Zombology: Zombies and the Decline of the West (and Guns), Brian Anse Patrick, 2014
The late Patrick, whose areas of expertise were the technique of propaganda and American gun culture, decided to explore the subject of zombies. Zombies have infiltrated the gun culture in a big way–there are guns and ammunitions marketed especially for shooting zombies, and Patrick kicks off with a number of observations about weapon made and marketed for a fictional target, which is very strange, because as we all know, zombies aren’t real.
But are they? Patrick suggests that the zombie phenomenon–not a fad, because it has entered into our collective subconscious in America–is a manifestation of something else in our collective subconscious: the decline of the West and our various anxieties about it.
Yes, this is another decline book. Patrick is rather modest in his goals: he looks at the form of the manifestation of the anxiety in our subconscious (the zombies) and how they are dealt with (guns and ammo, lots and lots of ammo). And he accomplishes his goals well, I think, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable survey of the landscape. While Patrick takes a short stab at explaining decline, he mainly makes observations about it. Thus, Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies is a much better treatment, technically, but the enjoyment Patrick brings is that it’s all about pop culture here.
A fascinating point Patrick makes is that the West has two concurrent obsessions that look completely opposite: Progress and Decline. They wrap around and around like a double helix far back into the past, unique to the West. They seem to need each other, making two sides of the same coin. (The “two sides of the same coin” theme crops up often in the West, and would make a good thesis to explore; another example: Capitalism and Communism.)
Back to zombies: what are they, beyond just another form of undead that are hard to kill? They could be any of many things:
- “mass man”, unthinking, brain-dead, only consuming (zombies need to eat brains of the healthy living); masses of such people shambling through malls;
- Blacks erupting from their urban enclaves;
- An increasingly enfeebled population: geriatrics, those dependent on medications, social work clients, the diseased (particularly with STDs), and general overpopulation;
- Failed institutions, corporations, schools, military. Also, bureaucracy run amok;
- Brain thrill seeking (zombies need brains); people are increasingly needy of constant lurid media stimulation and distraction (that is, we all are the zombies);
- And more!
The useful thing about zombies is that they are a “blank slate” onto which we can (and do) project our anxiety of the moment, especially the “politically incorrect” ones. Also, zombies are an acceptable target. Whatever the zombies represent, it is necessary, even desirable, to kill them. It’s a visceral approach to what seems like irreversible decline. There is no solution but to eliminate the problem.
Patrick also discusses the gun culture, and how it has embraced zombology. Many people, who share the anxieties about our decline, have joined the gun culture, swelling its ranks. Liberals are on the wrong side of the coin from all this, and naturally are feeling their own anxieties about it all.
He wraps up with a short chapter on “How Not to Become a Zombie”. It’s as practical for the individual as anything else I’ve read on decline:
- Don’t get bitten; stay out of places where zombies are;
- MOAR GUNS AND AMMO; and learn to use them well;
- Turn off the TV, which makes you mindless;
- Participate in civil society (millennials: BE SOCIAL IN REAL LIFE);
- Create something, anything; be a doer, not a passive lump;
- Fight, assert, organize, resist against social forces of evil and stupidity;
- Adopt a code;
- Stand up straight and walk tall;
- Don’t run with fools;
- Find something to do that you love.
See you all on the other side of the Zombie Apocalypse!