Performing the Potentialities of Otherness and Selfhood: Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga
Gabriella Calchi Novati
In Our Vampires, Ourselves, Nina Auerbach argues that vampires ‘can be everything we are, while at the same time, they are fearful reminders of the infinite things we are not’.1 Auerbach interprets the different vampire mythologies developed through the centuries as both expression and evidence of a specific social and cultural context; she furthermore suggests that, rather than our heroes, our vampires tell us who we are (112).2 Disagreeing with her reading, I will show that the Cullen family of vampires in the Twilight Saga tells us not who we are, but rather who we might be. Drawing primarily from the writings of Jacques Lacan and Slavoj Žižek, this paper aims to analyse the performance of otherness and selfhood in the Twilight Saga and the upshot of such a performance. Slavoj Žižek has widely argued that ‘we seem to live more and more with the thing deprived of its substance’, where what we get is ‘beer without alcohol, meat without fat, coffee without caffeine...and even virtual sex without sex’3. In Meyer’s books the male main character, Edward Cullen, embodies this philosophical premise: although a vampire he defines himself as a vegetarian (since he drinks only animal blood); although he drives potent cars, a clear metaphor of a powerful sexuality, he refrains from any physical involvement with the female main character, the human Bella; although he is ‘the bad guy’, throughout the saga he acts as Bella’s guardian angel. Through the encounter of Edward and Bella the boundaries between selfhood and otherness become more fluid, allowing opposites to merge (i.e. the human-vampire that Bella and Edward’s daughter will be). I will conclude my analysis by advancing that it is this renegotiation of otherness and selfhood which has led to the saga’s broad popularity.
|Reading Lacan - Zizek|
and it disintegrates.