I always get it when I am sitting with dear friends enjoying good food and conversation. I sometimes get it while walking alone in the woods on a clear fall day. Some people get it when they are listening to music or viewing a painting. It can be evoked in the cathedral or on the seashore.
It’s called “fullness.” At least that’s what Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor calls these encounters. Fullness is a sense that life is “fuller, richer, deeper more worthwhile, more admirable, more than what is should be” (5).
Historically, and in the case of most religious believers, the power from which fullness flows has some transcendent source outside of the individual.
If you are not the religious type, there are some internal sources of fullness. Delight in reason is one. 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.” 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.”
Another possible internal source of fullness comes from the Romantics who suggest one plumb their “own inner depths” or Nature, or both (9).
Then along comes George Romero and his zombie horde. The movie Night of the Living Dead shows a complete rejection of 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).
Many (but not all) of the zombie narratives which follow Romero’s 1968 film also reject what Charles Taylor calls fullness. My questions is, do they reject it in order to present the bleakness of the human condition after we strip off all of the comforting adornments with which we have clothed the rotting corpses of our lives, or do they show us the logical end of a philosophy of life that doesn’t really line up with out experiences–we do, after all, enjoy food and friends, don’t we?