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World War Z

World War Z
Paper instructions:
Choose: Vice president, Arthur Sinclair Jr.
I.E.:Grover Carlson (pp. 59 – 63)
Dramatic alignment:
We (the administration for which he works, himself)
Constituents of the administration for which he works
The people (the American public)
Military, cops, the Pentagon
The media
The zombie plague
Cluster analysis (image cluster):
Of course we got our copy of the Knight-WarnJews report, what do you think we are, the CIA?
We read it three months before the Israelis went public.
It was my job to personally brief the president, who in turn devoted an entire meeting to discussing its message.
We got dozens of these reports each week
We provided a measured, appropriate response, in direct relation to a realistic threat assessment
Given how low a priority the national security adviser thought this was, I think we actually gave it some pretty healthy table time.
We produced an educational video . . . about what to do in case of an outbreak. The Department of Health and Human Services had a page on its website for how citizens should respond to infected family members.
We knew Phalanx was a placebo, and we were grateful for it.
It calmed people down and let us do our jobs.
What, you would have rather we told people the truth?
Can you imagine the damage it would have done to that administration’s political capital?
We’re talking about an election year, and a damn hard, uphill fight.
The only reason we squeaked back into power was because our new propped-up patsy kept promising a “return to peace and prosperity.”
. . . it would have been political suicide to tell them that the toughest [times] were actually ahead.
All you can do is build a roof that you hope won’t leak, or at least won’t leak on the people who are gonna vote for you.
. . . in politics, you focus on the needs of your power base. Keep them happy, and they’ll keep you in office.
. . . you make it sound like we just forgot about them.
All you can do is build a roof that you hope won’t leak, or at least won’t leak on the people who are gonna vote for you.
. . . in politics, you focus on the needs of your power base. Keep them happy, and they’ll keep you in office.
. . . do they have to risk their jobs by raising taxes? Do they have to explain to Suburban Peter why they’re fleecing him for Ghetto Paul?
The more those elitist eggheads shouted “The Dead Are Walking,” the more most real Americans tuned them out.
The People:
The Department of Health and Human Services had a page on its website for how citizens should respond to infected family members.
Phalanx was a placebo, and we were grateful for it. It calmed people down and let us do our job.
What you would have rather we told people the truth?
The American people wouldn’t have settled for anything less. They thought they’d been through some pretty tough times, and it would have been political suicide to tell them that the toughest ones were actually up ahead.
All you can hope for is to make them manageable enough to allow people to get on with their lives.
People were learning to live with it and they were already hungry for something different.
The military, the police, the Pentagon
Before the Pentagon started making noise, it was my job . . . .
Can you image what America would have been like if the Federal government slammed on the brakes every time some paranoid crackpot cried “wolf” or “global warming” or “living dead”?
When have cops not asked for more men, better gear, more training hours, or “community outreach program funds”? Those pussies are almost as bad as soldiers, always whining about never having “what they need,” but do they have to risk their job by raising taxes?
The media:
. . . typical alarmist crap
The “media”? You mean those networks that are owned by some of the largest corporations in the world, corporations that would have taken a nosedive if another panic hit the stock market? That media?
Maybe they “dissuaded” a few younger crusading reporters, but, in reality, the whole thing was pretty much old news after a few months. It had become “manageable.”
Big news is big business, and you gotta stay fresh if you want to stay successful.
Oh sure, and you know who listens to [alternative media outlets]? Pansy, overeducated know-it-alls, and you know who listens to them? Nobody!
Who’s going to care about some PBS-NPR fringe minority that’s out of touch with the mainstream? The more those eggheads shouted “The Dead Are Walking,” the more most real Americans tuned them out
Agon analysis:
The first thing that jumps out at me is the irony of Carlson’s pre- and post-war employment. Before the war, he shuffled papers, considered public opinion, triangulated, and worked to put a positive spin on the administration’s actions. After the war, he shovels the droppings of cattle.
Similarities, anyone?
What seems most valuable to him is the opinion of others. Public opinion (votes) keeps him in office. However, the administration’s ability to handle real-world events will inevitably cause a backlash: has anyone ever done anything that hasn’t pissed someone off?
Carlson seems torn between the responsibility of protecting the administration (aka, his job) and the unfolding events of the zombie apocalypse. He can do the one (his job) by papering over any difficulties the administration might have in addressing the other.
He resents how much trouble the people “out there” make for him. Every action generates reports, and every report cries out for response. However, not all of those reports, not all of that information contribute to Carlson’s ultimate responsibility: to make the administration look good, to ensure that the President is re-elected, and to minimize any embarrassment that inaction or inappropriate action might cause the administration.
