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Of Cannibals

by Rook

I don’t think I ever said “cannibal” in response to the eternal question of what I wanted to be when I grew up, much to the relief of my mother, but when I was little, I used to think being a cannibal wouldn’t be too bad. I figured human flesh would probably taste like bread. I blame church for this, telling me I’m eating Jesus’s flesh when all I taste is the same white bread my mom would never buy for my sandwiches because we are a wheat bread family. I’d sit on the pew, letting the bread grow soggy in my mouth until I’d wash it down with the little cup of water I knew was on the way. Maybe if I let it sit there long enough, it would turn to skin, but it never did.

If I’m listing reasons for why I thought human flesh would taste like bread, I must also cite the fact I was called “Wonder Bread” once or twice because of my admittedly pallid complexion. “Pallid” must be the perfect word to describe my skin tone, because when my seventh grade English class first learned it as a vocabulary word, the entire class, in unison, looked over at me. I’m sure after all the attention was directed my way, “flushed” would have been a better description of my face. I’ve never seen bread blush, but some part of me associated flesh with bread for the longest time. Another part of me believed “town drunk” and “protester” and “cannibal” were all considered legitimate occupations, and eating bread all the time didn’t sound like too shabby of a livelihood. After all, sinking into a loaf of fresh, warm, buttered bread is one of the greatest experiences man can have in this mortal existence.

So when I learned that human flesh actually tastes more like veal or pork than bread, you can understand why I lost interest. Pork chops are one of my least favorite dishes that Mom tends to make on Sundays, and they always have been. She makes them too dry for my taste, which is nothing against her cooking, but rather against my habit of never putting sauces or dressings on anything. I was at least a teenager before I would put pasta sauce on my spaghetti willingly, and I still never put dressings on my salads. I’d probably enjoy these dishes more if I ate them correctly, but some primal part of me refuses to join civilization and enjoy ranch dressing.

Not only am I not a fan of the reported taste of the “long pork” or any sauces that would make it taste better, but there’s also that whole kuru thing. You know, the neurodegenerative disorder you get from eating other humans, especially their brain. I know it has to do with “abnormally folded prion proteins” (thanks, Wikipedia), but part of me wonders if we don’t get sick from eating all the dark thoughts housed in people’s brainboxes that they shove into the deepest recesses of their mind. Eating that stuff can’t be good for a person.

Yet some people still argue that cannibalism, so long as the “subject” is healthy, is not any worse for someone than eating any other animal. I’ve even come across an article called “Butchering the Human Carcass for Human Consumption,” written by a “Bob Arson”, which has step-by step instructions for “[breaking] down the human body from the full figure into serviceable choice cuts of meat.” It also has a recipe for a marinade, which sounds like it’s made from every ingredient in your spice cupboard, as well as “3 dashes savory ashes from one fine thin joint.” I have not tested the tastiness of the sauce for three reasons: first, it contains more than one ingredient it would be illegal for me to buy; second, I do not have a prepared carcass to test it on, nor do I want that opportunity; and third, I’m not a big sauce fan in general, as previously mentioned. The recipe is hosted on the Church of Euthanasia’s website, and is listed under “sermons.” Google has recorded me visiting their website at least six different times over the past four years. I have no doubt I’ve been added to some sort of watchlist just for visiting so frequently. For this reason and many others that are far more obvious, I must say I do not recommend the recipe to anyone. Not that I think anyone needs this non-recommendation. The vast majority of the population of Earth consider it taboo and disgusting to even think about cannibalism at all.

It’s such a globally taboo topic that many writers during the fictitious travelogue era would insert cannibals into their stories as a way of othering native island dwellers to a point where they no longer resemble humans as we know them. Cannibalism was, and still is a means of determining a loss of humanity. Cannibalistic serial killers—from Jeffrey Dahmer to Stephen Griffiths—must have lost their humanity long before beginning to eat people, because only an inhuman monster would eat human flesh, right?

Well, normal people do it constantly. Not to the same degree, of course, but every time you swallow, you ingest a little bit of your own flesh in the form of loose cheek cells. Some people eat their own fingernails or the bothersome skin around them. Most people, when faced with a quick-but-bloody paper cut, react by sticking the wound in their mouth to get the blood off. This auto-cannibalism and even auto-vampirism happens all around us all the time. Some argue that this isn’t true cannibalism, but I think those people are just afraid of the taboo—they don’t like being labelled a cannibal of any caliber. It makes them feel sick. But those same people might then go to church on Sunday, after a hearty meal of marinated pork chops, and seek their peace with God while they

Eat the juicy flesh of Jesus; drink his fruity blood.



A/N: I wrote this personal essay as an assignment for my creative nonfiction class. The assignment was to write an essay after one of Montaigne's. The essay I chose was "Of Cannibals."

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560 Reviews

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Sat Sep 30, 2017 12:27 am
Atticus wrote a review...

Hey there! MJ stopping by for a short review :)

it contains more than one ingredient it would be illegal for me to buy
Instead of 'it', it should be 'that'. Confusing, right?

One thing I would caution you on is how you assumed that cannibalism is a global taboo. I read somewhere that in Japan cannibalism is actually legal, and there are several well-known semi-celebrity cannibals. I'm like 99% sure this is an actual thing, and it was verified by several sketchy websites and journalism sites.

