Sunday, May 31, 2009

What's it like to be a vampire?

Gee, it'd be awfully neat to be a vampire and stuff, with all that beauty, strength and speed. And you get to live forever, too. As they said in the movie Lost Boys:
Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It's fun to be a vampire.
No downside to that, right?

Both Edward and Rosalie would beg to differ. Edward's ruminations on this topic populate Midnight Sun, and Rosalie is dead-set against our Bella becoming a vampire, but why? She articulates her reasons in the series, but wasn't very specific. What if she was? What would she say? What if Rosalie had a "conversation" with Bella about this very topic? I imagine it would go something like this:
"Amazing — isn't it? — what a vampire can do. Makes you wish you could be one, doesn't it! Makes you wish you could be strong and powerful and fast and cold and dead and consumed by want, doesn't it!" Her quiet, angry speech grew and grew in volume until she was shouting in my face.

"Watching everything change and grow and live around you as you are trapped, frozen and unchanging, in this cursed eternity," she continued more thoughtfully, that is if spiteful could be considered thoughtful. "Watching everything whither and die around you, and all you can do is watch, helplessly. Why? Because everything you touch dies." She stared at me with jealous, hate-filled eyes.

"I..." I began, but I didn't get to complete that thought, and my attempt only set her off like an explosive.

"So tempting, being a vampire, isn't it!" she screamed at me, dropping all pretense of civility. "Isn't it!"

I stared at her, stunned into silence.

"Well, it isn't. Don't you ever forget that." she stated forcefully, ...

Another author, Rhiann put forward her own diatribe by Rosalie to Bella on being a vampire.

Certainly, fundamental to both arguments is the question of satiation. How can you ever be satisfied when there's always more of this Nowness to face. And I believe that this is the crux. Vampires are eternal but are also trapped in time. This brings up a paradox that more than a few address.

Okay, fine, but how does it feel like? Always in the Present, but always trapped in time. Let's ask someone (Rosalie, in this case) who experiences it first hand:

If you, dear reader, are a human, I have to beg of you one simple thing: enjoy each second that passes you, as far as you are able. For you, swimming in the sea of time, each second comes and then goes, never to return to you. For me, trapped in the eternal Now, but also a prisoner of Time, each second never leaves me. Each second is a new link forging the chains of my punishment. Human, enjoy your time, and enjoy its passing ... as I cannot.

Rose by a Lemon Tree, ch 3

Edward expresses similar views in Midnight Sun in the chapter entitled "Purgatory."

So, what's it like, being a vampire? Rosalie, again:
I know exactly what I am.

I'm not a damned soul in Hell, because it has the benefit of eternity, the eternal and ever-present Now, without the endless second-by-second dragging out of this temporal existence. At least, also, a damned soul has the pleasure of feeling a just punishment for an unjust life.

I am not even a demon meting out torture and agony. At least the demons have the pleasure of immateriality, and felt pleasure, pure selfish pleasure, unrestricted by this unending want that my material nature forces upon my being.

No, I am a vampire: wanting, torturing, murdering, drinking, lusting, wanting ... wanting! I am a vampire cursed with a soul! I am lower than the lowest damned soul in Hell; I am lower than even Lucifer himself in the ice cold ninth circle of Hell. I am even colder than that, and I am here present on this Earth. And in my unending walk through this temporality, I feel the shame and the regret burn me — burn me worst than the fires of Hell ever could!
No downside to that, right?


P.S. This is told from the perspective of Twilight vampires. Nosferatu junkies, please check your criticisms at the door.