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Dissections logo scissors body by Deena Warner


Dissections logo pterodactyl by Deena Warner

Dissections logo pterodactyl by Deena Warner




Inner Vampire
Jaleen Grove

we are simply walking when
I slip into your skeleton
my hungry soul exceeds its bounds
nervous pulsing breath surrounds
drunk on this suspended time
caught in this piquant sublime
in your blood I come apart
dissipate, engulf your heart
feasting on your sweetmeats rare
I lick your veins and organs bare
chomp at your most private thoughts
and suckle on your tender spots
all this I think as we go walking
as we go on, simply talking.


The Thing That Vampires Fear
Nenad Jakovljevic

The thing that vampires fear
      – is not the tang of the fodder’s grave –                              
Nor the subcutaneous taste of decay                                        
      – or the carved, craved and firm tine –                   
The passing of time, the wine of the mortal        
      – or the sinister wrapping vine on the stone –   
The incestuous ash of the burning flame              
      – or the unyielding stemming passion of dawn –    
Beyond reason searched, never truly gone  
The thing never passing but always here
      – is not the looming anguish, the retreating dusk –
The entrapment of the husk of the flesh so pale
      – or the stale sunlight of the deceiving day –
The tattered casket cloth, the moisture of mud
      – or the nonexistent wrath of a god –

The fear is something, more mundane
       – is not within a place or a name –
Not completely searched, not really found
       – or hidden in the sound, within a silent whisper –
Not read between a line, or passed in a brow
       – or disguised in a step, mimicked in a bow
Not a misheard word, broken vow bleeding
       – or the force of feeding Death’s own gown –
The thing that vampires fear
        – is always looming within the reach –
Not the one to be sampled with touch
        – or mended with speech, spouted with slime –
Inserted into a hidden crevice, carved into a wall
        – or the bidden lips of a whore, that none can reach –
Forgotten lesson that none can teach, for none grasp
        – the point where mind, body, soul betray to madness –
Wrapped in the cloak of sadness, the hood of dismay
        – the wandering alone for years, finding final home –
The depression of abnegation, the resting places
        – the thing that vampires fear is depravation –
The subconscious invocation, for unease of release
        – the cerebral darkness prayer, the answer lies –
In a hunter or a slayer, marksman who makes his mark
        – the one who lingers in the dark, the silent walker –
The stalker of a sepulture, the one who helps them fade
         – with his passion and his blade, severing until dead –
Pursuer of the undead, living for the fights
         – giving perpetual slumber, and their last rites –

Zombie Sonnet

Jamieson Ridenhour

My mistress’ eyes are nothing, like the sun
has burned them out of her shapely skull.
But it’s only time has scraped her sockets
and left holes empty as souls and full
of night and secrets and wormy womanly love.
Her song’s a moaning howling thing ungainly,
melodies fresh as the brains she’s dreaming of.
The neighbors on our street react by mainly
running for the holy water or calling 911.
Her complexion at its best is somewhat mottled,
and her disconcerting rictus smiles in fun
when an innocent dinner-guest’s been throttled.
But when she dances slow to Norah Jones,
Ah! To watch the lovely creaking of her bones!


Resistance, Transformation and Heroism in Blade

Anthony Hernandez

The 1998 film Blade, directed by Stephen Norrington, deconstructs traditional vampire mythology, resulting in an emergence of new vampire fiction which both embraces and exploits contradictions of the legacy of traditional vampirism. The western tradition primarily consists of white European central figures in which the narration is thematically constructed around a male/female dyad, vampires as a supernatural phenomenon (metaphorical evil) and vampires as predators of (usually female) humans. According to Jewell Gomez, ‘traditional vampire fiction…has been just that—traditional’ (p. 89). Gomez further asserts that in rewriting vampire mythology from her own 20th century, African American, female viewpoint, there is the need to ‘embrace contradictions’ (p. 89). This need to embrace contradictions reflects the writer and the writer’s audience’s non-association with the traditional white male European vampire. For Gomez, this act of rewriting the vampire mythology resulted in a new non-traditional vampire fiction, The Gilda Stories. Similarly, in the vampire film Blade, based on Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan’s graphic novel, director Stephen Norrington appears to have also embraced contradictions of the traditional vampire. The character Blade is a mid-20th century, urban, African American, humane vampire.   

