All Humanity Covets is a Monstrosity

I liked vampires before they were cool [puts hipster glasses on]

This photo, “vampire” is copyright (c) 2014 Mate Toth and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license

In recent years, the popularity of vampires has fallen to the growing interest in zombies. Despite it all, I still hold my love for vampires. These mythological creatures have traditionally been depicted as evil plagues of humankind. Recently, the word ‘vampire’ has become synonymous with ‘ridiculously hot people who never age and never die.’ It’s a shame, really, because the concept of vampires is more complex than either of those images. They teach us something about the value of humanity and the dark side of gaining all we covet.

The original lore of vampires comes to us from the Middle Ages. When misfortune would fall upon a community they would blame the dead. They imagined the recently deceased had risen from the grave to bring chaos to the land. To prove their theory, they dug up graves and found bodies with swollen abdomens and blood trickling out of their mouths. Misunderstanding the signs of decay for that of a freshly fed monster, they assumed the body was a sleeping vampires. While scientific advances have given us a better understanding of decay, the lore of vampires has continued to evolve.

Consider what vampires have to come to symbolize in our society. When you think of them, what do you see. Chances are you imagine a pale, slim person in the prime of their 20s. Their hair, eyes and skin appear inhumanly perfect and their smile is enough to lure any unsuspecting victim into their arms. In short, these are beings which have everything humanity strives for. They have achieved eternal life, eternal beauty and eternal youth all for the small price of needing human blood to survive. The cost isn’t so bad, right?

Slowly, we have started to expand upon the idea of vampires. They are no longer solely defined by their need to feed or their unearthly beauty. Stories have gone on to show the true horrors of possessing all humanity covets.

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Eternal Life

This is a bad idea. I know we all like the idea of living longer. Even at 23, I find myself envious of those who will come after me. Imagine the scientific advances they will see! What other planets will we visit and the inventions we will create! I will miss all that comes after me. That’s a romantic idea, but do we ever stop to consider what makes life worth living?

Vampires are a wrench in the gears of the circle of life. Imagine centuries passing, all the while you never change. You stand alone in an ever-changing world, watching every being you’ve ever cared for, human or otherwise, deteriorate and die. Instead of a blessing, eternal life might be the most depressing state of any self-aware being for what is life without loved ones to share in your joy? Is eternal life worth watching all you hold dear pass away?

Instead of joy, eternal life brings about disturbing questions. How many loved ones must you watch die before losing the ability to love? How many pointless deaths would you bear witness to before you took death into your own hands? Would life hold any value if it lasted forever? We answer these questions in vampire lore and often find never-ending life brings the exact opposite of joy for all except those who have thrown their humanity away.

Eternal Beauty

This photo, “vampires” is copyright (c) 2014 Bastian and made available under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license

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On the surface, this sounds great. Who wouldn’t want to be eternally beautiful? Since eternal beauty is an impossibility for us, we rarely consider the shallowness of that question. What do we really expect to receive out of beauty? We admire a number of celebrities and famous figures for their allure, yet they can’t seem to hold on to a lover. Perhaps we expect gifts and money, but those things are as physical as the beauty they pay homage to.

Excessive beauty has a way of distracting us from connection. In the today’s vampire stories, we see this disconnect exaggerated. These creatures are often depicted as able to get anything they want. Money, power, possessions – it’s all theirs for the taking. Everything we are told we should desire and covet, vampires have at their fingertips. However, the only vampires who seem truly at home in their wealth are those who have lost their humanity. They have left their soul behind and turned into monstrous beings. Perhaps they do so out of self-preservation. Those who still hold their humanity tend to be lonely, brooding beings. When you can have everything, nothing is valuable. What they wouldn’t give to have someone to confide in or come home to. Their beauty can get them anything they want, but lacks the power to give them what they need.

In that respect, maybe the monstrous vampires have simply gone mad from the idea that, with all their power, they still lack the ability to gain what they most covet: connection.

Eternal Youth

How many work out programs, make up kits and face creams are dedicated to slowing down the aging process? We rush through so much of our lives and focus only on slowing down the gradual appearance of wrinkles. Never do we consider the true horrors that can come with our age frozen in time.

