Some might remember me posting a link regarding a call for papers on the zombie for an interdisciplinary collection?
Well, today (Hallowe’en!) is the deadline, and even though I’m a good half-day ahead of the recipient, I got it tidied up and decided to send it off now. The gist of my proposal is that zombies work in a couple of ways: on one level, zombies are the ultimate tabula rasa — they don’t speak or seem to think, their motivations or internal experience (whatever it may be) is inscrutable, and thus they can be seen as figures for everything from mindless consumerism to communism to suburban mindlessness or the effects of future shock upon a populace.
But at the same time, despite these various (potential) metaphorical “meanings” for the zombie, the zombie itself appeals to a broad number of people, and the appeal remains whether one’s politics differ, whether one is aware of the politics at all (youngsters get a huge kick out of zombies whether or not they grasp that it’s all about communist Russia or Islamic terror or mindless consumerism). I theorize that this is because the few characteristics that are consistently present in zombies (and their typological spinoffs, like the Body Snatchers, Stepford Wives, and Star Trek‘s Borg) very specifically target elements in the human psyche — that is, evolved adaptations that underpin human sociality. A sociobiological perspective can suggest how human psychology as a product of evolution interacts with a literary trope like the zombie — how such literary tropes both express the faultlines in the various systems of human cognition and human sociality, and exploit them to literary effect in their audiences.
Of course, my proposal is a lot more compressed than that, so some of that signal gets lost. Ah well, we’ll see what they say.
In the meantime, for those of you celebrating Hallowe’en tonight, well, have fun, enjoy, and so on. Me? I’m taking a well-deserved break, and doing not much of anything. Though I think I will make some spicy chicken burritos. Because it’s about that time…