Death to the Zombie

zombie moles attack - April 24, 2013m
 

Do zombies belong in our new mythology?

After all, they remain popular in our culture.  So we must be responding to the metaphor…

…a metaphor involving human beings who can’t feel, can’t think…

…who react to the world with all the sophistication of an amoeba.

In a typical zombie story, beings who can’t think or feel try to destroy beings who can think and feel…

Of course, we the audience identify with this second group.  It’s a common prejudice: those other guys are the zombies, not us!

I think we can make better use of this metaphor…

In the new version, an innocent human being would slowly become a zombie.  Her feeling dulls, her thinking dulls, her vision dulls…

However, this zombie is still a human being, so her humanity never completely disappears.  In rare moments, the zombie experiences that humanity again in a flash of consciousness…

But the flash feels more like a lightning bolt.  Our zombie is unprepared for such bold clarity.  She instinctively shields herself from the sudden, unexpected light.

As a result, she quickly slips back into the dreary comfort of her old zombie ways.

However, she doesn’t forget that burst of light—she vividly recalls that moment of openness, that feeling, that beauty…

Maybe the blessed light will come again, she thinks.  She vows to be better prepared next time—she won’t shrink down in fear.  She won’t try to shield herself.  She’ll hang on.

But then, when the light finally flashes again, it’s still a shock to her.  After all, it’s been absent for months, maybe even years.

So she doesn’t hang on.  As quickly as the moment comes, it’s gone.

Nonetheless, that bolt of light has poked a tiny pinhole through the gray gauze that covers her vision…

…an opening so small, she barely notices the change.  Her eyes easily adjust to the little point of light.

Once again, she waits for the light—but this time, not so passively.  She does whatever she can to provoke the light, to bring it back.

She recalls the state of being produced by light, and so, she pursues those activities that recreate some semblance of that feeling.

As a result, the light flashes more and more often…

…and though it always escapes before she can catch it…

…afterwards, there’s another pinhole.

Over time, these pinholes coalesce to become larger openings, letting in more and more light…

But this increase happens so gradually, our innocent zombie is hardly aware of the change.

Finally—finally!—the worn-out, punched-out gauze fabric falls away in a rush.  Because our heroine has slowly adapted, she doesn’t go blind during this moment of brilliant clarity.

Yes, some clinging tatters remain—there will always be blind spots in her vision…

…but now, she can see more than shadows.  Now, she do more than merely react to the world.

She’s returned to the state of being human.

Now that she can see, she can see many would-be humans living as zombies…

Reflecting back on her own experience, she understands that zombies are not really evil…

If they act evil at times, that’s just because they can’t see—they can only react to what they believe they see.

So she wants to help them, not fight them.

She helps them by poking pinholes through their gray gauze bandages…

…letting in only a little bit of light each time, to allow them to adjust to the change.

I don’t know if my version of the zombie story belongs in our new mythology…

But as I see it, the old zombie story certainly does not.

The old story says: once a zombie, always a zombie.

The new story says: no one is ever, completely, a zombie…

…and so, there’s always a way out.

(In case you’re confused, the cartoon references The Mole People—a fun B-movie, starring John Agar.)

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
dreaming steps

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About Michael Patton

I am a poet, novelist, essayist, cartoonist, graphic artist, peace miller, new mythologist, and fledgling world citizen.... I grew up in Northwest Arkansas and have lived and worked all over the United States.... I'm self-taught, for the most part--which is like searching for the right door in the dark. It's an on-going process.... I don't want to write MY story, I want OUR story, so that's what I'm studying: the human story: past, present, future, in its many aspects--including the spiritual. I'm proceeding at a slow crawl.... I don't see the inner world and outer world as separate. By learning about myself, I learn about others, I learn about my world.... Conversely, as I struggle to understand what I see OUT THERE, I learn about myself.... But to be clear: I don't claim any special understanding. I'm still purblind, still only half-awake.... After frustrating experience with the publisher of my first novel, I've published on my own, beginning with e-books, with plans to move into print and audio. Even video.... Along with a second novel, I've now published eight books of poetry. Each poetry book focuses on a theme. For instance, the collection GLORIOUS TEDIOUS TRANSFORMATION is about the slow difficult wonderful process of change.... In that book, as with all my work, I try to be accessible to a general audience, while also striving to achieve a certain literary quality.
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