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© Pierre Maré,
2004 - 2007

 

Offbeat 60

Some of you may have seen the film adaptation of Anne Rice’s excellent ‘Interview with a Vampire’. A few of you may even have read the engrossing series that continues the themes and stories that ‘Interview’ introduces.
The books steer largely clear of slender necks, erotic bites and all the perverse paraphernalia of haemosexuality and less literary vampire tales.

Although vampires are an archetype of evil, Anne Rice snatches her characters from the jaws of stereotyping by the device of having them only feed off obviously murderous characters. Put aside the question of ‘who hangs the hangman’ and you have a form of acceptable law, but with teeth. Voilah! The vampire is vindicated and we can explore their psyches without the distraction of immediate judgment.

One of the major attractions of the Anne Rice ‘Vampire’ series is an examination of the psychological and spiritual effects of an indefinite life span.

‘Claudia’ is probably her most memorable character. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of reading the series or seeing the film, or if you just don’t swing that way, Claudia is made a vampire at the age of about five. Although she ages, she is frustrated by the fact that as she matures and learns, she is locked in the body of a child and is perceived and treated as a child, decade after decade.
According to an interview, with Anne Rice, not a vampire, she created the character to explore the death of her daughter at a very young age.

Claudia gives a huge measure of depth to the series with an interesting paradox for myself and, no doubt, other readers.

I am not yet mature enough to decide that I don’t want to live forever. I have a thousand opportunities, all of which I want to pursue. There are books I want to read that have yet to be written. Somewhere, in some director’s mind, there is a film that will catch my attention and hold its place in my memory the way the matinees of my childhood did. There is wonderful music waiting to inspire a composer and cause a voice to soar.

I want to travel to the stars, but that possibility will probably take more time to materialize than I have. I want to walk on the surfaces of strange planets and marvel at their beauty. I want to see the future, with all its miracles, large and small. There is so much I want to do, I need at least a thousand years.

Claudia holds these possibilities in her hands, but cannot reconcile herself to an unchanging, ageless existence, and despairs. So do many of the other vampires who people Anne Rice’s nights. Some find ways to kill themselves. Others retreat into decades of sleep.

Herein lies the paradox: with limited years, we try to live forever, courting every form of medicine and snake oil that looks even halfway credible, yet with unlimited years many of Anne Rice’s most credible characters choose oblivion.

Perhaps the sum of our happiness and satisfaction is linked to the sum of our years. The less we have, the more we are able to appreciate the joy, but the more years we can count, the more the joys become a matter of remembrance of then, ennui and an absence of recognition in the face of now.

A toy loses its shine after the first few hours. The first cold beer on a hot summer afternoon always tastes better than the one that makes you give up and totter home. There is no love as romantic, sweet and melancholy as the first memory. And the bird’s sweet dawn chorus will inevitably interrupt a well-deserved sleep-in on a Sunday morning.

But I am not mature enough to recognize this and settle for less right now. No doubt there are new sensations on the way, which will have all the power necessary to capture my imagination and keep me interested in life.

I cannot begin to imagine that I will ever become so jaded and, and like Claudia, so unchanging, that the curved balls that life throws at me and the rich changes that it brings my way will cease to keep me interested. There is too much to see and do.

Given the choice, I would choose to live forever.

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