The last man to die the death of 1000 cuts
was a Mr. Fou Tchou-Li. The year was 1905.
In Chinese this form of execution
is called Lingchi or “slow slicing”.
In English there is no exact equivalent,
but “death by fillet” is a good approximation.
The French philosopher Georges Bataille
was said to meditate every morning
on a photograph of Mr. Fou Tchou-Li
midway through the process of his
deconstruction. The object in question
has both arms removed and two
gentlemen are assiduously severing
the quadriceps femoris. The skin
and muscle on both sides of his
upper rib cage have been folded back
to better view the lungs which
continue to function as evidenced
by the look on Mr. Fou Tchou-Li’s face,
a signification which betokens neither agony
nor ecstasy, but something in-between.
It is the astonishment of a thinker
in the midst of a great thought, losing himself
a little here, a little there, until the answer floats by
so pure, so final, so free—
and like all great thoughts,
just out of reach.