When the Zombies Come

Like all good genre writers, I love me some zombies. I even included some in my book. So when one of my favorite online magazines prints an essay of social analysis combined with zombies I am all over that:

And it is often so that popular culture, guided only by its intuitive and communal wisdom, sees what can’t be seen, but is nevertheless real. But having gained some trust in that, I was still confused by the rather odd phenomenon of the zombies. Why did this rather obscure Caribbean cult of people in a drug-induced catatonic state get so easily transformed into such an elaborate metaphor of the post-apocalyptic world? And why did they think that the world after the collapse would be filled with people stripped of their souls, stripped of all feelings, whether of pain or pleasure, anger or joy, who spent their time relentlessly pursuing one product?

And then it struck me: they aren’t looking into the future, they are looking at the present moment; and they aren’t looking at what will be done to others; they are looking at what has already been done to themselves. The image, so silly on its face, resonates with the young because they know, at some intuitive level, that we are already in the midst of the apocalypse, that the world wishes to strip them of their minds and their hearts and make them pure consumers, and relentless consumers of one product, the advertiser’s dream. They know, in their heart of hearts, that the world is out to get them, and means them no good. They have seen a deeper truth than anyone cares to admit.

The author is both more pessimistic and more optimistic than me. He thinks that we’re in imminent danger of social collapse (I don’t), but that some good things will appear in its immediate aftermath (I think it’ll take a lot longer than that). And the essay is adapted from an address given to a Catholic audience, but since I’m not a Catholic there are a few parts of it that I won’t wholly endorse. Nonetheless, it was a cracking good read.

1 Comment

  1. Or the unholy dead walking the earth stalking the living has always been a theme of evil stories. That’s what’s universal. Calling them zombies and connecting to a few popular early pulp movies rates a sort of “meh” on my scale of 0 to significant.

    Society is already gone, we’re just in the inertial phase. Modernism has such incredible inertia because of cheap food supplied by exceptionally cheap energy. That’s what appears to be holding it all together, not anything that could be called culture.

    As for what happens when this inertia runs out? Something horrible and then something we cannot predict, but we hope is a return to something more wise than the current ponzi scheme.

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