A Thoughtful Debate On Cannibalism

A thoughtful debate on cannibalism

Death by Party | We are all just meat

A thoughtful debate on cannibalism

Yesterday  I found myself  in an office wide debate that lasted the better part of the day. It was the perfect initiation into this department’s staff. The discussion started when Annette pointed out that in the middle ages, the church would dry out the corpses of the Popes when they died. They would then chop them up and sell small samples of meat and bone as relics. We started crassly making jokes about Pope meat stew and Pope jerky. What an expensive snack that would be. But then we got in to a full discussion on cannibalism. The question posed in this context is different than the “trapped in the Andes” scenario. The Pope meat question isn’t about survival, it’s about pure opportunity. If you had a chunk of dried human flesh that was legally cut off a holy person and handed to you, would you be able to consume it? Would the thought ever cross your mind? I mean, the south pacific cannibals believed you gain a persons power by consuming their flesh. If you had the opportunity to consume the flesh of someone who many believe to be the living voice of god on earth… well that is some special little piece of jerky you’ve got there. Now maybe you aren’t Catholic and the Pope isn’t your thing. Well there are plenty of famous, holy and historical people whose corpses may really hold power and meaning to their followers. Would you take a small bite of Ghandi meat? What about Elvis jerky?

Now I know many would start screaming condemnations and questioning my ethics and morality. (Although, I don’t know if mentioning “morality” is allowed here) But that’s ok. I have a single line mantra that I live by. “If it pleases you to do so, and all parties consent, then there is no wrong.” But who is really ever going to consent to being eaten? Now this may be one of the strangest statements I’ve ever made, but I was actually in a position once where I had the opportunity to consensually eat human meat. (no sex puns please)

Actually the statement is misleading. The morsel of human flesh was from my own body. When I had my wisdom teeth taken out in my mid twenties I was given the teeth as souvenirs. A couple weeks after the surgery I sat and examined the teeth. There was a ring of crusty dried meat along the rim of the teeth. One tooth had an especially large chunk of dried meat hanging off of it. I tore it off and contemplated what looked like a sliver of beef jerky. Here was a piece of me, a piece of a person that looked just like food I have enjoyed so many times in the past. It was a strange moment. A moment when I was really confronted with the fact that we really are just meat. I rolled it around in my fingers and really considered that fact that if I popped it into my mouth I would cross that line and could say that I had engaged in cannibalism in some small form. I opted not to. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t consume myself. I flicked it into the trash, not really dwelling on it until years later.

Months later my buddy Victor Villarruel asked if he could have my teeth and I gave them to him. Being that Vic was into Bruja magic and put them on a necklace along with a petrified frog and other odd Spanish voodoo like items, perhaps I should have saved my teeth and consumed my own power.

-R.E. Brown


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