Friday, November 18, 2011

Deconstruction: Night of the Living Dead Christian 9

In which we return to the implications of vampirism...

Welcome to the detailed (and, unfortunately, spoiler-rich) review of Night of the Living Dead Christian. For a briefer review that doesn't give anything away, read the main review. If you're curious, here's a discussion of why I'm doing this.

This is a rather long bit of reaction, so I'm breaking it up into sections. Hopefully that will allow for more bite-sized discussions. So, now that you've all been fairly warned, we'll pick up the deconstruction after the jump:

Having left Luther with the counselor, Narrator-Matt returns to his neighborhood and resumes his conversation with Lara (the vampire). Lara talks more about vampirism, except that this time, well... She's talking about consumption, and taking without giving; philosophical generalities and open questions, in other words. This makes some sense in the context of the larger point that Author-Matt is trying to make with his monster-metaphors, but here inside the story... she's babbling. She’s speaking in generalities that having nothing whatsoever to do with her personal experience of vampirism as something that happens when you've had your blood drained so many times that you go out to drain some blood for yourself.

Her examples are so weirdly general that - for me, at least - they actually cross over from the topic of greed, and move into looking at the idea that everyone has to eat constantly in order to keep living. From that perspective, the vampiric need for blood isn't particularly monstrous or sinful; it's just a biological need, a reflection of the fact that in our world, living things are constantly consuming other living things. Basically, this section stretched the metaphor so far that I wound up in territory that I’m very sure the author never intended, where the vampires have good reasons to ask, “How is my thirst so very different from what you do? What makes me the bad guy, here?”

There's also some discussion of drinking-blood-and-living-forever aspect of vampirism as a sort of unholy inversion of Christ-shedding-His-blood-so-we-could-live-forever. This is actually rather well-worn ground for people who like to play with those sorts of ideas (see, for example, Matt Wagner's Grendel series for one treatment of it), but might very well be completely new to the book's target audience. The main difficulty is that as an explanation or illustration of vampirism, it doesn't really fit with Lara's experience of succumbing to the condition and trying to redeem herself from it.

[Redeem may not be the best choice of words, since Salvation is clearly a gift here, but she distinctly talks about turning away from her monstrous urges as an ongoing struggle. Keep that in mind, because we’ll be looking at it again later on. Meanwhile, on Monday, we'll talk about the role of psychology in Christian fiction. Or, well, the portrayal of the psychologist in this particular bit of Christian fiction, anyway.]

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