individuals who are set against humanity and their own humanness, often to the point of taking their own life after taking the lives of others, beings who are physically alive, but emotionally, socially, and morally dead—zombies.
The title character of The Stranger is Meursault, a man out of harmony with the society in which he lives, a person for whom there is no rational order to the universe, no transcendent pegs for ultimate significance, and no fixed standards for human conduct; life is merely the sum-total of his autonomous actions, the moment-to-moment procession of sensory inputs.
The extent of his “inhumanity” is revealed at his execution when he wishes only for “a large crowd of spectators … [to] greet me with howls of hate.”
Importantly, Meursault’s crime was not the result of mental illness or “going postal,” but of a faulty worldview. Once he accepted the cosmos as uncaring and unsupervised, he was destined to conclude that fellow-creature sentiments were absurd, and that any action, even the choice to kill or not kill, was bereft of moral value—beliefs that would transmogrify him.
The Chicago townhouse murders marked the rise of what NY Times columnist David Brooks calls, the “spectacular rampage murder.” According to Brooks, from 1913 to around 1970, there were no more than two of these types of murders per decade. After that, the number of incidences shot up to nine in the 1980s, eleven in the 1990s and, as tallied by the FBI, 160 between 2000 and 2013.
The rise in such killings could not happen without the rise of a certain type of individual: a socially isolated person whom, psychotherapist Dr. Paul Hannig describes, “can’t feel the normal range of human emotions” and has lost “all sense of normal morality and impulse control”—a zombie.
All human problems and challenges, such as climate change, gun violence, and even terrorism, are problems that can be solved if only we apply the right techniques, which these days are almost always political steps: i.e., passing the right laws or public policies.
The sad reality is that even if progressive technocrats succeeded in confiscating all firearms and ammunition in the country, it wouldn’t deter the counter-human from unleashing his inhumanity on society with explosives, chemicals, biotoxins, knives, and vehicles (all, of which, he has used).
We are alone in an indifferent universe with nothing to give meaning to our existence but the sum-total of our personal experiences. And, for the restless soul chasing after the “meaningful” experience, a pop psychology is ready to light the way.
Is it any wonder that when these pile up on individuals conditioned to believe that personal happiness is the summum bonum of life, some become “social misfits” and others “angry loners”? And a few, a very few, take out their frustrations in an inhuman way; perhaps, like one of the walking dead?