Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Online Artifact Paper

Cedes Leon

Online Artifact Paper: Interview With The Vampire

"Who knew that better than I, who had presided over the death of my own body, seeing all I called human wither and die only to form an unbreakable chain which held me fast to this world yet made me forever its exile, a specter with a beating heart?" Louis struggles with this question throughout the entirety of Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire. The theme of religion and the existence of a soul is the one that stood out to me the most while reading the novel. During my research for our Online Artifact paper, I came across a website built by someone who calls him/herself “Professor Vampire” dealing with vampires and religion. It has a special page focusing on vampires and their souls (or lack thereof) from which I’ve referenced.

Professor defines the soul as emotional, rather than logical (like the mind). Further, he says that the mind tells of what we want and is “more important than any other input.” The soul, on the other hand, “tries to put the needs of others before my [his] own needs and wants.” If humans turned vampires no longer have a soul, they would be unable to put anyone else’s wants and desires before their own. In the case of Interview with the Vampire, if any of the characters possessed a soul, it would be Louis. The taking of a human life is deeply troubling to him despite it being a “normal” action for a vampire. Since the possession of a soul is connected with the ability to put one’s needs before your own, it would be correct to say that Louis does in fact have a soul. As I stated before, Louis has a serious aversion to killing humans but he allows Claudia to do so because she wants to. Claudia is the person he loves most, even though he is somewhat fearful of her. The fact that he allows her needs to be fulfilled when they go against everything he believes in proves that he still has at least a little bit of a soul. One could counter this argument though and say that because he loves Claudia so, her needs become his and putting those needs before those of the innocent humans she kills is a soulless act.

The possession of a soul is seen as what defines a being as a human. Professor asks the question, “If the vampire’s soul is lost upon death and all that remains is the mind and body, is it yet human?” This answer to this depends on each person’s definition of human, he says.

“Without a soul the vampire loses all ability to connect with God since God seems to prefer talking to souls instead of minds,” Professor writes. His search for other vampires stems from his wanting to know about the history of his kind why he is the way he is. This longing for knowledge can be compared to man’s longing for the knowledge of how his world works and was created (this often leads to a religious explanation). Louis still has that basic human need for knowledge, which would lead the reader to believe that he still has a shred of humanity. Louis also continues to have human reactions to things of beauty. This brought to light when he is watching the French vampire’s sadistic play, "Something in me was responding now as the audience responded, not in fear, but in some human way, to the magic of that fragile painted set, the mystery of the lighted world there."

"And my heart beat faster for the mountains of eastern Europe, finally, beat faster for the one hope that somewhere we might find in that primitive countryside the answer to why under God this suffering was allowed to exist - why under God it was allowed to begin, and how under God it might be ended. I had not the courage to end it, I knew, without that answer." Louis wonders this while journeying to Europe. This highlights his desire to understand his world and become close to God again. With closeness to God, Louis would have salvation, death--an end to his sadness. At one point Louis expresses exactly what he wants, "I wanted love and goodness in this which is living death,' I said. 'It was impossible from the beginning, because you cannot have love and goodness when you do what you know to be evil, what you know to be wrong. You can only have the desperate confusion and longing and the chasing of phantom goodness in its human form. I knew the real answer to my quest before I ever reached Paris. I knew it when I first took a human life to feed my craving. It was my death. And yet I would not accept it, could not accept it, because like all creatures I don't wish to die! And so I sought for other vampires, for God, for the devil, for a hundred things under a hundred names. And it was all the same, all evil. And all wrong. Because no one could in any guise convince me of what I myself knew to be true, that I was damned in my own mind and soul."

Professor Vampire’s website is filled with ambiguity but that could be the point. We’ve learned that vampires are often a reflection of humans and the societal values important at the time. Since vampires are defined by humans, it makes all the sense in the world that they might retain the basic human characteristics. That Louis has all of these characteristics proves him to be more than just a merciless killing machine. Thus, I believe that the vampires we’ve read about are similar to humans in that they are all unique and motivated by a different force. Louis’s just happens to be guilt while Lestat’s motivation is power.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Final Project Proposal

For my final project I will be choosing Option A: An Extended Literary Analysis Paper. I will continue my discussion on the connection between vampires and and female sexuality but I will incorporate and focus on vampires and femininity, using the Twilight series as an example. There is a lot of discussion on whether or not Twilight is anti-feminist and I found and interesting article that connects gender roles to Twilight and other vampire novels.
I think this will be a very interesting topic to delve deeper into. I've mentioned that I enjoy the Twilight series so I'm excited to explore this facet of them that I've never really thought about.
Also, the whole vampirism as a result of female hysteria idea I talked about in my first essay really resonated with me so getting to take it a step further will prove to be a very interesting process, I think.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I found the ending to Interview With The Vampire not so terrible. To be honest, I was expecting a lot worse and I was relieved that Daniel lived and that Lestat did not wind up in his car as in the movie.
I did find it kind of disturbing that Daniel would wish to become a vampire after hearing Louis's tale. Louis tells Daniel of all the suffering he has endured as a result of becoming a vampire. Even after hearing all of the heartbreak of watching Claudia struggle with her age and finally die, while being able to do nothing about it, it is crazy that Daniel would want a life such as that. I do not see the glory in being a vampire as Daniel obviously does. I think Louis ought to have roughed him up a bit to give him a healthy dose of fear.
I really felt for Louis all throughout the book. Even in his human life, he was deeply sad and this did not change as he hoped it would upon becoming a vampire. The sadness was only eternally prolonged, not nullified. To bear such a heavy burden as Louis does for all of time sounds like the worst nightmare I could imagine. Far worse than being a vampire. I would even go so far as to say that I would rather be Louis or Lestat's prey than have to live forever.
This whole living forever thing that is associated with vampires seems to be something that humans really covet. I really don't understand why, though. Immortality is not human, natural, or normal. Humans have deep ties to each other and I can't see why someone would want to live beyond everyone they know and love.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Interview with the Vampire Part One

