Monday, May 17, 2010

Twilight, pt. 1

As the school year ended, it was time to get back into the sewing room, which meant I needed an audio book. It so happened that I discovered Twilight on the shelf at the local library; I hadn’t read it yet, and was meaning to, so it seemed like an obvious fit. Half of my friends are obsessed with Twilight, and another quarter of them have read it, so I’m really the last to the table here, I know. I prefer that, in some ways, since enough time has passed that their impressions have faded out of my memory.

In our 1100/1110 courses, we teach a “Searching for Causes” essay—trying to uncover the best cause of a trend or phenomenon. One of my friends actually teaches the essay through the lens of Twilight’s popularity. The students don’t always believe that this is a real process people go through, but I had to laugh as I was listening to this book and, in my head, uncovering reasons that people are obsessed with this book, especially women of my age bracket.

Let me say that I’m not obsessed with it; I enjoyed the experience, and I will likely pursue the other audio books when they’re available (they’re all checked out at present). Still, I am not sure if I will see the movie or not, and I don’t feel compelled to buy anything. I’m not caught up in it as I was with, say, Harry Potter. At the same time, I can understand the allure from many perspectives, and as I said, I found enjoyment. I also experienced several other things at the same time this was going on that dovetailed with my Twilight foray. So, these next few blog entries are my reflections on Twilight.

As I was patchworking turtles together, examining my reactions to the book in progress, I realized that part of the attraction is the same reason why I like dance partnering.

No—really. I’ve written about this before. Partnering is the biggest demonstration of trust that I’ve experienced to date, requiring as it does being lifted into the air, perhaps tossed, perhaps flipped upside down. There is weight sharing and touching, often in places that otherwise would be completely inappropriate. It’s a fantasy, a confection. You aren’t really in love with your dance partner (probably), but you frequently pretend you are, and you are certainly in love with being picked up, embraced, touched, made to feel precious, airy, and even protected (those arms, after all, often the only thing that keeps your head from smashing into the floor). Of course, the reality is that partnering is difficult, requiring intense strength, control, and balance, and it isn’t as romantic in its beginning stages. But once everything is smoothed out, the fantasy is there.

I was reflecting on this recently while I was watching my favorite dance piece probably ever. Jiri Kylian’s piece Petit Mort is perfect: Simple in costume and staging, complex in musicality and arrangement of the body. When I see it, I stop what I am doing and stare. He uses the piano music to its best effect, eking out every nuance. And it is romantic. Title notwithstanding, the partnering in this piece is silky and sensuous. It is everything partnering should be; it also gives the man body positioning just as beautiful as the woman’s, which is rare. Usually in romantic ballets, the man is a set piece. Not so in Kylian’s work. He cradles and supports, but also makes his own body into an instrument of action and thus the bodies are a shape together, incalmo, as the Italian glassmakers say.

The shapes and the touching of Petit Mort were present in my mind as I listened to Twilight. In both, there is an evocation of closeness and breath that makes me sigh out of instinct. I am not saying that they are of equal quality—Petit Mort is genius and Twilight is merely entertaining. But the fantasy of Twlight is, after all, two bodies impelled through space, each compelling the other, just as the fantasy with Petit Mort is being a partner in that intricate rendering of sexuality through dance, being lifted physically and spiritually, and made utterly precious.


Anonymous said...

Lovely thinking and observing and expressing.

Cloud of Secrets said...

The billowing sheet/vanishing dancers effect and the black ballgown figures were eerie! Very striking, elegant (as in graceful and clean) choreography, though I don't have a connoisseur's knowledge.

I'm surrounded by lots of Twilight fandom, too, but I haven't been moved to read the books. I did read reviews commenting on how the writing gets repetitive, especially in the romance scenes, and that drives me nuts. It also sounds like the leading romantic vampire -- Edward?? -- is a pretty controlling figure, and I don't like that either, for all my fond background with bodice-rippers.

I am fonder of brain-romances, more circling around each other, fencing, challenging, thinking, fantasizing, longing-to-embrace rather than actually embracing. Maybe that's why I'm a paso doble fan.

Embracing, closeness, breath...that comes after a looong flirtation and acquaintance in the brain romance. Romances that consist of embracing, closeness, breathing from the early stages aren't appealing to me for some reason.


Abs said...

I feel the same way about Kylian--elegant and clean. He's a master, in my book.
Edward's controllingness is controversial--a lot of people compare it with an abusive spouse. I was nervous about that, but then I wasn't as bothered by it as I thought I was going to be. He is pushy, it's true, and Bella doesn't have the wherewithal to say no much (except when it's to him leaving). But then he seldom asks her to do things she doesn't want to do. Edward is 100 years old. I might disregard some human rules if I were a 100-year-old immortal, too.
I was surprised at my reaction to Twilight, actually. I didn't expect to respond the way I did at all. I don't usually care for romances anyway, but the strange physicality of this book interested me.