Do you wish Vampires were real?

I was answering OkCupid questions yesterday while watching the Wire, as one does. I gave a long winded answer to “Are you annoying?” which basically boils down to: “I think to much and have a pathological difficulty answering any question with a simple yes or no.” Being distracted by good television helps, but still some questions pop up that inspire me to rant …

Do you wish things like vampires, fairies, werewolves, ghosts, or something along those lines were real?

My first reaction was, “If they were, they’d be offended to be referred to as things.” Then I thought too much. I distilled those thoughts as much as possible to

They are metaphors. Metaphors are ideas and ideas are real. Real and powerful.

Now I attempt to expand on that a bit. Speculative fiction is often dismissed as escapism or just for entertainment. Mythical creatures doing impossible things, occasionally with explosive magic, giant battles and other excitement. But we all know that elves and dwarves – klingons and ferengi – aren’t real. However, take a step back from the story and ask why the author told this story with zombies instead of vampires (both together can be awesome too).

If the choice was between Zombies and Vampires, the author had already decided to tell a story about monsters that are derived from humanity. Ignoring their differing hungers they’d choose zombies if they wanted a mindless violent horde and vampires if they wanted an intelligent, predatory other. They’d steer clear of the fae as totally other – a different species – not derived from humanity.

Having decided to write about vampires, what role does vampirism play in the story. Is it a metaphor for a predatory class system? Is it a metaphor for the violence each of us is capable of? Is it used to examine civil rights? Moral relativism? Vampires and hundreds of other fictional creations are used to explore so many important societal and philosophical issues that they’ve collected an intellectual weight. So, the idea of a vampire and all that it’s stood for is totally real. They exist perfectly fine in their realm of fiction and entertainment.

My answer: Vampires are real, but I’m on the fence about wishes.

~ by mentatjack on June 22, 2014.

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