Rob‘s been thinking of forms of torment:

I’ve been thinking about films for a while and those films that have left an impression on me. Many of them involve a character being tortured in some way or other in an attempt to get them to spill their guts. Name five tortures that would have you screaming like Winston Smith.

Well, this isn’t what I expected to think about for the next few days (I bumble as I prepare this post beginning Wednesday night) but let’s see what I can come up with.

  1. That awful Baha’i torture death with the molten metal. I once read a Baha’i history book loaned to me by a girl I was crazy about in high school. Anyway, there were a number of awful tortures described which were apparently used on the first Baha’i martyrs. The worst one I remember was having molten metal poured down one’s throat. Hell, man, that’s outright sick, and just knowing it was coming would be enough to horrify me to pitiful, wimpy screaming.
  2. The Death of a Thousand Cuts. The Chinese, man. Leave it to the Chinese.
  3. The Korean Barbecue. I read about this in the history book I’m reading now, The Two Koreas. For those who sing the praises of Park Chung-Hee because of the leaps and bounds of progress in the economy during his military rule of South Korea, I have one thing to say. Any government that hangs people spreadeagled from the ceiling with a flame beneath them, cooking them slowly from below, is illegitimate and criminal and not to be glorified in any way. Period.
  4. The life of any sex slave. Recently, I watched a Korean film called 나뿐 남자 (“Bad Guy”) and in it one witnesses the story of a young woman tricked into a life of sex slavery. Of course, one might also think of the Korean “comfort women” who suffered at the hands of the Japanese—though, according to one of my friends, if you actually read their stories, it was quite often a male Korean (often a relative, even) who sold them into the slavery they endured under Japanese masters. Korea still seems not to have come to grips with its own horrifically sexist past, if that’s true. But there are sex slaves all over the world, and I think that their whole existence is a horror beyond imagining, worse still for those who know the risks involved.
  5. Ideological Reprogramming. The worst torture in Orwell’s 1984, for me, isn’t the rat-cage; what really hurt Winston Smith was, in my imagination, the moment he realized that the person he was had to be destroyed in near-totality if he was to continue to exist at all in body, and that the choice to exist in body was unavoidable, visceral, it was essential to him as a totality. To that end, being shipped off to a re-education camp known to be effective, being kidnapped by Christian Fundamentalists, and even living under a political regime that banned any criticism and allowed only praise of the regime, would be an unspeakable torture to me. I don’t think I could handle that, and if I ended up on a train to a reeducation camp, I think I would do just about anything to stay out. The moment of passing into the camp, of passing the point of no return, would be an absolute, horrifying, soul-destroying torture.

One thought on “Torturous

  1. I read The Two Koreas about a year ago…I’ve found that I know things about Korean government from it than many Koreans don’t even know. It’s a great book. Of course, I don’t trust everything a foreigner will say about a country, but I have yet to find anything that didn’t match up with a little bit of asking around.

    At the time I lived in Gyeongsangnam-do, and I found that most of them LOVE Park Chung-hee there. Not the case at all where I live now (Gyeong-gi-do).
    Most people I know that dislike him the most point to the fact that he divided South Korea in favor of his home, Gyeongsang-do, and the divide (Jeolla-do/Gyeongsang-do) is still alive and kicking (but slowly getting better).

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