AmericanStranger on the Zombie Apolcalyse. These ravenous and unproductive consumers, agents not of an end of history but of "the continuation of history by other means", could be described in terms of biopower and biopolitics, but the tireless production through narration, perpetually shocked, interrupted and jolted by image, that the movies represent hint at the limits of that formula, especially when it comes to the expression of the egotism and conscious animosity of the narrating class:
The zombie (as fully realized by Romero), on the other hand, is a loathesome creature capable of inspiring only instant revulsion. It's very stinking, malformed presence puts the lie to any hope one might hold of the beyond, not only existence after death, but the atheist's dream of peace as well. There is no peace in a universe of exchange. Zombies remain dimly conscious, though any sense of dignity that might be assumed to correspond with this rudimentary capacity for self-awareness is stripped away. Zombie-ism turns its victims into slack-jawed mockeries of their former selves, presenting us with the ultimate anti-metaphysical perversion: both the subject and its body may die, but desire (as drive) lurches on. Doctor: "It wants me! It wants food! But it has no stomach, can take no nourishment from what it ingests. It's acting on INSTINCT!" The zombie 'wants' what is useless to it, which is 'life.' Slaves to an illusion, zombies are ugly, stupid, slow, and banal. Like anything so single-minded, zombies are hilarious, but you are always laughing at them, maybe a little nervously. Everything you do is at them. It is not possible to want to be a zombie, but it is so easy to become one, and this is why zombies couldn't be more terrifying to even a modestly socialized American. Zombies, as creatures of drive, are the opposite of freedom...
...the entire structure of the narrative, as a post-apocalyptic narrative, is a bourgeois construction, implying/reproducing an ideologically bourgeois audience. While it is capable of creating identification with a) the throwback elitist as tragic figure or b) some middle-way position (usually occupied by the protagonist), the actual agent of the apocalyptic event is always alien, whether it be an asteroid from outer space or a monstrous figure of the crowd, global warming or lumpenproletariat. In any case, huge segments of reality are reduced to mere figures for the liberation of the middle-class psyche, a worldview that easily carries over into one's consumption of CNN or the New York Times.
Paul Féval, Preface, La Vampire:
We undertake to recount a tale, historical it's true, but bourgeois, with features neither of court intrigue, nor military victories and conquests.
It is simply a page from the secret biography of that giant called Paris, who, in the course of his life, had so many adventures!
Jacques Rancière, Les Noms de l'histoire:
Une histoire, [signifying in French both 'story' and 'History'] in the ordinary sense, is a series of events which happen to subjects generally designated by proper names. Now the revolution in historical science has rightly desired to revoke the primacy of such series of events and proper names to the advantage of the longues durées and the lives of the unknown and anonymous. With this, historiography has simultaneously asserted its membership in the scientific and also the democratic age. Une histoire, is also, in the second degree, the account [récit] of these series of events attributed to these proper names. And the account is characterised by its incertitude with regard to the truth of the events related and the reality of the subjects to whom they are attributed. Things would be all too simple if one could say that all History [histoire], according to the expression, is nothing but a story [une histoire]. The property of une histoire is always to be able to be and simultaneously to be able to not be une histoire....
...The science of history constitutes itself against the diverting story or historical romance. It is for this reason that the historians of the old school relied on the rigorous inspection of sources and the critique of documents. It is for this reason that the historians of the new fashion have absorbed the lessons of geography, statistics and demography. Thus the materials of historical construction must be sheltered from the fabulising of opinion and literary turns. It remains that the material is nothing without an architecture. We know it, in the sense of the common expression: to know something is to not have to think about it. That about which we can dispense with thinking is this: history is susceptible only to one single architecture, always the same, and that is this: this series of events happened to such and such a subject. One can choose a different subject: the monarchy instead of kings, social classes, the Mediterranean or the Atlantic instead of Generals and Captains. We nonetheless must face the same leap into the void against which the rigors of no auxilliary discipline can offer any guarantee: we have to nominate subjects, we have to attribute to them conditions, status, affects, experiences.
Jacques Rancière, La Haine de la démocratie:
This double spring of the critique of the revolution permits us to understand the formation of contemporary antidemocraticism. It allows us to understand the inversion of the discourse of democracy which followed the collapse of the USSR. On the one hand, the fall of the Soviet empire was, for a very brief time, greeted joyfully as the triumph of democracy over totalitarianism, the victory of individual liberties over statist oppression, symbolised by the rights of man championed by Soviet dissidents or Polish workers. These 'formal' rights had been the primary target of the Marxist critique of democracy, and the collapse of the regimes built on the pretention of promoting a more "real" democracy seemed to indicate their resurgence. But behind the welcome accorded the assertion anew of the rights of man and of rediscovered democracy, the inverse was produced. From the moment that the concept of totalitarianism was no longer useful, the opposition of a 'good' democracy of the rights of man and individual liberties against a bad egalitarian and collectivist democracy fell, as well, into desuetude. The critique of the rights of man resumed immediately all its rights. It might lean in the direction of Hannah Arendt: the rights of man are an illusion because they are the rights of that naked man who is without rights. These are the illusory rights of men that tyrannical regimes have chased from their homes, from their nations, from all citizenship. Everyone knows how much this thesis has regained favour recently. On the one hand it arrived opportunely to support these humanitarian and liberatory interventions by States undertaking, as military and militant democracy, the defense of the rights of those without rights. On the other, it inspired the analysis of Giorgio Agamben, making of the "state of exception" the real content of our democracy. But the critique can also lean toward the marxist manner that the fall of the Soviet empire and the weakening of the movements for emancipation in the West have made available, anew, for all uses: the rights of man are the rights of egoist individuals of bourgeois society.
The point is to discover who are these egoist individuals. Marx understood these as the possessors of the means of production, that is the dominant class for whom the State of the rights of man is an instrument. Current wisdom understands this differently. And in fact a series of slippages suffices to grant to egoist individuals a completely new face. First we make a replacement everyone will allow us - that of "egoist individuals" with "avid consumers". Then we identify these avid consumers with a new socio-historical species, "democratic man".
Aimé Césaire, Discours sur le colonialisme:
Finally one must take sides and say once and for all, that the bourgeoisie is condemned to become every day more irascible, more overtly savage, more shameless, more completely barbaric; it is an implacable law that all decadent classes see themselves transformed into the receptables of the sewage of history; it is a universal law that every class, before it disappears, must, as a prelude, completely dishonour itself, in every way, and it is with a head buried in manure that dying societies emit their swan songs.