Secrecy and Vampires

March 15, 2015



Vampire Bibliographica is the pet project and author page of author and general wordsmith, Carmen Dominique Taxer. All articles posted here are written by Carmen, unless specified otherwise.

A guest post by Richard T. Wheeler, co-founder, and writer, of Sanguinem Emere and webmaster at DauntlessWriting.com and RichardTWheeler.com

Secrecy and Vampires

If they existed, chances are we wouldn’t know about it.

What would be the natural result if vampires “came out of the coffin” today, and conclusively revealed their existence to mankind? We have many literary examples of this event in our milieu, notably the Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known as The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris. How would people react? In the Vampire Mysteries, the whole event is treated to some extent like a mass LGBT outing, complete with political television debates and rallies for and against, religious extremism and divided families. Would it be that blazé?

Why such an event would even occur? What would vampires gain from outing themselves?

Let’s look at possible benefits:

Outed, vampires can more directly influence policies to benefit them. I’m reaching, I can feel it. Whether or not they would be able to pass any suggestions into law is a pretty slim hope, because of simple mathematics. There are a lot more of us than there are them. Why would sheep accept and acknowledge the presence of wolves? And then go ahead and give them rights?

Maybe vampires want mainstream acceptance and love. They are (mostly) human after all. That might be fine for a paraphiliac in love with the Great Pyramid of Giza, because she is not likely going to eat you, after she eats your children. Would you love and accept something that must cause harm to the people you love simply to be? Small chance there then as well.

These are both slim benefits. The truth of the matter is vampires must hide to survive. The sheep outnumber the wolves a million to one, not to mention that the sheep are fanatically protective, religiously delirious, and above all heavily armed and industrious. The moment vampires are revealed as the apex predator, they cease to be the apex predator. For reference, see every predator that ever deigned to eat long pig.

An argument can be made for veggie vamps, such as the toothless muppets that make up the Cullen’s in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga, but even there, the temptation is too great for any fanger worth his sparkles to resist for too long. When you’re immortal, eventually might as well be today. They seem to be the exception, rather than the rule. Besides, do you want to be the self-righteous vegetarian at a table full of full blooded, proud and suck-in-their-ways master hunters? You are already a pariah as a vampire, (the outsider is the point of vampire literature as an entity), why alienate yourself completely amongst the few peers that you might have? And wasn’t the whole of vampire kind bent on ruining the Cullen’s baseball game by the end? If I remember correctly, they were only saved by bad writing How it Should Have Ended: Twilight.  So that’s not an option really. In the high-school clique that is the vampire social structure, the trend is to pick on the weird ones, and executing them if they seem like even the slightest threat to your eternal prom.



What would they lose?

How long would it take for the religions of the world to universally call vampires the agents of the devil? Is there a negative unit of time in existence? What then? Religion still has a lot of fans. I used the word “fans” because it’s the derivative of the word “fanatics”. There would be a holy target for the holy mother church to levy her holy hand grenades of Antioch at for the first time in centuries. On a rational note, every vampire in existence is a serial killer. Every single one. Even the ones that say they never killed anyone, for reference, read any vampire book, any. If the law can get to the vampires before the church does, the whole lot will undoubtedly be up for several life terms, which would be inconvenient. More likely, there would be some sort of worldwide vigilante mob storming every precariously positioned castle on every mountainside on earth. Humans usually kill for less than that. Daddies already want to put a bullet through that misbegotten boy on the porch’s fat head for wanting to stick his man-jubblies into his daughter, what wouldn’t he do to protect her from fang-rape?

So it makes sense for vampires to hide.

The kindred of Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem by White Wolf Games both build their society around a tradition of hiding from their food in what they sensibly term “The Masquerade.” In literature, at least some effort seems to be expended to hide the monsters from the outside world, with the notable exception of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles where indiscriminate prostitute killings in hotel rooms and vampire vocalists are more the norm.

