This aesthetic aspect of murder is the inspiration for, and the epicenter of, Criminart, a movement connecting crime and art in theory and practice. It is similarly the basis of the 19th-century English philosopher Thomas de Quincey’s 1827 essay, “On Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts.”
According to De Quincey, murder has two “handles”: the first, the legal and moral, we leave to the judges and priests; the second, the aesthetic, is what matters to the rest of us. Of course, we should do everything possible to prevent a murder being committed in the first place. But if, despite our best efforts, it is committed, then there is nothing left to do but make a good or bad show out of it:
A sad thing no doubt, a very sad thing, but we cannot mend it, therefore, let us make the best out of a bad matter […] We dry our tears and have the satisfaction perhaps to discover that a transaction, which morally considered was shocking and without a leg to stand upon, when tried by principles of taste turns out to be a very meritorious performance.