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Classic Monsters in Pop Culture
Archer
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Post: #1
Re: Changing opinions
Chordal Wrote:To think from that perspective is to think from the body-consciousness, which in itself is horrifying. You can see the symptoms of this culture's illness as regards the nature of death by the recent popularity of zombie fiction. Speculation that even leads to the thought that you'll be trapped in your body as it decays...it really just does not seem right to me, especially as someone who has such a strong linkage with the problem of death, change, and rebirth.

Totally OT, but I think you're missing the point of zombie fiction - which on the whole absolutely does not suggest that "you'll be trapped in your body as it decays". When zombie fiction asks that question (it doesn't always) the general response is that "you" died on becomming a zombie, or beforehand; the thing walking around trying to feast on the flesh of the living isn't "you", it's just something that looks like you. Arguably it's what's left after "you" leave your body and as such it very much separates the ideas of identify and of flesh.

The main preoccupation of zombie fiction is that without meaning in life, even the living are basically zombies - and that modern life in general has conspired to replace meaningfulness with ever more overpowering desires to acquire and spend money. Zombie fiction doesn't say "you are your body" - it says "if your existence is just about an endless quest for material wealth, you're no different from a zombie who's existence is just about an endless quest for brains to feast on."

It's there in The Walking Dead when Rick proclaims "WE are the walking dead!", it's there in Dawn of the Dead when the survivors find safety in a shopping mall, it's there in Shawn of the Dead when the (very British) survivors get refuge in a pub and mistake the zombie plague for typical Sunday hangovers, and it's there (subverted a little) in 28 Days Later in which everyone, whether infected or not, is a victim of rage in one way or another.

If the recent popularity of zombie fiction means anything much, I'd say it's not that people see body death as horrifying - it's that they see lack of meaning as horrifying.

Ubi Dubium, Ibi Libertas

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2011-01-07 1:45
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Post: #2
Classic Monsters in Pop Culture
Archer Wrote:Totally OT, but I think you're missing the point of zombie fiction - which on the whole absolutely does not suggest that "you'll be trapped in your body as it decays". When zombie fiction asks that question (it doesn't always) the general response is that "you" died on becomming a zombie, or beforehand; the thing walking around trying to feast on the flesh of the living isn't "you", it's just something that looks like you. Arguably it's what's left after "you" leave your body and as such it very much separates the ideas of identify and of flesh.
It could have to do with the fact that we've seen different representations of zombies. My knowledge of zombie fiction is in no way encyclopedic -- it just doesn't hold my attention for that long, and I don't seek out exposure to it. I do know about its popularity, however.

What I'm drawing off of are largely "Resident Evil" (the movie), "I Am Legend" (which I didn't see all the way through), and I realized the other night likely "Thriller" (the Michael Jackson video). Interestingly enough, "Thriller" does include the lyric, "...and rot inside a corpse's shell."

In Resident Evil, which was...not the greatest zombie movie -- and the zombies weren't literally dead -- but, the concern was more not to become the monsters surrounding one. It didn't seem to be a social commentary, aside from the idea that we shouldn't be making biological weapons.

I Am Legend, I didn't get to see all the way through. I think I saw it halfway through (to the point where Will Smith's dog defends him from the zombie dogs), and got interrupted. I may have seen this one more than once, but never past that point.

In all three of these, the lingering humanity of the zombies are a key point of the horror. And it could be that I've missed some religious undertone of soul and body being separate because I haven't been inculcated with the idea that a zombie is a living body without a soul (rather, a zombie is someone exposed to blowfish toxin).

Personally I'm more interested in Philosophical-Zombies than zombies, but I'm guessing that's a more subtle form of discourse on the idea of Qlippoth...

I should add before I go that I realize that I got into a point where I personally was generalizing about the meaning of certain forms of art, and that meaning in art is normally highly subjective. So even though what spurred this tangent was an offhand comment, I'm not certain I should have made that offhand comment.

