Monday, August 29, 2011

The Vampire Armand -- A thought piece: Part 1

“Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

This is the second post in a series. It might make more sense if you start with The Introduction.

Fairy tales are stories we tell our children to teach them lessons about big ideas using little words and putting it in a framework they will understand now as well as later. They're artful lies that teach us a Truth. Fairy tales and children's stories involve exaggeration and hyperbole. Heroes are always princes, heroines are princesses, there are giants, geese who lay golden eggs. Instead of strangers offering children candy there are witches living in candy houses. Bad guys aren't just bad guys. They're wolves. They hide in the forest behind bushes to leap out at us, and failing that they'll hide in houses and look like family members, grammas with big teeth and big ears who are wolves intent on eating us and our kids. The world isn't safe. It's not safe out in the woods. It's not safe in stranger's houses, and it may not be safe when visiting relatives. Everywhere you look may hide a wolf.

When the characters in Fairy Tales suffer they don't suffer like normal people. They aren't grounded or sent to time out. They're enslaved to their step sisters. They, in myths, have to clean stables out that could never be cleaned out. They're thrown into ovens, gobbled up by any manner of animals and beasts. Their suffering is dramatic and violent. If you've ever seen a spoiled child not get his or her way you know what true suffering and deprivation is. Wailing, throwing themselves to the ground, crying, piteous chest-heaving wracking-sobs! When they hurt themselves, however minor, the screams and screwed up faces are pictures of anguish that would make Munch proud! Nobody suffers like a child... except in Fairy Tales of course.

The lesson of Fairy Tales isn't that the world is dangerous though. The lesson is that even though the world IS a dangerous place things will turn out OK. The good guys win and the bad guys lose.

In The Vampire Armand, by Anne Rice Armand, the protagonist, doesn't start out as a vampire. He starts out as a kid when he starts his story: (This excerpt is from Page 31 of Anne Rice's The Vampire Armand)

They must have raped me on the boat because I don't remember coming to Constantinople. I don't remember being hungry, cold, outraged or afraid. Now here for the first time, I knew the particulars of rape, the stinking grease, the squabbling, the curses over the ruin of the lamb. I felt a hideous unsupportable powerlessness.
Loathsome men, men against God and against nature.
I made a roar like an animal at the turbaned merchant, and he struck me hard on the ear so that I fell to the ground. I lay still looking up at him with all the contempt I could bring into my gaze. I didn't get up, even when he kicked me. I wouldn't speak.
Thrown over his shoulder I was carried out, taken through a crowded courtyard, past wondrous stinking camels and donkeys and heaps of filth, out by the harbor where the ships waited, over the gangplank and into the ship's hold.
It was filth again, the smell of hemp, the rustling of the rats on board. I was thrown on a pallet of rough cloth. Once again, I looked for the escape and saw only the ladder...
That's how his story starts (not the book, but the story of the protagonist). It starts with terribleness. She starts with the worst things she can thing to submit a child to, rape, beatings, kidnapping, rats, filth... it has an almost Fairy Tale like quality to the horribleness she submits the protagonist to. After this what could possibly be worse? Seriously? Is there anywhere to go that would be worse than this?

The next part will talk about loaded language, language that we bring our own baggage to when we hear it. It's part of the piece I expect grief about so I want to bust it out from the rest.



The Vampire Armand -- A thought piece: Introduction

The Vampire Armand -- A thought piece: Part 1
The Vampire Armand -- A thought piece: Part 2
The Vampire Armand -- A thought piece: Part 3
The Vampire Armand -- A thought piece: Conclusion
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