Region/Concept: East Europe / Space (Vampiricism)
Sub-Concepts: Dracula, Contamination, Arithmomania
Description: Dracula’s castle goes for sale and inspires speculation on the nature of vampiric force.
Dracula has never been more popular, as numerous TV shows and movies attest. Perhaps that means that he is truly dead, now living posthumously not as the aristocratic undead but as a pastime of bored twenty-first century audiences. Journalists are quick to announce that he is a “fictitious character” (they are not fooled, the fact-checkers). In Transylvania his castle is being sold. (Yes, the castle of Vlad Tepes, the legendary prince upon whose exploits the tale has been based.) It currently belongs to the Habsburg family, former rulers of the Habsburg empire. But let us get our facts straight. Dracula is just a spectacular manifestation of a much older, subterranean force that runs through southeast European tales and the everyday in the 1700s: that of a vampir. It is no coincidence that vampires rose (from the dead) to prominence when the Habsburg empire was at its peak, like a counter-current running from the edge of the empire, spreading disbelief and paranoia. What is more, this vampiric chemistry trickles through centuries, even millennia, both as a political and as an aesthetic force. It always appears as a disturbance at the heart of a “civilization” (Mesopotamian, ancient Greek, Roman, Chinese, etc.). Contamination, proliferation. Is there a more revolutionary tactic for a movement? And yet, the greatest terror does not come from the spilling and sucking of blood but from an internal compulsion, a terrible flaw: arithmomania (obsessive need to count actions or objects in one’s surroundings). One can only hope that new owners of the Bran Castle will also get bit (it is the least they deserve), then close the castle to swarming tourists, and count the bags of spilled peas into eternity. A passionate mania is always better than a passionless spectacle.