Peter M Howard ::

A Vampire Lore

10July2006 [film]
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The vampires, with their cousins the werewolves, represent two extremes of human nature. If a true human is body and spirit in harmony, a vampire is a spirit who has rejected the body, and a werewolf has rejected the spirit and surrendered itself to the body.

My sympathies lie on the vampiric end of this spectrum. But both extremes are wrong, and there are plenty of people today at these extremes. The vampires and werewolves of legend become more and less real with the fluctuation of society’s mores.

Those who would have us believe that the physical is everything are our werewolves. They say that this earth is all we have; that the body is everything; that sex is the ultimate human experience. And there are those who reject this outright, extending their rejection of this philosophy to a rejection of the physical; sex becomes evil.

There are heresies throughout the Church’s history, when various groups have claimed the vampire philosophy. The rejection of Christ’s humanity is the ultimate heresy: the idea that God would not “reduce himself” and possess a body.

In my creative explorations of the vampires, I especially want to explore the idea that they are here, amongst us, ready to make themselves known and take over the earth again. We are in the beginnings of a swing back in their direction; there are great social movements that seek to take control from the werewolves and return it to the vampires.

These aren’t the vampires of your fantasy.

Vampire mythology is rather convoluted, with elements from folklore, literature, film. But there are some common themes in the imagery. My vampire:spirit link has come from the imagery, but I also want to build up an image of the vampires as I see them, that is, that suits that philosophy.

There’s no doubt that vampires are generally portrayed as refined and as somewhat controlled. The blood-craze is interpreted differently though. I like the general image of it as a passion that must be fought and controlled. But sometimes it is taken too far and the vampires are portrayed as *-crazed and generally slave to their passions. This is the version that strays; they become debauched; they are, simply, no longer vampires. I’ve a feeling this portrayal is actually a product of our werewolf-dominant age with people assuming that passions cannot be controlled, and that, thus, if a vampire feels the blood-lust they must give in to it, and to lust of all kinds. My vampires are not passionate nor violent; they are controlled to the point of coldness.

And numerous aspects of the vampire myth point to their incorporeal nature. They are pale, untouched by the sun; they can fly or can transform their bodies into the form of bats; they have no reflection. I don’t want to reproduce all these aspects in my creative works: the lack of a reflection and the ability to change form are particularly unattractive. Similarly, my vampires are not necessarily allergic to sunlight. But the general imagery is still important: they exist in shadow. And there is the possibility that at least some of them can phase shift: essentially taking their body’s form at will.

The final image is the Bite, and blood. I don’t see the vampires as blood-crazed creatures who feed on human blood. I’m not sure the blood-lust is necessary at all, though as I said earlier, I like the idea of it as a passion that must be controlled. If the vampires are largely spiritual creatures, I don’t see a need for them to feed at all. I can see the use of the bite to turn humans; there is clearly something in the blood, and it helps the ‘victim’ release the body and become like the vampires. I’m still unsure about where I’m heading with this image, and it is key. But in The Journal of Paul Hunter I’ve basically presented the idea that an unprepared human will die when bitten. A human cannot be turned against their will, and so the body will reject the blood in an effort to remain conjoined to the spirit. The process is almost certainly deadly. If a human is properly prepared, then the bite merely acts as an aid to the spirit in its rejection of the body. (My idea being that a human could, theoretically, turn of their own volition, though the rejection process would be far more difficult.) In Paul Hunter the titular protagonist contacts Aaron, an old man who long ago prepared himself for the turning, but in the end rejected the vampire philosophy and was never bitten. His preparation did, however, give him unnaturally long life; he is almost a half-way-vampire.

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