In contrast to the traditional legacy, the film Blade deconstructs both the centralization of white Western/European characters and the traditional relationship between the male vampire/female victim. Bram Stoker’s Dracula published in 1897 popularized traditional vampire fiction. Stoker, being a resident of the British Isles during the Victorian era, created an entirely white mostly European cast of characters and settings. The plot in Dracula is also consumed by the male/female dyad. This tradition has been frequently worked and reworked in popular culture since Stoker’s era. In contrast, in Blade, two of the central characters are black and one of them is a woman. Blade, played by Wesley Snipes, is a black man. Dr. Karen Jensen, played by N'Bushe Wright, is a black woman. This is contradictory in terms of both the construction of race in the primary cast and the establishment of the male vampire/female victim relationship. Despite the tradition containing, as suggested by Gomez, ‘woman [as] victims or objects of desire,’ in terms of the central characters, Blade and Dr. Jensen, this is not the case (p. 89). Dr. Karen Jensen is a hematologist by profession. Blade meets her after she is bitten by a vampire he is pursuing. The relationship that develops throughout the plot is one of mutual interest and a sort of interdependence. The vampire Blade slays vampires and protects Dr. Jensen, while Dr. Jensen attempts to develop a biological understanding of vampirism and develops new means of destroying vampires. Almost completely absent from this relationship between Blade and Dr. Jensen is the traditional sexual tension and desire between male vampire and female victim (predator/prey).

In contrast to the traditional male vampire, Blade is not driven by a strict volition to prey on weak female humans, a desire which has been perpetuated since Stoker’s Dracula. Blade’s choice to befriend not only a human but a black woman in a mutually beneficial relationship is practically the opposite of the traditional male vampire/female victim relationship. However, their relationship is not without some sort of desire because their friendship is driven by a mutual objective, the destruction of the vampire race. Whereas the traditional vampire stories typically exploit the negative consequences of sex and desire, equating them with destruction, and the dominating power of the white European male over the weak female, in Blade, the negative associations between lust and desire with vampirism have been removed from the plot. This non-traditional construction of the central characters allows for the focus to be on the positive contributions of desire and human relationships, the power of both black people and women, and the power of an egalitarian relationship between a man and a woman. The establishment of this unique relationship, Blade, a black powerful vampire and Dr. Jensen, a black powerful woman, speaks to the human components of the psychological and emotional makeup of Blade. Essentially, Blade is a vampire. He does suffer from the thirst for blood; he has tremendous strength and agility, prolonged life and supernatural recovery from wounds. However, Blade is hardly a vampire in any other way.

In his biological nature, as the half-vampire half-human, as well as in his predator/prey relationship, Blade has been re-written, embracing contradictions of the traditional vampire. Jules Zanger notes that, traditionally, vampirism has been equated with ‘supernatural’ or ‘metaphysical evil’ (p. 18). Stoker’s Dracula was perceived as the ‘Anti-Christ’ by Van Helsing and the rest of ‘the Crew of Light’ (Zanger, p. 18). Dracula had a rigid and unending volition to feed. There was never any question of morality or right and wrong. Ultimately, it appears that there never was a choice for Stoker’s Dracula nor was there a secular scientific way of explaining Dracula’s being. He was purely evil and he was a killer. However, Blade is biologically different from traditional vampires. Blade was born half-vampire/half-human, a hybrid. In the 20th and 21st centuries there appears to have been a cultural shift towards the acceptance of hybridity. Perhaps there’s room for cultural hybridity in art as well as society.

