Thursday, September 13, 2012

Zombies, Contagion, and Civilization

So what's up with zombies? WTH have they been popular?

Being eaten alive is not the problem. Contagion is the problem.

Zombie narratives are about contagion and collapse. The life cycle of the uninfected human has two future patterns: Ongoing uninfection, or infection, death, and reanimation.

Uninfected humans are faced with impossible moral choices. Infected humans are faced with one impossible moral choice--suicide or no--and one impossible future.

Killing zombies is the easy part

The uninfected first must decide whether they're going to preserve, and perhaps rebuild, civilization. The uninfected bring with them their personal and cultural values, and each encounter is the opportunity to apply those values.

Yes, values can be applied through weaponry.

The question for the uninfected, then, is, "What values will we preserve?" This is a critical philosophical issue. Zombie narratives are not about zombies. They're about philosophical and cultural contagion.

The physical contagion vector is, on the one hand, the infected regardless of stage. The just-bitten may be treated charitably at first, but the life cycle is set. On the other hand, the cultural and philosophical contagion vector must be reckoned with every moment. Given a collapsed civilization, what do we discard, knowing that discarding values means discarding the people who carry them?

Put on your philosopher's cap. Then lock and load.

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