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Immortality: Dammit, People, Don't You Get It?, October 19th, 1997 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

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archived soapbox: October 19th, 1997
"Immortality: Dammit, People, Don't You Get It?" [permalink]
    keywords: love, life, death, growing up, relationships, society, vampires, immortality
    soapbox #: 107
    written: October 19th, 1997
    words: 1337

"Immortality: Dammit, People, Don't You Get It?", an Essay

After having read Bram Stoker's Dracula, I feel a bit more prepared to tackle this specific Soapbox, one which I've wanted to write for awhile.

Oh yes, and just so you know, you can keep up with what I'm reading and studying by what books, articles, and magazines I quote from or refer to. My memory is so bad that I can only remember to make references to specific literary works if I've just read them. Sad, isn't it? Oh well, I suppose it will help me later on in life when I look back at these essays and try to figure out what day caused me to turn from people-loathing web designer lunatic to all-out homicidal maniac. ;)

So...immortality. Would you like to be immortal? I remember when Coppola's version of Dracula showed up in the theaters, and when Anne Rice's newest novel about Lestat and his fellow furry friends came out. As I was still in high school at the time, I had to put up with all the students who dressed up goth, sporting black clothes, black trenchcoats, black lipstick, and black who-knows-what-else. I had to deal with the kids who wanted to drink blood and stay up all night and become vampires so they could scare their friends and so they would live forever.

How could anyone not want to go to a public high school? Those are the years in which you really get a good grasp on the mentality of the kids of that generation. I had a blast observing them for four years of my life.

I'm amazed that people will read all of the vampire literature and come out of it still wanting to become a vampire. Have these people missed the whole point behind the Dracula novels and movies? They'll ooh and aah at the superficial details of vampirism...I admit, it would be kind of interesting to have an aura of utter sex about you so that those of the opposite gender fall in front of you. It would be neat to have the power of twenty men. Sure, drinking blood is a cool trick to jaw-drop your friends. Taking bullets in the gut? Yeah, that's nifty too. Flying around like a bat and not having to eat are conveniences many people often wish they had.

But please. All the interesting details about vampires are overlooked completely. They supposedly descend from the culmination of all the most bloodthirsty and successful tribes in Europe. They are highly intelligent and have lived through many generations, seeing the whole history of Europe unfold. They are cunning and clever and invulnerable until authors and screenplay writers dumb them down to save time. Vampires war against God while he fights back. Vampires seek to corrupt God's world with impurity, yet God still accepts the original souls after they have been purified. These are some of the traits vampires have that fascinate me most. That sort of stuff leaves much to the creative mind, while the physical powers of vampires are just eye and ear candy.

But what the main point is, in my opinion, is that victims are overcome by desire to become like the vampire, who exudes sex and power and domination, but later they realize just what suffering they've just traded their souls for. Vampires can only be active at night and if they are not within impure earth or their coffins by sunrise, they will die. They are near invincible by night, yet they need a guardian by day. How is that more enticing than the power to roam any time one wishes as a human?

Vampires are thrown off by crucifixes and holy water and other "Wizard of Oz"-like weapons -- isn't that reason enough not to want to be one? ;)

Vampires require blood in order to live. There's no independence in that. They require other peoples' lives in order to carry on their own. They can only feed off others and can't exist by themselves. They depend on other people. When it comes right down to it, as one like Van Helsing would realize, vampires are more slaves than masters, once you get past the aura which surrounds them. They are pathetic, enslaved creatures who are cast out by every being on the face of the earth, even God himself.

I am not the first person to say this, by any means. John Donne in Sonnet 10 mocks Death, saying, "Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men," and "One short sleep past, we wake eternally / And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die."

I believe Horace taunts Death as well in one of his poems, although I wouldn't be able to find that specific poem for the life of me.

The poets understand that the decomposers and bloodsuckers and life thieves are pitiful creatures indeed. There is no power or respect in living off the living (hear that, scrupleless lawyers?). There is nothing liberating about requiring someone else in order to survive.

So get past it already.

You may wonder why I'm taking vampires so seriously. You probably aren't taking me very seriously at this point, especially if you're a first-time reader.

But this bothers me because it is indicative of the mentality of our society -- all we see is what immediately shows itself. We are nearsighted and cannot plan or look ahead to the future. We see glitz and glamour and fame, but we don't see the suffering which comes with it.

We see immortality as something worth having because it means we could not worry about what we eat or what we do to our bodies or how much we smoke or drink. But do you have any inkling of the suffering being everlasting entails? You live forever, but your relatives and friends do not. They die off like normal humans, leaving you completely alone and without any ties and leaving you feeling like you betrayed nature and your family line. You get frightened and anxious because there is no end in sight for you -- why should you bother living life to its fullest when you'll always be alive? Mortals are always concerned about going out and doing things and collecting experiences before they grow old and they can't move anymore. If you're immortal, there is no reason to do that. Immortals have no time of reference, really. Everything falls into the present. You aren't one segment of the timeline. You are the timeline.

In short, your existence loses all meaning. Nothing means anything, if everything is the same. You can't compare events in your life in terms of how useful or enjoyable they were -- they all run together into one big glob of events. And why experience any happiness in your life if you know it will end in pain? If you fall in love, your partner dies. You know that will be the outcome before you even begin. You then decide to avoid any happiness because you know it will hurt later. You avoid everything. You find joy in nothing. You cease to exist and yet...you do.

O, what misery! O, how sad that people do not understand how much of a curse immortality is!

Let me be mortal, O powers that be, and let me be free of my carnal life when my time comes. I love my family, I love my Anna, I love myself, and I do, actually, love this world, but what makes all of them meaningful to me is knowing that I have shared feelings and affections and opinions with them while I was alive, and that I have lived life to its fullest in the time allotted to me. In order for me to truly live, I must eventually die.


 
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