Reinventing the Vampire Genre – Sunlight and Silver

What’s it like to be a vampire? It all depends, I suppose, on the kind of vampire you’re looking at, and who developed his culture. After exploring a variety of opinions, myths and so forth, I considered each element and pondered its logic. There’s so much to consider, I’m afraid, that I’ll have to break it down into segments and call upon my friends for their help. Today I’ll ponder the effects of sunlight and silver, and correct a misconception concerning the properties of light.

Sunlight is the most common enemy of the vampire. Stars radiate a vast number of elements – radiation, heat, light. It is the UVA and UVB rays that cause human skin to burn and will, over time and exposure, lead to deeper damage. Therefore, it must be this radiation that more strongly affects the more vulnerable vampire. Like open flame, the sun causes severe and instant burning. As Joshua explained in Twilight Destiny

“Although I must avoid contact with the sun, I do not have to sleep when the sun rises. Most of us prefer to, because the nighttime suits us and it is more convenient. Older vampires are said to have the ability to resist the powers of the sun for short periods…

“Even momentary exposure to the sun causes severe burns. I’m extremely susceptible to the heat and radiation. Within minutes, I can become burned beyond the ability to protect myself. ‘Tis, as I understand it, a very painful death, lingering in the soul long after the body ceases to exist.”

In fact, Jason, being the oldest vampire in the Community, at least at the beginning of Haven’s Realm, can tolerate moderate sunlight exposure, as he reminded Mirissa in Haven’s King…

“You’ve only seen me in the early hours of morning. You noticed how I kept to the shadows inside Gale’s home. The older I become, the more sunlight I can tolerate.”

As I understand it, Bram Stoker agreed with this age v. tolerance issue, and I recall Mick St. John in Moonlight getting by with shadows and shields to avoid burns, although in one episode he was debilitated through prolonged exposure and needed an ice bath, and some blood, to recover.

Since we’re also talking about the element of light here, I’ll also address in this segment the problem of mirrors and cameras. I suppose it all springs from the core problem regarding the use of sliver. Since silver is supposed to be poisonous to vampires, it is probably assumed the element would resist all things vampire. Well, that’s just plain silly, isn’t it? I mean, how can silver possess the cognitive awareness necessary to recognize and reject the light bouncing off a vampire? My apologies and respects to those who’ve written before me, but I just can’t see it. What I can see, or could if he were present, is the light reflecting off the solid being that would be a vampire. If I can see this light directly, it only follows I’d see it bouncing off of any reflective surface, mirrors included. Since film, and now digital cameras, record only light wavelengths, well, there you go.

So what about silver? It’s a natural element, used as a catalyst for chemical reactions and in electrical contacts and conductors. It also has antimicrobial and disinfectant applications, which makes me wonder at the biology of the vampire. This fact does contain the possibility of chemical reaction to the negative elements present in a paranormal body. In Moonlight, silver bullets were used to incapacitate a vampire, while in Vampire Diaries, wooden bullets do the same trick. Since silver is more commonly associated with werewolves, probably because of their bondage to the moon and the cultural connection between the metal and our satellite, I decided to exclude this magic from my work.

Here, Cherished Readers, I’ll rest and allow you time to ponder. In my next article, I’ll take a closer look at vampire abilities and address the myth surrounding religious symbolism. Have a great weekend!

~Tamara Monteau

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