One thing I did like in Twilight was the discussion of child vampires. Children eternally frozen in their state. Babies who never grow. Toddlers who never mature beyond their terrible twos. What a horror and what tragedy. When people discuss youth, what they really want is the vitality and wildness associated with their 20s. Looking back, they wish for their lives to be the way they used to be and ignore the romance that can come with aging. I think our thirst for youth might come from a place of regret. Instead of looking forward to an exciting future, we obsess with the mistakes of our past. If only youth was yours again, how you would live differently!

Perhaps it’s unfair for me to comment, given my age, but I think aging is something to look forward to. Sure, there are some downsides, but each passing year also brings new experiences. We grow old with our friends, family and lovers. All the while, we watch a new generation appear and do our best to pass on our wisdom. Aging allows us to grow and change into new and better people. It connects us to a world that is also ever-changing. When we see vampires who never change, they have often lost this connection. They feel like they exist outside of this world and eventually come to feel as if they don’t belong.

_________

What do vampires show us about humanity? For starters, they show us the shallowness and pointlessness of our deepest desires. Even more, they show us how truly depression the acquisition of these qualities would be in an ever-changing world. Humanity is one with the circle of life, with death, age and socialization. The most fascinating thing about vampires lore is not the existence of their monstrosity, but that their monstrosity is a result of gaining all humanity coverts.

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What do you like more, vampires, zombies or people?

 

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40 thoughts on “All Humanity Covets is a Monstrosity”

  1. Ha! I like your question there… I liked vampires before they became all, like you said, young beautiful and kind of plastic. They were supposed to be full of power, passion, evil and decadence, but the latest ones, to me, seem wimpy and simpering. I guess our fantasies weren’t all they were cracked up to be after all 😦

    1. But then Marvel and Disney gave us Loki, who is full of power, passion, evil and decadence. He’s ALMOST as good as a vampire ^_^

      I’m planning on jumping on Anne Rice’s books soon. I’m tired of the YA vampire.

  2. Vampires, succubus, werewolves. He he Love them all.
    there is even a story about the stake part as in ancient times in village around Romania/Transylvania Tat people were buried alive. They to were thought to be the living dead, vampires.So just in case somewhere buried with a stake through the heart, to make sure they were dead.

    I loved the post. imagine the babies never growing up, yikes. Can they even have babies?
    So loved the writing on why we want it to be true. How much we are absorbed with being perfect. or an image of it.
    thank you for a wonderful piece to read.

    1. Well in reference to the children question I would respond with, what sort of Vampire are we talking about? Like the classical sense, well then no kids because technically the creature is a walking corpse just much more advanced then a zombie. If we are talking in the sense of that horrible series which makes me want to burn every book in the “teenage supernatural romance” section when I walk through Barnes & Noble, then I would hesitate because it was pretty unclear, and well I never did read those things.

      1. I read those things since I was in high school at the time and jumped at anything vampire. It was a loose concept, but basically, child vampires were against the rules. They couldn’t be controlled and went insane (or something like that) because they never aged, even mentally.

    2. You know what I realized while writing this? We go through all this trouble with making and tanning to be beautiful, but those things often speed up the aging process. We turn to creams and surgeries to slow the aging process, but those things having chemicals and risks that could end out life. It’s like, in attempting to have it all, we only hasten its loss.

      That story about the villages is cool. It’s so fascinating to learn how mythology came to be.

  3. Vampires, Zombies, Succubi, I’m with Crow on this one I love them all.

    It strikes me that another thing that is often associated with Vampires in both literature and film is the sexual angle, I don’t have the reference off hand but there was a striking psychological critique written on the original Dracula a few years ago. The author postulated that one of the other reasons the book did so well was because of its “risque” scenes of the count sneaking into the woman’s bedroom, and the act of feeding or the “red kiss’. Granted this was risque in Victorian England, now a days they would have to go much much further than that.

    1. That is part of the vampire allure. It has to do with them being enticing to their prey. They are so beautiful and so perfect that people get very close to them without ever suspecting the person isn’t human. It seems like a popular idea because we like the idea of being ‘entranced’ by beauty.

      1. True enough, I guess I am looking at it in a bit of a closer light then the overall beauty. And who doesn’t want to be entranced by beauty at one point in their life.
        I’ll always enjoy the Vampire mythos, as long as I never have to hear another kid say. “That Brahm Stocker dude, totally ripped of twilight.” I thought I was going to loose my mind.

    1. I’ve always liked vampires because of how they reflect humanity’s deepest desires. But then, I have a thing for mythology and fantasy. People are okay, though ^_^.

