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The Forgotten SenseMeditations on Touch$
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Pablo Maurette

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226561332

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226561509.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 February 2020

Torn to Pieces

Torn to Pieces

(p.56) Torn to Pieces
The Forgotten Sense

Pablo Maurette

University of Chicago Press

"Torn to Piece" is a journey from Ancient Rome to the late 20th century, with stops in the European Renaissance and in Qing dynasty China, that takes place among the stacks of the Bibliotheque National in Paris. Its guiding thread is the problem of the body as a divisible organism, seen through the eyes of ancient atomist Lucretius. The essay then moves to Lucretius' first Renaissance readers, who were discovering the human body in anatomy theaters and seeing it disintegrate in periodic epidemics. From there it moves to the work of American photographer Joel-Peter Witkin, whose macabre images of severed limbs also offer a meditation on the fragility and divisibility of the human body. It all comes together in the work of sixteenth-century philosopher Giordano Bruno, an avid reader of Lucretius, who was sentenced to death to be burnt at the stake in Rome in 1600 for refusing to recant his materialistic beliefs.

Keywords:   Lucretius, Joel-Peter Witkin, syphilis, smallpox, lingchi, atomism, anatomy

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