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Thursday, December 10, 2009
The most horrible thing is not death -- it’s being stuck between life and death, not being able to die and not being able to get better. People in this situation are called zombies. The American culture likes zombies because they make money. Just in the movies alone they are box office gold, although not quite as good as vampires who are also stuck between states.

Also, real people who are only partly dead lie in beds with a lot of equipment attached to them and suck up money -- not for the minimum wage people who keep them clean (hopefully), turn them and remember their names, but for the corporate investors who own the place. In the old days people just died. It was called survival of the fittest, but now we are forbidden to say that anyone is unfit. (I might say that corporations are mock-people who are unfit.)

I got “griefers” wrong in my Monday post, says Lance, and he is right. When I used to say stuff like the paragraph above, one seminary classmate used to tell me I had the mind of a troll. When someone on an early bulletin board accused me of being a troll, I thought he meant attacking sentimentality by doing what Thomas Moore calls “uglification.” But no. He meant I was trolling in the sense of fishing for reactions, trying to get people riled up. Which is a form of griefing, giving people grief.

So I looked it up on Wikipedia and discovered that their definition of the term is pretty much a description of THEM: WIKIPEDIA!

Griefing as a gaming play style is not simply any action that may be considered morally incorrect. . . . An act of griefing involves the following three types of actions to be considered grief play:

* The use or abuse of a game mechanic that was not intended by the game's developers.
* The inability of the victim to exact some means of retribution beyond utilizing similar unintended game mechanics.
* The intended purpose of an act of griefing must be to negatively impact the gameplay of another person.

Griefing shares much in common with laming, another term in online gaming, though the former tends to have stronger connotations.

The Wiki site includes examples in case you need to attack your playmates. For example, outside the game show format, “on March 2008, malicious users posted seizure-inducing animations on epilepsy forums.” The main way that Wikipedia griefs is by character assassination, posting accusations and rumors as though they were truth while suppressing positive information about the person’s life. Accusations of deception are handy, since the only defense is to disclose material that may cause unrelated others grief. Journalists love it.

In the sci-fi series called “Firefly,” a horde of zombies called “Reavers" were not only zombies but also cannibals, a lot like the old Iroquois Windigoes, who were solitary monsters who were always starving and pursued people to eat them. The Iroquois ecology was a tough one and no doubt some people did resort to cannibalism, but in modern times our cannibals tend to be more products of insanity, like David Bar Jonah in Great Falls who killed and cooked up little boys and fed them to the neighbors. The case was never taken to a jury. Bar Jonah died in jail. He could not be convicted of his worst crimes because the mother of the main boy in question insisted that the child was alive somehow. She thought denying evil would make it go away. Denying that evil and griefers exist will only cause them to grow bigger, stronger and more common.

So we end up half-knowing and half-not-knowing which is very much like being half-dead and half-alive, not being able to clear things up and not being able to walk into the full horror and dispatch it. Griefers always assault the weak, the vulnerable, the innocent. Because they consider them to be losers, so they probably can’t hurt back. We have a funny thing about losers in this country: we consider them fair game. It didn’t used to be like that. We used to talk about the stuff on the Statue of Liberty. We thought that was part of being American. Jesus also defended such people.

There’s an old man in town who is hooked on horror films. He doesn’t watch anything else. No one else wants to watch with him and they don’t understand his love for them. The only explanation I can see is that horror films constantly obsess on the half-dead. I think he thinks death is like losing and that maybe zombies are able to keep the game from ending. I think he’s looking for survival tips.

Some say science is to blame, the Frankenstein factor, where “electricity” can create a monster. (Nowadays it’s DNA fiddling.) Also, the “monster from outer space” that can’t be stopped. (“The Thing,” filmed not far from here.) Then there’s the end of the world (Cannibal griefers on the road in Cormac McCarthy’s latest film) and the political oppressors (so many . . .) or the invasion of madness from within the body (“Psycho.”)

It’s interesting to know that the basic dynamics of “Firefly” came from despairing aftermath of the Civil War. “ style="font-style:italic;">">Whedon developed the concept for the show after reading The Killer Angels, a novel chronicling the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. He wanted to follow people who had fought on the losing side of a war and their experiences afterwards as pioneers and immigrants on the outskirts of civilization, much like the post-American Civil War era of Reconstruction and the American Old West culture.” In short, the people who populated much of Montana. They knew that to lose is to starve, and so did the Indians, because they DID starve. Still do.

One of the newspaper’s biggest advertisers here is the hospital. They send a constant barrage of ads about preventing cancer, strokes, heart attacks, diabetes (never AIDS and not hospital-created antibiotic infections) -- scaring everyone half to death. (They don’t mention money.) They are griefer/reavers who scare us, then promise that if we buy their “protection” they will prevent our deaths, only eat our money. They think we are losers.

And we are. We all eventually lose when we face death. That’s just a natural reality, not horrible. Horrible is stuck half-way dead. We can be kept halfway dead for a long time. If you can pay for it. Of course, we could pay for a lot of healing and the prevention of starvation, if we had the political will. But needy guys are losers. So is this a zombie culture? Afraid to let the past die to make way for the future? Stuck halfway?


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Comment by Marc Boudreau on December 15, 2009 at 3:21am
I enjoyed this post. I also would like to add that Cormac McCarthy's novel (not a film - the film is someone else's work) The Road, describes the utterly stuck world the zombie griefer's may be preparing.

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