1. The cross contamination of aestheticized, simulated violence as artwork by SRL (Survival Research Laboratories) and the aesthetics of real violence against artwork by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria)
There in the darkness, you can sense them breathing. On your left the breath is hot, sick and smells like rotting flesh. On your right is a cold and ancient breath, razor sharp, smelling distinctly like pennies. To the left of you stands a zombie, to your right a vampire. Their persuasion tactics are different but the perceived goal is the same: to turn you into one of them.
No one loves when a zombie apocalypse comes to town. Frankly, it’s exhausting trying to stay ahead of the slow- moving wave of moaning bodies, staying alive by living on the run. Surviving a zombie invasion takes vigilance and stamina for, though the zombie hoard is slow-moving, nonetheless they persist, relentlessly.
Does it need to be this way? Are we approaching this apparent threat with right thinking? Are we even thinking at all? In all the literature, the prescription of what to do when confronted by a zombie is either fight or flight. However, after years of countless zombie invasions resulting in lose/lose outcomes, this fight or flight dualistic thinking no longer suffices. It is time to come up with a new plan, one that takes into account new insights into zombie behavior.
The chief challenge in dealing with zombies has been that we understand very little about what drives them. We have seen their actions as they slow-march across the landscape, but their intentions are largely hidden to us. Widespread destruction, yes. Human body count, huge. Their supposed indifference to the violence they wrought, terrifying. But what is it that drives those actions?
Everyone knows it is not a coincidence that zombies started showing up in droves precisely in the era of advanced capitalism and industrialization. However, what if the reason they showed up when they did and the motivations and aims of their actions are very different than our initial suppositions. What if everything we thought we knew about zombies is actually predicated on a fundamental misunderstanding? What if zombies aren’t the problem, or even a deadly outcome of the problem. What if zombies are actually the solution to the problem?
Individualism is the contemporary Western human mind’s default frame. It of course has not always been so. But today, after centuries of enlightenment thinking underwritten by erroneous matrices like Newtonian mechanics, false doctrines like the American Dream, broken machinery like Jeffery Epstein’s sex island (what happened on Little St. James definitely did not stay on Little St. James) and lame religious practices like modern skin care regimens and single-occupancy bouncy castles, we have over time developed a strictly me/my/mine mind.
Because they are simply the most distilled example of the me/my/mine mind, it is safe to say there will never be a vampire apocalypse. Can you even imagine what that might look like? All these individualist psycho-divas, bickering, backbiting (literally), jockeying for power positions, but then getting distracted by hunger and general boredom, heading out for a round of golf in Bedminster and staying in for a quiet night of binge-watching Van Helsing while sipping fresh baby blood.
Even if these princes of immortality managed to pull their shit together for one big corporate move, what would the organizing principle be? What would motivate these self-interested solipsists toward collective action? One can only drink so much blood, right? In the past they’ve tried to solve this problem by preserving blood (canning, bottling, freezing, etc.) with the hopes of being able to hoard their earnings. But in all cases their preserved blood lost its taste.
The dominion class of humans, the ruthless 1%, have increasingly concentrated their power by employing domination tactics in order to accumulate massive wealth still dripping with the sweat of their exploited labor force. These humans do not literally drink their victims’ blood like vampires do and so the wealth they extract is slower to rot. But vampires know that hoarded wealth of any kind always eventually becomes tasteless, accumulated wealth always submits to the demands of negative inflation.
Though the ruthless 1% are still desperately striving to achieve their dream of eternal riches, vampires have resigned themselves to the hand they have been dealt: they work alone, they drink alone, they prowl the earth alone, each night gorging on fresh blood but always and for eternity starting each new day with an empty belly, staring famished and alone into the void. Vampires are confined to solitude for eternity, their me/my/mine mind forever pushing away those whose friendship and brotherly solidarity would otherwise give meaning to their life.
Zombies seem to really know the value of togetherness. They sit together. They eat together. They go on long walks together.
Many of earth’s predators deploy pack-based hunting strategies: whether it is timber wolves routing their prey away from their heard into a trap through fanning out and cutting off escape routes or the Trump children doing the same with exotic game animals in the Serengeti or in Florida beach-side, singles bars.
However, when we carefully observe a horde of zombies in the wild, to our great surprise we do not see classic, pack-based strategies of surrounding and conquering. Rather, we see them moving out in a rhizomatic manner, as if they are participating in a search party that is looking for something or someone who is lost. They fan out, not to circle around a center point for attack, but rather in a continual movement outward toward a horizon of endless regress.
Standing there in the darkness, you can sense them breathing. To the left of you stands a zombie, to your right a vampire.
The zombie makes the first move, not because it was fast off the line—zombies of course are never fast—but because the vampire got distracted by a squirrel. Instead of engaging your fight or flight impulse, you decide instead to acquiesce to this zombie’s advances.
His first bite is deliberate and without malice. The zombie does not start with a major artery as a vampire would (predictably always going straight for the jugular), rather he begins by using his teeth to peel the flesh off your chest and head, exposing your rib cage and your skull. Next, he grabs a small, sharp rock from the ground. With one hand he holds the sharp rock against your now exposed skull and with the other grasping a second heavier rock, he begins tapping the sharp rock until your skull cracks open exposing your brain.
He then begins to feed. His feeding however is not desperate and sloppy, rather it is measured and with purpose. As he slowly eats your brain, his eyes are trained on the newly exposed beating heart seen through your rib cage.
For a moment, his gaze moves from your heart to your eyes which are only inches from his. You realize you are not looking into the eyes of a craven monster, neither a predator absentmindedly feeding on its prey nor a psychopath cruelly perpetrating meaningless violence. As you look into its eyes, you see something else. You see something that could only be called kindness.
His gaze drops from your eyes back down to your still beating heart as he continues eating your brain. The sound of his quiet and deliberate chewing, effortless as his black teeth easily pass through your grey matter. Occasionally the crunch of an errant bone fragment that has found its way into his bloody mouthfuls can be heard. Despite your desire to be cognitively present for this holy operation, your attention is increasingly hard to muster. You start to drift through a cosmos that does not seem remote, an outer space that seems unmistakably inner.
This zombie is eating your brain and in so doing is eating your me/my/mine mind. He continues to eat until the precise moment when your brain sends its last electrical pulse to your heart. The zombie stops and sits back to observe the fruit of his labor.
In the waning twilight of your consciousness, just before you take the last permanent plunge into your inner cosmos, you feel a gentle, cool wind pass over your body. As this wind blows through your now open and empty skull, it makes a slight whistle sound, a silly slight whistle amongst this gruesome scene. This wind is what the zombies call a we-wind, a we-wind that connects us all as it moves through our many empty skulls, whistling as it does so.
This we-wind fills the empty cavity where our me/my/mine mind use to be, activating us and our skulls into apocalyptic collective jubilation, a chorus of whistling zombies. This we-wind is the only and true wind of change for as we are transformed from our false selves—individuated me/my/mine minds—into a dividuated community collective, we then effect change in the world through continuing the holy work of consuming me/my/mine minds wherever we come across them. You have just become part of a pack that exerts its influence not by making its world smaller through dividing and conquering, but a pack that makes its world bigger by ushering everyone in.
This we-wind of change is changing all of us into an activated and organized community of action workers, neither living nor dead but constantly laboring in love, ridding the world of the scourge of the me/my/mine mind, adding to our numbers, and whistling while we work.