Torture As Knowledge

“My experience, at least, of people who have been tortured, of people who have been imprisoned, is that they are an aristocracy I can’t reach. They’ve been, they’ve visited such terrible places of pain and humiliation that I hope to God I’ll never go there.

“They possess a human map, they possess superior knowledge. In that sense, they are an elite. They may not know it, they may not feel it, but they have visited such hells of human pain that we cannot imagine it unless we have been there ourselves.

“And so, in that sense, you have to look up to them. I mean, I have talked to ex-Guantanamo people and other people who have been tortured at one time or another and I feel a terrible humility before them. So, in that sense, they are aristocrats.”

John le Carré, interview with CBC “Writers and Company,” aired 10 October 2010

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