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Letter from Castle Dracula

The newsbullettin of The Transylvanian Society of Dracula

June 2003

“Who’s afraid of the bad, bad wolf?”

The III-rd World Dracula Congress, on “Fear” (May 15-18, Sighisoara, Transylvania, Romania) has also been attended by a rather shy man, into his 60’s , half-bald, who tried to convince everybody of his universal scheme to the relevation of destinies: a retired physician from Sighisoara. He sent us his notes on the congress (and, again, the scheme), which notes we found worthy publication. Some of the notes are annotated by the TSD, and certain sentences – deleted, for lack of reverence toward the participants. Excepts:

“May 15, the grand conference room in the Town-Hall: I got a kit and an ugly ceramic medallion – passing for a congress badge (a Medusa head).

Our Mayor’s opening speech: (deleted)
The speech of the president of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula: the fellow speaks English with strong Romanian consonants: Roenglish.
Prof. Elizabeth Miller, Canada: what does she mean, with her “Setting the record straight: Bram Stoker, Dracula and Transylvania” ? That the scientific community indulged, for the past 30 years, in confusing the historic Vlad Dracula with a supernatural entity? S….t! How could one pass a correct appraisal on either? Must get a free copy of her “Dracula, Sense Handbook”. How many books will have to be re-written? How many authors will resent her now? I like her guts – must read her destiny – she is not afraid to swim against the current. But she is not alone – listen to the commentaries. With her knowledge she could have made fortunes swimming with the Nonsense…

Afternoon: Prof. Dr. Silviu Angelescu: I remember the professor at the Chair of Folklore, University of Bucuresti, not as director of the Institute of the History of Arts! But what a distinguished demonstration!
The supernatural as a necessary folkloric category! When you think that the post-industrial researchers look for the origin of the vampire in the Moon, in rabies, porphyria or states of decomposition! Mankind are beginning to forget their roots, and that is alienating.

Afternoon: visit to the fortified church of Biertan. Nobody objected to my presence in the bus. Then a wine-tasting of sorts in Dumbraveni with a local wise-man telling stories of old. The legend about sexually hyperactive Empress Maria Teresa was dismissed by Prof. Constantin Rezachevici as b…..t. But legends have a life of their own, don’t they?

Evening cocktail offered by Dorin Danesan, our Mayor: a decent little get-together, even if he could have offered less cookies and more sandwiches.

Day 2

I am suspicious of the theme “Fear”, am looking around for something to pop out, to blow, special effects when you least expect them. So far, they seem to rely on the Word. That’s shrewd.
I didn’t attend the reading of Prof. Mashimo Atsushi’s paper, as I had his paper in the kit, and could sleep longer. I wonder , therefore, if anyone commented on this supernatural Oni in the Japanese folklore. If this congress is good for something, it is for the windows opened to other cultures. Fantastic paper!
I always missed the “why” about the Japanese culture and in a few pages this professor at the Ritsumeikan University tells me “why” and “how” the spirituality of the Japanese took this road instead of that. Thank you, Prof. Atsushi; you made my Japan more human, more respected and enticing.

Sir Alan Murdie, the U.K. – “Scared to death: the power of fear to injure and kill"” It is the first time I am that close to a "Sir”, to an English noble. I must say, he looks that – or am I conditioned by the word? The title of the paper sounded all too familiar for a physician, but it was not so; like all the others, I sunk and surfaced with the demonstration of our tribally-structured brain, so vulnerable yet so powerful as to inflict sores on ourselves and on others, with a tool called “fear”, doubled by a shared belief. My impression is that “Sir” knows much more than he is willing to share.

Dr. Lokke Heiss, U.S.A. – a physician, like me! Don’t most doctors compensate the dire nature of their work with painting, writing, beauty of some kind? Never heard of this Emily Gerard and her “Land Beyond the Forest”; how interesting! I missed who suggested that he should produce an Annotated “Land Beyond the Forest”, with help from a Romanian folklorist. I would buy it, if annotated.

Late afternoon: my brother-in-low made me miss all but two of the afternoon lectures. Shall ask this Transylvanian Society of Dracula to provide me with these papers. How much will they charge? Or is it free? How much to join the society?

