Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

The Zombiepocalypse and Religion: Be Careful What You Wish For.

November 1, 2012

George Romero's Night of the Living DeadThe Walking Dead

Zombies have been a mainstay in popular culture since George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Today’s most popular incarnation is The Walking Dead tv-series. While I read the Walking Dead graphic novel, I have only recently caught up on the television show. Watching the series puts me in mind of a few insights about Zombies that a religious studies perspective can bring to the phenomena as a whole. In this post, I only want to touch briefly on a few things: the apocalyptical or dystopian aspect of the zombie myth, the underlying ideology of the myth, and, of course, some observations about us that our zombie stories tell us.

First, I’d like to talk about Zombies AS myth.
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Colonial Terror in North America

January 17, 2012

Angry Black Lady: “You have no idea what Martin Luther King Actually Did.”

In terms of global colonialism, we forget that North America is still a post-colonial region. Take the message of this link as one set of proof (and add it to other sets of proof, like the treatment of indigenous peoples).

Diagnosing American Politics

October 2, 2010

Jean Baudrillard was somewhat prescient in his analysis of the semiology of America. In his 1983 volume Simulations (which contains excerpts from Simulations and Sumulacra, made famous by its cameo in the Matrix) Baudrillard has this to say about the WTC:

Why are there two towers at New York’s World Trade Center? … The fact that there are two of them signifies the end of all competition, the end of all original reference. … For the sign to be pure, it has to duplicate itself: it is the duplication of the sign which destroys its meaning. This is what Andy Warhol demonstrates also: the multiple replicas of Marilyn’s face are there to show at the same time the death of the original and the end of representation. (135-6)

Here we see the major philosophical point that Baudrillard is making. Signs are representations that infinitely reduplicate an original. In Late Capitalism, or the stage of simulation, signs no longer refer to any original, but rather only to each other. For Baudrillard, this means that we no longer operate, at the level of meaning (and as we saw with the stock market crash, economic meaning is included), with the real. Rather, we are operating within a correlated system of simulations of meaning. Signs no longer refer to or represent anything real. Thus, he could title one of his works: The Gulf War Did Not Take Place. He continues:

[The two towers] and their twin altitude presents no longer any value of transcendence. (137) … power is absolute only if it is capable of diffraction into various equivalents, if it knows how to take off so as to put more on. (134) … You need two superpowers to keep the universe under control… and the equilibrium of terror alone can allow a regulated opposition to be established, for the strategy is structural, never atomic.(134)

His broader point about the Twin Towers is that they stand in for America. (more…)