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Lyssa
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PostSubject: Disgust Sat Apr 25, 2015 9:47 pm

Quote :
"Complimenting Dr. Strohminger’s work, Jonathan Weinberg argued that disgust is an aesthetic tool with diminishing returns. Horror movies can be too disgusting. Dirty jokes can be too dirty. So, the master artist will use just the right amount of disgust at just the right time. For example, Dr. Weinberg highlighted analyses which suggest that monsters are one of a narrator’s tools for creating cognitive dissonance. Monsters are problems to be solved. We are disgusted-yet-intrigued by the monster and, once the monster-problem is solved, we experience relief (something like a mental orgasm) at the insight. Dr. Weinberg’s theory is that the function of disgust within art is to evoke something like rubbernecking: a physical recoil (keeping at a distance) along with a cognitive arousal (curiosity, interest).


The Why Question

Drs. Strohminger and Weisberg did a fine job establishing that, indeed, a human mind can experience ambivalence (i.e., simultaneously positively- and negatively-valenced emotions). So, I chose to take a different direction and focused on the question of why a mind can tolerate ambivalence. What is the functional advantage of ambivalence-tolerance? What advantage does this type of mind have over a mind that can only process one valence at a time?

Here’s my answer, in two parts:

1. Whichever evolutionary forces are selecting for ambivalence are also selecting for the personality trait Openness to Experience. This is a great trait to have, if you live in a safe world.

2. There are two different types of disgust sensitivity. Moral disgust sensitivity is distinct from visceral disgust sensitivity. The visceral kind is at odds with Openness to Experience, but the moral kind is not. So, if we want to be Open to Experience, we need some mental tricks for managing visceral disgust.

3. Ambivalence is a mental trick for managing negative emotions like disgust. The trick involves creating a dynamic balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous activity.


Disgust Sensitivity

Some people are more sensitive to disgust than others. A new questionnaire called the Three Domain Disgust Scale (TDDS) is a measure of disgust sensitivity. The three domains are:

pathogen-disgust
sexual-disgust, and
moral-disgust.

A copy of the TDDS validation study:

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It appears that Openness is at odds with the visceral (pathogen and sex) types of disgust sensitivity. What do I mean by “at odds”? I mean that Openness requires a mind that can disarm and, perhaps, even enjoy the visceral types of disgust. Openness requires the ability to generate ambivalence.[/size]

Syncope: A Failure to Generate Ambivalence

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] (“sing-kə-pee”) is a medical term that means fainting. In the kind of fainting caused by disgust (e.g., disgust and fear of blood or injections), the faint is brought on by cardiovascular changes. The blood vessels dilate and move towards the skin (which causes blushing and feelings of hotness) and the heart rate slows way down. This means that blood circulates around the body very poorly. Before long, consciousness is lost and the body goes limp.
The brain controls the body via its autonomic nervous system. The two autonomic subsystems are called sympathetic (the body-stiffening [fight/flight] effectors) and parasympathetic (the body-softening [rest/digest] effectors).

Under normal circumstances, these two systems work in concert to control the rate of a heart’s beating and the diameter of its blood vessels. In syncope, however, the parasympathetic system’s effectors do their job (slow the heart, dilate the vessels) but the sympathetic system fails to counteract. In effect, syncope is a type of autonomic imbalance.

If you don’t go limp, you won’t Faint

Essentially, fainting is an intense form of the freezing response. Recall that the parasympathetic system is made of a bunch of body-softening effectors. Under normal conditions, homeostasis is maintained as the parasympathetic forces are be counteracted by sympathetic (body-stiffening) effectors. However, in syncope, homeostatic balance is lost. What is needed, in this case, is a way to consciously trick the sympathetic effectors to do their job.

Nervous Laughter

Michaela provides a perfect example of how to keep yourself from fainting when you are disgusted and afraid. In this hilarious video, Michaela is simultaneously laughing and crying. Yes she is nervous and nauseated, but she is also amused and awake.



Notice the reddening of Michaela’s skin as this episode progresses. Her veins are clearly dilating, which leaves her at risk of syncope. However, her heart rate must be high as indicated by her laughter and yelling. This is a great example of an autonomic balancing-act."

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun Apr 26, 2015 3:17 pm

Thomas Harris wrote:
"Graham had a lot of trouble with taste. Often his thoughts were not tasty. There were no effective partitions in his mind. What he saw and learned, touched everything else he knew. Some of the combinations were hard to live with. But he could not anticipate them, could not block and repress. His learned values of decency and propriety tagged along, shocked at his associations, appalled at his dreams; sorry that in the bone arena of his skull there were no forts for what he loved. His associations came at the speed of light. His value judgments were at the pace of a responsive reading. They could never keep up and direct his thinking. He viewed his own mentality as grotesque but useful, like a chair made of antlers. There was nothing he could do about it." [Red Dragon]

Thomas Harris wrote:
"What he has in addition is pure empathy and projection,” Dr. Bloom said. “He can assume your point of view, or mine – and maybe some other points of view that scare and sicken him. It’s an uncomfortable gift, Jack.
Perception’s a tool that’s pointed on both ends.
" [Red Dragon]


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When "effective partitions" in the organism's self-organizing are missing, in the absence of such "discretes", and nothing to divide, a more experiential-consciousness and "prehensive" perception takes over, that holds a two-pointed ambivalence of openness that was excerpted in the OP. The ability to maintain many branches of contradictions extending from the bifurcated twin poles of the grotesque and nevertheless the useful, the ambi-valent antler, "concretizes" a daemonic consciousness. It is both repulsed and amused. It both suffers and entertains the suffering. It is both deeply empathetic as well as severely indifferent.

In the absence of necessary discretes, the "missing partitions" that form categories inside, in stead, branch out and beyond, "attuning" with the more primordial thread of life.  

Quote :
"Prehension is the nonsensory sympathetic perception of antecedent experiences." [David Griffin, Founders of Constructive Postmodern Philosophy]

Quote :
"A prehension is an operation in which an actual entity "grasps" some other entity and makes that entity an object of its experience. . . . A prehension is a "concrete fact of relatedness." It has a subject (the prehending actual entity), an object or datum that is prehended , and a subjective form. The subjective form of a prehension is the particular manner in which that subject prehends that object. Subjective forms are forms of emotion, consciousness, purpose, etc. A prehension need not be conscious - indeed, most prehensions are not.
There are positive prehensions and negative prehensions. Negative prehensions "eliminate" their data, so that these data do not make a positive contribution to the experiences of the subject. A positive prehension is generally called a feeling.

The "becoming" of an actual entity consists in a concrescence (from concrescere), a "growing together" of various details of experience into a unity. This process of concrescence is organized teleologically by the subject's subjective aim at unity of experience. The satisfaction of an actual entity is the "concrete" unity of experience which the concrescence achieves. The living experience of an actual entity is its subjective immediacy.

Prehension of one actual entity by another means the objectification of the former for the latter. The former is then said to have "objective" existence. It exists and functions as an object, not as an experiencing subject. . . ." [William Christian, An Interpretation of Whitehead's Metaphysics]

Quote :
"What is usually called "extrasensory perception," accordingly, is probably unusual only in that occasionally this constant direct nonsensory prehension of other minds or things rises to the conscious portion of one's experience." [David Griffin; Parapsychology, Philosophy and Spirituality]


Will only possesses a chameleonic consciousness, that prehends everything intuitively and lives with them juxtaposed and conflicted. Although his senses possess a brilliance from openness, his taste and judgement still cannot emerge out from the ingrained and interpellated moral categories... he evaluates the world through imposed discretes. Although he is free to move about 'externally', intuiting, covering, connecting with wider spaces, he is tormented by his internal world from the knowledge he absorbs.  

Thomas Harris wrote:
"The worm that destroys you is the temptation to agree with your critics, to get their approval." [Hannibal]


Hannibal possesses a daemonic consciousness, that ap-prehends everything discriminately and re-fines them into subtler and more sophisticated, well-separated nuances, more "effective partitions". The scales of balance are made to become more and more sensitive. Although he is free to move about internally in the absence of any super-imposed moral categories, he is tormented by the external world from the knowledge he possesses.

Thomas Harris wrote:
"I think it's easy to mistake understanding for empathy - we want empathy so badly. Maybe learning to make that distinction is part of growing up. It's hard and ugly to know somebody can understand you without even liking you." [Hannibal]


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We come to understand two different types of disgust and how they come to inter-relate.

Thomas Harris wrote:
"Will Graham: I need your opinion now.

Hannibal Lecter: Then here's one... you stink of fear under that cheap lotion. You stink of fear Will, but you're not a coward. You fear me, but still you came here. You fear this shy boy, yet still you seek him out. Don't you understand, Will? You caught me because we're very much alike. Without our imaginations, we'd be like all those other poor... dullards. Fear... is the price of our instrument. But I can help you bear it." [Hannibal]


William Miller wrote:
"Modern psychological interest in disgust starts with Darwin, who centers it in the rejection of food and the sense of taste. Consider his account:

"The term "disgust," in its simplest sense, means something offensive to the taste. It is curious how readily this feeling is excited by anything unusual in the appearance, odour, or nature of our food. In Tierra del Fuego a native touched with his finger some cold preserved meat which I was eating at our bivouac, and plainly showed utter disgust at its softness; whilst I felt utter disgust at my food being touched by a naked savage, though his hands did not appear dirty. A smear of soup on a man's beard looks disgusting, though there is of course nothing disgusting in the soup itself. I presume that this follows from the strong association in our minds between the sight of food, however circumstanced, and the idea of eating it."

Darwin is right about the etymology of disgust. It means unpleasant to the taste. But one wonders whether taste would figure so crucially in Darwin's account if the etymology hadn't suggested it. The German Ekel, for instance, bears no easily discernible connection to taste. Did that make it easier for Freud to link disgust as readily with the anal and genital as with the oral zone? I suspect that the English word is in some unquantifiable way responsible for the narrow focus on taste, oral incorporation, and rejection of food in psychological treatments of disgust. Before the word disgust entered the English lexicon in the first quarter of the seventeenth century, taste figured distinctly less prominently than foul odors and loathsome sights.

Disgust undoubtedly involves taste, but it also involves-not just by extension but at its core-smell, touch, even at times sight and hearing. Above all, it is a moral and social sentiment. It plays a motivating and confirming role in moral judgment in a particular way that has little if any connection with ideas of oral incorporation. It ranks people and things in a kind of cosmic ordering.

Disgust is not nausea. Not all disgust need produce symptoms of nausea, nor all nausea mark the presence of disgust. The nausea of the stomach flu is not a sign or consequence of disgust, although, should we vomit as a result, the vomiting and the vomit might themselves lead to sensations of disgust that would be distin- guishable from the nausea that preceded it. The nausea of a hangover, however, is more complex, accompanied as it often is by feelings of contamination, poisoning, and self-disgust, as well as shame and embarrassment. On the other side, things or deeds we find disgusting put us in the world of disgust when we have the sense that we would not be surprised should we start feeling queasy or nauseated, whether or not we actually do so. Disgust surely has a feel to it; that feel, however, is not so much of nausea as of the uneasiness, the panic, of varying intensity, that attends the awareness of being defiled." [The Anatomy of Disgust]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*


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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun Apr 26, 2015 3:18 pm

Thomas Harris wrote:
"The first step in the development of taste is to be willing to credit your own opinion.

...Bowels in or bowels out?" [Hannibal]








William Miller wrote:
"The passage from Darwin. Is it food and taste that elicit disgust as a first-order matter?

"In Tierra del Fuego a native touched with his finger some cold preserved meat which I was eating at our bivouac, and plainly showed disgust at its softness; whilst I felt utter disgust at my food being touched by a naked savage, though his hands did not appear dirty."

In this passage, long before food ever reaches a mouth to raise the issue of its taste, we have suggestions of other categories that implicate disgust: categories of tactility as in cold (meat) vs. hot, soft vs. firm; overt categories of purity such as raw vs. cooked, dirty vs. clean; categories of bodily shame, naked vs. clothed; and broader categories of group definition, Tierra del Fuego vs. England, them vs. us. For the native, it is not ultimately the softness of the preserved meat so much as what eating it means about the person eating it. For Darwin, it is not just that someone touched his food (with clean hands no less), but that the person doing the touching was a naked savage who had already offended him. In the first clause the savage is merely a curious native in the two senses of curious: curious because strange and curious subjectively as a dispositional trait that makes him poke at Darwin's food. But once he finds Darwin's food disgusting, Darwin redescribes him downward as a naked savage capable of polluting his food. Before this interaction Darwin could look at the native with the contempt ofbemusement or indifference or with a kind of benign contempt that often is itself a component of curiosity. The native, however, gets too close and gives real offense, and the inkling of threat is enough to transform a complacent contempt into disgust.

