Re: 3.31.06, 8:50pm: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/03/31/DDG6TI0A8N1.DTL
The pundits miss the main reason why zombies are ascendant; after the werewolves of the 80s, and the vampires of the 90s: it is not because of genre fears of disease, or betrayal by loved ones- zombies play on the fears of human mass extinction. Vampires and werewolves live among us- feed upon us. To drive the human species extinct works against their interest. They are perhaps interested in creating perpetual thralls of humans, yes, but not the annihilation of the breed.
Zombies are the anthropomorphization of death- and yes, this seems tautological to the literal-minded- but need I remind those very same literalists that death cannot be expressed literally? One can depict a state of death, but not the pure distilled phenomena of death. While it seems obvious to point out that 'undead' is now a culturally tautological term, it is an error to mistake the monster zombie for the monstrosity of zombie-ism. Death is usually defined as post-life. Unlife is a distinctly different state from death, as a rock, or a hydrogen atom was never alive. So un-deadness is then a way to personify deadness.
The zombie is the conformist and only the living are non-conformist. Zombies depict action without meaning. Undeath without life. They serve solely to spread the contagion of death, just as the conformist seeks to force others to conform. By contrast the werewolf and the vampire are iconoclasts. They live secretly in civilization and their special properties are a constant source of trouble and excitement- the very things that give life meaning. So though zombies and vampires are both undead, only one exists without the ego we call the 'self.' If there is an internal cognitive life for a zombie, it is unknown to the outside world and seems to do nothing to aid the zombie's fulfillment of a 'satisfying' afterlife.
Zombies are a manifestation of the fear of total annihilation and the meaninglessness that such eradication of the species brings to enlightenment values of secular humanism and 'progress.' This is the most terrifying consequence of the zombie: if zombies exist, then the Creator does not. Or worse, the properties of the Creator are malicious and more akin to Descartes' evil genius. In this regard, the zombie is a post-nuclear age monster that perhaps owes more to Harlan Ellison's "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" than it does to the rather civilized monsters of the pre-industrial age. The most terrifying possibility of course, is that the Creator as we know it, lost to a gambit by some malicious entity; and that the force that was protecting our souls is gone. The existence of zombies suggests a breakdown of the natural order of things and that doom is imminent.
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