Saturday, September 10, 2005

Vampire Appeal

I actually started thinking about this question over at the Vampire Vixen's blog, but no one there seems as interested in it as I am. So, I thought I'd talk to myself. Out loud. Which is what I've decided blogging is. Anyway, the question is this one: why are vampires still so popular? I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I'm going to suggest that, beyond the obvious answers (power = sexy and la petite mort and all that jazz), there is an element of class. By class I don't mean a sassy attitude and Prada handbags (ie being "classy"-- although in some of the chick-lit books like Davidson's Undead series that seems to be part of the appeal), but like, hard-core social, economic class. Like upper, middle, and lower. I suggest this based on a personal experience I had. I used to, in the late 80s, belong to a listserve that focused on vampires. A group of us also posted what was called "fluff," aka fiction. Anyway, I wrote about a vampire who had, as a human, been a heroin-addicted male prositute. He was identifably ethnic -- although well within the traditions of vampirism, as he was Ukrainian. I didn't get a lot of feedback about the story as I posted it, but I didn't really think about that much (after all, why write, if not for yourself?) Until I posted a story that featured a much more traditional vampire -- that is to say, he identified as being way-way back of Eastern European stock (though "lightly" eastern, being as he was from Vienna, Austria), but he was currently living in London and was landed, British gentry. The people on my list loved the story. That got me thinking about vampires and class. Why are so many vampires in literary tradition rich? I mean, I get the appeal on basic levels. Rich people have more toys. More toys = more fun. Generally, rich people -- even those allergic to sunlight -- have more mobility. That's more interesting than a vamp stuck in the projects because he doesn't own a car (or as in a story I tried to write, a vampire stuck in a gold mine in the 1800s because he needs a job he can do in the dark so he can afford a place to live and clothes for his back). Plus, for most of us being rich is a completely foreign experience, which we assume we'd enjoy immensely given the opportunity. If I had a million dollars, etc. So, that's fun. I get that. But, I think there's more to it. I think it has to do with the roots of the literary vampire. I've read exactly one book that traces the literary tradition of the vampire. It's by Clive Leatherdale and is called Dracula: The Novel and the Legend. It was probably his English literature dissertation on Bram Stoker's Dracula, becuase the bulk of the book is fairly detailed literary criticism -- but, one of the reason I read and re-read the book for the sections about the history of the vampire as a folk tradition and the rise of the literary vampire in Europe. One of the things that Leatherdale suggests is that, while the folklore vampire has existed probably since about the time that humans realized blood kept people alive, the literary vampire never really took off in popular culture until the Romantic period (as he puts it, "the second quarter of the 18th century"). Shelley, Keats, and Byron all wrote poems about the vampire. The Romantics really used the undead the way we modern writers do. That is to say, they took the folklore vampire, who was an ugly, smelly, stupid, scary corpse, and made him youth and beauty undying. Their themes were all about vampire love -- the young, murdered lover returning from death to persue his unrequited passions. These were upperclass dead guys, who had a lot of tragic angst about their lust for blood. The vampire is kind of uber-human in terms of his intellectual naval-gazing about the state of his humanity. He's the gentleman scholar who is burdened by his immortality. As opposed to the stock horror mosters of Bloodsuckers who relish the sucking and eating, this is a "hero"/antihero who feels really bad about draining the life out of his victims. Oh, woe is me, I am so horrible... yet I'm compelled to continue to be horrible. This is not to say that I believe that the lower class vampires aren't as equally interested in the intellectual naval-gazing. I just think that the popular mindset is such that we're more willing to allow that the idle rich may have more time for such persuits, and we perceive the lower class already engaged in a fight for survival that doesn't seem to lend itself to the same sort of angst. The idea/prejudice is -- if you've killed someone for bread to eat, killing them for their blood isn't going to keep you awake at night bemoaning your lost humanity, you know? I'm woefully off track here, I think. But, there may be something more worth persuing on this. I've talked enough to myself for today, though.

6 comments:

Kat2610 said...

I think you're spot on with your comment in regards to lierary vampirism having a lot to do with class. As you say a working class vampire who has to work everyday to keep a roof over his head and has to kill to eat is not as interesting as an intellectual gentleman, in the traditional sense, who lives to kill, as well as kills to live.

Roberto Iza Valdes said...
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Roberto Iza Valdes said...
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Wendi said...

