“Despair was so familiar to me; it could be banished by the sight of a beautiful mannikin in the window. It could be dispelled by the spectacle of lights surrounding a tower. It could be lifted by the great ghostly shape of Saint Patrick’s coming into view. And then despair would come again.”
Life’s a vicious cycle.
I think the attraction of the vampire genre lies, for many people, in the possibility of escape from an all-too-boring human existence.
If we could only live forever, be inordinately beautiful, all-powerful, and inescapably attractive to anyone (insert wistful sigh here), well, then all our problems would just melt away, wouldn’t they?
Why else would the vampire genre be home to so many disenchanted misanthropic adolescents? To be sure, Lestat and co. present the most optimistic and alluring depiction of vampirism, so it’s no wonder many people would rather be like him than that mindless, beastly, evil-o-matic we call Dracula.
Still, when you think about it, would immortality and omnipotence really make that big of a difference in how we deal with life? (or unlife, as it were).
Ricean vampires are not exactly the happy squad. Lestat, for all his self-confidence determination at not being kept down…well, even he can fall into a melancholy induced coma for a few years.
Vampirism, of course, is not all peaches and roses, even when we have an eternity of endless possibilities facing us. Regular old mortal life is exactly the same way, despite our limited amount of time on this earth.
Think about what Lestat is saying: Despair and unhappiness can be expelled by even the simplest of objects or events, but it’s inevitable that the despair will return.
I guess that sort of thing just happens when you live forever, but it’s no less different when you’re a mere mortal like us. As any teenager (or just plain anybody) will tell you, your moods are up one minute, down in the dumps the next.
When you’re down it can feel like it’ll go on forever, but eventually it stops. We may catch a random showing of our favourite movie on TV, turn on the radio and hear our favourite song out of nowhere, or just walk outside on a particularly gorgeous and sunny day.
All of a sudden we feel stupid for feeling so despairing a woe-is-me-ish. The hard part of this is, when you’re up high, you know you have nowhere else to go but down, and that realization all but destroys your happy feeling.
It’s like Lestat said in The Queen of the Damned: To be this happy is to be miserable, to feel this much satisfaction is to burn. Life is just a cycle of ups and downs; what drives most people to continue is the hope that it will one day just end, and we’ll be “up” all of the time.
I think most people, no matter what they say, know in the back of their minds that this just isn’t true. Life’s a neverending cycle of ups and downs. Magnify that by about ten million if you’re immortal. Think of Lestat at the end of QotD, and look at him at the end of Memnoch…that’s just the story of our lives!
Happy and euphoric one moment, in a catatonic state the next. This, I think, is the real core of attraction for many (Ricean) vampire fans. We see ourselves in them.
We feel despair like they do, we feel happiness like they do, but our inner feelings and dilemmas become that much more clear and distinct and recognizable when we see them expressed through creatures that are distinctly not like us.
This vicious cycle that is life suddenly becomes poignant when we see a creature that possesses immortality struggling with it in the same way we do. We just have to hold on to the fact that we will come out of it eventually, just like Lestat does.
He eventually woke up from his whole “coma of despair”, and so will we. We might dip back into it every now and then, but like Lestat, we just have to plow on and refuse to let the darkness swallow us whole.
Even though we can’t live forever like he does, us humans might do well to take a page from Lestat’s book; no matter how crappy and shitty it gets, it’d be just as crappy and shitty to give up.