The Vampire Armand, by Anne Rice was the last of the books I could remember having read in her Vampire Chronicles series and I wanted to re-read it before reading the next in the series. I had no idea it would generate this sort of line of thought for me as I read it. That is one of the things I enjoy about reading. It's not just the escapism a book can bring, but the thoughts it can generate... and those thoughts, ideas, and feelings can vary as we read or re-read the books at different times in our lives. Thank you for making it through my thought piece inspired by this book.
What has The Vampire Armand to do with us as a modern day fairy tale? It's a reminder to us that there are things that go bump in the night; sometimes that movement in the shadows of our rooms may not be just a curtain in the wind of the ceiling fan. The bogeyman is very much real... very much alive and well in our modern day iWorld. He isn't a snarling drooling monster with fangs that glisten with venom, at least on the outside he's not. But when he's hungry, when he has needs he does what he has to do, what he needs to do to get what he wants, to sate his appetite.
When Armand is captured and imprisoned and starved for days he is crippled with hunger, his desire to feed has gone from the mere appetite that most modern Americans confuse with hunger to the ravening beast that consumes his every waking thought. When a strong young man is thrown into the cell he's in he tears into him with no regard for anything other than sating his need... his hunger. It isn't until he's fed, killing the person thrown in there with him, that he looks to see who it is and recognizes it as Richardo, someone he saw as a brother, someone he said he'd die for. At which point his guilt at looking at his victim causes him tear his now dead friend to pieces and shove him through the bars of his cell a piece at a time. These are the appetites and the strengths of the appetites of the modern bogeyman. It's not that they do the things because they want to, or because they choose to do them... it's because they need to do them and in spite of their love for us, or all their best intentions, they can't help themselves. When their appetites consume them they're blind to who their victims are and it isn't until later, when their appetite is sated that they look down at what they've done and feel remorse... and even feeling it they know that it will happen again... and again... and we, their friends and neighbors never know who they are or what they're feeling.
We invite them over for coffee, have them come mow our lawns for us while we're on vacation, give them keys to our houses to water our plants and they walk among us, always telling themselves that they've got it under control. They can, like Louis tries to do in Interview with a vampire, live off the blood of rats or lesser animals... that they can get by with dribs and drabs of what it is they want... But was we invite them closer, make them more a part of our lives the clock is ticking, and the needs are building, the appetite growing and we go on with our lives blissfully unaware of the ravening beasts that inhabit the skins of our friends and neighbors just waiting for the right time to come out... for the figurative full moon to trigger the change to mix monsters here.
That's the fear, the scary part of the lessons in The Vampire Armand... it's that the people you know and trust can be something so profoundly other than you believe them to be... and that within us is an appetite, a desire, that if not met for long enough could cause us to fall on our brother and feed on him until we are shoving bits of him away from us because we can't bear to look at the evidence of the bogeyman that lives inside of us that.
It's a double-edged scary story in that the bogeymen are beautiful on the outside and are capable of hiding among us... and that the bogeyman could be, if the conditions were right, us.
I started this thought piece series with the quote from G. K. Chesterton: "Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten." And that is part of this book as well... only the dragons in The Vampire Armand aren't beaten by an external force. There's no knight in shining armor that saves the day. They endure... they continue to exist, with their appetites intact and ever-present. Today's dragons aren't beaten so much as they're subdued, held in check. And that's how this book presents itself at first. There are two endings, the first shows the hope of Armand holding his desires, his needs, his cravings and appetite in check for the good of his children that he intends to take care and the second ending... the second ending shows that his children no longer need his care. The second ending... the final ending, is a wail of despair and fear and anguish, and anger as the appetite wins... the monsters continue to perpetuate themselves in spite of his swearing to keep his own appetite in check. The dragons aren't slain after all, and they're still out there. Sometimes the dragon wins.
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