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Castaways and Cannibalism


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A Fun read

 

One fascinating aspect... is the dawning awareness that when survivors get back to civilization, they carefully hide much more than they reveal. For the brutal truth, we have to look for clues between the lines. Some of these stories right more true than others, and it is entertaining to see the lengths to which the scoundrels go to paint themselves in noble hues. One comes away with the nagging suspicion that nice people usually do not survive being stranded, and when they do, it is often through freak accident or divine intervention. The real survivors in this world are few and far between. And if they are the fittest to survive, God help us, indeed...

 

How many of us, unexpectedly tumbled onto an alien shore, would silently give up the ghost rather than face the reality of drinking iguana urine, chewing up grubs, or gagging down raw turtle liver? Lord Byron's grandfather, shipwrecked in the Straits of Magellan, saw his dog killed and eaten by his shipmates... then became so starved himself that he dug up and devoured the dog's paws. We are all far too removed -- even from the rural farms oof our immediate ancestors and the prosaic hardships they faced -- to know what is really put in sausage meat or scrapple, or how to wring a bird's neck. Our soldiers have to be given months of training in jungle survival to prepare them for only a few days of commando operations in rain forests where barefoot people happily raise babies. It is all in your point of view.

 

Certainly it helps to be marooned with somebody else, for you can commiserate, quarrel, an feud like newlyweds, and when things really get difficult, you can always eat him, or vice versa... When the going gets tough, the tough get eaten. Cannibalism like so many other customs, is merely a state of mind. Over the centuries famine repeatedly drove Europeans and Asians alike to eat everything, including each other. The culinary genius of the French and the Chinese, working with nothing more than a few spices and a bit of garic, turned famine food into such delicacies as snails, sea slugs, and stewed bats, garnished with larvae, pupae, and spawn -- all, like escargot, under more elegant names. And while doughboys in the trenches of World War I were driven insane by body lice and other vermin, political prisoners, POWs, and castaways savor them in their gruel as if they were herbs from Provence. One culture's famine food is another's caviar.

 

In the case of survival cannibalism, society seasons its judgments with something akin to garlic by conveniently applying certain criteria: Was the main course already dead of natural causes? If not, was a lottery properly conducted before the murder, and are the culprits suitably pious, making analogies to Holy Communion? In this way, the survivors of a plane crash in the Andes could make a group decision to eat some of their number, and walk away heroes. It is only a short distance from the Andes to Soylent Green.

 

But what is customary is comforting. Cannibalism is a social affair. Solitary survival is not. Solo survivors are a breed apart. Confronted by extreme solitude, by starvation, an by no prospect of rescue, they do not sit around long pining in self-pity but set about urgent practical matters. In some cases this reveals strength of character, tenacity, and the will to live. In others it reveals only animal cunning and stubbornness. Sensitivity and imagination are terrible disadvantages in the crunch. Unusual among these tales because of its painful and pathetic revelations is the diary of a nameless castaway on Ascension Island. Unlike other classical accounts, in which the survivor returns to civilization to enlarge endlessly on his own ingenuity, this victim was much too sensitive for his own good. He kept a diary frankly revealing his misery, his mistakes, his melancholy, his weakness of character, and his hallucinations. The diary is singularly lacking in excuses. Perhaps because he was overly absorbed in his own failings and inadequacies, his struggle failed, and he diary was found beside his bones.

 

 

Excerpted from Sterling Seagrave's Foreword to Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls: True Stories of Castaways and Other Survivors by Edward E. Leslie

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when I was a little little kid, one summer we were in a bit of strife with cash apparently, and I remember eating rabbit and blackberries, puha and wild potatoes and yes huhu grubs found on the place where we lived. Pretty good tucker for a family with no cash. We were all pretty aware of what food could be found wild in our local surroundings and even a number of years later us kids would collect and bring stuff back for the family even if we didn't need to any more.

 

I'm happy to eat almost anything with nutritional value. There's a lot more around than you think. You just have to be hungry. After 4 days most people will eat a hell of a lot of what they wouldn't touch on day 2.

 

i'm not sure when i'd start eating the Ogre though...

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Don't forget the sammies for the Simrad 100

 

 

 

Not so good if you're Sam.

 

The trial of the cannibal dog ( or words to that effect)by Anne Salmond is a particularly good read and a glimpse into the mores of various people of the Pacific, as well as our usual heroes from J.O.E.

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that was a very entertaining read C.O.

I have always thought that the veneer of civilisation would evaporate in minutes (if not seconds) faced with real desperate times.

 

As for eating rabbits I have always wondered why they are not home bred (like chooks) for the table. Easy to feed on scraps and things, tasty and being rabbits they breed like rabbits. too domesticated perhaps, kids would possibly be a bit distraught when one was knocked on the head, but they might as well know where food comes from eventually.

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