Zombies and Mythology | Our Favorite Things: The Bryan Edition


back to favourite things

As Jessica made clear in the last post, we thought it would be a good introduction to the blog by making a list of things that inspire and/or cause us to drain oodles of time in being obsessed over them. This is the first two for this week of favourite things. Submitted for your approval to… the Twilight Zone or Midnight Society, take your pick :)

1. Zombies

Over the last two centuries (and technically even before that) there have been multiple iterations of what can collectively be called zombies. Whether it is the George Romero initiated lore or that of the real-life Haitian zombification process, I dig me some undead gruesome creature. What is it that I enjoy so much about Zombies?

Amazing excerpt from “The Zombie Hunters” webcomic. Click image for link.

Science Fiction, especially apocalyptic or dystopic related, has always been a carrier of philosophical thought for me. A way for us to examine society and our flaws and potential future in both a succinct and artistic fashion. Zombies to me represent a couple things. For starters, the very fear of illness and death is manifested as some corporeal fiend, but it is also vestigially human – it can be especially dramatic if the zombie is a friend or family member. I feel this hits to the very core of the human condition in a way that few genres can.  This can be interpreted in multiple fashions that relate exclusively to the viewer:

As a cautionary tale of science, technology, and progress: much like Icarus (see next: Mythology) flying too close to the sun, our society metaphorically laughs at nature every time we develop a new vaccine or drug. The fictional man-made disaster of zombie apocalypse represents a warning sign.

As religious revelation-like justice: instead of born directly by man’s intrusion on nature, other zombie fiction involves zombies just occurring out of the blue seemingly as the wrath of God, in some form of the end of days –  punishment for being morally abhorrent.

There are other interpretations and of course the specifics are in the personal interpretation. The main thing addressed, which I think is genius, is that we are all part of the problem – cogs in the proverbial machine of society, but we cannot see, or touch it, to fix and change things. Zombies are manifested physically, and we can cathartically blow their heads of with a sawed-off shotgun! Boo yah! Metaphysics.

For examples of great zombie fiction see: Shaun of the Dead, World War Z, The Walking Dead, The Day of the Dead (my favourite Romero!), The Zombie Hunters (a great webcomic series), and The Serpent and the Rainbow (Wes Craven movie based on a non-fiction book).

2. Mythology

My love of mythology leans more towards that of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, but it doesn’t end there at all. I’d love to read more about Norse and Celtic mythology. I am even interested in supernatural mythology, such as the various “rules” involving werewolves, shapeshifters, zombies (obviously), and wendigos. (There’s an interesting article about why zombie flicks rarely step away from the traditional zombie rules here.)

I suppose what I enjoy the most about all of these things, and what they ultimately have in common, is they are stories about certain archetypes and what sort of instances led to their creation. Why I enjoy Greek Mythology so much is because they weren’t insistent upon making their gods and creatures perfect. The gods are often even more petty than humans in the Ancient Greek legends. Hera was a jealous, conniving woman (also Zeus’ sister/wife), Zeus was pretty much a philandering weirdo to the utmost extreme, and Heracles was rocking half a cantaloupe for a brain – he would literally try to threaten the forces of nature, like the sun and  to do what he wanted.

Pictured above: Most accurate portrayal in modern media

As I mentioned, mythology is an interesting way for me to look at the cultures that generate them. A source for all things mythology and urban legend has been Hometown Tales. They’re an awesome podcast (and also some videos) that I’ve listened to for at least 5 years. I especially like their feature episodes, where they’ll talk for 30 minutes about all the different mythos behind a certain object, creature, or general subject, such as The Spear of Destiny, Snack Cakes (ie. hostess, etc.), and Sea Monsters. The excellent television show Supernatural is also a constant source of modern twists on centuries of creepy and interesting mythological creatures and it’s a great tv show in its own right. One of my favourites.

(Jessica: My favorite myths are Orpheus and Eurydice, and the legend of Troy. I’m currently reading The Iliad! A few years ago, I read “Mythology” by Edith Hamilton and there was a bit in there about Norse mythology which I would also like to get into, and I took an art history course on east Asian art that piqued my interest in Japanese and Chinese mythology/religion.)

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Bryan can most often be found taking photographs for his commercial studio Cooper & O'Hara, but he also has a passion for cooking, zoology, travel, science, entertainment, design, and creativity in general. Email Me