Zombies, Figuratively

“Walter White is the Steve Jobs of meth,” writes James Howard Kunstler in “Like your hair’s on fire” at Clusterfuck Nation, making the connection between the TV series “Breaking Bad” and the sad state in which we find ourselves in America today. The real villain of the show (which I admit I haven’t seen), Kunstler argues, is an enemy that creates the whole plot but which is rarely if ever mentioned: our country’s health care system—or lack thereof. The end of the road is that, as Kunstler succinctly puts it, “money is everything and nothing.” Money is why we poison our watersheds and torture animals and sit in boxes all day, but there’s so much money generated from the conversion of life into death, and at the same time money has been pulled through so many iterations of abstraction (it’s a symbol of a symbol of a symbol… on a computer screen that would go dark without oil), that the almighty dollar might as well be worthless. We can’t eat money, as the saying goes.

Kunstler also points out the growing popularity of zombies in entertainment media, a popularity that might suggest a growing self-reflection—and blank-stared resignation, zombie-like—about our current predicament. We are all stumbling around in some somnambulant fog or another, aren’t we? And Kunstler is only writing here about the financial collapse; when delving into the ecological one, TV shows will be the least of our worries. Although, sticking with TV for a moment, I attribute the rise of zombie motifs (get it?) more to the fact that every story has already been done a thousand times than to a deep, underlying cultural consensus about just how badly we’re fucked. I can picture network executives saying to one another: “zombies worked in the past, so let’s bring ’em back—this time with the pretense of production value!” and then plugging zombies into the same old situational tropes (although, “I Am Legend” is also ultimately about the failure of the health care system, isn’t it?), which they know Americans will love to watch for their supposed verisimilitude. Maybe Andy Warhol was right, and in a few years people won’t watch “shows” anymore, but instead live feeds of other people’s parties. Can’t get much more real than that.

And speaking of other people’s parties, it looks like according to Oxfam about 85 people run the world at this point. But, nah—that’s probably sustainable.

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Links

Here’s a strangely written Nature Bats Last post about how the main responsibility of doomers going forward is the collection and categorization of information (i.e. the building and preserving of personal libraries), so that future “humans” (humanoids or extraterrestrials) can know what we were thinking as we cut down the last tree. I can’t decide if this is the best or worst thing I’ve read on the internet this week.

Here’s James Howard Kunstler making a good case that when governments attempt to control everything (which they always do), that the effort only serves to bring about the reverse of the intended outcome; instead of a stronger concentration of power, the end result is an erosion of the legitimacy of the government to a point of a vote (either literal or metaphoric) of no confidence:

As history develops, people do things for the simple reason that it seems like a good idea at the time. Computer tech made it possible for bureaucrats and military apparatchiks to invade the privacy of everybody, but in the end it only had the effect of embarrassing the perpetrators and eroding a big chunk of the US government’s legitimacy.

And here’s an article about towns in Northern Ireland painting fake shopfronts to make the place look neater for the G8 summit. What do the locals think of the sprucing up and how the movie-set-esque coverings will look in the future? “They’ll just be pieces of paper blowing around the ground.”

Quote

“The means for such a coup of the zeitgeist are rather frightful now: drone aircraft, computer surveillance, militarized police, a puppet press. It makes thoughtful folks queasy. My bet, though, is that a fascist takeover of the US would end up being as inept and ineffectual as ObamaCare. It is one of the great hidden blessings of our time, actually, that anything organized on the massive scale is doomed to failure. But it is likewise the great mission of our time to prepare to get local and smaller, something we’re not really ready for and certainly not interested in. The intertwining of these dynamics will be the story in the year to come.”  – James Howard Kunstler