The Science of Adaptation

The Science of Adaptation

Monsters and Vampires, oh my!
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According to popular legend, the modern vampire was created two hundred years ago by a group of friends who gathered at a lake and had a competition to see who could create the most terrifying story. John Polidori was among this group and created the classic literary “Vampyre.” As a result, there are two main branches of the vampire: the romantic hero and the undead monster. The vampire seems to cross every person around the world in different ways (Del Toro and Hogan 67-68). Vampires are immortal in the sense that even though they can be killed physically, what they represent can’t die. They will always be with us in different ways. “…the vampire does not seek to obliterate us…the vampire emphasizes the eternal in us” (Del Toro and Hogan 68). Vampires are exactly what makes us inherently human: in the ways that they adapt and in the ways that they menace women. People become vampires to be able to say things and commit actions that are ingrained in the human persona, but are considered to be taboo. People who identify with or are “actual” vampires are not afraid to push the status quo.

The true essence of a vampire lies in their adaptability (Del Toro and Hogan 69). If you can adapt as an individual to any situation that you are thrown into, you then become immortal. Nothing can destroy you.

We are still ultimately vulnerable to our fates and our nightmares…Science becomes modern man’s superstition. It allows him to experience fear and awe again and to believe in the things he cannot see (Del Toro and Hogan 69).

Del Toro and Hogan are correct. Science can take away from life. Constantly, we must adapt to new technology and the more we do the further removed we become. In this way, science becomes a vampire. Science instills fear because it is the unknown in a vast majority of people. It is new to us as a people and doesn’t entirely make sense, but it will not go away. We must adapt to these changes and in this way science becomes an essential part of our lives that was once dominated by religion and superstition.

Throughout our times, science has evolved to the point where it is another trait that is ingrained into every human being. With the use of the internet, smart phones, and applications such as Facebook, we can become anyone or anything that we want to be.

In the case of the virtual vampire, one can assume the removal of the reality of the blood and the penetration of the bite bring the excess of the vampire in to the range of the acceptable – one, which the social system of the online world can expand and reform to include. Without the excess of violence and Eros the virtual vampire becomes the monster that is us (Stevens 22).

In this persona, we can escape social construct and what is considered “normal” by our current society. This persona can be used for evil or for good. We see the vampiric qualities mostly in its evil use: menacing, bullying, date rape, pedophilia to name a few. The use of the internet can take away from the traditional literary or film aspect of a vampire and make them somewhat socially acceptable. (People become big and bad behind a screen!)

We can adapt to a new character, just like the vampire. The vampire stands for who and what is socially unacceptable in society – those who do not want to conform to what society deems is appropriate. It takes a spin and not only represents what we fear, but what we most desire (Stevens 19). No one person truly wishes to conform to what society deems acceptable. It is almost as if we stray from the norm because it is taboo; we desire what we shouldn’t want. I would even go as far as to say we do this to seek attention from others. Many things scare us as people, but if we face our fears we have a desire to change and that is how we adapt.

Vampires also have turned to women throughout history as an instrument to perform their bidding. Vampires are almost always male (even though they haven’t been recently), and their bite is an essential part of how they “menace women” (Auerbach 104). They use women to help them to adapt to their current situation.

The vampire, and more specifically the vampire bite, has long been associated with the penetration and oral fixation of the bite, as well as its associated reproductive and infective potential highlights its explicit sexual connotations. The bite promotes the possibility of the transference of venereal disease through a sexless penetration and with this the sacrilege of the virginal ‘rebirth’ (Stevens 20).

With his bite, the vampire holds all the power. He allow us to be reborn and become new again. He replenishes us with energy. We can become anyone or anything we wish to be and our character cannot die. The old part of us does die and with the new our fears are gone.

This erotic act explains Auerbach’s menace towards women in a physical sense as well as in a real-world aspect. “…they promised protection against a destiny of girdles, spike heels, and approval” (Auerbach 103). This also points out the rebirth Steven’s explained. Women who defy the status quo no longer need a male presence to complete themselves. Women can become their own saviors.

