The Zombie as Other: Mortality and the Monstrous in the Post-Nuclear Age

Kevin Boon

in Better Off Dead

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780823234462
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241255 | DOI:
The Zombie as Other: Mortality and the Monstrous in the Post-Nuclear Age

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This chapter ties the zombie's African spirituality to the existential crisis that the living dead often embodies in contemporary narratives. The chapter begins by providing some useful history on what it surmises are the origins of the zombie in the Nzambi Mpungu region of the lower Congo, with a figure called “Nzambi.” The chapter compares this African conceptualization of spiritual truth to Enlightenment Rationalism, wherein truth comes from within the self, whereas in empirical scientific method, truth likewise comes from without the thinking subject. The chapter then shows how the zombie myth transitions from incarnating God-as-truth to dramatizing scientific truths in the post-nuclear age. Engaging with Existentialist philosophy, the chapter shows how the zombie myth comes to stand for an encounter with the other, and thereby with knowledge that can only come about through this encounter. En route, the chapter weaves into the narrative some categorizations of the permutations of the zombie myth that have developed since its migration into cinema and popular culture. This classificatory system, including categories like zombie-drone, tech-zombie, and bio-zombie, is spelled out in detail at the end of this chapter.

Keywords: Nzambi; zombie; existentialism; Enlightenment philosophy; nuclear; science; other

Chapter.  4474 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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