What is the grotesque—and what is horror—in art?
Yes Joyce, I agree that the ultimate taboo seems to be fear of loss of our physical integrity. Bodily harm. Dismemberment of one sort or another. But it is restricted to the position we occupy in the food chain as when Cronus devored his sons. You may remember that in the original classical Freudian theory, the fear of castration, together with the physical loss of a loved figure, were considered catastrophic events in the development of the personality. There was no larger calamity. This fear survives in our culture and, in one way or other, every human being is confronted by it on a daily basis. Paradoxically, invoking this fear, is turned into a thrilling experience which is why we are attracted to stories of the grotesque or getting into various forms of dangerous situations. Just ask any war veteran in combat, or a policeman providing personal protection or a trauma surgeon. Or it’s equivalent opposite, a masseuse. As you indicate, these subjective experiences are very hard to put into words so we have to resort to art to render them safe. It’s extreme form has been codified as the fifth ( thou shall not kill) of the 10 Commandments.
Correction to my post.
It is NOT restricted to the position we occupy in the food chain
My son loves the Halloween franchise, humored him I have. I prefer print to screen. It’s difficult to find something so scary it disturbs me. What does disturb me is if the author makes the text so believable that I feel that it could happen to me.
What a perfect way to ring in the most grotesque month of the year!