Talking of brains…

Imagine there’s a huge multinational organisation that sells online, mostly books, but electrical too and much more.

Imagine they have a terrible record for treating their workers with respect.

Imagine, if you will, they become fed up with those pesky campaigns, calling on them to attend more to their workers needs.

Someone at board level has a bright idea. He’s a firm believer in dualism and in particular, Descartes. He suggests they try an orthodox solution. Devise a chemical reagent to disperse in the water supply to control the pineal gland.

“My view is that this gland,” said Descartes, “is the principal seat of the soul, and the place in which all our thoughts are formed.”

They carry out this devious plan and it works! The adapted workers don’t need sleep, breaks or water; they have limitless determination and focus and require minimal healthcare whatever injury befalls them.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The mindless drones turn to a mindless revolution, swarming into the warehouse, offices and boardrooms, turning against their employers, fearless of retribution.

It transpired that Iris Murdoch was who the drones preferred to believe:  “The only freedom is the freedom of the mind.”  And they wanted their freedom back.

The drones literally bite the hand that ceased to feed them, eating the very thing that gave rise to this whole situation – their pineal gland.

Less: I think therefore I am; and more: I don’t think therefore I chew.

But this simply increased their greed.

Many other companies and governments had already copied the pineal gland plan and the infection spread all over the world.    Apart from a few pockets of resistance, the human race became a world of zombies.

This is, of course, fiction.

But what we in this country call an apocalypse is already happening all over the world – war, environmental disaster, oppression and disease like ebola.

In the Western World we are facinated by zombies because it fascinates us to toy with social collapse.

In reality, all it would take is a few days without electricity – no internet, no phone, no lights, heat and no fuel for our vehicles without the means to pump it from the reserves.

And yet we act like mindless automatons, sleep walking into an age post oil without a plan B, refusing to listen to the scientists and public intellectuals.

But I am a bit serious about zombies. Until recently our bodies took weeks longer to decompose than they used to because of all the preservatives in our food. We are scientifically modifying crops and creating unnaturally reared meat. We are feeding our babies food created in a laboratory rather than our own bodies. We eat food packed weeks ago rather than picked today. Who knows when this will cause some gene to mutate and zombify.

Or we could wise up, set sensible worldwide targets for halting climate change, ensure everyone has the kind of wage which allows them to eat fresh food all the time, change farming techniques from the 1960s intensive mega farming to diverse farming, eat less meat, eat organic food without pesticides and routinely fed antibiotics, encourage bees and wildlife, have more fuel efficient houses, develop renewal energy, become members of a mutual society rather than individual consumers.

Many have heard of the quote by Alanis Obomsawin of the Abenaki Native Canadians.

“When the last tree is caught and the last river is poluuted, when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realise, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.”

But do you know all of it?

“Canada [or insert ‘developed’ country here], the most affluent of countries, operates on a depletion economy which leaves destruction in its wake. You people are driven by a terrible sense of deficiency.”

I’m sure George R Romero would agree.

This three minute talk was performed in the final of the Swindon Festival of Literature  2015 Think Slam. It is an adaptation of last year’s ‘zombie apocalypse’ talk.

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