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April 14, 2009

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Len

I'm not ready to give up the vampire characterization yet. Each time the big financial houses come back to the U.S. government for additional bail-out/stimulus money, I am reminded of the victims of Dracula that are treated to multiple visits. Night after night, he returns to drink from them, while their defenders try to ward him off. With each successive attack, we wonder -- will the next draining be fatal? If not vampires, maybe we need another monster model that is some kind of parasite or symbiote....

sara

great post!

Patrick Murray-John

Maybe just an expansion / different twist on your second point--zombies are particularly interchangeable, both in appearance and personality. So as you say they work great for generalized masses. It also says, "Take your pick of causes--it's too hard to sort them out anyway." And that also reminds me of the mass of complex financial instruments that we're struggling to sort out. They're a big mass of interchangeable ('cuz no one really understands them), hard to hunt and kill, entities eating up the innards of the financial system.

Jim Groom

Bryan,

You have outdone yourself here, from Near Dark to White Zombie! You rule, I also love the marriage of vampire and zombies you come up with when ending with White Zombie, this is an important realization, and the way the Bela Lugosi's eyes are disembodied in White Zombie really suggests him as a sorcerer/vampire. Bravo!

And when you look at some clips from White Zombie here and here the question of the laboring zombies under the calculating capital vampires is right on. I think that is the metaphor Marx was looking for after framing capital as vampiric, labor as being zombified. Two species of the undead that are in many ways in struggle.

I was thinking about zombies as they related to slavery lately, and there is a good quote from Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys that focusing the identity of a zombie within the eyes:
'She have eyes like zombie and you have eyes like zombie too. Why you won't look at me.'

In fact, the Wide Sargasso Sea is an excellent reading of the implications of slavery, colonization, and post-colonial identities as in many ways zombified by structures of power and capital. Making the locus of the zombie very much within the very system, the outbreak being a larger sign some kind of dangerous self-awareness the zombies come to of their own enslavement. A moment of compassion and recognition that I have only seen in Romero's Dawn of the Dead when the Zombie in the baseball outfit and the women on the other side of the glass in a store seem to have a moment of wherein they realize they are of the same stuff.

I love the White Zombie offers a third way to look at all this, and the common idea of the eyes as telling and symbolic opens up some very interesting threads yet again as to how we are made to see and interpret this current phenomenon.

Bryan Alexander

Good point, @Len. If we see vampire stories return, I wonder if they'll be explicitly about financiers?

(bowing to nice Sara)

Great point about interchangeability, @Patrick. I like the way that applies to all ends of the class spectrum. Did you see the movie Fido?

kevin m

Very cool you tackled these ideas

The Zombie is a 'paradox summary' metaphor. The Vampire is not, he or she is an 'elite in hiding' metaphor, they are amazingly distinct. The Zombie is a summary of human lower functions, it's an accessible way of combining all of our basic bottom-feeding manners (things that seem more akin to insects and vultures) with the shape-form we label human. If you study early-human paleoscience, you'll dicover that before humans tackled hunting and gathering, we were scavengers for protein and depleted fruit-nut-tubers in our local areas without regard to the plants survival past current seasons. This made us constantly mobile and unable to create lasting communities: the zombie.

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