The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'undead'
In a Grauniad article on a new zombie-themed novel by MacArthur genius grant recipient Colson Whitehead, more speculation on the political economy of the undead:
Critic and writer Stuart Kelly believes something political is going on when authors use zombies. "It goes back to Das Kapital," he said. "Marx doesn't use the word zombie, but the idea of the worker as repetitive drudge and human machine is there. The vampires are the capitalists; the workers are the zombies. The idea descends through Herbert Marcuse and the Frankfurt School and becomes a paradigm for discussing the unlived life."And previously on the left-right zombie-vampire divide.
A call for papers has been issued for an anthology of academic papers which addresses a hitherto underexamined niche: zombies and the undead and higher education institutions:
This book takes up the momentum provided by the recent resurgence of interest in zombie culture to explore the relevance of the zombie trope to discussions of scholarly practice itself. The zombie is an extraordinarily rich and evocative popular cultural form, and zombidity, zombification and necromancy can function as compelling elements in a conceptual repertoire for both explaining and critically ‘enlivening’ the debates around a broad variety of cultural and institutional phenomena evident in the contemporary university. We propose to canvas a range of critical accounts of the contemporary university as a living dead culture. We are therefore seeking interdisciplinary proposals for papers that investigate the political, cultural, organisational, and pedagogical state of the university, through applying the metaphor of zombiedom to both the form and content of professional academic work.Zombies in the Academy: Living Death in Higher Education is scheduled for publication in 2012, and will address three broad topics: "corporatisation, bureaucratisation, and zombification of higher education", "technology, digital media and moribund content distribution infecting the university", and the intriguingly phrased "zombie literacies and living dead pedagogies". The call for papers has a number of example paper topic suggestions, in which the metaphor of the undead is applied to everything from moribund institutions to Marxist critiques of "undead labour" (did Marx actually use the word "undead"?) to the question of whether zombiedom could be a positive adaptation to the academic environment.
Theory of the day: the political tone of a time is reflected in the theme of its undead-themed horror films; to be more precise, conservative periods include zombie movies, whereas progressive periods feature vampire movies:
One answer: These gore-flecked flicks are really competing parables about class warfare. “Democrats, who want to redistribute wealth to 'Main Street,' fear the Wall Street vampires who bleed the nation dry,” Newitz argued, noting that Dracula and his ilk arose from the aristocracy. “Republicans fear a revolt of the poor and disenfranchised, dressed in rags and coming to the White House to eat their brains.”Whilst that could be reading much into it, zombie films can be equated with leftist critiques of conservative societies: George Romero's original films are widely regarded as critiques of post-war American consumerism, meanwhile other films make the connection even more explicit (the British zombie film Dead Creatures, for example, is essentially a Ken Loach film with zombies). Not sure what Shaun Of The Dead would be, though; Blairism, perhaps?
Britain's professional recording artists are so angry about their copyrights expiring after 50 years that some even rose from the dead to sign a recording-industry petition for copyright term extension:
If you read the list, you'll see that at least some of these artists are apparently dead (e.g. Lonnie Donegan, died 4th November 2002; Freddie Garrity, died 20th May 2006). I take it the ability of these dead authors to sign a petition asking for their copyright terms to be extended can only mean that even after death, term extension continues to inspire.
(via Boing Boing)
A fascinating, if macabre, article hypothesising on the subjects of reanimating the dead and creating various kinds of zombies and golems:
On the other hand, while many higher brain functions are irretrievably damaged after just minutes of cardiac arrest, most of the actual tissue remains "metabolically active and responsive" for at least 24 hours after death, and the hard wiring between neurons probably doesn't change until actual decay sets in. This raises an interesting and somewhat chilling question: What's the subjective experience inside a "dead" brain that continues showing low-level electrical activity for hours or days afterward? This is more than idle daydreaming (or idle nightmaring), because there are also neural pacemakersintended mainly to treat epilepsythat introduce small electrical shocks into the brain. A dozen of those would get some interesting currents flowing through the dearly departed neural tissue, and if you networked them with a bit of computing power, and connected them to electrodes on the arm and leg muscles, you might even get something that could "think" and "feel" enough to drag itself along the ground.The article goes on to speculate about the possibility of a modified version of Rocky Mountain spotted fever that can kill hosts whilst producing enough ATP to keep their bodies sufficiently functional to resemble horror-movie zombies.
Today in Alternate History is running a Halloween edition today:
n 1961, Stalin's body is removed from Lenin's Tomb, only to bring its foul curse upon all of Russia. It creeps across the streets of Moscow, draining the essence from unfortunate comrades, using their energy to fuel its undead existence. It is finally stopped when an Egyptologist, a spunky Red Army soldier and a beautiful young nurse from Moscow People's Hospital destroy the ankh that was keeping it alive.
in 1987, Joseph Campbell, explorer of ancient myths, dies and is buried in Honolulu, Hawaii. That night, he appears in a dream to George Lucas, who conceives a new trilogy for his Star Wars saga based on the tales that Campbell brings to him from the other side; but, he has to tone down the Gungan that Campbell speaks of, because its horror is too much for an audience to take.
It looks like Romania's bid to join the EU may be derailed by old ways still holding sway over remote rural regions; ways such as throwbacks to feudalism, Communism, the selling of children, and the ritual exhumation and staking of corpses to ward off undead:
Haunted by "strigoi" - the undead - villagers on the slopes of the Carpathian mountains exhume a corpse from the graveyard and drive a stake through its heart to banish the evil spirit. They burn the remains of the heart, mix the ashes with water from the local well and drink it, to complete the macabre ritual.
The regions of Transylvania and Wallachia were "haunted by ancestral ghosts, evil spirits, and vampires"; medieval beliefs that were "at odds with sophisticated EU rules on measuring fruit and the size of bananas".
Europe's preoccupations and debates, the paper said, were "totally out of tune with Romanian realities, where local barons make the law, enjoy privileges and export children to get favours from important people" in a "medieval fashion".
Judging by accounts from many sources, Romania sounds like a pretty bizarre place.
Did you know that, in India, zombies are unionised? More specifically, there is a growing number of people (currently estimated at 35,000) being fraudulently declared dead by next-of-kin seeking to take their property, many of whom can't afford the bribes to be declared living again. They have now formed their own lobby group, the Association of the Living Dead. (via bOING bOING)
In tangentally related material (well, maybe not): Daniel Dennett on zombies. (ta, Peter)
A comprehensive history of the Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency, a branch of the US Government in a parallel universe where infestations of undead were a significant problem. It's sort of like an American equivalent of the British TV series Ultraviolet. (via bOING bOING)