Sane but Evil


   The Merriam Webster dictionary defines morality as “conformity to ideals of right human conduct.” According to scientists such as the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and countless others morality is a product of evolution. Humans needed to work together and make positive impressions on others they were likely to see in the future. This ultimately led to deeply ingrained ideas about right and wrong. These ideas influence human society in numerous ways. They are evident in everything from the Bible to ‘Family Guy’. When people act out against traditional views of right and wrong “normal” people often feel the need to describe them as subhuman or cold blooded. This is a way for people to distance themselves from Cain while claiming Abel as their brother. The truth is that man (sorry for the cultural sexism which bleeds into the structure of the English language) is an animal like any other. We have simply evolved these concepts of good and evil. These ideas help us to forget that in one respect we are all just meat. In 1981 Issei Sagawa killed and ate Rene’e Hartevelt. Issei Sagawa is a freak of nature who has gone against the standards which have been set for him and embraced an unusually predatory worldview.


    Babies are not innocent reflections of some great goodness. They are weak, ticking time bombs of sin. They care for themselves and as far as we can tell believe that the world was put there for them. Of course as Terry Pratchett points out in his book ‘The Hogfather’ we all secretly half believe that to be true. Most people, it seems develop humility and shame as they grow up and assimilate into society. Nevertheless we all start out more or less the same as selfish balls of greed called babies. Sagawa was a premature and sickly infant who at the time of his birth was so small he could fit in the palm of his father’s hand. Sagawa grew up very rich in the Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture of Japan. Despite his wealth and good fortune he was never your poster boy for the normal. As a child he frequently fucked his dog and fantasized about eating women. Spoiler alert: This is going somewhere weird.

     On June 13th 1981  Issei Sagawa walked to a remote lake just outside of Paris carrying two suitcases. As he was attempting to throw them into the water he was stopped by French police officers. Upon opening the suitcases it was discovered that they contained the bones of Rene’e Hartevelt. Sagawa had killed, had intercourse with and eaten Ms. Hartevelt. The French authorities quickly declared Sagawa insane. Because of this they were unable to try him in France. He was deported to Japan where he was found “sane but evil” and put on trial. This could have been the end of things but fortunately for Sagawa the French didn’t think it was all that important to provide any evidence for his guilt. The Japanese were forced find him innocent of all charges. He checked himself out of a psychiatric hospital on August 12th 1986.

  For the last twenty six years Sagawa has represented a strange aspect of the culture of Japan and the human world. Fans of the ‘Rolling Stones’ will know much of his story from the song “Too Much Blood” which was inspired by the murder of Rene’e Hartevelt. Sagawa has also appeared as himself in exploitation films, written manga and novels and even directed a pornographic film. He remains an infamous celebrity in Japan and occasionally does interviews and delivers speeches which help to satisfy the public’s lust for the grotesque and the unusual. He’s hot stuff. All the boys want to be him. All the girls want to be in him. In the end that’s what entertainment and mass media is all about. We applaud violence and drive perpetrators of violence away from us. We want them to live as legends not men. Issei Sagawa knows this all too well. He is a dark legend of his own creation.  

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