Page 13

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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 13
Description THE POWER OF "NEGATIVE" THINKING 13 films, the erstwhile monsters have become harbingers of supreme goodness - the evanescent creatures in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the rubbery darling E.T., symbolizing our need for something better than we are and implicitly giving the lie to the anthropocentric belief that the human being in its classicist Greek shape, helped along by jogging and aerobic dancing, is the crown of creation (maybe children are, but not adults, as is amply made clear through the child's viewpoint inE.T.)\ In these films, grotesque shapes have virtually become redemptive figures, in the sense of "showing the way" to moral goodness and personal responsibility as in nineteenth-century fiction did Dostoevsky's Christ in the "Grand Inquisitor" episode.17 These highly profitable ventures may be seen as peripheral manifestations of the disquiet caused in us by the civilization we have created. But we can find a keener awareness of the grostesque deformations at the core of modern society in certain forms of serious art and literature. Stylistically, two major tendencies can be observed: one in which imaginative episodes abound, another where realistic happenings are portrayed with a cool, Kafkaesque matter-of-factness, causing as the psychologists used to say, a "displacement of affect" in the viewer or reader. In the first category, one could mention Kurt Vonnegut Jr., for instance his Cat's Cradle or Slaughterhouse Five. Aficionados of Donald Barthelme may wish to adduce him. But in his stories, "meanings" buzz around exasperatingly like pesky flies that are hard to swat, and some of Vonnegut's novels, for that matter, are full of narcisssistic giggles about the difficult craft of writing modern fiction. Among many possible examples, I prefer to use Giinter Grass's The Tin Drum. It is an impressive literary achievement, contains an interesting mix of the psychological and sociological grotesque, and three years ago was made into a remarkable film masterpiece by Schlondorff, which many of you may have seen. In a memorable opening scene, we see the infant-hero Oskar in his mother's womb, as he prepares, with furrowed brow, to make his exit in order to face the world as well as his two fathers, one legal, the other biological. From thereon he lives a life of infantile agressive-ness (reminiscent of Melanie Klein's theory) or, as one critic puts it, "a life of oedipal wishes [lived out] with almost excessive fulness."18 Oskar points an accusing finger at Jan, his natural father, making him look like a villain using an innocent child as a screen for enemy bullets and thus pushes him over the edge of sanity to a grotesque death. Later on, Oskar plants on Mazerath, his legal father, a Nazi-
Format image/jpeg
Identifier 016-RNLT- helblingR_ Page 13.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 320018
Reference URL