NEGARESTANI: The Corpse Bride: Thinking with Nigredo

The punishment imposed by Mezentius on the soldiers of Aneas should be inflicted, by coupling him to one of his own corpses and parading him through the streets until his carcass and its companion were amalgamated by putrefaction.

Both in Etruscan torture and in Aristotle’s fragment, the living or the soul is tied to the dead or the body face to face. The Greco-Roman motif of the mirror is obviously at play here; one sees itself as the other, the perfect matching double. However, the great chain of philosophers from Aristotle to Augustine and beyond only tell us about one side of the mirror, shamelessly underestimating the under- standing of both the living and the dead. They tell us that the soul sees itself as the dead party whilst chained to the body. But this is surely a ridiculous attempt to unilateralise the mirror motif, for not only does the living see itself as dead, but the dead also looks into the eyes of the living, and its entire body shivers with worms and dread. It is indeed ghastly for the living to see itself as dead; but it is true horror for the dead to be forced to look at the supposedly living, and to see itself as the living dead, the dead animated by the spurious living.