International Symposium of the
Cologne, 2nd – 3rd October 2009
"Minerva's owl does not begin its flight but before the descent of the dusk", the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel remarks. At the hour "entre chien et loup" (J.G. Hamann), that is, between 10 and 11 p. m., at the hour when there is no longer a difference between dog and wolf, it is not only sharp eyed reason that surges from sleep, but also other spectres lift themselves from dark crypts or creep out of the shadows of nightly forests: monsters, nightmares, ogres, vampires. If reason gives itself away to the dreams about the perfection of its aims, it "produces monsters" (Goya's Caprichos), and, if the "dark sick soul cries for help", it "receives as an answer the echo of its fears: the laughter of the monsters created by its visions", as Max Ernst interprets the phenomenon.
Without any doubt, the vampire is the counterpart of bourgeois enlightenment: It is not an incorporation of Kant's "You can, for you shall!", but of "You will do what you are forbidden to do". There is no preference of the time of the day dedicated to work e.g. morning, noon, early afternoon, but of evening and night, the time of rest, of being overcome, of lust, and of intoxication. The vampire is not at home in the bel-étage of the town residence, but in the cellar, in crypts, in the coffin in unconsecrated earth, in the night sky of the bat. It does not fulfil the duties of marital love controlled by marriage contracts, but it gives itself away to desire and deadly lusts.
In a world which is more and more defined by science and technology the vampire is increasingly present in literature and films – a coincidence?
The Inklings-society for literature and aesthetics is dedicated to the study of fantastic literature. Since 1983 the society organizes academic conferences on the history of literature every year, usually in co-operation with university-institutions. The society grants travel expenses and accommodation in Cologne. Conference-papers will be published in the Inklings-yearbook for literature and aesthetics 2010.
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