When I was around twelve, I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula (or did I see the old movie?) and was obsessed with it: the horror of the phantom scary stranger on the roof behind the blowing window curtain and the thrill of that juicy sexual component, the neck bite. Perhaps my fixation on Dracula had something to do with my fear of the helplessness that came with what my mother called “becoming a woman.” In that puritanical time, it was better to be one of the living dead than to be penetrated “down there.” Strictly speaking, Dracula got nowhere near third base and seemed to have no interest in it. The vampire virgin, like the possessed, was not responsible for her condition, and being a vampire negated the usefulness of reproduction in a system where life replaces death. .
As an adult, I have had little interest in vampires, though I suppose I should in view of the fact I would just love to live forever. I think what turned me off originally is an aversion to extreme horror and the utterly repulsive, like the sea of blood in the movie Interview with a Vampire. I’m a lot more queasy than I was at twelve – and the world of horror has gotten a lot more graphic. Also I have had the impression, without reading any contemporary vampire novels, that many of them are shallow horror-romances.
The vampire is a hot academic subject. When I plugged “+vampire +edu” into Google, I got almost eight million hits. “Evolution of Vampires” was a topic at Human Behavior and Evolution Society’s conference in Eugene, Oregon, in June 2010. And Purdue’s Comparative Literature and Culture (June, 2007) presented a paper, “Globalization, Empire, and the Vampire,” by Mario Vrbančić, in which, according to the abstract, he “analyses the vampire as the nation. . . . The vampire always occurs in the wake and decay of Empires. . . .[I]n America vampires disperse and multiply in popular culture and the mass media; in a newly emerging global order (Empire) they may embody the power of the multitude.” Dr. Thomas Garza (University of Texas, Austin) has studied people who identify themselves as vampires, and 20/20 did a segment about them. These folks start wanting blood as young teenagers, have (or want to have) fangs, don’t like sunlight. They obtain their blood from volunteer donors, who get an erotic thrill out of their thralldom; they don’t suck the donor dry but most monitor the amount of blood they take and are antiseptically clean in performing the procedure..Some experts view such real-life vampires as physically or psychologically damaged or as prototypes for the next step up the human evolutionary ladder.
It is all so interesting that I considered writing a piece of academia-tinged non-fiction, which might address one or more of these questions:
Do vampires represent a leech on society?
Can vampirism be somehow related to the Christian ritual of the eucharist, where humans drink Christ’s blood? Are the fictional vampires that go blood-less, having converted to vegetarianism, analogous with Protestants?.
What do changes in vampire gender relations signify? Do male vampires really combine “dad with cad,” as one academic believes? Why have male and female vampires become “cute,” not at all the repugnant rotten corpses vampires once were?
On the other hand, perhaps I can introduce a vampire into my fiction. I won’t take a blood oath that I’ll do that, but if I do I’ll have to live forever to follow my character through the course of his endless life.