Saturday, January 30, 2010

I, Vampire: Part I


Dominate. No, don’t dominate. This calculus is not interesting. The terms are just too diametrically opposed. Let’s stay somewhere in the middle, where negotiation is at least a viable option.

“This is your recommendation?” Tinguely almost dropped the book in astonishment. She was not a prude, but it was easily the most shocking book she had ever read. And, it was being proffered as high-toned reading for the teens of this small high-plains windfarm-and-slaughterhouse Texas Panhandle town.

The local Library Ladies Club had recommended I, Vampire for the Teen Book of the Month.

It did not seem to bother the largely Christian evangelical members of the group that the book’s heroine had been made a vampire in a highly suspect, perhaps even devilish, manner.

Further, these proper pillars of the community did not seem to take note that the 16-year-old protagonist of clear eyes, cherubic blonde curls, and peony lips, was, in fact, part of a small army of minions -- volitionless undead who skulked around in the service of the gaunt yet magnetic doppelganger of a uneasily fey young Johnny Depp.

“That is, uh, different,” said Tinguely. Her voice trailed off. “Different. Yes. I’m usually all for different, but not in this way.”

“All teens feel different,” said Bazila Haycroft, President-Elect of the Library Ladies Club. Bazila was a softish woman with droopy eyes and large breasts. She had a nice smile, though. “I, Vampire shows that even if you think of yourself as a rather sickening creature with loathsome habits, you can find others who accept you.”


Dead. Undead. The two states of being are too absolute for the average person to want to accept. Give me a medium or a palm reader to communicate with the part of my own consciousness I call “the spirits” or “ghosts.” We love to roam the vast pasture where the very idea of the dead and the undead is as annoying as horseflies and sandburs.

“What was wrong with I, Robot?” asked Tinguely.

Bazila looked at her blandly.

I, Robot is not so, well, sexualized. I mean, why would you want to feed teen hormones? Especially girl hormones,” continued Tinguely. “Those little ladies can get pregnant, you know. Starve out that hussy madness, I say. Focus on philosophy and machines.”

Tinguely had just turned 30, and had clearly forgotten what it was like to have recently weathered the storms of puberty. Or, perhaps she did, and that accounted for her rather extreme position.

“I’m sorry. I don’t think we’ve met,” said Bazila, rather frostily.

“Oh. I’m Tinguely Querer. I’m just visiting. I thought I’d check out the library. Maybe make a tax-deductible donation to help you build your collection,” she said, making a groping motion toward her purse. “Do you accept checks or credit cards?”

Bazila softened. It was pretty transparent that Bazila’s warmth was conditional on the size of the perceived donation, but it was endearing rather than Machiavellian. “Yes, we’d love to build our literacy collection. We want to help our children.”

Tinguely sighed.

“Well, I don’t know why you’re sinking to the level of teen vampires. Are you really so intent on destroying every single victory of feminism? You know it will happen if you encourage this nasty habit of encouraging girls to think it’s exciting to be bitten, have blood drained from their necks, and then become the passionate slave of a tyrant vampire,” snapped Tinguely.

“How much were you thinking of donating to our library?” asked Bazila.


The body: The flesh machine. Consciousness? Utterly unconscious? Programmed? Neither state is particularly satisfying. The problem resembles the free will vs. predestination dichotomy. No one wants either pure free will or absolute predestination, even though people have even built religions around their favorite one in order to give it just the right level of gravitas to be convincing.

“Would you be willing to cull the girl vampire books?” asked Tinguely. “Oh forget it. I know you wouldn’t. Plus, I’m philosophically opposed to censorship. I hate the message of the vampire books. But, I do love I, Robot.”

Bazila glowered.

“Tinguely, we’ve just met, but I want to tell you that in my opinion, I, Robot has all sorts of unwholesome messages, too. The machines are always on the verge of killing their masters. They are smarter, more logical, and have absolutely no conscience or feelings. The robots are sort of psychopathic, if you ask me. We think it sends the wrong message, especially to our teen boys.”

Tinguely brightened at the thought of machines gaining self-awareness and either attacking their masters or simply going on strike. She looked at her iPhone. In an I,Robot world, her iPhone, hand held device, or smart phone could be her best friend. Her phone could even be her mentor. She would never have to be lonely again. Just keep the smartphone fully charged.

Truth be told, Tinguely was working on her own updated version of I, Robot. She gave Bazila a brief overview. She decided not to go into the parts of the book that dealt with organ harvesting, and in kidnapping young women to turn them into human egg incubators.

“When you finish your book, perhaps you could do a book signing here at the library,” said Bazila. “ And now I want to get back to I, Vampire.”

“Bazila, I think we’re just going to go around and around on this. I’m fearful of teenage sexuality. You should be, too. But, you’d rather be dominated by a pale, bloodsucking undead male than a strong, consistent, and predictable machine.”

“Why do we have to be dominated by anything at all?” asked Bazila.

“Because we can’t be happy unless we’re in distress, and we can't be happy unless we're absolutely desperate to break free from something we think is chaining our ankles and pulling us back to earth.”

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