‘Why write on vampires at this stage in history?’ Toufic asked. ‘Were humanity to conquer death . . . it will suddenly dawn on it that the attributes of death, or pastiches or parodies of them, have become salient facts of life.’ Toufic is captivated by thresholds, misunderstood warnings, lapses in consciousness, ‘quantum effects, such as tunnelling’, ‘unreflective glass’: tropes traditional to the vampire movie, but versions of which structure all films, all narrative. How can a story ever be told without jumps through wormholes, dissolving doors and windows, dream-states and drowsiness and forgetfulness and the vagueness that comes with sitting in the darkness in front of an enormous screen of light? In the old days, the Gothic was said to focus readers’ deepest fears about their future: blood-sucking aristos; mills, engines, new technology, with its way of shifting boundaries between the human and the not-human; infant mortality, post-mortem flatus, doubts about the afterlife and, of course and always and mainly, the problem of death. In our day we don’t have to visit a cinema to hallucinate life into images of immortal perfection; they flicker everywhere around us, emptied of the animal and plumped up instead with plastics. And so, the question is not so much about entering the ‘labyrinthine realm of undeath’ as whether anyone can ever really be said to leave it.
more from the LRB here.