Manual Life After Death: A Vampires Guide to Living Undead

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The vampire emerged in literature in the nineteenth century as part of the Gothic genre and therefore has traditionally been defined by its conventions. The Gothic, in literary terms, is a genre of fiction written in the eighteenth and nineteenth century that celebrates the irrational, the fantastic, and the supernatural. The writing style of Gothic fiction is usually excessive, emphasizing, through detailed description, gloomy and unsettling atmospheres and settings. Narratively, the novels often focus upon a conflict between past and present. Fred Botting describes Gothic atmospheres as signaling "the disturbing return of pasts upon presents" and explains that "in the twentieth century, in diverse and ambiguous ways, Gothic figures have continued to shadow the progress of modernity with counter-narratives displaying the underside of enlightenment and humanist values.

Gothic stood for the old-fashioned as opposed to the modern; the barbaric as opposed to the civilised; crudity as opposed to elegance. Gothic was the archaic, the pagan, that which was prior to, or was opposed to, or resisted the establishment of civilised values and a well-regulated society. That the vampire is a key proponent of the genre is demonstrated by David Punter's description of Gothic fiction as "the fiction of the haunted castle, of heroines preyed upon by unspeakable terrors, of the blackly lowering villain, of ghosts, vampires, monsters and werewolves.

As the vampire is immortal, it is seen as stretching back into far reaches of the past. For instance in Bram Stoker's classic vampire novel Dracula , the vampire draws attention to his antiquity by describing the people and events of centuries' worth of national and family history to the young solicitor Jonathan Harker "as if he had been present at them all.

The events and images that confound his sensibilities while he is in Castle Dracula pre-exist modernity and his rationalist understanding of the world. Harker views Count Dracula and his vampire brides as premodern and supernatural, oppositional forces threatening modernity. Brian W.

Aldiss sees the relocation of the vampire into a modern setting as signaling the infection of the modern with the vampire's barbarity:. In this great transitional novel, we are not to remain among ancient things, whose distance brings comfort along with terror. The strength of Stoker's novel is that his evil Count, for all the world like a disease that cannot be checked, arrives in London.

A barrier has been crossed; the infection has entered the modern vein. While Dracula's arrival in modern London does mark the relocation of the vampire from the Gothic past into a recognizably up-to-date location, the vampire has come to represent so much more, particularly in the years that have followed Stoker's novel.

An alternate interpretation of the vampire's immortality is that it not only stretches into the past, but also pushes forward into the future, and many vampires in film and television embrace the future rather than wallow in the past.

Vampire surnames

The difference between old- and new-world vampires is demonstrated by the violent transfer of power across generations on the American television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer , most notably by the punk rock vampire Spike. While the series takes place in a contemporary setting rather than in an exotic past, the vampires of seasons one and two, led by an old-world vampire, the Master, and his second-in-command, the Anointed One, are initially presented as members of a tradition-based society ruled by prophecy, superstition, and ritual.

Describing themselves as the Brethren of Aurelius, the vampires maintain their association with the premodern using poetic language as well as a ruined church, buried within the mouth of hell, as a lair. However, the introduction of a new vampire, Spike, demonstrates that the vampire can be presented as a modern figure, more inherently linked to its contemporary setting than to the past.

Spike evokes a modern sensibility with his contempt for tradition and ritual, feelings that are established from the moment of his irreverent entrance into the vampires' lair "School Hard," season 2: episode 3. His sneering attitude and physical appearance—bleached-blond, punk-style haircut, leather jacket, cigarettes, jeans, and t-shirt—elicits an image of rebellion. As he enters the room, one of the vampires is proclaiming that the Night of St. Vigious, a vampire holy day, will be as glorious as the Crucifixion, which he claims to have witnessed. Spike dismisses this remark by pointing out that if "every vampire who said he was at the Crucifixion was actually there, it would have been like Woodstock.

I was actually at Woodstock. That was a weird gig. Fed off a flower person and I spent the next six hours watching my hand move. In this case, the vampire is presented as shedding any association with the ancient in favor of the modern. Spike mocks and dismisses the prayers and superstitions performed by the other vampires, describing his contribution to their rituals as "going up and getting chanty with the fellas.

