Gomez, Norberto, Jr. The Book of Cannibals. Sybil Press: Richmond, VA, 2013. http://www.sybilpress.org/bookofcannibals
Reviewed by MW Shealy
Texas Tech University, 2015
In the transgressive tradition of Georges Bataille (and Lev Shestov, Michael Taussig, André Breton, André Masson, Pierre Klossowski, Roger Caillois, Jules Monnerot, Jean Rollin, Jean Wahl) and drawing on Bataille’s fascination with human sacrifice and his founding of Acéphale, a secret society symbolized by a headless man, The Book of Cannibals: Or, How to Consume (subtitle: A Preliminary Treatise on the Occult Nature of Style, Influence, and Taste Related Especially to Those Acts of the Dark Arts and Their Origins in the Discordant Nature of Being, Ego, and the Other) written and illustrated by Norberto Gomez, Jr. (with Book Maker and Musician, Jillian Gayle Gomez) “for his friends,” offers us a smorgasbord of surreal mediations on pizza, Hell, solipsism, drones, hipsters, and (the ever-faithful) Death.
When Dr. Sybil writes “The cannibal chooses its own reality, for this, Lucifer fell,” what we hear is “When Dylan went electric, Dylan went black.” And when within the green platter of our garden, we see Lundy Loofie mouth “We begin as primal egoists, for the sake of survival we consume,” what we really see behind the black underground of a metal machine is “ Hirst’s diamond skull with blind eyeballs anticipating the new.” Consummation for Gomez is a sort of noisy becoming, in the same way that two monads consider interacting yet agree instead to plant fresh black roses; what is consumed can’t become for always already being, and what a monad does with sound-art for other monads is eternally consumed…by Dylan as anti-Christ.
If you hear this book read right, then Brooklyn-becomes-Houston becomes a virgin Bowie somewhere in the middle of a paranoid Virginia. And in less than the 90 panels that it took Rothko to kill Heraclitus, Gomez teaches us to speak and spell, to stomach our aches and to lie to our mysteries. “In flux there is relativity and subjectivity,” says Alice to Texas, wondering if her best friends are now all ghosts transmogrified into cannibal specters. However, why don’t we learn the purpose of the cannibal feast? Who cleans up after the last bone is sucked dry?