Me Read Good: The Serpent and the Rainbow

Just finished Serpent and the Rainbow, a moving little bit of nonfiction about a timid boy and the zombis who love him.

Plot: Harvard Anthro-botanist goes to Haiti, gets possessed by the loa, and then spends the rest of his vacation running around soundsystems and spilling all the tourists drinks to the dismay of various selecters. He makes friends, influences chickens, but unlike Limbaugh, does not need boner medicine to get the party started. Toad poison, mothballs, and gutter rum do the trick.

But, amidst his Hatio-hobnobbery he manages to figure out the whole zombi thing. SPOILER: It’s pufferfish venom. It slows the body to coma state for up to a week. Same thing happens to the Fugu Freaks in Japan. If the dosage is right, the person gets dug out of the grave, is shaken awake, gets the shit kicked out of him, and is then administered serious plant hallucinogens to destroy his short-term memory (Sort of like grad school, but with fewer long-term disabilities.)

However, this shitty ritual (henceforth shitual) exists within a sociocultural framework that supports the zombie story. Just like Mexicans see Jesuses and Virgins Mary in packs of Bimbo pre-toasted toast, and Americans think there is a red guy with a pitchfork forcing them to eat that extra piece of fried chicken and watch gay porn, the zombi is more of a social death than an actual one, aligned with ideas about the metaphysical underpinnings of how the world works. People chosen to be livin’ dead are basically dicks that folks don’t want around anymore. So even after the chumps wise up and figure out that they’re not really zombis, everyone still treats them like they are. Beats the shit out of call screening.

Good read. By the end of this anthropoligist’s depiction, voudon makes more sense than the bleeding Catholic tripe that the Americans tried to replace it with during the years of the occupation. No, no. The universe isn’t made up of numerous gods who temporarily possess followers during localized rituals to impart strength and wisdom. Primitive Idiots! Ridiculous beliefs! The truth is that God becomes a cracker and then you eat the cracker. And then you drink the blood. Which looks like wine. But it isn’t. Because it’s blood. But not pagan blood. Holy blood. And if you don’t believe that, well, you spend eternity with a little red man who has a pitchfork and forces you to watch gay porn.

Yay religion!

If you have enjoyed hearing about zombies and would like to know more, please to consult this fine tome.