Many modern, urbane, sophisticated zombies like to pretend that we don’t eat brains. It’s an understandable kind of pretense. Eating brains is shameful. There are no zombie heroes in our fiction who haven’t overcome the adversity inherent to their identity. It can’t be done, in the public imagination. Cannibalism evokes such an ingrained reaction of disgust and revulsion that no one can consider what an entire species that needs to eat brains could mean, and how to deal with that.
There’s one simple defense of brain eating that hasn’t been attempted; eating brains is best for everyone. The dead aren’t using theirs. If they’re uninterested in resurrection, there’s little to no reason to leave the brain untouched. I’ve brought up this point before when urging folks who wanted one to get a DNR stamp on their license, but here I’m making a more nuanced point: it’s possible that giving the brains of the dead to zombies is the only ethical method of handling them.
Zombies require human brains to survive. This is a well-known fact. As long as acquiring brains is difficult, illegal, or otherwise stymied by society, zombies will inevitably do so in less and less ethical ways. The need for brains is indelible, and so trying to prevent a zombie from eating them only leads to bad incentives. The zombie kept away from brains will not only act in desperate ways to acquire them, but will eventually, if they fail, enter a berserker state, endangering themselves and everyone around them.
Until we can produce synthetic solutions which provide the same benefits to zombies that human brains do, we must be vigilant to prevent new problems from springing up. Any solution to the problem of zombies requires accepting our need for brains first; the rest can come after.
With our berserker rage and our superhuman regeneration capabilities, zombies can seem infinitely dangerous to the unarmed non-zombie observers. Though zombies can be very destructive when enraged, they remain at their previous levels of strength. What zombies do that makes us so threatening is that we ignore pain.
During a rage, the usual sensations that accompany pain don’t reach the brain. A zombie will not stop when the pain starts, they’ll power through it. The discomfort, the blood loss, and the soreness mean nothing to a berserker. Eventually, other effects from these injuries will catch up to the zombie, but not before some serious damage has been meted out. However, anyone aware of this can use normal means to overpower a zombie.
The human body naturally has several patterns that recur periodically. Without the art of biorhythms, studying the rhythms of the body is fairly useless; the body’s ecosystem is fairly delicate, and the conscious mind can overcome and equally, subvert, natural variation.
The easiest of the cycles to access magically is the intuitive, because it’s the most responsive to the trance states common in magic. To get in touch with it without magic, spend time doing some mindless work, and alternate that with meditation. This promotes the right mental habits to access the intuitive rhythm.
Accessing the other biorhythms is beyond the scope of an introductory post.
The Auditor (2013) was the first film to pit Christian values against zombism. It was inevitable. While religious people had been suspicious of zombies, they’d been divided on how suspicious to be. The more progressive preached tolerance. The more traditional preached segregation. It was a simple debate, lacking in nuance.
The titular auditor doesn’t have any interest in finances. He audits souls. Every kindness is balanced against every cruelty. The movie begins with him judging three people in quick succession, none of them zombies. One good, one neutral, one evil. The treatment of each of them sets up our expectations for how the film’s protagonist will be handled.
After the introductory scenes with the auditor, focus shifts to the zombie. Ryder Young is a walking stereotype of a contemporary youth culuture, though increasingly hard to recognize now. The film hides his identity as a zombie for maximum effect, but we have no need for such manipulation. His status as a zombie is meant to remove all previously established audience sympathy- or so the movie’s backers may have thought. The audience disagreed, and many watching the movie came away with more sympathy for zombies.
In this interview, I talk to a zombie who’s learned how to adapt his old lifestyle to his new condition.
Vanilla Civilian: So. BDSM.
Sinew: Yes, that is our topic of discussion today. Is there something funny about that?
VC: Not at all, it’s…fascinating.
Sinew: Of course. I live to fascinate.
VC: I think you probably want to start with why it appeals to you generally.
Sinew: Do I. Well, if master insists. BDSM appeals to me because the act of subjugation is a subversive way of engaging with traditional sexual dynamics. And it’s hot.
VC: Oh-okay. Um. So that, what kind of stuff do you do with that?
Sinew: Wax, clamps, petplay, hand-feeding, collars…I try to keep things a little interesting.
VC: Right. Uh, how did things change after you turned?
Sinew: Zombies have completely deadened sensation. Pain no longer worked the same way, and neither did pleasure.
VC: How did you cope with that? How did you adapt?
Sinew: I got creative.
VC: Thanks for stopping by.
Medicine has long since recognized the right of patients to waive their right to resuscitation. If the patient, for whatever reason, makes a choice about what should be done with them, it’s the doctors’ responsibility to recognize their wishes. Very rarely does a doctor ignore the clearly stated wishes of a patient.
Resurrection is not, currently, a branch of medical science. Resurrections are performed quietly, in dark and damp dungeons by cackling necromancers. There is no ethics or restraint in the public of a necromancer. Nevertheless, many people have begun signing Do Not Resurrect waivers, at the urging of the medical establishment at large.
The same concerns apply here, after all. Resurrection is a reversal of the natural order (i.e. dark magic). Humans never come back from resurrection; zombies do. Yet there are plenty of reasons to suspect the reasoning of doctors who promote this line of thinking. Who lines their pockets?
Some necromancers are trying to take resurrection corporate. The medical establishment wants people to be resurrected, just not this way, at this time. Besides being cravenly greedy, this is a mistake that has been made several times. The memorable case of Andrew Wakefield, who reported falsely about a link between MMR vaccine and autism to promote his own, rival vaccine, comes to mind. His scaremongering tactics created a generation of anti-vaccination proponents because the specter of autism was so terrifying.
Make the decision about resurrection carefully and cautiously, and most of all, talk to your loved ones. Before any corporations or doctors, they’re the ones who’ll move heaven and earth to bring you back.
I realize this post is a week late, but I couldn’t resist. Zombies are not American in the same way that they’re not human; some of us are! Others aren’t. That’s okay. There’s not much else to say here, besides that McCarthy was probably a zombie. Have fun with that.