Would Darwin have been as disgusted by the native touching his food if the native had not insulted it by registering his revulsion? Or had the native already discerned Darwin's disgust for him and decided to use it to toy with him by touching his food? Would Darwin have been less disgusted if the native had touched him rather than his food? Food plays a role here, to be sure, and both actors share a deep belief that you pretty much are what you eat. The native recoils at the idea of what manner of man could eat such stuff, whereas Darwin fears ingesting some essence of savagery that has been magically imparted to his food by the finger of the naked savage. But oral ingestion is put in play here only because food is acting as one of a number of possible media by which pollution could be transferred. The issue is the doubts and fears each man's presence elicits in the other and the little battle for security and dominance by which they seek to resolve it; it is a battle of competing disgusts." [The Anatomy of Disgust]

Thomas Harris wrote:
"Hannibal Lecter: Remarkable boy. I do admire your courage. I think I'll eat your heart." [Hannibal]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*


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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:13 pm

Nietzsche wrote:
"The half-and-half spoil every whole." [TSZ, The Apostates]

Thomas Harris wrote:
"We live in a primitive time—don’t we, Will?—neither savage nor wise. Half measures are the curse of it. Any rational society would either kill me or give me my books." [Red Dragon]

Thomas Harris wrote:
"What is left in you to love?" [Hannibal Rising]

Thomas Harris wrote:
"There is no consensus in the psychiatric community that Dr. Lecter should be termed a man. He has long been regarded by his professional peers in psychiatry, many of whom  fear his acid pen in the professional journals, as something entirely Other. For convenience, they term him "monster"." [Hannibal]

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William Miller wrote:
"Some emotions, among which disgust and its close cousin contempt are the most prominent, have intensely political significance. They work to hierarchize our political order: in some settings they do the work of maintaining hierarchy; in other settings they constitute righteously presented claims for superiority; in yet other settings they are themselves elicited as an indication of one's proper placement in the social order. Disgust evaluates (negatively) what it touches, proclaims the meanness and inferiority of its object. And by so doing it presents a nervous claim of right to be free of the dangers imposed by the proximity of the inferior. It is thus an assertion of a claim to superiority that at the same time recognizes the vulnerability of that superiority to the defiling powers of the low. The world is a danger- ous place in which the polluting powers of the low are usually stronger than the purifying powers of the high. Rozin quotes a mechanic who captures the point vividly: "A teaspoon of sewage will spoil a barrel of wine, but a teaspoon of wine will do nothing for a barrel of sewage."

Disgust differs from other emotions by having a unique aversive style. The idiom of disgust consistently invokes the sensory experience of what it feels like to be put in danger by the disgusting, of what it feels like to be too close to it, to have to smell it, see it, or touch it. Disgust uses images of sensation or suggests the sensory merely by describing the disgusting thing so as to capture what makes it disgusting. Images of sense are indispensable to the task. We thus talk of how our senses are offended, of stenches that make us retch, of tactile sensations of slime, ooze, and wriggly, slithering, creepy things that make us cringe and recoil. No other emotion, not even hatred, paints its object so unflatteringly, because no other emotion forces such concrete sensual descriptions of its object. This, I suspect, is what we really mean when we describe disgust as more visceral than most other emotions. And it has the adaptive function of protecting the organism by ridding it of dangerous matter. I am inclined to accept that the English word disgust and related ones like revulsion, repulsiveness, abhorrence describe an emotional syndrome that in its rough contours is a universal feature of human psychic and social-psychological experience. Surely, the capacity to be disgusted is a feature of human psychic organization." [Anatomy of Disgust]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*


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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:20 pm




Thomas Harris wrote:
"Clarice Starling: Your profile at the border stations has five features. I'll trade you...

Hannibal Lecter: "Trade"?

Clarice Starling: Stop now and I'll tell you what they are.

Hannibal Lecter: How does that word taste to you, Clarice? Hmm? Cheap and metallic, like sucking on a greasy coin?"


William Miller wrote:
"Contrast disgust which makes us pay with unpleasant sensation for the superiority it asserts. Whereas disgust finds its object repulsive, contempt can find its object amusing. Contempt, moreover, often informs benevolent and polite treatment of the inferior. Disgust does not. Pity and contempt go hand in hand, whereas disgust overwhelms pity." [The Anatomy of Disgust]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:24 pm

Thomas Harris wrote:
"What do you look at while you’re making up your mind? Ours is not a reflective culture, we do no raise our eyes up to the hills. Most of the time we decide the critical things while looking at the linoleum floor of an institutional corridor, or whispering hurriedly in a waiting room with a television blatting nonsense." [Hannibal]

William Miller wrote:
"The notion of disgust with life itself implicates disgust with a set of dispositions, moods, and psychological states that are variously de- scribed as tedium vitae, despair, boredom, depression, melancholia, ennui, or, reaching back deep into the Middle Ages, accidie or the deadly sin of sloth. Disgust with life comes in a variety of styles depending on the particular moral order and the historical moment. It can manifest itself in the morbid hatred of the flesh and all its joys, as in the grim ascetic traditions of the early and high Middle Ages. In the style of the Jacobean melancholic it appears as a kind of mis- anthropic moral fury, marked by a barely suppressed delight in its own shock value and in its own substantial wit and intelligence. Hamlet, the character, is a case in point, and Tourneur, Webster, and Ford provide many more instances in their plays. Disgust with sex and women, with generation, with mutability and transience prompts a black humor, both in our sense of the term and in theirs as the black bile of melancholy. And that melancholic style is considerably more attractive to us moderns than the grimmer style of the Christian despairing of his own salvation. Dispense with the wit, some of the misanthropy, and we can describe the style of tedium vitae captured in the posturing of French existentialists of the I930S and I940S. There is still irony but it languishes in pretense and self-congratulation.

The disgust we meet in these malaises is an attitude, a stance toward the world. And the self-conscious style that in part causes the malaise and in part is an effect of it makes the sufferer somewhat of a poseur too. Orwell, in typically biting and uncanting fashion, expresses his own mixture of indignation, contempt, and disgust at the pose in the particular form in which it was adopted by the leading writers ofthe 1920S:

"'Disillusionment' was all the fashion. Everyone with a safe £500 a year turned highbrow and began training himself in taedium vitae. It was an age .of eagles and crumpets, facile despairs, backyard Hamlets, cheap return tickets to the end of the night."

Such is the nature of that stance, however, that it is often accompanied by the emotion disgust. Posing can in the end produce the real thing. Indeed faked expressions of an emotion are known to produce the emotion. Sartre's Roquentin is not merely using disgust metaphorically when he describes his condition as nausea. He feels it and finds everything around him to elicit it.

This disgust with life is surely more than the easy predisposition to be disgusted comprehended in traits like fastidiousness or squeamishness. Fastidiousness is a fear of disgust; whatever tedium vitae and melancholia are, they hardly fear disgust at all, but indulge it whenever they can. Disgust with life seems to be experienced more consciously, more intellectually, more self-consciously than fastidiousness. Fastidiousness when obsessional can be every bit as pervasive as tedium vitae. But fastidiousness is characterized by a certain triviality, a certain foolishness that is excessively concerned with the very particular, whereas the disposition that produces disgust with life colors all things generally and makes loathsome what the fastidious person might find acceptable. The one makes a prig; the other often makes a philosopher, moralist, scholar, or genius, even if something of a poseur. Melancholic persons experience a perverse satisfaction when the universe obliges their disposition by showing all existence to be as infected as they believe it to be. For them, existence itself is contaminating; for the fastidious person only specially nominated contaminants are. Nothing escapes disgust with life, for when appearances suggest there is no cause for despair the melancholic disposition has the talent to expose the pleasant and desirable as a set-up or a sham.

Depression, despair, and boredom in the large sense of ennui share then a common ground with disgust, especially self-disgust or self-loathing. The Renaissance melancholic for all his talents disgusted himself too. Hamlet is again the easy example. But disgust with oneself does not prevent a sense of one's own peculiar talents. The melancholic is no less disgusted for having what it takes than for not having what it takes. In the latter case there is no action, in the former' futile action. Hamlet curses his habit of thinking too precisely about things to engage in heroic action, at the same time that he cannot disguise his contempt (even though it is tinged with admiring envy) for the willingness of young Fortinbras greatly to find quarrel in a straw. If the melancholic loathes himself, he does not thereby lose the means of feeling superior to those others who in their happiness he deems to have the sensibility of a stone. Consider in this vein how the modern insomniac both envies and is disgusted by a certain insensibility that she feels distinguishes the good sleeper from herself.

Let me briefly distinguish two kinds of boredom. There is the tedium vitae in its various manifestations. There is another: the kind of boredom that results from being bored by someone. We all know people who are boring, whose mere Hello sets our minds to wandering between the Hell and the 0, sets us to hasty strategies of escape and extrication. Being bored by a consummate bore is an intensely aversive experience, and it borders on panic at times, but not really on disgust. The boredom that is ennui can be exceptionally intense also, but ever more so the less it is able to focus on one particular object. The more intense it is the less differentiable anything out there seems to be. This lack of differentiability is unnerving and can easily end in a generalized "nausee," a kind of self-congratulatory self-disgust. Being bored by a bore, however, focuses intensely on a particular object, the bore, who is vividly differentiated, a highly individuated source of aversion. Strange it is that English should have not better differentiated lexically the very different experiences of being bored by someone and the boredom that is ennui." [The Anatomy of Disgust]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*


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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:43 pm

"Eat the rude."

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Thomas Harris wrote:
"The exposition of Atrocious Torture Instruments could not fail to appeal to a connoisseur of the worst in mankind. But the essence of the worst, the true asafoetida of the human spirit, is not found in the Iron Maiden or the whetted edge; Elemental Ugliness is found in the faces of the crowd." [Hannibal]

William Miller wrote:
"Consider in a related vein how differently the two emotions intersect with love. Not only are love and contempt not antithetical but certain loves seem to be necessarily intermingled with contempt. What is the judgment that some persons or animals are cute but a judgment of their endearing subordinance and unthreateningness? We love our pets and our children and we find them cute and adorable. Even love between equals is less a matter of admitting constant equality than of taking turns at being up or being down, so that even "true" adult love can admit judgments of cuteness and adorableness, as long as they don't run in one direction only. Where there are rankings there is contempt doing the work of maintaining them.

But contempt has a light side as well as a dark one; and though we might not wish to admit it, there is good reason to suspect that contempt can be as complex and varied as love itself. Why not admit that helplessness and need may be elicitors of love as much as strength and autonomy? Perhaps one of the most adaptive traits of humanity is that we find some kinds of helplessness endearing, or feel that it raises a duty in us to help and succor. How else do parents bond to their infants no matter how colicky or obnoxious they may be, whether related by blood or adop- tion? Contempt is more than just a sneer of hostility. The notion of looking down is consistent with softer and gentler sentiments: pity, graciousness, and love.

Whatever disgust's relation to love, it is not the one we have just constructed for contempt. If some forms of contempt are in fact love itself, disgust opposes love. It operates as an antithesis to love as much as hatred does. We can love and hate the same object at the same time, but we cannot love and be disgusted by the same object in any non-deviant, non-masochistic sense of love. Disgust does not have a pleasant warm side like contempt. Disgust is what revolts, what repels; it is never benign. Unless it is pardoned, excused, or overcome by desire, disgust terminates love, while contempt often maintains and sustains it.

Contempt often moves in the ironic mode, thus its frequent appearance with wry grins or sardonic smiles. Disgust does not have such a felt connection with abstract bemusement. Its very visceral nature keeps it from being experienced as ironic even though disgust has more than its share of structural and conceptual ironies. It is just that the felt sense of irony does not inform revulsion in any consistent way as it does our experience of contempt. In some of its ranges contempt marks a genuine complacency that all is right with the world and one's position in it; disgust, by contrast, never takes a rosy view of the world even though it may perversely at times delight in the stenches it uncovers, in the imperfections and decay it discerns.

Contempt is in one of its avatars indistinguishable from indifference, which may be understood as a particular instantiation of complacency. Indifference is that particular kind of contempt which renders its object nearly invisible. Disgust can never treat its objects that way. Disgust is always very present to the senses, arguably more so than any other emotion. The disgusting forces us to attend to it in a way that the contemptible does not unless it is also disgusting. In drawing these contrasts I do not deny significant areas of overlap between the two emotions. But they ultimately have different styles, different feels, and through broad ranges of their respective domains are readily distinguishable." [The Anatomy of Disgust]

Nietzsche wrote:
"The hour hath come for all light-dreading people, the vesper hour and leisure hour, when they do not--"take leisure."

I hear it and smell it: it hath come--their hour for hunt and procession, not indeed for a wild hunt, but for a tame, lame, snuffling, soft-treaders', soft-prayers' hunt,--

--For a hunt after susceptible simpletons: all mouse-traps for the heart have again been set! And whenever I lift a curtain, a night-moth rusheth out of it." [TSZ, The Apostates]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*


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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun Apr 26, 2015 5:03 pm

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Thomas Harris wrote:
"Mason Verger: I guess now you wish you would've fed the rest of me to the dogs.

