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Yom HaShoah – Remembrance Zombies

April 7, 2013

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day:

Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah (יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה; “Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day”), known colloquially in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah (יום השואה) and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is observed as Israel’s day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accessories, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. In Israel, it is a national memorial day.

and there is Modern liturgy:

liturgies generally include:

– Lighting of a candle (often each member of the congregation lights one)
– Modern poems, including “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining…”
– El Malei Rahamim (God, full of mercy, dwelling on high)
– Mourner’s Kaddish.

But not without some internal controversy:

The Knesset decision taken on April 21, 1951 to designate the 27th of Nisan as Yom HaShoah ignored the Rabbinate’s decision from two years earlier, and the Chief Rabbinate, in turn, decided to ignore the Knesset’s chosen date, one reason being the fact that Jewish law forbids fasting and certain laws of mourning during the month of Nisan, which is considered to be a month of happiness.

Ok so why am I mentioning this on ZombieLaw blog – well, because zombies relate to Hitler and Nazi’s as modern expressions of absolute evil – and so remembering the Holocaust and all wars and death more generally — but also how we remember memory. Memory is a psychotic activity. It is a dissociative fantasy that simulates events that have long since past. It can be highly informative but also extremely distracting.

ZombieLaw has multiply referred to Marcel Proust in previous posts. And see also Speed Levitch in the movie “Waking Life” :

“Don’t forget, which is to say: remember – because remembering is so much more psychotic activity than forgetting.”

Meanwhile – Daniel Drezner has an essay in the Wall Street Journal: “The Lessons of Zombie-Mania: From TV to CDC brochures, the living dead are everywhere. What’s behind this apocalyptic fixation?”. This is an article about the “lesson” (the educational value?) of apocalyptic thought and yet Drezner concludes with optimism:

Any species that has managed to invent duct tape, Twinkies and smartphones stands a fighting chance against the living dead. Narratives about flesh-eating ghouls should remain scary—but they can also remind audiences that we have an enormous capacity to adapt to new threats and overcome them.

They are always trying to kill us … but we survive… we could chose to forget that but instead we choose to remember the zombies of the past as a “lesson” for the future. But there is a problem here and that is the problem of all symbols and memories – they change meaning. – See Semiotics of Atrocity.

Memories are new creations of the mind’s eye, they are changed with each iteration. It is the symbols that are dead, chasing us as perverted memories. Dangerously, the simulation comes to be more real then the real. And yet paradoxes remain: According to the Boston Globe, there is a genre of Hitler Time Travel fiction…. See “Book review: ‘Life after Life’ by Kate Atkinson” By Eugenia Williamson:

Google the phrase “go back in time and,” and the search engine will suggest completing the phrase with a simple directive: “kill Hitler.” The appeal of murdering the Nazi dictator is so great that it has its own subgenre within speculative fiction, a trope known as “Hitler’s murder paradox” in which a time traveler journeys back far enough to nip the leader — and World War II — in the bud, typically with unexpected consequences.

Holocaust denial is a crime in some countries. As someone interested in history and evidence, I don’t really understand that. Denial is a step toward argument which is a step toward truth and knowledge I don’t like the idea of silencing dissent. The question is how we remember. How can we remember if there is no way to challenge the authority?

How shall we remember 9/11? Shall we forget the atrocity of our own blind actions? We insist upon the memory of the Nazi atrocity so as to pretend that we are not ourselves evil nazi. When we believe that Others are mindless zombies then we think we are different/better than they — but we are the zombies, killing and destroying the world without awareness or the means to change.

Dissident Voice: “How Mass Media Enable the Zombie Apocalypse” by James McEnteer

Two factions promote the prevalence of zombies in mass media: True Believers and Snarky Ironists. Believer media managers feature the living dead as hosts or guests to flaunt their twisted catechism. Media Ironists recognize zombies for the frightening freaks they are, but trumpet their grotesque views anyway to whip up outrage and energize their often demoralized “normal” base.

He continues by explaining that True Believers are themselves zombies (citing Fox News) but that also that Mockery keeps zombies like Newt Gingrich artificially alive:

The legions of political zombies who haunt Congress – McConnell, McCain, Hatch, Inhofe, Chambliss, Graham, et. al. – are a media cliché. Who keeps voting these creatures into office? Apparently others of their kind. Many so-called “reality” shows are mere zombie voyeurism: Survivor Housewives of the Jersey Shore.


Concluding:

When you start to notice them, zombies are everywhere. We tend to take them for granted. But giving them free rein is a fatal mistake. Zombies won’t be content until they convert every last one of us to their ghastly ghetto of ghouls. We’re fast approaching an apocalyptic tipping point. If we lived there we’d be home now. And we almost are. Klaatu barada nikto.

I am not sure about the “Day the Earth Stood Still” reference except: we must end wars!!! — but when we see the enemy as a zombie, we are sure to start shooting. In that movie, the alien decides we are not ready and that we need to stop villain-izing each other. But then again maybe it’s a reference to “Army of Darkness” or any of the other many mocking uses of that phrase -It’s a TV trope now What does it mean? Who cares! It’s provocative!. Recall there are NOT only two types of people, and these topics are far more deeply meaningful than any individual symbol could be.

So light a candle, say a prayer and remember that we invented duct tape and be happy to have kept surviving – we’ll all be dead soon, but we’ll leave behind some shit (symbols) please remember them and interpret them as we would and in so doing remember us and create yourself in our image … with Duct Tape we can hold the world together. (Oh and say a Mourner’s Kaddish for Roger Ebert, who taught us all how to be a critic.

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From → nazi, politics

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