View Full Version : The evolution of vampires.

2010-Oct-29, 01:47 PM
Some folks in my "Your Favorite Vampire Flick?" thread mentioned how vampires were originally portrayed -- as monsters, often mindless and etc. As opposed to the sexy sophisticated modern vampires. I read this last year:

The vampire of European legend is a repulsive, ugly monster, the stinking reanimated bloodsucking corpse of a criminal, a suicide victim, an alcoholic, a heretic or other social misfit who crudely preys (on others);...folk beliefs do not attest to the intelligence of this monster...who rarely strays far from home.

However, the vampire of modern novels and cinema bears little resemblance to his folkloric predecessor. He is likely to be a romantic wealthy noble who has lived for centuries, travels far, has his choice of beautiful women for prey, intelligence (etc.); he or she may also be beautiful and the focus of amorous desire.

To comprehend the connection, and yet dissimilarities, between the folk and the literary fantasy, the observations of the famous pioneer of psychology, C.G. Jung (1875 - 1961) are helpful. Jung observed that whereas passive fantasy (the fantasies produced in dreams, visions, delusions and folktales) "bear a morbid stamp," active fantasy (a therapeutic, conscious exploration of a fantasy, one that takes place in the arts as well as in therapy) is one of the highest forms of psychic activity. Applying this observation to our vampire theme, we see that the folk traditions of the vampire are passive fantasies and bear a morbid stamp. In Jungian terms, this morbid quality occurs because these fantasies are unconscious projections of fears that derive from a powerful inner force or archetype. The archetype that they derive from is one that Jung termed the Shadow, which is a depository in the unconscious for all aspects of the personality that most people consciously disown.

The literary vampire, on the other hand, is a work of art, which is a conscious exploration of the unconscious. The archetype that it calls on is primarily the one that Jung labeled the Anima (male psyche) or Animus (female psyche)...personifications of the soul that can appear as either a negative or positive influence. In fact, when explored in a fantasy, the Anima or Animus tends to transform from negative to positive and become a guide to greater wisdom. Because it is a conscious fantasy, the literary vampire is a personification of the Anima or the Animus, and owes more to the mythical themes of gods and lovers...

That was written by a man named Robert Place. I love Jungian psychology and found this fascinating. :D

2010-Oct-29, 04:24 PM
Personally, I find Jungian psychology incomplete and unhelpful, but better than Freudian psychology by a huge margin. Then again, Jung was missing some tools vital to what we currently know to be helpful.

The point, though, is that I think vampires and other monsters do fill a certain need in the human mind. On a certain level, we like to be scared. In Danse Macabre, Stephen King talks about the sexual aspects of Dracula, which represented a kind of freedom the audience wasn't supposed to have. In that book, the vampire is freedom from repression. (King goes with Dionysian and Apollonian for his descriptors.) We like to be scared, but what scares us can easily be someone/something which can do what we cannot. We are also culturally programmed to fear the outsider--I would even point out that it's characteristic of certain species to be taught to fear the outsider--and someone without our taboos is very much an outsider.

It even goes a bit toward explaining Twilight. The outsider is also fascinating.