Hannibal Lecter: No, Mason, I much prefer you the way you are." [Hannibal]


William Miller wrote:
"In disgust we wish to have the offensive thing disappear by the removal of either ourselves or it; in shame we simply want to disappear. Shame is experienced as "psychological" and intellectual, involving us in complex judgments about our standing relative to others and the quality of our character, even though it can be accompanied by a sinking feeling that is indistinguishable from the sick feeling of disgust. In fact, it may be that, to the extent that shame can be understood as disgust with oneself, the physical sensations of shame and disgust are indistinguishable. Like guilt, shame is felt to have its seat in the conscience. Disgust, in contrast, whether elicited by bodies or not, is understood and experienced as something notious to our senses rather than as a matter of conscience." [The Anatomy of Disgust]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*


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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun Apr 26, 2015 5:04 pm

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Thomas Harris wrote:
"What a collection of scars you have. Never forget who gave you the best of them, and be grateful, our scars have the power to remind us that the past was real." [Hannibal]

William Miller wrote:
"Disgust and hatred also overlap through some of their ranges. The chief connection is marked by the notion of loathing, which carries a sense not only of the mixing of hate and disgust but of the intensification that each works on the other. What disgust adds to hatred is its distinctive kind of embodiment, its way of being unpleasant to the senses. It also subjects hatred's volatility to disgust's slow rate of decay. Though slow to dissipate, disgust is quick in onset; hate bespeaks a history. Hate wishes harm and misfortune on the object of hatred but is very ambivalent about wishing the hated one gone; disgust merely wants the thing relocated and quickly. Hatred can combine in the commonly lived oxymoron of love-hate, whereas disgust and love have a much more complex though largely antithetical relation. Disgust creates and is witness to a claim of moral (and social) inequality, while hatred tends to embody the resentment of an unwelcome admission of equality. Hatred can be quite positively energizing; disgust, by contrast, sickens and often enervates." [The Anatomy of Disgust]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*


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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun Apr 26, 2015 5:04 pm

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Thomas Harris wrote:
"My freedom, then. You would take that from me." [Hannibal]

William Miller wrote:
"Indignation, as an especially righteous form of anger, operates in the bright light of the day. It is raised by actions that need to be avenged but that are in themselves often understandably part of strategies of competition and aggression that have a kind of business-as-usual quality to them. We expect people to quarrel, to fight, even to kill those they hate under some claim of their own right to do so. These are the bread and butter of indignation. The harms must be paid back or paid for and indignation impels us to do justice, to do the work of setting the balance right. Disgust, however, operates in a kind of miasmic gloom, in the realm of horror, in regions of dark unbelievability, and never too far away from the body's and, by extension, the self's interiors. Disgust deals with harms that sicken us in the telling, things for which there could be no plausible claim of right: rape, child abuse, torture, genocide, predatory murder and maiming. Sadism and masochism belong here too, including those practices deemed within the prerogative of "consenting adults" whose pleasure still depends on the moral illegitimacy of what they are consenting to. Indignation seems too innocent for this realm and must be supplemented by disgust.

Indignation is organized around metaphors of reciprocity, of debit and credit, of owing and paying back. Indignation prompts revenge. Disgust is conceptualized in a totally different way. No core metaphor controls it, not even the image of vomiting, not the feeling of queasiness. What the idiom of disgust demands is reference to the senses. It is about what it feels like to touch, see, taste, smell, even on occasion hear, certain things. Disgust cannot dispense with direct reference to the sensory processing of its elicitors. All emotions are launched by some perception; only disgust makes that process of perceiving the core of its enterprise." [The Anatomy of Disgust]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*


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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun Apr 26, 2015 5:28 pm

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Hannibal Lecter wrote:
"The tragedy is not to die, but to be wasted." [Hannibal]

William Miller wrote:
"The inorganic is seldom disgusting unless it comes to bear features that remind us of organic disgustingness. It is not dead, having never lived. When inorganic substances undergo transformation via erosion or transition from solid to liquid or vice versa there is no disgust. Large tracts of desolate non-life whether it be tundra or desert may fill us with sensations of awe, sadness, or fear, but not disgust. Inorganic substances are not utterly immune to contamination, although they seem to clean up faster once polluted. And then once our imaginations imbue the never-having-lived with metaphorical life the inorganic might suggest disgust. Take rust and slag heaps for example. But we imbue rust and slag with a mild capacity to disgust, if any, only because man has already intervened in transforming the iron ore into an iron artifact and its waste products; it is because of the peculiar relation of iron to civilization that its oxide can suggest decay and, with decay, disgust. Iron oxide in the soil or in a rock loses its evocative power. In folk belief rust suggests contamination with tetanus; but again rust is more contam- inated than contaminating. Such is the cost to iron's purity when it makes contact with the organic world, particularly the world of human industrial culture.

What disgusts, startlingly, is the capacity for life, and not just because life implies its correlative death and decay: for it is decay that seems to engender life. Images of decay imperceptibly slide into images of fertility and out again.Death thus horrifies and disgusts not just because it smells revoltingly bad, but because it is not an end to the process of living but part of a cycle of eternal recurrence. The having lived and the living unite to make up the organic world of generative rot-rank, smelling, and upsetting to the touch. The gooey muq, the scummy pond are life soup, fecundity itself: slimy, slippery, wiggling, teeming animal life generating spontaneously from putrefying vegetation."

Above all, plants can become the vehicle for expressing horror and loathing of generation, of fecundity and fertility itself. Lush greenness can only too easily pass from the basis for wealth, health, and well-being to disgust, rot, and nausea from surfeit:

"He and his brothers are like plum-trees that grow crooked over standing pools; they are rich and o'er-laden with fruit, but none but crows, pies, and caterpillars feed on them. Could I be one of their flattering panders, I would hang on their ears like a horseleech, till I were full, and then drop off." (The Duchess of Malfi 1.1)

While caterpillars and horseleeches might evoke disgust singly and without much assist beyond their mere mention, this passage clearly shows that the generator of disgust is generation itself, surfeit, excess of ripeness. It is the innocent plum, which in large groups on overladen branches deforms the branches and redefines what might have been a beautiful reflecting pool into a stagnant breeding ground which in turn, by poetic license, generates carrion-eating birds who find plums indistinguishable from rotting flesh. It is vegetable excess that draws the loathsome creatures of the animal world and redefines everything downward. Humans, albeit flattering panders, become horseleeches, who sate themselves to death falling like overripe plums down into the ooze. And the imagistic circle comes full round when the horseleech dropping off like a plum from its host turns plums into figurative horseleeches that leech from the tree. The passage, however, does not pretend to be a description of nature but of corrupt and vicious humans ("he and his brothers" and the panders who attend them). Surfeit and gross feeding, sucking blood, leech-infested ponds, these are tropes for moral and social corruption. Food again is implicated, not because food is at the core of disgust so much as because it is feeding that prompts rankness and overripeness and the excessive generation of fat, greasy life whose thriving necessarily implies something else's failing and decay.

Rich fruit-laden trees, hardly disgusting in themselves, draw carrion eaters, bloodsuckers (caterpillars suck the juices of fruit, as horseleeches do those of mammals) to surfeit themselves to death and thus further the production of more fruit. The plant world does not escape the disgusting in spite of arguments that disgust is a function of our anxious relation to animals, a relation which we are so eager to repress and deny.

According to Mary Douglas's well-known structural theory of pollution and purity, the polluting, and by extension the disgusting (she does not talk about disgust), is utterly contingent on the conceptual grid that structures the particular domain. The dangerous and contaminating are those things which don't fit within the ordering structures. The anomalous thus becomes polluting. "Dirt then, is never a unique, isolated event. Where there is dirt there is system. Dirt is the by-product of a systematic ordering and classification of matter". "There is no such thing as absolute dirt"; it is nothing but "matter out of place." Social and cognitive structures create dirt less by assigning something to play that role than as a consequence of categorization itself.

There is much truth in this, but it is not the whole truth. Cultures don't quite have free rein as to what to exclude from the polluting, although they have enormous leeway as to what to include. Menstrual blood, human sperm and excrement, and other excreta of the human body seem to resist being innocuous substances except in very limited roles, specifically understood to be exceptional. Like powerful masses in space these substances have a gravitational attraction that bends social and cognitive structures along their lines of force. They make their own grids or twist the grids they are admitted to in the direction of their own images." [The Anatomy of Disgust]

Hannibal Lecter wrote:
"Rudeness is an epidemic." [Hannibal]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun Apr 26, 2015 9:20 pm




Hannibal Lecter wrote:
"Hannibal: "Murder or mercy?"

Will: "There is no mercy.
We make mercy, manufacture it on parts that have overgrown over our basic reptile brain."

Hannibal: "Then there is no murder. We make murder too. Matters only to us."


There is no mercy for the swine; one leaves them to offend and disgust themselves that would on its own disgust away the others from them. Such mercy is as good as murder.

Verger's de-hiding and de-skinning then, is a hiding of his own making, a skin-prison of his own making.

On the other hand, self-defilement to repulse, disgust and show others for what they are and the skins they hide in, was the path of the Cynics.


William Miller wrote:
"Disgust helps define boundaries between us and them and 'me and you. It helps prevent our way from being subsumed into their way. Disgust, along with desire, locates the bounds of the other, either as something to be avoided, repelled, or attacked, or, in other settings, as something to be emulated, imitated, or married. Disgust helps mark boundaries of culture and boundaries of the self. The boundaries of the self extend beyond the body to encompass a jurisdictional territory, what Erving Goffman calls a territorial preserve, which may be defined as any space that if intruded upon would engender rightful indignation or disgust in US. The size of this jurisdiction varies by culture, age, gender, class, and status. Generally the higher a person's status, the larger the space within which offenses against that person can take place. In contrast, some people's jurisdiction may not reach beyond their skin, may not even include it: thus in some instances prisoners, slaves, prostitutes, and infants.

Me, in other words, is not just defined by the limits of my skin, although it is clear that disgust will be most readily triggered by those infringements of our jurisdiction that are nearest to our bodies. The closer you get to me without my consent or without readily discernible justification or excuse, the more alarming, dangerous, disgusting you become, even without considering your hygiene. I understand your violation as a moral one, knowing it to be so precisely by the moral sentiments it evokes in me. Contamination, pollution, and the capacity to disgust are inherent in your youness. You are dangerous simply by being you and not me, or by being you and not yet having been defined as privileged to do disgusting things without disgusting me by doing them; that is, you are not yet loved or my doctor. I have, however, no great reason to feel superior to you on account of your ability to disgust me; for I should know that I am as contaminating to you as you are to me. This mutual knowledge should engender a certain respectfulness, a willingness to mind the other's territory and claims to inviolability.

Some people are recognized as experts at self-violation: the mentally ill and saints are often both preternaturally astute in the techniques of awing and offending others by offending against themselves. If coprophagia is peculiar now to the insane, the eating of bodily discharges was an exercise in mortification of the flesh made popular by certain kinds of saints. Self-befoulment, self-mutilation, are motivated by a complex mingling of desires to disgust oneself with desires to disgust others by such displays. Nothing assists self-loathing quite as well as having your unflattering views about yourself shared by others.

Consider the skin. It figures in folk physiology as an organ of sense, the place where we conceptualize the location of touch. Arguably, touch shares with smell (and both more than taste) the honor of being the sense that is most intimately involved in sensing the disgusting. It is the skin that gets the creeps from contact with con- taminating substances long before we would ever think of putting them in our mouths. Skin defends us from the outside and it seals within a lot of unpleasant sights and smells. It is also somewhat magical and bears a heavy symbolic load: its color often determines initial positions in many social hierarchies, and as a covering for the deeper self inside it allows us to entertain the illusion of our own non-disgustingness to others, if not quite ourselves. Skin not only covers our polluting and oozing innards but also allows us the illusion that the heart can be a seat of love and courage rather than just a pulsing slithery organ. Moralists of a certain stripe considered the skin doubly insidious: it deceived by making others think superficial beauty was more important than "inner" beauty and then perversely by preventing us from seeing that the inner was nothing but excre- ment and slime; the image of the skin as a sack loaded with excrement was indulged in with great verve by moralists from Heraclitus onward. Skin, especially in young women, was held to be the chief contributor to beauty, and its exposure always evoked the erotic and the sensual. But its fragile and transient attractiveness made it a locus of some of the worst forms of the disgusting. There is nothing quite like skin gone bad; it is in fact the marrings of skin which make up much of the substance of the ugly and monstrous.

The skin also harbors glands that secrete sweat and oil; but of all the polluting substances the body produces perhaps the most polluting (at least of the non-sexual substances) is associated with breaches in the skin. For the skin is where suppuration takes place. Pus, running sores, skin lesions, which were a regular feature of medieval life and helped define the pariah status of lepers and syphilitics, have only very recently come to be rare sights in the West." [AOD]


Nietzsche wrote:
"Behold the tarantula.
Revenge sits in your soul: wherever you bite, black scabs grow; your poison makes the soul whirl with revenge.
Inspired ones they resemble: but it is not the heart that inspireth them—but vengeance. And when they become subtle and cold, it is not spirit, but envy, that maketh them so." [TSZ, Tarantulas]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Mon Apr 27, 2015 4:10 pm

Hedonism: The disgust with reality and packaging things in neat bubbles, the 'comfort zone' of trimmed epicurean gardens...