However, even in cases like that, would a few bitten and bloodless streetwalkers be enough to out vampires to the world? Let’s say Lestat gets a bit messy and leaves the one or two evildoers per night for the cops to find. What then? Would a coroner, whose professional opinion is the difference between an innocent man incarcerated and a mass murderer free to go, risk the psyche evaluation that would result from a verdict of: “Yep, that’s a vampire bite all right. Incisors are the right length. Neat too, must be an old one.” Murders happen all the time, we’re a vicious enough bunch as a species to hide the one or two odd vampiric screw ups in a tidal wave of mundane cadavers. At worst, a serial killer or a satanic cult would foot the blame, and there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth, but no public outcry to take out vampire-kind once and for all. Even if the coroner was convinced of a vampire pandemic, would he risk his career, as well as all the cases where his opinion was used as evidence to convict real, human bastards, in order to out a mythological creature?

What if a vampire decided to out vampire-kind as a sort of suicide bombing of an entire race? To try and entice humans to eradicate him, and his ilk, due to terminal self-loathing? Do yourself a favor and Google “Real Vampires on Youtube.” At best, he will be patronized. At worst, he will be given air-time and mocked. I suspect that his fellow non-suicidal suckers might not take too kindly to it and deal with it in some manner. Let’s say our suicidal twit gets himself to a biologist or an anthropologist and convinces the poor sot that he’s real. Do you have any idea how long it takes to be published in an academic journal? Not to mention that the reply to the first thousand requests for peer-review would be: “Are you kidding me? Is this a joke?” In either event, it’s more than enough time for his non-suicidal fellows to apply PR-fu and make the whole thing go up in a torrent of ennui at the attention whore, where after he can be carefully disappeared into the Battycave Asylum for the Terminally Stupid (or BATS, for short).

Now let’s assume that vampires have the notion that it’s in their best interest to be secretive. Secrets are known to make it to the light of day, and mysteries have a habit of being solved. Humans are inquisitive little buggers. Tell a really juicy secret to one person and it might as well have been broadcast over the internet. It is for this reason that most conspiracy theories are bull. (How many people would be required to remain resolutely quiet to make the staging of 9/11 plausible? Probably more than one, thus no chance of that secret being kept.) But what needs to be taken into consideration here is that vampires universally have superpowers. They can read and alter thoughts, their blood is an aphrodisiac drug that enslaves, they are as strong as ten men and they live a long, long time. With multi-generational experience of hiding and a culture of secrecy, it might be impossible for us to ever know whether they exist.

However, accidents happen, victims escape, things are seen that beggars belief. What of those who meet a vampire and live to tell the tale. But would anyone believe them? Would they believe themselves? An entire field of psychological study is devoted to the ability of the human mind to repress painful, shocking memories, and to cope with them. Humans can survive horrific amounts of physiological and psychological trauma more or less intact.  Over time, maybe the encounter with the dashing stranger that bit my neck in the midst of mind blowing sex might be remembered a little differently that what actually occurred. What if a group of people saw the same thing? Witness reliability and credibility is a sketchy thing at best http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witness#Reliability and with the subject material so unbelievable, would they look at each other and wonder if they’ve gone down the deep end of Lalaland?

Vampires don’t have it all their way. Some strong willed people will remember, will hold on to the idea of what they saw was real, and it would make them not scared, but angry. They will not tell anyone, but they will look at the world differently. Soon, they will start employing that unique human attribute of creativity and will to try and solve the problem that only they have, to solve the problem that they know that there are wolves among the sheep. Daddy’s got something to aim his gun at now. For this reason alone, vampires should be picky eaters and clean up after themselves. You can never tell when your dinner will want to make a meal of you. These individuals will start frequenting hotspots, following up leads, listening to those who no one else will listen to, and start learning. They believe, and they’re pissed. For the vampire’s sake, they hope that the fledgling vampire hunter is impatient and strikes out unprepared when faced with his tormentor, so that that little error does not go nuclear. If the hunter is cautious, and patient, well, the strength of ten men is of little help if you’re caught in a septic tank filled with napalm at midday. Vampires would tell of other members of their immortal fraternity that got ganked by hunters because they left their toys out, and use it as a lesson to younger ones to always make sure that they take out the trash.

We might never know

Sadly, the odds are against us ever finding out whether our favorite predators exist. Their culture of secrecy, the implausibility of scientific proof of the supernatural, and even our own minds conspire against our ever living in a world where Lestat’s existence would be widely accepted. Poo. I’m a little sad now.

