Further Reflections on “Zombies in St. Elmo Redux”

I allowed my brain to cogitate upon the matters brought up in addressing the zombie threat to St. Elmo over these intervening nights, after arriving home in exhaustion and chemical ease from Scott Borger’s bachelor party, and our Mailsite/Outlook migration Long March.

I had concluded, “The dead become undead cannot become dead again”. I stand by this conclusion. But two more matters press themselves upon my mind as I lay a-sleeping.

First, my just-quoted conclusion is true, unless you could destroy zombies utterly. You know, something like the Greek “diapthairo”, sending them to Gehena or Sheol of the Hebrews. If you could somehow hit them with a double-existence whammy and destroy completely their body and their being, then that might work. By destroy utterly, I mean the universe must lose the sum of their atoms. I suppose they could become antimatter or dark matter, and that would work too. And you’d also have to metaphysically destroy their evil animating spirit (the demon in Josiah’s account). The point is, the body must be gone as well as the zombie demon.

A Holy Hand Grenade might do the trick.

Second, in the beginning of my last essay, I believe I glossed over an important conundrum regarding the ontological status of zombies. I said, “it seems perfectly reasonable to believe that if a zombie bites you, you become dead, and then undead, joining their ranks.” I think there’s something lax here. Does the zombie actually kill you when it bites? Or does it transform you straight-aways into the dominion of the undead? Alive -> Dead -> Undead, or the more straightforward Alive -> Undead? I must confess my ignorance upon this point, and kindly beseech my readers who are more educated in matters regarding the undead to guide me to a correct understanding upon this point.

Now, to address additional points brought up in Josiah’s generous reply to my first post regarding zombies in St. Elmo.

Josiah’s obsession with the dichotomy of spiritual redemption and heavy weapons is appreciated, and explicated by him as, “In this purpose there is the assumption of the living returning to righteousness in this life, and I can see that occurring in no other way than with somehow killing the undead.” In this he seems to combine the ideas above summarized in the Holy Hand Grenade, but I am afraid that Josiah has actually done little to clear up my misgivings, save for the reassurance that we may, in fact, kill zombies as a Kierkegaardian leap of faith. But their ontological status, which for me is the more important question, remains unknown, a rather mysterious, dare I even say zombie apparition shrouded in philosophical must. Faith in what might be seen as a type of Plantiga’s Great Pumpkin Return is not epistemically tenable with the waving of hands and unwavering belief. Just because I really believe that zombies are sent as instruments of redemption does not make them killable if that is not in fact their ontic aim.

His note regarding the difference between Halo’s Flood and a proper Zombie Attack on St. Elmo is noticed and accepted. May I propose that we focus further studies on this important matter, because as biomechanically-enhanced soldiers enter the battlefield in the near future, they may be thrown into a similar situation as Master Chief, and require the proper set of tactical and philosophical guidelines as we are now laying out for a zombie attack in Stelmo. Shotguns, the moral and physical high ground (as noted by Duffey), and a stiff upper lip. Because my goodness, observe at how quickly those zombies can take over! Is Mayor Littlefield’s office running these same simulations for the City’s disaster recovery plan?

The comments by Mr. Davidson, OTOH, are greatly appreciated and do begin to excavate the definition of a zombie. In particular, he stated, “You don’t “kill” zombies, you dismember them to the point that the enchantment/ensorcellment/possession that has caused their peculiar appetite for the brains of the living can no longer function.” Though this does not jive with Josiah’s account, it at least seems open to an inquiry from the faculties of reason, an opening that Josiah’s more pietistic account does not allow. If zombies are reanimated dead, the simple bodies unanimated by the Divine breath of life but still twitching muscles and firing low-level cerebral cortex neurons, then there is no question of whether they may be killed. They may be killed just like a robot, a machine, a vegetable. By anyone’s definition, they are no longer human, nor alive, and so may become fodder for Model 87 shotguns with no moral harm to the shooter. Animated by an evil entity, but lacking human status, a zombie should be blasted apart with whatever the most suitable weapon on hand might be. St. Elmo is not their home.

July 15th, 2005 | Best, Legal, Lookout, Philosophy, Zombies

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