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Hannibal Lecter wrote:
"A census taker tried to quantify me once. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a big Amarone. Go back to school, little Starling."


Satyr wrote:
"Blood is made into water by those who cannot stand the sight of their own."


William Miller wrote:
"Take the skin on heated milk for instance. Some, like Julia Kristeva, find this the piece de resistance of the disgusting. Part of its loathsomeness is the feel of it in-the mouth, not unlike the disgust that a hair produces. It seems that crusts, skins, and films covering fluid interiors have a special ability to elicit disgust. The phenomenon of coagulation, of curdling, unites ideas of bubbling, seething, generative surfeit, with ideas of fermentation and rot. It is the green mantle on the standing pool again. The curd, the milk scum, thus reproduce the central themes of disgust elicitation: the eternal recurrence of viscous, teeming, swarming generation and the putrefaction and decay that attend it. It is as if the milk, when heated, spontane- ously generates a loathsome image of gestation itself: a membrane appearing to cover warmish fluids. Life must be packaged just right not to make us cringe when it touches us.

A subsystem ofthe sense oftouch processes temperature. Coldness couples with clamminess to mimic death, heat couples with hellfire to produce sulfurous stenches. Yet, as a general rule, extreme tem- peratures do not elicit disgust. (Pain, not disgust, is the specie of the extremes.) The cold clamminess of death is no less than 60°F; once we get below 32°F we are in the world of crystalline purity. And well before we get above 212°F we enter a world purified by fire. Fire does not disgust unless accompanied by foul odors, but lukewarmness, or body temperature, might well do so. We will sit on a public toilet seat with less upset when it is cold than when we discern that it is warm from the warmth of a prior user. Body heat is in some way as polluting as more material pollutants in that setting. Temperature, it seems, disgusts precisely in those ranges in which life teems, that is, from the dank of the fen to the mugginess of the jungle; this is the range in which sliminess exists, for slime ceases to be when frozen solid or burnt to a crisp. The temperature must be sufficient to get the old life soup bubbling, seething, wiggling, and writhing but not so great as to kill it. The boiling and seething of life, the coagulating of blood, the eruption of suppurating sores, the teeming of maggots-disgust itself-operate in what we call the comfort zone." [AOD]


Satyr wrote:
"In the pressure to maintain a hygienic environment nothing is left to chance, no sign of imperfection is tolerated and no hint of illusion is condoned.
Markets are filled with produce minus any memory of where they come from or how they got there. Saturated with pesticides and picked before stress has sweetened them and the sun has burned color into them, they look plastic in their veneer and feel forged in their texture.
No worms, no bugs, no spots of natural decay.
Meat comes neatly packages with no remnant of the slaughter; canned goods with taste enhancing additives, preservatives and food coloration to give off the illusion of salubrity.
The world must be cleansed of any hint of authenticity."


Satyr wrote:
"That the past has been denied relevance in modern systems can best be understood as a method of population control. It constitutes a detachment from nature, from our very identity, so as to facilitate a reintegration into abstract concepts, such as nation, ideal, country, economy.
Modernity might declare a love of nature, as being a part of its advancement towards a pristine, cleansed, idealistically sanitized natural world but in fact it deplores nature, and all this connects to.
Nature represents, for them, a burden they would sooner forget or deny than accept and be forced to deal with.
The dissatisfaction with the world is inherit, but more so there is an underlying self-hatred expressed as this undying, blind love for otherness. This “love”, like their kind of love, is the emotionally driven kind; the kind which goes on a whim, changes when the winds change direction and has the reliability of a child, or a woman.

The past is always “overcome” or engaged in from the comfortable and fearless distances of books, graphs, art, and fences. Anything that gives them that desirable distance of space, making the other this idealized object d’art that is best appreciated from afar but quickly turns ugly as you approach it discovering the techniques of its apparent perfection.

These “renaissance men” tear down the walls because it is remoteness that is their barricade. The more “open” they become to this “otherness” all the more they take a step back, away from it, to enjoy it better.

The modern man visits wilderness in parks or when it’s particular manifestation is chained and caged; he does no different when it comes to history. He indulges his curiosity about the past with the cold aloofness of a man who is not touched by the subject, choosing to learn how the ancients bathed or what languages they used to communicate or how they wiped their bottoms after defecating, but he never really cares about it, as none of it pertains to his modernistic lifestyle and it changes nothing about his already made choices.
A quaint little vacation from his “reality”, which is nothing other than an artificiality he has never been outside of. He loves going places but not really happy about the mosquitoes or the smells or the heat or those pesky locals that try to pull that piece of coinage from his well-crafted portfolio. He loves the meat, but prefers to keep the killing part out of his mind, because it might disturb his enjoyment of the meal.

The “real” is flipped on its head.

The fabrication becomes the “natural”, forgotten for a long time when man tumbled into barbarity; the counterfeit becomes the “authentic”, where nobody can quite remember what the original looked like; the shark swimming behind the glass wall is now “inside” whereas he, the sophisticated man, is residing and walking about “outside” the enclosure, free to return to his own little fishbowl any times he chooses to."

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:10 am

William Miller wrote:
"Even people who are not perceived as initially disgusting can quickly become so by getting too close without our permission. When they touch us impermissibly we treat them to a mix of disgust and indignation similar to that we direct toward the pariah. The difference is that these people are allowed the opportunity to plead their lack of intention. A ritually apt "sorry" will prevent offense being taken, or remedy any offense already taken if the excuse is reasonably plausible and sincere. Plausibility regarding such "accidents" usually depends on not having to raise the plea of accident more than once and on the relative triviality of the offense being excused. These not unattractive people are also given another benefit: they are often granted the privilege of having their unpermitted touchings processed as if they were proper requests for permission for the touching taking place. Such a touching is the first escalation in the ritual of courtship, and it directly involves disgust. For the touching is a request to consider the prospect of the ultimate sexual touching and whether that touching from the person in question would be disgusting. That first touching, that first gesture in the course of conversation when one lightly touches the other's arm, is thus raising only one serious question: Do I disgust you?" [AOD]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:17 am

William Miller wrote:
"The primordial scene for Swift was not coitus but defecation, and the horror of the latter was a function of the stench. The thought of defecation and its smell was the one thought whose power no other thoughts could resist. It made beauty a, fraud and sexual desire a function of sustained and insistent self-deception. For Swift desire could not survive the close stool. If Swift's obsessions end in misogyny, the thought that men must defecate too could lead to the heresies of doubting Christ's divine nature. Freud's Wolf Man, tormented by the thought of Jesus defecating, solved the problem with the subtlety ofa schoolman: "Since Christ had made wine out ofnothing, he could have made food into nothing and in this way have avoided defecat- ing." We get an inverse miracle of the loaves. Swift was not as resourceful as W olf Man or, more likely, was unwilling to allow him- self such facile self-deceptions. For him, the loss is not just the snuff- ing of desire but the loss of the sublimity that attends it, the loss of an illusion, which loss brings not wistfulness but the feeling of having been rendered a fool, hoodwinked by one's own desire and woman's mysterious abilities to aid one's self-deception. Thus the well-known lines:

"Nor wonder how I lost my Wits; / oh Crelia, Crelia, Crelia shits."

The comic despair masks real bitterness that is not suppressed in other places:

"Should I the Queen of Love refuse, / Because she rose from stinking Ooze?"

Swift's imagination, however, gives him no possibility of relief: the daily recollection of the smells of the close stool banish sweet thoughts and fix themselves permanently to guard against the return of desire-creating illusion. "For fine Ideas vanish fast, /While all the gross and filthy last." The smell of feces, its vapors, produces thoughts which follow Gresham's law no less enthusiastically than money does. And thus it is on a suffusion of nasty excremental'odor that Swift anticipates Freud's formulation of the anal character type with its linking of money, excrement, and cultural production itself. The unrelenting misogyny is still there; it is always the odors emitted by women that kill male desire.

Freud, like Swift, is not quite able to wrest the nose away from the excremental. In a long and famous footnote in Civili{ation and Its Discontents he supposes great consequences for the sense of smell that attended man's arising from all fours to walk erect. Standing up changed the placement of the nose relative to the genitals of others, but more precisely the relation of men's noses to women's crotches. He expounds at some length on the theme:

The organic periodicity of the sexual process has persisted, it is true, but its effect on psychical sexual excitation has rather been reversed. This change seems most likely to be connected with the diminution of the olfactory stimuli by means of which the menstrual process produced an effect on the male psyche. Their role was taken over by visual excitations, which, in contrast to the intermittent olfactory stimuli, were able to maintain a permanent effect. The taboo on menstruation is derived from this "organic repression," as a defense against a phase of develop- ment that has been surmounted ... This process is repeated on another level when the gods of a superseded period of civili- zation turn into demons. The diminution of the olfactory stimuli seems itself to be a consequence of a man's raising himself from the ground, of his assumption of an upright gait; this made his genitals, which were previously concealed, visible and in need of protection, and so provoked feelings of shame in him.

The fateful process of civilization would thus have set in with man's adoption of an erect posture. From that point the chain of events would have proceeded through the devaluation of olfactory stimuli and the isolation of the menstrual period to the time when visual stimuli were paramount and the genitals became visible, and thence to the continuity of sexual excitation, the founding of the family and so to the threshold of human civilization.

The footnote continues by discussing the increasing cultural concern with cleanliness, which originates not in hygienic considerations but "in an urge to get rid of the excreta, which have become disagreeable to the sense perceptions." Nonetheless children have to be socialized into being disgusted by excreta:

Upbringing insists with special energy on hastening the course of development which lies ahead, and which should make the excreta worthless, disgusting, abhorrent and abominable. Such a reversal of values would scarcely be possible if the substances that are expelled from the body were not doomed by their strong smells to share the fate which overtook olfactory stimuli after man adopted the erect posture.

The story is of the transformation of the sense of smell from the sense that excited periodic sexuality in times of rutting or with hu- mans in times of menses to a diminished and devalued sense once man stood up. As the nose moves up, the olfactory stimuli diminish in their powers to excite, less it seems by diminishment of the sensitivity of the sense of smell than by a reversal in the valence of the stimuli it receives from below. What once attracted now repels; hence the broad acceptance of menstrual taboos. Man (and man means man in the restricted sense) is compensated for the betrayal of the nose by being gi,ven the power to stare and get excited all the time, not just once a month. Vision on high from a distance replaces closely sniffing around down below. Now man wants a woman around all the time; hence family organization begins and then civ- ilization built upon the family model takes off from there. And what of woman? she had better stay with the man if she wants to protect herself and her children from other men who are now looking for sexual objects to control continuously, rather than sniffing around once in a while for periodic violent contacts.

Standing up does more than reverse the value of menstrual odor; it paves the way for the devaluation of everything in the genital region. The first stage in this process is one of "organic repression." This repression owes nothing to culture or society, being solely, according to Freud, the consequence of standing up, and it is directed toward the odors of menstruation. The second stage of devaluation of the olfactory is social, and it is directed toward feces. The "merely" social impetus behind the second stage means that we remain more ambivalent about excrement than about menses, the aver- sion to which Freud supposes to be part of our biological make-up. Very young children find their excrement "valuable to them as being part of their own body which has come away from it," and we consequently never quite learn to loathe our own excrement with much intensity:

"The existence of the social factor which is responsible for the further transformation of anal erotism is attested by the circumstance that, in spite of all man's developmental advances, he scarcely finds the smell of his own excreta repulsive, but only that of other people's."

The social inculcation of disgust for feces recapitulates in the life of the individual male the progress of the entire male half of the species' organic development of disgust for the odors of menstruation. Yet in each case-the organic disgust with menses and the socially originating disgust with feces-more primitive aspects of the erotic are repressed and olfaction, formerly the engine ofdesire, now founds the very capacity to be disgusted by those things once desired. So it comes to be that disgust keeps us on our feet and out of bed. But it is more than just a tale of feces and menstruation.

Freud's argument plays with the notion of ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny, it is horror of feces that should precede horror with menstrual blood in the development of the species. Consider that we are hardly born with a loathing of menstruation, nor does the infant acquire it when he stands up and learns to walk. Unlike excrement, most of us don't even learn what menses is, let alone confront it, until years after we have confronted feces and learned to be disgusted by it. The two disgusts, it turns out, are not distinguishable by virtue of their putative organic or social origins.

The varying intensity and difference in treatment of the two may well lie in the fact that only half of us menstruate but all of us defecate. And the half that menstruate are not men. Freud stacks the deck unfairly here. He compares the weaker disgust of a man with "his own" excrement with the implacable disgust of man for another's (woman's) menstruation. The appropriate comparison would be if a man is as disgusted with another's feces as with another's menstrual blood. Which disgust is stronger would be a nice empirical matter which I imagine would be subject to wide variation across individuals and cultures. But assuming with Freud for the moment that disgust for excrement is not as firmly in place as disgust for menstrual blood, could this difference not more satisfactorily be accounted for by the fact that among us the socialization regarding menstruation takes place at a later stage of development, long after the disgust mecha- nism has been primed, prepped, and fashioned by its interactions with excrement? Toilet training precedes sex education even today. Freud's account again depends on its purporting to describe only male disgusts and desires.

