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  1.  (4328.181)
    @mlpeters: I think we *have* to be sticklers, at least a little, when we use a word like "vampire." If we don't, how can the word have any meaning? How can any of us have any idea what the others are talking about?

    When we all talk about vampires, I think the most basic definition of what we're talking about would be "bloodfeeding undead." That's an idea with a pretty global tradition, and by that definition, incubi and succubi aren't vampires (they aren't undead; they aren't bloodfeeders). You can have other terms that incorporate the word 'vampire' and mean different things — a "living vampire" or an "energy vampire" — but those are separate concepts from a straight-up "vampire". If they weren't separate concepts, well, we wouldn't have separate words for them would we? We'd just call them vampires.

    Unfortunately, folklorists don't seem to agree with me. When a book on folklore calls something a "vampire," "fairy," "sprite," "shade," "wraith," "demon," "goblin," and "imp", you generally have NO CLUE what exactly the author means, because there's no consistent definition. (I've been reading a whole lot about global vampire folklore recently, and I've found books that give lists of "vampires"... and include sea monsters that don't drink blood on the lists!) But I think the most basic definition of the unmodified, un-compounded term "vampire" is "bloodfeeding undead." I'm not even going to say "obligate bloodfeeding undead," because there were plenty of vampire species that had optional bloodfeeding diets, and ate other things as well.

    It's certainly true that wasting diseases were blamed on vampires, but even those cases, from what I've read, the belief was that the vampires were drawing the person's blood, even if there weren't visible marks. (And blood on an exhumed corpses was invariably a sign of vampirism, even in those cases.) That's not to say there weren't vampires who fed off people's lifeforces in addition to blood. (For instance, there are a number of vampire species found around Europe that, in the early period after they'd become undead, would start chewing on their own bodies and would somehow use that as a catalyst for drawing on the lifeforces of their relatives until they had enough power to leave the grave and go hunting.) But even those ate blood, too.
  2.  (4328.182)
    @Stygmata: See, I think the tradition of vampires being ways to express the repression of sexuality means that there's very little different between the homoerotiism of Rice's vampires and the down-home ol' fashioned enforced chasitity of Twilight. Because everyone is repressed about different things, and when you're a Mormon housewife, addressing the fact that teenage sexuality exists is just as transgressive for you as addressing homosexual urges is in other, more liberal, parts of society.
    • CommentTimeDec 20th 2008
    @mlpeters - sadly, not a joke.

    @Brandon - I don't think we're saying totally different things here - the trope-football of repression is just getting kicked from one side of the fence to the other. What's entertaining to me is watching the game, how the ball gets kicked around by the different ideological team-members. Repression for (the early) Rice was something sad and regrettable, if unavoidable - in /Twilight/, it becomes good and proper. So the attention for me is not "discovering" different aspects of repression, but how the trope of repression is actively manufactured and deployed in the service of different interests.

    If I was a bit less sober, I'd start going on about Foucault, repression and sexuality, but thankfully I'm not and you all should be grateful.
  3.  (4328.184)
    @Stygmata — Hmm, nicely put. That *is* really interesting. I think I need to seek out more literary critiques of vam[ire stories — there's a lot of interesting metaphor they've lent themselves to, like the aforementioned "aristocrats feeding off the peasants" stuff in 19th century vampire fiction. I haven't been thinking about repression as much.
    • CommentAuthormlpeters
    • CommentTimeDec 20th 2008
    "Unfortunately, folklorists don't seem to agree with me. When a book on folklore calls something a "vampire," "fairy," "sprite," "shade," "wraith," "demon," "goblin," and "imp", you generally have NO CLUE what exactly the author means, because there's no consistent definition."

    Yeah, I know... but I actually LIKE that aspect of folklore. It rings more true, since it comes from subjective experience. I dislike accounts of monsters that read too much like a D&D monster manual, with everything neatly defined and categorized.

    It's true that even when there were no tooth marks, it was assumed that vampires drained people's blood. Most wasting diseases cause the victim to appear pale and bloodless, maybe even have anemia(or the like) as a side-effect. A lot of older vampire legends are very unclear about how the blood was drained... magic, I guess.

