Derailment of the mind

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Mar 10 2013


Category: Asia, Cambodia

1 Comment

This is how I tend to look at people who are guided in their thinking and actions by extreme fanaticism. But one might as well say that the fanatic mind is not derailed; on the contrary, it perceives only one rail, only one track to a certain end which it follows with blinkers on, insensitive to possible other routes that may have different ends or even open ends, and ruthless in dealing with other minds which it finds as obstacles in its way.

After having evolved from their animal ancestors, mainly because of the growth of the brain and development of the mind, humans started to inhabit the Earth. With this, the exciting adventure of humankind was set in motion. We all know what the human mind has been capable of: great works of thought, of art, of knowledge, but also the Holocaust and the Killing Fields. Maybe we can say that the first could be created with, and because of, open minds, and that the second is the result of closed minds.

People, human beings, are equipped with intellect and with feelings, and they need both to fully grasp the meaning of things. In theory my mind may be capable of understanding what I have written above, but when confronted with the blind, fanatic mind and the calculated brutality of its actions, I am powerless; in the end the tyrant, the torturer, the executioner, remain beyond my understanding.

After arrival in S-21, the secret prison of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, the “enemies of the revolution” were photographed and in the following days, weeks or months, they were interrogated, tortured and forced to confess guilt. Each prisoner was finally executed. The photo archives and documentation of S-21 have been almost completely preserved.

Photo of the week: Painting by Vann Nath, one of the very few survivors of S-21. The legend says: “Throwing children in the air and piercing them with the points of bayonets.” Genocide Museum Tuol Sleng, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2000

One comment on “Derailment of the mind”

  1. The human mind can turn either way. Or any of the ways in between. The trick is to minimise the turn towards inhumanity. I will be thinking about your words, and, mostly, the painting tonight.



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