Vampires and what they represent, in this case going against the social norm, provide an escape for women from becoming what society says they should be. This is important because it stresses the vampiric aspect of high energy movement and their motivation to go against what is generally accepted in society. These examples can be seen through different events over the course of history, especially in America in the twentieth century.

Presidents can also become metaphorically vampiric. President Roosevelt said that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Many years later, President Nixon took that mantra and used to help the current citizens of America relate to their present situation. “Freedom from fear is a basic right of every American. We must restore it.” This campaign helped Americans to come to terms with the concept of “them” against “us.” Future presidents spun it another way. They adapted the terminology and used it create fear among citizens in the eighties and nineties. The presidents absorbed their power from their constituents. This fear mongering can be seen in such political actions such as the war on drugs, terrorism, and the AIDS epidemic. (Which is particularly poignant due to the relationship between vampires and blood.) (Auerbach 102).

A male vampire doesn’t even necessarily have to turn his victim in order to influence her. As seen in the video game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the relationship between the half vampire character Alucard and the vampire hunter Maria, alludes to this fact. Alucard returns to his father’s castle after a five year hiatus in order to stop his incessant need to kill humans. Maria is in the castle to find what has become of her brother, Richter Belmont, the greatest of all vampire hunters. It was assumed that he traveled to the castle to defeat Dracula but was never seen again.

Upon meeting Alucard, Maria is a little apprehensive to speak. When she does, she questions Alucard as to why he is currently in the cursed castle. Alucard explains that he is looking for his father, Count Dracula, who is the ruler of the castle. From then on, the relationship between the two changes. Alucard, even though he is only half vampire, has an aura about him. Throughout the course of several conversations, she asks many questions. She begins to realize that Alucard may be able to help her find her brother.

Alucard has another agenda. He ultimately doesn’t care as to why she is in the castle. He explains that on his travels throughout the castle he has seen a man who looks and sounds like her brother, but doesn’t exactly fit her description of how he should be. He tells Maria that there is a coldness to her brother and that something appears to be wrong. Alucard believes that Richter is possessed and needs to be destroyed and tries to convince Maria of that fact.

The problem with this is that Alucard, in his vampire form, convinced a woman to agree to his conception of what was going on with her brother. There was no evidence other than the allure of his character and his spoken word. He adapted to her way of thinking: her concern for her brother. His appeal and his charm did wonders for her womanly brain.

Depending on how you play your game, there are four different alternate endings. To make matters worse, one of them is an ending in which Maria rides off into the sunset with Alucard, leaving her brother in a broken and defeated state. This was a bad decision for a woman who had met someone a short time ago that ultimately had intentions of destroying the whole castle and everyone in it. Alucard ultimately had no care or concern for her or her brother. (But I guess that’s the way a vampire works, isn’t it?) Maria’s attitude is ultimately taboo because she decided to follow a vampire to complete her dream of rescuing her brother. She has no independent thought and fulfilled all of Alucard’s wishes in order to fulfill her own.

Vampires can be killed in a physical sense but throughout history and through different world events and views they are shown to be immortal in the things that they represent. They can always adapt to whatever situation is at hand, particularly when it suits their best interest. “But since vampires are immortal, they are free to change incessantly. Eternally alive, they embody not fear of death, but fear of life: their power and their curse is their undying vitality” (Auerbach 103). Vampires are us in every sense of their being. We can adapt to change who we are and how others perceive us. Time becomes relative to the vampire because no matter what is going on they will find a way to be present in society.

Vampires are us in every sense of our being. They instill fear because they take on many shapes and forms. They cannot die, are invincible, and they are energetic and adaptable. They challenge us to escape reality; all social constructs are erased, what is taboo is now acceptable. They are important because as soon as we understand their significance in society, they tell us that we are the same as them and it will be this way all throughout history and, more than likely, forever (Auerbach 105). They just simply won’t go away; they are immortal. We are vampires: we menace, adapt, change, transform…all with a high amount of energy and motivation to boot.

