Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sweet Zombie Jesus!

Daniel Dennett likes to make a comparison between the Lancet fluke, which zombifies the nervous systems of ants so that they are readily eaten by cows, and religiously toxic ideas that propagate and cause their hosts to give up their lives.

Well that comparison is all very well and good, but ideas don't hold a candle to the real deal. I recently caught a special on rabies and it was terrifying, sad, and surreal.

This is true zombification in the human animal. This virus scrambles the brain and turns you into a violent, crazy zombie capable of spreading its madness with a frothy bite. The reality of this invading disease never hit me until I saw footage of rabies victims strapped to beds, dying. Truly sad and scary stuff.

I think it's significant that a disease exists that can get in our brains and change us profoundly. I think it's proof positive that our sense of self, our souls, are not whole units, but the result of cumulative processes that have no hope of surviving beyond their biology.


SuiginChou said...

Horrifying, pitiful, and depressing all wrapped up into one package. :( Our very existence is fragile -- not only "being alive," but "being who we are," too. A lot of people incorrectly believe that "you are who you are until you die." A closer look at neuroscience changes most people's opinion rather quickly.

This is why I stand by my belief that if a bullet went through somebody's head and turned him into a retard, it would be no different a "death" of his old self as if he had fully died; and that the "birth" of his retarded self would be no different than if he had been born X many years ago as a retard from the start. That is to say, I hold that death of the self is possible outside of death of the body; and that birth of the self is similarly possible outside of the body. Diseases like Alzheimer's constantly give rise to new human beings while cruelly and unfairly disposing of old ones every day -- but many people are slow to adopt this line of thinking because their eyes tell them, "But the body's still the same!"