Lovers of Human Flesh: Homosexuality and Cannibalism in Melville's Novels (Caleb, 1994): "My questions about the reporting on Dahmer, in turn, threw new light on Melville's representation of male-male relationships. In nearly every one of Melville's novels, cannibalism and homosexuality seemed to be tangled up with each other. New questions came to mind: Why do homosexuality and cannibalism seem parallel to the American mind? How does this parallelism affect the understanding of each category, individually? A contemporary American film, The Silence of the Lambs, confirmed my suspicion that, elsewhere in the American Gothic tradition, these two "horrors" could be representations of each other. In The Silence of the Lambs, the homosexual serial killer, Buffalo Bill, almost never speaks. The viewer, through the detective, only uncovers him by passing first through the mind of Hannibal Lecter, the cannibal. At one point in the distant past, we are told, Hannibal Lecter was even Buffalo Bill's "analyst." But Buffalo Bill and Hannibal Lecter are not neatly divided. Buffalo Bill has the cannibal's tattoos and pierced body parts, and Hannibal Lecter has the homosexual's refined taste. When Buffalo Bill is caught, Hannibal Lecter escapes. They are two sides of the same coin. - Our society continues to read the homosexual through the cannibal. I don't think there is anything 'natural,' 'real,' or 'true' about the connection, but in the interest of greater understanding, I have tried to suggest why the connection was cogent to Melville and his readers" (Crain, 1994).
Suddenly Last Summer by Tennessee Williams (1957): "At play’s end, Catherine’s fate is uncertain, but her story is told. Sebastian was a poet, also a poet of compelling sexual appetite, who went hunting for beautiful youths in faraway places. On the beach at Cabeza de Lobo last summer, he was devoured by a flock of clawing, voracious boys in a wild cannibalistic orgy. Catherine must live with the memory of it" (Warfield: Theater Reviews).
Suddenly Last Summer (1959) B/W 114m. dir: Joseph L. Mankiewicz - w/Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, Albert Dekker, Mercedes McCambridge. "Tennessee Williams' recurrent themes of perversion and greed are reworked again in this film. The play concerned cannibalism and homosexuality, but the cannibalism is dropped, or muted, here" (Filmfrog Reviews)
Torgovnick's work also shows how Euro North American artists have made male homosexuality and cannibalism homologous, which raises a third issue" (Thorne, 1999).
"No, I've no idea why they eat other people". And Leanne Payne continues by explaining her theory about the similarity of cannibalism and male homosexuality. "Cannibals eat only those they admire, and they eat them to get their traits" . Leanne Payne does not give any concrete example, but she apparently thinks that, for example, a physically weak cannibal only eats the flesh of a physically strong person. And he does this in order to get hold of that person's strength. The situation for the homosexual man is similar. According to Payne homosexual men lack masculinity and that is why they want to have sex with other men. They want to consume the flesh of other males in order to get hold of their masculine traits" (Gaardfeldt, 1998).
Added (September, 2004): Gay cannibal inspires movie: "A critically acclaimed gay filmmaker will dramatise one of Germany's most sensational trials, in which a man killed and ate another man who responded to the former's Internet ad.... One of Germany's most sensational trials for decades, Armin Meiwes, a middle-aged computer technician was sentenced in January to eight and a half years in jail for manslaughter. Meiwes was spared a murder verdict as his Berlin computer specialist victim had asked to be eaten. - Cannibalism: A modern taboo (BBC).
Added (September, 2004): Film of cannibal's life planned: "Germany's cannibal killer Armin Meiwes has given his approval to a film production company to bring his story to the big screen... Meiwes, who met many people through the internet who said they wanted to be eaten, killed Brandes in his lonely farmhouse home near the city of Kassel nearly three years ago. He stored his flesh in parcels in his deep freeze and ate parts of him every day. His trial was a journey through a sub-culture of cannibalism and homosexuality that experts say spans the globe..."
