What's Up with Cannibalism?

Cannibalism seems very odd to me. But, for some reason, it is fairly pervasive in our narratives. Let's explore it and see if any insights jump out at us.

Little Red Riding Hood is about a girl that goes on a trip through the woods and encounters cannibalism. Now, everyone knows that it's a wolf that eats grandma, but it's a highly personified wolf. It's a wolf that talks like humans, and looks like humans, and acts like humans. Personification is an amazingly powerful mental ability, and we all have it naturally. In this case it means that the wolf is like a person, so when he eats grandma that's cannibalism.

The Three Little Pigs is about a wolf that's trying to eat these pigs, all of which are personified, so there's cannibalism right there. But, when he gets to the last house, the brick house, he can't blow it down and decides to climb down the chimney. The pigs have arranged a giant pot of boiling water at the bottom filled with vegetables and seasoning. All they need to make their meal complete is a little meat.

Hansel and Gretel is about a brother and sister that get lost in the woods and are taken in by a nice older woman. Until they realize that she intends to eat them.

Zombies, werewolves, and vampires are all about cannibalism. Many of the most popular books and movies involve these three, and often not as villains, but as the heroes. Many of our Halloween themes often involve these creatures, and thus cannibalism. Many alien stories are about cannibalism, when the aliens are personified enough.

The Eucharist is either symbolic of cannibalism, or actually cannibalism. That's where people consume the flesh and blood of Christ, on a weekly basis.

Weston Price was a dentist who traveled all over the world in the 1930s studying nutrition and health. He wanted to find a traditional tribal society that was all vegan or vegetarian. But, in years of study he hadn't come across one. He heard about one on an island in Southeast Asia, so he went there. On this island there were tribes that controlled the coastline and a tribe that lived in the interior. These tribes were almost constantly at war, so the tribe on the interior didn't have open access to the ocean to fish. The interior tribe didn't eat as much meat, not nearly as much. But, they also believed that if they went for longer than three months without meat then their health would start to deteriorate. There were special agreements between the tribes to allow some trading of fish. These were usually honored, but not always. The interior tribe didn't always settle for their lot. They wanted the best nutrition that they could get. They figured that the healthiest people were the fishermen because the nutrients from the fish would collect in their organs. So, the interior tribe would hunt and eat these fishermen. The closest thing to a traditional vegan or vegetarian tribal society that Weston Price could find were cannibals.

Cyclops and giants are both known for eating people, and yet they are very much like people.

The primordial Titan Kronos ate his children in fear of them. But, Zeus escaped and cut his father to pieces. Just as Kronos had done to his father.

From fairy-tales to horror stories, festivals and holidays, religions, vegans, and myths, cannibalism seems like it's everywhere. I'm still not sure why, but I'm sure that there must be a reason. I will have to think about it more.


I've written three fictional pieces that I like so far.

"The City of Peace" - A future history science fiction utopia/dystopia action adventure in a framed story of a father telling his son a story about the child's grandfather. That was a crazy sentence.


"The Birth of Hanniba'al" - A dark, somewhat alternative, historical origin story for the Carthage General Hannibal.


"Matt's Eyes" - Don't read this if you don't like horror stories.


Here are three of my most popular posts.

"The Making of a Great First Line in Fiction"


"A Letter to My Niece in 2034"


"The Most Important Question in Philosophy - Part 4 of 4"


You can find more of what I'm doing here: http://www.JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com

You can support this page at https://www.patreon.com/JeffreyAlexanderMartin


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