In between mouthfuls of the most amazing shrimp burritos and swigs of wine, last night’s dinner party conversation developed into a discussion about the Camden pin-cushion, who sits at Camden Lock making himself a prime target for happy-snappy tourists who, without fail, succumb to the oddity of this human anomaly. Mr Anomaly demands … sorry suggests a donation for his image to be immortalised on camera. I guess it’s a version of entrepreneurship. From piercings and tattoos the conversation naturally progressed to body modification, scarification, limb amputation and that crazy German cannibal called Armin Meiwes. Meiwes published a classified ad on the internet that read as follows: “looking for a well-built 18 to 30-year-old to be slaughtered and then consumed”. Yes, someone did respond. His name was Bernd Jürgen Brandes. I say was because he died. What follows is a précised version of the story of Meiwes and Brandes, based on journalists’ reports compiled from the viewing of a two hour videotape made by the two men when they met on March 9, 2001 (which has not been released to the public):
Meiwes starts his meal with an attempt to bite off Brandes’ penis, which doesn’t work so well – not the penis, the biting. Meiwes merely manages to burst both of Brandes’ testicles with his teeth. The solution is to remove the member with a knife. Good choice. The amputation is successful. Brandes tries to eat some of his own penis raw, but thinks it too tough and, in his own words, “chewy”, so he gives it to Meiwes to sauté. Meiwes adds some salt, pepper and garlic to the penis but, not being a very good cook, burns it. Understandably, this is not very appetizing so Meiwes chops it up into chunks and feeds it to his dog. As Brandes spews blood from his groin, Meiwes reads a Star Trek book, whilst intermittently feeding Brandes copious amounts of alcohol and pain killers (30 sleeping pills and a bottle of schnapps). Then he kisses him and kills him in what has been called The Slaughter Room – specially designed for the purpose of slaughter. Meiwes kills Brandes by stabbing him in the throat. He then hangs the body on a meat hook and tears hunks of flesh from the corpse. He stores the body parts in his freezer, disguised under some pizza boxes. He also tries to grind the bones into powder to use as flour. Over a period of ten months Meiwes consumes up to 20 kg of flesh accompanied by potatoes and a pepper or wine sauce, served on good crockery. When Meiwes runs out of tasty human, he once again runs some internet ads in search of another meal. Unfortunately a college student in Innsbruck reports him to the police and he is convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 8½ years in prison. This sentence is ultimately changed to a life sentence.
Feeling slightly ill? Perhaps a tad peckish? Whatever your state of being at this precise moment, your reaction to the grim tale of Meiwes and Brandes says far more about you than it does about the fucked up people in the world. A story of cannibalism is certainly not needed to remind us just how sucky people are. Marilyn Manson was so inspired by this story that it influenced the choice of title for his latest album Eat Me, Drink Me. Manson said “Although I can’t relate to the relationship those two had, I found the story very compelling in a romantic way. I think a lot of people wouldn’t look at it as romantic, but it was to them in some sick way, and it is to me in some sick way, too”. Feel free to attach your own psychological analysis to Mr Manson’s comment; the artist expects it I am sure. Reactions are telling. The mere fact that you decided to read this editorial says a lot. The title displays a clear warning, which aids in separating people into three different groups. The first group of people would have taken heed of the title’s warning and avoided this editorial all together. The darkly twisted nature of the human condition is scary for this group, members of which choose to retain a sense of purity and incorruptibility. The second group contains those who have succumbed to their curiosity. Members of Group 2 feel that they shouldn’t read on but just can’t help themselves. Reading the sick tale of cannibalism and murder results in an all-consuming guilt. This group experiences the most turmoil – the internal battle consistently fought in an attempt to remain in the world but not of the world is sorely compromised by human nature, which is always attracted to life’s vices. And then there is group 3. The third group views the world’s craziness through the tinted glasses of black-comedy. This group acknowledges the inherently dark specs (or globules) that are part of the human condition. They embrace the twisted. This does not denote acceptance but merely lack of fear, which manifests in the form of a challenge that seeks to undermine the subversive.
William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is as twisted a representation of the human condition, as is the story of the German cannibals. Golding’s tale is analysed and accepted whereas the tale of Meiwes and Brandes is feared and ignored. Fiction is far less scary than fact. Ironically it is the likes of Miewes and Brandes, an inescapable and deplorable evil, that Golding speaks of. It is okay to read about the disintegration of society on an island inhabited by a group of stranded, lonely children. Why? Because they are only children and their behaviour is thus excusable – they’ll grow out of it. Live and learn. That’s what society tells itself. Yet it is for this exact reason that the tale is so twisted. Children murdering children. Golding allows the children to be rescued before the atrocity of cannibalism is able to ensue but the void he leaves for our imaginations to wonder in is almost worse. Who can tell what lengths Jack would have gone to, to ensure his kingship on the island? How would Jack’s band of boys have followed up the murder of Piggy and Simon? Golding lets our imaginations decide and there is nothing more cruel or dangerous. The author, disillusioned by the horrors of World War Two, exposes the potential for evil that is merely a product of the human condition, which is subject to original sin. Golding believed that “man produces evil as a bee produces honey”.
Essentially, we all have a little twist in us. Some twists are twistier than others and for that there are consequences. There is a line. There has to be. Otherwise, as in Golding’s novel, chaos erupts and society disintegrates. While society busies itself with the construction and destruction of behavioural boundaries and people become further consumed by the moral struggles of existence, a sense of humour goes a long way to making life’s darkest moments more bearable.