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Chasseguet-Smirgel, J. (2004). Body and Cosmos: Pasolini, Mishima, Foucault. Am. Imago, 61(2):201-221.

(2004). American Imago, 61(2):201-221

Body and Cosmos: Pasolini, Mishima, Foucault

Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel

Translated by:
Monique King

1. The Dismembered Body

“The human body was entering a machinery of power that explores it, breaks it down, and rearranges it.”—

Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish

On March 2, 1757, Robert-François Damiens, who attempted to kill King Louis XV with a penknife, was condemned as a regicide “to make the amende honorable before the main door of the Church of Paris,” where he was to be “taken and conveyed in a cart, wearing nothing but a shirt, holding a torch of burning wax.” Then, “the flesh will be torn from his breasts, arms, thighs, and calves with red-hot pincers … and, on those places where the flesh will be torn away, poured molten lead, boiling oil, burning resin, wax and sulphur melted together and then his body drawn and quartered by four horses” (qtd. in Foucault 1975a, 3).1

But the horses did not succeed in pulling Damiens apart:

Finally, the executioner, Samson, said to Monsieur Le Breton that there was no way or hope of succeeding, and told him to ask their Lordships if they wished him to have the prisoner cut into pieces.…


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