Thursday, December 3, 2009

Alexander Pearce

There's a good chance that Alexander Pearce was a convict. I see another convict name a few spaces up the list. I'm guessing I'll be on convicts for the next few days.

Lord Wiki says Mr. Pearce was convicted of cannibalism. This might be very interesting.

Baby Alexander was an Irish lad born in 1790. That means he couldn't have been on the First Fleet. He was born two years late for that.

Pearce was sentenced to transportation for stealing six pairs of shoes. He left Ireland in 1819. He would have been close to thirty at the time.

Pearce was sent to Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania). It sounds like Pearce didn't behave very well. Lord Wiki says he committed various offenses. I'm not sure what that entails. Anyway, there was an advertisement in a Hobart newspaper. Pearce had a ten pound reward being offered for him. I guess this means he had escaped the authorities.

He got caught though....caught and sent out to Macquarie Harbour. I'm not sure if I've heard of this penal colony before. I probably have, and just forgot it. Lord Wiki says it's on the west side of Tasmania. The prison settlement was actually called Sarah Island. It was one of the harshest prison islands, and closed after ten years. It reminds me of that novel I read recently, Coldwater. Lord Wiki says the island was hard to escape. That's like the island in the book. I wonder if the author of Coldwater was referring to Sarah Island, or inspired by it.

Oh! Lord Wiki says the island was featured in For the Term of His Natural Life. I read that book...even more recently than Coldwater. But I'm embarrassed to say I probably daydreamed through about 70% of the book. I know. I know. That's shameful.

Pearce managed to escape from Sarah Island. He did that in 1822. Seven men came with him. Two of them gave up and turned themselves in. Pearce and five others continued on.

A while later (not sure how long yet), Pearce was captured in Hobart. Pearce then confessed that he and his companions had snacked on each other. Pearce was the only one to survive. The authorities believed Pearce was lying, and that the men were hiding out somewhere. I guess that could be true. Maybe Pearce was trying to protect the other men. That completely changes his character. Is he a cannibal who ate his companions, or a man who would confess to something atrocious just to protect his former companions?

Pearce was returned to Sarah Island. He managed to escape...AGAIN. Ten days later, he was found. He had the remains of his companion in his pocket. Ah. So the cannibalism confession was likely NOT a cover up. Lord Wiki says Pearce had other food with him. This was likely not just a case of survivor cannibalism then. Maybe Pearce actually liked human flesh. Or maybe there are other motives in eating people.

This website has some information about cannibalism. They provide the various reasons for doing it. For some, it's a matter of survival. An example of this would be those plane crash victims in the Andes. There are cultures that support Cannibalism. In that, there's often the belief that the diners will gain the virtues of the food.    It can also be a deceleration of superiority. Then there's sadistic cannibalism. People eat someone else simply because they're psychopathic. An example of this would be Jeffrey Dahmer, or that guy on the Canadian Greyhound bus.

But why would a psychopath eat someone? They must have a reason. Maybe it goes with the cultural cannibalism....a desire to express one's dominance. Well, it's probably fits in with the same reasons they murder and rape in the first place.

Anyway, back to Pearce. He was hung in July 1894.

There have been songs and movies made about Pearce. There was a Drones song called "Words from the Executioner to Alexander Pearce." I'm not really good at understanding lyrics, but it seems to me that the song supports Pearce.

Here's one of the verses.

Tell me how are you coping
Now that it's time to leave How can you burn more
You've been burning for years
They assumed when you fled You were good as dead
Was their indifference crueler
Than your nothing to eat


With those lines, it sounds like he ate his companions because of starvation. Was Pearce simply a very hungry man desperate for nutrients?

In 2008, there was a movie about Pearce. The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce. I found a trailer for the film. I'm going to watch it, but not now because Jack is watching a video and my sound will interfere with his sound. I'll watch later.

2008 must have been a time for thinking about Alexander Pearce. There was another movie about him that year...a horror movie called Dying Breed.

Then in 2009, there was yet ANOTHER movie. Van Diemen's Land.

This Alexander Pearce has become a popular guy.

All right. Now I'll watch the trailers. First: The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce.

