I once dreamt I had died. It was mundane; I woke in a suspiciously quiet hospital ward, felt weird, walked home and tried to engage my associates. My dog barked at me and my partner treated me as though I was some reprehensible impersonation. Even the house seemed to reject me, all going on as though I had never existed, or at most, had been some brief aberration. It was… lonely. So far beyond motorcycle emptiness or simple abandonment that elaboration is entirely redundant. But I am grateful for the experience because it had finally handed me the upyr; I could crack that stubborn metaphorical ribcage and wear that sucker like a pea coat. A leaky, smelly pea coat.
My concerns about including this class of folkloric creature were peculiarly modern in that I was worried people would identify too closely with them. Expect them to flower like rescue kittens, want them to lose the BO and homicidal tendencies in favour of pining after mouthbreathing mallrats or hitting the gym or wandering around festivals on half a tab of E. To be not even emo, that illiterate child of goth, but grunge lite. Nightwalking dolphins. For those interested in the subtext and wider implications of this ageless meme, the public's embrace of the reformed vampire signposts some dubious developments. To my mind they signal society's deeply fucked relationship with death and its cosmic indifference to the whiny individual; to sex, the horrific dishonesty with which it is consumed and portrayed, and to consumption itself, our sick need to possess and control, to devour and remand our objects of desire.
Much is made of the vampire's origins in this or that psychological S-bend, but I think its just as simple as it appears, even to the contemporary eye. Historically, the equation was simple; death was commonplace, intimately observed and tightly designated by religious and cultural practice. It was bad, or at least unfortunate, entailed suffering, often grotesque; if your conditions were particularly rustic, you might dimly hope for a fairer suck of the saveloy on the other side of the Styx, but that was about it. Fatalism prevailed.
Anyone who has ever watched someone die or handled their remains (and I have experienced both of these privileges) must be struck by the speed with which the individual departs and the flesh is accordingly deconsecrated. To the ancients, corpses were deeply problematic, either in the unseemly haste of decomp or in the worrisome stasis that sometimes prevailed, and in their puzzling relationship with disease and its association with further fatalities. For an elder society squirming under the conflicting demands of chthonic and imperial religions, personal ties and social obligation, the dead could be made to take some of that crushing weight into the earth or onto pyre with them. To make the dead responsible for the evils of life is expedient and therefore human, as well as satisfyingly symmetrical. Scapegoating generally is. Throw gender into the mix and well, that explains everything really, doesn't it? Ponder the feminine orientation of many early references to vampirism and conclude that the only thing worse than a live bitch is possibly a dead one. LOL.
So anyway. Dead = bad, end of story, until recently, when hygiene and medicine and psychology and civil order stepped in and death came to = blank for most of us. Is it out of this vacuum that our need to befriend and spit polish the bloodsack arises? Vanity assures us that our precious regard can transform the lost. Now we're also cosseted and naive enough to get squishy at the thought of corpses talking and touching us and maybe doing stuff under the blankets. Aaaaand that's where things start to walk the plank for me. Fetishizing the corpse into something sexual and desirable is decadent. Decadent in the bad sense of the word; sloppy, thoughtless, selfish, narcissistic, brain-dead; in short, concisely symptomatic of our societal malaise. I'm judging that shit because its disgusting. And even worse- stupid.
Wow, calm down hoe, perhaps? What are you, some kind of religiose maniac? No. I am an überliberal who doesn't give a fig for conventional propriety or organized dogma. I could not write vampirism in association with the kind of drooling subadult pseudoerotica so popular of late for, you know, ethical reasons. Because the undead are a cautionary tale; empty, sadistic, remorseless, and if that's sexy to you, you can't be in my gang. Like sequins, sex is for the living. (anything living- I'm not fussy about that- read the book). It is for consenting adults. Consent within sex is important and I am dismayed by the waving away of this fundamental by so many in their fictional choices. Like the death deficit in our lives, should we take this as some sort of sign that fewer women (if only within the cohort to which I refer) are actually being exposed to the reality of sexual violence? Or have we just become so inured to its insidious manifestations that its just no biggie anymore? Whatever. Sex should not be somewhere women and girls (occasionally men, but that shit is boring, isn't it, hmm?) auction their lives like they had no use for the fucking things anyway. Nonconsensual interpersonal brutality starts with R, not tee hee and sparkles.
While we're on interpersonal brutality, let's think about the possessive implications of vampirism. As its victim, you're chained, controlled and curtailed; as the nightwalker yourself, you get to impose that upon the possessed. Sort of like a douchebag, really. Here's another of the warnings implicit in the historical allegory. Greed the Destructor. Does all this not remind us of our attitude to everything else we might possess, even if only on credit? The vampire's victims end up gathering dust like a fake LV clutch or are crushed underfoot by their master's wheezy lurch toward the next conquest-slash-purchase. Do they still feel treasured? Who cares? They were gotten, and have already been had.
To be sure, these reprobates do besmirch the pages of the Blackthorn Orphans. But I like to think they inspire dry heaves, not damp underwear. Call me traditional but they are amoebic in their moral and physical expression; sinuses longing for stolen volume, battening psychopaths, the most boring/annoying person at the party. They're not here to bring you flowers or meet your parents or admire your exemptionalist paradigm; as Auberjonois remarks, if they haven't sold your blood while its still in your veins, its because that would be sharing. If Siobhan's deceased trash talk could be more revolting, I can't think of a way. Well, I could, but I won't go there and we're all thankful for that. If Petrouchka could invite more recoil or pity, the same thing applies. And Opal, well… what a fucking dead cow. They are not loathsome in their deliciousness; they are just loathsome. Do not friend them, because that would be wrong.