Poltergeists, Superpowers, and The Tao

When I was about ten years old, my Mom laid down the law: I was old enough to sleep in my room with the door closed and the light off. I don’t know exactly why she felt compelled to declare such a policy at that time, though it could have had something to do with her being sick of me rushing into her room at three in the morning begging her to help me shake off the nightmares and subsequently keeping her up half the night. Whatever the reason, it backfired. As I was lying in my pink canopy bed, covers pulled up to my nose and literally shaking from fear in the moonlit room, toys began to fly off the shelves. First the plastic Barbie horse fell off the dresser with a light, clanky noise. Then the china collectibles began to crash to the floor, one after another, splintering into thousands of tiny pieces in a cacophony of tinkles and jarring miniature explosions, accompanied by my high-pitched screaming. I don’t actually remember my parents coming into the room, but the horse collection was never the same. And the light stayed on, after that, night after night for a long time. Continue reading

Vampire Mythology and Corporate America

Tales of vampires have been with us for thousands of years. The Babylonians had Lilith, who reputedly had a thing for sucking the blood of babies. The fiends lurk in the most unimaginable places…The Greeks had the lamaias, also with a penchant for the little ones. The Ashanti had Asabonasam, the Haitians had Loogaroo, India had the Rakshasas. Nearly every culture in every time has had some version of the myth. The specific traits may vary, but again and again we have the story of the undead creatures with the fearsome hypnotic gaze and the unholy need to drink human blood. It wasn’t until the advent of “Varney the Vampire”, however, that the vampire truly reached its stride in Western culture. “Varney” was published in 1847 (the same year as “Wuthering Heights, but that was about a different sort of soul-sucker) as a series of “Penny Dreadfuls” which eventually encompassed 108 episodes. Fifty years later, Bram Stoker gave us “Dracula”, which left a lasting imprint on vampire mythology…but eventually people turned back to other monsters to occupy their imaginations. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that vampires would experience their next true resurgence, but they took off with a vengeance and have been prominent features of our fiction ever since. What tale of ourselves are we exploring inside this particular mythos, and what possible application can it have here, at the beginning of the 21st century? Who is the vampire now? Continue reading