Sunday, October 21, 2012

Brazil: The Zombies have Arrived


Sam Lowry "I only know you got the wrong man"
Jack Lint "Information Transit got the wrong man. I got the right man. The wrong one was delivered to me as the right man, I accepted him on good faith as the right man. Was I wrong?"

Consume, Conform and die, it's that simple- what more could you possibly want?

People imagine Zombies incorrectly- to me Zombies are not the flesh eating mindless corpses that stagger and wander home half legless like the masses of drunks one encounters in any British or Irish city late on a Saturday night. In George A Romero's 1968 classic, Night of the Living Dead, we first encountered this popular imagine of Zombies which owes much to Kakfa's Golem of Prague, with the exception that Kakfa's Golem was never human in the first place and seems in many distinctive ways to resemblance more the conjured up Tulpa of Tibetan traditions. Nevertheless behind Romero's Zombies one can discern elements of both Pagan and Christian mythologies- the odd fixation that the living dead have upon the feverish feeding upon the flesh of the living, the whole subtext of human sacrifice, the trance like states of the Zombies with their mute, mass, obedience joined to a common community of one grisly purpose.

In contrast, Terry Gilliam's brilliant 1985 science fiction fantasy, Brazil, also known as 1984 and a "half"  was never written or produced with the intention of being a Zombie movie. However, as I've said early, I think our ideas of Zombies and what they represent in our post-modern epoch should be seen in a more sophisticated light- as essentially Zombies are really a class of beings who can be described and predicted totally by their behaviour. Zombies don't do anything else, except behave, in one or maybe two strictly prescribed ways, and that's what really makes them frightening. In Gilliam's nightmarish film, society is reduced to a set of immutable codices- the state is constantly involved in a war against terrorism (although the authorities cannot explain what the terrorists are actually fighting for), security and police surveillance is simply a "fact of life", the citizens spend their days working in drab offices and bureaucracies where nothing really works as it should, while the rest are encouraged to shop and consume, and, get the latest "plastic surgery" treatment. What's particularly interesting about many of the characters in the film (apart from Sam, the anti-hero) is that everyone simply accepts this state of affairs in a totally "natural way", for example in one scene a bomb explodes in a fancy restaurant, killing and injuring  dozens of people, yet other people in the restaurant see it too, but never register it, and continue on "chit-chatting" about their latest plastic surgery, while they enjoy the rest of their meal. Additionally in the whole state apparatus nothing really works as it should, nobody actually knows the purpose of what they're doing everyday-  as a result the wrong people are constantly arrested and tortured, but, that doesn't matter to the torturer, as he can simply blame another part of the system, so "no-one" quite literally is ever really responsible for anything that is done or not done for that matter, so long as the Authorities get someone, anyone, to torture, that's all that is of any importance, right and wrong are totally irrelevant in such a system. Records to make right seem wrong and wrong seem right- to make 2+2=5 are a constant "self-correcting" part of the system itself. It's like cosmetic surgery!


So what could we call such a state or society? A society where people become so conditioned not to be- no to be present to anything or anyone else in their surroundings, to be totally absence in the company of millions- to register nothing except the most trivial everyday desires and needs of one's isolated being, which eventually morphs into the same conditioned morphic field everyone else feeds from, who accepts, consumes and conforms to everything they're told without exception- Zombies, surely! And Zombies (who are not dumb, like we're meant to think) control the entire system, there is no escapeing them.......!
So perhaps we should define Zombies as a class of beings who always feed from the same source- they react and behave all the same- they don't have the capacity to think or differentiate and seem to be totally devoid of any type of sensibility, they are truly the soulless in every sense of the word- and it appears their kingdom on this planet will have no end.....