Zombies, Vampires, Aliens and cyborgs


And now for (what I hope is) the fun part. Here are two words that may be new to you, or that you at least probably don’t use everyday: Meme: “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture,” and Zeitgeist: “spirit of the age, or spirit of the time.”

Inspired by students’ discussion of Science Fiction films, I got to thinking about some of the “memes” that abound in our culture, such as zombies, vampires, aliens and cyborgs, that we can’t seem to get enough of; this set me to wondering why such figures/images/characters/archetypes are so popular and pervasive.

Do we love them? Do we hate them? Do we love and hate them? Do we want to be them?

Why are we so fixated on the dead and the undead, the vampires and werewolves, the robots, androids and extraterrestrials?

These questions, and the thoughts that revolve about them, have led me to set up a new “bonus” Discussion Forum, that is totally optional and created for your curiosity and intellectual enjoyment, where, if you’re so moved, you can join in on a discussion of the subjects I have named and alluded to above.

You can discuss any aspect of these questions that you like, or anything else that comes to mind that seems related.

Why did Philip K. Dick say that what separates humans from androids is EMPATHY? What if an android develops empathy?

What if an artificial intelligence (an AI) can’t be distinguished from one that isn’t “artificial”? What if one that isn’t artificial isn’t very intelligent either?

Why did George Romero say that zombies shouldn’t be able to walk fast or run?

What films have been important to you in becoming enamored of, attached to, obsessed or fascinated with, terrified or confounded by any of the phenomena discussed above? What other cultural artifacts or processes or constructs come to mind?

What does our mass obsession, one might say our “consensual hallucination” (to quote Timothy Leary), say about us, our society, our culture(s)?

These are some of the questions I wonder about and that keep me up at night, and I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject(s), so please join in if you’d like. And feel free to keep this discussion going beyond the last day of class if you are inclined to do so. There’s no limit to the connections you can make; meditate on mermaids, or fairies, or wolverines, or spidermen, or yetis, or any other “other” image/figure/phenomenon you think is connected.

I look forward to reading your postings and thoughts.

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