Why Vampires and Zombies are So Popular with Secular Humanists, by Timothy Gordon

The cultural phenomenon is undeniable: vampire and zombie phantasmagoria is in its heyday, especially among Gen-Xers and younger. The dis-ensouled human form, both the high (the vampire) and the low (the zombie), has swept the nation in movies, TV shows, books, graphic novels, and even spoofs. The vampire has become the golden boy for the New Humanism, the zombie its greatest scapegoat. From a religious point of view, these modern tales of alienation happen to tell far more about the soul of the culture which situates them than the lack of soul within the individual zombie or vampire.

First, a brief caveat: I disclaim no inherent immorality appurtenant to the consumption of this sub-genre. I’ve viewed some of these films myself, of course. Zomb and vamp flicks are not themselves immoral or perfidious. Rather, they reflect the abiding lack of morals and good faith–the nutritive supplements of the psyche–of the generation which authors and cherishes them. These creatures reflect the soullessness, in a word, of the culture that has embraced them.

In a secular age, a dis-ensouled human form like a zombie or a vampire becomes a natural item of fascination for the class of young, urban metrosexuals which has been immersed from the cradle in the day’s agnosticism (more pervasively than the older generations, who experience cultural apostasy as something of a sea change, even as they affirm it). Both the vampire and the zombie lack souls and, as such, seek constantly to fabricate existential meaning for their lives, ex nihilo. But the zombie does so in a flatly insufficient manner, seeking the taste of brains alone.

The irreligious youth recognizes the facially unfulfilling nature of the zombie’s quest and presupposes instead the veracity of the vampiric creed, out of hand: the “person” is seen no longer as composite body and soul, but rather as body alone; soulless, the individual is no longer directed toward anything; existence becomes painful loneliness, as love has become eros and no longer caritas. Genuine human communion is thus impossible; one creates one’s own private meaning. And meaning is most lucratively created when done at the expense of others, save for an arbitrarily chosen beloved, who is set aside as sacrosanct. The vampire’s otherwise Hobbesian modus operandi is suspended–without an articulable reason–for his beloved.

Unfortunately, I have just described the weekend mood of the average nightclub attendee, across this land.

Recall what Whitehead wrote about scrutinizing an epoch for its truest self: “look not to its suppositions, but to its presuppositions.” In short, stories of the vampire and of the zombie really represent the new, secular, anti-Aristotelian De Anima, both poles of the ontology of desultory soullessness. They constitute the secularist’s credo on the soul: the quandary arises on account of mankind’s lack thereof.

To a post-theistic generation and its cosmos, the vampire represents all that remains a secular desideratum, being “beyond good and evil,” physically virile yet delicate, outwardly attractive, atheistically immortal, intelligent without acknowledgement of the intelligible barriers to total behavioral license (except for an occasional moral whim). Androgynous and yet still anthropomorphically alluring, the “modern vampire” is the re-vamped (pun definitely intended) Nietzschean übermensch, a “brute, blonde, if pale, beast.” He can basically do as he pleases, act decently or not.

And yet, for all his attributes, still he skulks and ever wrings his hands. This is the secularist’s version of humility. The vampire has postmodern angst. He’s “emo.” In short, he is everything the secular humanists hold dear and have striven after for two centuries.

Okay, but then why the zombie? What has that rube got going for him? He has no existential inner conflict like the vampire. He’s not smart. He’s not handsome. He doesn’t attempt to nurture even the selfish, erotic love of the vampire.

Read the complete article in The Imaginative Conservative

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Powered by WordPress | Designed by Kerygma