The Unsuccessful Martyr is a Zombie

Hey, look at this! I’m writing a post! And it hasn’t been too long since my last one! Woo!

This is going to be a short one, but I just wanted to document an interesting point my Art and Catstrophe professor brought up.

We were discussing Beirut and some of the art that has come from the conflict their. This past week we were specifically discussing Rabih Mroue’s Three Posters that is a video/play that documents a man rehearsing his farewell before he goes on a suicide operation and effectively martyrs himself.

We read Mroue’s essay “The Fabrication of Truth” which acts as a companion piece and explanation for Three Posters. In his essay, Mroue discusses the difficulty of an unsuccessful suicide operation. What happens if you’ve recorded this announcement…you’ve called yourself a martyr? You’ve announced to the world that you will going on a suicide operation.

So what happens then if the mission fails or is called off, if you don’t die.

Mroue calls that existence a “non-place” between living and dead, a limbo of sorts.

My professor….she called it being a zombie.

She said, “if you announce yourself as a martyr, stage your own execution, and then do not die…you are a kind of zombie. Biologically and psychologically disappeared.”

The limbo, the non-place between life and death….that’s what being a zombie is. Zombie’s are physically moving around, but are biologically and psycologically dead.

An unsuccessful suicide operation does not make you a martyr…it forces you into non-life. Who you were no longer exists. You have faced death and been rejected…you are a zombie.

But even if the mission is successful, if you martyr yourself…you still experience a period of limbo, of non-place, of zombie-dom. It’s the period lasting from the filming of your farewell, your announcement to your family, friends, and countrymen that you will become a martyr and lasts until the moment of completion of the operation. The time between is your undeadness.

In other news:

I have a final paper proposal due on Wednesday. I am determined to use a piece of literature that is plague based in the hopes that the next time my professor teaches this class she will consider using epidemic as a version of catastrophe as well.

I can’t decide if I want to write about “Journal of the Plague Year”, “The Plague” or “28 Days Later” –so stay tuned. I might even be back using the blog for brainstorming today.



  1. interesting perspective

  2. brainstorm away….

    how can you not include epidemic in a consideration of catastrophe?

  3. Katie, Here’s a recent Carolyn Baker essay that adds texture to the Contagious Narrative. It is titled Collapse Psychosis: Navigating the Madness and she makes a “going viral” connection to the violence and interior life deadness that you’ve just shared with the suicide bombing post. Take a read and see what connections you can make.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    As civilization unravels, the uncivilized behavior of humans is becoming viral, and the culture of empire is quite simply going mad as its values, assumptions, and reasons for existing are evaporating with dizzying speed. For those who are and have been collapse-aware for some time, it is important not only to make sense of the epidemic violence, but to incorporate skillful responses to it.

    First, I believe we need to deeply discern what is actually happening psychologically. The current outbreaks of violence are about more than unemployment and financial stressors. Yes, job loss, bankruptcy, foreclosure, homelessness, and loss of health care are breaking people and communities in pieces. Yet something even more fundamental is seething beneath the surface–something of which these losses are symptomatic.

    Underlying the chaos is the reality of civilization’s dissolution. But what does that actually mean?

    For one thing, it means that civilization has been inherently infantilizing

  4. I am very interested in this course, would you mind emailing me the syllabus and reading list? I want to learn more.

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