Friday, November 20, 2009

Existentialism, Immortalism, Teen Angst and Twilight

Two guys from Channel Nine's Today show, co-anchor and entertainment reporter, today admitted that they had read the Twilight-series books. The two women, co-anchor and newsreader, said they hadn't. Given the whole thing about these being teen-girl books and movies, makes you wonder, don't it?

And here's the ultimate irony, right at the end of Twilight, that flick based on a book written by a Mormon. Life and irony—what is it with those two anyway??


Edward Cullen: Shall we?
Isabella Swan: You're serious?
Edward Cullen: Oh, why not?
Isabella Swan: [sighs] Hmm.
Edward Cullen: See? You're dancing.
Isabella Swan: [giggles] At prom. Edward why did you save me? You should've just let the venom spread. I could be like you by now.
Edward Cullen: You don't know what you're saying. You don't want this.
Isabella Swan: I want YOU. Always.
Edward Cullen: I'm not gonna end your life for you.
Isabella Swan: I'm dying already. Every second I get closer, older.
Edward Cullen: That's the way it's supposed to be.
Isabella Swan: Alice said she saw me like you. I heard her.
Edward Cullen: Her visions change.
Isabella Swan: Yeah, based on what people decide. I've decided.
Edward Cullen: So that's what you dream about, becoming a monster.
Isabella Swan: I dream about being with you, forever.
Edward Cullen: Forever?
[Bella nods]
Edward Cullen: And are you ready right now?
Isabella Swan: Yes.
Edward Cullen: Is it not enough, just to have a long and happy life with me?
Isabella Swan: [after a second of thought] Yeah. For now.

This is immortalist, existentialist and a dollop of 'feminist' thrown in for good measure—though I fancy Germaine Greer would have issues with that last label.

I also heard the entertainment reporter, in his comment, alluding to 'teen angst' in relation to the sequel. I've always considered that aspect of teen-hood probably its most productive. It's where you are still allowed, by society and your elders, to have a general unease about 'being' and its uncertainties. Where you can still, with license, truly worry about what and who you 'are', and whether life is about anything but your own angst-ridden self and its current preoccupations, like love affairs and the 'meaning' of it all, and shit like that.

As you get older and become an 'adult', entertaining the same kinds of thoughts and feelings becomes suspect to the rest of the world around you. You're supposed to be a 'grown-up' and all that. Grown-ups may have their difficulties in life, but they're not supposed to fret over them—not unless you have some license by virtue of being not-quite-normal, like artists of all types, for example. And if you're a woman, you definitely have more license to have your 'what is the meaning of my life?' days than your average guy, who is supposed to be pretty much immune to getting emotionally worked up over life-philosophy. Women who agonize over their lives are far less likely than men of being accused of things like 'irresponsibility' or being asked to 'get over it'.

Is this a good thing? Well, yes and no. It's good that one learns—some do anyway, though their proportion is invariably overestimated—to take responsibility and look at things through lenses of 'rationality' and the wisdom of years and 'experience'. But the price for that learning and for adopting the attitude that comes with it is very high indeed. In many ways something very precious—what we somewhat derogatorily label 'teen angst'— is being brow-beaten out of us.

But in truth, at least for some, it doesn't actually go away, but lurks there, not that far below the surface at all. And if you're an Existentialist/Absurdist (which few are) or an Immortalist—that's even fewer, because few want, or can bear, to live with the constant awareness of, as Isabella puts it: "I'm dying already. Every second I get closer, older."—then it's not just a matter of it 'lurking'.

Some while back I had a blog about the 'Fire Inside', with reference to a Bob Seger song. It's basically the same thing we're talking about. And in far too many, the fire is either quenched beyond the point of flaring up again; while in others it merely smoulders, with its smoke polluting the psyche to the point of poisoning it.

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