Ancient Chinese method of torture and execution. The torturer has at his side a large basket full of sharp knives, each labeled with a different part of the body. He draws one at random and plunges it into the body part written on the label. Thus death can either be instantaneous (for example, if the heart knife is drawn first) or excruciatingly slow and painful. One of the nastier things human beings have ever devised.

Other names for this horrible death include "Torture of the Knife", Ling-chy, execution by the "slow process" or by the "slicing process". This is usually reserved for the punishment of parricide.

There is also some suspicion that the technique has been largely if not entirely displaced by a method of execution in which no element of chance is allowed to interfere with the infliction of one of the most frightful forms imaginable of death by torture. No basket with its multiplicity of marked knives enter into it. A single keen bladed instrument is used and the slicings, cuttings, hackings and amputations proceed slowly step by step through the whole ghastly allotted course.

In Amy Tan's novel, the Joy Luck Club, a mother tells her daughter a story of how her great-grandfather sentenced a peasant to the death of a thousand cuts. After this happens, the peasant says that he thought that the death of a thousand cuts would be the worst thing he had to endure, but instead the worst was on the other side. And he pulled the great grandfather through the wall to prove it.

This story has had a great impact on me. The death of a thousand cuts has come to symbolize the unendurable thing, the worst thing in the world. I look around and many people are enduring their death of a thousand cuts, and no one cares. Today, someone is depressed. Well, they should get over it. A girl was raped ten years ago. Isn't she over that yet? A man is suffering the wages of unattractiveness. He should look on the bright side. All this we say with a smile.

What many people fail to realize is that a death of a thousand cuts doesn't have to be validated by society to cause pain. Long before women's rights were recognized, repression was slicing into some girl's soul. Before blacks were recognized as human, the word nigger burnt into people's brains. Nowadays it isn't as extreme, but just as long as you do not flow with society, they'll keep sharpening their knives.

Of course, we can't expect people to realize about the bits and pieces of others they keep slicing away. Their causal cruelty, their keep your pecker ups, their inability to realize that not everyone is normal or even able to be will keep slicing away despite anything anyone else can do.

However, maybe just explaining it will make a difference. Maybe someone out there will realize something. Certainly, it is impossible for someone to feel another's pain, and also, one who has not had their death of a thousand cuts will always be dispensing easy to says-which not only are not helpful, but insult the listener; I'm sure that depressed young teen is really going to recover once you tell her to smile more, Aunty Know Nothing. However, the more aware people may start to look at their behavior and try to understand someone's pain before insulting them with crap bombs.

Some things are near impossible to endure, but the end of the story gives me hope. The daughter gives her mother the death of a thousand cuts, but afterwards, the mother opens her eyes and says after that, there is nothing more to be endured. And the daughter pulls her through the wall.

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