Friday, March 16, 2007

Vampire Hunters Drive Stake through Milosevic's Heart

The title says it all. Near the first anniversary of his death, activists in opposition to Milosevic and his living allies drove a stake through the part of his grave where they believe the heart is. Being the Balkans, the symbolic link to the vampire is obvious. Three years ago, a group of Romanians believed they had to stop a vampire from causing the sickness in a local girl

But rather than drive a stake through the creature's heart, the six men dug Toma up, split his ribcage with a pitchfork, removed his heart, put stakes through the rest of his body, and sprinkled it with garlic. Then they burned the heart, put the embers in water, and shared the grim cocktail with the sick child.

I've recently been browsing Slayers and Their Vampires: A Cultural History of Killing the Dead by Bruce A McClelland. He argues that vampire slayers started primarily as dangerous beings themselves, vampire seers that could identify and deal with the undead in pre-Christian Slavic religions. The vampire hunter meme we have today, of a specialist often with a scientific or occult background, is due in large part to the exploration of exotic (controlled by Turks and Orientals) Eastern Europe by Western Europeans in the Enlightenment. I need to read the whole book, but from what I can tell so far, these Westerners of the Enlightenment didn't understand the context of the vampire legends and actions, and focused on the monster, soon changing it into the vampire of literature, film, and global pop culture (the author liberally sprinkles Buffy's name through the text, but one wonders if he knows about the vampire hunters of Japanese anime). The argument seems to be an interesting historical example of the growth and evolution, and then globalization of a class of supernatural specialist.

No comments: