Thursday, 26 February 2009
NIGHT OF VAMPIRES
I have started my research on vampires while i was involved in working on the concept of immortality. As it is the second leg of the trilogy I am working on, I wanted to have lines of continuation. In the first leg I have organised a zombie night for which zombies were hand in hand with the concept of 'the lost moment'. For immortality what could be the fiction character to be investigated? And the answer was clear and definite: vampires.
As they are the undead, the immortal living they are examples of sustaining immortality. Vampires differ from zombies by class and feature. They are the undead who drain the living, who parasitically drains another. Whereas zombies are the living dead they are excessive labor to be abused. Vampires realise themselves through conscious choices whereas zombies destroy whatever and whichever without any conscious involvement. They are bodies acting through space, powerless power structures.
Vampires, mostly come from an aristocrat high ruling class, living in castles which oversee the town. They have a certain historicity a family background and high taste.
Why are we talking about vampires tonite? Is it the imagery of horror that I am behind and wanting to illustrate to you or is it the features of such creatures?
Neither of them. I am interested in vampires as social artefacts, how the idea of vampire has been flourished and became a commonality. A characterisation of such a fictive presence. What are the needs of defining such beings? For me it is related to understanding and evaluating power – the sovereign as an unseen and powerful, fearful and authoritarian. In most vampire novels and films it is recommended not to go by their territories nor get in contact with vampires since there is always something to lose and become a victim of the encounter.
I am interested in the victim - victimizer relationship. Which is more than a mere balance of power. The relation is hand in hand with the consent of both sides. The victimizer accepts to take his/her position as long as his/her victim accepts to be under the rule.
This liminal space is interesting.
As Michael Foucault famously put it the modern state can be defined by the maxim: it makes live and lets die as opposed to the earlier sovereign state which makes die and lets live. Like vampires and like today's contemporary society based on control and fear.
“at the end of the 19th century the Russian philosopher Nikolay Federov developed the project of the ‘common cause’ which called upon the modern state to resurrect and make immortal, through science, all individuals who have ever lived upon the earth”
After the October revolution many Russian intellectuals and artists were interested in federov’s ideas. Hence they wrote their first manifesto in 1922 as representatives of bio-cosmic immortalist movement. Alexander Svyatogor, one of the protagonists of the movement, considered immortality to be both the aim of and the condition for the future communist society, for he believes that the true social solidarity can be established solely among immortals.
Following the theories of immortality Constantin Tsilokovsky developed the idea of petrification of the sky that is to say to colonize the cosmic space by humanity’s soon to be immortal ancestors which lead the research to become a starting point for the soviet space travel.
Another bio-political experiment was the institute of blood transfusion which got founded by Alexander Bogdanov in 1920’s. Bogdanov was a close friend of Lenin and the co-founder of the intellectual political wing of the Russian socialist democrat party which led to the emergence of Bolshevism. In 20s Bogdanov got fascinated by the idea of blood transfusion and its possible exciting outcomes such as achieving deceleration in the aging process in a way in which the transfusion between the younger and older would rejuvenate the latter and simultaneously balance out inter-generational solidarity. Bogdanov died during one of these transfusions. Possibly due to the fact that the blood types were not yet found.
Although the blood transfusion institute could not achieve what it aimed for it evoked first and foremost well known novel: Drakula by Bram Stoker.
For instance in the blood transfusion institute of Bogdonov, a young female students blood was partially exchanged with the blood of an older writer. This anology is by no means coincidental says Boris Groys: the society of vampires – of immortal bodies- described by stoker is the society of a bio-power par excellence.
However the novel written in 1897, at the same time as Fedorov developing his project of the ‘common cause’ describes the regime of the total bio-power not as a utopia but rather as an anti-utopia. Blood transfer is not only establishing a balance of solidarity and equal benefit but also a sense of belonging. Belonging to a bigger picture than a mere body. If you want it is the organs without body.
So what are vampires, how to recognize them?
- they are absolute powerful with certain fragilities such as sun light, possibly garlic smell, most commonly accepted crucifix (not valid in muslim countries please take a look at Dracula in Istanbul, a film made in 1953) , water in most cases
- they have long finger nails (I could not find exact reasons, could be the very fact that they are not interested in cutting finger nails or after the death of the body or the loss of breathing hair and nails continue to grow so nails can be the connection with their once-living states
- their eyes and iris changes enormously when they shift to be the hunter: eyes get redder and iris gets smaller
- they like necks most than any other part of the body. in recent vampire movies the neck is replaced by the wrist or any body part. I assume that neck is the metaphorical connection between mind and body so that they release the body and the mind from each other by that act.
- as a society they have rituals such as they mostly sleep or snooze in coffins. I think it is the connection to mortality. And their empowered state over the mortal so that they can go in and out of the coffin on their will and in relation to food sources of course.
- they are conscious of overruling they can contact telepathically to their victims or to the ones whom they have influenced by a bite or a physical contact and victims with weak will get the hook easier than others,
- sucking blood is their sexual encounter with the other. if we think of the importance of blood and blood circulation in the sexual encounter it is not hard to imagine an orgasmic relation for the vampire and its victim.
- they belong to an aristocrat class- mostly from transilvania
- the myth of vampires was not popularised until the early 18th century, after an influx of vampire superstition into Western Europe from areas where vampire legends were frequent, such as the Balkans and Eastern Europe,
- their clothing changes throughout two decades. They were supposed to wear black and heavy clothing in the 18th and 19th century and with the breakdown of modernity they might look like snicker wearing kids.
- they have no mirror reflection in a way it is a sign of totality they are in the picture without a face without a difference. they lack nothing that is why they don’t have a reflection. they are pure power and pure presence. They are present at the moment whereas for humans it is not possible we always live with the past and idea of future at the moment of the now.
- they don’t dream. Their victim feels as if he is dreaming about the encounter with the vampire, the victim becomes the phantom that nothing happens, as they mostly promise their loved ones that 'nothing will happen to them in their journey' which is not possible unless they become phantoms.
- they can be destroyed only with a sharpened plinth of wood - stick- that is pinned to their heart. I have been searching for the cause and effect of such a ritual but nothing is yet clear than a mere middle aged ritual of claiming over the centre of live – the blood centre of the vampire where they are only on blood. No air no water but blood which makes them different from humans.
- they belong to a certain hierarchy. So that they also have a master that affects them both and in most of the narratives when the master is destroyed the other followers also get destroyed. (It is like revolution.)
- they don’t have a god and they are the enemies of god since they claim immortality through evil. That is why they are effected by the cross as stated in most of the sources I could find.
- Virgin blood is the most valuable blood for the fact that it has not experienced any sexual jouissance, and vampires mostly prefer female virgins. Although we can talk about male virginity.