‘I cry for Myself as I lie dead, for shall they know all that burn my brain & breast’ — Ethel Rosenberg
She’s been buzzing trough my brain. The quote tagged on my wall ever since I heard it in Ivy Meeropol’s documentary on her grandparent Heir to an Execution (2004). When I close my eyes I see her. In a floral apron standing in a kitchen preparing gefilte fish for her boys. Like the eternal Jewish mother, waiting for the world to become a better and fairer place. Where workers are treated fairly and her sons can enjoy a happy and productive lives.
Instead they pulled the lever. Let an electrical charge run through her veins. Entering her 4ft 11 in (1.50 meters) body through an electrode that they had attached to her shaved head and another electrode around her shaved right calf. The electricity runs through her as her body now is reduced to being a conductor for the electronic current. She’s effectively boiled alive as her body temperature raises to at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) causing brain death, heart failure and overall fatal organ damage. When the current had had it´s run, they where stunned to find her still alive. Subsequently, it had to be repeated, until smoke left her body.
Aesthetics of Electricity, The imminent Execution and the Mob
Just imagine the pitchforked Mary Shelley-esque mob flogging the streets just after sunset on June 19th 1953, “The Rosenberg’s are dead.” The mob rejoiced in light of the demise of this couple. As if they had just killed the devil incarnate and not two members of the communist party.
To use the favorite Dylan quote of my professor: ‘The Times they are a-Changing’. The acts of history have become in the words of Mercutio: ‘A plague o’both houses (Act 3, Scene 1, line 78).’
In Jean-Paul Sartre’s story ‘The Wall’, the protagonist Pablo Ibbieta is about to be executed in the course of the Spanish Civil War, unless he gives up the whereabouts of his comrade Ramón Gris. The imminence of his execution colors him a grayish green. In the end he chooses to F*ck it all and gives wrongful information on Gris’s location. However in a twist of fate, turns out that Gris changed his location and just happened to be where Ibbieta said he would be. And then without proper intend get’s released in the end.
The imminent execution is a peg in the belly of a person being prosecuted by a manic mob. Seeking a surge of electricity to relieve their tension. To sooth their minds and anxieties. Be still their harts.
A story of perspectives and humanity. Dependent on the sides of who is/are the winners. Communists vs McCarthyism. Spanish Republicans vs Franco Fascists. And all that falls in-between. The current that is surging at any one time can determine who gets to execute and who is the executed.
However one thing is certain, for every next following day someone dies again. And again.
In the Morning Linda Dies – Paleo
As I lay my head on my pillow and rest my brain and chest her words looming on my wall as the electricity of the night hits the lines.