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In Vertigo's series iZOMBIE by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred, the existence of classic monsters in that universe is explained through the concept of the oversoul and the undersoul. From Wikipedia:

The "monsters" in iZOMBIE are explained via the concepts of over- and undersoul. The oversoul (as in Ralph Waldo Emerson's The Oversoul) is "seated in the brain, contains the thoughts, memories, and and personality", while the undersoul (as in Michael McClure's poem Dark Brown) is "seated in the heart, contains the appetites, emotions and fears". Ghosts are thus bodiless oversouls; poltergeists, bodiless undersouls; vampires bodies without undersouls (thirsting for emotions); and zombies, bodies without oversouls. Revenants, like Gwen, are unique in that they possess both oversouls and undersouls. Souls can also "infect" the living, which accounts for the possessed and werewolves and the like.

My question is, has this concept ever been applied to monsters before, or is this appropriation a unique characteristic of iZOMBIE?

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That doesn't make sense - if the undersoul is the source of emotions, then why would vampires have a desire for emotions? Assuming they still have an oversoul, seems like they'd be more like Lotus Eaters - or possibly Vulcans. –  John C Oct 25 '11 at 15:41
    
I assume they desire emotions because they lack them; they want back what they lost. This whole theory was explained across a few double-page spreads in an issue, so I'm not sure how condensed the Wiki explanation is. I will check my issue when I get home and include more info if the Wiki article omitted it. –  Brett White Oct 25 '11 at 15:58
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It's not nearly as old as Chinese legends, but as a scifi example, Forbidden Planet has a somewhat similar idea. –  Jefromi Oct 25 '11 at 18:42
    
@Jefromi: ...which is in turn based on Freud's id and ego/super-ego. –  jwodder Oct 25 '11 at 20:35
    
@jwodder: Right, thanks, probably should've mentioned that. Just wanted to provide the scifi monster part of the concept. I don't think Freud wrote any zombie flicks! –  Jefromi Oct 25 '11 at 22:57
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4 Answers

up vote 25 down vote accepted

The basic idea of the body having multiple souls, and a "monster" being the result of one of them remaining in the body after death, was one I borrowed from the Chinese legends of the Jiang Shi (the "Undead," sometimes known in the West as "hopping vampires), but expanding that idea to account for all manner of western monster types was original to iZombie.

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...Well there you go. Word of God - can't ask for a better answer than that. –  Jeff Oct 25 '11 at 18:31
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Welcome! It's nice to see writers participating on SE. Thanks for signing my iZombie #1 :D –  Origami Robot Oct 25 '11 at 18:34
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We're not worthy! We're not worthy! –  OghmaOsiris Oct 25 '11 at 19:00
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I cannot say for a fact that this has never been used before, but I'm fairly well versed in these matters and have never heard of it.

Google searches for those terms are...difficult, given the Emmerson piece and the band..but given that the band doesn't seem to be crazy popular, I'd have to say Google doesn't know much about the subject.

At the very least, the terminology is unique to iZOMBIE. The concept also seems to be unique, though it's certain to be inspired by something (although I cannot say what inspired it, or to what degree).

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A similar principle is used by James Rollins (writing as James Clemens) in his Godslayer series but applied to "gods" rather than monsters. That said, the gods could sometimes be considered to be monsters in the books.

In this example the "gods" are beings who are made up of three parts:

  • The part the peoples of Myrillia normally interact with
  • The "aethryn" part which is "good"/"light"
  • The "naethryn" part which is "evil"/"dark"
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Best example on 'undersoul' critters? "Forbidden Planet", a scence fiction movie audacious in that WE fly the flying saucers, a whole civilization's suggested by its artifacts, and its use of straight-up Freudian psychology.

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