Hexagram 23 “Bo” (Splitting Apart)

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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.

–Greg Geis

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