Added (September, 2004): Indigestible Tidbits: "Well, as I thought it over, I remembered some old business. I started a post a while back about one of the pressingly delicious issues of the day: Is it OK to kill and eat someone simply because you and the victim both agree? Cannibalism and murder by mutual consent? As the recent German cannibal case makes its way through the courts, some have opined that there is no difference between cannibalism, homosexuality and murder, and that when one is allowed, all are implicitly condoned (on some theory of "act according to your desires") -- and hence Western Civilization is doomed..."
Added (September, 2004): Jeffrey Dahmer - The Milwaukee Cannibal: "Dahmer admitted killing a number of young Asian and African-American boys. After getting his victims drunk or drugged Dahmer photographed, strangled and dismembered his victims. Dahmer committed acts of necrophilia on his victims and was also a cannibal, this was evident by no other food in Dahmer's apartment except the body parts of his victims. Dahmer had killed a total of 17 males. In 1992 Dahmer was found guilty of the murders and sentenced to death. While waiting on death row Dahmer was murdered by a fellow inmate and was found with a mop handle stuck in his eye.
Added (September, 2004, 2006): Fascination with cannibalism has sexual roots: (Alternate Link) "The person you are most likely to end up in bed with is the person most likely to end up in your stomach, Steve Scher said on Wednesday night... Scher found a .88 correlation between the two. This means that roughly 77 percent of people gave the same answers relating to cannibalism and sex. Veanne Anderson, a psychology professor, said that a number like that is very high, meaning that the correlation is strong. Abstract for Submitted paper: Cannibalism and Sex: Shared Standards of Social Disgust (By Steven J. Scher, Matthew Vlasak, and Chris M. White - Eastern Illinois University) "In 4 studies conducted to explore the evolution of the cannibalism taboo, participants were asked to judge which targets would be more disgusting to cannibalize. Results support a disease avoidance hypothesis, suggesting that the cannibalism taboo evolved because eating members of one's own species provides a greater risk of disease, and an inclusive fitness hypothesis, suggesting that people avoided cannibalism because it presented a risk of killing genetic relatives - although none of the evidence is conclusive. Two further studies confirmed an observation that the most disgusting targets to eat were those most disgusting for sexual intimacy (correlations greater than .90). This suggests that a general mechanism may be involved in the cannibalism and sexual taboos. We speculate that this mechanism may have evolved for one purpose, but been subsequently adopted for the other purpose (i.e., exaptation). These findings have implications for the study of the evolution of taboos, for the psychology of disgust, and for the nature of evolved psychological mechanisms. It is suggested that these findings question some assumptions of the dominant approach to evolutionary psychology (cognitive adaptationism or narrow evolutionary psychology)."
Added (September, 2004): Giving cannibalism a human face: "Cannibalism is one of the last real taboos of modern society. As such, it evokes a powerful mixture of fascination and revulsion. So strong are these preconceptions, in fact, that both the public and the scientific community have repeatedly fallen prey to them. "We assume that cannibalism is always an aggressive, barbaric and degrading act," objects Beth A. Conklin, an associate professor of anthropology at Vanderbilt University. "But that is a serious over-simplification, one that has kept us from realizing that cannibalism can have positive meanings and motives that are not that far from our own experience..."
Added (September, 2004): Gene Study Finds Cannibal Pattern: "Deep in the recesses of the human heart, lurking guiltily beneath the threshold of consciousness, there may lie a depraved craving — for the forbidden taste of human flesh. The basis for this morbid accusation, made by a team of researchers in London, is a genetic signature, found almost worldwide, that points to a long history of cannibalism. The signature is one that protects the bearer from infection by prions, proteins that can be transmitted in infected meat and attack the nerve cells of the brain. Prions can be acquired from eating infected animals, as in the case of the mad cow disease that in 1996 spread to people in England, but they spread even more easily through eating infected humans..."
