What is the Matter? asks the Owner, appearing in the Kitchen.
I am scared, I say.
How do you know? Asks the Owner, Blearily.
My Heart is Beating fast, I say, I have Butterflies in my Stomach and I Cannot Sleep.
Why? Says the Owner.
I am Anticipating my Imminent Demise at the Hands of a Headless Zombie, I say.
But how do you know, says the Owner, that this is Fear, as opposed to Excitement, Anticipation, or Simple Curiosity?
Fear is the Most Appropriate thing to Feel in the Presence of a Headless Zombie, I say.
Forget the Headless Zombies for a Moment, says the Owner, and Consider the Meaning of Fear.
That is Difficult, I say. Given their Imminence, I say.
I will Ask them to Wait, says the Owner, whilst we Consider how the Moral Dog feels when he is Happy and Excited at the Prospect of a Trip to the Seaside.
My Heart beats Fast, I say, and I have Butterflies in my Stomach, I say. I cannot Sleep, I say.
Exactly, says the Owner. Fear and Happiness are both States of Alertness regarding Anticipated Events, says the Owner. We feel them whenever we are faced with Uncertainty in the Face of High Stakes, and must Swiftly decide whether the Appropriate Action is Fight, Flight or Finding our Bucket and Spade, says the Owner.
And I see where you are going with this, I say, but the issue here is that to a Headless Zombie I may, in fact, be a Steak, I say. It may be true that the Visceral Reactions characteristic of Fear and Excitement are identical, and so these reactions cannot be what allow us to tell emotions apart, I say. However the Prefrontal Cortex of a Moral Dog Computes both the Physical Sensations produced by a High Adrenaline State and his Obvious Common Sense Knowledge regarding Zombies of the Headless Variety and Determines this it is Fear, I say. Therefore, when I hear the Zombies coming…
You mean when you hear Silence, says the Owner.
When I hear the Zombies Coming Silently, my Hippocampus determines whether Silence is a Quiet Night or an Army of Advancing Zombies, I say. It also, incidentally, determines whether that Figure creeping Upon me in the Darkness is a Sympathetic Owner hearing my Howls and offering me a Warm and Relatively Protected Spot between Herself and the Man from which he can Mount a Spiritied Defence, or a Big Meanie come to Tell me to Go to Sleep, thus Abandoning Me to a Life amongst the Undead.
The Vividness of the Moral Dog’s Imagination is overshadowing his ability to Accurately Assess the probability of Headless Zombies, says the Owner. This leads to Inappropriate Responses to the Beauty of Nature’s Silence, says the Owner. Like Howling in the night, says the Owner.
It was not Howling, I say, It was the Ninth Verse of All you Need is Love, I say.
Paul McCartney did not write Nine Verses, says the Owner.
The Moral Dog is Extemporising in his Fear and Panic, I say. You may also notice he has Changed the Key Slightly, I say.
The Moral Dog should think of Silence as Golden, says the Owner. Immanuel Kant famously said that the Wonders of Nature are often More Attractive when they are more Terrifying, says the Owner. He said ‘as long as we find ourselves in safety, and we gladly call these objects sublime because they elevate the strength of our soul above its usual level, and allow us to discover within ourselves a capacity for resistance of quite another kind, which gives us the courage to measure ourselves against the apparent all-powerfulness of nature,’ says the Owner.
He was talking about Waterfalls, I say. I would be delighted if Silence Signified a Waterfall, I say. but this seems unlikely, I say. Trips to the Seaside, I say, are also Rarely Silent, I say. One has to consider only those things which are Silent, I say, when determining whether there is Cause for Fear, I say. Heidegger said that Fear always has an Object and is Only Resolved when that Object is removed, I say. The Object of My Fear is the Silence, I say. The Only things that Creep Silently upon the Moral Dog would appear to be Headless Zombies, I say. Even Santa says Hohoho, I say. Terry Pratchett was very clear on that, I say.
One Cannot Remove Silence, says the Owner.
Au Contraire, I say, allow your Moral Dog to Demonstrate, I say.
The Moral Dog lies between the Owner and the Man and listens to the Zombies walking silently away. It is a Good Result.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.