The account seems to war with itself in another way. Just what happens to the sense of smell in this account? Does it grow weaker? Or does it simply change functions? Freud is clear that olfaction loses its capacity to impel sexual desire and suggests that the sense of smell is generally weakened, losing strength and function to vision. Yet perversely smell, because now associated with the vile and revolting, seems to be much stronger than when it was unambivalently a sense of desire. Freud abandons his usually non-adjectival style to pile up adjectives in an effort to capture our (and his?) panic in the face of excrement; feces is not only "worthless" but "disgusting, abhorrent, and abominable." Smell may no longer occupy the glorious role that vision assumed, but when it comes to the power to disgust it is no contemptible weakling. One wonders whether the attractive is ever quite as moving as an equal quantity of the loathsome (the teaspoon of sewage vs. the teaspoon of wine again). Or is it more appropriate to ask whether culture reinforces many more aversions than it does attractions? It may not be the case that desire must merely overmatch the specific aversion opposing it before achieving fulfillment, but rather that once it overmatches the disgust opposing it, it still must confront other scruples before it can lead to action.

Freud draws an analogy between the displacement of the olfactory by the visual and the process by which new deities replace the old: "This process is repeated on another level when the gods of a superseded period of civilization turn into demons." The old do not disappear; they simply change their valence. Once gods, they are now devils and demons. Vision, the sky god, banishes smell to Hell where it becomes the god of the underworld. This conforms rather nicely to the conventional Christian cosmology in which Light is associated with salvation, the proper end of desire, and Hell is a place of dark- ness visible, where fire gives no light but only loathsome evil stenches, a mixture of sulfur and excrement whose source is the bow- els of Satan, who in his incarnation as Mephistopheles takes his name from the Latin word for pestilential odor.

Smell ranks low in the hierarchy of senses. That there are bad sights and bad sounds does nothing to undermine the glory of the "higher senses" of vision and hearing; and that there are delightful fragrances does nothing to raise smell from the ditch. So low is smell that the best smell is not a good smell but no smell at all. And this sentiment predates the twentieth-century American obsession with not smelling. Montaigne in the sixteenth century cites classical au- thors to the same effect: "The sweetness even of the purest breath has nothing more excellent about it than to be without any odor that offends US." Whenever a devil or the damned appear in medieval hagiography they give proof of their condition by stinking. Vision and hearing belong on high. They are the proper entrances to intel- lectual and contemplative pleasures; smell (and taste) and surely touch in the form of pain sensation are the senses of Hell, perhaps because they get closer to our core and are the senses of our bodily vulnerability.

The high/low opposition invariably makes disgust the domain of the low, whether that be genitals and anus or the dark and primitive. That the nose is on the face gives it no claim to credit. Its position, in fact, makes it dangerous in the extreme because the sense located there risks bringing us low on all fours with our eyes cast down on the ground.

In the Western tradition smell ends up associated with the dark, the dank, the primitive and bestial, with blind and subterranean bestiality that moves in ooze. We are back with Freud and the association of smell with the (primarily female) genitalia. The imagery of King Lear plays on this theme insistently. Moral blindness and real blindness are understood to be consequences ofvaginas. Says Edgar to the bastard Edmund regarding the blinding of their father: "The dark and vicious place where thee he got / Cost him his eyes" (5.3.173-174). And without eyes one can only smell things out: "Go thrust him out at the gates, and let him smell his way to Dover" (3.7.93). The blind world of Lear is a world of hopelessness, random- ness, moral chaos, and despair. Only smell thrives, and that is why the atmosphere is so poisoned and depressingly frightening and filled with utter disgust with life. Smell thus exists in a kind of moral war with vision, with vision representing the forces of light and smell the forces of darkness.

In its war with smell, vision depends for its virtue on its looking up or out or metaphorically in or within but manifestly not down. When Lear starts to hallucinate visions of copulation everywhere- "The wren goes to 't, and the small gilded fly / Does lecher in my sight"-images of sight are soon transformed into ones of olfaction. Disgust, for Lear, means bad smells, bad visions being bad to the extent that they suggest bad smells. For him disgust is primarily a matter of procreation, of life itself-the production of filial ingrati- tude and father-killing children-and that means we end up in that dark and vicious place which cost Gloucester his eyes. Strange, but no woman in the play is fertile; all procreation either has taken place prior to the play by women now dead or is enacted in the imagination. But that is more than enough, for the mere thought of it poisons imagination. Lear not only anticipates Freud in this matter, he pushes further:

But to the girdle do the gods inherit
Beneath is all the fiend's.
There's hell, there's darkness, there is the sulphurous pit, burn- ing, scalding, stench, consumption; fie, fie, fie! pah! pah! Give me an ounce of civet; good apothecary, sweeten my imagination. (4.6.125-13°)

The interjections tell us this is no weak disgust. Lear is retching at the mere thought of the dark place. Memory produces disgust. The memory of smells (and tastes and touches) differs from memories involving the so-called higher senses of hearing and sight. When we remember a sight we resee it; when we remember sounds we rehear them; we also can will such memories, conjure them up on purpose; or they can come unbidden triggered by nothing special. What does it mean, however, to remember a smell, taste, or touch? We cannot conjure up the memory of a smell like the memory of a face. Nor do the tastes or smells of previously experienced things simply occur to us unbidden without molecules of that thing actually being per- ceived by our senses. If I desire to recall an odor that made me retch five years ago, or the taste of that bad meat that gave me food poi- soning, I cannot do so. What I can remember is how I felt; I can recall the disgust, even reproduce it. I can remember gagging, retching, and a generalized sense ofunpleasantness, strong enough to make sure I never will knowingly eat that food or put myself in a place to smell that smell again. But I am not doing this by imaginatively resmelling the smell or retasting the taste in the way we can imagi- natively reconstruct sounds and sights. Memories of taste and smell can only be triggered by a real experience of the same smell or taste.

What Lear is reproducing in himself is not an actual reexperience of sexual smells but the aversion he feels when he smells such smells. That sensation he can re-create; it is in fact the essence of how disgust works to keep us from doing again that which disgusted us before. Lear may not then be resmelling vaginas and sulfurous pits, but he is reexperiencing a most profound loathing and disgust. The gesture of disgust indicated by the fies and pahs is not faked. And even if it were, such faking has a peculiar way of generating the feelings it is expressing. Imitating retching can, if one is not careful, lead to vomiting.

Lear and Swift (and even Freud can be read in this way) show that it is nearly impossible to keep bad smells out of the moral do- main. The language of sin and wickedness is the language of olfaction gone bad. Vision and hearing, the higher senses, do not play this role in the articulation of our moral sensibility. "Do you smell a fault?" Bad smells are evil, evil smelling; and bad deeds stink to heaven because they smell like Hell: "0, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven" (Hamlet 3.3.36).
If bad touch gives moral diction a number of axes of measurement to categorize moral action, smell gives only bad and good smell. But that is apparently all that is needed.

As a parting observation on smell note that the word stink has a forcefulness that makes it not quite proper in polite conversation. One usually avoids it by using softer formulations such as "smells bad." Or one uses stink while suffering a small anxiety regarding its likelihood of breaching decorum or of typing oneself as vulgar in a way that any number of words we would describe as "swear words" would not. No word dedicated to the disgustful sensations of the other senses has this power. It is hard to date exactly when stink gets so powerful as to become somewhat improper. It is frequently used in the public language of moral condemnation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, evidencing its power but not its vulgarity. The OED shows it ·to have become not quite proper at least by the late nineteenth century.

To what might we attribute the change? Its impropriety is clearly another step in the march of the "civilizing process." But perhaps it is something more concrete. One of the great accomplishments of the nineteenth century was ridding cities of the ubiquitous stench of feces and decaying animal matter by massive public construction of un- derground sewers. When man began walking upright he did not rise all that far above the stenches he emitted below. It just might be that Freud's theory of the final devaluation of smell depended on putting sewers under ground as much as on raising man's nose above it. It might even be claimed that the placement of sewers underground is a necessary precondition for and enabler of Freudian theory. Underground sewers were not an emblem of the repressed but the repressed itself, a burying of dangerousness. The sewers become the new Hell, the lower gastrointestinal base for the civilization resting upon it, as captured in the free verse of Francis Newman, brother of the better- known John Henry:

Thus underneath our cities, by curious and perishing art, A new city is built, of Tartarean loathsomeness,
A network of brick-bowels, which perpetually decay." [AOD]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:24 am

William Miller wrote:
"Swift and Freud, in some way, can be understood as very much in continuity with this tradition. For Freud, smells are what ruin sex, the very sex the eye drove us toward once we learned to walk erect. Vision in Freud's world is the first-order sense of desire. Sight gives us the distance desire must have to operate, back far enough so that smells can be masked and shameful things alluringly covered.

Sight, unlike smell, needs distance to operate properly. Get too close and things blur out or darken under the very shadow we cast; get too far back and vision fails to discern enough to desire. In between, in the range of desire, however, the eye can be tricked by myopia, by wishful thinking, and by strategies of the object, like cosmetics and clothing. In this middle distance, out of the reach of smell and within focusable view, sight works to impel desire to levels sufficient to overcome disgust that the odors of proximity may well evoke before the pleasures of touch work to justify sight's desiring. The mid-range also allows the construction of a competing truth to counter the truth of microscopic vision that revolted Gulliver in Brobdingnag. And the masking of the sources of odor behind cloth- ing prevents us from observing the very organs activated by the desire that vision prompted. What strange trick has made the attraction that beauty engenders end in organs that look like penises, scro- tums, and vaginas? Is it any accident that the sense of shame forces us to cover Up?

Or if, say, sexual coupling were accomplished by kissing, or by an exchange of glances, would we then find lips and eyes as unsightly as we now find the genitals? Milton's Adam pursued this line of inquiry with the angel Raphael, getting an angelic blush and an evasive answer in response (even incorporeal beings, it seems, must know the blush of embarrassment and shame and with shame the prospect of disgust):

Bear with me then, if lawful what I ask;
Love not the heav'nly Spirits, and how thir Love Express they, by looks only, or do they mix Irradiance, virtual or immediate touch?

To whom the Angel with a smile that glow'd Celestial rosy red, Love's proper hue, Answer'd. Let it suffice thee that thou know'st Us happy, and without Love no happiness.

(Paradise Lost 8.614-620)

For us, no less than angels, that which might evoke disgust in others when seen by them is that which should be protected by shame. The observed one should cover up and the observer should cover his eyes. Eyes, exhibitionism, and shame run together in the Freudian world and implicate disgust only because what is shameful is also often disgusting.

The world is filled with disgusting sights only a small fraction of which have to do with copulation. Any action which ought to elicit shame in the doer can elicit disgust in an observer. Any serious breach of norms of modesty, dignity-maintenance, and self-presentability can be disgusting to behold. In this sphere disgust operates as a moral emotion, a motivator of discipline and social control. Not all visual disgust is directly involved in this kind of policing of norms; some of it piggybacks on disgusts generated by smell and touching. The sight of an unflushed toilet in a public facility, of a giant slug, of eels, of maggots slithering and writhing can disgust quite intensely. In these settings we recognize that sight works by suggesting the pros- pect of unnerving touches, nauseating tastes, and foul odors or by suggesting contaminating processes like putrefaction and generation. These things offend because of their contaminating powers; they offend not because of what they look like, but for what they are, for their moral failings if you will. In some instances we are even prepared to admit an abstract beauty in form and proportion, color and sinuosity as in caterpillars, salamanders, jellyfish, and such, but that only serves to make their contaminating powers more uncanny, more unnerving.

Vision is the sense through which much of horror is accessed. The movies that define the horror genre horrify and disgust without taste, smell, or touch (although we should not underestimate the power of music to evoke terror and uneasiness). Vision activates our sympathetic imaginative powers, but note that sympathetic sensing does not extend to smell. Smell plays virtually no role in the horror genre. Things abhorrent to the touch can get us cringing sympathetically by the mere sight of the offensive thing; likewise watching someone have to eat decayed matter, human flesh, or excrement produces strong sympathetic sensations, but watching people smelling vile smells does not reproduce in us the corresponding sympathetic re- sponse. Bad-smelling things are experienced in film because they look bad, or because we see that they would be disgusting to touch.

The reason smell does not translate well via a visual medium is that the visual presence of an object is not necessary for its smell to disgust. In fact we usually think of odors as sneaking up on us from some hidden source or leaking out through an orifice which should be properly closed. Nice-looking things can emit bad odors; that is what drove Swift to distraction. Things that taste bad may look at- tractive too, but then our horror is not triggered by the sight of them but by the sight of someone eating them. We see the thing chewed on and swallowed; we have, in other words, muscular actions that can be sympathetically triggered by the sight. Bad smell gives us no such means to sympathize with the person suffering the odor. And slimy things, writhing things revolting to the touch, are processed instantly as dangerous and repulsive; their touching someone else triggers shudders and cringings but they usually disgust long before that.

