Page 9

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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 9
Description THE POWER OF "NEGATIVE" THINKING 9 "id," the upper-case "I" a lower-case letter, as we descend from higher to lower regions. There are admittedly primal, atavistic powers lurking in the psyche - dredged up by Freud, Jung and their cohorts - associated either with the elemental life forces of Eros, but also with infantile aggressiveness or even the destructive thrusts of Thanatos (the death instinct), which recurrently assail the frail structure of the ego, causing no mean fears in us. The mechanism by which the grotesque arises seems to serve the purpose of disarming these fearful, archetypal eruptions by investing them with attributes that enable us, under favorable circumstances, to view them with derisive laughter. The laughter is a defense mechanism, a temporary refuge from a psychological menace, perhaps also a desperate affirmation of "sanity," a manifestation, if you will, of the homeostatic device built into the psychic apparatus. The laughter cannot be attributed to the conscious mind's deriving enjoyment from the discomfiture caused by the surprise visit of some daemon absconditus. It is rather a form of "whistling in the dark," which is hardly a masochistic thrill. We can summarize the mechanism with the slogan: "the daemonic made ludicrous,"10 which is a form of exorcism. Here is a fairly good artistic illustration of the theory, Henry Fuseli's "Nightmare": A supine beauty in a romantic pose of complete abandon, floating on a veil in zero-gravity, an angelic expression on her face. The humanoid horse's head in the middle about to emit a contented snort of anticipation, with its eyes hypocritically turned heavenward. The reproving, threatening face barely emerging from the dark on the right - does it show jealousy or alarm? The prayerful pose of the small figure on the left. All of it suffused in chiaroscuro - the terror of a nightmare, but in slightly comic modulation (especially if you are not the dreamer yourself!) However, the exorcist theory seems to work best when applied to distorted humanoid creatures - dirt freaks, bogeys, tricksters, what have you - that occur in the folktales or mythologies of most cultures. Japanese mythology, among so many others, is replete with creatures of this kind - the Nupperabo who hides under the eaves of old temples and has a distinctly human, yet jelly-like face (like Fuseli's half-submerged figure on the right), or the Human Dirt Freak, who rubs slovenly housewives with accumulated bath leavings, to mention just two.11 The grotesque spirit of these tales is captured in this cartoon taken from an illustrated children's story by Maurice Sendak, called "Where the Wild Things Are." (I feel sure that you would not wish to
Format image/jpeg
Identifier 012-RNLT- helblingR_ Page 9.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 320014
Reference URL