1. Does the first bold sentence mean: "replacing feelings of decency and compassion for other lustful feelings..."

  2. Does the second bold part mean " prior to hanging from the shower head"

  3. What does "Significance" mean here?


Taking prurience over the boundaries of decency and compassion, authentic scene-of-crime photographs abound, with titles like, The back of the head of a woman who was killed by a blow with a piece of timber, Victim of asphyxia by hanging and – most horribly pathetic – The body of a young female inside a bath tub with hands tied, prior to suspension from the shower unit. There is abundant information about matters such as Suicide by self-cutting and self-stabbing, Examination and Significance of ‘tied up’ bodies...

Sian Ede (Art and Science)

  • I'd prefer to use the word "beyond" instead of "over" in this context. But I think it's redundant anyway, since the word "prurience" already implies sexual interest beyond the boundaries of decency. Overall, I think the first part's just badly worded.
    – herisson
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 5:21
  • @sumelic does it want to say that these titles are sexual or non sexual? and what is your idea about my other two questions?
    – user127733
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 5:24
  • I don't think it's talking about the titles, but rather the photographs' subject matter.
    – herisson
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 5:25
  • #1) Disregarding decency and compassion, prurient photos abound.
    – stevesliva
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 5:26

2 Answers 2


(1) Prurient and prurience are used outside of sexual matters to describe an inappropriate, over-curious interest in something. Lustful can sometimes be too strong a motive to infer - prurience often implies a fascination short of lust e.g. a prurient interest in the lives of the rich. However in this case a very unhealthy motive seems to be suggested.

(2) Yes.

(3) Try your dictionary on significance. If you still don't understand it come back to us.

As an addendum I would say that I am not sure that prurience is something one takes. Perhaps exhibiting might have been a better word for the author to have used, but I would have probably put it rather differently, such as Prurient beyond the boundaries of decency and compassion...

  • 1
    "taking" is OK, as in "you're taking this too far." Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 10:12
  1. Not exactly "replacing feelings of decency and compassion for other lustful feelings". It's more like having lustful feelings that go past (go beyond, as Sumelic said) what is decent or compassionate.

Lust is used as a metaphor to describe the audience's perverse interest in the photographs. One might describe it as bloodlust. Lust and blood often go hand in hand.

  1. The shower unit is kind of a vague description. It could mean the shower head, it could mean a curtain rod, as well. This question is really difficult to answer because there is not a specific answer in the quote. Any part of the shower is a possibility.
  • So, is my interpretation true that "homicide photographs are pictures of the arena in which human dignity is forgotten( by the criminal) and replaced with prurience?
    – user127733
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 5:44
  • 1
    Not only by the criminal but by anyone who consumes the photographs. Your source is art and science, so, if there is any sort of audience who is viewing the pieces for pleasure, they would be part of the prurient.
    – Sarah
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 5:47

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