Thursday, April 26, 2012

Survivor: The Hunger Games

These deserted islands in the Aitutaki lagoon were used for the filming of Survivor: Cook Islands (a production which rented the entire island of Aitutaki, paying out all its businesses and keeping it tourist-free for three months) but what if you were really and truly stranded... or lost at sea?
Have you heard of the 1821 sinking of the whaleship Essex? It was inspiration for the climax of Moby Dick - as the Essex was notoriously rammed, battered and sunk in the South Pacific by a really pissed off Sperm Whale. Captain and crew escaped in small chaser boats, but chose not to go with the wind and currents to the closest land - the Marquesas Islands - because they heard there were cannibals and were really freaked.

So they attempted to reach far flung South America and got lost. As the days and months rolled by lost and starving at sea, guess what? They became cannibals! A fine example of one of life's more alluring ironies: if you don't face your fears, your fears will hunt down and face you.
A very curious aspect about this particular cannibalism story was its startling civility in a savage situation. Starving and adrift, it was decided they would draw lots for who get killed and sacrificed to the feed the others. The captain's 17 year old cousin drew the black lot, and when the Captain offered to spare him - the weary cousin said only: "I like my lot as well as any other". YIKES. There's no I in TEAM! But sure as scurvy hell there is a 'me' in MEAL!
Then they drew lots to decide who would shoot the cousin. And his best friend drew that winning ticket. I can't quit imagining it! Your best friend is about to murder you, hopefully not without some measure of affection, as you have given consent. And the terror of knowing that without further ado your face, eyeballs, ear lobes, body and organs are about to be ravenously torn apart and devoured by your crew. Vivid. Ghastly vivid. Did they draw lots to find out who scored the brain food?

The survivors were so delirious that when they were ultimately rescued, they didn't even realize it. They were found floating the open sea, totally unawares, gnawing away on human bones.

Some consider the Essex disaster the 19th century's Titanic. If you're curious, there's a recent book about it:In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex and it's apparently a real pageturner. I can't wait for the splashy Hollywood adaptation. Tagline: "Save a whale. Eat a whaler!"


Eddie in OKC said...

I love/hate that you're in such great shape!

Gold Star said...

Gives a whole new meaning to sucking a bone dry. Fascinating!