Vigious by attacking Buffy and her friends two days early because he "got bored. This violent usurpation of a traditional vampire by a modern one is mirrored in the film Blade The vampire Frost, like Spike, is portrayed as young and rebellious. He runs clandestine vampire nightclubs, lives in a modern high-rise, and ignores the orders of the vampire elders. Made a vampire rather than born one, Frost warns Dragonetti—the leader of the born vampires and their noble ruling body, the House of Erebus—that he is at risk of becoming extinct if he does not change his ways.

Frost later proves his point when he defangs and destroys Dragonetti in order to take his place as leader. Both the Brethren of Aurelius and the House of Erebus equate the vampire with nobility, ancient tradition, and established rules that date back centuries, while Spike and Frost seek to break with the past and establish their own futures. They are modern, not only because of their contempt for the old ways or their passion for contemporary music, technology, and popular culture, but also because the act of destroying the traditional vampire in order to take its place, effectively replacing the old with the new, is one of the distinctive characteristics of modernity.

Spike and Frost, however, represent but two images of the modern vampire. While Stoker's Dracula was primarily the prototype for the cinematic vampire in the first major cycle of American horror films in the s and s, since the s the image of the vampire has become fragmented into a diverse range. Vampires in film and television are no longer ruled by the past or tradition but rather embrace the present and its vast array of experiences. The success of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel , as well as late-night programs Kindred: The Embraced and Forever Knight , the Canadian children's series Vampire High , and the British cult series Ultraviolet , has caused audiences to break the primary vampire rule on a regular basis by inviting them into the home.

For every new cinema release that suggests the death of the vampire genre by pushing its boundaries to their limits, there is one that follows to reset the boundaries. Nina Auerbach argues that there is a vampire for every generation and that "since vampires are immortal, they are free to change incessantly.

The modern vampire, from Dracula to present-day vampires such as Frost and Spike, has consistently challenged its relationship to convention and tradition, gradually escaping the confines of time and space to become free of the association with the past and liberated into the expanse of the modern landscape.

It is my intention to examine the relationship between the celluloid vampire and the modern world, and to argue that rather than acting in opposition to modernity, the vampire has come to embody the experience of it. To recognize how the vampire has been redefined through the language of modernity, it is important to establish a definition of modernity.

Charles Baudelaire described modernity as the here and now, a fleeting, intangible, transitory moment in time, co-existing with that which transcends time and space: the eternal. He believed that the essence of modernity exists in the moment that binds time and space together before it is lost in the ever-changing landscape of the modern.

Georg Simmel equally defined modernity as the perception and experience of the present moment. Simmel argued that life in the modern metropolis was so full of external stimuli that the city dweller had to protect himself by restricting social interaction to a series of self-contained and fragmented exchanges.

These exchanges served to reduce all social interactions to a means to an end and to disconnect them from the past or future. The zombies are the collaborators, the leaders, the fanatics and obsessives: I.

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Zombies embrace narratives that concern huge movements, sea changes, trends, critical events, paradigm shifts. They volunteer, form support groups and fixate on the Next Big Thing. Vampires are internally directed, to the point of being self-indulgent, aloof and a little bit hedonistic. They live to please themselves. They stay up late watching old movies, or reading books from cover to cover, or writing bad poems about how lonely it is to stay up late writing bad poems. Stephen King: Vampire. Tolkien: Zombie. Sean Parker: Vampire.

Mark Zuckerberg: Zombie. Sid Vicious: Vampire. Bono: Zombie. Steve Jobs: Vampire. Bill Gates: Zombie. New York: Vampires. Washington: Zombies.

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A-Rod: Vampire. Jeter: Zombie. Twitter: Vampires. Facebook: Zombies. Awakening to this vampire-zombie polarity can feel like turning up the contrast on your cultural X-ray-vision goggles. Jobs was the quintessential vampire: he followed an idiosyncratic path to personal fulfillment, then took his obvious talents for punk ideology and religious iconography and applied them to brand identification. Compare that with the zombie Bill Gates, who, despite a profound commitment to charitable causes, consistently strikes onlookers as about as high-minded as Mr.

The same forces seem poised to dominate the election. When Obama speaks, we hear the passions of a vampire, expounding upon the romantic ideals that formed his core identity. And ultimately, like any vampire, Obama trusts his own instincts and judgments over the consensus of his constituents. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is zombie through and through.

