Saturday, February 13, 2010
"Love Never Dies"? Well, yeah ...
I don't know if you've noticed, but I've come out pretty strongly on some views. Edward, Bella, Rosalie, James, Alice, even, Emmett, even, Esme, even.
Well, because "Now is all we have," and it may just be fan-fiction, but you're reading it or you're writing it. What are you reading? And what are you writing?
Or has been my case, what am I not writing?
Did you know Plato espoused censorship? Even book-burning and execution of authors who put forward dangerous ideas? He had a rival philosopher put to death. Did you know that?
Do you know why?
Because, even as I do not agree with his conclusions, I do agree with his concern, because you become who you associate with and what you read.
You become what you think about all the time.
So, do you use the characters in your stories? Well, then, it's a very easy step to use people to achieve your ends in actual life. And that's why I appear so vitriolic when I'm defending the characters or their use in a story. Why is Edward a playah? Or Bella a clumsy, clueless (stupid) girl, or Alice a shopaholic, or James a story-wrecker?
They aren't. Unless you treat them that way. They have depth, just as the people around you do. Your boss or your teacher is a person, too. Just like you. And deserves to be treated with the dignity they have innately. Just like you.
Respect. Or: "R.e.s.p.e.c.t." as I've heard sung.
So, now I'm going to address love in this entry. And Love.
So you're reading a story or you're writing a story, and it's called Twilight and Edward leaves Bella. But you know it's going to be okay, because there are two more books in the series and this is Edward and this is Bella ... so you know it has to be okay, right? Because "Love conquers all" and "Love never fails," right?
So you're reading a story or you're writing a story, and you have your Edward leave your Bella, because you know they're going to get back together, because they have to, right? Because this is Edward and Bella after all, right?
Stop. Please stop.
Yeah: "Love never fails." But that's capital-L "Love." But what happens for us here in the real world? What happens when A leaves B? What is the success rates of LDRs? ("Long Distance Relationships").
Isn't it a wonderful story when you hear of an LDR that worked out? You know what those stories are called? "Fairy tales." I've been through college, and I've had friends who worked, worked hard, at their LDRs. The success ratio of those efforts?
And those are LDRs where both parties worked hard to maintain their connection. What happens when A says to B, "I have to leave you [for your own good]"?
In the real world? I believe the phrase "It's all over but the singing." And that's why, in Twilight, Bella worked so hard, so desperately, to stop Edward from leaving, and when he left, that's why she descended into a depression so deep there were doctors in the house bandying the word "catatonia."
Because she knew. She knew it was game over, because in the real world, it is game over, and the counter example you come up with (if you can come up with even one) only highlights the incredible oddity of an LDR that worked, because, in reality, they don't work.
So, you wish to read or to write something romantic? Then, please, don't read nor write, a piece where the Edward leaves the Bella ... because coming back?
Bella: "Oh, Edward, so nice to see you again after all these months. Have you met my new boyfriend Jacob?"
And it's not because Bella is the playah. No. Because wouldn't it be even sadder to hear:
Bella: "Oh, Edward, I've missed you so much all these months. I put my life on hold and was hospitalized and tried suicide a few times but now you're back everything's okay, right?"
What's Edward's answer to the stalker-crazy girl?
Twilight took the opposite approach to this scenario: Bella goes to rescue Edward. But what happens in reality? There's no rescuing. There's no going back. You go to college, she goes to college. You marry. She marries. And maybe you think about her once every few years.
This is the reality of this world. This is the reality of this life.
And my concern, my grave concern, when I read stories like New Moon and the many, many fan-fiction pieces (that I no longer read) that follow in the footsteps of New Moon is that this "fairy tale" — this lie — is spreading to you, my dear readers and writers, and your character is being formed around this lie.
Because "Love never fails" but that's because Love is cultivated all day, every day. The moment love, or Love, is withdrawn or taken for granted or ignored, it begins to wither and ends up dead.
And "Edward left Bella, but that's okay, because 'Love conquers all'" is not okay. But if you read that or if you write that, you are poisoning yourself and others with this dangerous romantic notion that you can treat your beloved like this and it all works out.
Edward stays. Edward stays and works on himself, becoming worthy of Bella's love. And Bella stays, and, instead of thinking of herself as a nothing, works on herself to be worthy of Edward's adoration. And each helps each other in their work of being worthy of each other's love.
That's a real story. A real fairy tale with a real happy ending achieved each and every day, in fact. Because that, in the real world, is so rare to find these days in the Western World (both the Old World and the New). But unlike the fairy tale of 'A leaves B and they live happily ever after after A comes back', the possible tale of 'A stays with B' can accomplished by a you and by a me.
And as for the romanticism of that? Of "Edward stays with Bella"?
"Chop wood, carry water" may not have the exciting ring to it of "Bella almost died jumping off a cliff today" but the curse of the Buddha is also a blessing. Novelty and excitement, contrarily, dull the senses and numb the mind. It is when you are doing something like holding your lover's hand for the twenty-fifth time, or the hundredth time or the time beyond counting that you notice, more, the softness of it, of her, and the kindness in her eyes.
It's the hundredth argument, where, somehow, miraculously, you manage to say "I'm sorry" and you reach a rapprochement that you say to yourself. "Wow. This is love. She loves me, and I love her, and we love each other."
And boring to read? No. Boring to write? No. Boring to live? No.
If you think so, perhaps you haven't experienced working on a relationship after the "first bloom fades"? Then let me tell you, a relationship "over the long haul" weathers storms from without and within. There are fireworks in a long-term relationship ... the fiery kind of fireworks (both kinds exciting).
But I can't say that I've experienced a relationship where the "first bloom fades," because, for me, my personal relationship? I still see her with the eyes of when I first saw her, nearly twenty years ago, and I see the changes she's made over those years, too. I have the advantages of both worlds: I'm seeing her, again, for the first time, and have the benefit of her wisdom over these years we've been together.
Boring? Quite the opposite, in fact.
Challenging, though? Yes. How can you write Bella and Edward holding hands for the one hundredth time and make it feel like it's the very first time going into Forks High School?
The same question can be asked by them. "How can I hold Bella's hand for the hundredth time, and still have it meaningful to her and to me?"
It is a real challenge. Just like love is. And Love. Because, yes, "Love conquers all" but that means there's a fight to win. That means it's a struggle.
And isn't that interesting to read and to write? The struggle through adversity, and then the victory, and the victory is sweet.
And after the victory, the next struggle, because things are always changing ... it just depends on which direction: growing or dying. And you and your beloved or you and what you read or what you write choose that direction, every day.
Love is a delicate, fragile thing. It needs constant cultivation. It doesn't need to be sabotaged by A leaving B, either because they are compelled by outside forces or by their own choice.
Because I've seen what happens when that happens, personally. But, sometimes, I've seen what happens when A stays, and I like reading that story, I like writing that story ... I like living that story.
p.s. St. Valentine, Martyr for the Faith, pray for us.