I am sure you have heard the song "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club but have you ever given much thought to its meaning? While on Earth, you are living in a world of reincarnation which is governed by the law of karma. Karma begins to propel you as Soul on a personal journey through the universe. Karma ends when you have reached enlightenment and fully realise that this physical reality and the Universe itself is just an illusion. When you reach a state of knowingness that there is but One all pervading essence and that essence or consciousness is You!
So what is Karma and how does it work? While in the illusion you have a soul. This soul lives past, present, and future lives. To grow in love, joy, and awareness, you reincarnate into a series of physical bodies to experience different existences. This road leads to the experiences of being both sexes, all races, religions, and ethnic types throughout many lifetimes.
Karma in its simplicist terms can be described by the biblical statement "as you sow, so also shall you reap". Karma is the principle of cause and effect, action and reaction, total cosmic justice and personal responsibility. It brings 'good' experiences as well as 'bad' - a debt must be repaid and a blessing rewarded.

A more indepth esoteric look at karma gives us the following distinctions: Sanchita Karma: the accumulated result of all your actions from all your past lifetimes. This is your total cosmic debt. Every moment of every day either you are adding to it or you are reducing this cosmic debt. Prarabdha Karma: the portion of your "sanchita" karma being worked on in the present life. If you work down your agreed upon debt in this lifetime, then more past debts surface to be worked on. Agami Karma: the portion of actions in the present life that add to your "sanchita" karma. If you fail to work off your debt, then more debts are added to "sanchita" karma and are sent to future lives. Kriyamana Karma: daily, instant karma created in this life that is worked off immediately. These are debts that are created and worked off - ie. you do wrong, you get caught and you spend time in jail.
As a soul, you experience a constant cycle of births and deaths with a series of bodies for the purpose of experiencing this illusionary world gaining spiritual insights into your own true nature until the totality of all experiences show you Who you really are - the I AM! Until you have learned, you will find that pretending that the rules of karma do not exist or trying to escape the consequences of your actions is futile.
Although it may often "feel" like punishment, the purpose of karma is to teach not to punish. Often the way we learn is to endure the same type of suffering that we have inflicted on others and also rexperience circumstances until we learn to change our thinking and attitudes.

We are all here to learn lessons as spiritual beings in human form. These lessons are designed to help us grow into greater levels of love, joy, and awareness. They teach us our true nature of love. Where we do not choose love, show forgiveness, teach tolerance, or display compassion, karma intervenes to put us back on the path of these lessons. Quite simply, the only way to achieve a state of karmic balance is to be love.
Before you incarnated into your present personality, you agreed to put yourself in the path of all that is you need to learn. Once you got here, you agreed to forget this. Karma is impersonal and has the same effect for everyone. It is completely fair in its workings and it is predictable - "do onto others as you would have them do unto you" is a way to ensure peace and tranquillity in your own life as well as the lives of those you come into contact with. The law of karma is predictable - "as you sow, so shall you reap" what is done to you is the net result of what you have done to others!
Karma gives you the opportunity at every moment to become a better person than you are and to open up to the realization that you are the master of your own fate.

The goal of karma is to give you all the experiences that you need to evolve into greater levels of love, joy, awareness, and responsibility. Karma teaches that you are totally responsible for the circumstances of your life. They keep you on the straight and narrow until you have mastered your vehicle and can ride freely on your own. Once you understand that you are the master of your own circumstances and that everything you experience is a direct result of your past actions due to your thinking and emotional responses you can overcome its seeming negative effects by creating only 'good' karma.
Karma forces us to look beyond ourselves (oneness) so that we can see ourselves as we truly are Whole, Complete, at One with everything. Once we truly understand ourselves, we can see our divinity and our unity with all life.
Karma drives us to service. Love means service. Once you accept total responsibility for your life, you see yourself as a soul in service to God. Once you do, you become a fully realized being, allowing God to experience the illusion through you.
Belief in karma and an understanding of its workings will lead you to a life of bliss. Only your own deeds can hinder you. Until the time comes when we release ourselves from our own self-imposed shackles of limitation and fully understand who and what we are we will live under the mantle of karma. So until that day why not create some wonderful experiences for ourselves by "doing onto others, as we would have them do unto us". hypnosis

Iza Firewall said...
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