Why Do Zombies Want Brains?

Why Do Zombies Want Brains?

My mind not only wanders: sometimes it leaves completely.

This is a fact (as well as something written on one of father person’s t-shirts). My mind is apt to wandering so completely that when I opened my school planner to write a reminder to the effect of read Pliny introduction, what I actually wrote was why do zombies want brains? 

After staring at it for a few seconds trying to work out why it looked wrong, it occurred to me that that hadn’t been what I intended to write. Nor was I sure what I’d been thinking about to bring that to mind. Nevertheless, being ready to improvise and try and explain myself, I started to consider the question.

Why do zombies want brains?

I wasn’t really sure what I was asking myself. I mean, did I want to know why actual zombies wanted actual brains, assuming that they were real? Or was I looking at something deeper than a biological craving for brains, at the philosophical reasoning behind writers of zombie fiction for this characteristic? Of course, after I’d considered this for a while, I ended up with the zombie ninjas song stuck in my head (and now you can too!), but the question remained.

An undead creature incapable of rational thought craves the brains of living humans, right? That’s basically what we tend to consider as zombies, isn’t it? 

Well, why does it want the brain?

Perhaps the zombie’s longing for the brain is an unconscious desire to regain the capability of thought that it lost when it became this twisted, undead creature. It no longer has the intelligence to recognise that eating the brain of another will not return its cerebral functions, so erroneously assumes that it’s a way back to becoming sentient. And why not? After all, we are what we eat.

At this point, a friend looked across at what I’d written in my planner and said, “Are we zombies?”

I considered this. Perhaps we are. Perhaps zombies are the writer’s reaction to a world where intelligent thought and reason has been lost, and where people are driven by simplistic, mistaken desires in the hope that they will give them back the level of being they feel they have lost. Perhaps it has a theological message: in turning away from faith, humans have become lower creatures, and are destroying the faith of others in an attempt to regain their own.

There is philosophy at work here. Somebody, somewhere has looked at society and said, “We are zombies.” And they have created books and films that reflect this, but society is missing the point. Society thinks, “These creatures are awful. And fictional.” Maybe they think the zombies are funny, and write them into humorous stories. But that first Somebody is looking at society saying, “You are destroying my creation because you are incapable of seeing that you have lost your own ability.”

We are zombies.

I turned to my friend and said, “Perhaps philosophers are showing us this through films because nobody listens to them anymore. Zombie fiction is their reaction to reduced credibility in the modern world.”

The philosophers are reasoning: “The desire of zombies is not driven by a desire to gain intelligence. Rather, it is driven by a desire to regain intelligence. It is only because they unconsciously know that they have once had that brainpower that they are now searching to find another way of obtaining it, though it is causing death.” And then they are saying: “People seek what they are feel is their entitlement, something that they have been denied. But frequently their attempts to obtain power or affection or status results in destroying the life of another.”

And philosophers are showing us this in a basic form: a creature incapable of rational thought eating the brain of another.

That, my friends, is why zombies want brains.

But this tangent has been long enough. Perhaps now I ought to amend that note in my school planner to read Pliny introduction. Or, better still, I should read the Pliny introduction, and then the note would not be necessary.

25 thoughts on “Why Do Zombies Want Brains?

  1. We are ninjas who eat brains!
    We are zombies wielding swords!
    We are pretty much invisible,
    But we travel in hordes!

    Apologies, I just had to.

    On a more serious note . . . I never thought any post title involving zombies could raise such a deep question. I’ll admit I’ve never put much thought into it – possibly because I don’t buy into the idea of zombies and always thought it was rather basic and dull, not to mention overplayed. That said . . . this idea is crushing. And tragic.

    Why do people not write more books and films with this sort of idea in mind, rather than shrieky, silly, CGI-d gore-fests?

    Oh wait. Because we are zombies. Ahahahaha.

    The irony. It bites.

    1. I never thought a wandering mind and a temporary obsession with undead creatures could raise such deep questions either, but that’s how my brain works out these days. I guess questioning the whole thing proves I’m NOT a zombie…
      I think there are some movies that involve more of the psychological horror of zombie apocalypses, but that might be wishful thinking, given that I’m not actually a fan of zombie movies and therefore have seen very few of them.

      1. Hmmm. Some zombie movies deal more with the fellowship between the humans and such, but again, that’s all human-focussed, and the zombies themselves are usually relegated to “the enemy”, you know, the foe that brings conflicting people together out of neccessity and all the fun that sparks.


  2. I hadn’t thought about it that way before. Intriguing. I wonder, along those lines, could the reason vampires are all about the blood-sucking be their unconscious desire to regain the life and/or the soul they lost, since blood typically represents life and vampires are inherently not alive or at least lacking in a soul? But then it’s all the more tragic because their blood-sucking, like the zombies’ brain-eating, only results in more vampires, not in a reversal of their vampire state. Hm.

    1. That’s a good point. I’ve generally read vampires as being perceived as having more capabilities for rational thought, however, as quite often their methods for obtaining blood are complex and strategic, so it would be less of an animalistic, unconscious thing.
      What about werewolves? Could the same be said of them, do you think, or is their biting of humans a form of revenge, a bitterness against the race they cannot join that they show through vindictive transformation of others?

      1. Of course, werewolves are slightly different because they’re not permanently one way or the other. Being a vampire or zombie means you’re always a vampire or zombie; but with a werewolf they’re either humans or they’ve transformed into their wolf form, depending on factors they can’t control, like the full moon. (I think that werewolf in Prince Caspian could change at will, but he was killed within five seconds of his appearance on the page, so he really doesn’t count). So maybe because they can’t control the conflict within themselves, they’re lashing out against the other non-conflicted humans in hopes of resolving their dilemma?
        …someone should write a book about paranormal beings and their psychologies. :P

        1. Oh, that would be fascinating. Paranormal Psychology — if only I were capable of studying psychology, and could write something in which I pretended to know what I was talking about! But I suppose it’s as much philosophy as anything else, as it’s speculative rather than based upon concrete scientific evidence.

  3. I don’t think a zombie would like my brain. It’s too filled up with confusing and bizarre thoughts.

    I tagged you for a blog award! :D themagicviolinist.blogspot.com.

  4. No, the real question is: Why is Miriam always so cool and funny? Also, why have I not seen this post until now?

    I think zombies eat brains because what they’re actually looking for is cauliflower (which looks very similar) but they’re not very bright and they can’t tell the difference. Let it never be said that one cannot learn anything from reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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