Got to go.
2011-01-10 0:18
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Post: #3
Re: Changing opinions
I'd argue that Resident Evil isn't a "zombie story" in that the horror doesn't come from the concept of zombies - it's a "survival horror" story in that the horror comes from the seemingly impossible task of surviving. (I saw the first film once, years ago, and I remember nothing much about it - but I'm guessing it's connected to its computer game roots.) Re I Am Legend, which I loved (though I can totally understand why fans of the book felt very let down by it), the antagonists are far more vampireish than zombieish. Interestingly I don't think it has any of the hallmarks of classic vampire fiction (usually vampires = danger of sexuality), but there is a hint of "modern life is killing us spiritually and physically" (classic zombie trope) in the sense that the vampire-zombie creatures were the result of humanity's attempt to beat cancer and thus exert itself over "nature". (In other words: accept your limits and you will flourish; try to make yourself immortal and you will perish.)

So yeah, I Am Legend is a fun one like that.

I'm not well acquainted with Frankenstein, but I'd say the concept of a Frankenstein's monster might be closer, at least in its archetypal realisation, to dealing with issues of body death =/= soul death. Certainly IIRC the human characters seemed to find the idea of consciousness and life inside dead flesh horrifying . . . I'm not an expert though, so that's sort of out of my ass.

Finally, while I'm not aware of much symbolic meaning of werewolves, perhaps because I don't think there have been many (any?) canon works about werewolves either in print or on screen, I think it is verrrry interesting that there was the massive subtext of lycanthropy = HIV/AIDS in Harry Potter. On the milder end of the scale you have werewolves being discrimated against overtly and covertly (parents not wanting "someone like that" near their children), it being an illness once thought to be effectively terminal but now effectively treated by strong, life-prolonging medications, and it being passed through bodily fluids. Then a bit more intense you have things like the fear and guilt accompanied by werewolves wanting to have children, the fact that the idea of a werewolf and a regular human having sex seemed actively disgusting to a lot of people, the paranoia those near werewolves had of being infected . . . And right at the end of the line of "OMFG!" you have Fenrir Greyback, who is infected himself, and takes pleasure in infecting other people, especially if they're children or young pretty men <!-- s:shock: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_eek.gif" alt=":shock:" title="Shocked" /><!-- s:shock: -->

Now, I've allowed this to flow wildly off topic mainly because I love horror (though I hate splatter-fiction). Here's what's relevant, though. A lot of these concepts are so powerful because they have huge symbolic meaning to people. When you go to watch a film, you can enjoy it on the level of how well the fictional world is created, everything fitting together, or you can enjoy on the level of asking what it's trying to say about "the real world". (Or both together, of course.)

A werewolf isn't just a werewolf. A zombie isn't just a zombie. A vampire isn't just a vampire. Tying in with other reasons for otherkin beliefs are just those concepts. Is a connection with dragons a sign of being dragon, or does "dragon" stand for destruction, wisdom, power, wealth, fear, or something else? Does feeling all dark inside mean you're a shadow - or does it mean you don't understand yourself so subconsciously black out everything inside? The same questions are there for every type, and every individual.

I think in general when people come to otherkin forums there is a real pressure to not ask those questions of oneself. Admitting "Yes, I think that kintype I talk about might just be symbolic of my messed up childhood" is also like saying "Yes, I am no longer part of this group and community!" - and one thing for sure, most humans are grrrreeaaat at being team players in groups and communities.

Even if it's something that's very hard to question publically, I think all otherkin should definitely be willing to privately ask themselves how possible it is that their beliefs are symbolic.

(*whew* - back on topic)

Ubi Dubium, Ibi Libertas

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2011-01-10 2:15
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Post: #4
Re: Classic Monsters in Pop Culture
Split to further the discussion on classic monsters (zombies, werewolves, vampires, etc.) and how they've evolved within popular culture. Please continue as this proves to be interesting!

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2011-01-10 14:15
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Post: #5
Re: Changing opinions
Archer Wrote:A werewolf isn't just a werewolf. A zombie isn't just a zombie. A vampire isn't just a vampire. Tying in with other reasons for otherkin beliefs are just those concepts. Is a connection with dragons a sign of being dragon, or does "dragon" stand for destruction, wisdom, power, wealth, fear, or something else? Does feeling all dark inside mean you're a shadow - or does it mean you don't understand yourself so subconsciously black out everything inside? The same questions are there for every type, and every individual.

