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Cannibalism


Sisyphus
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This is a fairly simple question. Why not? I'm assuming that it can be done in a sanitary way, so the natural fear of getting human diseases from a human body is null. Also, there's no murder involved. Let's say, instead, that a relative put it in his will that instead of being embalmed or cremated, he should be served as the main course at a memorial dinner, and that it would be doing him dishonor if the guests declined. Would you have a bite? Why or why not?

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I wouldn't becasue I'm a vegetarian. I see nothing wrong with canabolism for cultural reasons, and of course I'd be against it if it was against the will of the deceased.

 

But, like in Stranger in a Strange Land, it's certainly a way for the deceased be become one with the living.

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I think it's one of those things that most people aren't against, as a general rule, but still wouldn't do, given the option. I can't think of any moral value it violates, but at the same time, societal conditioning still tells us, "disgusting."

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There are a few health risks involved with eating another human (mainly if you eat their brain) but I think the main reason is that whenever "advanced" cultures find one that is far behind them, and cannibalistic, they link the lack of cultural advancement with the cannibalism. If suddenly a massive society with advanced technology and cannibalistic tendencies was discovered, it would suddenly be a lot more appealing.

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Either that, or it would act as a rationalization for still feeling superior to them. Europeans were able to do that pretty well when first encountering cultures that were in most ways more advanced than their own (like the Chinese), based on cultural differences that were far less extreme than cannibalism.

 

I should also note that I would probably just go with it, in the spirit of scientific inquiry. When else am I going to find out what human meat tastes like?

 

Incidentally, my inspirations for asking this question come from two sources. One, Montaigne's essay On Cannibals, which aside from being very thought provoking (though not really all that much about cannibalism), is also worthwhile by virtue of coming from one of the best and most honest writers of all time. The other is an extremely silly review (pseudo-review) I recently wrote of the dark French comedy, Delicatessen, which I reproduce here for the purposes of general amusement:

 

Confessions of an Inadvertent Cannibal

 

I must confess: my view of humanity was profoundly and irrevocably changed upon my first viewing of the 1991 Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet documentary, Delicatessen. My feeble psychic defenses – a fondness for deli sandwiches, a natural distrust of clowns, an ineptitude at the French language – were unceremoniously toppled like a rickety house of cards before a great sneeze of confrontational Truth. I had been a fool, and the wise but reproachful glow of the television would not suffer fools kindly that day.

 

No, it was not the television that suffered; it was I, and it is I who continue to suffer, for - alas! - I have yet another confession to make. I now know full well the terrible price paid by communities of surreal, post-Apocalyptic French tenements in order to provide the shamelessly hungry with thinly sliced morsels of pleasure – full well, I do! And yet my crime is this: I yearn for said morsels, still. I lust for that cold, forbidden flesh betwixt the enveloping hemispheres of a kaiser roll, with lettuce, tomato, and the shared guilt of man. Also, mayo. It is my greatest desire, my only weakness, my obsession.

 

"But Monsieur," you might well cry, "what is this madness? Why is it only human flesh that you desire, and not beef, turkey, or pastrami?" A fair question, to be sure. I myself do not fully know the answer, but I have suspicions. The superficial answer is that, as any connoisseur of the butcher's art could tell you, the finest cuts of meat in all the world come not from mighty New York or austere Hamburg, but rather the simple, fog-wreathed swamps of the cartoonish alternate-reality French countryside. And, as we've seen all too well, the combination of war with subterranean vegetarian guerrillas and an apparent complete lack of sunlight has rendered its once proud people nearly destitute, with corn as precious as gold and non-human meat practically unheard of. But, when one wants the best, only the best will do, and so my options are tragically limited.

 

I cannot help but suspect, however, that there may be a deeper, darker, more sinister root to my affliction. After all, mere lunchmeat preference has driven few men to complicity in murder, and even fewer who, like myself, also have severe germ phobias. Yes, the very thought of actually ingesting the uncooked flesh of another, possibly sickly human, makes me nearly as revolted as hungry. And yes, I have at minimum an intellectual aversion to unnecessary, unjust, and brutal murder. Yet, when push comes to proverbial shove, I find myself unable to care very much at all, which is in itself every bit as alarming as the object of my apathy.

