I get it when I am sitting with dear friends enjoying good food and conversation. Also, while walking alone in the woods on a clear fall day. It can also be experienced when listening to music or viewing a painting. It can be evoked in the cathedral or on the seashore. Charles Taylor called these encounters with “fullness.” Fullness is a sense that life is “fuller, richer, deeper more worthwhile, more admirable, more than what is should be” (5).
Experiences of fullness can orient us because they offer “some sense of what they are of: the presence of God, or the voice of nature, or the force which flows through everything, or the alignment in us of desire and the drive to form” (6). Historically, and in the case of most religious believers, the power from which fullness flows has some transcendent source outside of the individual.
After our culture abandoned God as a source of fullness we looked inside ourselves to find an alternate source. There are several internal sources of fullness. The first is the power of reason. Here there is an “admiration for the power of cool, disengaged reason, capable of contemplating the world and human life without illusion, and of acting lucidly for the best interest of human flourishing” (9). From this view, life calls for heroic action where we accept ourselves as “beings both frail and courageous, capable of facing a meaningless, hostile universe without faintness of heart, and of rising to the challenge of devising our own rules of life” (9). The second internal source of fullness emerges from the Romantic critique of disengaged reason. This outlook, too, looks for fullness in immanence, but it finds reason to be inadequate and seeks it in “Nature, or in our own inner depths or both” (9).
George Romero rejects any source of fullness, whether immanent or transcendent; he denies fullness altogether. His movies emphasizes the “irremediable nature of division, lack of centre, the perpetual absence of fullness” (10). In the next post, I will explain how in Night of the Living Dead, this absence is apparent in the loss of traditional values as well as the loss of the possibility of heroism.
Next zombie post: Traditional Values–Consumed by the Zombie Horde
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