    Twilight's Mormon-tinged vampires might not be a joke, but certainly ripe for a good making fun of... And that's not even the aspect of Meyer's philosophy I find the most fucked-up.
  4.  (4328.186)
    @mlpeters: "but I actually LIKE that aspect of folklore." Whereas I think it's a retarded waste of everyone's time. Po-TAY-to, Po-TAH-to. :-)
    • CommentAuthorSasha_mak
    • CommentTimeDec 20th 2008 edited
    Mine is Werner Herzog's version of Nosferatu. The sadness in Klaus Kinski's performance, the sadness in immortality. That's really what I think the vampire mythos should really enforce. The tragedy in wanting tragedy. In wanting death.
    • CommentAuthormunin218
    • CommentTimeDec 20th 2008
    Recently read Let The Right One In.

    *wonderful* vampire novel.

    creepy as shit, and not over-romanticized.

    Highly recommend it.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeDec 21st 2008
    Possible spoilers for Let the Right One In, obviously.

    @Munin - does the book clarify whether Eli really is a girl or a boy? Watching the film, I really wasn't sure what was going on with the gender thing. Or whether the point was that it didn't matter.

    Also, did the ending imply that Eli was going to make Oskar a vampire too, or was he just as doomed as the old guy that was killing people for Eli at the start?
    • CommentAuthormunin218
    • CommentTimeDec 21st 2008
    @oddcult Yes, Eli's name is actually Elias. It's a boy. The end in the book doesnt really tell you whats going to happen, only that Eli saved his life, and now Oskar was going with him, and obviously gladly. I'd like to think that either way, it would work out. Oskar accepted Eli for who he was, and still loved him.
    • CommentAuthormlpeters
    • CommentTimeDec 21st 2008
    I'm not sure if I ever saw the Herzog Nosferatu... if I did (and it seems like I saw it... or clips of it in some show about horror films...) it would have been when I was too young to appreciate it. Was it in English, dubbed, or subtitled? How does it stylistically compare with the original Nosferatu (aside from Kinski as Count Dracula/Orlok). I haven't actually seen the original Nosferatu either, but have seen enough clips to have a fairly clear idea of it.

    I haven't seen Shadow of the Vampire either... the conceit of Max Schreck actually being the vampire bugs me, since the actually career of Max Schreck isn't in any doubt. Willem Defoe was perfect casting, though.
    • CommentTimeDec 22nd 2008
    @Brandon Cyphered:
    here is a workable definition from dictionary .com

    vam?pire? ?[vam-pahyuhr] Show IPA Pronunciation
    1. a preternatural being, commonly believed to be a reanimated corpse, that is said to suck the blood of sleeping persons at night.
    2. (in Eastern European folklore) a corpse, animated by an undeparted soul or demon, that periodically leaves the grave and disturbs the living, until it is exhumed and impaled or burned.
    3. a person who preys ruthlessly upon others; extortionist.
    4. a woman who unscrupulously exploits, ruins, or degrades the men she seduces.
    5. an actress noted for her roles as an unscrupulous seductress: the vampires of the silent movies.
    1725–35; (< F) < G Vampir < Serbo-Croatian vàmp?r, alter. of earlier upir (by confusion with doublets such as v?zd?h, ?zd?h air (< Slavic v?-), and with intrusive nasal, as in dùbrava, dumbr?va grove); akin to Czech upír, Pol upiór, ORuss upyr?, upir?, (Russ upýr?) < Slavic *u-pir? or *?-pir?, prob. a deverbal compound with *per- fly, rush (literal meaning variously interpreted)

    Vampires are evil men and Demons. I think you go to far by saying those are mutually exclusive catigories...and that you are getting to tied down with one mode of thinking there are many cultures that lump all mythic creatures into the same catigorie an only differentiate by intention...Gods, Ghosts and Demons all the same as Fairies and elves. I was raised polytheistic and don't see the point in over categorizing.

    Vampires Suck...that is their major characteristic, after that it is window dressing.

    And I have read original Dracula, of course he was unpleasant but that Vampire Type gave birth to the new vampire. Many new Narratives also explain away Dracual as being the first and most powerful, with only his lesser offspring succumbing to daylight. Diluted blood another reference to nobility? And in old wives tales Hairy hands can also signify a masturbator.

    that is how I have always felt about recent(last 300 years) western stories about vampires. It's all about repression, this I also feels extends to slasher flicks, Sluts Die.
  5.  (4328.193)

    "1. a preternatural being, commonly believed to be a reanimated corpse, that is said to suck the blood of sleeping persons at night."