The Age of the Vampire has given way to the Age of the Zombie (Opinion) - CNN

For Romney, a practicing Mormon who often praises his father, identity is always determined by the group. Zombies believe that the true meaning of life can be determined only by a collaborative crowd. In fact, zombies love the idea of bringing together an enormous group of the greatest leaders and thinkers of our day, breaking them into various committees and subcommittees, then having them systematically tackle the mysteries of the universe.

View all New York Times newsletters. Vampires tend to doodle during committee meetings. Dick Cheney vampire and Karl Rove zombie. John Lennon vampire and Paul McCartney zombie.

A guide to the scariest astronomical phenomenon observed in the universe.

A rotting corpse that was reanimated signified that either the original soul or a demon had improperly taken possession of it—thus interrupting the process of dissolution, reconstruction and resurrection, either temporarily or permanently. The pre-Christian Greeks, by contrast, located the enduring self in the soul; it was in the soul that the self would experience any postmortem existence, good or bad. The corpse, although avoided by the living as a source of contact pollution, was not understood to have a continuing relationship with or affect upon the soul, once the corpse had been properly disposed of—either tucked beneath the ground or incinerated on a pyre, and in either case accompanied by proper funerary goods.

The soul endured, experienced whatever rewards or punishments the self had earned while alive. Interestingly, this idea that the body and the soul were severed from one another after death left open the possibility of imagining the rare bodily return to life in almost any way, including a positive one; as being a boon from the gods, for example. No stigma seems to have been attached to such a possibility precisely because no postmortem relationship between the body and the soul had ever been conceptualized, much less regularized, as it was in early Christianity.

Certainly, everyday expectations were confounded when, in myths, the dead rejoined the living, but no horror was attached to the idea in those myths. We should note, in this respect, one more thing about the myths that we examined: they are so little concerned with the issue of the corpse that they fail to say anything about the body in which the returning dead makes its appearance.

Apparently, it looks just like the body did before the person had died—Admetus can recognize Alcestis, for instance. This contrasts strongly with later tales of revenants, where the body is vile in appearance, smell, or both, and does not always function correctly. Of course, were this essay a longer one, in which we could take a more expansive look at both ancient and modern Western cultures, we would surely discover that some ancient cultures proposed a stronger, more enduring link between the soul and the body than the Greeks did—the Egyptians would seem to be an obvious example, given the care they took to preserve the bodies of their deceased.

We might also discover that some modern Western cultures are relatively disinterested in horrifying tales of the returning corpse—although my own initial survey of French, German, and Scandinavian cultures suggests that they are just as fascinated with the idea as anglophone cultures have been. And, of course, there are cultures that have developed strong beliefs in the threatening return of the corpse under little or no influence from Christianity. The medieval Christian idea of the reanimated corpse was particularly apropos for this essay because of its historical situation—it lies between the ancient Greek model of death, with which we know it perforce interacted, and the modern Western models that I used as contrast for the Greek model, reacting against the one and influencing the other—but it is not the only one.

Bibliography Barber, Paul. Vampires, Burial and Death: Folklore and Reality. New Haven: Yale University Press. Bynum, Caroline Walker. The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, — New York: Columbia University Press. Caciola, Nancy Mandeville. Cavallin, H. An Enquiry into the Jewish Background. ConBNT 7. Lund: Gleerup. Danforth, Loring M. The Death Rituals of Rural Greece. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Fowler, Robert L. Early Greek Mythography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Gantz, Timothy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Graf, Fritz. Edited by Jan N. London: Routledge. Graf, Fritz, and Sarah Iles Johnston, eds. Hansen, William F. Hartnup, Karen. MMed Leiden: Brill. Johnston, Sarah Iles. Berkeley: University of California Press. Lobel, E.

Page, eds. Poetarum Lesbiorum Fragmenta. Oxford: Clarendon. Merkelbach, R. West, eds. Fragmenta Hesiodea. Segal, Alan F. New York: Doubleday. Snell, Bruno, and Herwig Maehler, eds. Bacchylides: Carmina Cum Fragmentis. Leipzig: Teubner. Sourvinou-Inwood, Christiane. West, Martin L. Allatius, Leo. Blass, Friedrich, ed. Bacchylidis Carmina cum Fragmentis. Burnet, John, ed. Platonis Opera. Symposium : data. Drachmann, A. Scholia Vetera in Pindari Carmina. Edmonds, J. The Greek Bucolic Poets. London: Heinemann. Evelyn-White, Hugh G. Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns, and Homerica. Frazer, James George, trans.

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