[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqYiUAIEOD0&w=420&h=315]

Womyn Do: The Healing of JOHNNY R3BEL by Frank “Zeus” Marcopolos

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From Wikipedia:

“The Pit and the Pendulum” is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in 1842 in the literary annual The Gift: A Christmas and New Year’s Present for 1843. The story is about the torments endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, though Poe skews historical facts. The narrator of the story describes his experience of being tortured. The story is especially effective at inspiring fear in the reader because of its heavy focus on the senses, such as sound, emphasizing its reality, unlike many of Poe’s stories which are aided by the supernatural. The traditional elements established in popular horror tales at the time are followed, but critical reception has been mixed. The tale has been adapted to film several times.

“The Pit and the Pendulum” is a study of the effect terror has on the narrator, starting with the opening line, which suggests that he is already suffering from death anxiety (“I was sick — sick unto death with that long agony”). However, there is an implicit irony in the reference to the black-robed judges having lips “whiter than the sheet upon which I trace these words,” which shows that he has survived and is writing the story after the events. Unlike much of Poe’s work, the story has no supernatural elements. The “realism” of the story is enhanced through Poe’s focus on reporting sensations: the dungeon is airless and unlit, the narrator is subject to thirst and starvation, he is swarmed by rats, the razor-sharp pendulum threatens to slice into him and the closing walls are red-hot. The narrator experiences the blade mostly through sound as it “hissed” while swinging. Poe emphasizes this element of sound with such words as “surcingle,” “cessation,” “crescent,” and “scimitar”, and various forms of literary consonance.

Poe was following an established model of terror writing of his day, often seen in Blackwood’s Magazine (a formula he mocks in “A Predicament”). Those stories, however, often focused on chance occurrences or personal vengeance as a source of terror. Poe may have been inspired to focus on the purposeful impersonal torture in part by Juan Antonio Llorente’s History of the Spanish Inquisition, first published in 1817. It has also been suggested that Poe’s “pit” was inspired by a translation of the Koran (Poe had referenced the Koran also in “Al Aaraaf” and “Israfel”) by George Sale. Poe was familiar with Sale, and even mentioned him by name in a note in his story “The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade”. Sale’s translation was a part of commentary and, in one of those notes, refers to an allegedly common form of torture and execution by “throwing [people] into a glowing pit of fire, whence he had the opprobrious appellation of the Lord of the Pit.” In the Koran itself, in Sura (Chapter) 85, “The Celestial Signs”, a passage reads: “…cursed were the contrivers of the pit, of fire supplied with the fuel… and they afflicted them for no other reason, but because they believed in the mighty, the glorious God.” Poe is also considered to have been influenced by William Mudford’s The Iron Shroud, a short story about an iron torture chamber which shrinks through mechanical action and eventually crushes the victim inside. Poe apparently got the idea for the shrinking chamber in the “Pit and the Pendulum” after Mudford’s story was published in Blackwood’s magazine in 1830.

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