Page 14

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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 http://content.lib.utah.edu/u?/reynolds,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 https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6ks6pjf

Page Metadata

Title Page 14
Description 14 ROBERT E. HELBLING party pin when the Russians break into the house. While one of the soldiers empties a submachine gun into Mazerath, who is trying to swallow his pin, Oskar squishes a louse between his fingers. But these acts - as are Oskar's intentional fall from the stairs, which dwarfs him for life; his drumming; his glass-shattering with his high-pitched voice; his participation in the Duster's gang - are also acts of counteragression against a society gone made. Memorable the scene under the Nazi-rostrum, where Oskar's drumming cuts up the rhythm of a marching band, sending the whole martial parade into an orgy of confusion; he listens to the sound of a different drummer. Memorable also the SA-man who cuts open dolls with his dagger and seems "disappointed each time that nothing but sawdust flowed from their limbs and bodies."19 A classic scene of contemporary grotesque is the clinical description of the laughing horse's head hauled ashore from the brackish waters of a bay, its brain eaten out by eels, slimy creatures gnawing at the nerve center of a benign being, suggesting perhaps the disease festering at the very core of a helpless society. Giinter Grass's seemingly humorous portrayal of unalloyed horror is no mere comic disarming of an incipient threat. Certainly, he did not design his impish, subversive dwarf to elicit the kind of laughter that would afford his reader relief from the guilt and suspicion of having neutrally witnessed, tolerated, or even abetted Nazi - or for that matter, any other - fascistic aggression. Yet, in this morally and socially oriented grotesque, which I claim to be the most significant contemporary version of the old mode, there is apparent ambiguity, at least on the surface level of literary description. The isolated anarchist Oskar, acting without an identifiable cause, is seemingly rendered ludicrous by the ineffectuahty of his whole enterprise within the larger view of things; his ability to shatter the glass in the Danzig Rathaus with his high-pitched voice a seemingly daemonic threat to the existing order. But what order! Theoretically, one could of course say that in the morally informed grotesque either the oppressor or the oppressed, or for that matter both, may be either daemonic or ludicrous, or both, depending on the polemic aims of the portrayer.20 In the case of Grass's Tin Drum the intent is obvious: the ludicrously daemonic (the strutting Nazis) can best be fought by the daemonically ludicrous (the mischievous dwarf). The candor of a Candide, the simple-mindedness of a Simplizissimus or the naivete of a Soldier Schweik would not do.
Format image/jpeg
Identifier 017-RNLT- helblingR_ Page 14.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 320019
Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6ks6pjf/320019