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Big Money Goes Around the World

So there was this time in Brunei where I had it explained to me that one reason the local Dayak tribesmen (and a variety of other tribes around the South China Sea) had traditionally gone out and hunted people for their heads is that when you want to make your longhouse, you need to put a human head in the foundation. It makes the longhouse stable, and keeps bad spirits and termites and so on out of the structure. Sort of like putting a firm foundation.

So, in an alternate universe, where a Dayak-like tribe becomes the dominant culture and go completely consumer-society, would they have some sort of DIY department for heads? Home Depot franchises "Gee, Bob, what you need in the foundation is a real head. A real warrior's head. Something to keep away the forest critters. Here's what I'd use. We get these Viking heads from Brittany cheap. Just stick this in the concrete and you're good to go for fifty-sixty years or so."

I wonder if they'd be outsourced. Special corporations set up on the mainland to buy and sell heads like the Hudson's Bay company. Mongol trappers wandering across the steppe to sell their heads in Samarkand and from there down the slik-hair road to Kowloon, where they'd be bundled, packed in styrofoam and put on container vessels for Borneo.

You could order them in lots for a full development. "Come live at Emerald Forest Heights—Luxury condominiums with the cranium of no less than a tribal leader embedded in the steel-reinforced concrete of every dwelling".

There could be a commodities trading system. Instead of Light Sweet Crude or pork bellies, it would be "warrior's heads" or "hardened criminal heads". I can see "This old House"—Today we're going to replace this aging skull with a brand new one, freshly caught and smoked from the first son of the Akond of Nagila. A little pricy, but we want this house to stand another two hundred years. Or more!

Too far fetched? Maybe not. People never fail to surprise. Not often in good ways.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
arwensouth
Oct. 14th, 2011 01:35 am (UTC)
This is just wrong on so many levels...which didn't stop me from practically snorting herbal tea all over my keyboard anyway.
barry_king
Oct. 14th, 2011 12:18 pm (UTC)
So do you think I should try steampunk next?
arwensouth
Oct. 14th, 2011 01:41 pm (UTC)
I'd be intrigued to see what kind of a spin you would put on it... :)
barry_king
Oct. 14th, 2011 05:18 pm (UTC)
How do you like my new icon? It was L-from-the-korean-restaurant's daughter's dog. A perfect embellishment for the oddest of tails, er tales.
arwensouth
Oct. 14th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC)
I did like it, and wondered how you happened to come by it. Also twisted in a good way.
asakiyume
Oct. 14th, 2011 02:22 am (UTC)
I'm riding along in la-la-la what-if land, and then BANG. Your last paragraph.

Not often in good ways

Understatement of the new century, given that news story. Sickening.

... I have this problem with my stories. The horrors I imagine for them just in no way equal life's real horrors. Not even close.

(Hey, but regarding your hypothetical story, I had been wondering if the heads would actually have to be taken from people who had been killed expressly for the purpose, or whether grave robbing would be acceptable.)
barry_king
Oct. 14th, 2011 12:24 pm (UTC)
I wonder... I can see the advertisements now.

J: Hey, Bob, why the long face?
B: Gee, Jim, my shed just fell down.
J: Whoa, what kind of head did I use.
B: I got one of these bargain basement brands.
J: Don't go buying one of them, Bob. You don't know where they come from.
B: How do you mean, Jim?
J: Here we use only Red-d-Hedd heads. Guaranteed to be hunted from the best specifically for use in longhouse foundation.
B: So what's this, Jim?
J: Well, if I said it might come from a janitor's grave robbery, would you believe me.
B: I would now, Jim.

But yeah, horrors. That's something I've really noticed. Much of real human horror is considered either boring or gratuitous in fiction. Fictional horror requires a particular pandering to the reader's unexplored fears, and the assumptions that have to be made that relate to it are far from universal. Horror is nearly as hard to do well as humour, I think.
asakiyume
Oct. 15th, 2011 09:16 am (UTC)
LOL--I have a story... well, if it ever gets published, you'll see.

Fictional horror requires a particular pandering to the reader's unexplored fears, and the assumptions that have to be made that relate to it are far from universal. YES! So true. Horror reveals a society's preoccupations and secret (or not-so-secret) shames.
peadarog
Oct. 14th, 2011 04:57 am (UTC)
This is precisely the kind of thinking we need.

1% of the population have 40% of the decapitated heads...
barry_king
Oct. 14th, 2011 12:25 pm (UTC)
It's the system, man. Take it or leave it.
peadarog
Oct. 14th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
Those people always want more and more cuts!
barry_king
Oct. 14th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC)
It's true. Things have really come to a head this time.
asakiyume
Oct. 15th, 2011 09:17 am (UTC)
BEST POSSIBLE LJ COMMENT.
peadarog
Oct. 15th, 2011 11:33 am (UTC)
*bows with fake humility*
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )