Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chapter #4

I'm thinking of looking at comics for my forth chapter, primarily because I have discovered a recent (2007) Batman series devoted to our hero's battles with a freakish malignant named 'Grotesk.' Now, I haven't read any of the comics yet because I know myself too well. I have #1 and #4 - once I start reading I'm just going to get overexcited and skip the middle issues thus ruining the chronology and upsetting my waters.

Sometime in the next two weeks I will be receiving nearly every comic in which this 'Grotesk' character has starred. Bless the internet. These include such luminaries as Namore the Sub-Mariner (vol 1), The Avengers (vol 20) and The Mighty Thor (vol 481).

It has not escaped me that this chapter may well take my nerd quotient (over 9000!) beyond anything that has gone before.

Chimera and Hybrid Beasts

These are a few of the pics I took while in the UK for the International Gothic Association Conference. I'm fascinated by hybrid beasts. This is partly because of my thesis (hybrid bodies are historically described as 'grotesques'), partly because they come in so many different shapes and sizes: never boring = good for the easily bored (me). London, I found, is full of these creatures. They are literally smothered across every cornice, wall, picture frame and historical monument. Some of these pics are from the British Museum, other are from walking around London. Might put a few more up later.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Grotesque Games

I am on the tail end (hopefully) of my third chapter at the moment. Full draft due this Friday, to be specific. *hyperventilates into paper bag* For this chapter I looked at representations of the grotesque in two video games, BioShock (pic above) and Spore, and have come to some very interesting conclusions.

I am trying not to go off on tangents, however today I was struck by how much this quote by Donna Haraway evokes the grotesque:

"A cyborg exists when two kinds of boundaries are simultaneously problematic: 1) that between animals (or other organisms) and humans, and 2) that between self-controlled, self-governing machines (automatons) and organisms, especially humans (models of autonomy)." [Primate Visions]

Haraway is all about "transgressing boundaries, potent fusions, and dangerous possibilities": this is basically a text book definition of the grotesque. For real... go look you will find it in ANY book on the grotesque. Haraway never uses the term 'grotesque' to my knowledge. I'm unsure as to whether this is deliberate, or she never noticed the convergence between the grotesque and the cyborg. I feel they belong together. The "Cyborg" may very well be a/the key vision of the grotesque for the early 21st century.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Grotesquing the Stone

I am writing mostly to myself, but just in case anybody else pops by: welcome to Groteskology.

Whatever the grotesque means to you, to me it is the topic of my PhD thesis and thus intricately complicated and endlessly fascinating.

It is also fascinating to you, even though you may not know it. You discuss it almost every day, each time your pet eats some other creature's poo and you say "ew gross."

(Please note, this does not apply to mentions of 'gross income' - that is a different kind of gross, unless you find your income really disgusting: in which case I can do nothing for you.)

Every time you hold forth upon that "grotty guy with the BO" who sat behind you on the bus... you're talking about the grotesque. So this blog is about something we all love but rarely critique.

The ancient stone carving above right is called a grotesque. The beastly dude on the left is (blog namesake) Grotesk from Marvel comics circa 1968. Clearly there has been some water under the bridge.