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Title Power of "negative" thinking, The: the grotesque in the modern world
Subject Grotesque
Description The 45th Annual Frederick William Reynolds Lecture.
Creator Helbling, Robert E.
Publisher Frederick William Reynolds Association
Date 1982-11-30
Date Digital 2008-05-29
Type Text
Format image/jpeg
Digitization Specifications Original scanned on Epson Expression 10000XL flatbed scanner and saved as 400 ppi uncompressed tiff. Display images generated in PhotoshopCS and uploaded into CONTENTdm Aquisition Station.
Resource Identifier,768
Source BH301.G74 H44 1982
Language eng
Relation Digital reproduction of "The Power of "negative" thinking," J. Willard Marriott Library Special Collections
Rights Digital Image Copyright University of Utah
Metadata Cataloger Seungkeol Choe; Ken Rockwell
ARK ark:/87278/s6ks6pjf
Setname uu_fwrl
Date Created 2008-07-29
Date Modified 2008-08-04
ID 320034
Reference URL

Page Metadata

Title Page 16
Description 16 ROBERT E. HELBLING Disgusting, nauseous! Now, look at the title: "Pair of Lovers," it says. Maybe we can muster a short snort of appreciation for the trick the artist has played on us. Our field of expectation has been grossly violated. But the writer or artist need not resort to such obvious ruse. He can show horror in being with subtle clinical detachment, and the effect will be equally shocking. Perhaps the best case in point is the central episode in Curzio Malaparte's novel The Skin. The dried-out skin of a soldier neatly flattened by the caterpillars of a tank is used as a flag on the shovel of a jubilant partisan. The author describes the scene with apparent dispassionate, scientific "objectivity": The face had assumed a square shape, and the chest and stomach were splayed out at the sides in the form of a diamond. The outspread legs and the arms, which were a little apart from the torso, were like the trousers and sleeves of a newly pressed suit, stretched out on the ironingboard. [The partisan] walked with his head high, and on the end of his spade, like a flag, he carried that human skin, which flapped and fluttered in the wind exactly as a flag does.21 A human skin, nervously fluttering in the wind, hungry for life's animation, strikes us as more than a mere comic spoof and as something less than a dignified tragic character. Our emotions are probably kept in suspense between dismay and stealthy mirth. The unexpected utilitarian capacity of a human skin certainly takes us by surprise. We can find another classic example in Joseph Heller's Catch-22 of about twenty years ago, a novel which is consistently grotesque, its episodes marked again and again by the intertwining of the comic and the horrific. Maybe this novel is a milestone in contemporary fiction precisely on account of this quality. I am referring to Kid Sampson's being sliced in half by the propeller of a plane, an episode which Heller describes with surgical precision and surface amusement: There was the briefest, softest tsst! filtering audibly through the shattering, overwhelming howl of the plane's engines, and then there were just Kid Sampson's two pale, skinny legs, still joined by strings somehow at the bloody truncated hips, standing stock-still on the raft for what seemed a full minute or two before they toppled over backward into the water finally with a faint, echoing splash and
Format image/jpeg
Identifier 019-RNLT- helblingR_ Page 16.jpg
Source Original Manuscript: The power of "negative" thinking : the grotesque in the modern world by Robert E. Helbling.
Setname uu_fwrl
Date Created 2008-07-29
Date Modified 2008-07-29
ID 320021
Reference URL