve this: cleverly I might add. Alice, who has previously expressed impatience at her brother’s decision to not be locked down for eternity settles it. She walks over and places her hand in Aro’s sharing with him the future she has seen. Aro is delighted, “To see the things you’ve seen-especially the ones that haven’t happened yet!’ he shook his head in wonder.
—But that will,’ she (
Alice) reminded him, voice calm.
Yes, yes, it’s quite determined. Certainly there’s no problem.”

Very well done. It really works because given Aro’s disposition we really can’t know what she let him see. I’ve the feeling that he would be as delighted no matter what.

Too bad we have five more pages of crap before the chapter ends. They don’t merely leave, they walk by Heidi and some other people that are going to stand trial. It’s a useless detail, utterly useless because we don’t need to know who they are, nor get hinted at as to their fate. I’m willing to bet that we don’t even need to know who Heidi is either. Yet they finally leave the underworld. Hopefully for less door opening and closing.
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*In the interest of academic honesty, I have no idea where he said it. I know the quote from Roger Ebert’s review of the first Underworld movie. 

**Right god?

***Because immortal doesn’t mean the same thing. Vampires were still born after all.