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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 10
Description 10 ROBERT E. HELBLING encounter any of these slavering creatures in a dark alley when they are in a culinary mood, but here they have been comically disarmed!) When applied to folklore, the exorcist concept of the grotesque might be called the "goose-bumps" theory, accounting as it does for mild rashes of fright soothed by therapeutic laughter. The theory is, however, loosely connected with serious scholarly investigations into the roots of folk festivals, carnivals, fairs, black masses, (nowadays maybe rock festivals), when official culture and social structure were turned topsy-turvy - in the Middle Ages for instance, priests braying like asses throughout the mass and using excrement instead of incense during solemn service. The grotesque emerges then as a concept of liminality, showing society teetering between order and chaos, sense and non-sense. Not content with mere anthropological description, some critics attempt to reduce these manifestations to primitive psychological complexes, for example to Melanie Klein's theory of cannibalistic, infantile phantasies directed against the parents, hinged up in turn with derivative Freudian notions of oedipal aggressiveness toward oppressive authority in general. As though to corroborate such baleful theories, Sendak has the little adventurer in his story slip into a wolfs suit and threaten his mother with "I'll eat you up!" Some theorists will also argue that latter-day tricksters such as Luther's Devil may personify Freud's death instinct. However, the more reductionist some of these theories are, the less relevant they seem to become to the role and meaning of the grotesque in the contemporary world. Lest we think of the grotesque as a decadent European import, in a seminal essay William Van O'Connor has shown that it is a preeminent genre - no less! - in twentieth-century American literature with its own indigenous roots. He connects it with the tremendous social, political and cultural dislocations that have taken place in our era and country, especially poignant in the South, which resonate in the individual psyche, cause a detachment from reality, even a loss of vitality, and may breed frightening abnormalities. Prophetically he states: "[The] writers [of our century] and their characters are less certain than their predecessors have been about the nature of rationality, codes and a fixed moral order."12 The ensuing literature creates a genre that we might call the "serious moral grotesque," for we can easily detect in it a strong sense of loss of human dignity and meaning. A good example is Faulkner's As I Lay Dying: the weird funeral journey, the rough box falling into the stream, Cash's riding on the box with his broken leg, the putrescent corpse, the belated struggle of Jewel and Arl for Addie's love - all the episodic material
Format image/jpeg
Identifier 013-RNLT- helblingR_ Page 10.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 320015
Reference URL