      As for the wave of interest… I kind of wish it never happened. I miss my monsters.

  4. I never was big into the vampire thing, or the werewolf thing or, any of that really. My main issue with vampires (which no one ever seems to address) is the idea that they are, in fact, dead. The dead don’t have blood pressure, how are they always having sex? A sexy vampire is a misnomer, because not even Viagra can help that poor fellow (and blood plays a pretty big role for women too, as well as other fluids). If you ask me, that kind of eternal life sees like hell…

    1. I’ve always thought that they drink the blood of others and that’rs what fills their veins, but I don’t know what the lore says about that. Good points. I’ve also heard them described as having rock hard bodies….. so maybe, even if he technically can’t get it up, it feels like it for his human victim… Maybe he kills his victim before he has to worry ^_^

      The thing that always bugged me about the romances of recent years is age. Vamp is 100+, girl is 18-. Something about that just didn’t sit well with me.

  5. I liked your summary. Media does affect young mind not trained to discern fantasy from reality. the problem is that what some people think about, they may do.
    Regards and good will blogging

    1. Thanks for reading. When it comes to the young mind, I think we have an obligation to make them understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

  6. I like anything with fantasy themes like vampires, demons or other supernatural creatures. I have read many lore about vampires, seen shows or movies like blades, and played games like skyrim that showed vampires. They are many different opinions of vampires weaknesses or strengths. I am also wondering if you thought about if other vampires can have a emotional bond that will make the internal life less painful?

    1. I suppose that’s possible, but I imagine it would be hard to come by unless there is some way another vampire would know just by looking that it has encountered another vampire. It depends on the lore of a particular story. A vampire that is fighting for feeding ground is likely to be less sociable than the vampire trying to hold on to it’s humanity.

  7. I love people and preserve that by hating what they do, instead of them. Thanks for helping me process the feelings I have about narcissism(the vampire perspective) being so degenerative. Your article was very insightful and eloquent. I drew connections between my longing for friends and family who have passed in recent years, and how that takes on a parasitic role in my psyche, if I fail to move on from the pain, by unearthing them as a vampire. Bringing the cultural attachment to physical beauty and youth to light in such a fascinating way, and transcending it with the history of a myth. Well done.

    1. Thanks, I’m happy is showed so much to you. This is why I love vampires. It has nothing to do with what they are, but what they show us about ourselves.

  8. Thoughtfully written and thought-provoking essay. I particularly like the sentiment: I think our thirst for youth might come from a place of regret . . . Well done!

    1. Thank you. I think a lot of young people get the message to be careful and have fun after retirement. Once we get there, too often we realized we need our youth to explore the world the way we want to.

  9. TK, you are wise beyond your years. I look forward to following your musings. Thanks for the like : ). Stephen King wrote a series of books based on a character named Roland. Some of the books were awful. Some were great. I believe there were seven books and the first was called The Gunslinger (that’s Roland). One of the many interesting concepts he addresses in the series is outliving generations of people and being the “last man standing”.

  10. Well said. Good insight into the underlying needs that draw us to creatures such vampires when what we truly need is love and significance – and they aren’t found in vampires, are they?

    1. Not in most vampires. They are a creation of our shallow desires and show us how all we covet isn’t worth as much as we think.

  11. i didn’t know much about vampires before this read. it was a good read. however i did write one that involved a vamp – love kind of thing. from what you describe as a vamp going mad as to a connection. that fits perfectly.

  12. When most kids were playing “G.I. Joe, or to the horror of parents everywhere, house, I was being the vampire. The game was simple, we would cover the windows, and make a small house, that I would climb through, an obstacle course that any five year old would be proud of, and then, I would sneak up on the unsuspecting victim, their necks cleverly covered by either splayed out hands, or a blanket perhaps. It was all to no avail.
    My love of vampires has never died, it permeates my subculture, my writing, my filmmaking, and to this day, I fear if offered the awful beauty of undeath, I would be there in a hot second. I loved the article. Thanks.

  13. From the time our early youth we seem to look forward to getting older, especially when we notice the extra freedoms, the newer toys, etc of the older ones… even towards retirement and, for some of us, its benefits. We’d like to slow it a bit by that time. But when I think about the few “independently living” centenarians I’ve met– that’s my “look forward goal.” Unique site ya got here. Many thanx for visiting mt blog. Peace.

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