The Ethics of Vampirism
I’m trying to figure out a way to talk of spiritual things in a time when spirituality has been so misused. I think I figured it out. I like Christianity because it has some interesting stories, but I like all religions really, and too many things have been done in the name of Jesus. Let’s put him away for a while in case someone blows the poor dude up, if they haven’t already.
The problem with spirituality today, as I see it, is that people haven’t developed their own moral compass yet, because it’s too easy to think of life in polar opposites. So I think I will go back to probably my favorite spiritual understanding of life by talking about vampirism.
I guess I’ll explain why first. Vampires do exist, in all kind of forms, and they don’t always do the blood thing. A lot of people are psychic vampires, which is when I get annoyed, because they just indiscriminately drain energy without realizing they’re being unethical. One type of psychic vampire I always run into are people who demand I talk to them without letting me talk about what I’m thinking. Bleh. Fuck off yous.
I think that a common kind of vampirism is empathy. People don’t know it’s vampiric, I mean, often you just can’t shut that stuff out. Kids in high school who go all “emo” are usually reacting that way because they can feel everyone’s hateful surface thoughts. I get the surface thoughts all the time, which is why I like to be alone. If I have to I can hack my way into some peoples minds and wander around, and say things just to toy with them if I really want to, although eventually I have just gotten to the point where if I stumble on an icky thought or memory I don’t usually persist. If I use it well I can tell people what they need to know though. I have seen other people’s memories of horrible things and that’s always hard. I had to break up with someone once because I started dreaming her past. So for gifted people especially who have empathy, learning about vampirism is useful in that it can give you a kind of discipline you might not have otherwise. Especially if every time you stumble across a surface thought it’s like a “You’re a disgusting human” ugh. Yeah, then you REALLY need to learn about vampires.
The thing about basically all spirituality is that you’re always supposed to find your own way through it. In pantheist religions all the gods and goddesses had various quirks, they didn’t always do what was right, it was kind of wild and you really just had to take what you could from them and come to your own conclusions. And it’s very much the same with vampires.
I don’t read peoples minds unless it’s a matter of urgency, honestly, I don’t want to know most of what people are thinking. My four years post hospital was hard because I could always read various surface feelings judging my identity. I was really irritated when people seemed fine with me being a stupid crazy person, ugh, that’s fucking sick!! So yeah, uh, oh right, surface thoughts.
Animals have empathy too. During massive wars you can see them change. In fact right now there’s a growing concern in the states with the total disappearance of honeybees. Where did they go? I dunno. Maybe they had to flee the country?
Dracula is probably the most well known vampire story, but you might be surprised to know that Dracula is actually a reworking of an older story, Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu. It was only 20 years older than Dracula, but it still influenced the writing quite a bit. And it was originally about lesbians.
In Carmilla a young girl by the name of Laura has a visitation in the night by a beautiful woman who seduces her and then bites her. Years later they meet, and strike up a romantic friendship. Although I hate that name, romantic friendship, they were courting. Two girls courting. And one was a very sensual vampire, who of course got chased away by the father with an axe in the end. I mean, for a coming out story it had everything, pathos, sex, pain, loss, uncertainty. And of course parental units mucking up a relationship. I think you could look at the story from all kinds of angles, like that parents should say who their children can and can’t date (if you’re that repressive) or that parents should stay out of their kid’s lives because whatever Laura and Carmilla were doing, they were terribly in love. We never find out what Laura thought later about having no girlfriend at all because of over zealous vampire hunters. I’m sure she married some guy, but she probably always remembered her cryptic lover.
Anyway, that’s one story, that’s actually the original story for why lesbians and vampires always seem to go together. Always! Not always, but I do know a lot of lesbians wonder where that vampire thing comes from. Well there you have it, it comes from the pre-Dracula story.
I think after I dealt with a really traumatic learning environment, vampires were what brought me out of it. I felt victimized by being both rejected AND being able to read minds, so I naturally turned to the Vampire Chronicles and all the music and the movies and the clothes and so on and so forth. It was about being rejected AND being intensely powerful, with a strange gift. I mean, that was the best thing about vampires is that you had to develop your own moral compass with it. And it was really a hardcore spiritual concept to grok. I mean, it was so vast, and people who made mistakes had to live with their repercussions forever.
