Living in the Zombie Age

Regis Nicoll
Regis Nicoll

The Sutherland Springs shooter, who took the lives of 26 men, women, and children in a small Texas church, was, like scores of others before him, one of the living dead.

Dylan Klebold, James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Stephen Paddock, and Devin Patrick Kelley represent what the apostle Paul warned would characterize the latter days: people who, in the New Revised Standard Version rendering, are “inhuman.” Not inhuman as to “sub-human,” but “counter-human”—individuals who are set against humanity and their own humanness, often to the point of taking their own life after taking the lives of others, beings who are physically alive, but emotionally, socially, and morally dead—zombies.

In 1946 the proto-man of this strain was introduced by Albert Camus in his novel, The Stranger.

The Stranger
The title character of The Stranger is Meursault, a man out of harmony with the society in which he lives, a person for whom there is no rational order to the universe, no transcendent pegs for ultimate significance, and no fixed standards for human conduct; life is merely the sum-total of his autonomous actions, the moment-to-moment procession of sensory inputs.

As the story unfolds, Meursault drifts through life from one experience to the next in zombie-esque detachment until he fatally shoots a man, then fires four more rounds into the lifeless body. He later muses, “it was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness.”

The extent of his “inhumanity” is revealed at his execution when he wishes only for “a large crowd of spectators … [to] greet me with howls of hate.”

Importantly, Meursault’s crime was not the result of mental illness or “going postal,” but of a faulty worldview. Once he accepted the cosmos as uncaring and unsupervised, he was destined to conclude that fellow-creature sentiments were absurd, and that any action, even the choice to kill or not kill, was bereft of moral value—beliefs that would transmogrify him.

Twenty years later, Meursault was enfleshed, with a vengeance. Continue reading here.

 
Originally published November 19, 2017.

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