The uncanny valley rears its head, a concept originally developed by Masahiro Mori about the moment when robots cease to seem realistic and begin to seem creepy. It’s an often-cited concept in videogames, and Gale compares cuteness in game characters like Nintendo’s Miis to the stuffed animals on Mori’s famous graph of the uncanny valley.
While I’m not sure if I agree that Miis are cute in the Harman’s sense (they still seem more Japanese-cute to me), the real meat of the post is about zombies, which find themselves in the very pit of the uncanny valley. To quote the author:
…as humanity is stripped away of language and of the ability to create and fantasize, it too becomes horrendous. In this way, I feel that OOP/OOO must deal with the creature that presents the true meeting of object and human â?? the zombie.
There’s already a bit of this in Collapse IV, which includes pieces by Harman on Lovecraft and weird realism, Reza Negarestani on philosophy and torture, and Meillassoux on mourning and death. And K-Punk and Harman have been enjoying a fruitful blog exchange about what the former calls grey vampires (“creatures who disguise their moth-greyness in iridescent brightness”). But Gale’s post wants to take things further:
OOP/OOO must deal with the zombie much in the same way Postmodernism (especially in Haraway and Lyotard) had to deal with the cyborg. However, instead of talking about how humanity will have become, OOP/OOO will have to talk about in what ways humanity is not unique â?? how we are all zombies. They must take up the zombie as a human representative since only in the zombie do we find the human as it â??reallyâ? exists, without any obfuscation.
They have always intrigued us, but zombies are immensely popular right now in popular culture, from the revival of Michael Jackson’s Thriller after the artist’s untimely death, to the cult zombie comedy sendup Shaun of the Dead to the popular videogame Left 4 Dead to the Jane Austen zombie parody pastiche Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. As USA Today put it a few months ago, “zombies are everywhere.”
Is it indeed the case that our collective interest in zombies signals the same overall dissatisfaction with contemporary affairs that the speculative critique of correlationism traces in philosophy? Might zombies be a symptom, in the Lacanian sense, of a broader and more general dissatisfaction? Could the dread that we face in the face of horror actually be not an existential dread, but an ontological one?