4 years ago: Vampires & crosses

September 10, 2009, here on slacktivist: Vampires & crosses

I should note here, before we go on, that I believe in vampire stories. I don’t mean that I believe these stories are “literally” true — they’re not that kind of story. But I believe they are true stories — stories by which we tell ourselves true things so that we do not forget them.

Vampire stories tell us, for example, that any of us can have great power if only we are willing to prey on others. Feed off the blood of others and great power will be yours. This is demonstrably true. It’s how the pyramids were built. And Standard Oil.
The stories also tell us that there’s a downside to this predatory choice. You become a creature of the night, unable to stand in the light of day.

And crosses will confound you.

Some mistakenly think that this is because the cross is a holy symbol, imbued with religious power. But this is wrong. The symbol, like the thing itself, is powerless. And that’s the point. That is why vampires can’t tolerate it.

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  • Carstonio

    Was it a Slacktivista who once described the vampire story as a left-wing allegory about the powerful preying upon the powerless, and the zombie story as a right-wing allegory about decent civilized folk being menaced by a mindless Other? Or at least suggested that the popularity of vampire versus zombie stories depended on the prevailing political mood?

  • AnonaMiss
  • That Other Jean

    How the pyramids were built? Not so, despite what the Bible and Herodotus say. There’s ample archaeological evidence that pyramid workers were well housed and paid, not mistreated slaves. See:


    No doubt that many of the powerful did and do prey on the powerless, but not in this case.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    But what about the latest incarnation of The Vampire Story?
    You know, the Perfect Hunk of a Sexual Fantasy who SPARKLES in the Sunlight?

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Don’t forget that a Vampire Romance set in a Zombie Apocalypse would be a guaranteed best-seller.

  • I have loved your Vampires & Crosses article for years, Fred. It’s one I keep referring back to.


  • Vermic

    It’s one of my favorite Fred articles.

  • Miff

    Came here to say this too. The currently accepted historical belief is that the pyramids were public works projects, built to crate jobs for farmers during the off season.

  • Ygorbla

    Vampiric aversion to garlic symbolizes the fact that evil people cannot endure good food.

  • Carstonio

    If a vampire ate a garlic-heavy dish, would the undead creature dissolve from the stomach outward?

  • Jurgan

    One of my all-time favorites. It’s been four years?

  • Two things:

    1. A lot of current opinion has been influenced by the fact that if you suggest that the pyramids were built by slaves, the Egyptian board of antiquities will not let you do archaeology in their country.

    2. The modern distinction between “slave” and “draftee conscripted to a public works project” is not the same as the ancient distinction between those things. The fact that they weren’t legally classed as the same hting as slaves does not actually change the fact that they weren’t allowed to quit.

  • Launcifer

    Or that all vampires are secretly English. Seriously – my grandmother used to bring a suitcase full of herbs back from Germany every Summer because you just couldn’t get hold of them over here.

  • A better analogy might be to the Depression-era logging camps in British Columbia. In theory you could voluntarily go, but in practice people were rather pushed into these make-work projects and paid a pittance (10-20 cents an hour) for the kind of hard work they had to do.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy
  • Someday, perhaps not by me, but someday when copyrights run out, I hope there is a book written, and the heart of that book will be two lines of dialogue, and they will tell the truth:

    “Who is John Galt?”

  • Mark Z.

    That’s the modern cult of the Too Big To Fail CEO. He maintains a grotesque unlife powered by the blood of the innocent and everyone loves him.

  • stardreamer42

    That’s an amusing hypothesis, but not only is it not supported by his own chart (there are as many “exceptions” as “proofs”), he can’t even keep straight which side of it he’s arguing at any given point in the article. I’d like to see someone do a more consistent take on it, though, because the basic concept is kind of funny.

  • stardreamer42

    That’s what happens when someone who’s never read a vampire story in their life decides to write one. Since they don’t know the canon, they just make things up as they go along.

  • Nick Gotts

    Like modern military conscripts – and even, to some extent, volunteers.

  • Nick Gotts

    Anyway, these pyramid schemes always collapse in the end. Just wait another few thousand years…

  • Nick Gotts

    Well, they’d need to keep a stiff upper lip in order to plunge their fangs into their victims.

  • A bit, but without things like a rigorous system of laws that protect guarantee certain rights and protections in exchange for service.

  • Alix

    Time fears only the pyramids…

  • Nick Gotts

    But we know that in practice, they often fail to do so. While they’re by no means uncommon elsewhere, sexual abuse and general bullying seem to be particularly prevalent in military settings.

  • Robert

    They’re called Throb Creators now.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    “Throb Creators”?
    That’s a new one on me.
    Last thing I heard them called was “Porn for Bored Housewives”. Or (thanks to a Twilight fanfic with the labels swapped) “Mommy Porn”.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    “Who is John Galt?”
    Hell if I know, but since the 2008 elections the guy’s got more Celebrity Impersonators than Elvis. (And they all vote for Ron Paul!)