My mind not only wanders: sometimes it leaves completely.
This is a fact (as well as something written on one of father person’s t-shirts). My mind is apt to wandering so completely that when I opened my school planner to write a reminder to the effect of read Pliny introduction, what I actually wrote was why do zombies want brains?
After staring at it for a few seconds trying to work out why it looked wrong, it occurred to me that that hadn’t been what I intended to write. Nor was I sure what I’d been thinking about to bring that to mind. Nevertheless, being ready to improvise and try and explain myself, I started to consider the question.
Why do zombies want brains?
I wasn’t really sure what I was asking myself. I mean, did I want to know why actual zombies wanted actual brains, assuming that they were real? Or was I looking at something deeper than a biological craving for brains, at the philosophical reasoning behind writers of zombie fiction for this characteristic? Of course, after I’d considered this for a while, I ended up with the zombie ninjas song stuck in my head (and now you can too!), but the question remained.
An undead creature incapable of rational thought craves the brains of living humans, right? That’s basically what we tend to consider as zombies, isn’t it?
Well, why does it want the brain?
Perhaps the zombie’s longing for the brain is an unconscious desire to regain the capability of thought that it lost when it became this twisted, undead creature. It no longer has the intelligence to recognise that eating the brain of another will not return its cerebral functions, so erroneously assumes that it’s a way back to becoming sentient. And why not? After all, we are what we eat.
At this point, a friend looked across at what I’d written in my planner and said, “Are we zombies?”
I considered this. Perhaps we are. Perhaps zombies are the writer’s reaction to a world where intelligent thought and reason has been lost, and where people are driven by simplistic, mistaken desires in the hope that they will give them back the level of being they feel they have lost. Perhaps it has a theological message: in turning away from faith, humans have become lower creatures, and are destroying the faith of others in an attempt to regain their own.
There is philosophy at work here. Somebody, somewhere has looked at society and said, “We are zombies.” And they have created books and films that reflect this, but society is missing the point. Society thinks, “These creatures are awful. And fictional.” Maybe they think the zombies are funny, and write them into humorous stories. But that first Somebody is looking at society saying, “You are destroying my creation because you are incapable of seeing that you have lost your own ability.”
We are zombies.
I turned to my friend and said, “Perhaps philosophers are showing us this through films because nobody listens to them anymore. Zombie fiction is their reaction to reduced credibility in the modern world.”
The philosophers are reasoning: “The desire of zombies is not driven by a desire to gain intelligence. Rather, it is driven by a desire to regain intelligence. It is only because they unconsciously know that they have once had that brainpower that they are now searching to find another way of obtaining it, though it is causing death.” And then they are saying: “People seek what they are feel is their entitlement, something that they have been denied. But frequently their attempts to obtain power or affection or status results in destroying the life of another.”
And philosophers are showing us this in a basic form: a creature incapable of rational thought eating the brain of another.
That, my friends, is why zombies want brains.
But this tangent has been long enough. Perhaps now I ought to amend that note in my school planner to read Pliny introduction. Or, better still, I should read the Pliny introduction, and then the note would not be necessary.