Allegorical potential vs. subconscious guilt.

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…the zombie meme may be less about looming Armageddon, and more about a nagging subconscious awareness that the extreme inequalities of our current world order are in fact already a kind of zombie-scape, in which almost 3 billion people live in such extreme poverty, largely removed from the view of Westerners, malnourished and off the grid, that they are real life living dead in a way, and they have lots of reason to come for us, looking to eat us, or at least consume our ill-gotten wealth.

via Zombie Hasbara: World War Z and Hollywood’s Zionist embrace.

 

Two Kinds of Haitian Zombies

But more probable is that most cases are mistaken identification of wandering mentally ill or neurologically impaired strangers by bereaved relatives.They noted “People with a chronic schizophrenic illness, brain damage, or learning disability are not uncommonly met with wandering in Haiti, and they would be particularly likely to be identified as lacking volition and memory which are characteristics of a zombi.”

via A medical study of the Haitian zombie « Mind Hacks.

Despite, but sometimes thanks to, the absence of a functioning government, rich Haitians have prospered mainly in the import-export business. One percent of all Haitians control 50 percent of the countrys economy, and its top 500 taxpayers generate 80 percent of its tax revenues. They are also active in the textile industry, where they subcontract for American multinationals, as well as in construction and agriculture.

via Haitis 1 Percent | Foreign Policy.

The Dreary Undoing of the Undead

Patos Papa: The Unrealized Dreams of the Undead: “…how many doors must a zombie really break down before you realize it’s just a man (or woman)?”

It is a playful, if only marginally amusing, meme for ordinarily staid authorities to issue coping strategies for the so-called zombie apocalypse. In May, for instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal government’s white-coated vanguard against wee beasties, tee-hee’d all the way through a rotted-tongue-in-gangrenous-cheek disaster survival guide. Unfortunately, this publicity stunt quickly devolved into a fairly dry reminder merely to stock basic emergency supplies (e.g. water, extra clothing, etc.) and otherwise plan ahead for an evacuation.

 

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Several years ago, Wired.com did the same sort of thing, an even less imaginative primer that unhelpfully gets bogged down in a zoological curation of zombie types, extrapolating backward from various films in a spurt of numbing prose and advising survivors simply to shoot their undead antagonists in the head.

 

A recent example, possibly first noted by a bizarrely enthusiastic Wired.com correspondent, is an authentic-seeming recreation of a United States Army handbook, made by the Snappy Cow Energy Drink Companyof Wynantskill, N.Y. The Snappy Cow people do an energetic (ha!) job outlining believable methods for identifying and neutralizing zombies, including a detailed discussion of small-unit military tactics.

 

But even this game effort runs out of steam about halfway through, and a reader would be forgiven for giving up before the end, a woefully incomplete section on terrain and weather and, of course, the Snappy Cow advertisement itself.

 

The biggest mistake these guides make is wasting space in a discussion of zombie origins and varieties. The truth is, it does not matter how zombies are created (few of the pathologies make any sense, anyway). It only matters that you avoid or disable them. Don’t ever trust an authority that tries to unknot things in any other fashion.

 

Any worthwhile zombie survival guide will be short and to the point:

