Page 19

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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 19
Description THE POWER OF "NEGATIVE" THINKING 19 Black humor and the like may be spinoffs of the grotesque. If we are not too punctilious with our terms we may call these phenomena "grotescent." And if we are pontifical and wish to peer behind their facade of frivolousness and scurrility, we might say that their luxuriant growth in our time betrays a widespread sense of loss of value. The point I wish to make, however, is that the apparent deadpan humor or the "cold" grotesque is no cheap thespian legerdemain or tomfoolery. It is rather the result of our realization that language, ever since the Holocaust and the Bomb, can no longer express the terrors we have wrought without falling prey to the hyperbole of justifiable hysteria or, worse, the unctuousness of didactic preachments. This is one of the meanings of Friedrich Diirrenmatt's statement in his Problems of the Theatre, perhaps the most incisive dramaturgic manifesto written in our day: "Our world has led to the grotesque as well as to the atom bomb, and so it is a world like that of Hieronymus Bosch whose apocalyptic paintings are also grotes-que. " Our everyday language imitates spontaneously, without our being much aware of it, the conscious stance of the writer of "cold" grotesques. We only have to listen to the language in our press and other media to get the point: there is a good deal of unintentional grotesque there, depending of course on our threshold of linguistic sensibility. A few months ago, a headline in our newspapers read: "Nuclear War called Hazard to Public Health." When you consider that cigarettes and alcohol are hazardous to your health, you will be convinced that nuclear war is! In a recent letter of solicitation by a retired admiral for contributions to his laudable campaign for a nuclear freeze, I read: "During my seven-year stint in stategic planning in the Pentagon, I became acutely aware that nucler weapons had created a whole new ball game." The sportiveness of this remarkable insight is given scientific respectability in the next sentence: "They [the nuclear weapons] are a quantum jump," not to speak of the unintentional pun: a "ballgame" for a ballistics exchange is rather on the mawkish side. Noadhominem mockery is intended. The jaunty metaphor is one of myriad examples of our linguistic dilemma in the face of the world's nuclear madness. A moralist might wish to adduce Socrates' admonition to Crito in Plato's Phaedo: ". . . you must know that to use words wrongly is not only a fault in itself, it also corrupts the soul." But, nowadays, even
Format image/jpeg
Identifier 022-RNLT- helblingR_ Page 19.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 320024
Reference URL