Saturday, September 03, 2011

The Vampire Armand -- A Thought Piece: Part 3

Anne Rice's Vampires are similar to other modern vampires in that they drink human blood and are creatures of the night. They don't go out in the daytime and are instead asleep when the sun comes up. They die by either exposure to the sun or fire. A stake through the heart won't do it, and religious icons like crosses don't do anything to them. The Vampire Armand is very religious and visits churches often, having been a painter of religious icons before he was made a vampire.

Rice's vampires are described as beautiful creatures who tend to create vampires they love, also beautiful people. They tend to the emotional as well. When they sleep if they've cut their hair it will grow back to the length it was when they were created. They don't have to feed every night as they get older. The younger vampires, more newly created ones, need to feed more often than the older ones. All her vampires are incredibly strong and fast, preternaturally so. As they get older their powers increase, and some vampires get some gifts while others gain other powers.

They live forever or have the ability to. It seems the number one killer of Vampires is boredom. As the years and decades go by they grow weary of the repetitiveness of their life and they choose to go into the sun, or as in the case of Lestat's maker, into a giant bonfire. Marius says to Armand that the way to live longer is to only feed on evil men because feeding on the innocent will lead to madness, despair, and eventual self-immolation.

Which brings us to the main characters in The Vampire Armand. Armand was raised in Kiev, Russ in the fifteenth century and was raised Eastern Orthodox Christian and, after praying, he was able to paint beautiful icons of the Christ, the Virgin, and the saints. Kidnapped by tartars he was sold into slavery where he was abused both physically and sexually. The abuse was bad enough that he got blocked the memory of it completely. He was sold again to Marius, an ancient vampire, 1500 years old at the time he fell in love with the boy Armand and renamed him Amadeo, "beloved of God." Marius took him to his home, a home for misfit boys of indeterminate age. Marius cleaned him and educated him, and showered him with all the benefits of being raised as a wealthy person in Venice... a VERY wealthy person. While Amadeo nee Armand lived there and grew up he was Marius' lover as well as pupil. Eventually, to save Armand's life, he was turned into a vampire at seventeen by Marius.

Looking at this abbreviated version as a fairy tale we see the exaggeration of abuse and the exaggeration of the savior who saves the hero of the story. It's not a simple bad life with a simple better life at the end of the story. The bad life is horrific, beatings, rape, even his childhood in Kiev, Russ wasn't remembered as a wonderful place, but a place where if things had gone as they had been going he would have finished his life as a penitent saint buried in the ground alive and fed and watered by people who kept him alive, just barely, until he finally died buried in the Monastery of the Caves. From this he was delivered into a life of fabulous wealth, beauty and culture by a fabulously wealthy, beautiful man who, all he asked for in return was Amadeo's love... both emotional and physical.

One of the parts of modern vampire lore is that vampires can't come into their victim's home unless they've been invited in. If you look at the parallels between the monsters of vampire stories and the modern monsters who prey on people, victims, children... they too are more often invited in than not. Statistics say random acts of violence between strangers are rare when compared with the violations of trust by friends and family who use their victims for their own desires. The invitation of a vampire's victim to the vampire into their home is akin to the extension of trust by people to others. The vampire's feeding on the people who have invited them in is akin to the modern predator's use of his victims' trust against them to gain what they're after.

In Interview With a Vampire Louis' relationship with his maker, Lestat, isn't as easy as Marius' and Armand's (Marius & Armand both appear to genuinely love each other whether in spite of or due to their age difference I have no idea and don't care about in the context of this article.) Children, victims, are able to do something wonderfully amazing... or at the very least, interesting. They are able to hate and love their predators at the same time. I don't suggest that Armand and Marius did, I'd like to be very clear on that point. They appeared to love each other from start to finish... even though in time they grew apart. But when watching Cops or some other police drama how often do we see the victim of a domestic assault come screaming to the defense of the person who beats them? It's not necessarily a defense mechanism or an untrue love, but a complicated thing where it's possible to hold both emotions in their mind at once, loving the person who does things they may or may not love... and hating them when they do it perhaps. Loving and hating combined into an emotional web that holds them together. Is it any wonder that many vampire stories say that the only way they can be killed is a stake through the heart? (Not Anne Rice's Vampires though... that won't kill them.)

The relationship between Armand and Marius is an example of a complication I talked about in a previous article. At first, the physical intimacy they shared was, I believe, a different thing for each of them. The act of sex is a pleasurable thing ofttimes. At first, I believe for Armand, Amadeo at the time, was a hedonistic act of pleasure, something he liked for the sheer pleasure of it. I don't believe there were, for him, any strings attached as it were. He enjoyed the pleasure it gave him while Marius, who was in love with the boy, was engaging in lovemaking with someone he loved. The desperation of Marius' kisses and hugs betray an emotional tone that Amadeo didn't share at first. He grew, with time, to share it however and the relationship became one of equals inasmuch as such a relationship can be when the ages and powers are so wildly disparate... and always there was the Master/Student dynamic as well as Marius tried to make Armand more than he would have otherwise been.

What do we learn from all of this? What do I learn? Surprisingly little about vampires.

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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