by Max Brooks Published by Duckworth 2009 ISBN 978 0 7156 5318 2
Are you alive and kicking? Not so sure? Perhaps you feel your own level of vitality, vim, and vigour are at a low ebb. If so The Zombie Survival Guide may be for you. It is a self-help book with a difference. It purports to protect the reader from entities called zombies. These fantasy creatures have became popular in modern horror fiction since the success of the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead. They are portrayed as lifeless, sterile and apathetic, supposedly roaming around with a shambling awkward limp, and experiencing little or no physical sensation or emotion. The popular myth is that they are either re-animated human corpses or human beings controlled by someone else by magic. In either case they are said to be devoid of life of their own, and so assumed to be wanting to suck the life-blood from those who get into their clutches. If they get hold of you the book suggests this would be a living death and it aims to give practical advice about how to avoid this peril.
Yes, it all sounds rather macabre but I do wonder if this is a potent symbol for our times.
From our childhood onwards our lives are filled with questions of one sort or another – some more pressing or even agonising than others. But where are we to look for valid answers and find the meaning of life?
There are the really big questions and the smaller ones. Here are a few of the bigger ones. Does outer space beyond our solar system go on forever or does it have an edge – and if so what is on the other side? Where do we come from, why are we here, and what will become of us when we die? I can imagine some alien intelligence on a far distant planet asking exactly the same questions. These sort of universal questions have puzzled thinking people down the ages.
Children as well as adults ask questions. The play age stage of childhood is often characterised by developmental theorists as one of explorative activity and exuberant discovery. Consequently good educational practice encourages a child-centred approach to learning. This compares favourably with the old approach of rote learning. Modern teachers enhance children’s interest by providing knowledge building on what they already know. They relate their teaching to the child’s limited experiences stretching their understanding a bit further.