Off With Their Heads! On Decapitation and the Aesthetics of Murder

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 😉

About quantumphysica

My name is QuantumPhysica The Insane, but you can call me QP. I am insane, admitted to a mental hospital in Belgium, and waiting for a decent diagnosis at the moment. Once I was a physics student with goals in life and what more; now I'm simply the patient of Room 93. Ever wondered what life is like in the psychiatric ward? I'll tell you everything you ever wanted to know... I am... particularly twitchy of personality. But I also am genuinely interested in everything. There is nothing that doesn't interest me, really. Everything, from quantum computers to fashion and cars to traveling... I also give advice. On anything. No taboos whatsoever. And I make lists of things...
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14 Responses to Off With Their Heads! On Decapitation and the Aesthetics of Murder

  1. Al K Hall says:

    Ugliest way to kill? Sadistically. Most pleasing? Masochistically.

  2. Are you a serial killer? I just had to ask.

  3. blacksun321 says:

    Wow. Really. Wow. It is exceedingly rare to meet others who are willing to be so open and honest about such things and explore their inner darkness. You have my respect.

  4. Pingback: To Create A Universe From Nothing… Esthetics Over Ethics? | We're All Mad Inhere

  5. Isleofmisfittoys says:

    Been out of the loop, so missed this discussion. I respect anyone who can look into themselves and see the darkness there and not ignore it or hide from it. Most people spend their lives convincing themselves that there is nothing there, as if they, and everyone around them are better than the feral animals that lurk under the thin veneer of humanity we paint themselves with. Unless forced to confront their inner monster, I think most people never become full people….how can you if you never turn over your mossy rock in your soul and look at the crawling creepers under it? even then, most people will lie about what they find, talk themselves into believing that it was all just a bad dream somehow, and they are the special wonderful person their mommy says they are. so, you have my respect (as always) at being willing to look into yourself unflinchingly and accept what you find…but try not to lose control, little one…..not sure how you would do in prison hahahah (food sucks! hahaha)

    to answer you questions though, and help with your research…worst way to be killed has to be fire…for mostly selfish reasons…I hate burning myself primarily; stings like a bitch. To steal your perspective…the aestetics of fire are pretty bad too…people running apart like melting candles…greasy smoke. Plus, you never want grilled pork again after seeing it (smells and looks like it). as for most beautiful…i haven’t really thought about it…violence is business…if pressed to make a decision, fast and clean is functional, and i love functional beauty. don’t have to worry about them, and screaming is kinda fucking irritating after a while to be honest.

    just my perspective for you…try to stay out of trouble hahaha…you’re too cute for prison. haha

    • I think what you described is the reason that so many people “dehumanize” murderers and other heavy criminals; they refuse to acknowledge that they, being human, might be capable of the same behavior, that it is a human trait to have this capacity. It is easier to deal with a murderer if you can condemn him, call him a monster, and say that you would never ever do something like that. Depraved acts strike a cord in people because they remind us of our animal nature, I believe. Of course, that’s just my opinion.
      It’s hard to control the urges sometimes, but I find that it helps to speak about it. The less I hide it, the more tangible it becomes and the less “urged” I feel.

      Functional beauty, there’s something to say for that indeed. It’s part of the reason why I love beheading; it’s clean and swift, perfect application of “Form Follows Function” (F3) which is a principle from Modernist Architecture and design. Less is more, if you want to.
      I could use principles of architecture to classify murder techniques; beheading, a stabbing well done, bullet in the head, etc etc fall under “Modernist Murder” for me, while the torturous practices that involve cut fingers and the like might better be described as “Gothic Murder”. I tend to see the beauty in both, yet people have often told me I have a strange taste in many things so maybe I’m not that good a reference.

      As for prison, I seriously hope not to end up in there. These days even being schizophrenic isn’t guaranteed to get you the insanity plea, at least not in Belgium… Control is everything, no?

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