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  • Seer March 16, 2015 at 2:29 am

    Well.. maybe yes, maybe no. Think a little further here. Wolves and sheep already co-exist. It’s the intent of the hunter that makes a difference. Predator and prey will share water holes, perhaps not shoulder to shoulder but within sight of one another, so long as the hunter is not hunting. When the wolf pack strikes at the herd they have already chosen their victim, singled out and separated from the rest and brought down. During the chase the herd flees, sometimes scatters – and then stops running once the victim is caught and the hunters are engaged in their meal. A predator animal can pass within sight of a prey herd – but if they are not hunting, merely passing by, generally you get uneasy minor motion from the prey herd – they may shift position as a group away from the predator but they don’t flee in fear unless the predator actually approaches directly.

    In the human world, with the addition of conscious future planning thought and (often skewed) reasoning the outcome might indeed be completely different from what Nature intended. The matter of intent is huge in the human world. In Harris’s world predator intent was modified by the synthetic blood ; the option that a vamp could sustain themselves without predation on the populace. And as you mention we humans already tolerate an inordinate number of cruel and inhumane individuals without mass movement to exterminate them. Not that many steps further to tolerating a vampire citizenry that refrains from predation, with only a rogue here and there becoming a matter for law enforcement, just as the human serial killer is.

    Prey intent must also be considered. There is an entire bloomin’ (and very popular) genre of paranormal romance based on interaction between predators and *willing* prey. Direct to intent – once you remove death from the equation ; the vamp can feed without killing, and further actually makes the action pleasurable ; then you find a great number of the prey population who are willing to partake of the experience. Fang bangers are not at all out of line with the fans who write letters to imprisoned serial killers (often accompanied by marriage proposals). Fact of the matter is that we humans, regardless of gender, really like our bad boys ;).

    Now as to Anne’s Boys (and the few girls).. Her world is successful not because her vamps are secretive, but because of the ‘what if?’ hook. Every one of the Chronicles has contained the possibility that someone will find them out, someone does find them out, and of course Lestat who could care less if they are found out, he would even be delighted. “What if?” is the entire working premise of that world.

    Twilight.. not gonna go there, it is what it is ;).

    And there is one other point to consider here. Today’s world. Not only print and ebooks, but the big and little screen, and the internet are all inundated with ‘otherkind’. Whether they be LGBT, racial, non-mainstream religious, mythological beings, UFOs or conspiracies. Society today stands precariously on shifting sand, life as we knew it has a great deal more nuanced shading than ever before, with greater numbers who are striving to learn tolerance, if not outright acceptance, of those who are different, those who are not ‘us’. The predators will always be predators in some degree, but their prey is in the midst of experiencing something of a sea change.. Harris’s imagined world is not that great an impossibility in today’s world :).

    • Carmen Dominique March 17, 2015 at 10:01 am

      Well, the entire premise of the fictional vampire anti-hero, is that it is the “other” of human nature. Even The Harris novels (or perhaps rather, the adaptation thereof) was a not-so-subtle discourse on cultural response to the outing of so very men “other-sex” individuals.

  • Rodolfo March 16, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    At the end it’s only a matter of how strong these vampires really are. As simple as that.

    The strongest vampires you will encounter are Stepheny Meyer’s, ironically. From the moment they were turned they had a breathtaking strength, capable of crushing cars and pulverizing boulders, that’s a lot more than just a couple dozen men.

    On top of that they had these stupidly sensitive senses, which means no hunter, ever, could sneak up on them, literally. They would smell you from blocks away, they would hear you, some would even hear your thoughts or see you coming before you bought your guns. Of course, we are getting too deep into the literary context, so let’s just stick to basics. Frickishly enhanced senses

    Vampires this strong would remain secretive just for the mere practicality of living in an orderly world, such as that made by humans over time. With no real weakness except mechanical force of proportions such as their own, they could have ended entire armies by themselves and feasted on them in the process, if they wanted to. In any case, only modern technology would be able to cause them harm, and that would be just and uncomfortable turn of events. But still they’ve had millennia to end us, but it simply is more practical not too. Maybe it’s a win-win relationship, they feed and let most of us live, and we build fancy cars and flat screens for them to marvel at.

