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Your zombie picture is upside-down

February 24, 2013

Most zombie ant photographs are upside down” by Alex Wild at Scientific American explains that all those great pictures of the nuclear mushroom cloud looking funghus popping out of the zombie ants are upside-down. The infected ants latch onto the underside of leaves before the parasite sprouts out of them – so it sprouts down. Wild explains that most of the pictures on the internet are upside down.

But isn’t everything. And no, I don’t mean because our brains flip the image over from our retina — I mean politics – hanging upside down over a sequester cliff.

zombie ant

Scholar explains why zombie fascination is very much alive” by Kelsey Geiser explaining that zombie stories are about the survivors:

While scholars have linked the intrigue of zombies to a manifestation of consumerism, Vidergar says that cultural manifestations of horror, no matter how realistically unbelievable, are a “testament to people’s desire to not only survive, but even possibly improve the world in the face of a seemingly impossible situation.”

and

“Zombies are important as a reflection of ourselves,” said Vidergar. “The ethical decisions that the survivors have to make under duress and the actions that follow those choices are very unlike anything they would have done in their normal state of life.”

Imagine if you are an ant living in a stable ant colony and then suddenly your friends start wandering off, clamp down on the underside of a shady leaf and starve to death. Don’t stand by his grave and weap, lest you inhale one of the fungal spores about to bust out of your friends’ body.

This is sort of like how ideas work. They infest the host organism and change their behavior. Fortunately, most ideas don’t take absolute hold and turn us into automaton zombies. But maybe some ideas do? Should we immediately kill any ant that starts to wander off?

See Salon: “Gun owners are obsessed with zombies” by Marc Herman originally posted as “Right of the Living Dead” in Pacific Standard — a great analysis of zombies in gun culture — Herman examines zombie-themed gun products and questions what kind of person wants to buy a Doublestar Zombie X: “a modified Kalashnikov assault rifle … [with] and a working chain saw mounted to its barrel.”

zombie x doublstar

Herman concludes with two perspectives:

If Bosch is right, and the zombie craze is about middle class anxiety, then the slime-green guns really are just a marketing joke, albeit in a cynical industry. It would mean the zombie shoots really are fundamentally just gun culture Comic-Con, and probably no more or less encouraging of tragedy than anything else. It’s a day at the range with your as-yet legal weapon, playing dress-up.

If Donovan’s closer—and we’re hesitant to grant him too much credit; the rest of his post is a good deal uglier and he failed to reply to a note—then the fact of real weapons sold as fantasy props isn’t so benign. In that case, it would mean the rest of one’s getup is the costume, and the zombie rig is the real clothes, and the person wearing them thinks zombies are real. Metaphorically. But real. And coming.

Is Sequester coming? Does it matter? Chris Matthews likens it to “Groundhogs Day” the movie with Bill Murray, as in the repetition of the same old political dances mentioned by David Brooks.

Maybe Sequester isn’t so bad — big cuts to military spending sounds like it could be a good thing?? More rational cuts would surely be better but we can all agree we are overspending right? So cuts is cuts. And maybe we don’t really need all those air traffic controllers? See Bloomberg News: “Zombie Towers Among Air-Traffic Sites on FAA Closing List” by Bernard Kohn & Alan Levin. Maybe across the board cuts is the only political way to get cuts we actually need. It’s going to hurt but what choice is there? Then after the cuts they can vote to spend more on things that are really hurt. Like I said, upside-down!

Ants aren’t the only insects who can be taken over by parasites. Zombie Bees too? Washington Times: “‘Zombie bees’: Government says it’s still media hype” by Wayne Anderson – maybe it’s electrical fields – cell towers? – Ars: “Bees can sense—and learn from—the electric fields of flowers” by Kate Shaw — recall “David Barash and the evolutionary biology of zombees” and “The Zombie Jerry Seinfeld”

zombie jerry seinfeld

And it’s not just bees that sense and learn from electric fields. We do too. But we are blind to so much of what we observe. Our images are all metaphorically upside down. Our science only recognizes what we observe but we are zombies living in a world composed mostly of material we cannot observe. Just because we can’t observe it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. What ideas are controlling our behavior? Maybe upside down is a legitimate perspective? Obama says “forward.” but they can’t agree which way is up.

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