Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Undead and Philosophy ed by Richard Green and K SilemMohammad

In Which I Finish Reading a Book
Our internet was down so this post and two others are waiting in the wings to be posted. Which is probably a good thing. Now I can just sit back and post back written posts until I catch up with the housework. I had a bad vertigo weekend and am still not feeling strong but I have to do something before I get buried under the piles in some random never before seen earthquake in Georgia.

I finished reading The Undead and Philosophy: Chicken Soup for the Soulless edited by Richard Green and K. Silem Mohammad. I should confess that I do not particularly like scary movies. I think most of them rely more on shock and gore than true suspense and fright. My ex husband, on the other hand, loved horror movies. He was especially fond of George Romero’s zombie movies and we owned the trilogy (there has since been a fourth movie made) on vhs. If I had my choice I would have preferred watching vampire movies. Not that I didn’t enjoy watching the zombie movies occasionally. I especially enjoyed the sardonic ones, the zombie movies that were designed to mock themselves. Night of the Comet. Return of the Living Dead. And, more recently, Shawn of the Dead.

With this much core background in my own cinema experience, I figured I would enjoy this book of the Pop Culture and Philosophy Series. I liked a few of the essays. Three. Maybe four. But for the most part, I would have to say that this one was less cohesive than the others (Buffy, Harry Potter, The Matrix—for those of you trying to keep up with what I have and have not read in the series). I liked that they did not have a strictly zombie section and then a focus on vampire section. Mixing up the essays made it easier to work through, frankly. However, most of the essays focused on Romero’s zombies or more recent vampire movies (Frances Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Interview with a Vampire.) What mention was made of the spoof zombie movies was vague and inconsequential, almost dismissive. There was one essay that attempted to explore the significance of Halloween, tracing its history to Celtic roots which suggested that this is probably all new to the reader. Gee . . . thanks for assuming I am ignorant and that you, oh dear essay writer of Celtic history, are somehow enlightening me as I read. 

Thankfully, the tone of condescension was not endemic throughout the text. Still, I would have liked to have seen more discussion of more undead. What about Freddy Krueger? Jason and Micheal . . . perhaps a compare and contrast? And let us not forget Frankenstein who, like the more humorous zombie movies, merely gets dismissive allusions here and there throughout the text. The potential for this book to deeply explore existentialism, the definition of self as body, even the socio-political and sexual dynamics of these movies were overlooked. (Thank you to those contributors to this collection who referenced Barbara Creed’s The Monstrous Feminine: Film, Feminism, and Psychoanalysis. If nothing else I am coming away with a new “to be read” book on my list!)

While other books in the series seemed to have tongue-in-cheek fun (Buffy) or beat the same philosophical argument beyond the point of death (Okay, I get it. Plato’s cave parable and The Matrix. I get it!), this book was just all over the place. In previous editions of the series, the essays were organized thematically in an almost point/counter-point manner (Harry Potter and Buffy). So over all . . . A for effort but this book does not only not live up to its own potential but it does not live up to the standards that other books in the series have established.

 (I will be reading more of this series and up next are any of the following . . . none of which I currently own: Lord of the Rings and Philosophy: One Book to Rule Them All 
Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful Than You Can Imagine 
Superheroes and Philosophy: Truth, Justice and the Socratic Way
The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy: The Lion, The Witch, and the Worldview 
The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D’oh of Homer

 As of this review, I am ranking the books by personal favorites as follows:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Loathing in Sunnydale 
Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts 
The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real 
More Matrix and Philosophy: Reloaded and Revolutions Decoded 
The Undead and Philosophy: Chicken Soup for the Soulless)

Edit:  Because I have since added to my collection I shall have to update this list.)

This week August 13 through August 19 This week you demonstrate your big heart and willingness to help others. Monday, the Moon enters your sector of service and volunteerism, and, with your customary flair and desire to get things moving, you spend a lot of time coming up with ways to help out someone you know is in need. You pick up the phone, call agencies for advice, and manage to enlist a lot of support for your associate. That's a great boon for him or her, especially since this person isn't able to do it. Chalk up a gold star for yourself.

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