Death by a Thousand Cuts (photo)  

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"This photograph had a decisive role in my life. I have never stopped being obsessed by this image of pain, at once ecstatic and intolerable. I wonder what the Marquis de Sade would have thought of this image, Sade who dreamed of torture, (which was inaccessible to him) but who never witnessed an actual torture session. In one way or another this image was incessantly before his eyes. But Sade would have wanted to see it in solitude, at least in relative solitude, without which the ecstatic and voluptuous effect is inconceivable. What I suddenly saw, and what imprisoned me in anguish — but which at the same time delivered me from it — was the identity of these perfect contraries, divine ecstasy and its opposite, extreme horror. And this is my inevitable conclusion to a history of eroticism." — Georges Bataille, Tears of Eros, translation Peter Connor (San Francisco: City Lights, 1989)

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"Massacre en Chine [supplice du lingchi à Pékin aux alentours de 1910]" is the title given to a photograph depicting the Death by a Thousand Cuts or slow slicing execution in 1910 in Peking.

The early 20th century photographs that were taken of this execution were influential to Georges Bataille's sacred/profane philosophy. In 1992, the same photographs were featured on John Zorn's album Leng Tch'e.

The photographs were published by French psychiatrist Georges Dumas in the 1934 Nouveau traité de psychologie , and again by J. M. Lo Duca, who mistakenly appended abstracts of Fou-tchou-li's executions as related by Carpeaux.

Adrien Borel, Georges Bataille's analyst, introduced Bataille to the photographs. Bataille became fascinated by the photographs, reportedly gazing at them daily. He included the photos in his The Tears of Eros. (1961; translated to English and published by City Lights in 1989)

Susan Sontag mentions the 1905 case in Regarding the Pain of Others (2003). One reviewer wrote that though Sontag includes no photographs in her book—a volume about photography—"she does tantalisingly describe a photograph that obsessed the philosopher Georges Bataille, in which a Chinese criminal, while being chopped up and slowly flayed by executioners, rolls his eyes heavenwards in transcendent bliss."



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Death by a Thousand Cuts (photo)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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