I am actually really enjoying Interview With The Vampire. I find it exciting and easy to read; maybe it helps that I've seen the movie so I sort of know what to expect but nonetheless I definitely like it. I do think that this movie started my being creeped out by Tom Cruise and my love of Brad Pitt...not surprisingly that was all I could think about while reading hah.
That this novel is told through Louis's point of view definitely has a lot to do with how the reader views him and the other vampire characters. This was the first instance, for any of the novels that we've read, in which I have actually felt compassion for one of the vampires. Louis's tale is a sad one...first he must cope with the loss of his humanity, then with the monstrous child he's created, and finally with the loss of Claudia. Not only must he cope with all of these things, but he must cope with them for eternity.
Seeing things from Louis's point of view probably does skew the reader's view of Lestat though... It is hard to imagine that Lestat could have some redeeming quality but maybe if we saw things through his eyes..? That's a big maybe.
We also see Claudia through Louis's perspective. Even though Claudia is sort of a little monster baby, the reader (or at least I) still liked her. I think this has all to do with us seeing her through Louis's eyes. Louis loves her and looks over her lack of respect for human life because she is his "daughter". "And there was so much pleasure in caring for her," Louis says. In the same paragraph however he expresses his concern, "She was simply unlike Lestat and me to such an extent I couldn't comprehend her; for little child she was, but also fierce killer now capable of the ruthless pursuit of blood with all a child's demanding."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Am Legend Part Two

Before reading the literary criticism article, I never thought about the racial undertones in I Am Legend, but they now seem obvious.
This book was written at a time of great turmoil in America. Not only was World War II just ending, this was also during the civil rights movement, around the exact time that Brown vs Board of Education was passed, undoing the doctrine of "separate but equal." Some White-Americans at the time, were afraid that their way of life was being undone, much the way that Neville's life had been undone by the vampires.
The vampires in I Am Legend are a plague. They have caught the unsuspecting humans off guard and threaten everything they know and believe in. The fear of their takeover is similar to the fear that Anglo-Americans might have had in the 50s-60s about African-Americans taking over. The vampires are inherently evil and different, a race that must be stamped out or contained.
Patterson talks about the "half breed" in this novel, which definitely mirrors a lot of western ideas about race. There is lots of fear associated with the half breed. Fear that they will assimilate into society unbeknownst to the masses, forever changing what that "mass" is. After Reconstruction, the idea of a half breed was introduced. It was decided that only people who had 1/8 of African ancestry could still be considered white. This rule was strictly enforced, so that no one might escape it and be considered white when they were not (in the eyes of the law).
White blood was considered to be pure blood and whites did not want their race to be "dirtied" with the blood of a different ethnicity. That is why half breeds were looked down upon, they were neither one ethnicity nor the other, they were a group all to themselves.
Neville sees himself as "normal" and the vampires as defected. We can see this when he is talking to Ruth and says "You're on trial, not me." He is insinuating that she and all the others must be judged against him, the "normal" one.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Extra Credit Isolation U/Zombie Video Games

This presentation centered mainly around a zombie computer game that students at the speaker's school created. I failed to see the connection to literature but I suppose I did see the connection to vampires.
At the beginning of the lecture, Mr. Greenspan talked about how zombies are somewhat of a scapegoat for society. Vampires are also very much a scapegoat. They represent what we fear, very often, the unknown. They always seem to be some sort of sexual representation. Until recently, sexuality wasn't something openly discussed, it was embarrassing and especially taboo for women. Carmilla is a perfect example of this; the hysteric woman was not something understood by male scientists so they turned her into something dangerous fearful. Vampires seem to always be an elusive creature, as well. Meaning that there is something off about them, yet their human companions cannot help but to be drawn to them. We see this in Carmilla, Dracula, and The Vampyre.
I failed to see the importance of the zombie video games. Maybe I'm biased because video games bore me, but all of this interest in zombies just seems weird. Again, maybe this is because I don't like scary things, who knows. That these students would go to such great lengths to simulate real society rather than just live in it seems very off to me. The fact that they identify with the zombie is very disturbing, as well. Zombies eat people. Thus, they should not be something idealized or envied. When you think about it, that someone would identify with a zombie is quite sad. Have they really no faith in our society? I mean, I know there are numerous things to be fixed, but I really don't see how someone could be that discouraged with it.
The students that created it are obviously very smart, it'd be great if they could also put their efforts into something that would help our ACTUAL society.