For week 2 of our Literature of Horror, Fantasy & Sci-fi class we got the opportunity to read Interview with a vampire as well as watch the intriguing, but quiet movie Only lovers left alive.
My view on vampires as a base for storytelling has always been rather neutral. Their nature is intriguing, but seemingly stale in their timelessness. No matter the take on vampires, their nature stays the same and when faced with one, in any given context, their easily recognized. With their constantly pale skinn, the unmistakable fangs and relentless mixture of imposing entrancement and dread, they just haven't offered enough character development to gain and keep my interest. Although admittedly, this may well be the very thing that gives their character their certain strong hold in our collective mind. As the rest of the world move on, they stay in the shadows, eternal and timeless all at once.
Looking into mythology however, and discussing the subject with other people, I've come to realize just how many different versions of Vampires actually exists. Although their not necessarily referred to as vampires. And though they take on many different forms and shapes, what connects these creatures is that they all feed on the life force of people in some way. What's even more interesting is that a lot of the cultures where you can find them, have no apparent relation to each other.
A couple of these examples can be found here, just to give you an idea:
wikipedia.org List of vampires in folklore and mythology
In class we specifically discussed relationships and sexuality as presented through the idea of vampirism. Though other aspects are associated with these creatures as well, it's not surprising that vampires in particular has come to represent intimacy. Not only are vampires driven by their basic instincts, which as we come to understand are highly amplified, but their contact with their pray can be seen as nearly seductive. They lure their pray with their charmsand they generally feed either from the wrist or the throat, which both are considered sensual parts of the body. In Interview with a vampire when Lestat turns Louise, the author specifically describes the sensuous feeling of Lester's lips as they curl around Louise's throat.
A lot of emphasis is also put on Louise's emotional transformation. A lot of the book is spent describing Louise fighting against his own nature as a vampire whereas Lestat is doing his best to have him submit to it. Louise is appalled by the killing, yet entranced by his own senses as he in a sense is re-descovering life, and what it means to be truly living. He gains a new intimacy with life itself.
Only lovers left alive has a similar and very interesting take on what it means to be a vampire. Set solely in a baren night-scape, the main Characters Adam and Eve, live secluded and quiet lives. Though lovers, they live separately, in different parts of the world. Adam spends most of his nights creating music and attaining most of what he needs from the outside world through his closest acquaintance, Ian. Eve wanders the nights in Bombay, reads books, and listens to the music recorded by Adam.
One of the most interesting aspects in this movie was the relationships; that between Eve and Adam, the relationship between them and Eve's sister Ava, between them and other vampires, but mostly between vampires and humans. Throughout the movie Adam and Eve kept referring casually to humans as Zombies, and not one single time during the film was they word vampire used. I find this very interesting, especially considering I didn't find either Adam nor Eve particularly joyous of life. Eve had a sort of quiet appreciation for life and the simple act of living, while Adam was verging towards suicidal.
Over all this weeks discussion has raised my appreciation for vampires as a platform for describing our own human nature, and for raising our appreciation for the life that is happening to us every day. I would also recommend both reading Interview with a vampire and watch Only lovers left alive if you haven't yet done so.