    See, there's a problem with that one right there — there are *lots* of vampires with different feeding habits that don't involve attacking sleeping people, even just in Eastern Europe. (One of my favorite vampire species from Eastern Europe can control animals, and makes your family pet run away. Then the vampire brings your pet back, pretending to be a good samaritan. And when you welcome him into your house... he slaughters your family.)

    It's really easy to get bogged down in semantics, but I feel like semantic arguments don't go anywhere, so I'm going to bow out. Suffice to say — I, personally, like my words to *mean* something, to have *definitions* so that two people using the same word have a fair idea of what the other person is talking about. Otherwise, I don't see the point in having a bunch of different words that may or may not mean the same thing.
    • CommentTimeDec 22nd 2008
    Fair enough.. but just because a word can mean more than one thing dosen't mean all definitions are invalid.
  6.  (4328.195)
    @kimleye — It *does* make it a lot harder for us to talk about the same thing though, especially when we have multiple words that *might* mean the same thing or *might* mean something very different. And while I think that's fine most of the time, in the realm of scholarship and critical studies I find it flat-out unacceptable.
    • CommentAuthormlpeters
    • CommentTimeDec 22nd 2008 edited
    I tend to think alternative or vague meanings gives a word broader context and richness of meaning... with more implications swirling below the surface of well understood meanings. I don't see how that conflicts with "scholarship".

    Words depending on context to color their meanings is just an inescapable part of language.

    I'm very interested in mythological and folkloric scholarship and from what I've seen, no two scholars ever are in complete agreement, so you always have to feel your way through, picking and choosing which aspects you wish to explore, while allowing for other interpretations.

    Like I said earlier, when monsters are too well defined it feels less like folklore or tales or horror, than a Dungeons and Dragons rule book, or The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe -- utterly pedantic and so clearly defined that there's no mystery.

    If you choose to use narrow definitions in your writing for consistencies sake - -that's fine - -whole 'nother issue.
  7.  (4328.197)
    @mlpeters — I think we understand each other's preferences fine at this point. And we still don't agree.

    • CommentAuthormlpeters
    • CommentTimeDec 22nd 2008
    I'm not arguing the point, just completely puzzled about your stance on high standards in folklore scholarship... in an area that's built on hear-say and stories passed by word of mouth on over generations, before any even thought to write anything down, with every tale having multiple versions and interpretations...There is no solid ground when dealing with folklore. You can pick and choose what seems consistent, but that's an aesthetic choice and not the same as saying there's one version... 'cause there isn't.

    I'm frankly surprised at your insistence (unless I misunderstand your point...?) that there is a proper, fixed definition of what a vampire (or any other creature or figure in folklore or legend) is. That's all I meant -- has nothing to do with preferences.

    No reason to get upset.
  8.  (4328.199)
    I guess, since we are discussing the differences between various versions of vampires, it would be very nice to get at the first accounts of vampires. To be able to narrow it down to a few specific reports, throughout different areas, that led to what we have now. The desire to find an origin, thus the base model, for the subject is fully respectable. For that reason, and the need for a common vocabulary in any discussion, I can empathize with Brandon Cyphered. Personally, I would want to get back to the earliest definitions before remaking it for my own writing purposes.
    • CommentAuthormlpeters
    • CommentTimeDec 22nd 2008 edited
    The trouble is there is no real base model -- vampire legends appear all over Europe and arguably, in Asia and Africa as well and they're all at least slightly different. Some variants are the "undead" version, but not all -- but they all feed on people in one way or another. The further back you go, the less the stories go into just what a vampire is, being more concerned with what a vampire does. There doesn't seem to have been such a impulse toward classification, just fear of malevolent forces.

    The most common variations, the ones Dracula is derived from, are mostly from Eastern Europe (local to where Stoker pinched the name from Vlad), but the legends are hardly uniform, even there.

    Editing to add that the earliest dating vampire legend source I could find was the Sumerian or Assyrian "Ekimmu" -- basically an evil ghost that drained life (either draining life force, blood, or in some cases ripping off flesh) in the form of a wind, could posses a dead or living body, but could be defeated with wooden weapons -- probably where the wooden stake bit comes from.