the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

cokal on the fascination with grotesque bodies in horror

Posted by rigorousm on March 4, 2015

The grotesque is often a jollier category, though it can invoke a shudder of its own. It depends almost wholly on the physical—the ugly, misshapen, scatological—and produces a feeling of comedy as often as one of revulsion. … Postmodernists love the grotesque body because it doesn’t fit preconceived ideas of perfection—it keeps changing, becoming something else. Flowing through much postmodern art is a mortal fear of everything falling into place; hence the pastiche and bricolage that are hallmarks of the era. If an artist were to find the perfect form, he or she would have nothing more to express. The grotesque fascinates because it offers contact with another plane of existence. It is one way of reaching beyond ordinary, anodyne life, as it stirs the senses and creates excitement. … What [the grotesque and the sublime] have most fundamentally in common is excess. Both transgress boundaries, whether through an exaggeration of body or a surplus of beauty; they bring us into contact with something beyond our ordinary experience.

Susann Cokal, “’Hot with Rapture and Cold with Fear’:  Grotesque, Sublime, and Postmodern Tranformation in Patrick Süskind’s Perfume,” p 182 in The Philosophy of Horror. Thomas Fahy, Ed. See here and here and here.

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