June 21, 2009

Mommy, what's a grey vampire?


Graham highlights an ambiguity in the concept of the Grey Vampire that occurred to me, but which I hadn't properly resolved: namely, is the Grey Vampire a category of person, or is it a subjective position that anyone can fall into? I would say both. It's certainly true, as Graham says, "that all or many of us might have our vampirish sides. There might be areas of life in which each of us is some sort of bloodsucker." Absolutely, and of course there's nothing wrong with leeching off others' energy and resources if they have an abundance. But what differentiates the Greys from other kinds of vampires is the disavowed nature of the feeding. Grey Vampires don't feed on energy directly, they feed on obstructing projects. The problem is that, often, they don't know that they are doing this. (That's one difference between them and a troll - trolls usually aren't under any illusions about themselves, they just find spurious justifications for their activities.)

There is very definitely a type of person who is a Grey Vampire - I've encountered a few, and, once their shield of sociability and charm falls away, they become revealed as horribly, tragically cursed, existentially blighted. But the Grey Vampire is also a subject position that (any)one can be lured into if you enter certain structures. Part of the reason I can't hack it as an academic is that, in a university environment, I invariably find myself pincered between the troll and Grey Vampire positions. That's why I sincerely admire anyone who can pursue a project in the academy. Although being pressure-cooked in the post-Fordist precarity of freelancing is in some respects extremely difficult (not least in brute economic terms: in an average week, I'm lucky if I make the equivalent of minimum wage; not that I'm complaining - I never forget that I'm extremely fortunate to be able to write, think and teach for a [near] living), in other ways it is very easy. There's a certain lightness and velocity that can be achieved when you are at the edge of employment structures, or passing between them, rather than being embedded in them.

Posted by mark at June 21, 2009 03:33 PM | TrackBack