Friday, 30 November 2012

the realistic isn't real (but the monsters are)

Our sense of the realistic (cf Eastenders, Bicycle Thieves, the work of Posy Simmonds, etc) is the result of our training in the bourgeoise capitalist realism which is a part of the ideology of capitalism (whose purpose was to dismiss the monstrously - mystical - mythical - religiosity which was such a part of the ideology of agriculturalism/aristocracy: cf The Lutteral Psalter). 
The appearance of these tropes in the culture of capitalism is never a good sign as the hideous stumbling metaphor of the zombie shows us so clearly. That the modern zombie is the proletariat needs no explanation (the line from the consumers of Dawn of the Dead to the shop-workers and game show contestants of Shawn of the Dead is written in the brightest light) but what is interesting is that in a zombie horror it is the zombie that is real. 
The 'realistic' of these texts (with its ekphrastic detail of daily life turned upside-down and the world-around-us in-ruins and the now standardised [in the sense of the culture industry] tightly woven discourse of realism) is the reality of bourgeois capitalist realism that Flaubert (et al) and later the cinema wrought upon the world. The realistic is the ideological and the monster is (on the contrary) very real indeed. 

Just as the morlock (which is the true original of the modern zombie not the voodoo zombie of the first wave of Hollywood zombie films) was the proletariat as warning ('exterminate all the brutes' is the cry of Wells as much as of Kurtz) so is the zombie. The zombie is the working-class, the poor, the excluded (it almost isn't a metaphor at all) and as such is the most real thing in zombie horror texts. The zombie is not how the working-class are treated in fiction rather it is an accurate depiction of how the weakest factions of the working-class live in society right now and the methods (murder mainly) that must be used to 'deal' with 'them'. 

We must recognise that the figure of the sheriff which closes the narrative of  Night of The Living Dead is the same as the sheriff who opens the story of The Walking Dead: only now (neo-managerially) he no longer chews tobacco.

Thursday, 15 November 2012


As though terror-struck: who is speaking here? It cannot be Sarrasine, even indirectly, since he interprets La Zambinella's fear as timidity. Above all, it cannot be the narrator, because he knows that La Zambinella really is terrified. The modalization (as though) expresses the interests of only one character, who is neither Sarrasine nor the narrator, but the reader: it is the reader who is concerned that the truth be simultaneously named and evaded, an ambiguity which the discourse nicely creates by as though, which indicates the truth and yet reduces, it declaratively to a mere appearance. What we hear, therefore, is the displaced voice which the reader lends, by proxy, to the discourse: the discourse is speaking according to the reader's interests. Whereby we see that writing is not the communication of a message which starts from the author and proceeds to the reader; it is specifically the voice of reading itself: in the text, only the reader speaks. This inversion of our prejudices (which make reading a reception or, to put matters more clearly, a simple psychological participation in the adventure being related), this inversion can be illustrated by a linguistic image: in the Indo-European verb (for example, Greek), two diatheses (specifically: two voices) were set in opposition: the middle voice, according to which the agent performed the action for his own sake (I sacrifice for myself), and the active voice, according to which he performed this same action for another's benefit (as in the case of the priest who sacrificed on his client's behalf). In this accounting, writing is active, for it acts for the reader: it proceeds not from an author but from a public scribe, a notary institutionally responsible not for flattering his client's tastes but rather for registering at his dictation the summary of his interests, the operations by which, within an economy of disclosure, he manages this merchandise: the narrative.


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