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Are there rules for zombies?

October 10, 2012

In keeping with yesterday’s theme of zombie-not-a-zombie today Dread Central reports “Top 6 Zombie Movies that Break Zombie Rules“:

One of the things I love about zombie movies is that there are some unspoken rules that the audience goes into the movie knowing, which then cuts out your exposition time. One of the things that I hate about zombie movies is that there are some unspoken rules that the audience goes into the movie knowing, and if one of these rules is broken… …the movie is looked poorly upon. Confused yet? Good!

This reminds me of Creativity generally. Like rules for writing and art – don’t break these rules except sometimes when it’s awesome. And then there’s Professor Zwicky’s “zombie rules”: grammar rules that are no longer followed but still proscribed as if true grammatical rule. And so this is also true of the definition of “zombie” itself. This reminds of French phenomenological-existential-deconstructive problems to define words and rules at all. Zombies defy that kind of binomial logic. Zombies are both A and not A. Non-Euclidean zombies?

Meanwhile, Dread Central includes a list of six good zombie movies that include zombie rule violations: Return of the Living Dead, Braindead, Re-Animator, Demons, [REC]2 and 28 Days Later…

But are there really any rules at all? Is it perhaps just always a system of Anything Goes? See Paul Feyerabend‘s “Against Method”. Science pretends to have these strict rules of knowledge but knowledge is more like art — there are rules but breaking the rules sometimes works too – it’s about what sticks. We know some rules about what generally sticks but we really have no idea what the future will keep.

So then there’s that institution called law. This human made system of rules, a very different kind of knowledge than scientific knowledge. And yet they share language. Lawyers and scientists share the same words. We share “rules” and “words” and “meaning” but we have very different artistic tastes for what it means to know. We all share this word “zombie” – it even crosses different languages – but do we mean the same thing? Isn’t it interesting that we sort of usually kind of do — and yet isn’t it fascinating that we incoherently impossibly don’t.

NYTimes Gadgetwise blog says Survive Zombie Apocalypse with new Walking Dead video game. I think NYULocal’s advice was better -gotta get back to the dissertation writing room!

  1. I like the idea that the rules of the behaviour of the undead are something that you like and dislike about the genre. The rules create a framework for creativity, but restrict the limits of that creativity. I think the writers who get away with breaking the rules do so by bending them gently, just enough that we accept it.

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