Now the horror movie..... Ah, some of it takes place in modern times. It involves the Tasmanian Tiger. I don't get the storyline. Maybe there's an Alexander Pearce ghost? No wait. It looks like a descendant type thing. There's something about keeping the bloodline going.

And here's the trailer for Van Diemen's Land. I think that movie looks the best....or at least I like the trailer best.

Have any of you seen one (or more) of these movies? Did you like them?

What I'm amazed about is that I'm so obsessed with Australia, and I missed this story. I mean I must have encountered it somewhere....like in the Robert Hughes book. I guess it just didn't soak in for me. I don't know why. I usually pay attention to, and remember cannibal stuff.

Here's an article in The Age about Pearce.

It says that the cannibalism factor in Pearce's trial attracted the interest of London and the United States. It was probably quite sensational. Although they wouldn't have CNN or FOX News providing round the clock coverage. People wouldn't be twittering about it.

The article says it's likely that the six pairs of shoes were not Pearce's first theft. It was probably just the first time he had been caught. I'm wondering if he had eaten anyone BEFORE going to Australia.

The land the eight men escaped to was very rough. Even today, it's seen that way. The article says, Nowadays this region is regarded as some of the toughest country in the world, visited only by experienced bushwalkers with good equipment.

The men got desperate and decided to eat someone. They chose a man named Alexander Dalton to be the first meal. Why? He had volunteered to be the group's flogger. I guess they decided a man who happily took on such a deed would be better off digested than alive. Yeah. I sort of agree. I would have voted to eat him first too.

Okay. I thought that two men left the group to turn themselves in BEFORE the feasting began. But here it says they left AFTER. I guess seeing their companion turned into cuisine would be enough reason to flee.

As the five others continued on, they would eat the weakest in the group. It wasn't Pearce who did most of the killing. That was done by a guy named Greenhill. So...see....well, I'm trying to understand all this. Was Pearce a cannibal by nature. Was this something he enjoyed, and had done before? Or was it desperation that brought him to that point?

The article says they at first cooked the meat. Later they began to eat it raw.

At some point, the five men turned into three men. From what the article says, it seemed like the three men liked each other and didn't want to eat each other. But then one of them (Travers) got bitten by a snake. Pearce and Greenhill carried their friend for five days. Finally, Travers asked them to kill him. I guess he was in too much pain.

Ah! This article has some important nutrition information. They say human flesh is high in protein, BUT it does not have enough carbohydrates. Therefore, it's kind of like eating Chinese Food. A few hours later your hungry again.

Once only two men were left alive, they weren't quite friends anymore. Each one became paranoid that the other would eat him. Pearce ended up winning the game.

The website talks about Pearce later eating the other men. He had food. But it seems like he had become addicted to the cannibalism game. Once you start to like a food, it's hard to stay away from it. I feel that way about cheese and chocolate.

8 comments:

HappyOrganist said...

I haven't read these other ones (i know i know) but Mary Bryant is my favorite so far. Her name sounded familiar.. for no apparent reason, apparently.
Anyway, just throwing my 2 cents in. I'll have to come back and read these in a little bit.
hm. ok, I've at least browsed through this one - and Mary Bryant is still definitely my favorite. =)

Anonymous said...

The Last Confession is by far the best of the three. It deals with the complexity of attempting to understand how and why men were forced into committing such appalling. Irish actor Adrian Dunbar is immense as the priest.

Dina said...

HappyOrganist: I think my favorite was Pearce....and also the one I'll be posting in a few days. Well, at least they were my favorite people to research. I don't think I had that much fun researching Bryant. I don't know why. Oh! I also liked researching Buckley. I like the whole torn-between-two-cultures storyline.

Anonymous: Thank you! I'll look out for that one, and try to watch it.

Michael said...

Pearce's is a strangely compelling story. I like the line about cheese and chocolate.

Dina said...

Michael,

I think cannibalism is almost always a compelling story. Well, at least to me it is ; )

Alan said...

check out the recent movie entitled Vandiemans Land.Mt Pearce near waratah in Tasmania is named after said cannibal

Dina said...

Alan,

I would love to see the movie. I'll look out for it.

I'm going to have to google this mountain....Actually, I'm going to do that right now : )

Dina said...

Well, I didn't find anything about the Pearce Mountain. But I did find a river...Pieman. And some people believe it was named after Pearce.