Once again, Patrick Rothfuss’ podcast is inspiring a blog entry.
Rothfuss and Temkin jump around between a lot of different topics, but it’s at minute 18:00 that they start talking about the appeal of zombie apocalypses. They’re not talking about it in terms of fiction–rather, they’re discussing why people generally seem to have a plan for a zombie apocalypse, and that some people actually seem excited by the possibility. Perhaps, they suggest, there’s a part of all of us that is excited by the idea.
Rothfuss’ theory is really interesting. He suggests that in the modern day, our lives are vast, complicated, and stressful in ways that are really hard to grasp. Whether or not you think about it on a daily basis, you have an entire life to live, and the things you do from day to day have an impact on the bigger picture of your life.
For example, you go to work because you need money to pay your bills, have a home, and eat food. At work, you have all these things that comprise your day that don’t really mean anything, but they’re important in the context of your job–e-mail, meetings, deadlines, etc. You do these things every day, and maybe someday you’re able to retire. But you have to plan ahead for that too. And while all of that’s happening in your life, a part of you is looking out for other people as well–your friends, family, customers, strangers, etc.
Our lives are a complicated web, from our first few social interactions in pre-school to the day they insert your catheter at the nursing home.
In a zombie apocalypse, things are much, much simpler. You have specific immediate needs that you can see right in front of you, and your entire goal is to survive (and help those around you survive). There’s no more e-mail. No more 401k to build and maintain. No more homework. Just find food, secure shelter, and don’t get killed.
Which, of course, is also terrifying. I’m sure if there ever is a real zombie apocalypse, we’ll all wish we hadn’t wished so much for a zombie apocalypse.
I think the closest real-life comparison I can think of is the appeal of certain chores. We all have chores we dread, but I bet most people have a chore they don’t mind. For me, it’s vacuuming. I vacuumed today. I’m in the midst of preparing for a big Kickstarter campaign that could change the shape of my company for years to come, but I took a break from that and vacuumed my room in preparation for game night. It was very satisfying. It was a problem I could solve within minutes, and it required no brainpower at all.
What do you think about Rothfuss’ theory? Do you resonate with the simplicity and urgency of a world with no e-mails, deadlines, or retirement plans…but with zombies?