Sunday, 24 June 2007

The vampiric city

The illustration below is from a curious book called Real Cities: Modernity, Space and the Phantasmagorias of City Life (Sage Publications, 2005) by Steve Pile who is a Reader in Cultural Geography at The Open University in the United Kingdom. Pile is concerned with other aspects of a city than its buildings, streets, and traffic, but rather the city's "personality" or what he calls "the sheer expressiveness and passion of its life":

"What is real, then, about cities is as much emotional as physical, as much visible as invisible, as much slow moving as ever speeding up, as much coincidence as connection. In this light, it is best to think of this book as an exploration of urban phantasmagoric experiences, rather than as somehow laying bare the hidden 'Real' of city life. But how to do this? My approach to these questions relies on a combination of early Freudian psychoanalysis and Walter Benjamin's critical theory. This approach discloses the significance of dreams, magic, vampires and ghosts for the emotional work of city life. Dream, magic, vampires and ghosts are significant in other ways too. They reveal aspects of the lived experiences of cities, of urban social processes, and also of the spatial and temporal constitution of city life." (p. 3)

So we are obviosly far away from our usual subject of the Magia Posthuma, but Real Cities is one of those books that you might end up taking a look at when looking for literature on vampires and the Magia Posthuma. In this case you will find a chapter on "The Vampiric City in which blood flows free" dealing with the origins of the vampire in the 18th century, Stoker's Dracula, pontianaks, and the vampires of Anne Rice in New Orleans. The other chapters deal with e.g. voodoo and hauntings.

If you are interested in how far the popular mythology of vampires can be stretched to think about modern life, this could be a book for you. If you are interested in the vampire cases, you will find that the author takes most of his material on this subject from Christopher Frayling, so you will not need to go out of your way to get hold of this book.

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