Art and Literature

Special edition Sunday May 25th 2014 — cannibal connections: 10 confessions

warning: not for the faint of heart

 

Confession 1: Being a literary critic is a bit like being a cannibal: you don’t write anything creative yourself but you shred up whatever poor author you’re working on, season the dead author/auteur with lit theory and serve ‘em up to your 3-4 colleagues who are interested in the same thing you are (ok, maybe it’s 6 colleagues). But I don’t write that kind of stuff any more: I have left the university and I don’t have to seem smart in order to keep my non-paying job as an avant-garde poet and fiction writer and what a relief that is, although to be honest I feel guilty sometimes that I don’t miss seeming smart – which is weird).

Confession 2: I can’t watch horror movies. I had nightmares for weeks after seeing The Exorcist. Years later I tried again with Aliens. The same thing happened so I just don’t watch stuff like that.

But.

Confession 3: my adult daughter has gotten me watching the Hannibal TV series. Because of confession #2 I can’t look at it all the time. So, she narrates what is happening and I also take my glasses off just in case I look back at the screen too early. Then we proceed. Thus, I have the luxury of looking away and/or of not seeing the horror when I choose.

Confession 4: I like watching about murder and trauma. It makes me feel alive and less terrible about having PTSD. I also like violent fight scenes on TV. But not rape scenes. I can’t watch those. But Hannibal has no rape in it. Ever.

Confession 5: Until my daughter sent me this piece from Jump Cut about Serial Killers and transphobia, I couldn’t figure out what it was about Silence of the Lambs that made me so uncomfortable. Now I feel embarrassed and ashamed that I ever even found that movie interesting, because I sort of did. You can read the amazing essay here: http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC43folder/EdGein.html

Confession 6: When I first read about the murders today (killings occurred on May 24th, 2014) in Santa Barbara, I thought, “I’ll bet the killer is white, CIS gendered, male and privileged. Because that’s the kind of killer Hannibal is.” That’s the kind of killer serial killers tend to be (see the article in Jump Cut).

Confession 7: the whole cannibal thing makes me think of my favorite French writer Michel de Montaigne who wrote a famous essay called “On Cannibals.” He talks about natives in Latin America who practice cannibalism but the point he’s really making is to ask the following question: who are the real barbarians – the indigenous people of Latin America or the European invaders?

Confession 8: And THAT makes me think of someone called a “connexion man.” The “connexion man” is a religious leader in a sf novel called Riddley Walker, which is about trying to reinvent gunpowder in a post-apocalyptic future England.

Confession 9: and this brings me back to guns and masculinity and Anglo-Europe and where we’ve been and where we are going in this country and here’s my question: do we really want to just reheat and consume the left-over imperialist past over and over and over again? Because isn’t that sort of what we are doing? (this is what the Hannibal show is about, I think [I haven’t seen the season finale yet, but I’m worried about the Lawrence Fishburne character])

Confession 10: I find it funny, and so does my daughter that Hannibal has The Olive Garden Restaurants as one of their primary sponsors. We laugh guiltily whenever they show the giant breadsticks on the commercials, before the next mangled corpse appears on the screen.

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