  1. In case of zombie apocalypse, the first order of business is to secure space. Determine where the nearest zombies are, and place as many obstacles between you and the zombies as possible. This includes, but is not limited to, barricading doors, covering windows and minimizing noise and other signs of “life.” Rooftops are ideal “secure spaces,” isolated farmhouses are acceptable, but basements without multiple forms of egress are not.
  2. Assess your resources. Locate sources of food and water, and if possible clean clothing, medical supplies and metal tools. In theory, this could be the shortest zombie survival guide ever written, because if you have a secure space to inhabit and you have food and water, your to-do list rapidly drops off into things like whittling and masturbating. This is because it is unlikely, given the natural forces of putrefaction and weathering, that a zombie attack would last longer than a week.
  3. Worst case is the best case. Do not worry if the zombie apocalypse appears to be unnervingly widespread. Fewer human survivors will reduce competition for accessible space and resources, which will make it easier for a hopeful survivor to get squared away. It also strains the carrying capacity of the zombie population  by increasing competition for uninfected humans.
  4. Avoid other survivors. Under no circumstances should you undertake cross-country journeys with a large group of fellow humans, no matter how amiable they appear to be. If you have been unable to secure space or sufficient resources, move cautiously in small groups if not by yourself. Other people cannot, under the stress of a serious (and disgusting) breakdown in the fabric of society, be relied upon to hew to anything resembling altruism.
  5. Save your ammunition. Avoid confrontations with zombies at all costs. Even if well-equipped and in a large group, you are unlikely to be able to neutralize a body of motivated zombies. And, importantly, the zombification process is too unpredictable to risk infection from close encounters. If the immediate threat can be avoided by quick movement or deception, choose that course over knocking heads together.
  6. Sit down, shut up and wait. Simply put, the overall zombie threat is profoundly overstated. Even the most taciturn, apathetic, indolent zombie is deteriorating by the minute, which means that the prospects of a hopeful survivor are constantly increasing. To wit, the vigorous, cranium-craving maniacs of the dark and menacing Zero Hour will be withered and oozing by Day 2. All you have to do is sit back, polish your aluminum baseball bat and let your anaerobic allies do their work.

The Unrealized Dreams of the Undead

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Giving Oprah the Dickens | Site unseen: I’m guessing zombies have no secrets to conceal. Like Oprah, they’re all about “keepin’ it real”: Lurch, dismember, eat, repeat.

The irony of the recent, popular AMC series “The Walking Dead” is that even as it was being hailed by critics — The New York Times’s Alessandra Stanley called it “surprisingly scary and remarkably good” — and fans as a fresh addition that strengthens the zombie genre, its zombie antagonists were fading into the backdrop. The series format itself is symbolic. The producers and writers of “Dead” have said their intention is to reanimate the zombie myth with what comes after the first frenetic scenes of scheming and survival, i.e. what comes after the two hours you see in a movie.

 

Frank Darabont, one of the series’ writers, told The Times last year that he was interested in telling great stories about people under stress. “The zombies are really the context to tell that story,” he said. Or as Joel Stillerman, the senior vice president for original programming at AMC, put it, the zombie itself “almost doesn’t matter on some level.”

 

Sooner or later, though, it does matter. Because I will tell you what happens after those first terrible, brain-splattering moments: the zombies will rot away to nothing.

 

What is a zombie, after all? “First principles, Clarice,” Hannibal Lechter advised Clarice Starling in “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991). A zombie is a nearly or formerly dead person under the control of a foreign entity, something like a virus, radioactivity, a supernatural other, etc. Is it mindless? We are led to believe as much, but zombies remember too much of their former lives (e.g. they know what doors are) to be completely so. More accurately, their humanity is overwhelmingly suppressed by violent urges.

 

What is its nature? A zombie is possessed of a poignant, singular simplicity. It is an antagonist of a pure utilitarian stripe, reflecting with perfect resonance any of a host of evils. Zombies can come from anywhere (underground or from the attic), manifested as anyone (man or woman, giant or waif), and standing for anything (Nazis or strippers). They are also imbued with deep symbolism, perhaps more so than the sexually charged vampires that are fast being overcome by equally erotic werewolves in mass-market paperbacks.

 

Zombies are a truly American invention, the struggle against them is a fight for individualism. At their core, zombies represent conformity and mindlessness. As a whole, they embody the chilling fear that civilization is dangerously fragile, that even the most promising plan for survival can dissolve without warning into backbiting — and real biting.

 

But zombies are also in need of reconstructive surgery. Even if you allow for some extraordinary limitations on putrefaction, how many doors must a zombie really break down before you realize it’s just a man (or woman)? Two weeks in a Georgia summer, the setting of “The Walking Dead,” would reduce most zombies to loose piles of sinew in days, to mere bones in two weeks.

 

What will become of the human drama then?