Continuing Sakshi’s conversation in “Is Hope A Bad Thing?” on Zone One, I think that hope is a necessary component for change and transition. In Sakshi’s post, she discusses Mark Spitz’s connection between hope and the pre-apocalyptic world, in which Mark Spitz views hope as the equivalent to a “gateway drug” (222) because of the duality of its effects. While enveloping yourself in nostalgia may be a nice temporary reprieve, it is also dangerous to hold onto hope so tightly that it affects your safety in the situation you are currently in. Mark Spitz’s perspective is understandable, as hope is defined as a very risky precipice for his fellow survivors. However, I see hope as more of a middleman between the past and the future. Rather than feeling as if you are constantly on the brink of things, hope is an agent for a certain rite of passage. In Zone One, this rite of passage is named Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder (PASD).
In this class, it’s hard not to make connections between the works we’ve read and current society. While we’ve touched upon the medicine side of the science in these fictions, I feel as though we did not dig further into the structures of these universes. This is important as all three works are set in a context in which humanity has a life-changing future ahead of it. In Zulus, we touched upon the idea that the true survivor is planet Earth itself, rather than mankind. By expanding this concept, the same can be said in Clay’s Ark and Zone One. Humans are just a mere blip in the Earth’s deep and lengthy chronicle. In each work, no one had the foresight to even begin to guess the predicament in which their world would be in. Just like how no one would have expected 75% of life on Earth to be wiped out by a single asteroid hundreds of thousands of years ago, no one expected the zombie epidemic to break out in Zone One. And yet, the planet carried on and created new, but different life forms and environments. These events are, as Mark Spitz put it, “accident[s] that [outlive their] circumstances and [blossom]” (224).
Similar to how the Earth accepts any changes it experiences and acts accordingly, the survivors need to learn to do the same. As established by Mark Spitz that every survivor is diagnosed with PASD, hope plays a core part as a coping mechanism to this state they are in. While Mark Spitz’s experience with hope is a negative one, I see it being used as a positive instrument. The definition of a coping mechanism, according to Dictionary.com, is “an adaptation to environmental stress that is based on conscious or unconscious choice and that enhances control over behavior or gives psychological comfort.” There are many instances throughout the novel in which the survivors try to normalize the world by either incorporating their personal pasts or familiar actions into their lives. Some examples include the tradition of eating and drinking together (196), celebrating new life (the triplets), and practicing religion. I believe that participating in nostalgia allows survivors to “enhance control” over their behavior by easing themselves into this new world, accepting the differences they need to face and adapt to accordingly. In doing so, a sense of closure from your past life that only you can provide yourself is eventually delivered.
Therefore, rather than call hope a “gateway drug” I think it’s more appropriate to label it as a prescription drug instead, one that is most effective in certain amounts.