Zombie Bites

Further to the mathematical analysis of zombie infestation, here’s some more undead-themed academic enquiry:

Dr. Steven C. Schlozman, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has written a paper on zombie neurobiology. It turns out that zombies have exactly the brain lesions one would expect in an ataxic, insatiable cannibal with impulse-control problems and poor social skills – underactive frontal lobes, a dysfunctional anterior cingulate cortex, cerebellar/basal ganglia problems and a misfiring hypothalamus.

Some time ago I offered a brief psychoanalytic interpretation of zombie-phobia; for more in this vein read “Saving Ourselves: Psychoanalytic Investigation of Resident Evil and Silent Hill by Marc C. Santos and Sarah White. Through a Lacanian deconstruction of the games’ dynamic the paper analyses the role of the player/avatar in maintaining symbolic order in the face of the “impossible, cataclysmic infinity of existence”, represented by the zombies, with their “near-sexual drive for consumption a constant reminder of the discursive construction of our own desire”. The authors conclude that “Resident Evil establishes a more conservative (Freudian) position that Silent Hill playfully (Lacanian-ly) problematizes”

There is more psychoanalytically-informed zombie literature around than you might think – “Zombie Trouble: A Propaedeutic On Ideological Subjectification and the Unconscious”, for example, or “Legacies of Plague in Literature, Theory and Film”. If you like all this undead-psychoanalysis stuff, why not make your own Zombie Freud?

Canadian anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis wrote about his experiences with the Vodou practitioners of Haiti in his 1985 book The Serpent and the Rainbow. Davis’ theory that zombies are created using a powder containing, among other things, tetrodotoxin is not widely accepted, but his account of the hidden power structures of the Vodoun secret societies is certainly fascinating.

Columbia College in Chicago runs a course on “Zombies in Popular Media“; the reading/screening list is a good starting point for further zombie study.

And finally – Let me tell you ’bout the way she looked…

Superstition aint the way

I started attaching tags to my posts a couple of weeks ago in the hope that my pitifully low traffic would pick up a bit. I’m not sure how successful this has been; the graph of my visitor numbers has been as erratic as the Dow:

I did get a comment yesterday, for the first time in a while, from Ann’s New Friend. It was a bit snarky, but any attention is good I guess. I felt it was unfair of him/her to imply that I wasn’t interested in reading opinions that conflicted with my own; I look at right-wing journals and blogs all the time. I was just worried that readers might interpret the fact that I had linked to Real Clear Politics without any comment as meaning that I had some sympathy with the views expressed therein.

Hats off to ANF’s work rate though; I had been feeling pleased that I had managed six posts in a week, but he/she is a true stakanovite who produces fifteen in a day. It’s interesting that the biggest item in his/her tag cloud is “Obama” (as indeed mine is “Palin”); it’s always easier to talk about your opponen’s failings rather than your candidate’s qualities.

It did make me think about why I bother commenting on the US election; hardly anyone reads these posts, and those few who do are unlikely to be swayed by a few links to stuff they’ve probably seen before anyway. I have previously expressed the opinion that blogs are vastly overrated as a medium of political discourse, but I am finding myself more and more drawn into the cross-linked world of the political blogosphere.

I made a light-hearted reference to voodoo the other week, but the more I think about it, the more it seems that blogging has a lot in common with primitive religious rituals. (No offence to adherents of voodoo; I’m using “primitive” in the sense of “uncontaminated by civilisation”).

Faced with a process that is likely to affect my life in many fundamental ways, yet which is completely outwith my control – like a volcano, or winter, or the US Presidential race – I am reverting to simple superstition, offering tribute to the secular gods of liberal elitism, and bowing before the mighty deity that is Tina Fey.

Voodoo Chile

Actually, my magic powers may be stronger than I thought – I implored the Lords of the Netherworld to curse Sarah Palin with humiliating inarticulacy, and, judging by the Katie Couric interview, they granted my wish.

Seriously though, CBS News is primetime viewing right? Watched by millions of voters? You have to believe that Palin has sunk the ticket by giving an interview that wouldn’t get her a gig as a – well, insert your choice of menial job here, I don’t want to offend anyone by suggesting that their honest labour is on a par with something this woman would be qualified for.

Tina Fey was very funny on SNL this week, but really, Palin is beyond parody.