One of my good friends who shares some of my love for the walking dead and is far, far more educated than I am sent me a short piece by Jacques Derrida on zombies. Derrida is a fancy-pants French philosopher and the father of deconstruction (yeah, I have no idea either). Here’s his take on the zombie:
Zombies are cinematic inscriptions of the failure of the â€œlife/deathâ€ opposition. They show where classificatory order breaks down: they mark the limits of order. Like all undecidables, zombies infect the oppositions grouped around them. These ought to establish stable, clear and permanent categories. But what happens to â€œwhite/blackâ€, â€œmaster/servantâ€ and â€œcivilized/primitivesâ€ when white colonialists can also be the zombie slaves of black power? Can â€œwhite science/black magicâ€ remain untroubled, if what sometimes works against a zombie is white magic, the Christian religion, the power of love or superior morality? How certain is the opposition â€œinside/outsideâ€, if the zombieâ€™s internal soul is extracted and an internal force becomes its inside? Is there any security in opposing â€œmasculineâ€ to â€œfeminineâ€ and â€œgoodâ€ to â€œevilâ€ when the zombie is desexualized and has no power of decision?
The zombie is therefore fascinating and also horrific. It poisons systems of order, and like all undecidables, ought to be returned to order. In zombie movies, this return to order is difficult. For a classic satisfying ending, the troubled element has to be removed, perhaps by killing it. But zombies are already dead (while alive) you canâ€™t kill a zombie, you have to resolve it. It has to be â€œkilledâ€ categorically, by removing its undecidability. A magic agent or superior power will have to decide the zombie, returning it to one side of the opposition or the to the. It has to become a proper corpse or a true living being. There are other endings, less final. The zombie might be ineradicable, they might return. Perhaps undecideability is always with us. If not figured in the zombie, then something else: ghosts, golems or vampires, between life and death
Found in Introducing Derrida by Jeff Collins. See, even fancy smart dudes love zombies.