Vampires & Werewolves
See Video No. 16 in the above playlist for a ‘video essay’ of this piece…
I don’t often watch horror movies, but my wife was out of town visiting her sister, and I was at the public library when I saw this vampire movie starring Ethan Hawke sitting there on the shelf . . . . Isn’t Ethan Hawke a great name? I’ve always liked that name. So anyway, I checked it out and brought it home.
It was pretty good, actually, for a horror movie. This one was set in the future, all glass and chrome, and almost everybody was a vampire then. I don’t know how that happened. There were a few regular humans left. Most of them were hooked up to blood-sucking machines to feed the vampires. Some of the normal humans had escaped and were in hiding. I jumped and yelled at all the scary parts. Lots of blood, of course.
I once saw an Abbott and Costello comedy about vampires and werewolves. Now there’s an original idea: combining comedy and horror. Who would have thought horror could be funny? The movie was in black and white. I think Bela Lugosi was the vampire. I didn’t recognize the werewolf.
The vampire seemed to be enjoying himself immensely, but the werewolf was such a tortured soul. I guess that’s because being a vampire is full-time job and being a werewolf only happens when there’s a full moon. The rest of the time they feel bad about all the evil they’ve done. Most of the time werewolves have the conscience of a human being, but vampires only have the conscience of a bat.
I think scary stories are written mostly for children. Some people get a laugh out of scaring children. I’m not sure why. Some people think it’s important to scare children into being good. This has been going on for a long time in just about every culture, I guess. If you don’t behave and do what you’re told the wicked witch is going to throw you in her pot and eat you for supper. That sort of thing.
Some religious people like to scare their children with stories of Satan and his vast army of devils who have nothing better to do than to tempt nice people like you and me into being as bad as they are. If you like being bad, then you can join them in hell when you die. I guess that’s where all the really bad stuff happens. I can’t tell you about what they do in hell, because I don’t know. I’ve never been there.
There are really bad people, but they didn’t get that way because they were bitten by vampires or werewolves or talked into being bad by servants of Satan. I don’t believe there is any evil in nature; only in the choices human beings make as they go through life. People do bad things because they believe that what they are doing is in their best interest. They lie to avoid being found out—and they become a liar. They steal to get something they don’t want to work for—and they become a thief. They kill because someone really makes them mad—and they become a murderer.
That’s all that evil is. People making choices they think are in their best interest, but end up showing their ignorance and destroying their good name and noble character. They ignore the voice inside of them that encourages them to live a life of greatness because they would rather have a new car.
There is no evil in Nature, because the other animals don’t have the same choices we do. Bats that bite only do so because it’s what they do to eat and survive. Same with wolves. Same with every other carnivore on the planet, but it doesn’t make them evil. Everything on this planet takes nourishment from everything else on the planet. That’s the way things are here in a material plane of existence. It’s a little scary living here, sometimes, but life is not a horror story—unless you make it so.
This extract is an excerpt, reproduced by kind permission of the author, from Battle of Mount Whitney and Other Essays: Stoic Philosophy in Practice.
About the author: Erik Wiegardt was born in Walla Walla, Washington, USA, and lived most of his life on the Pacific Rim. Education in his formative years was in Protestant parochial schools in rural towns in Oregon and California. He is a graduate of Portland State University where he received a Bachelor’s Degree with two majors in General Studies emphasizing Psychology and Literature; the Oregon Military Academy, where he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, Army Infantry; and the University of Oregon, where he received a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Sculpture with a thesis in Sound Sculpture.
Erik has worked in a number of occupations, including laboratory analyst at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and at North American Aviation in Los Angeles where he performed quality control studies on the escape rocket module of the Apollo Moon Rockets. He is a Vietnam Era War veteran and received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for participation in Operation White Coat, a biological warfare unit.
Other employment includes mortician’s assistant, insurance executive, baker, restaurant waiter, Graduate Teaching Fellow at the University of Oregon, English teacher in Japan, display designer for Macy’s and Nordstrom, advertising copy writer, and Senior Probation Officer for the County of San Diego, California.
Erik has been a Stoic for more than 50 years, and works full time for the Stoic community. He is the founder of the cybercity New Stoa, the eMagazine “Registry Report,” the College of Stoic Philosophers, the eJournal “The Stoic Philosopher,” and the Marcus Aurelius School. He lives in San Diego, California, with his wife, a practitioner of oriental medicine.