I am almost certainly not the first person to have noted this phenomenon, but it struck me the other night, as John Jantunen and I were having beers at The Albion, that perhaps our society’s recent obsession with infectious monstrosity, our love affair with zombies, vampires, and werewolves, is a symptom of a culture that is itself infectious.
As our watching and reading and listening is increasingly dominated by the viral, and as our relation to others is increasingly dominated by the exchange of this viral culture, we have become little more than hosts for cultural infection. We exist more and more only to be infected and to infect others, not by accident, but by decision, as the degree of our exposure to the viral and our capacity to infect others becomes a mark of social stature. We are a community of the infected, and our status is determined by the degree of our infection.
This is perhaps why our representation of infectious monstrosity has grown so sympathetic. As we recognize ourselves and our behaviour in that of vampires and werewolves, we humanize these creatures in order to justify our own infection. In this sense, the zombie apocalypse has already come and left us as mindless spreaders of infection, with only just enough humanity remaining that we still try to humanize our monstrosity.