Monday, April 26, 2010

Madness takes its toll...please have exact change

In penning a crash course in world vampire myths, I was reminded of a glaring fact common to all these tales. Vampires are certifiably insane. As if being undead wasn't enough, they are also obsessive-compulsive, prone to fits of unpredictable violence, and from time to time psychotic. Like so many of our myths, I think much of this stems from our basic human desire to explain that which we do not understand. Madness is a unique condition. It can strike anytime, anywhere and anyone. Most illness we can see and otherwise wrap our heads around, but a previously stable and normal member of the village suddenly spouting gibberish necessitates a supernatural explanation. There is a reason one of the few universal truths to all legends regardless of where they originated is that a suicide can become a vampire. Likewise, most cultures believe if you scatter seeds, rice or other small objects around a vampire they are compelled to pick them all up one by one. The poor souls who suffered from mental illness at a time when such a thing was a totally foreign concept were labeled as monsters. Do I believe this explains away vampires and other monsters entirely? I do not. The world wouldn't be the same without a little mystery. There is no reason why science and the supernatural cannot coexist. And here my 5th grade teacher thought I was wasting my time with all those books on monsters. Turns out, on some level, doctor and vampire hunter are closer than you think.

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