 

Dearly would I like to place this root outside of myself. Perhaps, I rationalize, the same unscrupulous butcher who weekly murders his own housekeeper in order to sell and consume the meat gained therefrom might also be unscrupulous enough to drug the meat he supplies me with, perhaps with some conscience-numbing or highly addictive herb. But no. Ultimately, I have too much respect for the man as a fellow gourmet - if not necessarily a humanitarian - to entertain the suspicion that he would taint his product with vulgar additives. To a true butcher, meat is sacred, and the consumption of that meat an unusually literal-minded Communion.

 

Does my apathy, then, stem from some nightmarish flaw in my own psyche? Some demon within me that I refuse to acknowledge or consider? No.

 

If I have not been drugged, and there's clearly nothing wrong with me, why is it that I keep coming back to the dark deli of the moor? Why have I, even as I have been sitting here composing this confession, been absent-mindedly munching on one of the very sandwiches whose allure so confounds me? Be gone! There, its remains are banished to the refrigerator, and I find fresh clarity in the absence of its siren song.

 

As a result of my newfound sobriety, the true culprit in the crime that is my addiction has become apparent: society. For it is society that so romanticizes the consumption of savory meats, that turns up its nose at honest grain and popularizes the meat-based sandwich. Furthermore, it is the same society which feeds my lust that ultimately overwhelms all voices of dissent; the meek, the innocent, and the herbivorous all too literally feed the maw of supply and demand. What, then, am I to do? If I continue to deny myself this savory pleasure, I fear I will become no more than the object of another man's sweet, sweet vice.

 

Even the clown, most innocent of all, purveyor of joy and music, friend of man and simian alike, is not safe from the butcher's tyranny. When such an obviously potent symbol of innocence and virtue is nearly destroyed by the complicity of ordinary, whimsical collaborators, what chance do I have as one who merely finds his own tastes confounding? Surely, none at all! Like a pubescent schoolgirl, I must join the vicious pack of hunters or be hunted down, myself. Truly, my repeated sin is but an act of survival, my role an atom in the Hobbesian leviathan of institutionalized cannibalism.

 

Clearly, my actions are justified by any rational standard. No honorable court of law could convict me of any crime, nor find legitimate fault with my decision to retrieve the half-eaten sandwich from my refrigerator and consume it, thereby disposing of the abomination and bringing dignity to the deceased. I have done all that any man could do in my place, and if any special judgment be passed, let it be a commendation of my piety, my good citizenship, and my sophisticated palette. What more could possibly be demanded of me? Nothing.

 

For some reason, however, receiving such well-deserved honors does not entirely satisfy my keen (perhaps too keen!) moral compass. While these revelations explain well enough why I allowed myself to indulge in this foul pleasure, they still do not explain why I do not particularly care. Call me old-fashioned, call me a bleeding-heart, call me a saint if you really must (I think that's probably an exaggeration, but thanks!), but I think that suffering and injustice ought to make one upset. So why aren't I? Just what is this evil curse of apathy that has been imposed upon me, and who is responsible?

 

The same documentary that ought to have traumatized me did contain one scene in particular that might be illuminating. The infamous butcher himself is taking his mistress in his arms, and the mattress in their boudoir begins to squeak rhythmically. Unconsciously, the other denizens of that infernal tenement adjust their own activities to match this rhythm. The stroke of a paint roller, the scales of a cello, the inflating of a bicycle tire all conform to the master's lovemaking.

 

Clearly, therefore, some foul magic pervades the whole region, attacking and bending the wills of all to a common, diabolical purpose. No wonder, then, that the purchase of these succulent cuts comes so easily to me, yet! By the time that Gothic tower emerges from the ubiquitous fog, one's mind must already be seduced by the tantalizing taste of tender manflesh. And no wonder that I did not sense the evil of the place until seeing its inner secrets on film! Surely, otherwise I would have immediately questioned the source of so much meat in a land where beans are currency, even if the meat were truly outstanding, which it is.

 

But what form does this magic take? Some might cynically claim that there is no magic at all, that people will adapt to whatever they need to to survive, that nothing is so abhorrent that it cannot seduce the unwary with prosperity and security. These people are wrong. It's magic.

