24 August 2009

Blood Tears

Calista is exasperated by the barrage of questions about vampiric bodily fluids.

I say:
People, that's gross! And, leave Calista alone. She doesn't want to answer these ridiculous questions.

I absolutely refuse to discuss the finer points of vampiric digestion [EVER]. It's not going to happen, so get over it. Having said that, I will address a trait that frequently arises in modern fiction--the myth of blood tears.

In Interview with a Vampire, Anne Rice effortlessly describes "the stain of tears, tinged with mortal blood" (Rice 258). The reader cannot help but envision a pale, porcelain cheek striped with the trails of crimson tears. The imagery is beautiful.

Rice is not the only author to describe blood-tainted tears. Raven Hart's vampire narrator says, "One of my tears fell onto her fine skin. The tear was tinged pink with the blood that animates my body" (Hart 212). Cecilia Tan's vampire feels the need to explain his clear tears "If I had been feeding on people, they would be blood tears," he says (Tan).

Like most dramatically romantic characteristics, "the notion that vampires cry blood tears" is a "new and unique development, but not one that makes biological sense. Presumably, vampires" must "have other fluids inside their bodies" and if tears were affected, then liquids like "saliva would be blood as well" (Ramsland 66-7).

Can you imagine every drop of sweat, snot, and saliva being reduced to blood? You would be left with no other way to describe a vampire than to say that he is "a bloody mess." It's not a pretty picture anymore, is it?

"Why the ingestion of blood would produce blood tears any more than the ingestion of wine would make [humans] weep red zinfandel is a mystery" of fiction (Ramsland 67). Certainly some authors have tried to make excuses for this medical marvel. Erin McCarthy offers this solution: "the vampire trait of crying blood tears...is usually chalked up to sinus infections" (McCarthy 164). While bacterial conjunctivitis can cause an individual to cry blood-stained tears, you can't believe that vampires have perpetual sinus tract infections. What an existence that would be!

Now, I'm not saying that Haemolacria [definition: physical condition whereby a person produces tears which are partially composed of blood (wikipedia)] is impossible; I am saying that it is not a trait that arises from vampirism. If haemolacria and vampirism were linked, then you would certainly no longer see vampires as the sexy, suave creatures of modern fiction.

That is all,

Abstract Desktop Nexus. Tear for a vampire. [Picture]
Hart, Raven. The Vampire's Seduction.
McCarthy, Erin. High Stakes.
Ramsland, Katherine M. The Science of Vampires.
Rice, Anne. Interview with a Vampire.
Tan, Cecilia. A Taste of Midnight: Sensual Vampire Stories.
Wikipedia. "Haemolacria". 24 August 2009.


  1. Well, supposedly vampires don't sweat, don't truly salivate... so maybe the tears are actually just some cosmic reaction to a once mortal trait. Maybe these tears are generated by FICTION! Its a freakin' story, who cares if it makes biological sense or not?! Seriously... its a pretty image... let it remain so and stop over analyzing a work of fiction. (Are you gonna pull apart comic books now too? Maybe video games... Oh! Lets do zombies!)

  2. No, I think I'll just stick with the one topic, dear. Thanks for your opinion, but you'll note that I am not the one who says it makes no biological sense...it's a quote. There are plenty of individuals who have written these things before me. If it offends you so, then you are welcome to stick to reading the malaria blog.


  3. I for one appreciate the information from someone who has a little knowledge of these things. Of course we know that Fiction is fiction. But it is a refreshing change to have some facts to compare fantasy to.

  4. This reminds me somewhat of such questions as "Do fantasy dwarven woman have beards? Or did Adam and Eve have navels?" There is poetry in the idea of blood tears, however. It imparts a sense of humanity to the fictional creatures in question as well as makes us ask if any remorse is pure, or is it always tinted with sin?

  5. Everybody knows that female Dwarfs are indistinguishable to anybody including other Dwarfs.

  6. I want a bumper sticker that says "Real vampires don't cry... blood"

    I think the idea, aside from being poetic imagery, derives from the idea that vampires' bodies transmit blood through some form of osmosis. They ingest it yet it gets to their blood stream (without any digestive processes in most cases).

  7. Interesting. I must have blocked that out when reading Anne Rice's novels. Such a silly assumption for people to make. For the exact reason you point out. Can you imagine if the tears of humans represented what they consumed/drank? Blech :)

  8. That is an interesting point realtimedracula.

    But I think for the most part it was just the poetic imagery. Like Ana says, just picturing a pale, beautiful, porcelain face with red tears slowly flowing down is in itself, beautiful. To me it shows that even beings that are so gifted in their living forever, being incredibly beautiful and strong are still subject to imperfections.