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Happy Halloween 2013

October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween 2013.

This post is going to be somewhat more personal than typical ZombieLaw posts.

I can’t believe it is already the end of October again. Where does the time go? I guess it just recedes into some kind of Proustian narrative, so here we go, a moment of Halloween reminiscence from the blogger of ZombieLaw:

This blog began at the conclusion of a graduate research group that had been attempting to study creativity and group formation from a systems theory and cognitive psychology approach. We wanted to do something for “creativity” like Bruno Latour‘s analysis in “Pasteurization of France” does for Pasteur, using magazine records to trace the formation of ideas about bacteria and hygiene. I was personally very interested in Anonymous as a group (excited by LulzSec’s summer and an entire twitter community sailing under #anon flags – not knowing then, that Sabu was a government false flag, still loving the leaderlessness). I was trying to apply Latour’s ‘no group only group formation’ to Anon culture when Occupy Wall Street happened. The research group gave me an opportunity to email the group with random article links related to what we were talking about… I became increasingly interested in the “zombie” as political metaphor used frequently in these articles about hackers and protesters… the semester ended, the research group went separate ways, and so I started blogging what I had been emailing them, focusing on the “zombie” and posting links.

The idea for the case book was always an idea for a series of case books. Zombie just took off and I keep going with it. That I haven’t made a “creativity” case book yet is almost incomprehensible to me, except that I thought there was something easier in these monster-creatures and thought “zombie” something actively developing as an opposite to creative, maybe I could get my mind around it. I was wrong. The zombie metaphor set is perhaps richer or as rich as creativity, as complicated and evolving and even after all this blogging and thinking, I am as lost in these words as I ever was.

But I edited a book.

It’s not a great book. It’s collection of texts and court case names. It’s over 700 pages and includes over 300 cases. I underestimated how difficult it would be to condense this much case material. And first I had to teach myself how to make a book at all. So I made the Werewolf book, and the Red Herring book, and the Mad Scientist book, and a Cocker Spaniel book. And I kept on blogging the zombie links … a lot of zombie links. And I also blogged the Ninja cases (a book for that soon). So yeah, I worked on a lot of different things and maybe the zombie book should have got more of my attention. But this is all part of one large project. I call it “Law of the Horse”.

“Law of the Horse” is a phrase from Judge Easterbrook that was used for debate by professor Lawrence Lessig. The controversy regards the teaching of cyberlaw and whether law is best studied as a set of abstract general rules and not as a collection of object relations. Judge Easterbrook’s “Cyberspace and the Law of the Horse” (1996) cited Gerhard Casper for the point that:

“Law and . . . ” courses should be limited to subjects that could illuminate the entire law. Instead of offering courses suited to dilettantes, … the best way to learn the law applicable to specialized endeavors is to study general rules. Lots of cases deal with sales of horses; others deal with people kicked by horses; still more deal with the licensing and racing of horses, or with the care veterinarians give to horses, or with prizes at horse shows. Any effort to collect these strands into a course on “The Law of the Horse” is doomed to be shallow and to miss unifying principles.

But this ZombieLaw project IS “suited to dilettantes”. Unlike Scott Greenfield I don’t object to slakoisie, quite the opposite, I think they are my target audience. So ok, my Kickstarter funded last year, I didn’t actually expect it to, I was really humbled by all the support from people in my life that I never expected would reach out like that and from strangers who just valued the idea. That’s really all it was, an idea, a good idea but harder than I expected. It’s still not quite done.

What I have today, is a pdf file. I think it’s the book. If there are noticeable minor edits I think I can still change them, but I think I’m basically done. It was very hard to cut these cases down so much. I wanted to leave so much more text and ultimately I caved to the page requirements of CreateSpace so that I can publish it there after the first bound publication for Kickstarter. I still hope to get those out this year, but I also acknowledge that I have failed so far to live up to any of my own expectations so I shudder to think what issues will arise next.

Art is a tough gig.

