3. Zombie Language and the Politics of the Living Dead
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Zombie Language and the Politics of the Living Dead
In a robust democratic society, language and critical thought have a liberating function. At best, they work together to shatter illusions, strengthen the power of reason and critical judgment, and provide the codes and framing mechanisms for human beings to exercise a degree of self-determination while holding the throne of governmental, military, and economic power accountable. Language in such a society is engaged, critical, dialectical, historical, and creates the conditions for dialogue, thoughtfulness, and informed action. Such a language refuses to be co-opted in the service of marketing goods, personalities, and sleazy corporations. Needless to say, it is a language that is troubling and almost always threatening to the guardians of the status quo. As Toni Morrison points out in another context, language that is troubling has a way of reading and writing the world, that “can disturb the social oppression that functions like a coma on the population, a coma despots call peace…[that makes visible] the blood flow of war that hawks and profiteers thrill to.”1
In authoritarian societies, language works to produce forms of historical and social amnesia, using the media, universities, and other sites of public pedagogy to cover the visual landscape with a coma-inducing ignorance. This political and moral coma allows the living dead to further experiment with those political mechanisms and social filters employed to freeze meaning, limit the discourses ← 52 | 53 → of...
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