The barbarians

In the past, I’ve mentioned the writings of neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. I’ve always enjoyed his work and I just starting reading his third book, “Looking for Spinoza,” which intermingles reflections on the biology of emotion with ruminations on the life of the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza. At one point the book discusses the assassinations of a contemporary of Spinoza, Dutch political figure Jan De Witt, and his brother. When they were killed, and violently so (for presumed disloyalty to the nation), Spinoza’s faith in man’s ability to rise above his savagery was shattered. Here’s the passage describing the De Witt’s death.

Assailants clubbed and knifed both De Witts as they dragged them on the way to the gallows, and by the time they arrived there was no need to hang them anymore. They proceeded to undress the corpses, suspend them upside down, butcher-shop style, and quarter them. The fragments were sold as souvenirs, eaten raw, or even cooked, amid the most sickening merriment.

To be fair, if you’re going to eat somebody, you should cook them. It’s just good form.

6 Responses to “The barbarians”

  1. Ahole

    thought of ol wil hiking to queen ann yesterday.

  2. John Saleeby

    At least you’re reading. I seem to have the wall far as literary matters go. Fifty years of nonstop Book Wormdom and now all I do is flip around the internet and listen to noisy ass CDs. But as least I’ve read “Billy Budd”. You ever read “Billy Budd”, Forbis?

  3. Wil

    I have not – some kind of homo novel?

    Yeah, I was just watching some movie that was supposed to take place in Seattle and they had a shot of the Elephant. Good times…

  4. John Saleeby

    No, “Billy Budd” is about the unpredictability of human behavior which necessitates a strictly enforced legal code to preserve order.

  5. Wil

    Hmm… sounds like homos.

  6. John Saleeby

    You’re not funny!