Even in cultures besides Japan, I watched a video (maybe by BuzzFeed, I don't really remember) where people were faced with a moral dilemma in which you were flying in an airplane with one other person, the pilot, and it crashed. Would you eat the pilot to survive? And then the pilot changed each time, like one time he specifically asked you not to eat his organs, and then the next time he was your best friend, or something like that. And several people actually chose cannibalism. Granted, they might not have been completely serious, but I think that it's not as socially taboo as you might think.

Also, I would caution you on saying, even implying, that communion is cannibalism. I (as a Christian) was not offended, but it is possible that somebody, especially of the Catholic denomination, could see that as rude or insensitive. Technically, the difference would be that ti is both a symbolism and that Jesus is still alive.

So if communion is cannibalism, then would me taking a Cheez-It and pretending for it to be a human be cannibalism? Obviously that's a bad example, but the principle applies-- it's not actual human flesh. That would be a little bit strange, and might raise some red flags. I'm pretty sure it's also illegal in the US, but I've never googled it (my search history is so weird right now because I just googled things like 'is cannibalism legal' and 'punishment for cannibalism', so my parents are probably a little concerned).

Those are my two main critiques. Sorry I got a little bit off-topic, but hopefully my points were still valid. I know that Biscuits is a great technical reviewer, so I figured I might as well go on a tangent in the hopes that it helps you in your editing and also to provide a counter-argument so you know what the main points might be.

Best wishes & good luck with RevMo,

Rook says...

I'm aware of some cultures that practice cannibalism for religious reasons, but that doesn't mean it's not still globally taboo. Basically 99.9% of everyone agrees that Cannibalism Is Bad.
And just because it's taboo doesn't mean people outside of the few cultures where it is accepted don't EVER do it, especially in life or death situations. There's a ton of stories about survival cannibalism. We're wired to eat each other when the going gets SUPER tough, but until then, we're wired not to. It's in our instincts to have a very strong aversion to cannibalism. Most other animals have this same aversion as well.

Also, with the religious thing, there are some christian denominations that think it literally is the flesh of Christ. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transubstantiation
They might be offended I'm calling it cannibalism, but that's where the whole "isn't it kind of silly we have such a taboo if that's what so many people believe?"

I don't know if pretending a cheezit was human would be cannibalism. I mean, to an extent I think it would be. I think the intention would be there? I think there's different degrees of cannibalism. Maybe that's what my point is. Many of the lower degrees we do all the time and aren't taboo, but they'd still be called cannibalism, but people don't want that because of the taboo.

And yeah, of course it's illegal almost everywhere lol

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Fri Sep 29, 2017 10:50 pm
ExOmelas wrote a review...

So this is what you've been doing instead of writing me a new chapter of TFUoT... Oh actually I remember seeing this. Ooh I wonder what you've changed...


Pork chops are one of my least favorite dishes that Mom tends to make on Sundays, and they always have been. She makes them too dry for my taste, which is nothing against her cooking, but rather against my habit of never putting sauces or dressings on anything.

So like, this is fine by itself, but your first sentence makes it sound like - Veal? Who could ever have expected me to like veal?? God, what is [/i]wrong[/i] with people. Since your essay is largely tongue-in-cheek, I think that would have been a humorous way to represent the illogical thought process of a child as you have been doing. (And doing well, I should say :P)

The recipe is hosted on the Church of Euthanasia’s website

The paragraph this quote is from is kind of a wall of text. This is where I think you could split it, but maybe either of the two sentences before it would also work. It's almost an entirely aesthetic thing but hey, I'm sure you are experienced enough for me to not have to explain wall of text to you xD

The bit that goes into the quote is strangely formatted. How about:

seek their peace with God while they "Eat the juicy flesh of Jesus; drink his fruity blood." (Kyllorac). Just like a sort of in-line reference thing. Also, are you referencing Kyllorac in a thing for a class?


So, you're going to hate me for this, but the more that I think about it, I wish you'd gone more into the bit in the penultimate paragraph about the taboo. I suppose it's maybe a similar taboo to like, BDSM? You know like, getting your finger eaten by somebody is probably bad for you. Similarly, getting whipped for fun causes harm to your body. It can be unintuitive to people that someone would choose to be physically harmed for pleasure because they just can't picture that ever being fun. You can see how it would be impossible to believe that a person would consent to for example having their finger eaten. But just... imagine if someone did. Would the person eating the finger be morally responsible?

This sort of extreme liberalism (in the sense that people can literally consent to whatever harm they want as long as it doesn't cause harm to others/conflict with someone else's rights) is something my flatmate and I argue about constantly. Like, sometimes I'm convinced he'd ban boxing if he could. But anyway, I think these are really interesting questions to answer and I'd kind of like to see a little more focus that way.

I'm sorry I didn't mention this the first time I read it but for some reason it just didn't occur to me, or I was looking at more structural things. I'm not sure, but my apologies whatever it was.

As it stands, I think you have done what you've set out to do really well. This is a really satisfying kind of humour that is just very enjoyable to read. Especially when it's about such a serious subject, this just becomes really absurd, and that's the kind of thing I love.

Your rambling certainly feels like it has more direction than last time I saw it. I don't remember enough of the previous version to remember exact changes, but things just sort of seem to circle back to the point more than before.

In general I just have advice for essays that is the same advice I give to the new debaters at uni. Whenever you make any statement, unless it is blindingly obvious, show why it is a) true and b) important/relevant. I swear this just makes any argument you make more watertight and less vulnerable to people asking questions you could have easily answered but that now sound like rebuttal.

Hope this helps and pls can I have more of your LMS soon,
Biscuits :P

What will live longer, you or your words? Something to think about the next time you abandon a project...
— Omni