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My Post-Modern Dracula

October 1, 2009
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Photo by Flickr user funkandjazz, used under a Creative Commons license

So yeah! Dracula! I hemmed and hawed over whether I’d be doing this one or not, but then I saw the new Infinite Summer Dracula site go up and read the initial posts and I knew my fingers would start getting itchy as soon as it got underway in earnest. Blogging Infinite Jest with a whole crew of other readers was an incredible experience, but it’ll be nice now to be able to write about something that has, AFAIK, 0% to do with drugs or addiction. Part of my whole reasoning for starting this blog was to send my addiction/dependency issues through Infinite Jest‘s literary filter, but now that I’m close to 90 days out I find myself wanting to devote less mental real estate to drug-related things — after all who wants to be that guy who’s talking about his drug problem all the time? Not me.

So: Dracula. I’ll be reading the Norton Critical Edition because I’m a sucker for scholarly apparatus. The thing won’t get here for another couple days so until then I’ll be using Jonathan McNicol‘s bitchin’ typeset PDF version created for Infinite Summer. Aside from the myriad cultural references to Dracula and vampires that every U.S. kid absorbs, my specific context for Dracula is as follows: In 1992 Francis Ford Coppola’s movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula came out. I was 12 and had just started junior high and was in a profound state of social disorientation. The movie predictably spawned a number of video game tie-ins, one of which was for the ill-fated Sega CD system. I hadn’t seen the movie (rumor had it that it was full of titties and gore, maybe even at the same time), but for certain socially-disoriented junior high kid reasons I became obsessed with the game. The game was gorgeous for its time — I saw screenshots of sexy gothic dungeons and creepy cemeteries and wanted in, in a bad way. I was at that vulnerably cynical point in a kid’s development where all the magic has pretty much been drained out of the world, but you have this cognitive disconnect where you see something that promises a more fantastical, magical world and you want to believe in it so bad that you end up believing in it in spite of yourself. In 1993, the Dracula game was my promising something.

Also, interestingly, in my head the Dracula game was intimately tied up with the bombastic/romantic music video of Meatloaf’s I Would Do Anything For Love, which was directed by Michael Bay (yes, that Michael Bay) and also came out in ’93. I think this was due mostly to the aesthetic connotations of castles and candles and misshapen lovelorn men, rather than any substantial connection between the two.

But eventually, after much yearning and dreaming of immersing myself in a deliciously creepy candlelit world more numinous than ours, I got the game and surprise: it sucked. In a major way. The backdrops were indeed gorgeous but it was clear, even to my 12-year old self, that this was just like any other movie tie-in game produced hastily in the hopes of making a quick buck (Fuck you, Sony Interactive, by the way).

Interesting thing, though: to this day I still haven’t actually read Stoker’s book, and I haven’t really seen the movie either*. I’ve played the video game that was based on the movie that was based on the book, in other words to this point I’ve only experienced a representation of a representation of the actual story as conceived by Bram Stoker — I was being post-modern and I didn’t even know it! I look forward to correcting this.

* I think I actually saw parts of it in the summer of ’07, but I don’t remember anything other than a sexy vampire threesome scene. Plus in all likelihood I was hazed out on synthetic opiates at the time, so this doesn’t count for anything.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2009 10:02 am

    Oh lord, now I’ve got that song in my head for the rest of the day. The really crappy part is that the part that’s stuck there is the line where the woman sings “would you hose me off with holy water if I got too hot” and then does this weird kind of hacking “hah” sound afterward (at around the 6:15 mark at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GNhdQRbXhc, if you’re interested in joining me in this hell). Over and over in my head. Thanks, Meatloaf. Loved what seemed the passion of that song when I was a kid just a touch older than you. Probably had a few “that’s so true” moments while wandering/driving around in my own sad socially disoriented moods. Sorry as I am to have the actual song in my head, I’m glad you brought up the association. 🙂

  2. Joan permalink
    October 2, 2009 12:34 pm

    “I was being postmodern and I didn’t even know it” – I love that! I’m really glad you’re blogging Dracula too – your posts for IJ were among my favorites and I always looked forward to them.

    I’m reading the Norton Critical edition too, for pretty much the same reasons. I’m eager to hear back on what you think of the footnotes. I don’t want to influence you one way or the other, so at this point since you may not have started it yet I don’t want to say any more, but let me know.

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