I think in general when people come to otherkin forums there is a real pressure to not ask those questions of oneself. Admitting "Yes, I think that kintype I talk about might just be symbolic of my messed up childhood" is also like saying "Yes, I am no longer part of this group and community!" - and one thing for sure, most humans are grrrreeaaat at being team players in groups and communities.

Even if it's something that's very hard to question publically, I think all otherkin should definitely be willing to privately ask themselves how possible it is that their beliefs are symbolic.
I, uh, I should be getting ready for bed right now, but I wanted to pick this out and try and organize a response to it so you don't have to wait so long next time. ^_^; and so I don't forget what came up (hazy as it is anyway, at the moment).

Symbolic beliefs. I do appreciate this community being more grounded than, say, the *cough* Indigo Children *cough* communities I've looked in on, in the past <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: --> ...what a relief it would have been there to see people investigating psychological reasons for thinking they were Indigo.

I'm not particularly aiming at making this personal, but it's what I have to work with, so...anyway. It's pretty apparent that if we're looking at the entire otherkin pheno...mena (eh, sorry <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->) as psychological in nature, this does account for changing and multiple kintypes. Thinking about one's own kintype as resultant from one's formative experiences in childhood...especially for dark types...it's interesting to think on why we would gravitate to this, and I'm not entirely certain here whether this would be indicative of our own opinions of ourselves. Our self-images, probably definitely; but the subjective self-judgment on that...is hazy.

Though granted that in my experience there is a marked re-valuation (to re-value something, I'm not using this in the monetary sense) of my worldview which doesn't particularly mesh well with the Dominant Paradigm ™. The re-valuing is not complete in me, so I'm not totally out there...I can understand people who don't understand my standpoint, unfortunately the opposite is obviously not true.

There's also the theistic tangent here (in polytheism specifically) that I could work off of, but somehow I think that belongs in the Religion forum. But basically why one would gravitate to one deity over another...which fits in with something I wrote somewhere else on this board fairly recently, though I can't recall where (or what it was), right now.

But this then also brings in what may very well be imagining; a.k.a. "visualizing" the presence of a deity. Granted that my imagining was coupled with psychiatric symptoms, so that's some pretty strong stuff. <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink --> But if we're on the idea of all of this being mentally generated, seems like a lot of this falls into the category of..."soft evidence"?...in the sense of hard science vs. soft science...I just did a quick Google on the term, and I'm using it in a slightly different sense. Hard science I'm using as dealing with quantifiable facts, objective reality; soft science as dealing with thoughts, emotions, subjective "reality," things you can't prove exist, but which nonetheless matter. So...imagining the presence of one's deity wouldn't really be quantifiable. If one was hallucinating while imagining the presence of one's deity, the hallucination would probably be quantifiable (in terms of hyperactivity of a certain brain area). <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink --> But the presence of the deity? Not so much.

Symbolic beliefs. Right. It's interesting, because if we're looking at this from the standpoint of symbolism, I'd pretty clearly be demonkin, at least in my own mind. Looking at this from a different angle (the "I have a bunch of reptilian traits" angle), things morph somewhat and then we are uncertain, but the uncertainty provides safe harbor from the -- at the very least, predictable potential -- judgment leveled internally or externally on one for being demonkin. And then the only people you've gotta worry about are the ones who hate reptiles... <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: -->

I mention the deity because sie ties in with the demonkin stuff fairly strongly, though to be honest I haven't been really pursuant of that tangent recently -- being the demon jeweler is quite enough. <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue -->

I'm being told to go to bed ^_^; Mmnh. Okay. I'll be back late tomorrow afternoon.
2011-01-11 8:18
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Post: #6
Re: Classic Monsters in Pop Culture
Alright, back. Sorry for the delay. ^_^; What was I going to write about?...

Ah, right. The fact that I tend to freaking forget that I'm plural and that I'm sensitive...hence not everything that is acting through me *is* me. However, I've tended to stay away from places that would validate this belief, being that the largest one I know of has ties to a questionable cult.