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There are a few health risks involved with eating another human (mainly if you eat their brain) but I think the main reason is that whenever "advanced" cultures find one that is far behind them, and cannibalistic, they link the lack of cultural advancement with the cannibalism. If suddenly a massive society with advanced technology and cannibalistic tendencies was discovered, it would suddenly be a lot more appealing.

 

There are some bad genetic defects occuring down the generation line when cultures partake in cannibalism. I think I saw it on the Discovery Channel, but I couldn't find anything about it on wikipedia. Anybody know more about this?

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So I did. My apologies to both of you.

 

..back to cannibalism

 

 

Prion Diseases and a Penchant for Brains

Cagan H. Sekercioglu

Science 16 July 2004 305: 342-343 [DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5682.342] (in Letters)

...am not convinced' date=' however, that acquired prion disease causing the selective pressure results mainly from cannibalism in other populations around the world....[/b']

Full Text » PDF »

 

Prion Diseases and the BSE Crisis

Stanley B. Prusiner

Science 10 October 1997 278: 245-251 [DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5336.245] (in Articles)

...It is thought that BSE is a result of cannibalism in which faulty industrial practices produced prion-contaminated feed for cattle....

Abstract » Full Text » PDF »

 

I'm not a member, so I couldn't get the articles. But this is exactly what I'm talking about. Every other article I found locked me out as well.

 

There are conflicting research data about these diseases. What I remember watching was about an inherited disease in specific African tribes that perpetually eat their own. It's been awhile and this research may have been proved null since.

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I remember reading that humans are very tough like cheap steak. The only parts that are fairly tender are the palms of the hands and the butt. Why would one what to eat tough steak when cow, chicken, sheep, fish, and pig are cheap, tasty and more tender. I don't like innards so humans are sortof useless for food. Good thing because a black market would probably form.

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What is accepted and what is ethical changes from country to country, so cannibalism being ethical changes, in america, I'd deffinately say not, but in smaller and less advanced countries such as the deep jungles of brazil it is more accepted.

 

Although, in all honesty, I see nothing wrong with it, we're all just carbon and meat. I suppose it depends on the manner of death and the circumstances surrounding the act.

 

Still, http://www.eathufu.com is very interesting for all those interested.

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Human being are a top of the food chain predator and therefore they have a correspondingly high level of environmental toxicity. This is exacerbated by the long lifespan. Meat should be consumed from young vegetable eating animals to limit ones intake of accumulated environmental toxins.

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  • 1 month later...
Interestingly, up until the 70s it was a custom to eat the dead at funerals in papa new guinea, apparantly the brain was particualy prized as it was thought to pass on intelligence.

 

Yep the best known cannibalistic tribe in Papua New Guinea is the Fore group. They ate their dead at funerary feats until it was banned in 1957. I think they thought it was kind of rude to throw your relatives in a hole and let them rot. Anyway they suffered from an epidemic of a prion disease called kuru (not the same as CJD but caused by the same thing). Presumably one person just happened to have a sporadic case of prion disease, got eaten, spread it and so on. I think it became the leading cause of death at one point.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuru_%28disease%29

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If it was possible to regrow(or reconstruct) limbs, would it be so bad for cannibalism of a living person? Assuming with their consent. Kind of like being able to mold the gamey and fatty quality of your own meal heheh. You could be anestnatized* and then have a new limb regenerated while you dine on meat of your own quality.

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that and when jack the ripper was tied with cannibalisim, it doesnt seem like an appealing thing, "kindneys for supper" one of his possible diary entries* read

 

*'The diary of jack the ripper' unsure if it has been proven to be a fake or not,

 

Edit: Personally i dont see any moral difference in eating other humans than eating a cow, i mean, ever been to the resteraunt at the end of the universe? having it written in a will would be the same as the cow in douglas adams story.

 

also isnt there a cultural group that beleive in eatin the placenta after a woman has given birth, or am i thinking of cows again?

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Let's say, instead, that a relative put it in his will that instead of being embalmed or cremated, he should be served as the main course at a memorial dinner, and that it would be doing him dishonor if the guests declined. Would you have a bite? Why or why not?

 

I would not enjoy eating my father.

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a relative put it in his will that instead of being embalmed or cremated, he should be served as the main course at a memorial dinner, and that it would be doing him dishonor if the guests declined. Would you have a bite? Why or why not?
Depends on three things; how he's prepared, how much I liked him, and the quality of the side dishes.
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