Friday, July 31, 2009

The Dilemma of the Moral Vampire

The Vampire is a particularly apt metaphor.

What brings this to mind was an at by one Grady Hendrix, where she berates the Twilight series for creating unrealististic expectations --- namely abstinence. She expects those girls to be putting out. Other sites discussing this essay include Double X, Jezebel, and others. I point out these sites because they are mainstream and not just someone blog. The comments are particularly interesting... they are largely in agreement. Not sleeping around is seen as devient and unnatural.

Of course, it is no secret that vampires and the erotic are so closely linked. Indeed, this is what makes the moral vampire such a powerful symbol. Normally a vampire is the very symbol of eternal lust, youth, seduction, power and vitality. But when part of this is forgone for moral reasons, it has much more of a message than just indulgence.

I am not a Twilight fan. Not a hater particularly, it just never really caught my interest for reading. But the idea of Edward as someone who is both moral, and yet vampire is a particularly apt metaphor for our times. It was pointed out (in the NYT?) that unlike other monsters that remind us of our relative frailty and mortality, vampires remind us of eternity and immortality - and what we could have.

The vampires in Twilight are viewed as strange for their morality in not wontonly drinking human blood. It is difficult for them as well - it is as though their very life depends on it.

Interestingly, Stephanie Meyers had a dream in which Edward told her she got it wrong, and that vampires did need human blood and that they could not truely live until they partook of it.

Is it so different with us? God asks some insanely difficult things of us - things that at times make us feel as though we are dying inside. Necessary? Oh, yes, but difficult all the same.

Another movie coming out (rated R, unfortunately) called Thirst, has a priest who falls prey to vampirism, and yet can not so easily brush off all of life's demands and responsibilities.

Marriage and sex are NOT things that made for our own self-satisfaction - and if we focus on that, as most vampires do, we will find our souls quite as dead as theirs.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Meaning of Marriage

Alas - this is a very busy summer for me and so posts will be (as you can see) few and far in between. But I have not forgotten you!

There is an very good article in Time on marriage, and its decline in America. But the finest part, in my opinion, was the very end, which illustrated the increasingly confusing modern concept of marriage.

The fundamental question we must ask ourselves at the beginning of the century is this: What is the purpose of marriage? Is it — given the game-changing realities of birth control, female equality and the fact that motherhood outside of marriage is no longer stigmatized — simply an institution that has the capacity to increase the pleasure of the adults who enter into it? If so, we might as well hold the wake now: there probably aren't many people whose idea of 24-hour-a-day good times consists of being yoked to the same romantic partner, through bouts of stomach flu and depression, financial setbacks and emotional upsets, until after many a long decade, one or the other eventually dies in harness.

Or is marriage an institution that still hews to its old intention and function — to raise the next generation, to protect and teach it, to instill in it the habits of conduct and character that will ensure the generation's own safe passage into adulthood? Think of it this way: the current generation of children, the one watching commitments between adults snap like dry twigs and observing parents who simply can't be bothered to marry each other and who hence drift in and out of their children's lives — that's the generation who will be taking care of us when we are old.

Who is left to ensure that these kids grow up into estimable people once the Mark Sanfords and other marital frauds and casual sadists have jumped ship? The good among us, the ones who are willing to sacrifice the thrill of a love letter for the betterment of their children. "His career is not a concern of mine," says Jenny Sanford. "He'll be worrying about that, and I'll be worrying about my family and the character of my children." What we teach about the true meaning of marriage will determine a great deal about our fate.