Solnit No. 1: Cannibalism


“Cannibalism and resurrection often go together.”
“The carnivorous Inuit sometimes say, “The great peril of our existence lies in the fact that our diet consists entirely of souls,”.... ”
Excerpt From: Rebecca Solnit. “The Faraway Nearby.”


(Angela): Souls as nourishment, are the consumption of souls necessary? Are all souls equal in how they nourish the body? We live everyday by receiving and giving and sometimes taking from our environment, from people, and from animals. I’m attracted to people who are charged and I do notice those who are not.

What does that charge look like to me? It can look like pure emotions radiating throughout the body. If we look at one another as pure motion, souls as balls of light that dim and brighten. What are we doing as we journey throughout our lives as we come together and apart?

(Victoria): I'm honestly having trouble relating to this bit of text. I think it's part of the book I rather glossed over. What is a soul? I have a hard time coming to believe in my own soul, human souls, much less animal and plant souls. And anyways, if we all have these mysterious souls—humans, animals, plants, etc.—then souls are not the deciding factor in why we should not eat the other. Souls are not keeping us from being cannibals any more than they are making us into vegetarians. That is, animals eat plants, animals eat other animals, plants prey on other plants even, or other organisms. But something else keeps lion from dining on lion, and bird on bird, just as human on human.

So my point is, the premise here seems faulty and self-righteous, presumptuous and reaching. However, metaphorically of course it's true. We feed on the souls, the lives of others in order to fill our own with meaning and purpose. We consume people readily, with haste, with inattention to consequences. We do this as individuals and we do this as a heard. We do this TO individuals, and we do this to whole communities, cultures, nations.

To consume a soul is not entirely or necessarily a bad thing. TO take someone in, to give them refuge can be something of the same. But perhaps that is called something different—NOT consume, not cannibalize. Of course. Rather. Just shelter, love, FEED.

How quickly we become consumers though.
How quickly we forget ourselves.