The vampire may originate from a repressed memory we had as primates. Perhaps at some point we were — out of necessity — cannibalistic. As soon as we became sedentary, agricultural tribes with social boundaries, one seminal myth might have featured our ancestors as primitive beasts who slept in the cold loam of the earth and fed off the salty blood of the living.
Monsters, like angels, are invoked by our individual and collective needs. Today, much as during that gloomy summer in 1816, we feel the need to seek their cold embrace.
Herein lies an important clue: in contrast to timeless creatures like the dragon, the vampire does not seek to obliterate us, but instead offers a peculiar brand of blood alchemy. For as his contagion bestows its nocturnal gift, the vampire transforms our vile, mortal selves into the gold of eternal youth, and instills in us something that every social construct seeks to quash: primal lust. If youth is desire married with unending possibility, then vampire lust creates within us a delicious void, one we long to fulfill.
In other words, whereas other monsters emphasize what is mortal in us, the vampire emphasizes the eternal in us. Through the panacea of its blood it turns the lead of our toxic flesh into golden matter.
In a society that moves as fast as ours, where every week a new “blockbuster” must be enthroned at the box office, or where idols are fabricated by consensus every new television season, the promise of something everlasting, something truly eternal, holds a special allure. As a seductive figure, the vampire is as flexible and polyvalent as ever. Witness its slow mutation from the pansexual, decadent Anne Rice creatures to the current permutations — promising anything from chaste eternal love to wild nocturnal escapades — and there you will find the true essence of immortality: adaptability.
Vampires find their niche and mutate at an accelerated rate now — in the past one would see, for decades, the same variety of fiend, repeated in multiple storylines. Now, vampires simultaneously occur in all forms and tap into our every need: soap opera storylines, sexual liberation, noir detective fiction, etc. The myth seems to be twittering promiscuously to serve all avenues of life, from cereal boxes to romantic fiction. The fast pace of technology accelerates its viral dispersion in our culture.
But if Polidori remains the roots in the genealogy of our creature, the most widely known vampire was birthed by Bram Stoker in 1897.
Part of the reason for the great success of his “Dracula” is generally acknowledged to be its appearance at a time of great technological revolution. The narrative is full of new gadgets (telegraphs, typing machines), various forms of communication (diaries, ship logs), and cutting-edge science (blood transfusions) — a mash-up of ancient myth in conflict with the world of the present.
Today as well, we stand at the rich uncertain dawn of a new level of scientific innovation. The wireless technology we carry in our pockets today was the stuff of the science fiction in our youth. Our technological arrogance mirrors more and more the Wellsian dystopia of dissatisfaction, while allowing us to feel safe and connected at all times. We can call, see or hear almost anything and anyone no matter where we are. For most people then, the only remote place remains within. “Know thyself” we do not.
Despite our obsessive harnessing of information, we are still ultimately vulnerable to our fates and our nightmares. We enthrone the deadly virus in the very same way that “Dracula” allowed the British public to believe in monsters: through science. Science becomes the modern man’s superstition. It allows him to experience fear and awe again, and to believe in the things he cannot see.
And through awe, we once again regain spiritual humility. The current vampire pandemic serves to remind us that we have no true jurisdiction over our bodies, our climate or our very souls. Monsters will always provide the possibility of mystery in our mundane “reality show” lives, hinting at a larger spiritual world; for if there are demons in our midst, there surely must be angels lurking nearby as well. In the vampire we find Eros and Thanatos fused together in archetypal embrace, spiraling through the ages, undying.
Forever.Continue reading the main story
Critical Rhetorical Analysis: “Why Vampires Never Die”
Does the supernatural simply flare and then fade forever? More specifically, do vampires die? Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan claim in their essay, “Why Vampires Never Die,” published in July 30th 2009, that the reason paranormal creatures are immortal is due to the fact that they stress what is corporeal in humanity, whereas vampires accentuate the endless and everlasting desire within mankind. They deem that in a society fixated on the transient, something truly endless grasps a distinctive charm. Furthermore, their core idea is that the individual craving for vampires hasn't been altered, albeit how radically society has been reformed. That in actuality, present scientific progressions have amplified one’s interest of vampires and monsters, and that forms inherent fears that will stay with people persistently. Del Toro and Hogan take advantage of multiple rhetorical elements such as telling the story in a compare and contrast manner, making use of similes, using a more connotative language, and having a unique structure of text.
The author’s op-ed piece was published in 2009, the very peak of the vampire contagion, where one could find these creatures wherever they looked. This pandemonium that arose from vampires is what drove del Toro and Hogan to pen “Why Vampires Never Die.” Furthermore, the purpose behind this essay is to give an abridged description of the past of vampires for the people who had become fanatics of the creatures. Also, this essay showed how vampires have persisted in pop culture. They suggest that vampires have been remade by diverse cultures at different times, and this change echoes that society's angst and concerns. The novelist’s imply that Stroker’s Dracula may mirror an exaggerated human on a primal level and that illusory monsters are simple allegories for actual problems and uncertainties.
Del Toro and Hogan use comparison and contrast to make their argument. They compare vampires to humans various times throughout the essay. By doing so, they not only enlighten upon the physical traits of a vampire but the emotional traits of both humans and supernatural beings. Furthermore, this contrast suggests that vampires are simply a supernatural, yet primal, version of humans. An undertone brought from the constant comparisons in this op-ed piece is why there is such an allure for something eternal to humans. They insist that this allure is because vampires generate lust, a “delicious void, one we long to fill.” Furthermore, they compare reality with fiction by stating that the reason people turn to any supernatural...
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