Page 5

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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 5
Description THE POWER OF "NEGATIVE" THINKING 5 If we are careful with words, most of us would apply the term "grotesque" to something that shocks us by its deviation from an accepted norm and at the same time strikes us as risible. This is precisely the gist of a pervasive theory of the grotesque based on its emotional impact: it is said to be a heterogeneous mixture of fear and laughter, or horror and mirth: more generally, fascination and revulsion. The theory does not say what causes the emotion but that something does and then defines the psychological components of the effect. Clearly, consistency of grotesque forms is not to be had; they change with cultures, civilizations, even with personal sensibilities. While the shapes of the grotesque, then, have changed notably over the centuries, the emotional complex denoted by the word has remained fairly constant. "Neat," we might say in teen-age jargon. Yet, that the threatening can also be funny is certainly rather strange on the face of it. Maybe we could say with Bella Abzug, complaining of some political shenanigans; "It makes you laugh, but it's not funny."4 If we have any intellectual curiosity at all, we might ask how it is possible that we can experience simultaneously such discrepant emotions as horror and mirth. Here, we open a Pandora's box, or more down to earth, "a can of worms." Fear by itself is rather easily aroused; not so fear and laughter. Therefore, the plethora of hor-rowshows on TV and in the films that scare youthful or immature audiences right out of their Adidases! But what's funny about them? I think we must turn our attention in the first place to certain dynamics of the mind and psyche that might account for the creation of grotesque works and their effect on us. Admittedly, artists and writers have a keen sensorium for the forbidding regions of our inner world, and what they reveal in their creations resonates in us with a familiar ring, since we have been there ourselves in our dreams and daytime fears. The intense fascination with the wells prings of the grotesque tends to transplant it from the realm of the visual arts to the province of literature, for in writing one can be more explicit, without necessarily removing the veil of Maya from the mystery of the grotesque. This metamorphosis occurred with particular vigor in Romanticism, especially the early German variety. At this point, we must interject that the grotesque in art and literature is preeminent in periods of great social upheaval and cultural instability: during the religious wars of the sixteenth century; in the wake of the French Revolution; in our century again, engulfed as it is in an infernal rondo of technological sophistication
Format image/jpeg
Identifier 008-RNLT- helblingR_ Page 5.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 320010
Reference URL