Because of his perception of his job, the early reports of zombies, the “Knight-Warnjews” report, the rising fear of the outbreak, the outbreak itself—all of these—are simply impediments to doing his job. His perception of his responsibility (prioritizing this report over that one; addressing the concerns of the President’s electoral base, rather than the American people at large; minimizing any damage caused by the administration’s misinterpretation of the zombie plague) kept him from fulfilling his responsibilities as a public servant, which is ultimately what he was.
In this, Carlson seems much like Marley’s ghost in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Scrooge tells Marley that he was a good businessman, that he should be happy that he made a lot of money and was successful. Marley howls and says:
“Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
Carlson, in missing this, seems to be an expression of the dominant evil, as Brooks sees it, that made the zombie apocalypse possible.
Assignment: What is evil in World War Z?
Topic: The nature of evil as expressed in Grover Carlson +
Comment: is defined as ignoring danger and serving only those whose interests coincide with his own.
Thesis: The nature of evil as expressed in Grover Carlson is defined as ignoring danger and serving only those whose interests coincide with his own.
Topic Sentence: Carlson’s contempt toward those who do not agree with his position suggests his notion of responsibility is limited to those who already agree with him.
Topic sentence: Carlson’s language suggests a reduction of complex issues into readily assimilated “factoids.”
Topic sentence: Carlson’s current job suggests the post-apocalyptic estimation of his place in the larger culture.
Topic sentence: Carlson’s example of evil is consistent with an inversion of Joseph Campbell’s definition of the hero.
Plan orange
Focus on the privileged
Willing sacrifice of those less fortunate
Supplies outliers to keep zombies busy
Reddicker’s submersion into an alternate personality as a result of what he’s done
His views of humanity
Values principles over being
Reddicker’s dispassionate nature in designing plan orange
Dramatic alignment:
some critics
Cluster analysis:
It goes by many names: “The Crisis,” “the Dark Years,” the Walking Plague,” as well as newer and more “hip” titles such as “World War Z” or “Z War One.”
Zombie remains a devastating word, unrivaled in its power to conjure up so many memories or emotions . . . .
I personally dislike this last moniker as it implies an inevitable “Z War Two.” For me, it will always be “The Zombie War”
. . . it is these memories, and emotions, that are the subject of this book
The entire second paragraph: “much smaller, much more personal conflict between me and the chairperson of the United Nation’s Postwar Commission Report.
But isn’t the human factor what connects us so deeply to our past . . . . (See entire paragraph)
In the case of this generation, those who have fought and suffered to win us this decade of peace, time is as much an enemy as it is an ally. Yes the coming years will provide . . ..
It is because of this enemy, the enemy of time, that I have forsaken the luxury of hindsight and published these survivors accounts . . . (to the end of the chapter)
. . . it came as a shock when I found almost half of that work deleted from the report’s final edition.
“It was all too intimate,” the chairperson said during one of our many “animated” discussions. “Too many opinions, too many feelings. That’s not what this report is about. We need clear facts and figures, unclouded by the human factor.”
Of course she was right.
The official report was a collection of cold, hard data, an objective “after-action report” that would allow future generations to study the events of that apocalyptic decade without being influenced by the “human factor.”
Some critics:
Some critics will, no doubt, take issue with the concept of a personal history book so soon after the end of worldwide hostilities.
. . . how can we have a real perspective when, in the words of a UN colleague, “We’ve been at peace about as long as we were at war.”
Agon analysis:
The fundamental agon here is the issue of history. Is it the lives of actual people, or is it the “official” record, the data, statistics, charts, and graphs that are compiled, manipulated, correlated, and maintained by “official” sources. The fundamental conflict in this book, it seems to me, is not between the interviewees and the zombies. The fundamental one is between the individuals fighting to survive and the governments that failed them. This failure is an indictment of inhumanity, the impersonal, forward moving, faceless, soulless momentum that is both bureaucracies and zombies. Thus, the book is about humans attempting to retain their humanity and what they have to do to accomplish this. Remember that the best ways to fight the zombies come from individuals. The infantry grunts invent the Lobo (combo double-blade ax and shovel), and the best weapon is the SIR, the standard issue rifle, the common rifle in the hands of the common man. Massive, multi-million dollar weapons don’t work. Governments don’t work without the individuals wielding the weapons. Even the most powerful weapons (as demonstrated at the Battle of Yonkers) are less effective than a troop of well-trained, well-led, well-armed men and women equipped with the right tools (as demonstrated at the Battle of Hope).

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