The Beginning Was the End
The cover of the UK First Edition of The Beginning Was the End. This particular copy has been signed by three members of Devo.
|Author||Oscar Kiss Maerth|
|Original title||Der Anfang war das Ende – Der Mensch entstand durch Kannibalismus|
|Language||German (later translated into English)|
United Kingdom/United States: January 1, 1974
One ape discovered that eating the fresh brain of one's own kind increases the sexual impulses. He and his descendants became addicted to brains and hunted for them. It was not until later that they noticed that their intelligence increased as a result. The outcome of this process is HOMO SAPIENS.
— The Beginning was the End, p. 37
Maerth wrote the book in a Chinese monastery.
It was first published in Germany as Der Anfang war das Ende – Der Mensch entstand durch Kannibalismus (Econ Verlag GmbH, Düsseldorf und Wien, 1971), then translated by Judith Hayward and published in Great Britain by Michael Joseph, Ltd, 1973 and re-issued by Sphere Books, Ltd, London in 1974, ISBN 0-7221-5712-6. It has been translated into eight languages.
Maerth asserted that the eating of brain produces an aphrodisiac effect (presumably due to the vast amount of hormones in it), and that this initially caused apes to become addicted to them, organizing brain hunts wherein the males of another tribe were eaten and the females raped in a frenzy of brain-induced sex and violence. However, this diet also inadvertently increased brain size and intelligence while triggering the loss both of body hair and of our innate psychic abilities. Thus man gradually came into being, remaining cannibalistic until 50,000 years ago. Modern humans, alienated from their surroundings now that they've no telepathic contact with nature and each other as animals do, suffering from a distorted sexuality resulting from hormonal imbalances, and driven insane from the constant pressure of their unnaturally large brains pressing on the inside of their skulls, are inevitably destroying themselves with pollution, overpopulation, racial integration and ultimately, nuclear war. He foresees a return to cannibalism in the near future, and suggests that the reader should drop out of society, embrace a vegetarian diet, steep himself in the wisdom of the East and perhaps employ various wooden frames and wire devices to alter the shape of his skull as some ancient cultures did, thus relieving the pressure on the brain and partially restoring psychic powers.
The book contains no references whatsoever, based alternately on alleged conversations with present-day cannibals, the eating of ape brain by the author and direct insight from deep meditation. Many parts have been deemed by some as being outright racist, particularly the photographic plates comparing various ethnic faces (primarily Arab and African) to apes. He says that blacks have smaller brains than whites and that contemporary cannibal tribes are seeking to remedy this discrepancy by consuming brains in a frantic attempt to catch up, though he estimates that it would take them roughly 100,000 years to do so.
The book's legacy comes largely from the new wave band Devo, who incorporated several elements of the book into their concept of "de-evolution" and even adopted the book's title for their short film, In the Beginning was the End: The Truth About De-evolution. Bassist/synth player/vocalist Gerald V. Casale said of the book, "It's a better story than the Bible as far as DEVO's concerned." The cover of the 1989 album Now It Can Be Told is based on the cover of the US paperback edition.
In the early 2000s, Devo attempted to have the book reprinted with an introduction by them. This met with no success, due to copyright issues. The book is now quite collectable.
- Maerth (1974), page 37
- Maerth (1974), page 39
- Maerth (1974), page 90
- Maerth (1974), page 99
- Maerth (1974), page 54
- Maerth (1974), page 106–107
- Maerth (1974), page 63–64
- Maerth (1974), page 53:
Eating brain made his brain expand at such a fast rate that the skull was unable to keep up with this growth. The over-sized brain was gradually subjected to increasing pressure, which over the course of time became more and more dangerous. There were ever more numerous cases of a brain disease similar to epilepsy and of extreme madness, and with no room for doubt man was able to trace these back to the pressure on his over-large brain [...] Various attempts were first made at that time to ease the pressure of the skull, mostly by altering its shape and if that did not help then by making an opening or a perforation in the skull.
- Maerth (1974), page 230–231
- Maerth (1974), page 192–200
- Maerth (1974), page 199:
The period of cannibalism is by no means over and done with; on the contrary [...] before these times come, man will live through alarming and inexplicable happenings. So-called civilized, well-brought up people will eat their own fellow men, often their own friends, without being able to say why. Their subconscious will cause them to do so, and humanity can be certain that this will be the precursor of a new period of cannibalism which will recur for various reasons and to achieve various purposes.
- Maerth (1974), pages 235–236
- Maerth (1974), page 84, also 234
- Maerth (1974), page 128, also see the comments on page 148:
The only permissible intervention in the brain is one which was practised successfully countless thousands of years ago: the formation of a dome on the top of the skull so that the physical defect is reduced to some extent. Men who do this will not only partially regain the lost capacity for supersensory perception, they will also recognize the philosophical truths capable of yielding a truly scientific basis for the prolongation of mankind's existence.
- Maerth (1974), page 47
- Maerth (1974), pages 52–53:
And a milder and permitted form of cannibalism still exists today in Africa, South East Asia, South China, Taiwan and on some neighboring islands: the eating of fresh ape brain. In Asia this still occurs even in public restaurants. When the brain is eaten in this way the same procedures are followed as among cannibals who eat human brain. Here too the brain is only eaten when the moon is increasing [...] The ape may likewise not come near metal objects because the rays emitted by metals have a prejudicial influence on the nervous system and the brain. It is therefore kept in a wooden cage. Shortly before it is killed it is offered a sip of an alcoholic drink and a handful of nuts to chew to stimulate the brain. The skull is broken with a stone or wooden hammer [...] The brain is immediately scooped out with a china or bamboo spoon and eaten as it is. The brain is tough and rubbery and can hardly be chewed. It is devoid of flavour, yet on account of the blood rather sweet, not a delicacy by any standard; those eating it themselves take alcoholic drinks with it. Only men partake of such repasts of ape brain [...] According to my own experience, about twenty hours after such a repast there is a feeling of warmth in the brain, like a gentle pressure. After about twenty-eight hours the body is flooded by vitality, with increased sexual impulses. The milder forms of cannibalism described above are a residue of true cannibalism, as a consequence of which a normal ape turned into an intelligent freak: which today calls itself HOMO SAPIENS.
- Maerth (1974), 8-page photo supplement between pages 168–169
- Maerth (1974), page 180
- Maerth (1974), page 68:
Man did not educate woman imperfectly: he gave her no brain to eat. To bring female intelligence up to the same level as that of man by education is just as impossible as to bring the intelligence of an aboriginal of New Guinea up to the level of a Chinese by education. If a race become cannibals one hundred thousand years later, then members of that race do not need education to raise their intelligence, but a hundred thousand years of cannibalism. If someone wanted to commit the error of giving woman man's intelligence, then woman would have to begin eating brain and continue doing so for several tens of thousands of years [...] As, however, intelligence gained by cannibalism entails for human beings the burden of delusions, there would be even greater chaos.
- Acid Logic Interview with Gerald V. Casale
- Devolution (biology)
- Artificial cranial deformation
- Monkey brains (cuisine)
- Robert Eisler
- Stanisław Szukalski
- Maerth, Oscar Kiss The Beginning was the End, translated by Judith Hayward (Sphere Books Ltd., London, 1974) ISBN 0-7221-5712-6.