Page 21

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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 21
Description THE POWER OF "NEGATIVE" THINKING 21 language looms a much greater crisis: the swamping of reason by the enormity of unreason. In times of great chaos, we can observe the all too human tendency to reason oneself out of stubborn complexities into the redemptive promise of a simplicistic dogma, a cultist idee fixe, religious fundamentalism, a historistic or economic doctrine, what have you, all at the expense of informed personal judgment and responsibility, the two pillars of freedom. Durrenmatt's drama, for instance, presents a whole rogues' gallery of monomaniacal would-be saviors who endow their principles of action with the rigidity of an alleged "absolute" truth, thereby only increasing the existing havoc. Their intent turns out to be a grotesque daemonic obsession born of the ludicrous illusion that they can see the world and human history from a transcendent vantage point. They themselves, if not the atrocities they commit purportedly for the sake of a better world, may be susceptible to comic disarming, witness Charlie Chaplin's The Dictator or Mel Brooks' Hitler in that waggish revue called "Springtime for Hider" within his classic funny film The Producers, where he portrays the dictator as a flaccid acid head with a Southern drawl. However, Brooks' zany buffoonery lacks of course the sharp edge of the grotesque. But perhaps more grotesque than the illusions of our simplicists are the convoluted rationalistic arguments of our martial theologians. We must accept an aggressive arms build-up for the sake of non-aggression, they say, which leads to the production of more and bigger and "better" bombs with the avowed intent to make sure that they will never be used and we can live in peace of mind amidst ever more staggering "levels of redundancy." The spinning rationality of the supporting logistical arguments severely taxes the circuitry of a reasonable brain. Joseph Heller again caught the essence of this mode of thinking or non-thinking in his Catch-22, the central idea of which has in itself become an overly used and, alas, trivialized catch phrase. The circuitous "reasoning" that Heller excoriates could be summarized as follows: to recognize a danger is the process of a rational mind. But the constant awareness of danger may drive one "crazy" to a point where one tries to eschew the threat. The ensuing anxiety, however, is an inverted proof for a sane mind. Ergo, we can and must embrace the danger - in insane sanity. The dizzying merry-go-round comes to a jolting halt in a monstrous inversion of the Categorical Imperative: "we must be prepared to do what we ought not to do." In a more appropriate metaphor: from its depth in the individual psyche the
Format image/jpeg
Identifier 024-RNLT- helblingR_ Page 21.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 320026
Reference URL