The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

theory. the real. death.

Torture is senseless violence, born in fear. The purpose of it is to force
from one tongue, amid its screams and its vomiting up of blood, the secret
of _everything._ Senseless violence: whether the victim talks or whether
he dies under his agony, the secret that he cannot tell is always some-
where else and out of reach. It is the executioner who becomes Sisyphus.
If he puts _the question_ at all, he will have to continue forever.

Sartre (in the afterword to Henri Alleg, The Question, 1958)

Experiment solitary touching the impossibility of annihilation.

100. There is nothing more certain in nature than that it is impossible
for any body to be utterly annihilated; but that as it was the work of the
omnipotency of God to make somewhat of nothing, so it requireth the like
omnipotency to turn somewhat into nothing. And therefore it is well said
by an obscure writer of the sect of the chemists, that there is no such
way to effect the strange transmutations of bodies, as to endevour and
urge by all means the reducing of them to nothing. And herein is contained
also a great secret of preservation of bodies from change; for if you can
prohibit, that they neither turn into air, because no air cometh to them;
nor go into the bodies adjacent, because they are utterly heterogeneal;
nor make a round and circulation within themselves; they will never
change, though they be in their nature never so perishable or mutable.

from Francis Bacon, Sylva Sylvarum or A Natural History, 1627

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