The visual can horrify in its own right independent of suggestions from the other senses. It is sight that processes ugliness, deformity, mutilation, and most of what we perceive as violence: gore, indig- nities, violations. The difficult question about the horror of visual ugliness and deformity is whether these ugly things or beings are horrific independently of the prospect of intimate contact with them. Are grotesquely hideous persons disgusting only to the extent that we imagine them sexually, or in some sort of intimacy with us or others? I think the answer is no, in spite of the rich medieval romance theme of the loathly hag which has continued in various reincarna- tions unto the present. We find the hideously ugly disgusting and horrifying quite independently of sexual fantasy or fears of intimacy. The visual has its own aesthetic and consequent moral standard which if breached can evoke horror, disgust, pity, and fear. It is not that we fear intimacy with them or their intimacies with others; it is that we know how we see them and could not bear to be thus seen. The horror then is not in being intimate with them (though that too), but in being them.

Deformity and ugliness are further unsettling because they are disordering; they undo the complacency that comes with disattendability; they force us to look and notice, or to suffer self-consciousness about not looking or not not looking. They introduce alarm and anxiety by virtue of their power to horrify and disgust. Yet there still seems to be an intractable psychological terror that ugliness and hideousness present just on sight independent of social problems of how to manage ourselves in their presence. Some sights simply evoke disgust: gore and mutilation, the effects of violence on the body, especially when these are inflicted cruelly without justification. Some- thing pre-social seems to link us to a strong sense of disgust and horror at the prospect of a body that doesn't quite look like one, either grotesquely deformed by accident or disorganized by mayhem." [AOD]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Thu Apr 30, 2015 8:55 pm

Jews, Xts., and lepers.

William Miller wrote:
"But one might distinguish a difference of emphasis between the disgusts and styles of loathing prompted by Jews and those prompted by lepers. More than lepers, who were associated with rotting flesh and cadavers, Jews were associated with excrement and menstrual blood. Such was the Christian demonization of the Jew-and the uncomprehending Christian horror of circumcision - that the Jewish male was believed to menstruate. Jewish men were thus feminized and all women were thus Judaized to make both more disgusting, more dangerous than they had been before. Without pushing the distinction too far one might notice that physical disgust at appalling sights and odors of lepers led to a belief in their moral loathsomeness; whereas the Jew's assumed moral loathsomeness led to a belief that his body must then be as disfigured as his soul. So the Jew was believed to stink. He smelled of the excrement that was the true substance of the money he lent; he smelled of sex and women because of his diabolical desire for Christian flesh and blood. He was Dracula before Count Dracula, that eastern European with hooked nose, was ever embodied in the Western imagination.

If the doctrine of transubstantiation compelled Christians to eat a Jew and drink his blood then Christians repaid the favor by imagining that Jews were doing the same to Christians. The doctrine also puts each communicant in the self-befouling condition of the leper in Eadmer's story of Anselm. One must ingest holy contaminants-blood and flesh-to be cured and saved. One must eat that which no one would eat in his right mind, or right state of health. The materialism of the doctrine is remarkable in its implicit admission of the doubtfulness of purely spiritual cures.

In a moral and spiritual regime in which humility was a virtue and in which suffering had moral value in its own right, the leper could actually be envied. Precisely because he revolted you, because he raised your gorge, because he smelled and was grotesquely ugly, you feared he stood well ahead of you in the race for future bliss. His hell, or at least his purgatory, was in this life. Yours was still to come unless you could degrade yourself as fortune had degraded the leper. His condition was a goal to strive for because he was so offensive to your sensibility. One monk in order to expiate his sins prayed for leprosy. His prayer was answered. Inevitably, God seems more willing to grant our prayers requesting victory in negative lotteries than in positive ones. And if God didn't give you the disease you could immerse yourself in the horror of the disgusting by caring for lepers, by kissing them and washing and dressing their running sores. No one, however, envied the Jew or prayed to become one. The loathsomeness of the Jew gained him nothing but pogroms and death; the leper's got him eternal life.

The quest for humility, however, eventually led to an escalating competition for greater humility because an easy humility was in- evitably suspect as not being enough of a test of virtue. And when you could look with loathing at lepers you knew in your heart that you were not cast down as they were, that you were not looked upon as they were, and that nothing could ever be more humiliating than to be seen as you had seen them. The quest for humility, the struggle to show oneself with absolutely no pride in one's wealth, beauty, rank, made for some strange behaviors and perverse incentives. Above all it led to a cultivation of the disgusting, to that behavior which if successful would so revolt those who might be tempted to admire your humility as to send them running away with their hands over their mouths. Without the notion of the disgusting firmly in place, the strategies for humility and self-abasement would have made no sense.

Disgust, as embodied and visceral a passion as there is, comes to support a metaphysics of the physical in a way shame did not, in spite of shame's connection to female sexuality and bodily decorum. Disgust is at home with the politics of pollution and purity, and so it is hardly surprising that Christianity, with its obsessive anti-sexuality and great ambivalence toward the body, should have made disgust central to the faith by adopting the doctrine of the Real Presence in the Eucharist.

Medieval and Renaissance disgust, if not completely driven by unrelenting misogyny, surely is never very far from it, gives way to syphilis and both diseases were felt to be linked with sexual voracity and thus with women and Jews. There rages a veritable epidemic of disgust, loathing, and self-loathing: hatred of sex, of growth, of ripeness and aging, hatred of life itself, all of which is vile and loathsome because it must truck with decay, putrefaction, and death. But because sex and reproduction are at the core of this depressing economy of disgust, women bear the brunt of it. It takes a lot of wishful thinking to see women as carving out their own productive and positive spaces within this poisoned atmosphere. The price is the destruction of her body.

The witches' brew, a grossly comic indulgence in the horror of disgust and the uncanny, mixes up a recipe of the disgusting that needs little translation to trigger the sentiments in us that it was meant to trigger back then. It rounds up what for us are the usual suspects: the foreign, the Other, gruesome images of birth, death, growth, and decay; suggestions of sexual surfeit, standing water, cloacae, sliminess, dismemberment and deformity, bodily orifices, even a Jew who desecrates the Host:

Liver of blaspheming Jew
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Slivered in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-delivered by a drab. (Macbeth 4.1.26-31)" [AOD]


Nietzsche wrote:
"It was suffering and impotence - that created all afterworlds; and that brief madness of happiness that only the greatest sufferer experiences.

      Weariness, which wants to reach the ultimate with a single leap, with a death-leap, a poor ignorant weariness, which no longer wants even to want: that created all gods and afterworlds.

      Believe me, my brothers!  It was the body that despaired of the body - that touched the ultimate walls with the fingers of its deluded spirit.

      It was the sick and dying who despised the body and the earth and invented the things of heaven and the redeeming drops of blood: but even these sweet and dismal poisons they took from the body and the earth!

      They wanted to escape from their misery and the stars were too far for them.  Then they sighed: "Oh, if only there were heavenly paths by which to creep into another existence and into happiness!" - then they contrived for themselves their secret ways and their draughts of blood!

      Now they thought themselves transported from their bodies and from this earth, these ingrates.  Yet to what do they own the convulsion and joy of their transport?  To their bodies and to this earth." [TSZ, Afterworldsmen]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Fri May 01, 2015 11:35 pm

Miller wrote:
"The sympathetic identifications borne by disgust do not always, by themselves, clarify the moral order. Consider the relation of disgust to the vice of cruelty. Cruelty generates a double disgust in the impartial spectator, that is, once we recover from the shock it can give. First, the perpetrator is looked on with fear and loathing, with the most intense kind of disgust and horror. Then a second disgust focuses on the degraded victim, whether bloody and disfigured or morally annihilated in the disgrace of having been so abused. Our pity and desire to relieve the suffering of the victim are inhibited by the same emotion that compels us to execrate the person responsible for the plight. Thus does cruelty compromise the impartial observer, who is caught up in such a superfluity of disgust that he is paralyzed. The observer must now come to feel acutely his own inadequacy in the face of such evil. The disgust directed against the violator is raised purely by what we would recognize as moral failure; the disgust directed against the victim, however, imputes moral failing to him as a consequence of his having been rendered ugly, deformed, undignified, and disgusting by victimhood. The victim is held to some moral account for being so degraded unless the victim has the peculiar status we accord to infants and children for whom the demands of dignity are largely suspended. This is some of the cost of disgust's inevitable association with shame. Witnessing another's shame disgusts us. And this is why shaming is such a powerful sanction: shame is the internalization of the spectator's disgust and contempt.

If disgust gets twisted upon itself in the face of cruelty, indignation pushes it back onto the right track. When disgust is operating in tandem with indignation it helps create a kind of supercharged in- dignation which may be indicated by outrage or something akin to horror. Indignation forces disgust to aid in the cause of justice by motivating action against the offender; without indignation disgust too often withdraws or averts the gaze or is caught in the double bind described.

Erving Goffman has described in detail how the ordinary, the routine, and the normal generate social anticipations which we then transform into "normative expectations, into righteously presented demands," into, that is, moral claims on others not to upset the smooth-running routine we feel entitled to count on.

Morality in this setting becomes less a matter of guilt and conscience than of how we impress the people who observe us, supposing their demands on us to be broadly justifiable. This morality is largely a shame morality, in which our good standing depends on achieving and maintaining competence through the whole range of standards by which characteris judged. shame morality is more expansive than guilt morality; it cares about what you are as well as what you do; it cares about what you don't do and what you can't do.

Disgust is a recognition of danger to our purity. But it is more. The mere sensation of it also involves an admission that we did not escape contamination. The experience ofdisgust, in other words, does not itself purify us in the way the experience of anger or indignation can. Disgust signals the need to undertake further labors of purification. It is thus that disgust does not do its moral work so as to allow us unambivalent pleasure in our relative moral superiority to the disgusting other. Disgust admits our own vulnerability and compromise even as it constitutes an assertion of superiority. The feeling of contempt, in contrast, is cleaner and more pleasurable. We might see this as one of disgust's moral virtues. Disgust does not move us to condemn for pure pleasure because it always makes us bear some of the costs of condemnation. Disgust never allows us to escape clean.

It underpins the sense of despair that impurity and evil are contagious, endure, and take everything down with them." [AOD]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Fri May 01, 2015 11:36 pm

Miller wrote:
"Although the facial expressions for contempt and disgust can often do service on behalf of the other, we usually associate the one-sided upturned lip, the kind of smirking half smile, with contempt, whereas in disgust the upper lip is retracted symmetrically. The half smile is simply not available for disgust while the gape with protruding tongue or the outward curl of the lower lip that often accompanies interjections like yuck or ecch is not available to contempt. Most contempt expressions have a kind of one-sidedness to them, whether it be in the half smile, the tilt or turn of the head from the vertical, or the kind of sneer that accompanies the tongue click usually represented in English by "tsk," articulated by drawing the breath inward as the tongue is positioned to make the "ts" sound. Even when the head is tilted back and the eyes cast down in an expression of disdain, the eyes invariably look to the side rather than straight down. Disgust expressions tend toward bilateral symmetry.

The half-smile, the sardonic sneer, the head tilts, that accompany contempt evidence a close connection between contempt and the ironic. One senses the rightness of the coupling of irony with contempt, whereas disgust seems to undo ironic possibility. One does not get queasy or convulsively recoil in irony; disgust is too closely connected with horror to engage in conventional ironies." [AOD]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Fri May 01, 2015 11:39 pm

Miller wrote:
"The gender model is better at explaining certain styles of hierarchy than others. It does much better with anti-Semitism than with class and some forms of race hatred. The Jew is not threatening as a male but in the way of females. His fabled sexual prowess and voracious sexual appetite work to feminize not masculinize him, in the sense that he is capable of copulating continuously without the usual restorative delays. The foetor judaicus was partly the smell of filthy lucre and feces, but also partly the smell of menstrual blood, a belief sustained by the convergence of Christian male fears of Jews, circumcision, and women.

So far so good. But the feminization of the worker and perhaps the black man has to be marked rather differently if it is to be found at all. One suspects rather that what stinks about workers and blacks is their threatening style of masculinity: sweat and excrement, the smells of lowliness and toil. These men are hardly feminized in their subordination; in fact their manner and smell reveal the feminization of the men above them. The model the civilized and dominant males use to subordinate the male worker is to make him childlike, not womanlike, a move that has the effect of transforming the civilized male into mother as much as into father. The trouble, one perceives, is that the gender game can be played to generate any result one wishes to reach.

The smell of Jews owed little to the civilizing process and its lower thresholds of disgust over bodily matters. Jews smelled to Christians before Christians used forks and handkerchiefs, before the notion of good and bad taste had become current. The advance of civility and refined taste, however, did help somewhat to transform the coarse but bearable odor of the peasant into the more dangerous odor of the urban worker who bore more than his share of the stench of crowded urban spaces. But it was the advent of democratic principles that finally made ill manners and vulgarity not just a source of comedy but of terror and threat to those above. And that's when the working class began to reek seriously, either of filth or of cologne." [AOD]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun May 03, 2015 12:29 pm

Winfried Menninghaus wrote:
"For Shakespeare, sex disgust and sex nausea are the “natural” fate of male desire. The highest praise he can accord Cleopatra thus centers on her ability to avoid sexual satiety—and hence satietory disgust—through the art of endless variation. As one commentator puts it, “For the lover of Cleopatra there is no sexual disillusionment, no depression or depletion, and every time is as the first time: ‘Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale/Her infinite vari- ety: other women cloy/The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry/Where most she satisfies.’” “Disgust satiates,” it suppresses all appetite, Kant would say later; but contrary to Shakespeare’s portrayal of Cleopatra, he is in fact subscribing to the conventional motto for avoiding satiety: “abstain or infinitize foreplay.”

