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Savoring DisgustThe Foul and the Fair in Aesthetics$
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Carolyn Korsmeyer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199756940

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756940.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 December 2021

The Magnetism of Disgust

The Magnetism of Disgust

(p.113) 5 The Magnetism of Disgust
Savoring Disgust

Carolyn Korsmeyer (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses various solutions to the paradox of aversion—the puzzle of why we are drawn to art that elicits uncomfortable affective responses such as sorrow, terror, and disgust. This chapter considers theories that have attempted to account for the aesthetic allure of disgust, among them psychoanalytic perspectives, cognitivist approaches, phenomenological analyses; and the possibility that disgust “converts” to a positive affect by means of art. The chapter claims that there are several viable solutions to the paradox, each suitable for different modes of arousal of aesthetic disgust. Central to the approach the chapter considers is a concept of the aesthetic that emphasizes the distilled insight of aesthetic apprehension. Disgust registers physical fragility and mortality in an intimate, visceral manner that is discomforting at the same time that it is valued for the insight rendered. Just as fear grounds encounters with the sublime, disgust affords a reciprocal experience for which the chapter suggests the term “sublate.”

Keywords:   paradox of aversion, psychoanalysis, pleasure, cognitivism, tragedy, sublime, sublate. Edmund Burke, David Hume, Julia Kristeva

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