Vampires love the city as it is a place they can hide without recognition, their true identity veiled behind a cloak of indifference.
“Cities are full of strangers, familiar and unfamiliar, unknown and unremembered. In this sense, cities are the natural breeding ground of vampires. Ready to suck the life out of others, they find a ready stock of potential victims that no one will notice missing” (Pile, 2003: 266).
Pile narrates the journey of vampires through the Edge[s] of Empire to London: the Beating Heart of Empire. The author than makes a cross-Atlantic trip to New Orleans to view the Old Blood in the New World before making a final stop in Singapore for Cautionary Tales of Blood and Money. Amidst the many arrivals and departures Pile takes Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (and its 1994 film adaptation) and the pontianak – a famous violent ghost from Southeast Asian culture – (from the respective cities) by way of analysing what the myths and legends of vampires can reveal about Cities Without End.
The depiction of the vampire as a migrant, moving from his or her home town to the city was an interesting concept. The city is seen as a place where one can submerge into a sea of anonymity. Cities are places where anonymity may be a product of urban growth and for some an aspiration to escape an area where ‘everyone knows everyone’.
To quote Pile’s reference to Bram Stoker’s Dracula on his delight of his imminent departure to London:
“Here I am noble; I am a boyar; the common people know me, and I am master. But a stranger in a strange land, he is no one; men know him not – and to know not is to care not for. I am content if I am like the rest, so that no man stops if he sees me, or pause in his speaking if he hears my words”” (ibid: 271).
[4th May 2011]
Pile, Steve, 2003, ‘Chapter 13: Perpetual Returns: Vampires and the Ever-Colonized City’ in Bishop, Ryan et all (Editors), Postcolonial Urbanism: Southeast Asian Cities and Global Processes. Routledge: London, pp265-284.