Master Palaemon's hand, dry and wrinkled as a mummy's, groped until it found mine. "Among the initiates of religion it is said, 'You are an epopt always.' The reference is not only to knowledge but to their chrism, whose mark, being invisible, is ineradicable. You know our chrism." I nodded again. "Less even than theirs can it be washed away. Should you leave now, men will only say, 'He was nurtured by the torturers.' But when you have been anointed they will say, 'He is a torturer.' You may follow the plow or the drum, but still you will hear, 'He is a torturer.' Do you understand that?
The central attitudes driving the Water Torturer are: You are crazy. You fly off the handle over nothing. I can easily convince other people that you're the one who is messed up. As long as I'm calm, you can't call anything I do abusive, no matter how cruel. I know exactly how to get under your skin.
The central attitudes driving the Water Torturer are:You are crazy. You fly off the handle over nothing.I can easily convince other people that you're the one who is messed up.As long as I'm calm, you can't call anything I do abusive, no matter how cruel.I know exactly how to get under your skin.
Listening to the music while stretching her body close to its limit, she was able to attain a mysterious calm. She was simultaneously the torturer and the tortured, the forcer and the forced. This sense of inner-directed self-sufficiency was what she wanted most of all. It gave her deep solace.
The Communist torturers often said, 'There is no God, no hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.' I have heard one torturer even say, 'I thank God, in whom I don't believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart.' He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflected on prisoners.
Torture presupposes, it requires, it craves the abrogation of our capacity to imagine others suffering, dehumanizing them so much that their pain is not our pain. It demands this of the torturer, placing the victim outside and beyond any form of compassion or empathy, but also demands of everyone else the same distancing, the same numbness.
That all war is physically frightful is obvious; but if that were a moral verdict, there would be no difference between a torturer and a surgeon. There are certain intellectuals who are too bright to be content with merely praising peace but who are infuriated by anybody praising war. If no war is possible, all criminality has its chance
Gilbert K. Chesterton
Hasn't there ... been a little too much zeal in our reproof of children and friends for yielding to the temptations we ourselves find it most difficult to resist? We punish where we can least afford to sympathize. Of all the horrors of the daily news, it seems hardest to imagine the kind of cruelty that is intensified by the pain of its victims, but whenever we feel sympathy would weaken us, we are a little closer to the torturer.
And when pain bites, men bargain. Boys too. We twist and turn, we plead and beg, we offer our tormentors what he wants so that the hurting will stop. And when there is no torturer to placate, no hooded man with hot irons and tongs, just a burn you can't escape, we bargain with God, or ourselves, depending on the size of our egos.
Music is everything and nothing. It is useless and no limit can be set on its use. Music takes me to places of illimitable sensual and insensate joy, accessing points of ecstasy that no angelic lover could ever locate, or plunging me into gibbering weeping hells of pain that no torturer could devise. Music makes me write this sort of maundering adolescent nonsense without embarrassment. Music is in fact the dog's bollocks. Nothing else comes close.
It is a Bush administration official on the moment when torture breaks a victim: The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely. From Neil Gaiman's account of a torturer in hell: We will hurt you. And we are not sorry. But we do not do it to punish you. We do it to redeem you. Because afterward, you'll be a better person... and because we love you. One day you'll thank us for it. War is peace. Torture is freedom. In the end, you love Big Brother.
Here's what I love: when a great writer turns me into a Jew from Chicago, a lesbian out of South Carolina, or a black woman moving into a subway entrance in Harlem. Turn me into something else, writers of the world. Make me Muslim, heretic, hermaphrodite. Put me into a crusader's armor, a cardinal's vestments. Let me feel the pygmy's heartbeat, the queen's breast, the torturer's pleasure, the Nile's taste, or the nomad's thirst. Tell me everything that I must know. Hold nothing back.
When my sons arrived in the family, their legal status was not ambiguous at all. They were our kids. But their wants and affections were still atrophied by a year in the orphanage. They didn't know that flies on their faces were bad. They didn't know that a strange man feeding them their first scary gulps of solid food wasn't a torturer. Life in the cribs alone must have seemed to them like freedom. That's what I was missing about the biblical doctrine of adoption. Sure it's glorious in the long run. But it sure seems like hell in the short run...