    The case would be different if we were talking about vampires such as those described by Anne Rice. Though I love Lestat’s tales very much, these vampires are weak from the moment they are born. A small gang could take upon one of them, right out of the crypt* (wink-wink*) and win.

    Their senses, though certainly enhanced, are still subject to deception. One grumpy hunter could truly sneak up on them and set a trap, such as the one very well described on your post. These vampires would only become invincible by they times they are several centuries old, which leaves a lot of time for the old, first ones to be killed. They would truly have a reason to hide, from the beginning.

    Maybe, at some point they will grow so strong that hiding will be unnecessary, and they will come out, to conquer.

    But like I said, at the end it’s a matter of strength and practicality.

    • Carmen Dominique March 17, 2015 at 10:10 am

      Yes, vampires technically made of diamonds. I still don’t buy into the “stronger for a year after they are turned” idea though. I have always maintained, the Meyer sparkles, while ridiculous, actually make sense in a strangely non-frightening manner.

      I think the weakness of the Ricean vampire, is that he is so prone to being stunned by something simple, like, a candle flame, and, that leads to hallucinatory instances, where, in essence, the vampire is weak, and likely to open himself to attack.

      • Rodolfo March 17, 2015 at 3:13 pm

        Well, this particular post is not about who sparkles the most, it is about Coming Out, no pun intended.

        An although the post isn’t about particular books either, it’s all we have to start with, isn’t it? I was simply “quoting” some literary tools, and whether we fathom the writer’s mechanics to achieving said abilities or not, it just is. Lestat could rip apart hundreds with an invisible force, the Cullens spark and are very strong as newborns, that’s just how it is.

        Now, if we were to try and give some sense to each story, well Meyer did mention in her books vampires had one extra chromosome. Which is nothing but an euphemism for saying:

        “There’s no spooky stuff or ghosts. What you see is the animal kingdom in its purest form… The demons and witches are just in your head.”

        In my opinion this is kind of cool. The word vampire in that universe seems merely a social convention.

        I am a particular fan of debunking, and seeing how cultures have misinterpreted what they don’t understand, such as the sun, the stars, the mentally ill, and the world itself. I see in Meyer’s book (which lets agree, are told from the head of an infatuated 18 year old) a projection and an exploitation of this tendency to misunderstand things.

        Meyer, in a way, tried to give a hidden explanation to many of these things. How do you make a living thing that is a part of the animal kingdom burst into flames when exposed to sunlight? You don’t. He’s a myth, you make him sparkle and shine so every farmer in the dark ages that lives long enough to spot him before he runs, says the sun burns these creatures.

        How do you make them fit the usual stages of death, such as Pallor Mortis and Rigor Mortis, so they become the “undead”? You make them rock solid, and in the process solidify or get rid of every major fluid in them, such as human blood. As an extra perk this would make them very resilient, and in order to archive that one might think of a crystalline structure in their cells.

        How do you make up for the fangs? You don’t. You let dark age people make tons of silly drawings depicting them as demons. They are already the strongest killers, and they kinda look dead, people will take things out of proportions eventually, including the big canines.

        How do you make them rise from the grave so they really really become the “undead” now? Or how do you make their transformation appear otherworldly or demonic? You kinda don’t. You make their transformation be a form of poisoning, which is painful and long. They fall sick for several days, they scream like crazy, they decay, until they eventually fall unconscious. People from the dark ages knowing how quick and gross death is bury the deceased, which eventually wakes up in a coffin that will them proceed to rip open with his/her new strength.

        This new vampire is hungry, angry and confused by all these new senses. He/she can see every dust mot in the air, the night looks like day, isn’t that marvelous enough? So the vampire runs home and it looks like a ghost disappearing in every corner. He/she finally reaches home to find close-minded relatives that panick and attack him/her and scream things about demons and the devil. At the end, this newborn unable to manage thirst, overstimulation or stress, kills everybody.

