UT professor’s new book explores zombies, gun controlWritten by Jay Hathaway | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A University of Toledo professor is releasing a book that takes the gun control debate into a new arena — one occupied by zombies.
Brian Anse Patrick has written several books on an array of topics, including propaganda and gun culture. Patrick’s next book, “Zombology: Zombies and the Decline of the West (And Guns),” is set for release this spring.
The book will discuss the recent fascination with “zombie culture” from several different angles.
“The idea behind it is that the zombie phenomenon that we’re experiencing right now in popular culture represents a disturbance in the Western collective unconscious. It’s sort of Jungian,” Patrick said.
Patrick explained that this “disturbance” is a type of anxiety that relates to the decline of the West, which the professor asserted is more pervasive in people’s minds today. The zombie is studied as a symbol of this trend.
“We [Americans] feel like we’ve sort of lost our inheritance, or that we no longer have these dreams of things like the Blessed Virgin,” Patrick said. “Now we have vampires, werewolves and zombies. These things cause a lot of anxiety. It is very much what Carl Jung called a ‘visionary rumor.’ It includes any kind of collective group phenomenon of fascination.”
Patrick cited the UFO fascination of the 1950s as a comparison, saying it represented a fear of nuclear war.
“There are all sorts of anxieties the zombie represents. They come in hoardes, which could represent overpopulation,” he said.
Patrick said zombie culture has adapted well to gun culture.
“It turns out that zombies provide a politically correct gun target,” he said. “Why not shoot a zombie?”
The Detroit native is no stranger to gun culture. He published his first book, “The National Rifle Association and the Media: The Motivating Force of Negative Coverage,” in 2002. It was written as an extension of his doctorate dissertation from the University of Michigan. Patrick said that at that time he had begun to take a strong interest in how gun culture “mobilized.”
“People hated the NRA, and I wondered how they managed to survive,” Patrick said. “I looked at the relationship between the NRA, media coverage and public opinion. I discovered that the NRA was treated negatively in the media, compared to other mass interest groups. Nevertheless, the NRA benefited from this coverage. It was an astonishing correlation.”
Patrick’s second book, “Rise of the Anti-Media: In-Forming America’s Concealed Weapon Carry Movement,” continued his fascination with America and guns.
“[The book] was concerned with how this concealed carry movement started in Florida in the mid-1980s, spread all over the country and prevailed despite a lot of top-down opposition from a lot of organized professionals,” he said. “My basic conclusion showed that it succeeded because these groups formed what I call their own ‘anti-media’ — communication systems benefited by computer media and so forth. They were like the early Christian churches — like men in the catacombs, though in virtual space.”
Patrick rereleased a revised print of his third book, “The Ten Commandments of Propaganda,” in January. The professor has been using the book as part of his Persuasion Theory class at UT.
“It’s essentially an attempt to codify techniques of propaganda,” Patrick said. “It’s sort of a usable guide [for propaganda], or you can analyze it. It’s a set of commandments that can serve either the positive or the negative.”
Patrick said he came to the conclusion that propaganda is probably not a good thing, but it is inescapable.
“It’s an essential social lubricant for modern times. Propaganda is kind of like junk food — it’s better for the people making it than it is for you,” he said.
Patrick’s sense of humor is evident throughout his writings. Additionally, his publishing group, GoatPower Publishing, recently released a biting satire, “The Dictionary of Academia,” written by the mysterious Professor I.M.A. Ruminant; some people allege Patrick is the real author of the book.
“‘The Dictionary’ is kind of an abrasive book — it’s satire. It has some rough edges, and some people don’t like it, but others do,” Patrick said. “The best comment I’ve heard from readers was from an intellectual couple who told me that they take turns, when they go to bed at night, reading to each other from the book. I haven’t heard a better compliment.”
Patrick also thinks his tendency to mock academia has led many to suspect him of being the author. However, he cited one of history’s most well-known opponents of bureaucracy to explain his own view of mockery.
“My attitudes are a lot like Martin Luther,” he said. “You can mock an organization, but not necessarily be someone who mocks the ‘thing.’ I believe in universities and what they do. They represent very much what we are, in many ways, as a Western culture.”
Patrick’s open-door policy makes his office a popular choice for students seeking some intellectual conversation.
“Dr. Patrick is a passionate advocate for students,” said senior Kristy Kissoff. “Even if I would go to his office for one thing, I would always learn many more things because of his experiences.”
However, Kissoff said not all visits call for dialogues on thoughtful matters.
“He never hesitates to play the banjo or tell goofy jokes when I come to his office and am stressed. There’s nothing more stress-relieving than seeing professors that would be normally be professional and stuffy having fun with their jobs.”