Blade’s nature appears to be a continuation of a typical literary trend that has been occurring since Stoker popularized the traditional vampire. As suggested by Zanger, ‘the new vampire represent[s] a demoticizing of the metaphoric vampire from Anti-Christ, from magical, metaphysical other, toward the metonymic vampire as social deviant’ (p. 17). Wolvman, Colan and later Norrington continued this trend by re-writing the biology. Instead of creating a new vampire that is more humane than the traditional vampire because of his/her psychological or emotional components, Blade is biologically part human, which in this case results in a heroic vigilante rather than a plain rebellious social deviant. This creation of the metaphorical ‘humane’ vampire is further constructed through Blade’s psychological and emotional existence. Blade was endowed with all the strengths of the vampire but none of their weaknesses, except their thirst. However, Blade does not gratify this desire in the traditional way. Blade quenches his thirst for blood by injecting a chemical serum that allows for him to survive without feeding from the living. His abstinence and his search for an alternative reflects Blade’s morality. He aligns himself with his human nature and defines himself through his rejection of his vampire nature.

Blade’s morality and identification of the self, as well as alignment with the human race, truly defines the major contradiction in the film. Blade was born of a mother who was bitten just prior to giving birth to him. From this birth he draws his unique human/vampire nature. Blade perceives his transformation into a vampire as an unwarranted shattering of his mortal life and is repulsed by vampires and the vampire nature. Blade vows revenge on the vampire who has ruined the possibility of his normal life. He is still, in effect, a predator, but his prey is not the innocent, male-dominated female figure, instead his prey is other vampires. The paradox inherent in Blade is that although he rejects his vampire nature and more generally the vampire race, he uses the powers that lie within his vampire nature to destroy his enemy, all other vampires. Blade’s vampire nature, which he rejects and thus defines himself through this rejection, is actually the source of all his power.

Through embracing contradictions of the traditional mythology, the film Blade creates a new vampire for the genre. Blade is a vampire that is biologically affected by some sort of vampire blood virus yet retains a human biology as well. This unique biology contributes to a being that is genetically endowed with the vampire’s ‘super powers’ but also psychological components traditionally not correlated with vampirism, such as morality and consciousness, but more importantly, choice. Through his choice, Blade fights to destroy evil by using his super vampire powers, which are both his blessing and his curse, in effect making Blade a comic book ‘super-hero’. This revision allows for the vampire to be read in a much different light than the traditional horror -provoking and fear-encompassing Dracula. The film Blade is actually a story that provokes vision, aspiration and desire to rise above primitive human materiality. Through his example, Blade teaches one to aspire above and beyond the corporeal and physical needs of self and to reach within to find the power and strength that lies deep within all. Blade is essentially a story of the potential of human nature and the power that resides within humanity. However, Blade’s vampire deficits display the primitive aspects of human life that lie within human nature: they are projected outward into the mythological vampire, such as the need to feed, consume and destroy.

Blade teaches that humanity can overcome these aspects of life with principle, morality and virtue, thus achieving a super human state. Blade’s real power lies within his humane abilities. He decides to choose virtue over pleasure, to choose good over evil, and to aspire to values considered higher than the animalistic impulses, desires and urges, that all humans suffer. He turns towards self sacrifice, compassion and perseverance. Blade embodies the most positive attributes of both aspects of his dualistic nature that essentially reflect the human desire for vampiric-like possibilities, but he also retains the attributes that define the goodness of humanity.

Works Cited
Blade (1998) Dir. Stephen Norrington, DVD

Gomez, Jewelle (1997) ‘Recasting the Mythology: Writing Vampire Fiction’, Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture, (eds.) Joan Gordon and Veronica Hollinger (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press), pp. 85-95.

Zanger, Jules (1997) ‘Metaphor into Metonymy: The Vampire Next Door’, Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture, (eds.) Joan Gordon and Veronica Hollinger (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press), pp. 17-27.

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