I’ve mentioned before how fascinated I am with the pop-culture zombie; I think this show is the next logical step as the undead become more and more mainstream. This is a polished re-presentation of what has now become essentially the standard zombie-mythos, steeped in the emergence of disease, humans becoming nothing but the vessels of some virus or bacteria which thinks of nothing more than it’s own propagation. What’s amazing in all of this is the way that life is portrayed as evil, that it is unable to curb itself to the point of it’s own collapse at the hand of it’s own parasitic drives. Life is evil because it is excessive, because Nature cannot be domesticated, because it is ultimately unpredictable. How far we’ve come from the undead as a figure of demonic possession, beings that were simply Evil. Now, evil needs a reason and that reason is unsustainability.
Tag Archives: Death Drive
I wanted to announce that I’m giving a public lecture a week from today. I was asked to give a talk on psychoanalysis and I’ve decided to talk about psychoanalysis and film, specifically vampire and zombie movies. The paper I’m presenting can be understood in three ways: First, I want to discuss the trajectory that these creatures have undergone throughout the history of cinema. Second, I will discuss what this trajectory means in terms of what we fear, assuming of course that Zizek is right and that films express our own beliefs and fears better than we can ourselves. Third, I want to present my own critique of apocalyptic films of this nature.
This is a topic that’s been on my mind for some time now and I look forward to being able to talk about it as part of this great series. Here’s a blurb about the lecture series from the MUN Philosophy site:
St. John’s Public Lectures in Philosophy
Presented By Memorial University’s Philosophy Department
The reasons for this series of lectures are to support the intrinsic value of public, philosophical discussion, to provide a free public forum for such discussion, and to stimulate a culture and love of learning in St. John’s. The lectures last approximately 30 to 40 minutes and are followed by an hour of discussion. The lectures deal with a wide variety of philosophical topics and all citizens are invited to participate. The lectures occur on the last Tuesday of each month.
The cult of Camazotz began around 100 B.C. among the Zapotec Indians in what is the modern-day Mexican state of Oaxaca. The cult of Camazotz worshiped an anthropomorphic monster with the body of a human, head of a bat (though the exact proportioning varies with account). The bat was associated with night, death, and sacrifice. This god soon found its way into the pantheon of the Quiché, a tribe of Maya who made their home in the jungles of what is now Guatemala. The Quiché identified the bat-deity with their god Zotzilaha Chamalcan, the god of fire.
There is some evidence to support that the Camazotz myth may have sprung from actual large, blood-drinking bats of the Mexico, Guatemala, and Brazil areas. Evidence is in the form of fossils of Desmodus draculae, the giant vampire bat. There have also been skeletons of D. draculae found which were sub-fossil, of very recent age. These sub-fossils suggest that the species were still common when the Mayans civilization existed, and may still be in existence today, though it is doubtful. Alternately, Camazotz may have originated from the Spectral Bat, a large carnivorous bat native to Central and South America.
The thought that has been circling in my mind for the past several days is the relation between an evolutionary or process form of metaphysics and the general concept of the parasite. Typically when one is presented with a vitalist system, it is a system of fitness. This is simple enough in someone like Nietzsche, where dominance, will to power, is the rule. Emergent forms are par for the course in a vitalist metaphysic, and it seems entirely possible that they rise to dominate. Is this the case though?
One of the basic structures of any vitalism is a metaphysics of flow. This seems to work much better with a general parasitological view of life, of things in general. Beasts don’t rise up to smite lesser creatures for the sake of dominance, but through feeding off of them.
All forms of nature are variations of the verb “to eat.”
Human sacrifice, agriculture, eating, reproduction, aging, death, fertilizing, growth and decay. The flows are endless. There is no top, no bottom. We are all someones food. We flow into each other, use, abuse, each other. We sacrifice to our gods, we are worshiped, we all eat and sleep. The gods need us. We all sleep sometime. The will to power is the ideal, the lie we live. We are all weak. We are all powerful. We are all-week… we are all-powerful. We are all Bat-Gods to someone.
[ADDENDUM: One could also raise the question of the relation between the Bat-God, as a god who feeds, with the Christ, another god who feeds (I love the play of the word ‘feeds’ here). It is perhaps this relation that I am most interested in, the one who takes and gives only in death versus the ones who gives, and somehow continues to give in even death. The interplay of giving and taking, giving and taking and persistence. What is the relation between the parasite, the Eucharist, and vitalism as a metaphysics of perpetuity?]
I’m excited about this one, and since it too is in the public domain, I thought I would share it. I will likely be watching this tonight:
There have been three films based on the book I Am Legend (1954), this one starring Vincent Price being the first, followed by The Omega Man (1971) starring Charlton Heston, and I Am Legend (2007) starring Will Smith (which is the only one I have seen up until now). What I find interesting about this series is that through combining the mythos of the vampire and the zombie, this may be the first instance in popular culture where vampirism and/or zombification is a disease or virus, rather than being seen as magical or other-wordly in some way. This is actually one of the important themes for my book, the relation between magic and biology in Vitalism, but also in how we view the death drive. I am also interested in the relation between Vitalism and the idea of “mutations,” and how these connect to post-humanism and/or anti-humanism.
Also significant for my current writing is the idea of the apocalypse, in the case of the I Am Legend book and film off-shoots as well as many zombie films inspired by it, the idea of a biological apocalypse and the relation it has to the common Christian apocalypse.
I will be watching this film this evening. Please join me and we can discuss it (maybe!). The copyright has expired on it, so I am posting it below. Here’s the Wikipedia page for the movie. Note: It stars Bela Lugosi as a voodoo master named Murder(!) and so can’t possibly be bad! Enjoy!
PS: Click through to watch it on YouTube with a dimmer.
Wow talk about “undead labour,” huh? Creating the undead to work in a sugar mill? You’d think a voodoo master named Murder would aim higher than that. Maybe it was all part of a plan? As we all learned from The Simpsons, “First you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women.”
I did love that scene when Madeleine sees Murder’s gaze in the glass of wine and says “I see death.” Nice.