Thatcher

Vampires and Zombies – Identity

Thatcher zombie

Human nature is stacked with contradiction.  The ruthless, people like Thatcher, summon hypocrisy and sweep it away.  Identity contains a paradox, the need to establish a sense of authentic self but a desire to belong.  We want to be independent yet require the group.  Thatcher, who preached individualism to defend her economic prejudices, mentioned the group when it suited.  ‘Is he one of us?’ she asked.  She believed that victors and the strong triumphed and that this was permanent.  Compassion should not be wasted on ‘them’.

But her revolution and its impact on modern identity undermined the notion of permanence.  Identity changes to suit the group and circumstances.  The authentic individual is obliged to be remote from others.

Victors impose their will.  Meanwhile, artists become obsessed about identity and retreat to isolation in search of authenticity.  The honest artists realise that, although we all die, nothing is as remote or as authentic as our individual death.  This is why death features in novels so much.   It permits philosophical suggestion but also attracts those interested in the remote and authentic self.

Most of us, though, settle for whatever identity is being defined for us at any particular point in history.  This will consist of politics, language, fashion, status and social and sexual behaviour.  Nobody should think he knows which is the most important.  Inevitably, many wonder if they are unlucky, that another point of history could have perhaps defined them better. The pragmatic will think that another day and another place and they may not have been defined at all.   Those who assume they are lucky, that they are well fed and have freedom denied other generations, still have cause for anxiety.  The group cannot be avoided but could they have responded differently to the group and become another person?   It is complicated and none of us know who we really are. This is what writers keep insisting.  No wonder that so many rail travellers prefer to play on their iPhone rather than read a book.  The iPhone consoles, insists that the present is the only option.  All is progress and you are who you should be.

But even non-readers have doubts.  Talk to any movie fan about their interest in the zombies and they will usually say, ‘It makes you curious as to whether you would survive, how you would be.’

Modern man and woman know that they have been shaped by society but are curious as to what they would be without the group. In the 60s, the alienated dreamt that a country cottage would help them discover their remote authentic self.  But the country cottage had TV and a fitted kitchen. Now we think that if we had to slaughter zombies, not only would we be redefined but the group would also change. This rather than the threat of the apocalypse is the drama and promise of a zombie story.  Something will prevail but who are the new ‘us’ and will they accept the rest of us when we are different?

 

Howard Jackson has had 3 books published by Red Rattle Books.  He has written 3 zombie stories for Zombie Bites, the new collection of zombie stories to be published by Red Rattle Books in October this year. If you want to read more horror click here

 

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Stagecoach To Somewhere – Brazil Report, April

First, some news about forthcoming Red Rattle Books – ‘No Money Honey’, endorsed by Tom Watson MP and influential campaign Red Wedge is now with the printer and due for imminent release.  Red Rattle will have a ‘Summer With The Vampires’ and release two horror books in July.  In October, Red Rattle will have an ‘Argentinean Autumn’ and publish books by Argentinean authors.  So keep reading this blog and look out for the new exciting Red Rattle website which is due very soon.

Stagecoach to Somewhere

Margaret Thatcher is dead.  The rumour is that her almost State Funeral will happen just around the time ‘Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead’ becomes number one on the playlists.  Unfortunately, for the woman, she died before her dream of creating a Britain that would match the polarised societies of South America had been fully realised.  But at least she died in the comfort of the Ritz hotel and knowing that the Tories were back in charge in Britain.  She must have been Thatchercheered to hear that child poverty is increasing again just like it did in her reign.  The project is back on course, prejudice against the poor is rife and as Brecht almost said, ‘we have a new bitch in heat.’   In her favour, the woman was never sniffy about destruction and carnage.  Argentinean warships, wrecked communities, beggars in doorways and destroyed industry were hardly likely to trouble a conscience pickled in the best whisky.

In comparison, the Tourist Board in Rio de Janeiro is a little sniffy.  They have recently managed to persuade Google to take the word ‘favela’ off their maps.  Instead, the communities where the poor are desperately huddled will now be referred to as ‘morros’, which means hills.  We can now pretend the thousands who live there do not exist or are somewhere else.  Not only does it help the maps appear much neater, it is always much more pleasant shopping and imagining a world without the casualties.  Hollywood leads the way but economists, Favela, Brazilpoliticians and historians are also capable of foisting on us less than complete dreams.    Free market devotees are right to say Communism could never feed the cities as efficiently as capitalism but they are much more coy about discussing the worldwide failure of private enterprise to deliver urban housing.  The record is not impressive but if we can describe slums as pastoral retreats without habitation why worry about the fate of millions of people.   Of course, some people are sniffy about slums that are obvious to the naked eye and they protest about the wasted lives within them.  The sniffy exist everywhere and, as we have discovered this week when the glory of Margaret Thatcher has been heralded non-stop, the sniffy have their suddenly politically correct critics.