The recipe of “autonomous” aesthetics is no different: it propagates a “prospective” pleasure that can be infinitely elevated, a kind of everlasting Vor-Lust—or more exactly: an endless foreplay that turns into an endless afterplay without any excess or peak in between. Such a diet alone offers protection from satiation, and consequently from disgust at the “highest pleasure,” “pure beauty” and “unadulterated sweetness.” It alone prevents an immanent transformation of the beautiful into a vomitive. The aesthetic provides the unique kind of pleasure that by its own rules (which are not identical with the nature of the beautiful, but rather subject to a dietetic regime) conforms to the law prescribing exclusively non-finite forms of fulfillment. Aesthetic pleasure is aesthetic only to the extent that it inherently respects this law, whereas the other types of pleasure have no built-in features through which they can structurally avoid the self-destructive turn upon reaching the point of satiation.

With utmost precision, Lessing’s famous rule of the “fruitful moment” [fruchtbarer Augenblick] renders the anthropological-aesthetic principle of avoiding satiation into an artistic imperative. It prescribes always avoiding the “climax” within “the full course of an affect.” “The imagination” is only granted “free play” through such a ban on maximum satiation, which enables us to “add all the more” in imagination, or “thinking.” Lessing promptly spells out the dangerous sensation his rule is meant to avoid: “that finally we feel disgusted with the entire object.” Aesthetic pleasure, then, does not allow an exhaustive, maximally fulfilling representation; it requires, instead, an economy of reserve: the retention of open possibilities for intensification, or of a “stairway” always offering another step to climb. The new discipline of aesthetics calls for virtuosos of infinite foreplay. This infinitely open process of fulfillment implies an equally infinite process of nonfulfillment. The aesthetic realm is thus grounded in an abysmal assumption: the beautiful tends in itself to become disgusting, hence to pass over into its extreme opposite; by virtue of its innate features, it is threatened with the danger of unexpectedly revealing itself as something vomitive. Laconically, the early Kant confirmed that “the very thing which is beautiful evokes disgust” (die Sache selbst vereckelt die da schön ist)—unless, Kant adds, it is mixed with something different. And in another passage:

[The beautiful] causes the soul as it were to melt in a soft sentiment, and by slackening the nerves sets all the feelings into a gentler emotion which, however, if carried too far, is transformed into lassitude, satiety, and disgust.

Finally, Kant diagnosed an “admixture of disgust” in every strong “enjoyment of the senses”—with one remarkable exception and outer limit: “Under con- ditions of good health, the greatest enjoyment of the senses not accompanied by any admixture of disgust, is rest after labor.” The Protestant ethics of this sentence are deeply inscribed within the very foundations of aesthetics, namely in theories of the beautiful and of aesthetic pleasure. In Kant’s “rest after labor,” labor resounds ad infinitum; rather than comprising an autonomous, sensual self-presence, the sensual enjoyment of this “rest” is also, always, the enjoyment of “work” that has been accomplished.

At the same time, disgust at beauty itself opens a perspective upon the category of kitsch: According to Adorno, kitsch is that type of the beautiful that “contradicts” itself precisely due to “the absence of its own opposite,” or that turns into something “ugly,” because it is not contaminated by something dissonant and other than itself.

Something in the beautiful itself demands supplementation through a not-beautiful: a contamination blocking the disgusting satiety that arises, precisely, from the purely and unadulterated beautiful. From their very inception, both the emerging “discipline” of aesthetics and the classical ideal of art respond to this danger of pure beauty. Winckelmann formulated an analogous rule:
A beautiful face is pleasing, but will be more stirring when endowed, through a certain reflective bearing, with a quality of seri- ousness. . . . All stimuli achieve duration through enquiry and reflec- tion, and that which is discretely pleasing invites deeper study. A beauty endowed with seriousness will never leave us completely sated and satisfied, but rather with the expectation of ever-new enticements; such is the particular distinction of Raphael’s beauties, and those of the old masters.

Already several years before similar reflections by Mendelssohn, Lessing, and Herder, Winckelmann had expressly named this satietory value Ekel, touching discretely on sexual disgust as its paradigm:

All delights, including those robbing the greatest number of human beings of that unrecognized great treasure, time, gain their endurance and protect us from Ekel and satiety, to the extent that they engage our understanding. Merely sensual feelings, however, are only skin deep, and have little effect on the understanding.

For a painting whose charms exhaust themselves in “a short time,” Winckelmann occasionally also uses the metaphor of that “lower sense” constituting the disgust-sense par excellence: such a painting “appears to have been made for the sense of smell.” Sensations of smell, taste, and touch are fleeting, they are bound to the here and now, and cannot be reflectively rendered infinite. Winckelmann’s postulate that “a painting must permanently please” can thus only be satisfied by those senses capable of establishing inner connections with the “understanding.” Along with transcending the sensory experience of disgust, this rule transcends the field of pure sensory experience in general. From now on, the aesthetic enters into narrow cooperation with the reflective understanding: senses and understanding are configured in such a manner that a virtual and nonterminable process of “information enrichment” unfolds. As a thoroughly finite defense reaction, as spontaneous as it is brief and as violent as it is decisive, disgust allows no room for reflection: all the less so for a type of reflection affirming its own nonterminability and undecidability. If the insertion of infinite reflection into aesthetic experience is one of the cardinal innovations from Baumgarten to Kant and Friedrich Schlegel, vomiting from disgust serves as that innovation’s negative definitional model: an indigestible block of nonreflective finitude and decision.

To a considerable extent, the often-conjured inexhaustibility and indeterminacy of aesthetic experience can thus be read as a remedy to the radical finiteness of disgust, since disgust not only defines and threatens the aesthetic realm from the out- side, but, due to beauty’s self-sickening tendency, has always already infiltrated its interior structure. This prominent feature of the new aesthetics inaugurated by Baumgarten furnishes an urgently needed antivomitive: an apotropaic response to the disgust of satiation that results from the unmixed and uncontaminated beautiful.

How is it conceivable that in art, unpleasant events in themselves spark pleasure—and not simply their distancing as something unreal? And further: why must art, in its own interest, not limit itself to beautiful “objects” when aspiring to furnish a pleasure as intense and enduring as possible?

The theory of the violently agitated passions in the tradition of Dubos and Burke ascribes the same salutary effect to tragedy’s artificial horrors, and to the real ones at work in gladiator combat and gruesome public executions: both forms of horror agitate our mind to maximal degree; they thus generate a powerful self-apperception considered pleasant and beneficiary since it strengthens our will to self-preservation, guarding us from sluggishness, bore- dom, and—in extreme cases—suicidal predilections. The artful horrors provide such pleasing effects to a lesser degree than the real ones; but they do not pay for these effects with the sort of scruples coming into play, for instance, through the deadly results of the gladiator spectacle. This is, in effect, a hard theory of excitatory appetite: of an abstract hunger for stimuli that embraces, precisely, ugly and horrible phenomena as all the more durable sensations for the receptive sensual and spiritual apparatus. At that theory’s side, we find the more complex theory of mixed sensations, developed exclusively to account for the horrors of art. No matter if the latter theory, in its fine and manifold ram- ifications, is based on a successive or a simultaneous mix of pleasant and unpleasant feelings: in either case, it leads to the paradoxical result that “a mix of pleasure and displeasure . . . is more stimulating than purest enjoyment.

In the first place, horrible objects furnish us with particularly violent stimuli for our perceptive apparatus; in the second place, they fur- nish us with the joyful relief of these objects being “merely” artful illusion. In contrast, pleasant objects generate only moderate agitation of the passions; and furthermore, awareness of their nonreal nature rather produces disappointment. Or as Mendelssohn put it:

Our fear is seldom stripped of all hope; horror stirs all our capacities to evade the danger; rage is linked with the desire to take revenge, sadness with the pleasant representation of past happiness; and pity cannot be separated from the tender feelings of love and affection. The soul has the freedom of sometimes dallying with the enjoyable aspects of a passion, sometimes with the repugnant, thus according itself a mix of pleasure and displeasure that is more stimulating than purest enjoyment. Little self-attentiveness is required to observe this phenomenon everywhere; for what other reasons would those enraged prefer their rage and angry people prefer their anger to all the joyful images they are offered for the sake of comfort?" [Disgust]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun May 03, 2015 12:30 pm

Menninghaus wrote:
"In the case of disgust, the contribution of pleasure is overwhelmed by the accretion of displeasure:

The most well-rendered depiction of an unclean old woman emphasizing more her repulsive than her ridiculous side will elicit a horror [Schauder]—whether or not in painting, I won’t dare say, but certainly in poetry—that can be neither balanced off by pleasure at the discovery of similitude nor eradicated by the feeling that it is a fictive sensation. The more imitation succeeds in arriving at the truth—the more accurately and powerfully the disgusting features gain expression—the more violently do they revolt us.

The argument has been often repeated since antiquity: the experience of (artistic) beauty requires distance; paintings, poems, and musical composi- tions are neither tasted nor smelled nor touched. Even a number of languages acknowledge this distinction: rather than “tasting beautiful” or “smelling beautiful,” they prescribe “tasting good” and “smelling good.” Disgust figures primarily as an experience formed from the senses of contiguity or proximity: something tastes disgusting (the eighteenth century’s standard example: excessive sweetness); something feels disgusting (favorite examples: excessively soft; flabby; pulpy-gluey); something smells disgusting (smell here possessing a wider radius for action than touch or taste, but demanding an as it were physical entrance of the “object” into the sense-organ). What excites disgust must be nearby—indeed this proximity is an essential part of the feeling of disgust. As Aurel Kolnai indicates, it is “not simply the source but also an accompanying object of the feeling of disgust,” forming “the bridge between [its] catalyst and the subject-person affected by it”; for this reason, proximity assumes “a key position in the problematic of disgust.” Kant himself already put it quite succinctly: the disgusting “presses itself upon us.

And although Kant expressly breaks with the rationalistic model of representational transparency, he still offers his own variant of the time-honored topos ars est celare artem: “Nature, we say, was beautiful [schön] when it simultaneously looked like art; and art can be called fine art [schöne Kunst] only if we are conscious that it is art while it still looks to us like nature.” The lower senses rob all such exchange-grounded models of illusion, which define the formal structure of aesthetic experience, of their underlying premise. For they invest no differential value whatsoever in the poles which are to change sides (i.e., nature and art, or reality and fiction):

Yet I believe there is a far more important difference between disgust and the unpleasant sensations that please in imitation. Representations of fear, sadness, horror, pity, and so forth can only prompt displeasure in so far as we take the evil for reality. Hence they can dissolve into pleasurable sensations with the recognition that they are an artful deception. Due to the law of imagination, the repellent sensation of disgust, however, emerges from an idea in the soul alone, whether or not the [causative] object be held for real. What help, then, could it be for the injured mind [Gemüt] when the art of imitation betrays itself, be it even in the most flagrant way? Its displeasure did not result from the assumption that the evil is real, but from the latter’s mere idea, and this is really present. The sensations of disgust thus are always nature, never imitation.

Aesthetic illusion, then, confuses the difference between art and reality, while disgust makes the poles completely collapse." [Disgust]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun May 03, 2015 3:35 pm

I'm taken to this William Miller. Who is he?
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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun May 03, 2015 4:19 pm

Supra-Aryanist wrote:
I'm taken to this William Miller. Who is he?

Someone even whose bibliography is so good and invaluable, it becomes another book within a book...

Start with this [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun May 03, 2015 4:42 pm

Supra-Aryanist wrote:
I'm taken to this William Miller. Who is he?


His Anatomy of disgust is availble on kickass torrent site for free.

The bibligraphy seems to be here, but I have not checked it out yet, [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.].


edit: sorry , Im not sure of the rules to links posting about where you can DL free books. I hope its OK.
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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun May 03, 2015 5:09 pm

Scouted for a free copy, but to no avail. I even offered in exchange a book or chocolate
I've had unfavorable experience with torrents.
No biggie. Might as well make use of these Amazon gift cards.
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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun May 03, 2015 6:43 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun May 03, 2015 6:53 pm

Anfang wrote:
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Damn. Thanks, mates.
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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Sun May 03, 2015 8:18 pm

A short, but significant, parable on the choice of vegetarianism in apropos of disgust:

A patient once asked his or her physician whether or not he or she should stop eating meat, as it was a popular and suggestive fashion.
Doc then said: "Would you eat cat or dog?"
"No!" the patient recoiled with consternation, "that's disgusting."
"Well," said Doc, "when you have similar sentiments with other types of meat, then stop eating meat."
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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Mon May 04, 2015 7:06 pm

Disgust and the beautiful form.