I take inspiration from George Pfau. He contacted me through the internet because he is interested in zombies and liked this blog. When he was in New York, we met for lunch. Since then, he has sent me a zombie print he made and now he has a new project about zombie landscapes– see Boing Boing “Zombies in the landscape” by Cory Doctorow. Both of these guys (Pfau and Doctorow) are just awesome. I don’t really know either of them but George’s perspective on zombies seems directly in line with my own, and Doctorow just keeps covering the best viral stuff. So congrats to George on media attention. It’s nice to be recognized by members of the larger community.

Which is the amazingness Halloween – to seek recognition in the community but wearing a mask – like how Ninja Turtles gain identity from their masks —

And community, is also the amazingness of the Kickstarter – not so much that it sent me six-grand as much as the wonder of a crowd out there that wanted to motivate a project that I wanted to do. In this case, I think it never would have happened without that motivation. I mean, I wanted to do this but so much of the impetus for actuality can be attributed to being forced to make something happen once the Kickstarter funded and I was committed. I would still be mulling these ideas and not actually started any of it but for being forced to some sense of community deadline.

My expectations quickly fell off schedule, within the first month the power went out during Sandy. When the power returned, all my stuff was fine, so I really can’t complain about Sandy at all, but the week of powerlessness was disturbing. Then came the 2012 election, the zombie-Mayan Apocalypse, the Taxmageddon fiscal cliff, and increasing talk of zombie foreclosures. So all that Zombie Congress metaphor-shifting consumed my attention and the books quickly fell behind schedule in early 2013. By the end of this past summer, I was (in my mind) about four months behind. Since September, I have been working frantically to complete this zombie collection. Frantic is not a good way to work on art. Deadlines motivate, but good art takes patience.

Nevertheless, done is better than perfect. And this is not the end of the project, first, the book still needs to be bound in a nice copy, and that’s the current priority … but then there is so much more to do, so many more creatures to collect. And also I want to create shorter versions of these books too. Eventually, I would like each creature-character to be available in long casebooks but also in comic book size. Maybe I should have started with the shorter style, but instead I have really tried to hold on to as much of the court text as possible. With Werewolf and Mad Scientist, this was possible because there were so many less cases. Zombie has forced me to really cut the hell out of the cases. In fact, I am somewhat saddened that so much of the material fell on the cutting room floor but that kind of dispassionate cutting might actually be more useful than I originally expected. Most people are not going to want to read an entire court opinion, so most people a prefer the shorter versions but I tried to keep as much as I could of the more important decisions.

Art is a therapeutic process and I’m not dead yet.

To all my fans, Happy 2013 Halloween, thank you for continued reading and thank you for your patience. This whole project is sort of killing me but I am still really glad it is getting done. Art is sort of bizarre painful therapy and sometimes we just need to freak out. See Wired: “People Lose Their Sh*t in Hilarious Haunted House Photos, Part Two” by Jakob Schiller about freak-out pics:

“People just like to come here and get the crap scared out of them,” says Vee Popat

And ChicagoNow: “Scaring is therapy for this professional zombie” by Kim Z Dale about working in a haunted house:

The ScareHouse is an awesome place to work. This will be my second season there and I’m looking forward to many, many more. I’ve always said that while getting paid to scare people is awesome, it’s more of a personal therapy for me.

This reminds me of education generally. Sometimes you need a good scare, or to give a good scare, or to grind out a hard project, and sometimes a little monetary incentive can help get things started, but it’s the commitment that sees it through … who knows why we do what we do … but we keep trying…

The ZombieLaw book is coming… and other books are coming too… and the zombie book pdf is ready for those who donated on Kickstarter – I owe you at least that much as October ends — bound copies soon and wider release to all soon (if you want an advance copy, use twitter: @lawzombie to DM email addy). And the project continues…

Happy Halloween!

Happy fourth quarter of 2013. 2012 was a stormy year. 2013 has so far been mostly playing catch up from the turmoils of last year, which are still the turmoils of the last five, or 10 or 20 or 100 (longer!) – one continuing resolution after another. We can’t sleep but can’t wake up either. Zombies herding wild horses but Nature refuses the Modernist’s false dichotomies — we live in a Latourian hybrid-blend: “We have never been modern“, post-modern, trans-human, zombies are our fathers; thanks mom! A bunch of parts in a blender, that we may become exquisite corpse within an internet of anonymous community. nom nom…

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From → Academics

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