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Monstrous:Cute-Notes on the Ambivalent Nature of Cuteness by Maja Brzozowska-brywcznska

Monstrous:Cute-Notes on the Ambivalent Nature of Cuteness by Maja Brzozowska-brywcznska

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Published by Fromagebus1224
The paper focuses on the ambivalent power of cuteness and offers a preliminarily sketched map indicating some of the possible intersections of cuteness and monstrosity. The main idea is that these two - seemingly distant and contradicted - realms can be read/understood one through the other. The basis for such an assumption is to be found both in cuteness’ ambivalent aesthetics and multidimensional ethics. With respect to aesthetics, cuteness can be found both in the anatomy of a child and a freak (cuteness involves a certain malformation and exaggeration of infantile aesthetic diagram). As for ethics, cuteness can be thought of as a “sweet coating” that makes it easier to swallow bitter pill; it is in other words able to change meanings of ambivalent and simply negative issues, like violence or sexuality. Question that arises in the light of the above-mentioned inconsistencies of cuteness is: Can we define the nature of cuteness as transformative - shifting the monstrosity not even to the realm of beauty (for a cruel beauty is something within the spectrum of monstrous emanations), but to the very space that is thought of as absolutely pure and sweet?
The paper focuses on the ambivalent power of cuteness and offers a preliminarily sketched map indicating some of the possible intersections of cuteness and monstrosity. The main idea is that these two - seemingly distant and contradicted - realms can be read/understood one through the other. The basis for such an assumption is to be found both in cuteness’ ambivalent aesthetics and multidimensional ethics. With respect to aesthetics, cuteness can be found both in the anatomy of a child and a freak (cuteness involves a certain malformation and exaggeration of infantile aesthetic diagram). As for ethics, cuteness can be thought of as a “sweet coating” that makes it easier to swallow bitter pill; it is in other words able to change meanings of ambivalent and simply negative issues, like violence or sexuality. Question that arises in the light of the above-mentioned inconsistencies of cuteness is: Can we define the nature of cuteness as transformative - shifting the monstrosity not even to the realm of beauty (for a cruel beauty is something within the spectrum of monstrous emanations), but to the very space that is thought of as absolutely pure and sweet?

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Published by: Fromagebus1224 on Feb 21, 2014
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02/21/2014

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(in:
 Monsters and the Monstrous. Myths and Metaphors of Enduring  Evil 
 (ed.) Niall Scott; Rodopi 2007)
Monstrous/Cute. Notes on the ambialent nature o! Cuteness
 Maja Brzozowska-Brywczyńska
AbstractThe paper focuses on the ambivalent power of cuteness and offers a  preliminarily sketched map indicating some of the possible intersections of cuteness and monstrosity. The main idea is that these two - seemingly distant and contradicted - realms can be read/understood one through the other 
.
The basis for such an assumption is to be found both in cuteness’ ambivalent aesthetics and multidimensional ethics. With respect to aesthetics, cuteness can be found both in the anatomy of a child and a freak cuteness involves a certain malformation and e!aggeration of infantile aesthetic diagram". As for ethics, cuteness can be thought of as a #sweet coating$ that makes it easier to swallow bitter pill% it is in other words able to change meanings of ambivalent and simply negative issues, like violence or se!uality. &uestion that arises in the light of the above-mentioned inconsistencies of cuteness is' (an we define the nature of cuteness as transformative - shifting the monstrosity not even to the realm of beauty for a cruel beauty is something within the spectrum of monstrous emanations", but to the very space that is thought of as absolutely pure and sweet)
 
*eywords(uteness, monstrosity, otherness, popular culture
".#ords$ %ords$ %ords
According to common-sense definitional coordinates, cute and monstrous seem to inhabit distant and mutually e!clusive realms. The Alien is by no means sweet and loveable, and you possibly couldn’t call Winnie the +ooh shockingly cruel. We can tell a monster when we see it. n the same terms we almost automatically identify the cute. We carefully separate the monster from the cutie and the very notion of tracing similarities between the two seems highly improper. et what is most fascinating about cute and it is this fascination that brought me to the following notes in the first place" is its ambivalent nature, its certain hybridity that actually allows to link it to the monster. The very source of such monstrous potential happens to be the cute etymology.
 
The word cute is aphetic from acute, and the atin word
acutus
 - which provides an etymological base for the adective - roughly means sharp. Thus the first set of cute meanings revolves around sharpness of senses and of mind, around cleverness and wits. 0t is not that far from cute to cunning. And cunningness involves scheming that may be potentially dangerous. (ute is also attractive, very pretty and charming, yet these attributes can be manifested not only by innocent, sweet looks and  behaviour, but also - as if synchroni1ing with the abovementioned  psychical traits - by self-conscious, and even e!cessive se!-appeal. 2ictionary definition of cute leads us therefore to conclusions 3uite contrary to its ostensive counterpart, with puppies, kittens, little chubby cherubs, and fluffy mascots as the ultimate icons of cuteness.
 
4aa 5r1o1owska-5rywc1y6skaThe monstrous has also some secrets to reveal. And again - starting from the atin etymology - we embark on a linguistic adventure. riginally
monstrum
 was a synonym of something marvellous, a divine  portent or warning. 0t thus first and foremost belonged to the sphere of sacrum, yet this meaning seems to be obsolete in contemporary understanding of the monstrous. A typical monster does dwell the realm of the 7nknown, but his sacred potential vanishes from the common-sense definition being replaced by more down-to earth signs of monstrosity. 8ather than of strange and prodigious, monstrous is e3uivalent of immoral, wrong, unusually large and ugly. 9till, 0 would like to use this marginalised vision of the monstrous in making a comparison between the monstrous and the cute, which otherwise would be ha1ardous. And so - in the light of #porous$ structure of definitions - the title-slash separating the monstrous from the cute, serves simultaneously as a bridge linking these two. 4onstrous cute is - following this trait - a cute as read through its thesaurus endearing, loveable, delightful, darling, pretty" and then re-read through the notion of strangeness and marvel something that is not as it seems, something that suffers from innate contradictions"% to read cute as monstrous is - in brief - to read it as an ther.9uch a suspicious though interesting" linguistic operation can be  possible due to the very nature of definitions. 2efinitions, originating from atin
definire
' to limit, to describe, to e!plain, serve both as descriptions and e!amples of proper usage of a headword in 3uestion and as such can  be deemed
legends
 - literally this what should be read. 2efinitions yet work as open te!ts, and their only" seeming obviousness/non-parado!ical nature enables aberrant readings, that 3uestion the original descriptions giving birth to their ambivalent versions. +opular culture - seen from the poststructuralist perspective as the site of semiotic battle over meanings - is the most immediate and natural human environment and it is there, where the creation, reading, re-reading, acceptance, denial and destruction of most of our everyday definitions take place. +opular culture can be thought of as a library of te!ts which contradict, overlap, enrich, and disempower each other. +opular culture’s te!t is a mi!ture of what 8. 5arthes referred to as writerly and readerly te!ts
:
 - accessible and easy in form but still open to multitude of interpretations. As such, it offers itself up to popular production% it e!poses, however reluctantly, the vulnerabilities, limitations, and weaknesses of its preferred meanings% it contains, while attempting to repress them, voices that contradict the ones it prefers% it has loose ends that escape its control, its meanings e!ceed its own power to discipline them, its gaps are wide enough for whole new te!ts to be ;

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