All posts by Lew

Zombe Dialectics

Zombies are on the move! There are even fast ones now… In 2009, Time magazine declared zombies “The Official Monster of the Recession.”

Zombies are quite odd, a dialectical unity of opposites…

On the one hand there is the zombie as the ultimate alienated laborer– in Haitian lore, zombies are the living dead, working sugar-cane fields by night–devoid of all feeling and facial expression. They don’t even have to be fed–presumably they fall into rotten pieces after a while–but hey–plenty more where they came from… Should they be feared? Coming across even one would make a person’s hair stand on end, and it would have a machete… but it would just keep working. Really to be feared would be its “employer,” the Haitian-American sugar company… (see “the Magic Island” by William Seabrook 1929).

On the other hand, there’s the zombie as implacable consumer.

George Romero with his 1968 film Night of the Living Dead originally thought of his creatures as ghouls… in a later film he has them attack a shopping mall… crazed consumers indeed…

The poet William Blake sums up his dialectical Method as: “without contraries is no progression.”

For every song of innocence (say, The Lamb) Blake will have a song of experience (The Tyger).

The Lamb

Little lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee?

Gave thee life & bid thee feed,

By the stream & o’er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing, wooly, bright;

Well, it’s hella namby-pamby by itself, but here’s The Tyger:

The Tyger

The zombie walks must continue, for they have revolutionary potential. I think a horde of zombies appeared in Oakland at a First Friday Art Murmur, shambling forth in defense of libraries. Also, zombies have interrupted anti-abortion rights rallies. These are a good start, but there is more awesome power to be unlocked!

At a costume party or masquerade ball, people are often able to access underused aspects of themselves, taking on the persona of the mask… Save your Guy Fawkes visages, occupiers…In the film Fight Club, members receive the homework assignment of going out and picking a fight, and losing! A lesson in the incredible power of not giving a flying fuck!

Does a zombie have anything left to lose? A pretty picture: each member of the zombie-bloc, when they put on the peeling flesh and open-sores of their costume has also put on the head-space of “I’m already dead.” Now they stumble towards the police lines, chanting:

What do we want? Brains!

When do we want it? Brains!