A Socratic Perspective on the Zombie Apocalypse
by Max Maxwell
All Rights Reserved.
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In this essay, I will discuss why we love zombies and what zombies have to teach us about improving humanity. After I saw Zombieland, I began to wonder why so many people love zombies and have such an enduring love of movies that portray the destruction of civilization in a zombie apocalypse. One reason zombies are so popular is that they are us in simplified form. This connection between zombies and humans can be expressed through the idea of will power. Nietzsche saw the fundamental drive of all life as a “will to power”. If one interprets the idea of the will to power as an instinct, the most useful interpretation of this instinct is that the will to power is nothing more or less than our instinct to be willful. No human being ever experiences power other than in the expression of the will. It does not matter how great our wealth or influence. If we fail to express our will we fail to be powerful.
Humans pursue the expression of their will in a relatively complex diversity of ways. The zombie will to power, however, is simple. Zombies do not think about the future or about history. Zombies do not contemplate morality and ethics, become embroiled in political scams, aspire to scientific realization, fret about religion, or have any thought whatsoever about any of the thousand and one aspects of human life that make the patterns of our volition so complex. The zombie will to power is in the zombie’s complete devotion to fulfill one simple drive...to eat your brain. (Although Zombies may eat your flesh generally, brains are the favorite zombie snack.) Zombies do not care about what new artist will make the top forty. They just want to eat your brain. Zombies do not contemplate the relevance of environmental ethics on their daily behaviors. They just want to eat your brain. Zombies do not ponder the meaning of the universe or the status of their neighbor’s wealth. Zombies.Just.Want.To.Eat.Your.Brain. The zombie, although often stumbling in its motions and always unable to reason, displays a purity of devotion to eating brains that is impressive. All of the complexities of life are reduced, in the zombie mind, to this one, completely fulfilling, expression of the zombie will.
This reduction is illustrated in one of the lost dialogues of Plato in which Socrates engages in philosophical discourse on the nature of justice with a few zombies:
Socrates: Can you tell me, what is justice?
Socrates: Why are you looking at me like that? Aaaaahhhh!!!
(This was one of the shorter dialogues of Plato)
The entire zombie philosophy of life can be expressed in the following phrase, “Om nom nom nom nom.” (sound of eating) The simple minded, pure hearted will of the zombie to fulfill her one and only desire gives the zombie an endearing childlike quality. Zombies are like semi-dead, decaying, stumbling, verbally challenged children, who want to eat your brain. This zombie simplicity also has a pet like appeal, if you can avoid getting your face chewed off. This appeal may be part of the inspiration behind the movie Fido. In spite of the complexities of human living, the human will to power is also simple. Our simple will to power is merely refracted into the complex patterns of human living, giving us the illusion of greater complexity. However, the bottom line is that we are always following our simple instinct to express our will. Expressing our human will IS our experience of human power and is the human equivalent of munching on a nice juicy brain.
The actual experience of expressing our will, being the essential nature of human power, is often more important to us than the coherence of the action or idea that our will is expressing. This is part of what we are witnessing with the decline of reason in public political discourse in the United States. In spite of the complex maneuverings of political life, the basic reality underlying the philosophy of political groups is, “Om nom nom nom nom.” No matter what the rationales or complexities of thought (or lack thereof), political discourse can be reduced to the simple desire of different groups to gain more power through the increased expression of their will.
Politics is not the only realm for a zombie like will to power. The same is true of religion, nationality, race, class, gender and all of the other incidental group distinctions we tenaciously cling to during our attempts to be willful. Humans from all walks of life are following their biological instinct to assert their will. No matter how complex we are in our reasoning, our underlying motivations can be as simple as zombies. We are a lot more like simple, hungry zombies than we care to admit. The patterns of our living, to the extent that they are divorced from knowledge, resemble the lives of stumbling zombies. Without proper knowledge and understanding, we become enslaved to fulfill our simple instinct to express our will in a variety of destructive ways and do so at any horrific cost.
The main difference between humans and zombies is that, unlike zombies, our wills to power are immersed in mountains of verbal and conceptual bullshit. Here we can see part of the great appeal of the zombie. Zombies are more honest than us! It does not matter what the circumstances are, you know the zombie wants your brain. The zombie will not lie or rationalize. The zombie will not seek scientific or religious justification. The zombie has no ulterior motives. The.Zombie.Just.Wants.To.Eat.Your.Brain. In this singular, simple desire to fulfill herself, the zombie has an honesty and purity that makes even the saints and sages of humanity look like huckster pretenders.
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© Copyright 2009 Kenneth J. Maxwell Jr.