|Aiden Shepard [ Abraham Van Helsing ] (arcere) wrote in bellumletale,|
@ 2010-04-02 12:16:00
|Entry tags:||dorian gray, dr. watson, dracula, gretel, mina harker, rapunzel, sultan's daughter, van helsing, vasilissa, wicked witch|
With the holiday season reaching its sugar-infested end, I figured it was high time I shared the fruits of my student loans with all of you in an attempt to spread good will and cheer throughout the building. It’s the time of year when people are just starting to realize that the world isn’t going to be cold and dead forever, that everything is coming back to life, that the insects are re-infesting the walls, and that mistakes made in winter are now coming to fruition. It’s also a time of deep spiritual thought, though that doesn’t usually last for more than a month or so, and people tend to be more worried than usual about the state of their selves after death. What follows is an extremely brief but nonetheless valuable history of a subject near and dear to all our hearts, that has influenced people over the ages, is a massive portion of our current culture, and is steeped in history.
I am, of course, talking about zombies.
Unlike the vast majority of American horror culture, zombies didn’t come from Europe. The stories around them originated in the Voodoo religion of Haiti, where the dead were sometimes rumored to have been seen walking as though living and performing tasks. They were typically at the behest of a magician or sorcerer who apparently couldn’t be bothered to hire someone that they’d have to pay, feed, clothe, house, or otherwise compensate for their services instead. The souls were allegedly trapped outside the body, thus rendering them useful little puppets for their sorcerous masters.
In the 20th century it was discovered - or at least rumored to have been discovered - that these zombies weren’t actually dead, but were in fact just very near death. The traditional zombie-like stat was attributed to either drugs or mental illness, though they never did decide which was the actual cause. In any case, the zombies themselves were nothing more than shambling, suggestible servants. They were harmless unless commanded and certainly unable to pass on the “disease” themselves. You can blame all current zombie development and fears on Bela Lugosi, George Romero, and the growing genetic manipulation of basically everything we eat.
The idea of a corpse returning to life isn’t relegated strictly to zombies. Throughout the world the idea of ghouls, reanimated skeletons, mummies, liches, and vampires has plagued people’s memories and nightmares. Rituals dating back to ancient times were used to appease spirits in the hopes that they wouldn’t come back and take revenge for not being properly respected. Some closely related, zombie-like creatures are the jiang shi from China and the pontianak from Indonesia, both and more of which can be found online so don’t bother asking me any more about them.
How zombies grew from a relatively small, rumorlike status into the idea of the next apocalypse is indicative of that fact that people have far too much time and sadomasochism on their hands. Given that there already more than enough things in this world to worry about, taking an otherwise harmless creature and making it into one of the most feared (and in some horrifying cases, adored) monsters on the face of the planet means that people really need to go outside more than experience the dangers of the world for themselves instead of living vicariously through movies. Especially ones as bad as some of the movies I’ve seen. But, given that people do whatever it is the has the least path of resistance, I don’t expect this to be happening anytime soon, and thus I leave you with the thought of a horde of roving, empty-eyed, shambling monstrosities, all looking to regain life in the only way their rotting instincts know how: by tearing it from your living, breathing body.