I realize of course that there is no small squick involved in core scene about the adventures of Iris in the Club Cuisine, but that, too, was a scene that boiled up out of some corner of my mind that I saw myself as having no right to ignore. And I realize that the squick seems likely to continue to pertain, even though Iris comes through hale and sound (or does she?).
That all this should have boiled up is perhaps no accident as well: cannibalism has a long history of being both a marker of transgression and punishment. In the long cycle of misdeeds the culminates in the Oresteia, Atreus kills and cooks the sons of Thyestes. Who can forget the ghastly feast of Ugolino in Canto XXXII of Dante‘s Inferno? Or a certain notorious scene in Shakespeare‘s, Titus Andronicus?
Where there is horror, someone is bound to exploit for purposes of eros. It is no accident, surely, that one of the most successful movies of the last few decades features a cannibal who is no primitive, but a scholar so polished and formidable that he cannot but be magnetic, indeed, sexy.
How often have we described someone who looks sexually desirable as “yummy” or “delicious?” And how often have we really thought about the metaphor that underlies what we have said? Do perhaps our guts not move within as our eyes move without?
The phenomenon of cannibalism as kink goes back far. A little recent digging on my part turned up a sonnet, attributed to François de Malherbe (1555 – 1628), discussed in a academic paper here. I won’t attempt a full translation, since my attempts even at nineteenth-century French prose turn out to be a bit too disappointing to merit my trying my hand at sixteeenth-century French verse, but I’ll give the gist. The poet invites a woman, in the midst of the meal, to undress and become “dessert,” perhaps not in an entirely figurative sense. (His compannion is, needless to say, somewhat shocked.)
Là, là! Pour le dessert, troussez-moy cette cotte,
Viste, chemise et tout, qu’il n’y demeure rien
Qui me puisse empescher de recoignoistre bien
Du plus haut de nombril jusqu’au bas de la motte.
Là, sans vous renfroigner, venez que je vous frotte,
Et me laissez à part tout ce grave maintien
Suis-je pas vostre cœur? estes vous pas le mien?
C’est bien avecque moy qu’il faut faire la sotte!
–Mon cœur, il est bien vray, mais vous en faites trop:
Remettez vous au pas et quitte ce galop.
–Ma belle, baissez moy, c’est à vous de vous taire.
–Ma foy, cela vous gaste au milieu de repas…
–Belle, vous dites vray, mais se pourroit-il faire
De voir un si beau C[on] et ne le [fou]tre pas?
No wonder certain things brew up from deep in the dark parts of my mind.