Friday, October 1, 2010

Concerning vampires, Pt. 3 Reproduction and feeding

ALERT:  There are some unpleasant, perhaps even disgusting, images below which may move the blog into the PG-13 realm - consider what vampires are reputed to consume and proceed with due consideration....

— So, does the bite of the vampire create another vampire?

Vampires reproduce in one of two ways. The first is through normal (for vampires) sexual activity. This is rare, since most vampires are sterile. The second (and most common) method is the transferal of the key virus as a blood born pathogen.

— Virus? Sounds like AIDS…?

Yes, although the bite of the vampire (which is essentially painless and heals quickly) does not transfer this virus. The ‘victim’ must somehow ingest the contagion from the vampires bodily fluids.

— Ugh!

Indeed. Whether by accident or by deliberate intention, a human must imbibe this from the vampire.

— But you said in the last blog that humans aren’t turned into vampires.

Yes, I exaggerated…. But the process is rare and more often results in the death of the person who receives the virus. I understand that no more than 20% survive the first year. During this time an adult vampire will, if the ‘child’ is to survive, mentor and nurse the Not-Yet-Vampire until it can survive on it’s own. The maturation process takes decades and most do not survive to ‘adulthood’ - out of every 100 ‘children’ perhaps 4 make it to adulthood - and then of course the first few decades they likely find themselves in fierce competition for existing resources.

Keep in mind my original note about the predator population. As a predator - an essentially solitary predator - the vampire finds little value in creating another vampire, who will most likely become a rival for the existing food in the area. One of the reasons, besides sterility, that we rarely see true vampire children is that feral males tend to kill the children. The mother will fight to protect the child, but she cannot be present 24/7 and the childhood of a ‘normally’ reproduced vampire is even longer than the viral infected proto-vampire - several decades as an apparent child. Indeed from this have evolved the legends that child vampires never age. While a human child may survive more or less alone after 15 or 16 years (sometimes younger…), a vampire child remains physically, emotionally and intellectually dependent upon its mother (or a small extended family) for as many as 30 years.

This accounts for vampire mothers going into extended retreat/ hiding after the birth of a child. Sometimes the father - or a surrogate father - goes with her. More often she goes with another female. But most often this exile is solitary - only the mother and child surreptitiously integrating themselves into a human community.

— But doesn’t the vampire drain and kill its victim? And the danger is death after the bite. In fact, isn’t one character in Dracula cured by the death of a vampire?

You should signal a spoiler alert here! But, yes, that is exactly what Bram Stoker’s Dracula says.

Unfortunately, he is wrong about this, just as he is wrong about what hurts a vampire (all that garlic, crucifixes and holy water business), the immortality of the vampire and even how to kill a vampire. Bram Stoker probably never met a vampire and most likely merely interviewed people who did and then manufactured a story from the tales he heard.

In fact, what a vampire consumes seems to vary from one authority to another. In V, vampires cannot digest food and in one memorable scene a vampire eats with apparent relish food prepared by a human, but then must regurgitate as soon as possible. No peristalsis. No digestive enzymes. No digestion. If the food remains in the body it simply rots….

That is one extreme. The Gates suggests another vision, where the vampire eats and drinks just as a human (or at least appears to do so). They don’t eat or drink much, but seem able to consume something other than blood. In this show, the vampire has access to artificial blood (we find this common in 21st century considerations of the vampire), but still craves ‘the real stuff.’

— So perhaps the virus makes the vampire crave blood.

Certainly the vampire does not seem to actually consume much of anything. In both The Vampyre by Polidori and Camilla the vampires seem more to wallow in blood than to consume it. Both stories discuss the opening of coffins only to discover an uncorrupted creature in a bed of blood.

— That’s really disgusting!

I agree and we shall move on….

From the earliest extant reports a thick overlay of superstitious myth has helped to cover the continued existence of vampires among us. Many of the longest lived vampires have turned from hunting to ‘herding’ or to synergistic companionships in which they develop relationships with one or more humans and feed without destroying them.

We find conflicting reports about this modern tendency. One scholar goes so far as to say that the feeding of a vampire has caused AIDS, but the evidence for that is weak and I do not agree - V even suggests the opposite - that vampires are on the cutting edge of AIDS research (having a vested interest in the continued purity of human blood supply…). On the other hand, one sees in this the notion that the vampire-human relationship is in fact weirdly synergistic.

In actual human-vampire relationships (where they exist…) the human may enjoy increased health, energy and even longevity. The logic of this idea cannot be argued (why otherwise would such relations last decades?), but the evidence remains indeterminate.

Perhaps the next century or two will allow us to determine the answers to some of the remaining questions.

— But did we really determine what a vampire eats? Besides blood, I mean.

And yet we must return to blood. The vampire requires ‘life energy’ - hence the direct consumption of meat (they simply can’t seem to process vegetables) and perhaps this is the reason for the craving for blood. But a well fed (and reasonably sane) vampire can control the craving - or direct it toward a human ‘companion.’

What I’m suggesting is that the ‘blood drinking’ vampire is a bit of a myth. The vampire has a virus that gradually removes melatonin from the body (as well as other things) and reduces the metabolism while increasing maximum life span at the expense of energy and creativity and creates a craving for blood. In addition, many vampires seem emotionally ‘unstable’ - let me be blunt here - many are utter nutters. They are (or have become) total whack jobs that have no way to relate to the human race other that as predator to prey.

These psychopaths (and they go beyond any ‘simple’ sociopath into true madness) do indeed treat the human race… well… they treat us the way we treat cattle or chickens. But as we are cattle/ chickens with a fondness for projectile weapons and violence and vampires are solitary hunters, we have avoided being herded into corporate farms.

So far….

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