Sunday, November 20, 2011

Will Someone Please Explain About Vampires?

Every ten years or so I try to read a book about vampires, and fail.  I would like to be able to read vampire literature, since the fiction shelves of the nearby village libraries are mostly filled with contemporary popular fiction, and often it's hard to find something to read.  As I browse dispiritedly through the shelves, I see lots of vampire books.

My problem with vamp lit is the biology.  I've just never understood how vampires work.

My first stumbling block is the bite, and how it is made.  If I wanted to suck someone's blood--and wanted to do so unobtrusively, maybe while the victim thought he or she was being nuzzled affectionately--a small hole in the carotid artery would be the way to do it.  The hole would have to be small enough to heal quickly by itself, otherwise the person would bleed to death and I would have killed the goose that lay the golden e.  A set of sharp incisors would be best to deliver such a small but accurate bite.  But vampires are well known for sporting huge canines which, as any cat will tell you, are great for slashing and tearing.  Apply real vampire teeth to a vulnerable human throat, and there would be no second helpings.

There is another problem with vampire dentition.  If I close my mouth and run my fingers down over my canines, I can feel that if these were long and sharp they would run into my lower teeth.  If they somehow got past those, they would puncture my lower gums.  I opened Wolfie's mouth and checked his set of inch-long canines.  Despite their length, they don't pierce his lower gums because his lower jaw is quite narrow, and fits well inside the upper.  But that is not the way human mouths are made.

A thick erotic fog surrounds vampires and their victims.  Something about sucking someone's blood, and having blood sucked out of one, is supposed to be highly sexy.  I assume that a vampire's desire for blood is caused by anemia.  The universally pale, wan skin--there are no rosy-cheeked vampires--is a clear diagnostic sign.  As someone who is closely acquainted with anemia, however, I can attest that the feelings it generates (fatigue and an overwhelming desire for sleep) are anything but erotic.  The anemia theory is also at odds with the vampire's great muscular strength, which is not a trait associated with low red blood cell count.  From the victim's point of view, losing large amounts of blood at one time cannot be pleasant.  If there are people who derive sexual satisfaction from making blood donations to the Red Cross, I have never heard of them. 

If you want to become a vampire, you have to be bitten by one.  But you'd think that if becoming a vampire also gave you great strength, you'd be able to fight off the original vampire when he came around for another meal.  I really wonder what happens when a vampire and his victim-turned-vampire meet.  Do they have a big fight?  Do they take turns sucking each other's blood?  Exactly what do they get up to?

If I could get past these questions, I'd be able to deal with the nocturnal habits, the stakes, the crosses, the garlic.  Come to think of it, maybe it's all the garlic I eat that not only keeps vampires away from me, but keeps me away from vampires. 

If any of you are versed in vampire lore, please enlighten me.


14 comments :

  1. I predict that your readers will be vampire clueless, like you and I. I did discover that my son reads all the Twilight series and goes to the movies so we have a resource ;-). When we went to Olympic National Park last year we stayed on the reservation associated with the Twilight Tribe. It was beautiful, mystical and remote!

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  2. mrb, the Twilight Tribe? We must talk about this. A couple of years ago I saw a delightful Danish or Swedish (so shame-making that I can't remember which) about a child vampire. I'd give a couple of drops of blood to remember the title.

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  3. Let the right one in. Wonderful monie. Swedish. I will come back when I am on my computer.

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  4. I've not gotten very far in the Penguin Book of Vampire Stories, so I'm not of much help here. I've found it interesting that there are many different rules for vampires, depending on the author / script writer but the rules rarely change for the other creatures of the night.

    For instance in Dracula vampires had to avoid sunlight and could not be seen in a mirror whereas in more modern vampire tales such as Being Human and Twilight, etc vampires can go out in the sunlight. In Twilight, etc they sparkle, in Being Human nothing happens.

    I wrote it in another comment that has not been approved yet that the Swedish film you are talking about is called Let the Right One In. There was a US remake of it called Let Me In which I have not seen, but have seen the original 3 times.

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  5. So glad you brought this up as I don't get it either. OK we have domination and blood as universal themes, both of these having taboos from the past connected to them. Remember "only women bleed". And the "The Red Tent" where women gathered during their bleeding time as no one in the tribe wanted to associate with them because this was "a dirty time'?
    Now back to the domination your point is quite well taken, what is the ladder of success in this group?

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  6. This was great fun. I admit to having enjoyed the book Interview with a Vampire way back when, and I'm a huge and Angel fan, but that's just good, quirky writing (I heart Joss Whedon). After that, I figured I got all the vampire stuff I ever needed.

    Too bad blood donation isn't a sexual turn on. Maybe then they'd get me in there.

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  7. Dona M., maybe it's time for some feminist vampire fiction.

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  8. Indigo, I'll try to remember those titles next time I'm at the library, though usually I blank out completely and can't remember who wrote "Hamlet."

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  9. Hmmmm. My comment got abbreviated. I had written that I'm a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel fan. (Where did Buffy go?) They are old TV shows, though, not books, so look in the DVD section.

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  10. Indigo, sorry about that. Maybe the fact that I downloaded comments in Philadelphia had something to do with it? But thanks for clarifying.

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  11. Vampires? Like you, I'm still in the dark.

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