The Other

“For there to be an ‘us’… there has to be a ‘not-us’”

Edward W Said, quoted in Science Fiction and Empire by Patricia Kerslake

As my delightful colleagues said in reference to my first post, the Other is not unique to zombies. You could almost say it exists in every text.

Without the outsider, we cannot define what we are. We need an alien, a foreigner, a stranger, a zombie. Something that we can relate to enough to feel for them, whether envious of their technology, fearful of their brain nomming, or disdained for their lack of civilisation. They are enough like us that we can sympathise, depending on how the text bends. Through the Other can we see ourselves. A reflection of what was, may yet be, or what could have been. Peter Barry, in a chapter on Post-Colonial Critique in Beginning Theory writes “states of marginality, plurality and perceived Otherness are seen as sources of energy and potential change”.

Zombies are an unlikely candidate for sympathy.  Cannibalistic, animalistic, and just gross, they shamble across our screens and pages with no distinction or honour between them. There are texts however that seek to change this, just as with any other Other. Something I’m considering is whether the loving zombie is just as zombie as the murderous zombie. Whether it is defined by what it is called. Both are undead, are still beings that were raised or arose from the ground after bodily death. Is the vampire still a vampire, even if it sparkles? (I wouldn’t ask Anne Rice that!)

Are zombies a catalyst for humanity to pick itself up from the petty bickering of currency and politics, and once again prove itself as the dominant species? Or are zombies a chance for humanity to open its arms to something new and strange, yet not so different?

A very good looking zombie : Warm Bodies


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