Lately I’ve been wondering about many things, while researching for my upcoming synthesis paper about beheading. One of the foremost is my own taste for murder, and how I should see it objectively.
I am a rather depraved person, and my moral compass is, if I have one, very disoriented. Yet I do not condone every act of violence and depravity equally. This has made me wonder about the possibility that I do possess some type of conscience. Further thoughts about this have proven negative: I don’t, not really. The real reason why some actions strike me as “wrong” is aesthetic in nature.
There are quite a few actions I don’t condone of grounds of them being aesthetically displeasing. Among those are violating a child, but also certain ways of killing someone touch that snare with me (by example the scene in “The Island” where Merrick plunges a poison-filled syringe in a man’s neck. It would require some context explanation for it to be completely clear, but the scene struck me as extremely ugly.)
Murder -and by extent depravity in general- is an art, and like all art there are works you deem beautiful at first sight, works that just hit you as really ugly, and others that don’t exactly make you warm or cold but which you can appreciate for their technique or originality.
My taste is, like every taste, a personal one. Others may have other preferences, discussing those is not up to me.
My personal preferences are more in the direction of deadly torture, but then again not all torture does it for me. Vivisections, cutting, whipping, cutting off fingers and toes, things like that all in combination with a bit of mental torment too… Those I like. I have found that to me the face-to-face contact with the subject is highly important. I have to see the emotional effects of my work first hand. In this I make an exception for beheading, the subject that actually brought me to this train of thought.
It used to be considered an honour to die by decapitation, at least here in the western world. I suppose it’s a remnant of the pagan cultures in which a person had to die in combat in order to be allowed a place in heaven. To die by decapitation was to die by a weapon of war, and therefor not as honourless as hanging, crucifying or other means of execution. It was also an option only for noblemen. The French Revolution was revolutionary on that part as well, because the guillotine made the honourable death by beheading available for the mass too. Democratization of execution, and I’m not making this up; articles have been written about that.
Doing research for my paper has caused me to read about many cases of beheading, in the context of execution, torture, and even the incidental case of “accidental beheading” in suicide. To say all ways and cases of decapitation are equally pleasing to the senses would be like saying all representations of the Virgin Mary are equally beautiful. There’s skill, talent and taste involved… Tormentors in Afghanistan using a blunt machete to slowly cut off their subject’s head are very different from a sad teenage boy who doesn’t know enough physics to calculate the length of rope he needs for successful hanging and ends up decapitated. Decapitation can be swift and clean or painful and dirty. I tend to prefer the clean and absolutely intended variety, in the tradition of the “honourable death”, but that’s just me of course.
The psychology behind decapitation throughout the ages is very interesting as well… Did you know that according to Freud’s theories beheading is a symbolic castration? The exact meaning has differed throughout the years, but always a hint of eroticism has been involved. Should it be surprising that the tantric goddess Chhinnamasta is always depicted having beheaded herself and standing on top of a copulating couple with her head in her hand? She is the personification of the interdependency of life, death and sex. The erotic element of beheading is recurrent throughout all cultures…
I could go on an on about this subject –once something catches my attention I don’t let go before I know as much as there is to know- but I will stop here, and leave you contemplating. What do you believe is the ugliest way of killing, and why? What is the most pleasing one? Consider yourself all participants in my little social research…
PS: Expect many pictures of beheading in the future… I share what I love with the people around me 😉