Blood and vampires go together like October and, well, vampires. Although I don’t understand manga, I do know it’s extremely popular, and a friend has been lending me the volumes of Hellsing by Kouta Hirano. In the past couple of weeks I’ve read numbers 4 and 5. Hellsing sets up a world where the Catholic church destroys vampires, as does the English, Protestant organization Hellsing Organization. The latter, however, has as its secret weapon the vampire Alucard who, in nearly every number, gets dismembered in some bloody way before pulling himself back together to overcome the enemy. In the latest issues I’ve read the Catholics and Protestants have to cooperate against the threat of neo-Nazis (and this was before Trump was elected), who also employ werewolves. (It’s October, remember.)
Having been pondering the vampires of Maine, I decided to read the next in my own generation’s vampire hero, Barnabas Collins. I’ve been reading the Dark Shadows series by Marilyn Ross to try to find a lost piece of my childhood. There was a scene in one of these poorly written Gothic novels that made a strong impression on me that I finally re-encountered in Barnabas, Quentin and the Nightmare Assassin. Interestingly, in this installment Barnabas, the gentleman vampire, is cured of his curse while traveling back in time with Carolyn Stoddard. The story doesn’t explain how some of the characters from the twentieth century appear a hundred years earlier, but it does bring an early encounter of the vampire against the werewolf—an idea monster fans know from its many iterations such as Hellsing or, famously, Underworld.
You might think vampires and werewolves would get along. In both the Dark Shadows and Hellsing universes the personalities of both come through clearly. Both monsters have deep origins in folklore and people have believed in them since ancient times. Just because they’re not human, however, is no reason to suppose they’ll get along with each other. As soon as Universal discovered that monsters translated well to film the idea began to develop that monster versus monster would be a great spectacle. We had vampires and werewolves clashing on cheap budgets with fog machines. A new orthodoxy was created that the undead just don’t get along. It’s a idea that continued into the relatively bloodless Dark Shadows series, and on into the violent and gleefully bespattered Hellsing. And since it’s October nobody should be surprised.
Posted in Books, Current Events, Literature, Monsters, Popular Culture, Posts, Religious Violence
Tagged Barnabas, Dark Shadows, Hellsing, Kouta Hirano, Marilyn Ross, October, Quentin and the Nightmare Assassin, Underworld, vampires
Getting a haircut is like going to confession. You don’t go as often as you probably should, and you feel embarrassed and awkward when they ask how much you want taken off. The penance of looking funny several days afterward ought to be punishment enough, without your head feeling cold once shorn of its natural covering. At least in my experience. The truth is I like long hair. Biblical-length hair. The truth is also that many people think it inappropriate for a guy my age. I always eventually bow to peer pressure, but it can take a while. Beautician forgive me, it has been six months since my last haircut. Absalom, after all died because of his long hair. O Absalom!
This isn’t just idle musing on my part. I grew up in the Evangelical tradition that is now ripping our nation apart. One of the greatest markers of that faith is conformity. In college I learned to call it the “Evangelical haircut.” Any guy who had hair over his collar or ears was suspect of not being “Christian.” I began to notice that this same mindset preferred well manicured lawns, cutting down trees and keeping outward appearances neat and tidy. There’s no better way to mask what goes on internally than to present an outward look of a well-ordered world. Getting a haircut always brings this back to me—it is a statement being made. I’m not sure how to explain this to the poor girl standing there with scissors in her hand. I don’t want to look Evangelical!
Of course, the beard helps. Until recently Evangelicals didn’t permit beards. The girls in college said they made men look unclean. As if they were never washed. And these days some Evangelicals have come to support the stubble beard—electric razors, those allies of Occam, can be purchased to keep the half-way bearded look fresh. I prefer to get my money’s worth out of a haircut. I also prefer to signal that I am not one of them. Absalom may have been an overly ambitious young man, but despite Michelangelo’s famous statue, David the man was himself in all likelihood bearded and might’ve sported a mullet. Samson wore dreds. Uncomfortable with history, Evangelical illustrators in the ‘80s began portraying Jesus with a Roman haircut and neatly trimmed beard. Perhaps I’m overthinking this, but now that I’ve got Samson’s fate in mind I find it difficult to open the door, knowing I’ll walk out after confession not feeling so much redeemed as just plain chilly. Even Absalom, I remind myself, had his hair cut once a year.
I’m proposing a new word. Given that there are lengthy lists of phobias available on the internet, and since fear and I are well acquainted, I was surprised to discover that fear of rejection has no name. It is simply called “fear of rejection.” That makes it sound so juvenile that it need not be taken seriously. Without revealing too much (I don’t know how you might use this information—you could reject me!), this is one of my lifelong fears. I have theories as to why this may be, but if you want to hear them you have to get to know me first. In any case, I am proposing the word “aporripsophobia” for fear of rejection. Before you turn this down, let me assure you that I took four years of Greek in college, and even taught it for a year. “Aporripsē” is Greek for rejection, and, of course “phobia” is fear. The standard euphonic vowel before the o in phobia is open for grabs, but since it’s my word, I’m suggesting another o.
Unless it’s a keyboard smash, a web search on Google that brings no results is rare. Just to be sure, I checked out aporripsophobia and the mighty search engine turned up no results. One thing I’ve learned about the writing life is that rejection is part and parcel of it. Almost every writer has a history of rejection slips because, until someone takes a chance on you and makes some money off you, who wants to risk it? The first few I received nearly solidified my slavery to aporripsophobia. My advice to other writers, however, should they want it, is keep on trying. In the past two years I’ve been asked to write two academic articles and a book. I’ve also been asked to contribute to some online resources. None of these are big or visible projects, but to someone with aporripsophobia, that’s fine.
Even introverts, you see, need other people. Many of us suffer from a form of over-stimulation when around too many people. Some of us are extremely alert to our senses, finding it difficult to ignore strong odors or weak pains. Lots of people around can be frightening—crowds are loud and there’s so much—too much—going on! That doesn’t mean, however, that the quiet don’t need others. In fact, the quiet with aporripsophobia may get into a feedback loop where the need for alone time is translated as snobbery or arrogance when in reality it’s simply a way of handling the stress of being around too many people. The feeling of rejection then rushes in. I have probably said too much already, but I wanted to get aporripsophobia out there before someone louder did. I missed meteorotheology as a coined word, so, like my advice to writers, this is how I keep on trying. Finding aporripsophobia on Google some day down the road could lead to its opposite, I think. Its rejection, on the other hand, would be the supreme irony.