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Investigative journalist and anthropologist Scott Carney has worked in some of the most dangerous and unlikely corners of the world. In the the first half, he talked about his explorations into cult psychology, and human organ trafficking in India, as well as the science that allows humans to push past their perceived limitations, achieve incredible feats, and endure extreme conditions. While directing a seven-day Buddhist meditation retreat in India, that included contemplating what it means to die, one of Carney’s students, Emily O’Connor, ended up committing suicide on the last night of the program. In her journal, she wrote “I am a Bodhisattva,” and she thought all she had to do was leave her body to become an enlightened being.
In the aftermath, in which various factions were clamoring for different parts of Emily’s body, Carney was led down a twisted investigative journalism path, discovering “hundreds of people, buying and selling human body parts in India, whether it’s skeletons, bones or kidneys.” Subsequently, he investigated a cult in Arizona called Diamond Mountain, where the death of Ian Thorson, echoed some aspects of O’Connor’s suicide and brought to light connections between intensive meditation and possible mental instability. He also detailed his most recent journalistic foray– studying with Dutch fitness guru, Wim Hof, and learning to control his body temperature in extreme cold, culminating in a trek up snowy Mt. Kilimanjaro clad in nothing but a pair of shorts and sneakers.
In the latter half, author, comic book writer, playwright, and writing teacher/lecturer, Jonathan Maberry discussed the movie that started the zombie craze, zombie subculture, folklore, monsters, Wolfman and more. When George Romero created his influential 1968 film “Night of the Living Dead” he had initially wanted to make “I am Legend,” Richard Matheson’s vampire apocalypse story, but the rights weren’t available. Thus, he riffed on some of Matheson’s ideas and changed the vampires into flesh eating ghouls, Maberry revealed. Romero recently collaborated with Maberry on a new anthology book, featuring stories that are set within a 48-hour period of when the original Night of the Living Dead took place, centered around a zombie outbreak at a farmhouse.
Zombies are a great set-up to a story, Maberry pointed out. Though they present a dire threat, the plot generally revolves around people in crisis rather than the zombies, such as in the hugely successful TV series, The Walking Dead. There are legends of flesh eating monsters in various cultures, he cited, such as the “draugr” in Scandinavia, a sort of ghost/zombie/vampire mix, as well as a flesh eating demon from the Middle East. Overall, there’s been a great resurgence in horror writing, as well as horror-themed films, TV shows, and games, and Maberry attributes some of the rise in popularity to social media and people sharing their interests and enthusiasms online.
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