World War Z and other Incidences of the Undead

I read World War Z by Max Brooks over break – I tend to stay away from zombie media,1 but the book was interesting enough to win over my zombie-avoiding tendencies and now I can’t stop noticing the huge and recent (I’d say – recent as in like, the last decade) zombie focus almost everywhere in culture.

Did everyone else but me know about this? Did you know how many zombie poetry websites there are? You can even buy a zombie-themed magnetic poetry set. You know, so you can compose some verses about decaying flesh-eating people on the fridge while waiting for your ramen to heat up.

This guy published his work online in 2005 – excerpt:

love with
zombies can
never be
without consequence.

There’s Aim for the Head, an anthology of 50 poets.

There’s Z-Composition, which is a recent start-up with sections slated for poetry, recipes, and flash fiction, and grand ideas of “a bi-monthly literary e-zine with a yearly print anthology slated to launch in 2012”.

The Zombie Nation (the tagline of which is “Begin the Zombpocalypse”) also has zombie poetry posts.

The Zombie Hunter: A Survivalist’s Journal [“A family man’s guide to surviving the zombie apocalypse”] isn’t poetry but is impressive: it’s been going pretty steadily since 2010, complete with pictures, coconuts, and a thorough knowledge of firearms.

Why are zombies so freaking popular? (or: Elisa thinks too much)
The prevalence of a smaller genre like poetry dedicated to the zombie wave is just a piece of the fascinating trend. The prevailing attraction of zombie/zombie-fighting culture, I think, is the focus on vivacity and resourcefulness amidst the breakdown of society. You have to rob the grocery store to eat and you have to destroy the staircase of a building to secure it from zombies, but the stealing and destruction are by themselves also pretty exciting. And in this generation, one of the first to grow up in such a (generally) stable and structured society, craves some sense of rule-breaking and the ability to use their imagined Crusoe/Macguyver-esque survival skills.

Zombies are also about death, but not because they’re dead. Zombies as a villain are extremely basic (I’m talking about slow-moving zombies, here, generally): in World War Z Brooks pointed out that you have no hope of discouraging zombies; there is no leader to go after and you cannot, like humans, make them uncomfortable or fearful. We fear zombies not because they’ll go after us quickly and suprisingly, but because they’re slow and, as much as we ignore or outrun them, we know that they’re still coming. A scenario in which we lose to zombies wouldn’t be large and violent and exciting – it would be, simply, slow and inevitable.

Our fear of zombies precisely mimics our fear of death, which I think is a sort of manifestation of a denial of death in contemporary culture for the past century.

One response to “World War Z and other Incidences of the Undead

  1. Pingback: World War Z Doesn’t Take Place In A World I Live In |

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