Lifestyles of the Addled and Enervated: We watch with interest, as society eats itself

Wayne Carter, Rudy Eugene, Alexander Kinyua, Luka Rocco Magnotta, Mao Sugiyama.

And, pray tell, good reader, what were you doing, during the memorable week that these five freakish fellers became household names?

As for our kinky quintet, there is a precise record, formed from media reports, concerning the exact brand of mischief they were up to.

Well done, Mao: Chef preparing self for hungry diners

Mao, who is a performance artist from Tokyo, kicked things off by posting this hard-to-ignore Twitter message: “I am offering my male genitals (full penis, testes, scrotum) as a meal for 100,000 yen… Will prepare and cook as the buyer requests, at his chosen location.” He then proceeded to deliver exactly as promised, providing his unique interpretation of the phrase “self-catering,” for a party of five. A hundred-thousand yen, by the way, works out to $250.

Next, Rudy, 31, was spotted sans garde robe by Miami Beach police, busily eating the face of a disobliging homeless man, Mr. Ronald Poppo. Rudy ignored the urgent objections of Mr. Poppo and the investigating officers, and was consequently shot and killed by a policeman.

Much closer to home, Luka was suspected of having mailed the severed foot of Mr. Lin Jun, a Concordia University student, to the headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada, and, in a true bipartisan act, posted a detached hand to the Liberals. Luka, 29, uploaded an edited video of Mr. Lin’s butchering to the Internet.

Wayne, a 43-year-old from Hackensack, N.J., was the subject of a police intervention, when he was observed using a sharp instrument to go hackin’ into his own abdominal sac. He encouraged the constables to go away, by flinging his intestines in their direction. Then, to round out the week, Alex, a 21-year-old undergrad at Baltimore’s Morgan State University, confessed to eating his roommate, a student with the impressive, if unappetizing, name of Mr. Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie.

Alexander Kinyua, misunderstood Morgan State U underclassman

Normally these commentaries wouldn’t delve into the macabre areas concerning the mutilation of one’s self and others, or the still entirely taboo subject of cannibalism. However, there is little to be described as normal about events that took place in the week just past.

One, perhaps two, developments of this type in a given week may be registered in the News-of-the-Weird feature of your local media outlet. Three to four might constitute a trend. But, incontrovertibly, five qualifies as a statistically significant groundswell. It may now be said that there are the beginnings of a societal fashion for separating bits of one’s own anatomy, or those of others, dovetailing with the potential emerging fad of consuming said body parts, or flinging them at disconcerted law-enforcement workers.

Medical and sociological authorities have not yet weighed in on this trend, but we wish to go on record as voicing our concern. We characterize these behaviors as inconsistent with the traditional ethical values and standards of a decent civilization. A decade ago, Rodney King famously asked, “Can’t we all just get along?” It may not have occurred to him to add, “… and while you’re at it, please don’t even think about removing your genitals and serving them with mushrooms and parsley to hungry strangers,” but Mr. King’s principles endure all the same.

Or do they? Perhaps, this week in May 2012, we have arrived at what has been termed a “tipping point.” Perhaps our species has become measurably discombobulated by commonly experienced factors. These may include: constant stimulation from rapidly viewed images, simulated reality, social networking, virtual role-playing, access to non-contextual information, and so on. So it may be that a permanent state of anomie has set in, leading to growing numbers of citizens making the unenlightened decision to slice up and/or gobble down their corporeal body – or, even more alarmingly, yours.

In a polarized political atmosphere, this is bound to become one more so-called wedge issue. Tea-party activists will insist that cannibalism, while doubtlessly undesirable and non-hygienic, should not become a pretext for one more deterrence mission by the ever-expanding federal government. On the opposite side of the fence, liberals are predictably bound to plea for understanding on the part of any boulevardier who may find his or her face masticated by a disoriented passerby, “and we recognize that you may find certain aspects of being eaten to be inconvenient, and we thank you for your assistance.”

So, is this the coming crisis? Is it possible that, as a result of embracing and elevating sedentary digital lifestyles, the enervated human body has become devalued and debased — to the extent that mutilation and consumption of self, or countrymen, is well on the way to becoming a tolerated form of expression, just another fringe lifestyle choice inching along  toward mainstream acceptance?

Five flesh-shredding incidents in seven days suggests that this stage may have already been reached, and passed.

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