6:22 AM – Our pug-dog took a doberman’s form shortly after 5:00 this morning, protecting us with loud volumes from the neighbor’s morning departure to work. Who can sleep after such excitement? So I made coffee and began reading The Great Gatsby because I’m not sure who I fancy more: DiCaprio or Mulligan. Would that they were one person and I could eat them both in one fell swoop. Eh, this zombie series is getting to me.
“It’s why I get miffed at all the dashing around in recent zombie films. It completely misses the point; transforms the threat to a straightforward physical danger from the zombies themselves, rather than our own inability to avoid them. And these films are about us, not them. There’s far more meat on the bones of the latter, far more juicy interpretation to get our teeth into.” – Simon Pegg, from Nerd Do Well
I suggested in yesterday’s post that zombies – those suckers who were dead but now muck about devouring living people – pose questions of consumption and purgatory. I’m sure that zombies – read and fled by more intelligent minds – pose better questions than these, but let’s start with this question set, potentially amending to add more as zombie week progresses.
QUESTIONS OF CONSUMPTION : By their very definition, zombies are consumers. They consume living human flesh. But zombies also have been consumed. They have been consumed by death, by the grave, by the earth, and they have been regurgitated back to the land of the living by whatever force – witchcraft, biomedical weapons, electricity, acid rain, the Trumpet Blast of the Almighty – triggered their dead brains to re-awaken.
Once zombies rise, there are a few things we should take into consideration concerning zombie physiology and psychology. For one thing, we must remember that zombies are guided by cerebral electricity. Thus, as we all know, the only way to kill a zombie is by destroying the brain. Secondly, zombies have no beating heart. Blood does not course their veins. In the Western tradition, the absence of a heart means the absence of emotions, of convictions, of purposes and preferences. Without a heart, some might say, we have no soul. Therefore, zombies function beneath predatory animals on the evolutionary chart of survival. Whereas animals hunt and kill for the biological need to survive, zombies do not possess such survivalist demands. Nor do zombies possess emotions to enjoy the sport of hunting prey. Likewise, zombies do not kill other zombies. They consume above their station (ie. live humans or animals, if humans are not readily available) : not equal to (other zombies) or beneath (fungi? plant life?). Finally, just as zombies lack a circulatory system, their digestive system features a network of broken plumbing. Zombies do not digest the consumed flesh. Masticated material stockpiles in their bellies, by force of gravity, until their stomach walls reach maximum elasticity. You can imagine what happens next.
With these things in mind, we arrive at questions concerning zombie consumption : questions such as, why do zombies – not driven by emotions, biology, evolution, or even digestive pangs of hunger – consume living flesh? And what drives zombies to consume? Since their body systems are null, what in the zombie’s cerebral electricity compels them to seek flesh? Also, if zombie brains are essentially rewired human brains, what do their consumptive impulses say about our still living brains? Are we truly hard-wired, as the Romans and the films of Quentin Tarantino suggest, by God or evolution to destroy one another?
And on a spiritual scale one might point towards our most depraved human hungers since man’s fall in the Garden. Also, we could look at the physiology and psychology of zombies as a distinct line between humanity’s creation in God’s image rather than humanity created in the image of ashes-to-ashes earth. What does the image-bearer of God crave – life, peace, generational progression – compared to the image-bearer of earth – endless consumption, unsatisfied hunger, mere warmth?
QUESTIONS OF PURGATORY : One might suggest that any religion’s definition of an afterlife comprises that religion’s definition of man. This both bodes well for Christianity and signifies our greatest blight. In the Christian worldview, the soul of a believer is destined for a paradise of song and really good craft beer, while the unbelieving soul shall rot in an eternal fire of Oprah reruns and Ensure dietary supplement drink. This we know because, thus far, the Christian tradition has focused intently on where our souls go after death, but our discussions of what we leave behind in the physical realm – other than a “witness” and “the sins of the father on future generations” – is nearly null to void.
By adding zombies to the mix, we raise the question of what human life accomplishes on the earth. What ecological and evolutionary legacy does humanity leave behind? If we are destined eternally either to party or perish, what can be said of our remaining, ill-mannered corpses? Could zombies physically represent the purgatorial legacy of Capitalist America upon the earth – not purgatory in the sense that we account for our own sins and consumptions, but that our sins continue exacting and extracting upon the communities we left behind? While our souls are away – dancing or damning – what becomes of the rooms we occupied and the messes we left and the hallways we crop-dusted walking to and fro in our daily getting and spending and laying waste our powers?
This is far more than an environmental issue. Essentially, we must ask if we are leaving Heaven or Hell in our wake. Were such a question posed to George A. Romero, he would say the latter. And, depending on which Romero film one consults, he offers specific ways our lives reek of consumptions. Perhaps we’ll visit those titles eventually.