The term “zombie” does not possess an adjacent concept in the written lore of vodun prior to 1938. In her account of the expeditions to Haiti and Jamaica in 1938 Zora Neale Hurston embarks on a discussion begging askance of the reality of these creatures. Hurston takes account of the residual shadows of colonialism and the dispossession of consciousness necessary to the creation of a monster.

Now why have these dead folk not been allowed to remain in their graves?”

(Hurston, [1938] 1990, p. 182)

The ethos of the zombie is proletarian. Its defining characteristics are that of the beast of burden deprived of a life outside of a two dimensional existence. Its only proportions are mental and physical. The zombie becomes trapped in an illusion of itself and can be assumed dead as others assume it so. It is a casualty of the working class.

To the awakening man the aspects of consciousness and existence are diverse. On a certain level man can dream, on another he can act on truth, choose his path, attain wholeness and be blissfully aware of the whole self. These dynamics are within the realm of spiritual reality. Two dimensional existence can be a form of ritual mortification. The denial of the whole self for the benefit of economic slavery however is not at all unique.

Awakening may be defined as a transcendence of the subliminal. To the zombie there is no realm beyond corporeal life. Consequently action is relegated to habitual needs. Techniques of transcendence use the bonding of reason to a constant presence of divinity. Displacing reason however poses its own set of problems.

It is the displacement of those transformative faculties which reason possesses which we despair.


Image Credit The American Crayon Company, Writing by Zena Nicholson