        All of these things I have described sound more similar to the folkloric European vampire than many modern movies. There are tales in Eastern Europe about so called vampires walking in the sun light, in fact, no body ever said that the sun killed them. They just happened to come out at night. There are tales as well of vampires without big fangs, vampires coming back to their widows disoriented and hungry, vampires with skin so hard that lances bounced off their chests, and of course vampires crying before and angry Christian mob that yelled things at him.

        So, if vampires were to exist, I’m convinced thy would stick to the folkloric ones. It’s the only actual thing we have, whatsoever.

        So see, when you look at it through the eyes of a high school girl it looks silly, but there’s potential in it if you are into old myths and science at the same time.

        Now, to Anne Rice’s vampires. Like I said, I love Lestat and it was bummer when he fell into that coma. But their weakness go beyond amazement at candle flames. Even when they are old and they have a small grip on this “stare into thin air” thing, they are still subject to many many things that could harm them, and not just mechanical force, for instance:
        •Claudia poisoned Lestat.
        •Louis burned the Theater of Vampire while they slept.
        •The body thief was haunted down while being one of the strongest vampires alive, and was cornered at sunrise.
        •Magnus chained a vampire to steal its blood.
        And this is jut to mention a few. My point is that, if vampires existed and they were similar to Rice’s, then they would have a reason to hide.

        So, this being said, I stick to my initial statement, it’s a matter of strength. To this, I add something I had not mentioned/noticed until now, and that is the folkloric vampire. If these were real then they would most likely hide for fear to annihilation too, for although they were strong and many had no problems with the sun, they could still be subdued by an angry mob with axes.

        • Carmen Dominique March 23, 2015 at 7:57 pm

          Indeed, I was simply pointing out my feelings on the above material you submitted.

          I suppose. They are very different types of vampires. One must consider that the literary world changes as they shift from one dimension of literature to another. For instance, the Cullens are deadly, true, and, virtually unkillable. By all things, but werewolves. Hence the injection of these beasts into the text.

          Yes, I agree. It is the “scientific” approach to vampirism, if you will.

          I quite agree on that point as well. But, I do also feel that, Meyer could have done more with her vampires. More myth, more research, more scary. But, that is a personal feeling. I hear what you are saying, about the misinterpretation of the obvious by peoples who did not know yet what the obvious was. I’m not sure yet how Meyer’s vampire interpretation is an example of this though. Could you elaborate? My brain may just be tired.

          Hmm, valid point on sunlight makes sparkles, makes burny… I would have to stick with my original interpretation of why she did this however, and, it’s been a while since I read them, but, I recall her saying something about the tensile strength of a diamond? And also, something about attracting prey, if I am not mistaken.

          Yes, that. Do they not shatter like marble when they are torn to pieces?

          I remember there was a description of the Cullens as being… animalistic, in some way or another, when they feed. And, I am recalling lion, I think, at least as far as Edward was concerned. I would have liked to have seen that expanded upon. Unless it was symbolic, and, my memory has really become a sieve.

          Yes, well, I cannot disagree with you there either, on the matter of similarities between these and folklore of Eastern Europe, but, the Strigoi myth is one that has almost leaked out of modern vampire literature, with so much inundation from other sources, and so little regard left for the “original” Draculean vampire. The Strigoi myth was mostly created through fear of tuberculosis, or, well, consumption.

          Yes, and, if they were to exist, they might also hide behind that myth. After all, what better way to prove he is not a vampire than to point at his own reflection and say, See?! Or walk over the threshold of a private home, uninvited.

          And, I see what you mean, yes. An eighteen year old, might look at this, and say, he sparkles. How lovely.

          These weaknesses of the Ricean vampire, which you have listed, are all terribly circumstancial:
          •Claudia poisoned Lestat, true, but, that did not kill him. If it were not for his trust of her, he might have been able, then and there, to strike back and do away with her (A blessing, I might say. If only).
          •Louis burned the Theatre of Vampire while they slept – Can this not be blamed on their own hubris, due to the arrogance that somehow festers, when vampires form a nest (to steal a little from Harris there).
          •The body thief was hunted down while being one of the strongest vampires alive, and was cornered at sunrise – Here, I will have to argue, that, he had no concept of how to use that strength in his own limbs, and nothing to teach him, but, Lestat’s somewhat lopsided tales. I think it might have been a simple thing to take down a very young vampire (technically), even if he was piloting a much stronger body. Much like bringing a knife into a gun fight, with no concept of how such a weapon can be wielded.
          •Magnus chained a vampire to steal its blood – Ah, true, but, Magnus was a magician. No mere mortal. Not by a long shot.

