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Prague: Day Four, Part Two

torture1.jpg

This is the Iron Maiden, one of many edifying exhibits in the Museum of Torture Instruments. Its a quiet place. Not a lot of chatter. And quite educational. For instance the instrument above is designed so that the nails on the inside do not puncture any vital organs (on most people). What I learned among other things that torture was not quite the haphazard and uncontrolled thing I thought it was. I imagined an Igor like figure limping and lisping their way to some tool they had wanted to use for some time but just hadn’t, randomly selecting one or picking up some favourite, and yet the truth is that torture followed rules. Certain transgressions led to certain punishments. Don’t know if that makes me feel better about it all.

Another thing that became quite evident in these three floors of exhibits was the creativity of the inventors. I suspected that each time one of these contributors to human ingenuity and civilization felt a little twinge or discomfort from a chair or position rather than simply getting more comfortable (like us unimaginative ones would) they would exacerbate it a little, play with it, and think “I can use this!!”.

I also learned that here to the class system held. We all know about the guillotine but how many of you know that if you were of common birth, you did not get the merciful blade but rather your head was secured and then struck with a heavy mallet.

Overall though, its a sobering experience, depressing to think of how many suffered these horrors and yet it is ultimately a sign that the world is better than it was. Torture is not the given it was then and though it continues in some places, it is often surreptitious and no longer thought of as common.

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