When my sons arrived in the family, their legal status was not ambiguous at all. They were our kids. But their wants and affections were still atrophied by a year in the orphanage. They didn't know that flies on their faces were bad. They didn't know that a strange man feeding them their first scary gulps of solid food wasn't a torturer. Life in the cribs alone must have seemed to them like freedom. That's what I was missing about the biblical doctrine of adoption. Sure it's glorious in the long run. But it sure seems like hell in the short run.
Russell D. Moore
That was what made the story epic: the player, the hero, had to suffer, as long as the suffering made sense. Everybody suffered. The key was to choose the form of your suffering. Most people couldn't do this alone; they needed a coach. A good coach made you suffer in a way that suited you. A bad coach made everyone suffer in the same way, and so was more like a torturer.
crossed the room to where a selection of implements was arranged on a table top. These could have been mistaken for the trade tools of a cook, physician, or torturer, save for the fact that the surface on which they rested was a slab of polished pink marble, topping a white and gilt dressing table-cum-sculpture, done up in the new, hyper-Baroque style named Rococo. It was adorned, for example, with several cherubs, bows drawn, eyes asquint, as they drew beads on unseen targets, butt cheeks polished to a luster with jeweler's rouge. It had, in other words, all the earmarks of a gift that had been sent to the princess by someone with a lot of money who did not know her very well.
"Judge not, that ye be not judge"... is an abdication of moral responsibility: it is a moral blank check one gives to others in exchange for a moral blank check one expects for oneself. There is no escape from the fact that men have to make choices; so long as men have to make choices, there is no escape from moral values; so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible. To abstain from condemning a torturer, is to become an accesory to the torture and murder of his victims. The moral principle to adopt... is: "Judge, and be prepared to be judged."
Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans even as I exclude myself from the community of sinners. But no one can be in the presence of the God of the crucified Messiah for long without overcoming this double exclusion - without transposing the enemy from the sphere of the monstrous... into the sphere of shared humanity and herself from the sphere of proud innocence into the sphere of common sinfulness. When one knows [as the cross demonstrates] that the torturer will not eternally triumph over the victim, one is free to rediscover that person's humanity and imitate God's love for him. And when one knows [as the cross demonstrates] that God's love is greater than all sin, one is free to see oneself in the light of God's justice and so rediscover one's own sinfulness.
And with a relentlessness that comes from the world's depths, with a persistence that strikes the keys metaphysically, the scales of a piano student keep playing over and over, up and down the physical backbone of my memory. It's the old streets with other people, the same streets that today are different; it's dead people speaking to me through the transparency of their absence; it's remorse for what I did or didn't do; it's the rippling of streams in the night, noises from below in the quiet building. I feel like screaming inside my head. I want to stop, to break, to smash this impossible phonograph record that keeps playing inside me, where it doesn't belong, an intangible torturer. I want my soul, a vehicle taken over by others, to let me off and go on without me. I'm going crazy from having to hear. And in the end it is I - in my odiously impressionable brain, in my thin skin, in my hypersensitive nerves - who am the keys played in scales, O horrible and personal piano of our memory.
There was a wicked ole witch once called Black Aliss. She was an unholy terror. There's never been one worse or more powerful. Until now. Because I could spit in her eye and steal her teeth, see. Because she didn't know Right from Wrong, so she got all twisted up, and that was the end of her. "The trouble is, you see, that if you do know Right from Wrong, you can't choose Wrong. You just can't do it and live. So.. if I was a bad witch I could make Mister Salzella's muscles turn against his bones and break them where he stood... if I was bad. I could do things inside his head, change the shape he thinks he is, and he'd be down on what had been his knees and begging to be turned into a frog... if I was bad. I could leave him with a mind like a scrambled egg, listening to colors and hearing smells... if I was bad. Oh yes." There was another sigh, deeper and more heartfelt. "But I can't do none of that stuff. That wouldn't be Right." She gave a deprecating little chuckle. And if Nanny Ogg had been listening, she would have resolved as follows: that no maddened cackle from Black Aliss of infamous memory, no evil little giggle from some crazed Vampyre whose morals were worse than his spelling, no side-splitting guffaw from the most inventive torturer, was quite so unnerving as a happy little chuckle from a Granny Weatherwax about to do what's best.
