This piece is carrying on from another Future Primaeval post titled “Inference With A Vampire”, in which Brennan introduces, under so many names, the concepts of Induction and Duration, and establishes from them a methodical sociology of cumulative knowledge. Now, there’s a lot going on in IWAV that we will likely do the injustice of neglect, but justice is not our primary intent, what we are looking for is instead to awaken the vampire from its undead position as a perfect and indifferent observer, and reconnect it with the social fields through which it has conveyed itself. This is already to do some violence to the vampire, as its original vision was in line with a relative constant that has been extracted from the variations of relations it has encountered. Is handling the vampire this way possible? Would we now already have turned our vampire into a puny human, or enacted some equally damaging transfer of power? The last thing we want to do is to mummify the vampire, who is already so devitalized. Since this is a question of epistemology, there will be inherent bias in what we take to be relevant information in our vampire studies. Do we concern ourselves with its secret life as a blood-sucking monster and murderer of human children? Does it eat human children, or does it feast on the elderly for (warped) ethical reasons? We are told that the vampire is “evil”, so presumably children are on the menu. Further, let’s say we are undertaking a (perverse?) study of the sexual psychology of women in Victorian England. We are curious as to whether the vampire has first-hand experiences of these feminine desires, perhaps as a voluptuous agent directly involved in the nefarious details of the private life of Victorian women in the bedroom, or has it simply read Freud in an armchair from a position of total celibacy? Can vampires make love to humans? …. Damn, already so many questions, and honestly, I already have the suspicion that the best approach to this problem is a stake through its heart, but this is not an “interrogation of the vampire”, we are just trying to learn from its so very valuable experience, which by all accounts is incredible.
Our vampire is known to be a very adept master of the sciences, updating its belief according to the facts of hard science as they are discovered, as well as being an astute consumer of the details of other forms of social knowledge as they emerge. But hold on, we are reminded that the vampire lacks one essential feature of every human life. Mortality. Sure, it is in a more intimate relation with death than any human could conceive, being not so much alive as an animation of death itself, but it is this curse that restricts it from ever crossing over to either side, it’s in purgatory, not human, not dead, but between worlds, and excluded from both. How could it ever become attached to a social form to the extent that its life is irretrievably entangled with the success or failure of their project, when it is incapable of vital involvement? A social field, inextricable from the intensities of bodies that traverse it, is from the perspective of the vampire simply an alienated matter to be observed, without ever intervening in a capacity that allows it to affect the variables from within the dimensions that define their nature. Our vampire is an archetypal outsider-intellectual to the nth-degree. It’s basically a platonic form in itself, and all but useless, like heaven is for a pigeon. A problem we are trying to avoid is the essentializing of human knowledge and psychology, as though there were objective facts of experiential value that a simple duration of observation will allow a theoretical monster-genius to comprehend, free from any compromising engagement. It seems our vampire has yet to fully understand the implications of the age of entanglement, and here we thought it was the best scientist an indefinite duration of ethical malpractice could produce. At best, it will be an excellent behaviourist. Let’s not even get into the sorts of experiments it might have conducted on humans in the dark immunity of its dungeon dwellings.
I would just conclude, that if one is looking to revive a concept of a living body of traditional knowledge, using the vampire as an analogy is probably counter-productive, and this has been a question of probability all along. As an entertaining defense of the wisdom of the library however, it has a lot to recommend it.