Why Zombies matter: the undead as critical posthumanist

Variant title
Proč zrovna zombie: nemrtví jako kritičtí posthumanisté
Source document: Bohemica litteraria. 2016, vol. 18, iss. 2, pp. 59-82
Extent
59-82
  • ISSN
    1213-2144 (print)
    2336-4394 (online)
Type: Article
Language
English
License: Not specified license
Rights access
embargoed access
Abstract(s)
This paper poses two questions: why have we brought back the living dead so many times in so many different forms, and what is the cultural significance of its most recent resuscitation? With respect to the latter query, I propose three ideas: first, that the zombie has become the biotechnological equivalent of the science-fictional cyborg, as they both express the same anxieties and thus fulfill a similar cultural function. Second, as humans converted into another species, they are posthuman, and their genocidal war on humanity is homologous to the science-fictional Terminators and apocalyptic cyborgs and artificial intelligences. In the same way, the heralded "zombie apocalypse" is a fictional historical evolutionary turning point homologous to John Von Neumann's and Vernor Vinge's "technological singularity." Third, the change in rationalization of zombification from the supernatural to the scientific in the 1960s signified a reaction against instrumental reason, technoscience, modernity, and the values of Humanism. This is evident in recent iterations in which the zombie is the result of a plague cause by genetic experimentation. I conclude that this millennial zombie is the poster child for an antihumanist, critical posthumanism. Finally, in response to the first query, I will propose seven theses explaining this monster's durability and mutability based on these observations.
Studie si klade dvě otázky: proč jsme přivedli živé mrtvé zpět v tolika různých zpodobněních a jaký je kulturní význam jejich posledního vzkříšení? Co se druhé otázky týče, navrhuji tři odpovědi: za prvé, zombie se staly biotechnologickým ekvivalentem science fiction kyborgů, protože vyjadřují stejné obavy, a plní tak obdobnou kulturní funkci. Za druhé, jako lidé přetvoření v jiný druh jsou posthumánní a jejich vyhlazovací válka s lidstvem je analogická snahám terminátorů, kyborgů a umělých inteligencí ze science fiction. Stejně tak je ohlašovaná "zombie apokalypsa" fikčně historickým evolučním zlomem příbuzným "technologické singularitě" Johna von Neumanna a Vernora Vinge. Za třetí, posun ve vysvětlování zombifikace od nadpřirozeného k vědeckému v 60. letech minulého století představuje reakci na instrumentální myšlení, technovědu, modernitu a hodnoty humanizmu. To je zřejmé ze současných příkladů, v nichž je zombie výsledkem epidemie zapříčiněné genetickými experimenty. Tvrdím, že zombie tohoto tisíciletí je pozdním potomkem antihumanismu a kritického posthumanismu. A konečně, jako odpověď na první otázku předkládám sedm tezí založených na zkoumání fenoménu zombií a vysvětlujících přetrvávající životnost a proměnlivost tohoto monstra.
Document
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