Works Cited

Auerbach, Nina. “Living with the Undead.” Something Wicked This Way Comes. Myth Ink Books: New York 2014. Pages 101-105. Print.

Del Toro, Guillermo. Hogan, Chuck. “Why Vampires Never Die.” Something Wicked This Way Comes. Myth Ink Books: New York 2014. Pages 67-70. Print.

Konami. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. KCET: Tokyo, Japan. 1997.

Stevens, Kirsten. “Conformity through Transgression: The Monstrous Other and Virtual Vampires.” Proteus 26 No. 2. Shippensburg University, PA, 2009. Pages 19-24. Print.

Cover Image Credit: Minamalisti

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10 Reasons Your Big Sister Is The Best Person In Your Life

"There is no better friend than a sister, and there is no better sister than you."
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As much as I hate to admit it, my big sister might be sort-of, slightly, cooler than I am.

Sometimes. She's the one I call when I can't call mom and the only one in the family who can properly handle my attitude. Big sisters are the people you'd choose if they weren't already family, and here's why.

1. She is your first and truest friend.

Big sisters are (literally) there from day one. They see every dirty diaper, every bad haircut, and every melodramatic breakup. They deal with every bad day and drama queen attitude and still love you in the most unconditional way.

2. Her closet is your closet.

For some reason, her clothes always look better on you. Funny how that works, huh? With a big sister comes a big closet, and who doesn't love having a double wardrobe? I'd also like to take this opportunity to apologize for the clothes I will never give back (but I'm not really that sorry).

3. She knows what it's like to deal with your parents.

Anything you could possibly be going through, they went through it first. It's kind of like having an instruction manual or a key to the future. Either way, it's always nice to have someone who will always understand the struggle.

4. There are no boundaries.

Wanna dance around in your underwear all day? Cool. Life talks while she's on the toilet? Also cool. There's no awkward moments or changing in the bathroom with the door locked. There's just the kind of freedom that only comes with siblings.

5. Thanks to her, you know about all of the cool movies/music/fashion trends from years back.

Thanks to my sister, I have every Too $hort and Ludacris song you could ever think of downloaded on my phone. I've seen every cheesy '90s movie, and when a fad from 10 years ago comes back in, I already have the hookup.

6. She tells you like it is.

We all have those friends who tend to sugarcoat everything. Yeah, sisters don't do that. She's the first person to tell me when I'm making a terrible decision and that I really shouldn't triple text that boy again. She keeps it real with me and deals with my attitude, and that's why she's the best.

7. Her home is always open.

Sometimes you just need to get away from life and binge watch Netflix, and sometimes you need all of that plus your sister. She always has her door open when you're two seconds away from losing your mind, and she also has good takeout and a dog.

8. She knows what you're capable of.

My sister knows exactly who I am and what I can do. She knows when I'm not doing my best, and when I need to be set straight. She's always there to remind me who I am and what I'm capable of accomplishing. She's always been my biggest fan.

9. She's a lot cheaper than therapy.

For some reason, my sister always knows just what to say. Even if I don't see it at the time, she's usually right (don't tell her I said that). Big sisters are like wizards, somehow they always magically make you feel like life's gonna turn out alright in the end. If she wasn't already awesome at everything else, I'd suggest she be a therapist.

10. She will always be your go-to gal.

No matter the situation, she will always be by your side. There is nothing you could say or do to make a big sister leave, and that's why they're the best. Whether it's a speeding ticket, a mean girl or you just need to laugh, big sisters are always going to be there to lift your spirits and set you straight.

I couldn't make it without ya sis, I'm sorry for ratting you out on Thanksgiving that one time, and for running away at the zoo. Thanks for taking me to see Aaron Carter even though he's way too old to still be singing "I want Candy," and thank you always for being the best role model, sister and friend I could ask for.

Cover Image Credit: teaser-trailer.com

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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