Saturday, March 5, 2011

Vampires From The Id

You know how I am about vampires.  If not, it's simple.  I don't get it.  Actually, Amanda Hocking's trilogy MBA went a long way to my coming up with an explanation.

Here is another, a blog post written by a psychiatrist, Shrinkwrapped.

February 28, 2011

Vampires and Zombies: Monsters from the Zeitgeist

In Amazon's Top 20, there 6 books about vampires (including 3 in the top 5), 6 books that are some variation of sword and sorcery fantasy (2 in the top 10), 2 books about witches, 2 related  books about Roswell aliens (a variant of hard sci-fi apparently), 2 books about Magic, and 1 hard Sci-Fi epic. The remaining book is a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories which more properly would be considered detective stories but make it onto the Amazon Science Fiction and Fantasy list.
This very unscientific mini-survey reflects a change in the zeitgeist. 
In the heyday of monster movies, the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Japanese monster, Godzilla, was recognized to be a manifestation of our fears of nuclear annihilation.  Godzilla was unstoppably destructive and razed most of Tokyo to the ground (repeatedly, in sequels.)  Godzilla was our nightmares become real. 
At the same time Science Fiction was the most optimistic of genres, introducing us to worlds in which anything and everything was possible.
In the 21st century, our nightmares have changed.  Why vampires?  Vampires serve many different functions as a repository of anxiety.  On the most personal level, the relationship between parent and child, in the setting of economic anxiety and modern notions of "helicopter parenting", reflect a deep seated anxiety over supplying and receiving sufficient emotional nurturance.  Parents often experience their needy children as insatiable while children often experience helicopter parents, who cannot tolerate their separation-differentiation, as sucking the life out of their youthful bodies for the support of the older, waning parent.  The fantasy of relationships as Vampire-Prey experiences is a common feature of modern relationship anomie. 
Consider a recent article in Slate magazine.  The imbalance on college campuses between successful young women and the relative paucity of successful young men (a result of long term trends de-emphasizing typically masculine work versus typically feminine pursuits) means that the sexual marketplace has shifted.  Men find women easier to find for casual sex, leaving young men and women in trouble

A woman who is anxious and desirous of emotional sustenance which is withheld can easily see herself and be seen as a Vampire, while the man who takes what is most precious from her with nothing in return can easily see himself and  be seen as a Vampire.  Further, the lack of depth to sexual relationships, casual sex without commitment or emotional connection, leaves both being little more than Zombies.  After all, what is a zombie but a hollowed out person who can no longer do anything productive?
In addition the dearth of traditional hard Science Fiction on Amazon's list reflects the current pessimism arising from an accelerating pace of change that has us all feeling at times as if we are living in a Science Fiction novel.  In reaction, the ability to transport oneself to realms where Men are MEN and wield swords in manu a manu conflict, and where damsels are distressed (or alternately, powerful independent spirits, desirable and beautiful)  offers a ready wish fulfillment for those who are burdened by too much reality in their lives even as it harkens back to a halcyon (imagined) past where one knew one's place in a stable world.
[On other levels, Vampire fantasies can relate to the sense that the current arrangements that most of us have established between work and play and love have become destabilized.  The changes taking place in the economy as globalization grows means that the traditional, post-war arrangements are changing in unpredictable ways.  ... We have workers feeling drained by the demands of their work and the diminution of sustenance (wages) that almost everyone is undergoing.  The ubiquity of Zombies relates as easily to the dread of our foreign competitors (faceless hordes who threaten to overwhelm us) as to the spiritually deadened young men and women who couple and share physical intimacy without ever sharing emotional intimacy.  These are topics for another post.

Read the whole thing if you'd like but I chose the most salient points-- Vampires from the Id.

1 comment:

Nicole MacDonald said...

hmmm... I don't entirely agree with it but some of the points make sense. And I am soooo over the vampire movement.. and the crud off-shoots that indie authors keep pumping out. I can understand at times why we are so vilified!

The Arrival, on Amazon now