[DWJ] Twilight and New Moon (Was: Discussing now: What?)

deborah.dwj at suberic.net deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Thu Aug 9 12:56:40 EDT 2007

On Thu, 9 Aug 2007, Melissa Proffitt wrote:

> On Thu,  9 Aug 2007 11:56:30 +0200 (CEST), Rachel Ganz wrote:
>>> It's interesting to read your take on this.  All my life I interpreted it
>>> the opposite--that I should not make demands on others I wasn't willing to
>>> expect of myself.  That it wasn't fair to require someone else to live up to
>>> standards I couldn't keep myself.  I suppose that's why it's such a
>>> double-edged statement; how you look at it can make a huge difference in how
>>> you live.
>> But what sort of demands are you making? Shoe a horse, code a compiler, manage a sewage farm, run a mile?
>> I think it can be a dangerously individualistic approach - to believe that one is self-sufficient and can do anything.
> That's not what I meant.  You're talking about having the *capacity* to do
> things rather than the *responsibility* to do things.  I don't see the
> original statement as having anything to do with the varied abilities every
> human being has--and I do not believe in self-sufficiency, which seems to me
> both impossible and unappealing.  Rather, I see it as a warning against a
> kind of moral hypocrisy:  if you have standards of behavior or ethics you
> expect of others, you'd better be living up to them yourself.  Or else it's
> time to reevaluate those standards.

In the context of the book being quoted, that's exactly it.  The
heroine (to whom the statement is addressed) is an anti-slavery,
anti-animal cruelty* moral absolutist in 17th century Virgina.
The idea is that she is going to demand others live up to her
extremely stringent moral codes -- including not relying on
slaves in a slave-owning society, among other, more personal
demands -- she needs to act in those ways herself.

* Yes, I realise equatin anti-slavery and anti-animal cruelty is
problematic.  Rest assured that the book does not infantalize the
black characters, and doesn't even place the heroine persistently
in the position of Rescuer.  For a book written in 1969, the race
issues aren't bad at all.

Also note that my random sig generator picked this message's sig

What does it matter whether we hang,
If we've learned a little wisdom?	-- _Jade_, Sally Watson

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