The reading of “A theological perspective on Fear”, by Priest Dr. Doru Costache (I didn’t know there is a Faculty of Orthodox Theology with the University of Bucuresti) brought the wise, all-encompassing word of the Church on our perennial existence. What a masterful appraisal of our condition versus Deity! The Church is not idle in modernizing its stance, but firm, uncompromising about its principles.

Dr. Mark Bennecke, Germany (forensic biologist): how many doctors are there at the congress? Benecke, Lokke Heiss, Constantin Balaceanu-Stolnici, myself… What’s going on?

I wish I had Dr. Benecke ease and talent in exposing my own “scheme of destiny”. Hell, he knocked us down! Now we know how fear works: we cannot, rationally, do a damn thing about it. But if we obey the superstitions (i.e. avoid critical situations), then we may get away with it. Where is the progress? Or do we underestimate the wisdom of the Past? I am impressed with the quality of the speakers so far.

Day 3 – Saturday, May 17

Prof. Sorin Comorosan, fellow of the Romanian Academy. The perfect but limited science and the imperfect but infinite human curiosity, that’s how I should define the impeccable papers of Acad. Sorin Comorosan. So, the Evil has a mathematical form… It’s objective, it’s no fancy human creation; why am I not surprised? But has anyone demonstrated Goodness in mathematical terms? As if it matters…
Both Comorosan and the next speaker, Prof. Dr. Gabriela Rusu-Pasarin, seek ways to overcome, sublimate or dominate Fear, by literature, aesthetic, etc. This endless talk about fear begins to get at me. Let me rather look at (deleted).
Fear of aging with American actresses (Prof. Victoria Amador, U.K.). Actresses, only? How about me? I like her (deleted). She speaks with a certain Americanized accent…

Afternoon: this paper alone would have justified the whole congress: Dr. Silvia Chitimia’s comparative study of ancient Indian and European rites, beliefs, traditions. Very far-fetching. Now we have to wait for the invention of fine instruments to see what the folklore had known forever: the subtle worlds within and around us.

“Anthropologically speaking” , Fear, according to Prof.dr. Balaceanu-Stolnici, fellow of the Academy, has few secrets left. I don’t know how many could follow his demonstration (the translation in English was poor) probably the physicians could. The rational mind seems to be eons away from interfering with the powers of Fear.

“Fear in the European Midd Age”: describing the Fear, I could sense a shade of enjoyment in the voice of Prof.dr. Constantin Rezachevici, of the Institute of History. The gorier the descriptions, the merrier his voice. (I can hear the merriment in the voice of a historian in the year 3000, describing the fears of 2003). Again, compared history makes all the difference. Maybe the children should learn the history of their country, no matter which country, in a comparative manner; and not only the history.

Last Day of the Congress

It is rare to receive so much condensed updated information in such a short time. Now what, do I have to wait one more year to nourish my brain?

Prof.dr. Mariana Godeanu – “The sentiment of fear with plants”: I’ll be damned! Prof. Godeanu and her photographs of the fields of a plant, should work hand in hand with Dr. Silvia Chitimia and her human fields. And perhaps with Acad. Sorin Comorosan – and his “Comorosan effect” of the green light. At the end of this paper I felt stupid: what, a plant understands me and I have no idea what a plant think s, or speaks?

“The Vampire in the German 18 century press”. This must be the youngest participant in the congress, this drd. Bogdan Popa: 25? The new generation of researchers, of scholars; look at him – perfect English, master of his subject, again – into comparative history (Romanian and German), answering questions with the ease of a battered old scholar.. The questions show that the predominantly Anglo-American assembly had scant information on the German vampire scene. Good for young drd. Popa!

Dr. Massimo Introvigne, Italy: old fox, no doubt, encyclopaedic mind, skills galore and a charming English (strong German accent, it seems). Shall approach the man with my “destiny chart”… I wonder how he (deleted). His paper shows the rapid change in our permissiveness and I cannot help asking where and how shall we be twenty years from now? A fine paper to end a congress in style!”

The TSD does not necessarily share the opinions of the keeper of this diary, but thanks him anyhow for his readiness to share impressions on the III-rd World Dracula Congress, on “Fear”, May 15-18, 2003, Sighisoara, Romania.

TSD/June 2003

SPONSORS of the Congress:
- The Town-Hall of Sighisoara
- “Castel Dracula” Pasul Bargau
- “Coroana Tourism” Bistrita
- “Intrepid Travel” U.S.A.
- Hotel “Rex” - Sighisoara


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