C = Cannibalism, A to Z Blog Challenge

Cannibalism is the act of eating one’s own species. Some peoples practiced it as part of their culture. Others resort to it in times of famine or terrible ordeal, like the Donner Party. Still others are just sick and have problems, like Albert Fish (NEVER look this man up unless you have a strong stomach) or Jeffrey Dahmer.

In case your sick ass was wondering. No judgment, though.

In case your sick ass was wondering. No judgment, though.

This first example, those who practiced cannibalism from a cultural standpoint, may eat the brain and heart of a deceased loved one as a sign of respect, or to absorb the power of those recently dead from within the tribe. Still others would eat intruders as a way of showing dominance and taking on the life essence and strength of the victim.

Eats04_R1There is a natural aversion to cannibalism. It’s featured in all sorts of horror stories, from the absurd to the pulp to the downright terrifying. I’m not certain what horrifies people the most — the thought of eating someone else or of being eaten oneself. Both seem equally terrifying to me. The closest I ever came to understanding this tribal concern was, oddly enough, reading Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned. Two of the characters are from the long, long ago and ate their loved ones as a sign of respect. I’m not saying I would ever do it, but I think it speaks to the power of characterization that I was able to understand. Then again, I was very young when I read it. Who knows?

The second type of cannibalism is those who do so out of horrid necessity, usually like the Donner Party, who were trapped in a terrible blizzard on their trek through the Sierra Nevadas to California in 1846-1847. The winter was cruel, and the settlers wandered around in circles trying to find their destination or help. Out of the original party of 87 people, only 48 survived, and they did so largely by eating their dead. Many of these survivors were tortured by what they did forever after. These weren’t people culturally trained to honor their loved ones by consuming the organs said to house the essential self. This would be like you suffering the grief and loss of losing your brother or wife or husband and then being forced to eat them to stay alive. Today, the tragedy has taken on the feel and strain of a joke, the way one will laugh away the thoughts of impending death.

Unless you're The Simpsons. Then it's just funny.

Unless you’re The Simpsons. Then it’s just funny.

I imagine the opposite effect from the cannibal tribal mentality was in effect here — aware they were taking their loved ones into them to sustain themselves, the survivors were traumatized by it rather than thinking they were honoring the dead. Always aware that they survived as a result of their dead loved ones. It’s a horrible thought for modern sensibilities.

Unless you are a sick individual and a serial killer.

Now, I researched the two aforementioned cannibalistic serial killers, Albert Fish and Jeffrey Dahmer, making myself nauseated. I had read about them before, and refreshing my memory was…unpleasant. I even wrote a bit about each of them, but the blog post was getting longer and longer, and I figure this will be an unpopular entry anyway, so I will merely link to their respective Wikipedia pages and allow you to read on your own.

Albert Fish: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Fish

Jeffrey Dahmer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Dahmer

All this horror and morally reprehensible talk is both interesting and revolting. Personally, when I read the details of Dahmer and Fish’s crimes, I was nauseated, and that is why we have a truncated version here. All in all, it does make the one cannibal in our hearts and minds seem positively tame by comparison.

Fiction doesn't compare to reality. At least we can tell ourselves that he doesn't exist.

Fiction doesn’t compare to reality. At least we can tell ourselves that he doesn’t exist.

Alternate letter considerations: Cryptozoology, Catherine de Medici, Cthulu (this one was tempting, but I got it elsewhere on this month’s list), and chupacabras.

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~ by Darren Endymion on August 4, 2015.

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