The other day, during a meeting in which we reviewed the course offerings for the spring term (yes, really, all of them), it became obvious that the university was offering no fewer than three courses on zombies this semester, along with two one witches/mystics. I never really got caught up in zombie-mania (that whole not-having-a-TV thing means that I never got addicted to The Walking Dead), but I have to admit, the fact that a student could practically minor in zombies at my place of employment shifted my perspective a little bit.
What is it about zombies, anyway?
asked an old friend this question over tea the other morning; she works
at a university press and was, herself, just about to go write copy for
a book on this very same topic. Her theory, which she'd borrowed from a
co-worker, was that zombie-mania comes in waves, altering with
vampires: that when the economy is tanking, we find fascination in
vampires (a metaphor for our own guilty consumption), and when things
are looking up, we like zombies: exuberantly consuming everything.
Someone actually tracked this, and while the correlation is imperfect, it's not implausible. But it doesn't get us anywhere.
another theory: that zombies allow us to express our fear of
ourselves. Of the unknown, the unpredictable in human nature. The
erratic infection that reanimates some humans, the frightening evil that
lies embedded within us. The thing that makes us heartless, soul-less,
and nearly impossible to kill. Because of all of the scary things in the world, zombies are just like us. They are us. And they're out to get us, too.
sort of prefer the second theory, probably because I'm a humanist and
not an economist. I'm interested in (among many other things, of
course) the things within us that destroy us. What makes people evil?
What makes us self-sabotage, and be willing to eat others alive? What
makes us lose our souls? How do people prepare for the zombie
apocalypse, and what does this mean about our own defenses against the
dark arts? This is, to me, the more interesting question for the
college classroom. It makes minoring in zombies seem like a worthy
I'm not sure we'll ever get a satisfactory
answer to that question; that's not what the humanities are about.
Studying patterns of zombie behavior isn't likely to protect us against
them any better (though the writers of copious zombie survival guides
would argue differently, I'm sure; they would encourage me, barn-owner that I am, to get the app.).
Then again, maybe it's like going to therapy: if you figure out the
patterns of behavior, and can recognize them early enough, maybe there
are some souls--even your own--that you can save?
you a zombie-lover? What do you think about the fascination with
zombies? Are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse, just in case?
The cauliflower just looks like brains, right? Once you blend it up, only your inner zombie has to know.
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
8 leeks, trimmed and finely chopped, white part only
2 onions, finely chopped
1 cauliflower head, finely chopped
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced
4 bay leaves
4 c. chicken broth
2 2/3 c. milk
salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter and oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven over
medium heat. Add the leeks and
onions, and saute until just beginning to caramelize. Add cauliflower,
potato, bay leaves, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and
cook, covered, until the
cauliflower breaks apart easily with a fork, about 15 minutes. Discard
Add the milk,
salt, and pepper, and puree until smooth, either in a blender or with an immersion blender.
Top with shredded cheese, toasted almonds, creme fraiche, or snipped chives.