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View Diary: My Favorite Authors: Stephen King, his Vampires, and the Meaning of Fear (163 comments)

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  •  One comment just about vampires... (1+ / 0-)
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    Wow, I have a lot to say today.  But I've had plenty of time to think about these matters.  The subject of the whole vampire genre is another one that I've spent way too long analyzing.  

    Vampires come in many different forms.  Scariness is a uniting factor, I suppose.  So is sex.  It's difficult to divorce them from sex without turning them into something non-vampirish, just another type of generic monster.

    Vampire fiction was shaped by the Victorian era.  The vampire is a creature that exists to fulfill its carnal needs.  There's an unhealthy attraction between the victim and the vampire, with the vampire being a selfish consumer, often one who can't be dissuaded from pursuing a certain victim when his mind is set to it.  There is the implication of lust out of control, and of victims, especially female victims of virtue, being despoiled in such a way as to remove them forever from the virtuous comfort of the family.

    What a brilliant excuse for family-friendly pornography!  I found this easily enough, an excerpt from Chapter 3 of Stoker's Dracula.  

    I was not alone.The room was the same, unchanged in any way since I came into it.I could see along the floor, in the brilliant moonlight,my own footsteps marked where I had disturbed the long accumulation of dust. In the moonlight opposite me were three young women, ladies by their dress and manner. I thought at the time that I must be dreaming when I saw them, they threw no shadow on the floor. They came close to me, and looked at me for some time, and then whispered together. Two were dark, and had high aquiline noses, like the Count, and great dark, piercing eyes, that seemed to be almost red when contrasted with the pale yellow moon. The other was fair,as fair as can be, with great masses of golden hair and eyes like pale sapphires. I seemed somehow to know her face, and to know it in connection with some dreamy fear, but I could not recollect at the moment how or where. All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy,some longing and at the same time some deadly fear.I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips.It is not good to note this down, lest some day it should meet Mina's eyes and cause her pain, but it is the truth. They whispered together, and then they all three laughed, such a silvery,musical laugh, but as hard as though the sound never could have come through the softness of human lips. It was like the intolerable,tingling sweetness of waterglasses when played on by a cunning hand. The fair girl shook her head coquettishly, and the other two urged her on.

    One said, "Go on! You are first, and we shall follow. Yours' is the right to begin."

    The other added, "He is young and strong. There are kisses for us all."

    I lay quiet, looking out from under my eyelashes in an agony of delightful anticipation. The fair girl advanced and bent over me till I could feel the movement of her breath upon me. Sweet it was in one sense,honey-sweet, and sent the same tingling through the nerves as her voice, but with a bitter underlying the sweet, a bitter offensiveness, as one smells in blood.

    I was afraid to raise my eyelids,but looked out and saw perfectly under the lashes. The girl went on her knees, and bent over me, simply gloating.There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth. Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed to fasten on my throat. Then she paused, and I could hear the churning sound of her tongue as it licked her teeth and lips, and I could feel the hot breath on my neck. Then the skin of my throat began to tingle as one's flesh does when the hand that is to tickle it approaches nearer, nearer. I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the super sensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in languorous ecstasy and waited, waited with beating heart.

    I liked this line: "Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth..."  As somebody who used to write porn and hang out in an erotica writing workshop, I can identify that kind of sentence RIGHT AWAY.  Lower and lower.  Faster and faster.  Higher and higher -- All of it language poorly designed to draw out the sexual act.  Even without penises and vaginas, this is clearly porn!

    And then there is the gay, another recurring theme in vampire fiction.  When I read Anne Rice back in the early eighties, I really enjoyed it.  Then somebody pointed out that all of Anne Rice's vampires were gay.  I was disgruntled at first by that, then I realized, hey...  he's right.  They are gay!

    In fact, we know that that was one of Anne Rice's intents.  There is no sex in her vampire books, not even Stokerish pseudo-porn.  But the relationships between the vampires themselves have a subliminal sexual charge.  I can understand why some people who are not gay (and I'm not) might want to avoid Anne Rice because of that, but you're missing something good if you do.  NOT noticing the subtext in Anne Rice puts you at a disadvantage.

    One of the earliest vampire novels, predating Bram Stoker, was Sheridan LeFanu's Carmilla, another vampire novel with a gay (lesbian) subtext.  Carmilla is an ageless young woman who changes her name and travels, and wherever she travels (as we learn -- the POV is from the family of her intended victim), family members become sick and gradually die from blood loss.  Taken into the household as a guest, as a young and innocent girl, she is trusted to sleep in the same bed with the daughter of the house.  The daughter changes.  They become unwholesomely close.  I don't want to look up the actual language, but the family is disturbed by the closeness.

    •  I'd call it erotica, not porn (0+ / 0-)

      But let's not split hairs. Interestingly enough, King also says what you write, again most notably in Danse Macabre. . .The scene is rudely interrupted by the arrival of the Count himself, probably to the dismay of the readers who wanted it to continue. . .another staple of erotic writing I must add (never got into that myself, but somehow I think I could. . .just don't know if there is any coin in that sort of thing anymore, not since YouPorn). And yes, I specifically referenced le Fanu's 'Carmilla' in my diary, knowing someone would look it up and comment on the saphhic resonances in the novel. This is what is known as a comment lure.
         Now. As you can guess from my link/reference to "The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula" I am not on principle opposed to quasi-pornograhic hot vampire woman-on-woman love scenes (it helps that I like redheads) - but I really think this is separate from trying to create a good scary novel that is supposed to scare the snot out of you. And I really prefer the vampire tales to be scary, like they originally were, which is, as I keep saying, the point of what I wrote. . .and that people need reminding of, from time to time.

      An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

      by MichiganChet on Wed May 30, 2012 at 01:25:55 PM PDT

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