Thursday, May 29, 2008

Three Meditations on the Sweetness of Life

From The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History, by David Hackett Fischer:
Then, inconceivably, torrential rains came again in 1316. The grain crop failed a third year in a row. Europe began to experience the worst famine in its history. When other sources of food ran out, people began to eat one another. Peasant families consumed the bodies of the dead. Corpses were dug up from their burying grounds and eaten. In jail the convicts ceased to be fed; we are told that starving inmates "ferociously attacked new prisoners and devoured them half alive." Condemned criminals were cut down from the gallows, butchered, and eaten. Parents killed their children for food, and children murdered their parents.

From Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine, by Jasper Becker:

There are enough reports from different parts of the country to make it clear that the practice of cannibalism was not restricted to any one region, class or nationality. Peasants not only ate the flesh of the dead, they also sold it, and they killed and ate children, both their own and those of others. Given the dimensions of the famine, it is quite conceivable that cannibalism was practised on a scale unprecedented in the history of the twentieth century.

From the report of the United States Congress Commission on the Ukrainian Famine, reported in Becker, above:

Very frequent is the phenomenon of hallucination in which people see their children only as animals, kill them and eat them. Later, some, having recuperated with proper food, do not remember wanting to eat their children and deny even being able to think of such a thing. The phenomenon in question is the result of a lack of vitamins and would prove to be a very interesting study, alas one which is banned even from consideration from a scientific point of view.


  1. Timely in view of world food prices.

  2. Mitchell my brother, unfortunately I think you're spot-on.

  3. The hallucinations referred to in the Ukrainian famine report. This is the most disturbing thing I've read in quite some time. And still, I can't help thinking of those long-rehearsed cartoon tropes -- two starving lifeboaters or island refugees succumbing by turns to the pangs of survival. Could this be an adaptive trait? Positively selected in the course of our pained life history? It makes perfect, terrifying sense.

    From the Wikipedia entry on the Minnesota Starvation Experiment:

    "There were extreme reactions to the psychological effects during the experiment including self-mutilation (one subject amputated three fingers of his hand with an axe, though the subject was unsure if he had done so intentionally or accidentally)."

  4. Hello

    I am looking for other anti-natalists in my area and every couple of months when I go to look, I type in anti-natalist groups - and your blog comes up, but no groups. Do you know of any anti-natalist/pro-parenting chat groups on line?
    [in other words I do not believe in making human beings, but instead taking care of the orphans that are already here through adoption]

    They say you can find anything on the internet, but I seem to have difficulties. Any info. is appreciated. You seem like an incredibly knowledgable person.

    1. Would have helped if you had said your area.


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