I haven’t read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, though I plan to, even though I am very much no longer a teen. I’ve been intrigued by the response of young female readers to Meyer’s books, both as an observer and as an author. Any book that can grip half a generation certainly deserves a look-see, if nothing else than to get a bead on the mindset of the adult reader of tomorrow. I am writing for that reader.
In today’s San Diego Union Tribune, a staff writer considers the oddly romantic pull of the vampire legend. What is it about the vampire — that undead monster whose survival depends on blood and whose intimate bite enslaves others to his fate — that young and old find strangely irresistable?
Simply put, where the mummy and zombie and Godzilla are vicious brutes, the vampire is brutally romantic. A college philosophy professor, quoted in the article, says the bite of the vampire and the transfer of blood is intensely intimate. This fascination with all things Dracula is about intimacy of the near-carnal kind. To be bitten is to be chosen. Physically chosen. Needed. Practically embraced.
It’s all about the romance of physical attraction and primal desire.
I actually think there is something much deeper here. The fascination is about the blood, not the handsome fiend with incisors. It’s the blood. The blood is life.
Blood is precious. It can’t be made synthetically, it can’t be taken without sacrifice. In the Bible, the Israelites are told just as they are beginning a new covenantal relationship with God, “for the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” – Leviticus 17:11.
The life of a creature is in the blood.
Remember when you were a kid and you and your best friend pricked your fingers, rubbed the blood together so that you could be blood brothers, blood sisters, forever?
Blood is life.
Why else do we turn away from blood when it is spilling or has spilled? Why do we close our eyes? Why is it we cannot bear to watch? Blood is life. It is intimate. Without it we are dead. There is an intensely spiritual component to our fascination with the power of blood to save us. I probably don’t even have to mention the cross of Christ. It is so obviously the ultimate picture of blood that saves.
I concede that a handsome vampire has an enigmatic pull that Frankenstein just doesn’t have. But hey. He’s handsome. And Frankenstein is hideous. Based on those two facts alone, well,who would you chose?
Underneath it all is the pull we feel toward the twelve pints of wonder that course through our veins, allowing us to breathe and think and love and laugh and cry and smile and write. That stuff that we cannot bear to look at, it is that precious. . . that is what fascinates us.