Louis in Interview With A Vampire is a good primer, because he is a sweet little moral compass. He is always filled with doubts and he won’t even feed off of humans for ages because it disturbs him, so he lives off rats for a while. And then he’s stuck in this intensely abusive relationship with Lestat, and he has no idea how to leave him because he also doesn’t know anything about any other vampires. He’s isolated, like a lot of people in abusive situations. And then when he is going to leave, Lestat does the most manipulative thing by making Claudia a vampire, even though she’s a kid, because kids can save marriages! I mean, it’s a fallacy, but it was interesting to see that even someone who was like, five hundred years old or whatever, would still do a stupid thing like that. And then Claudia herself is an interesting character because she can’t ever grow up and she flips out hardcore about it. I mean, she’s a grown woman in a kids body who just wants other vampires to treat her like an equal instead of a little doll, and for some reason they never get it. She’s so passionate and becomes such a ridiculously good hunter, with no compunction about killing because she has mostly only known that. And then Louis has to figure out how to take a stand but he is just so overwhelmed with the immense persona that is Lestat.
The really cool thing about the Vampire Chronicles is that Anne Rice seeks out amazingly accurate historical detail. So even though there are all these fabulous supernatural characters, they are still living in very well detailed historical periods. She also wrote the Sleeping Beauty series, which, uh, well yeah, that’s the fun sex stuff.
Anyway, the world of vampires is fascinating because they had very sensual tastes and because you always had to learn who to trust, you couldn’t just strike up a friendship with ANYBODY who was a vampire. It was about negotiating ethics, and the fact that they were dark characters to begin with took away that moral imperative. You can’t say Louis is the hero, because he is so indecisive at times, but you can’t say Lestat is the hero either because he makes impulsive mistakes. They all had flaws here and there. And some vampires were violent and some were seductive and you know, you really had to think about what you would do in that situation.
But I think what I liked the best about vampires was the concept of eternity, because you really had to think about how things could impact your life FOREVER! That’s intense man. And what I liked most about it is that sometimes you could go back and make amends, I mean, it was hard, but eventually Louis and Lestat did reach some kind of detente because they had to! They were in a small global community, there was no way to just ignore each other always. Something had to give in both of them.
What else was I going to say about vampires? Oh lots, I suppose, but right now I just want to deal with the mythic concept of them. I think it’s a useful thing to look at for people who do start having past life memories, because in a way it’s a transpersonal philosophy.
I think letting New Orleans die was the worst mistake ever. Do you have any idea how many Vampires consider that place Mecca? I was so pissed when it all went down, because I always wanted to go to New Orleans. I mean, how could you not, it was a sexy and mysterious city, and it featured prominently in the Vampire Chronicles, along with other gothic literature. I was going to go to the La Laurie House and traipse about the cemeteries and eat crawdads. I don’t know about the crawdad part, I think I just felt obliged to throw that in.
The funny thing about vampirism is that so many people do it unconsciously and yet it’s only when people are upfront and overt about it that people get freaked out. I’ve watched ethical vampires feeding, they can be really sweet. I mean, it’s totally about sex, which is why people don’t do it in places you can see, but sometimes you’ll stumble on a funny little place where they tend to congregate. And when it’s ethical vampirism both people are getting off on it, which is what I like. I’m all into consensual things. And often vampirism has nothing to do with actual blood, which is what confuses people. I mean, there are people who do the blood thing, but that’s way advanced, and tricky in an age of blood borne diseases. I mean, you have to be really fucking sure that both people are monogamous to go there, and lots of people are unsure of things like that. Which is funny because it seems like people have unsafe sex willy nilly still, but somehow no one sees that as being at the same level of danger as blood play. I can’t believe I’m talking to you people about blood play! That makes me so shy. I don’t know though why Angelina Jolie, who was so open and upfront about doing blood play, got more criticism for something consensual than Bush did about sending all kinds of unstable young men and women to a country with guns.
I shouldn’t say all soldiers are unstable though. But I do feel badly for the ones who really did think they were going to defend their country and instead watched all kinds of atrocities unfold. I think that kind of post traumatic stress is really hard to work through, and even harder if someone places a blanket of hate on ALL soldiers. There are a lot of veterans of this war who are completely opposed to it, which is something people should remember. But that’s different than saying all of them were good soldiers who have to be supported unilaterally.
Just like vampires. You can never say people are good just because they are vampires. But you can at least notice if they have ethics around it and why or why not.