Let’s Bring the Vampire Conversation Back from the Dead
Photo Via IMDB
“This is the skin of a killer, Bella.”
Being teenagers, we’re obsessed with the idea of eternity, being young and sexy forever, never having to consume anything but blood. The ultimate liquid diet. And what fantasy allowed us to keep dreaming about this idea of forever? Vampires: Edward Cullen. Damon Salvatore. Count Chocula. What most people don’t know is that this fantasy is not fantastical at all. There’s truth to vampires laid out in historical and archaeological facts. So don’t give up your brooding hopes of the undead just yet.
It all started with a Serbian farmer named Arnold Paole. The story, according to National Geographic, is that Arnold was a victim of an alleged vampire attack. He ate dirt from the vampire’s grave and smeared its blood over himself because he believed his doing so would get rid of all of the vampire’s remnants. After dying in a hay wagon accident, Paole was dug up forty days after his burial. The nails on his hands and feet had fallen off and were replaced by new ones. Fresh blood flowed from his eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. The villagers and soldiers who had dug him up complained that, after he was disinterred, he had attacked them by sucking the blood out of their veins. Soon afterwards, they fell ill and died, leading the officials to dig him up once more and drive a stake through his heart.
There’s no certitude as to when the vampire epidemic started, but many believed that it started with Arnold Paole. What we do know is that after Paole’s death, townspeople constantly staked, beheaded, and burned corpses to keep the vampires from rising from their graves and spreading their disease.
Sir Christopher Frayling, author of Vampire Cinema: The First One Hundred Years, said: “He was the one all the philosophers talked about. There were debates about Paole in the Paris salons.”
Arnold Paole was believed to be the original vampire by at least one person. After hearing of the vampire epidemic and the story of Arnold Paole, Bram Stoker was inspired to write Dracula in 1897. But Stoker didn’t believe that vampires were just stories; he didn’t even think his story was just a story.
In the original preface, Bram Stoker wrote, “I am quite convinced that there is no doubt whatever that the events here described really took place, however unbelievable and incomprehensible they might appear at first sight. And I am further convinced that they must always remain to some extent incomprehensible.”
But with time comes knowledge. In modern-day science, we’re able to explain some of the previously unexplainable phenomena, such as the discovery of saponification.
Saponification is when a body is buried in a cold and damp environment, such as the one in 18th century Eastern Europe, and slows down the decomposition process. The saponified body retains flexibility and the fatty acids prevent the body from putrefying by transforming into a waxy, soap-like film that covers the body. There’s an equally scientific explanation for the hair and the nails: hair and nails continue growing after death. Similarly, after death, the skin dehydrates, making the nail beds more visible and giving the appearance of supernatural length.
Another observation that might shed light on the vampire phenomenon is the rabies theory. According to Science, prior to the vampire epidemic, the Hungarian rabies epidemic ran rampant among dogs and wild animals. The symptoms of rabies could explain those of vampirism as they included insomnia, increased sex drives, and trouble swallowing resulting in the leakage of blood saliva from their mouths. Just imagine Edward foaming at the mouth as he tries to show off his sparkly chest, “I shparkle, Bella.”
Charles Rupprecht, chief of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's rabies section admits that the rabies theory is intriguing but not entirely plausible. If a ‘vampire’ were to bite someone and infect him with rabies, the vampire would only have a 5-10 % chance of infecting his victim. This idea, therefore, doesn’t carry much weight as, according to the testimony of the 18th-century witnesses and victims, when attacked by a vampire, its victim would succumb to vampirism 100% of the time.
Even though science would like you to believe that there is an explanation for everything, there are still some unanswered questions when it comes to vampires. There comes a point when you have no choice but to believe — believe in the sexy vampires. Believe that you still have a chance of becoming one, never having to confront your grey face in the mirror. Believe that the Count isn’t the only real vampire. There’s more than one — ha ha ha! Maybe two — ha ha ha!