In a cage of wire-ribs The size of a man's head, the macaw bristles in a staring Combustion, suffers the stoking devils of his eyes. In the old lady's parlour, where an aspidistra succumbs To the musk of faded velvet, he hangs in clear flames, Like a torturer's iron instrument preparing With dense slow shudderings of greens, yellows, blues, Crimsoning into the barbs: Or like the smouldering head that hung In Killdevil's brass kitchen, in irons, who had been Volcano swearing to vomit the world away in black ash, And would, one day; or a fugitive aristocrat From some thunderous mythological hierarchy, caught By a little boy with a crust and a bent pin, Or snare of horsehair set for a song-thrush, And put in a cage to sing. The old lady who feeds him seeds Has a grand-daughter. The girl calls him 'Poor Polly', pokes fun. 'Jolly Mop.' But lies under every full moon, The spun glass of her body bared and so gleam-still Her brimming eyes do not tremble or spill The dream where the warrior comes, lightning and iron, Smashing and burning and rending towards her loin: Deep into her pillow her silence pleads. All day he stares at his furnace With eyes red-raw, but when she comes they close. 'Polly. Pretty Poll', she cajoles, and rocks him gently. She caresses, whispers kisses. The blue lids stay shut. She strikes the cage in a tantrum and swirls out: Instantly beak, wings, talons crash The bars in conflagration and frenzy, And his shriek shakes the house.
People spoke to foreigners with an averted gaze, and everybody seemed to know somebody who had just vanished. The rumors of what had happened to them were fantastic and bizarre though, as it turned out, they were only an understatement of the real thing. Before going to see General Videla [... ], I went to [... ] check in with Los Madres: the black-draped mothers who paraded, every week, with pictures of their missing loved ones in the Plaza Mayo. ('Todo mi familia!' as one elderly lady kept telling me imploringly, as she flourished their photographs. 'Todo mi familia!') From these and from other relatives and friends I got a line of questioning to put to the general. I would be told by him, they forewarned me, that people 'disappeared' all the time, either because of traffic accidents and family quarrels or, in the dire civil-war circumstances of Argentina, because of the wish to drop out of a gang and the need to avoid one's former associates. But this was a cover story. Most of those who disappeared were openly taken away in the unmarked Ford Falcon cars of the Buenos Aires military police. I should inquire of the general what precisely had happened to Claudia Inez Grumberg, a paraplegic who was unable to move on her own but who had last been seen in the hands of his ever-vigilant armed forces [... ] I possess a picture of the encounter that still makes me want to spew: there stands the killer and torturer and rape-profiteer, as if to illustrate some seminar on the banality of evil. Bony-thin and mediocre in appearance, with a scrubby moustache, he looks for all the world like a cretin impersonating a toothbrush. I am gripping his hand in a much too unctuous manner and smiling as if genuinely delighted at the introduction. Aching to expunge this humiliation, I waited while he went almost pedantically through the predicted script, waving away the rumored but doubtless regrettable dematerializations that were said to be afflicting his fellow Argentines. And then I asked him about Senorita Grumberg. He replied that if what I had said was true, then I should remember that 'terrorism is not just killing with a bomb, but activating ideas. Maybe that's why she's detained.' I expressed astonishment at this reply and, evidently thinking that I hadn't understood him the first time, Videla enlarged on the theme. 'We consider it a great crime to work against the Western and Christian style of life: it is not just the bomber but the ideologist who is the danger.' Behind him, I could see one or two of his brighter staff officers looking at me with stark hostility as they realized that the general-El Presidente-had made a mistake by speaking so candidly. [... ] In response to a follow-up question, Videla crassly denied-'rotondamente': 'roundly' denied-holding Jacobo Timerman 'as either a journalist or a Jew.' While we were having this surreal exchange, here is what Timerman was being told by his taunting tormentors: Argentina has three main enemies: Karl Marx, because he tried to destroy the Christian concept of society; Sigmund Freud, because he tried to destroy the Christian concept of the family; and Albert Einstein, because he tried to destroy the Christian concept of time and space. [... ] We later discovered what happened to the majority of those who had been held and tortured in the secret prisons of the regime. According to a Navy captain named Adolfo Scilingo, who published a book of confessions, these broken victims were often destroyed as 'evidence' by being flown out way over the wastes of the South Atlantic and flung from airplanes into the freezing water below. Imagine the fun element when there's the surprise bonus of a Jewish female prisoner in a wheelchair to be disposed of... we slide open the door and get ready to roll her and then it's one, two, three... go!