The System Breakdown and How to Survive a Zombia Apocalypse – A Lesbian Artist’s Survival Guide
Image by Amber Avalona from Pixaby
I am not a big fan of The System. The System is insidious because it can be anything.
It could be the college education that’s so rigid that it rejects innovative and relevant pedagogies, and so does not effectively prepare you for the real world.
It could be your miser of a boss who makes you work twice as hard for half the pay.
It could be the patriarchal system that keeps throwing you under the bus just because you are a woman.
In The System, everyone mindlessly trudges along a set grid just because some powerful entity sitting at the top of the hierarchical pyramid says so.
It’s like The Matrix – remember that movie, in particular “The Red Pill, Blue Pill” scene? It’s the pivotal moment in the first instalment of The Matrix franchise where Morpheus offers Neo the red and blue pills.
The setting is dull and drab. Neo and Morpheus sit before a cold, grey fireplace, their red, high-back armchairs facing each other. Between them is a slender accent table, a single glass of water balanced atop it. And the conversation goes something like this:
Morpheus: Do you want to know what it is? The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us, even in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you to the truth.
Neo: What is the truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind.
Now unfortunately, no one can be told what exactly The Matrix is. Neo must to see it for himself.
Morpheus leans in, offering him the blue pill in his left hand, and the red pill in his right hand.
Neo must make a choice between the red pill and the blue pill. This is his last chance. After this there’s no turning back.
RED PILL OR BLUE PILL?
If he chooses the blue pill, the story ends there, and he will wake up in his bed and carry on with his life believing whatever he wants to believe, enjoying a life of luxurious security, tranquil happiness and the blissful ignorance of illusion.
But if he chooses the red pill, he will stay in “wonderland” and he will see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Like Neo, I chose the red pill. I chose to leave The Matrix – The System. It’s a life of harsh knowledge, desperate freedom, and the constant brutal truths of reality.
That’s why zombie apocalypse movies appeal to me so much. They represent the breakdown of The System, the ultimate disruption of it. They provide some much-needed satirical relief from the daily rigors of circumventing The System in real life.
WHAT IS A ZOMBIE?
The term “Zombie” is derived from the Haitian superstitious belief of the “Zombi”, which is an undead creature that is created through the reanimation of a human corpse most commonly by the means of black magic.
Haitian and African zombies were used as slaves to tirelessly labour in the sugar plantations and crop fields of their masters. In such scenarios, zombies were created for economic gain.
But in the Western appropriation, Zombie hordes are created most often through the outbreak of some weird virus. The infected turn into the undead, vicious creatures ravenous for human flesh and brains.
Once bitten by the undead, a healthy person also turns into a zombie and so the virus replicates itself over, and over again.
Unlike the submissive, shambling Haitian and African zombies that shuffle through their chores in apparent trances, the Western zombies are autonomous creatures that are rather quick on their feet, rampaging and laying waste to all of civilization.
HOW TO SURVIVE A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE
Ok. So imagine that a weird virus broke out, probably as a result of a new stem cell experiment in the search for immortality gone wrong, and it turns 85% of the world’s population into zombies.
I am not talking about the slow-moving Haitian and African zombies whom you can reason with to a certain extent. I am talking about the flesh-eating Western zombies that you cannot outrun.
What would you do?
Forget about going it alone. You cannot survive a zombie apocalypse in isolation. It’s not exactly like you have the luxury of living the life of a hermit, ordering whatever you desire from the Internet and having it delivered right to your doorstep.
The Internet will be down in a zombie apocalypse, and you will have to leave your comfort zone and go out into the great unknown and forage for food and water, which means looting deserted stores and shopping malls, or doing some “supply runs” as it is called in zombie apocalypse terms.
Sooner or later the zombies are going to get you if you try to go it alone. First and foremost, you will need at least two people to pull off a supply run – one to be the look out for zombies and hostile humans alike, and the other to gather the supplies.
Unless you want to die a horrible death, you cannot do both things at the same time.
Secondly, you will need at least two people to take turns at keeping vigil at night – while one keeps guard with weapon in hand, the other sleeps with one eye open.
So the trick to surviving a zombie apocalypse is to find a group of survivors to get along with as well as live with.
THE SYSTEM AND EGO TRIPS
But if there’s anything I’ve learnt from AMC’s television show, The Walking Dead, joining a group could mean subjecting yourself to The System all over again. And the consequences of this could be terrible since there would be no law and order to keep big egos in check.
Those of you who follow the show may be familiar with the shenanigans of Rick Grimes and his ruggedly band of not-so-merry zombie apocalypse survivors.
According to Wikipedia: “The Walking Dead is an American post-apocalyptic horror television series for AMC based on a comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard.”
“The series features a large ensemble cast of survivors of a zombie apocalypse, trying to stay alive under near-constant threat of attacks from mindless zombies, colloquially known as ‘Walkers’.”
