Their Egos Got to Their Heads
Historically, Viking Warriors have been portrayed as strong, loutish
invaders endowed only with the knowledge of successfully plundering
and raping English villages. However, a new anthropologic discovery in
Weymouth, England reveals these brutes of battle were not as
insuperable as they have been portrayed. Fifty one naked decapitated
bodies were found in a mass burial, their corresponding heads neatly
stacked in a separate area. The Vikings, in between largely successful
periods of havoc, surrendered to the less numerous Anglo-Saxon enemy.
Radiocarbon techniques date the bodies to 910-1030 AD, the time period
in which England was constantly despoiled by Viking invasions. An
isotopic analysis of drinking water preserved in the teeth of the
individuals reveals the members of this army had been recruited from
myriad Scandinavian areas, and even the Arctic Circle. In addition to
water consumption, inferences could be made about diet through
nitrogen isotopes, which indicated the young men indulged in a high
protein meat based diet- another cultural habit noted about the
Vikings in texts of the time. All of these factors indicate this site
had been an execution pit. Aside from the physical evidence, the
location in itself is much like a trace fossil, recording the behavior
and activities of dead organisms. Anglo-Saxons tended to orchestrate
mass executions on elevated areas, as is this site, also overlooking a
main ancient road, in contrast to the Vikings, who tended to leave
bodies where slain.
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Animals Committing Suicide?
As I was researching for an article I came across the most bizarre article. The title of the article was: “Do Animals Commit Suicide? A Scientific Debate.” The beginning of the article states that though animal suicide may seem like an absurd thought, it has actually been written about and studied for years. Aristotle himself had written a story about a stallion killing himself after discovering that he had mated with his own mother. The Romans believed that animals did commit suicide, and this was seen as a noble and natural act—and these animals were also respected. Whereas, Christian thinkers like Thomas Aquinas believed that animals committing suicide was impossible, because he believed that “Everything naturally loves itself…everything naturally keeps itself in being.”
In 1845, a story was reported in the Illustrated London News about a dog that repeatedly tried to drown himself. The dog was said to have kept his head submerged under the water until he finally drowned. Duncan Wilson, a medical historian at the University of Manchester has discovered, based on a study he did, that animals can commit suicide. But, according to this article, whether this study showed that these animals are “technically capable” of ending their own lives is still in question. Thomas Joiner, a Florida State University psychologist also believes that animals are capable of ending their own lives. Joiner explores the question of suicidal tendencies in living creatures in a book called Myths About Suicide. Joiner states, “Across nature there seems to be the same kind of calculation…Suicides of all kinds involve this calculation, from bacteria and insects to conventional suicide deaths and even suicide terrorists.”
Though there have been some throughout history and more recently that have agreed with this theory, there are still others that find this notion of animals committing suicide to be a little sketchy. Jonathan Safran Foer, who wrote the book Eating Animals, believes that “…conversations about animals tend to go to these weird extremes and act to conceal what we are doing to them every day.” Foer believes that the interest in this topic has stemmed from how poorly we treat animals, like creating cruel experiments to test these theories— how some animals were purposely subjected to harsh treatment to see what the outcome would be. Foer states instead of making animals like humans in order to treat them with decency, we should “… [treat] pigs like pigs and cows like cows, that would be sufficient.”
It seems as if a lot on this subject is still subjective and up for debate—but reading the article you wonder: are depression and thoughts or acts of suicide only something we as humans can feel or act upon?
“Sent from Salinger”
Nearly two months have passed since J.D. Salinger died in the home
where he spent the majority of his adult life. Reclusive though he
was, his enduring masterpiece, The Catcher in the Rye, has intimately
spoken to so many since its publication in 1951. Paradoxically, this
story of a disenfranchised youth is regarded affectionately by teens
through seniors, uniting them in an admiration of Salinger’s ability.
Now, individuals in the New York City area are given an unprecedented
opportunity to approach the deceased author. The Morgan Library and
Museum has opened an exhibit featuring a large stockpile of Salinger’s
letters. The exhibit, open until May 9th, shows the many dimensions of
the author that might surprise those who anticipate his voice to be
cynical and misanthropic. Allegedly, the display has been organized in
such a way as to show the viewer Salinger’s humanity. According to
museum curator, Declan Kiely: "You come away with the impression that
[J.D. Salinger] was a very good friend and a devoted father."
Perhaps it is, then, the Holden in me that dismisses the private
letters of this literary icon. Even though Salinger released his
letters, I cannot ignore the willful isolation that dominated his life
and kept the world from his biographical persona. The letters of
Salinger scribble the “Fuck You” on the headstone of Holden Caulfield:
a fate Holden ruefully foresaw.