INTERLUDE: a love letter to cannibalism
biological matter, modern love, and the heaven in god's stomach
You are one of the inevitable and beautiful and true universalities of life on Earth, as unavoidable as death or aging or human sadness. As people, we are inherently pack oriented. It’s impossible to survive past birth unless there’s someone caring for you. As biological matter, we are constantly decaying and refreshing ourselves— our bodies drop skin cells and hair and other bits and bobs of human meat all the time, just to be replaced with something newer and more functional. As animals, we breathe and eat and drink and fuck.
Cannibalism is unavoidable, to put it simply. Others drop debris and we take it in without even realizing it. I’ve cannibalized my friends, my family, my dogs. Not to mention the people I’ve fucked— all those bodily fluids moving between people just to be consumed.
It’s terribly romantic, if I’m being honest.
My first awareness of you was Christmas Eve 2013 at Mass, if we’re not including me reading Moby Dick at age 5. I was 8, wearing an itchy skirt, and deeply uncomfortable. The churches my family frequented were never as fancy as this one— this one had marble floors and a massive carving of Jesus on the cross hung to the wall behind the pulpit. His mouth was open. At that age, I interpreted it as hunger, but when I went back to that church seven years later, I saw it as something more sexual. I was waiting in line for Communion, staring at that hungry Jesus, letting my brain run wild with what he could potentially be hungry for.
Of course, as an overly imaginative child that tended towards the grotesque and the gory, I almost immediately got it into my head that God was trying to eat us, and that’s what happens when we die.
That’s a belief I’ve carried with me for my whole life, no matter how strange it seemed. We take Communion, eating Jesus’s flesh and drinking his blood, and God reciprocates on the behalf of Jesus by eating our souls when they leave our bodies. The big stomach in the sky. And after that, cannibalism was everywhere— the haunted houses, vampires, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, the music my parents put on in the car (“please don’t go / I’ll eat you whole / I love you so”, “cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you”, and a good helping of Nine Inch Nails lyrics), all of my experiences in the beautiful and sensual world of the West Coast’s ‘free love’ surf culture.
By the time I saw the Hungry Jesus I had seen an uncountable amount of naked bodies, dancing and fucking and moving. It was a strange world for a child to be in, and I’m sure that I can blame my clinical outlook of sex and flesh on it. I’d walked in on people having sex, and then walked away, undisgusted and disinterested. It was natural as anything else— a universality. People fuck, people age, people die. All of it was cannibalism in my mind, all of it unavoidable.
You see, Cannibalism, this is the way my brain works. I eat everything around me, and if that’s unavailable, I eat myself. It’s all cannibalism. Everything is. It’s the closest we can get to being God.
You’re one of the things that’s always on my mind. Ghosts, angels, the dead dog that I couldn’t wake up, and you. Of course, they’re all the same thing, but they exist in separate categories in my mind. What’s the phrase, only the best and worst people are attracted to a dead dog and the rest ignore it? I don’t know if that makes me one of the best or the worst, but I know what it does make me.
It makes me into another Hungry Jesus.
When I look at my life, it’s all revolved around desire. Boredom, lust, hunger, thirst, loneliness— all of those are desires. I want to eat, and I want to be eaten. Not necessarily in the usual inhaled-cell-by-cell way, in a way where someone is actively putting my flesh in their mouth because they like me so much that they want me to be a part of them. Love. That’s another desire, Cannibalism. I want to be loved and I want to love. I want, I want, I want. Last year I abstained and this year I devoured— I’m probably up to my eyeballs in other people’s DNA, swallowed come and skin cells and the blood that I jokingly licked off of someone’s fingers and called communion. You have to understand, Cannibalism, that it was Communion. It was a Hail Mary, a confession, all the other things I was incredibly bad at doing regularly before I quit Catholicism completely and started a new religion in my head.
Cannibalism, every time that I consume someone— their thoughts, their ideals, their DNA— I get a little closer to understanding God.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to go full Hannibal Lecter and start killing people for food. I don’t want to harm other people for my own pleasure, because that’s not my place. I don’t have the right to decide whether someone lives or dies, and besides, killing people is messy and takes energy I don’t have. It’s parasitism, which is by far the lamest type of symbiosis to indulge in. But if they’re offering themselves up, offering their blood or sweat or breath or whatever the fuck for my taking… oh, my. Why would I ever deny myself that sort of pleasure?
You know, Cannibalism, I used to be terrified of the Universalities. Oh, the Universalities— they demand capitalization, they really do. I used to see Death and God following me like stalkers whenever I had something good going for me, looking in the mirror or on my knees or hurtling down a highway. Objects that you fear may be closer than they appear and all that jazz. I’m older now, though, and I understand it. I understand them.
I carry them within me, God and Death and you and all the other inevitable lost and found items. They’re friends, reflections, reminders. Inside jokes between me and the universe. We’re all going to die, wink wink. We’re all going to get consumed.
And isn’t that just marvelous, Cannibalism? We’re all going to be loved by God in the end.
Miss you terribly. All the love.