Bell was the first one of these other "selves" I was conscious of. Recently there's been Snakey (she still doesn't have a name); and as I was reading over what I wrote last night, I realized that the being I recognized (at least at one time) as a deity may be another who was largely active in the past, and helped me get up the will and drive and passion to live. This would be the being I wrote about in "Love and spiritual lessons" over in the Demon subforum, though I didn't realize until reading over my earlier writings tonight that he could have been influencing my own state. That is, not only did I sense him, but he acted through me and (knowingly or not,) influenced my thoughts.

...which seems oddly intimate, but whatever.

Earlier, I was talking with my dad about how today I was preoccupied with identity, temporality, and reincarnation, if I'm recalling correctly. It was a fairly deep discussion on my end, though I didn't continue to press... I'd also been talking separately with Mom earlier, about wondering whether DNA was a sentient molecule. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> Which bridges off of something I wrote earlier where I was saying that the body has no self-form, but had to qualify that as not speaking about DNA. Whereupon I realized that DNA is the closest thing a body has to irreducible self-form.

The DNA question has been reached as I've realized that Buddhism, to me, is more of a philosophical and psychological approach and exploration and possible healing method, than it is a religion. This becomes very clear to me on finding that the greatest use of my Buddhism study is to help those who are afflicted with pain or obsession, and to clarify when someone is caught in duhkha. I've been getting the point that Buddhism is a healing technique and not inherently a religion from multiple angles, though it didn't really strike me clearly until recently.

I've also realized -- a gift that has come from Shakyamuni not talking about metaphysics in the "after-life" sense, is that there has been no codified orthodoxy within Buddhism as to what to believe about metaphysics (if I'm using the term "metaphysics" correctly). Which means that everyone is free to believe what they believe, on that level. The lack of defined orthodoxy isn't a flaw, it's an opening for the flourishing of many ideas, some of which may be right. On that note...

...for a while I've had the experience of thinking that spirit is a field. A field that we move through, without which we would all be P-Zombies. (This parallels Archer's description of darkness with different "textures", but to get into a discussion on that right now would break the flow.) A P-Zombie (Psychological-Zombie) is a being who acts just like a normal living being, but who is internally empty. I don't mean empty in the sense of shunyata (everything being preceded by a cause, therefore there being no true "self"), but empty in the sense of...lacking anything beyond physical functioning, despite being fully physically functioning. The question can be asked as to whether that's even *possible* -- whether it is possible for all the signs of consciousness to exist and for there not to be consciousness; or inversely, whether it is possible for a qualitative consciousness to exist without the physical signs of consciousness -- and I think the question is probably quite important, though asked in an occlusive way. That is, it's asked in a way which probably isn't getting at the core nature of the phenomena (as, in my view, it focuses on the individual and not the system which includes the "individual"), and maybe we need a workaround via a more effective question.

So in my current hesitant paradigm, spirit is a field which we in some way move through. I'm not entirely certain how it is that certain concentrations of "spirit" appear to me, but I know that they do. They may be self-generated: my own projections, or they may be objectively existent in some way which we don't understand yet, and may not be able to understand with our present equipment (the human brain and all its tools...I doubt we're as smart as we tend to think we are).

So anyhow...the question that is asked, both in the group I mentioned in the introduction, and faintly in my own mind: once the other spirits are stripped away, what is left? Who am "I"? Am I a vessel who retains memory, always filled with spirit of some form or another as I move through the field of spirit; just occasionally (though now more frequently) noticing sets of puzzle pieces which look like they're from different puzzles? Am I a hub who lets through spirits, some of whom I know are not the same one? Am I actually a medium? Is *everyone* a medium, and I just notice it -- or they have more or less permanent spirits who speak through them, while mine share time? Is *that* why there's the gender confusion? And the confusion over my core nature, and the reason why I seem to change so frequently, and not have a stable (even from day-to-day) idea of who I am, what I like, what I want?

This has been edited down. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> Yes. Really. If you have any thoughts on this that aren't hostile, <!-- sBig Grin --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- sBig Grin --> it could be an interesting discussion, for me, too. (And yes, I do realize that the thread strayed from "classic monsters"...)
2011-01-12 6:34
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