“However, with the fall of humanity, these survivors have formed groups and communities with their own set of laws and morals, often leading to hostile conflict between the human communities.”
Who can forget the Governor, the ruthless but charismatic leader of the town of Woodbury who came into bitter conflict with Rick and gang, and who was responsible for the deaths of several primary characters in the show?
And then there was Negan, leader of the Saviors, a group that oppressed other survivor communities and forced them to pay tribute to him. Again Rick and his gang had to resort to desperate and sometimes despicable measures to defeat this foe.
And now there is Alpha, the infamous leader of the Whisperers. She is more diabolical than the Governor and Negan combined. She zombifies teenagers and puts their heads on spikes. Enough said.
THE LESBIAN ARTIST’S SURVIVAL GUIDE
By the way, this survival guide is for anyone who finds themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. You don’t have to be a lesbian or an artist to put its counsel into good practise.
A zombie is not going to care about your gender or your sexuality or that once upon a time you made animations for Disney. All it’s going to be thinking about is, do you have brains and how fast can it eat them?
So, the other day, I watched a post-apocalypse movie where the zombie scourge was so bad that the human population was close to extinction. So this group of survivors went on a hunting spree, kidnapping fertile women – older and young – in a desperate attempt to jumpstart a breeding program.
On a primal level, I guess I kind of see the warped logic in this, in order to ensure the posterity of the human-race.
But on a personal level, wow! What a violation on a woman’s reproductive rights, not to mention her human rights – not that they matter in many parts of the world today, let alone in a zombie apocalypse.
On the other hand, I have watched quite a few post-apocalyptic movies that depict women-only communities surviving on the scorched earth. I am not sure whether these are lesbian communes or what, that is never explicitly communicated.
But whatever the case, these communities are generally portrayed as sage and calm, until external forces or intruders try to ruin the tranquillity, at which point the women call upon their inner amazons to defend the fort.
You want to be angling to join such a community in a zombie apocalypse. Now, beware! Things aren’t always what they seem – it’s the zombie apocalypse after all.
When the Walking Dead began its first season, Rick Grimes started out as this reluctant but benevolent leader just getting by in a zombie-ridden wasteland and trying to lead as many of his people to a mecca that may or may not exist. But many seasons later, it’s getting harder to tell Rick and gang apart from the villains.
Therefore, the most powerful tool in your survival kit in a zombie apocalypse is the ability to distinguish between a system and a community.
A SYSTEM VS A COMMUNITY
A cursory method of distinguishing between a system and a community is this: a community is led by a leader, and a system is led by a dictator.
I’d pay extra attention to this, it’s very important.
You see, while the higher-ups create a system for their own gain, it’s the middlemen and gatekeepers you’ve got to watch out for, since their role is to perpetuate the system.
Look lively. Act busy. Make a lot of red tape and hoops for the commoners at the bottom of the system to jump through. It will make you look important and indispensable. You’ll be safe within the system. And then maybe you will be rewarded.
This is what happens on a good day. I imagine that the bureaucrats would be more ferocious in a zombie apocalypse where the need for safety is a matter of life and death.
So whatever you do and no matter what happens, don’t join a system in a zombie apocalypse. You have a better chance of survival joining a community.
Here are my in-depth definitions of the difference between a system and a community, which you are free to use even when there is no zombie apocalypse on the horizon:
The members of a System are like cogs in the machinery, grinding away in hierarchical order to ger a result. And this result mostly benefits the cogs at the top of the hierarchy.
The members of a community are the different parts of the whole, synergizing in various combinations to achieve a common goal. And this goal is mutually beneficial to all the parts in the whole.
ANANIYA CALLING: A DYSTOPIA
Speaking of communities, systems, machinery and cogs, this is the part where we talk about my story, Ananiya Calling.
Not exactly a zombie apocalypse but a social dystopia, Ananiya Calling is a story that revolves around a girl called Ananiya, who is part of an underground resistance movement. Her world is set on Arcanarc, a super city ruled by the One Consciousness Corporation.
But this corporation is omnipotent and has eyes and ears everywhere. Under its totalitarian rule, Ananiya’s world is governed by curfews, propaganda, censorship and fear.
A description of the One Consciousness Corporation in Ananiya’s own words: “You see, the One Consciousness Corporation sits in a white tower, turning giant wheels. It’s like a giant spider weaving a giant web that traps little souls.”
“It sinks its fangs into them. But the venom does not kill. Killing something implies that the thing once existed. There is hope that it could transcend to another form of existence.”
“But no, the Corporation erases souls so that they might have not existed in the first place. The super city is filled with these walking shells.”
“We have this insidious corporation to rule us all. Its emblem, or should I say it’s mark, is everywhere, pervading the streets as well as the inner sanctums of our homes.”
Read more about Ananiya Calling and enjoy regular blog posts and updates. Watch the saga unfold, The Corporation vs The Resistance – The System vs Community.