Added (September, 2004): GLBTQ - Williams, Tennessee (1911-1983): "David Bergman sees Williams's characteristic linking of homosexuality and cannibalism as both religious (the homosexual as martyr) and Freudian (homosexuality as accommodation to and rebellion against the father figure), as well as part of a central American gay literary tradition that has its roots in the work of Herman Melville..."
Added (January, 2006): For those who may want to know more about Freud and his contemporaries with respect to the "cannibalism" concept that, in additon to having remained coded biologically in humans(above reference) , also appears to remain as a concept imbedded in the human psyche... the following paper may be of value. But: The paper is in French.
L'Évolution Psychiatrique: Volume 67, Issue 2 , April-June 2002, Pages 358-366
Du cannibalisme à la phagocytose, généalogie de la théorie freudienne de l’identification primaire. (From cannibalism to phagocytosis: genealogy of the Freudian theory of primary identification.)
By: Patricia Cotti
Résumé – En 1921, Freud fait de la préhistoire de l’OEdipe, un moment d’identification au père et désigne cette « identification primaire » comme le lien le plus précoce à l’objet. S’appuyant implicitement sur le principe de la récapitulation, qui permet de faire valoir, pour le développement de l’enfant, ce qui semble avéré pour le développement de l’espèce, Freud va alors développer une théorie de l’identification primaire qui s’étaye sur un double modèle de l’anthropophagie. D’une part, il fait référence à une compréhension anthropologique du annibalisme (R. Smith, Tylor) issue des déclarations des cannibales eux-mêmes et que l’on peut, à ce titre, considérer comme une théorie indigène du cannibalisme. D’autre part, les considérations freudiennes sur l’identification précoce, l’oralité et le cannibalisme doivent compter avec des perspectives biologico-psychiatriques (Krafft-Ebing, Kiernan), selon lesquelles, l’évolution des espèces a commencé par une coalescence des désirs d’alimentation et de copulation. Si pendant tout un temps Freud a laissé ces perspectives bio-évolutionnistes de côté, il y revient cependant, lorsqu’il s’agit d’éviter que la théorie, sinon l’analyse, ne consacre le caractère passif et féminin de la régression orale du petit garçon, telle qu’elle apparaît, par exemple, chez L’homme aux loups.
Summary – In 1921, Freud made a link
between the prehistory of the Oedipean complex and an identification with
the father, and hypothesized that this primary identification was the earliest
link to the object. Implicitly basing his argument on the principle of
recapitulation, which can be seen in the development of the child, and
which also appears to be the case for the development of the human race,
Freud went on to propose a theory of primary identication based on a double
model of cannibalism. On the one hand, he referred to an anthropological
understanding of cannibalism derived from declarations made by the cannibals
themselves and that can therefore be considered
as an indigenous theory of cannibalism. On the other hand, the Freudian theories on primary identification, oral impulses, and cannibalism must take into account biologico-psychiatric considerations which postulate that the evolution of the species began by a combined desir for food and copulation. Although Freud did not take these bio-evolutionary views into consideration during a certain period, he nevertherless returned to them when theory, if not analysis, was in danger of focusing uniquely on the passive and feminine character of oral regression in the small boy, as for example appears in the account of the wolf man.
Just as a weak cannibal tastes the flesh of a strong person in order to obtain his strength, the homosexual man tastes the flesh of a man in order to obtain the masculinity he lacks for himself.
What Leanne Payne does not say - but what any reader can understand - is that according to this theory every homosexual relationship between two men is doomed to fail. For, how can a homosexual man - a man who lacks masculinity, be happy with and receive any masculinity from a man who himself is homosexual and therefore lacks masculinity?
Burroughs achieved his own notoriety with Naked Lunch, a novel that depicted not only homosexuality and drug addiction, but also cannibalism and other atrocities, and demonstrated the author's extensive off-color vocabulary. Naked Lunch survived two separate obscenity trials, with the U.S. Supreme Court deciding in 1966 that the novel was not obscene because its intent was not to appeal to "a prurient interest in sex."