The New York Times recently published a pretty perplexing article.
The article, titled A Taste for Cannibalism?, was penned by Alex Beggs and it seems to make a case in favor of cannibalism: the consumption of human flesh.
The author says that—considering the latest releases on television, cinema and books—a tendency for cannibalism is being developed.
Turns out, cannibalism has a time and a place. In the pages of some recent stomach-churning books, and on television and film screens, Ms. Summers and others suggest that that time is now.
The author then presents examples of these cultural productions which, mind you, aren’t a few degenerate outliers. In fact, they’re movies involving mainstream “stars” and potential “blockbusters.”
The article quotes the co-creator of a famous TV show portraying cannibalism explaining why she thinks it may become mainstream:
As to what may be fueling the desire for cannibalism stories today, Ms. Lyle, the “Yellowjackets” co-creator, said, “I think that we’re obviously in a very strange moment.” She listed the pandemic, climate change, school shootings and years of political cacophony as possible factors.
“I feel like the unthinkable has become the thinkable,” Ms. Lyle said, “and cannibalism is very much squarely in that category of the unthinkable.”
A Familiar Taste
Strangely enough, this wouldn’t be the first time the West has had cannibalism on its menu. We had referenced a book within an earlier article entitled Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: The History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians authored by Richard Sugg. From this book we learn about “cannibal medicine,” or how Renaissance Europe was familiar with using the body parts and fluids of dead humans for different reasons, and how they did not shy away from even consuming them.
It wouldn’t really be feasible to quote the entire work here, but the following lines from the book provide an adequate summary of the issue (p. 307):
For well over two hundred years [till the 18th century] European Christians ate or drank human flesh, bone, brains and blood. They rubbed the oil of human fat onto rheumatic or gouty joints, onto cancers, and into the facial scars left by smallpox. Some ate or drank human shit and urine. A shadowy network of suppliers, sea captains, graverobbers, executioners and anatomists oversaw the acquisition of bodies, blood, bones and fat. Whilst English soldiers and settlers seized Irish land, others discreetly foraged for moss-crowned skulls (prizes which, admittedly, may sometimes have been those of the invaders rather than the natives). Doctors and chemists and hangmen chopped, sawed, filed, dissected and pulverised human bones, skull, tissue, brains and nerves into the various forms required for practitioners and clients.
Sugg also says that a large part of the anti-Catholic polemics of the Protestants was bashing them for believing in the literality of the Eucharist—basically eating Jesus (‘alayhissalam)—despite the Protestants themselves remaining ambiguous on the matter.
Muslims have also been on the receiving end of the disturbing dietary tastes of the Europeans.
Popular Lebanese-Christian writer Amin Maalouf, in his book The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, dedicates dozens of pages to the 1098 siege of Ma’arra—a city in Syria which bore witness to the cannibalism of the Crusaders.
Maalouf even quotes Latin chroniclers who can’t be accused of harboring a subjective bias or partisanship (p. 39):
In Ma’arra our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking-pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled. The inhabitants of towns and villages near Ma’arra would never read this confession by the Frankish chronicler Radulph of Caen, but they would never forget what they had seen and heard. The memory of these atrocities, preserved and transmitted by local poets and oral tradition, shaped an image of the Franj that would not easily fade (…) the Turks would never forget the cannibalism of the Occidentals. Throughout their epic literature, the Franj are invariably described as anthropophagi.
Modernity as Cannibalism
Would such a return to cannibalism reveal anything about the ideology of the West?
Many have noted the resemblance between cannibalism and capitalism. There is even a song by some British punk band from the ’80s called “Capitalism is Cannibalism.” Like cannibalism, capitalism is all about consumption. It is a system where humans are “consumed,” either externally through wage slavery or internally through different psychological disorders. What is depression—so characteristic of our postindustrial societies—if not a form of self-consumption?
Alongside capitalism, another pillar of liberalism which may justify cannibalism even more emphatically is individualism. After all, if someone is dead, then the Harm Principle is neutralized since he’ll feel no pain from being made into some sort of delicacy or snack and subsequently eaten. On the other hand, if a cannibal is prevented from eating a dead body, then their “sovereign rights” as an individual; their pleasure; and “maximization of happiness” would be subverted, and this of course would go against the very basics of liberalism.
Whether it’s “choosing” their gender or eating a dead human; according to individualism, nothing can really be wrong if it isn’t hurting anyone and if it somehow results in the individual’s contentment.
After having consumed their very souls, perhaps it is inevitable that a civilization based upon the whims and desires of individuals would eventually lead to cannibalism and the consumption of their physical bodies.