Of course, even the Tourist Board of Rio de Janeiro has its sniffy moments.  Last week, 21 years old Carlos ‘Baby’ Armando Costa dos Santos appeared in court with two other men.  ‘Baby’, no prizes for guessing that his mother loves him, dragged from a bus a female American student and her French boyfriend.  ‘Baby’ and the two men he happened to be mentoring at the time sexually assaulted the American and handcuffed her French boyfriend.  Understandably, the boyfriend protested so ‘Baby’ and his mentors hit him with an iron bar.  As part of the development of his two mentees ‘Baby’ showed them how to steal the credit cards of his victims so energy drinks and alcohol could be bought.  ‘Baby’ was not just interested in sex.  He wanted everyone to have fun, well, apart from the French student he had to keep hitting with the iron bar.   Some people do not have a sense of humour, Baby’ probably explained to his mentees.  Unfortunately, that also included the American student, who was repeatedly raped.  Since the attack became public, 6 other victims have alleged assault by ‘Baby’ Carlos.  They were assaulted in a white van.  The Tourist Police Chief of Rio de Janeiro praised the authorities for how they responded to the recent attack.  ‘They did everything right’,’ said the Chief.  In a weaker moment, I thought that maybe practice makes perfect but I neglected what can be achieved with the right training and successful mentoring.  ‘The victims have had the correct treatment,’ said the Chief, which presumably means that they are being rebuilt.  Now, this response was anything but sniffy but unlike Thatcher the Chief did weaken and he did become quite sniffy.  ‘This case is outside the curve, it is not usual in the city,’ he added.

I should hope so because, if Prime Minister Cameron continues to exceed the South American fantasies of Thatcher, we could soon have some very worried white van drivers in Britain.  Thatcher was never sniffy but those devoted to greed and power invariably have strong stomachs.   The corrupt rarely sniff and the ‘mensãlao’ scandal, which continues in Brazil, is a reminder that some people can go through life without ever sniffing.  The mensãlao scheme was used by businessmen to buy political support and by politicians to raise cash.   Marcos Valério who has been sentenced to 40 years in prison, definitely not a retreat for

Lula

Lula

the sniffy, has claimed that ex-President Lula gave the corrupt scheme his approval.  Lula has actually been in London this week.  He has attended the opening of an exhibition by the Brazilian photographer, Sebastião Salgado.  The latest work of the famous photographer captures wildlife and human existence in isolated spots.   Previously, he has recorded the effect of upheaval on human existence.  He has photographed favelas, slums and the injured.  Salgado is a man who has definitely been sniffy in his time, but back to Lula.  According to Valério, Lula had negotiated a secret deal between Portugal Telecom president, Miguel Harta, to transfer £4.6m to the Brazilian Workers Party so they could build a more egalitarian society in Brazil.  Actually, that is not accurate.  Portugal Telecom were particularly interested in the future of, well, Portugal Telecom.  The transfer between the global conqueror and the staunch defenders of ordinary workers was made using foreign banks, no sniffy people there thankfully.  The money came from the supplier of Portugal Telecom in China, where being sniffy, of course, can ensure premature doom.   Even BMG who have the copyright on the music of Elvis Presley have been named in the scandal. Valério has stated that loans from Banco Rural and BMG have been given to the Workers Party.   No wonder the Brazilians welcomed ‘Elvis The Concert’ to Brazil this year for a successful tour by the King.  His record company is helping to fund the party of the workers.  None of these international breakthroughs would have been achieved if people had been sniffy.   Dead rock and roll monarchs, left wing trade unionists and global executives.  Amazing how the corrupt can shake hands with anyone, especially when money is involved.  Valério has claimed he has received death threats from Paulo Okamotto.   He is the director of Instituto Lula.  The Federal Prosecutor has reacted.  He wants some sniffing done.  He has ordered the Federal Police to launch an investigation into the allegations about Lula.   This is the first formal investigation into the role of the ex-President.  Sniffing is odd, easily and often haughtily dismissed at the beginning, then an accident happens and everybody wants to be a sniffer.  Lula has previously dismissed all the allegations against him as lies.  He now declines to comment.  Perhaps looking at photographs of the poor surviving in the extremes of nature has made him a little less sure about human destiny.  Personally, I do not want to be sniffy.  He is in London and he was a far better President of Brazil than Thatcher was of Britain.  Cameron should give him the recently vacated room at the Ritz Hotel.   Lula enjoys staying in comfortable hotels and the Ritz at nearly £4000 a night just about qualifies.  He can hang around and attend the funeral of Thatcher, talk to others about the progress that has been made in Brazil and share his disdain for the sniffy.   At that funeral, he will be in good company.

If you want to read more about Brazil click here.

If you want to read more about Elvis Presley and American culture click here.

If you want to read about Frankenstein click here.