Tag Archives: Human

Vampires, Death, and Immortality

Who wants to be a vampire? Seriously. The vampire craze is so prevalent, I must ask the question: if you could, would you want to be a vampire? What’s the plus side to a positive answer? Immortality, I suppose. Us mortal creatures have a natural tendency to fear death. Some of us believe in a better life after this one, but tales of heaven and nirvana could just as well be fictions for all we know. Perhaps death is simply oblivion. There’s really no way to prove it otherwise. Given that, it is quite natural to fear death and to seek some way of avoiding it, no matter the cost.

 

So, the greatest and most obvious advantage to becoming a vampire is not ever having to die. A bite, followed by some sort of transformation, then one is all set to ride the tides of time walking the earth for century upon century.

 

That, to me, is somewhat tempting but for a number of ancillary reasons besides the obvious. Don’t get me wrong, living forever is a grand idea from the get go. Death? Who needs it? But I am also drawn to the natural expansion of experience that comes with such immortality. Wouldn’t it be wild to have seen Egypt in its heyday? Or to have been there when Columbus changed the world forever by discovering America? To know with certainty what life was like in the 1600’s because you had been there and lived it? Such a wealth of experience and knowledge is certainly one of the stronger draws the vampire has on the modern reader. Plus, think of all the things you could study and learn. I was a philosophy geek in college, so I was naturally drawn to all things intellectual. It would be fantastic, I think, to study quantum physics, transfinite math, and a host of other subjects that just beg looking into.

 

But alas, there are a few drawbacks to becoming a vampire. There is that whole needing to drink blood thing they got going, for one. I mean, I’m not squeamish around blood, but I don’t think I want to depend upon it as my only source of food. Then, there’s that whole notion that vampires are cursed, shunned by God and forever damned. Perhaps the being damned bit is just another way of saying “cursed” to wander the world forever. But since immortality might not be a bad thing (as discussed above), calling it cursed or damned might be doing it a dreadful disservice, unless there really is a God from whom the vampire is forever cut off. Then, you truly are cursed. There are ways for a vampire to die, and if upon extinction your soul is sent to hell, then none of that extended experience and gloriously long life would really be worth it. Finally, the traditional vampire is generally seen to be an enemy of humans. I mean, vampires regard humans much like humans regard cows (unless you go that “Twilight” route). I, for one, do not want to pit myself against the interests of all humanity. That’s just me.

 

There is also an issue with boredom. The notion of immortality might be appealing now, but four or five centuries from now? Would I feel the same way? I’m not sure. Sure, I would know physics, and high-level math, and a host of other esoteric subjects, but after a while it all just disintegrates into intellectual sludge, I’m sure.

 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there are the people we care about. Unless all the people you know become immortal as well, the yawning expanse of time would become quite lonely and sorrowful. And if that’s the case, it’s not worth it.

Why Are Vampires Horrific? Mind vs. Monster

Legends of the vampire abound the world over. The myth has morphed from the tales told around a campfire to world-wide box office hits and best-selling books. Throughout, the nature of the vampire has slowly changed, or perhaps been deliberately muddled. In modern times, the vampire is undergoing even more change. In horror movies (as opposed to something like “Twilight”), an emphasis is being placed upon the vampire as monster. Where once the vampire of horror resembled a human being with only a pair of slightly-too-large sharp canine teeth as tell-tale signs of its true nature, it is now being more consistently represented as a hideous monster, or  a human-like being that transforms into a hideous monster when it is time to feed. With modern special effects it is relatively easy to make a creature horrific-looking: white-grey skin, finger-nails like claws, and mouths filled with row upon row of vicious, sharp teeth. Add to that a growling, beast-like visage, and the transformation is complete. But is all this “beefing up” of the vampire’s bestial nature necessary?

 

I would argue no. It works at a superficial level; the visual effect of a horrific vampire, such as the one Colin Farrell played in the re-make of “Fright Night” can be quite disconcerting the first time you see it on the screen. But that’s as far as it goes. To me, the greatest horrific characteristic of the vampire is its human-like intelligence. Here is a monster that feeds on humans, slaying them, transforming them into its own kind, and it is as smart as any of them, often times smarter with centuries of experience on its side. To me, that has the potential of creating a truly terrible monster, yet it is hardly used as well as it could be. To me, the visually horrifying vampire does the myth as a whole a disservice because part of the horror that came with the myth was the notion that the vampire appeared almost completely human—perhaps he was a little pale, and he had those two sharp teeth I mentioned, but beyond that it was easy to mistake him for one of us. A bite from a vampire seen at a distance could easily be mistaken for a kiss. Turning the creature into a hideous monster changes that dynamic in a fundamental way and something is lost when that happens. He becomes a killing machine, a mechanism for cheap thrills and slaughter. I prefer the vampire that plots and schemes, that has a plan. This requires more subtlety in the writing, but I believe it is worth it. A story where one can see and feel the intelligence of this diabolical adversary would be far more effective than simply presenting a brutal killer with supernatural powers.