          Something, however, that I would like to contribute to your point, is the concept of the Buffy vampire….. I have always felt, that, their ease of demise, makes them so very weak. And, it is almost a sad, dismaying thought. If a human is stabbed with such an implement, there is a small chance of survival. Tiny even, but, it is there. However, stake a vampire, and, dust… Tragic, when you think of it. All that power, gone, without even so much as a chance at remorse, or redemption. Just, dust.

  • Rodolfo March 23, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Oh I agree with you. Meyer wasted much if not most of the full potential if this world she created.

    Regarding some of things you pointed out:

    The process by which Meyer’s vampires became such, involved many similarities with a disease that would ultimately kill you. For instance, in many old stories you became a vampire if you were bitten by one. So vampirism was some how contagious and the agent had to do with their mouths/spit. In fact, there is official paperwork about vampirism outbreaks -fake of course- but people believed them back then.

    In Meyer’s books it is said that, despite the vampire’s lethal strength, speed, and charm to lure the pray, there was also a last weapon, and that was venom. A venom that was able to trigger incredible pain in the victim and immobilized him/her. It’s not clear if they had absolute control over the release of this venom, but one might think during the frenzy, it could slip. Either way, this venom would make you agonize in pain for days, until gradually you would become weaker and weaker, you would fall unconscious and motionless and then die, seemingly. The fact that you scream and twisted in pain for days repeating the words “it burns, it burns!” Might make you look a little odd, not to say possessed. You’d be buried by a priest, to then wake up in a coffin later on. Wouldn’t this make you a true Undead? I mean, people saw your tumb open and saw you walking, after you died…

    Obviously Meyer’s vampires are not dead. It’s never stated that they are dead besides common myth and the fact they look kinda scary. So they are just another form of life, twisted by misunderstanding and myth. Same with the werewolves who weren’t even werevolves… Just another form of life evolving to protect itself from a predator. One could imply that all of them are mutants, because even though the tribe describes their transformation as magic, Carlisle stated that the shifters had 26 chromosomes. I’m not a biologist, but this is enough to that something more than magic is going on… Or maybe nature is magic itself, if you have the insight to appreciate it.

    Regarding what you mentioned about them being animals. Yes, drinking blood created a frenzy in them, it made them lose control. Like animals… Or people having sex. Your call.

    They also lured pray with their very presence. That’s why they seemed attractive to humans.
    And I highlight “seem”. They could also look very scary when they hadn’t fed, looking like a true cadaver.

    They shatter when torn to pieces because they were stone hard. I don’t know why, but it’s part of how they were and it seems to me that it serves to explain how resilient thy were and their strength.

    And last but not least, your comments about Ricean vampire’s weaknesses. What you mentioned it very valid, but to prove my point -which is no debate or competition really. Remember we are discussing literary universes. There will be differences that can’t be matched- I’ll call on a short tale from Twilight:

    Carlisle tried to commit suicide… Multiple times when he realized he had become a vampire. Needless to say, none of them succeeded. The only way to die was by mechanical force of proportions only matched by one of their on and a couple other species. Even fire was complicated to use. It doesn’t matter if one of these vampires was not an expert, or let me into its trust circle, I wouldn’t be able to kill it. They are ficking hard to kill!

    But something I will give to the Ricean vampires is that in their minds they truly aren’t humans anymore, not bad, just truly unlike us. Meyer’s vampires, through civilization, manage to retain some of their humanity, so the Cullens sometimes sound like humans trapped in incredibly strong biddies.

    But like I said earlier, these are different stories. Similar but different. The only thing they are good for is to proof it’s own validity if they had the chance to exists in the real world. We can use them to try and imagine how real vampires would deal in this world, but try to mix them is a dead end.

    In my opinion both stories were great. I miss Lestat and I loved the Cullens. Each one would have its own reason to hide.