Breker. Flora Futura.

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Meninghaus wrote:
"As Winckelmann formulates his old-new corporeal ideal, the “masterpieces” of Greek art

"show us a skin that is not taut, but smoothly drawn over healthy flesh. The latter thus fills out the skin without fatty bulges, and—in every bending of the fleshy parts—follows its movement in a har- monious manner. The skin never projects, as on our bodies, certain small wrinkles separately from the flesh. In the same manner, mod- ern works distinguish themselves from the Greek through a multi- tude of small impressions, and through far too many and far too noticeable little furrows. . . . The probability always offers itself here that in the form of the beautiful Greek bodies, as well as in the works of their masters, there was more unity of the whole structure, a nobler union of the parts, a richer measure of fullness, without the skinny tensions and without the many caved-in hollows of our bodies."

Noninterruption is thus the main feature of beautiful “lines”—both singular lines and those of the entire body:

“The form of true beauty has uninterrupted portions. The profile of antique youthful heads is based on this thesis. . . . This rule implies, as well, that neither chin nor cheeks, interrupted by dimples or pockmarks, are adequate to the form of true beauty.” Herder came up with an incomparable expression for this continuum of the skin. He called it das sanft verblasene Leibhafte, the “softly blown corporeal”: the corporeal as something softly blown like glass, or in other words a “beautiful line” that, in all its variations, is “never violently interrupted, never disagreeably forced out of its way” (nie widrig vertrieben), and never “knows anything of corners or angles.” Among the many meanings of verblasen, its use as a technical term is here specially revealing: “to cloak the objects with . . . as it were, a fog, French effumer, Italian sfumare.” In sculpture, a soft sfumato brings about a sort of compre- hensive makeup for the skin, toning down all porosity, all surface variations. Or as Herder puts it, the skin becomes covered “with a palpable plaster.” Every fold, every dimple and hollow, every bodily corner (every Ecke), would be eckel. Such flaws would impair the smooth, harmonious surface as “dis- agreeably” “as does every pock-mark or fatal irregularity.” With a zeal that could easily match the sales-pitch of modern cosmetics representatives, the “classicists” extirpate every pit, pucker, wart, and fold. A few examples:

in images whose beauties were of a lofty cast, the Greek artists never allowed a dimple to break the uniformity of the chin’s surface.

Bad painters, who out of weakness cannot attain the beautiful, seek it in warts and wrinkles.

Wrinkles and folds are ruined regions, and each such swelling is more painful an illness than a bloated skin . . . might ever be.

Many of the wrinkles that are the necessary accompaniments of age are omitted.

Again and again, Winckelmann praises the Greek “nature” for its resistance to “smallpox scars.” His sensitivity to “fatal irregularities” also includes body parts “that usually have gristle”:

It is common doctrine in our academies that the ancients really departed from the true contour of some parts of the body; and that at the collarbone, elbows, knees, and wherever much cartilage nor- mally lies, the skin seems simply to be drawn over the bones, with- out revealing in a truly distinct manner the depths and hollows that the apophyses and cartilage form at the joints.

For his part, Herder denounces the gristly deformation of smooth skin-surfaces as “unnatural excrescences” (unnatürliche Auswüchse) explicitly placing them in the disgust paradigm’s horizon through the metaphor of “creeping worms”: “these veins on the hand, this finger-cartilage, these bones in the knee must be handled delicately, dressed up so that they blend in with the whole— otherwise veins become creeping worms, and knuckles extruding excres- cences.”

That, Herder indicates, is “the basis of their disgusting nature. . . . It is as if they do not belong to the one and integral whole of the body; they are extra-essential accretions, or detached parts . . . like . . . an early death.”14 This is a fantastic anatomy, rich in bizarre details. The violence of its presumptions underscores that what is here at stake is a specific, classical-aesthetic encoding of the body, one rigorously applying—like any sort of binary encoding— the same distinctions to all parts of the body: the distinction between smoothness and roughness, and that between wholeness and “detachments.”

The desired result of this operation, the “softly blown corporeal,” is not an inclu- sive but rather an exclusive whole: one whose “uninterrupted” completeness is based on detachments of presumed “detachments”: on the body’s exclusion from itself. Everything disgusting solicits an ethical reaction: this thing here—the “crawling worms,” anticipating our presence as stinking, rotting bodies—should not be, at least not for us and in our presence. It should go away. The theoretical equivalent of practically avoiding the disgusting is defining it “away” either as “unnatural excrescence,” or simply as a disease. Both Winckel- mann and Herder present their highly stylized ideal bodies as the quintessence of “health,” born from a “happy engendering” and formed “through bodily exercise.”

The “callipaedian” doctrine shows Winckelmann “how careful the Greeks were to engender beautiful children. . . .
To further this intention, they also instituted beauty competitions. They were held in Elis: the prize consisted in weapons.” “Beautiful children,” “beautiful lineage,” “beautiful nature”: whoever or whatever did not correspond to this eugenics of the beautiful—put euphorically: this “physical psychology of paradise”—was promptly stamped with rubrics of weakness, incompletion, and illness. It is striking how pitiless the Classicists marked physical defects, illnesses, and “misbirths” as disgusting. At the same time, the selection of what is beautiful often has a gymnastic-ascetic rather than an erotic tenor. In this manner, the beautifully engendered and naked Greek can be smoothly imagined in the form of a naked American, the hunting Indian:

"Look at the swift Indian pursuing the deer on foot: how speed- ily his juices circulate, how pliant and quick are his nerves and muscles, how buoyant the whole frame of his body. This is the way Homer fashions his heroes for us, portraying Achilles mainly through speed of foot."

From such exercises, bodies received the great and manly con- tours with which the Greek masters endowed their statues, without haziness and surplus fat. The young Spartans had to present themselves naked to the ephors every ten days; the latter imposed a stricter diet on those who had started to put on fat. Indeed, one of Pythago- ras’s precepts was to guard against surplus weight.

The rule of contours “without haziness and surplus fat” completes the taboo on “fatal irregularities” of the skin and limbs through an avoidance-rule for the “healthy flesh,” over which the skin is meant to be softly stretched: not one gram of fat too many, no waste or excess; but also: no plunge into gauntness, which would itself be punished with ugly “hollows.” Located between these extremes is the “noblest contour” of the Greek, “set as if at the top of a hair.” If we take account, as well, of the “strict diet among those subject to Pythagoras’ laws,” meaning vegetarianism, then three pillars of a juncture between ideal of beauty and politics of health become present: a triad appearing to have more followers now than in the age of Winckelmann and Herder." [Disgust]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Mon May 04, 2015 7:09 pm

Henry Picou. Venus.

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Meninghaus wrote:
"Wrinkles, puckers, warts, and gristle are the least of the “revolting” threats to the uninterrupted skin-line of the softly-blown body. For obvious reasons, the physical interior, the inner organs, and all processes of resorption and excretion do not only remain invisible in a field focusing exclusively on the beautiful facade; more to the point, they are among the “extra-essential accretions” to be painstakingly avoided. For Winckelmann, ideally beautiful bodies are not only able to dispense with the disturbingly excrescent “nerves and sinews,” they also have “no need of those parts destined for the nutrition of our bodies.

And this explains Epicurus’ view of the shape of the gods, to whom he gives a body, but an apparent body, and blood, but apparent blood—a remark Cicero finds obscure and incomprehensible.”The aestheticians of the 1750s and 1760s, however, found the same remark to be as highly illuminating and to the point as their own “as-ifs.” For they thought of a body’s beauty precisely as a self-idealizing sensuality—a sensuality appearing at a maximum degree (as Plato put it, ekphanéstaton23), hence leading to the edge of the sensual, indeed opening a vista beyond the edge. It was for the sake of such immanent self-transcendence of the aesthetic that the integrity of uncovered skin had to be preserved most strictly. Otherwise, that maximal value of phenomenality alone allowing the beautiful body an “expression of aesthetic ideas” (Kant),24 or an expression of “soul,” would not be attainable. For this reason, the aes- thetically pleasing body has no interior, hence allows no dissection or anatomy: “for thinking beings, art’s highest subject is man, or [more precisely] his external surface alone.”

Aesthetics and anatomy, which boom simultaneously in the second half of the eighteenth century, are thus opposing disciplines. According to one of Diderot’s reflections, “peeking under the skin” is “highly dangerous,” having “ruined more artists than it has perfected.”Goethe confirmed this rule ex negativo. In his “Outline of a Comparative Anatomy” he finds himself forced to expressly defend the sciences devoted to the inner body, “dissection as well as physiology,” against the aesthetic reaction of disgust. With regard to the skin’s pure and uninterrupted surfaces, these sciences descend into a void: what appeared “as if ” a body turns out to be an “ethereal” and hybrid “creature” of “supersensual sufficiency”—a creature that had simply been “cloaked on its outside . . . with a human form.”

In the realm of the ideally beautiful, when not only the body’s excretions, but literally its inner organs become visible on the outside, what is at play can only be the disgusting in the service of the monstrous or ridiculous. Thus Lessing’s example from the “Hottentott Tales,” when the protagonists have “wound fresh intestines around their feet and arms.”

Herder’s troping of the softly-blown corporeal likewise implies a hollowing-out of the body. Among the meanings of German verblasen, in the sense of blowing fluid glass, one is here worth noting: “to consume through blowing: the entire glass-mass has already been blown into all sorts of bottles etc.”

In this sense blowing devours its material, transforming it into beautiful hollow forms; the aesthetic body resulting from such blowing is a hollow bottle—or a glass puppet without an inner corporeal life. Carrying ad extremum Winckelmann’s notion of ideally beautiful bodies “inflated as by a gentle breath,” Herder ventures to speak of (marble) “sheaths” (or “veils”—his word is Hüllen), “tender as a soap-bubble.” Such imaginary orality and airiness of the statue—its beautiful stony form as an effect of “breathing” and “blowing”—realizes disgust’s avoidance: through a consequent sublimation of all materiality and scripturality on and beneath the skin of the beautiful.

As the “expression”—or Ausdruck—of the beautiful figure, “soul” (Seele) and “spirit” (Geist) are meant to be visible in an invisible manner. On the other hand, the digestive and excretory organs are meant to be invisible in a visible manner. The figure must look as if it has no corporeal interior; put otherwise, it must appear in a manner necessarily suspending any thought of such interiority. This rendering visible of an inherent invisibility fuels the determination to focus on a phantasmatic inner corporeal life of statues. At stake in this apparently paradoxical logic is a different type of invisibility: one that accompanies and governs the sculpture’s visibility like a shadow. Apparently, this second type of invisibility can be established only at the expense of the first type. To realize this effect, the statue sets in motion a game of changing sides and of mutual exclusion: the soul as the invisible “inside” can only become visible when—in a manner that is itself visible—the invisible corpo- real inside has been eviscerated.

The topos of “breathing” and “blowing” regulates the transition from one invisibility to the other: as a description of the beautiful fleshly line, it sublimates all “corners” and all the resistance of bodily material; and at the same time “breath” is itself a synonym, rich in tradition, for the soul—a metaphorical representation of its peculiar presence.

Still, even in the case of the beautiful hollow body, those zones leading to the body’s inside on the body’s outside remain ineffaceable: body apertures are the true skandalon of both “classical” aesthetics and politics of the body. They are the signified of disgust, thus requiring elaborate regulation." [Disgust]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Mon May 04, 2015 7:11 pm

William Bouguereau. La tolette de Venus.

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Meninghaus wrote:
"It is the case that “ripened” youth, indeed even the “eternal youth” of the gods, is the ideal age for the Classical body. Here as well, that body con- forms with today’s most up to date imperatives for beauty. “In the case of young children,” Winckelmann explains, “the concept of a beautiful form does not actually come into play: we say that a child is beautiful and healthy; but the expression of form already comprises the maturity of a certain number of years.” Such ripe youth, however, is not only aesthetically “blissful” by virtue of its roughly identical distance between birth and death, or even because it “hides the ever unfinished nature of the body.”

Herder maintains just the opposite: “eternal duration” falls to the “mummy” alone, to the rigidity of the “grave” and “doing nothing.” The “perfection” inherent in youthful “blossoming” rests precisely in its positive incompletion—its nonidentity with itself. It is not simply a Being—or even merely a telos—out of and in itself: something that would seem to apply more aptly to our contemporary ideology of normatively enduring youth. Rather, it is always also a promise—a “view” onto something still outstanding. Herder refers to a “view of a laughing world” and to the “beautiful idea of hope” as a performative correlate of the beautiful body.

In this manner, the “forms of beautiful youth” leave room for charging the Apollonian perfection of the figure with a highly dynamic temporality, indeed to defigure all its apparent stability:

"The forms of beautiful youth resemble the unity of the surface of the sea, which at some distance appears smooth and still, like a mirror, although constantly in movement with its heaving swell. The soul, though a simple being, brings forth at once, and in an instant, many different ideas; so it is with the beautiful youthful outline, which appears simple, and yet at the same time has infinitely differ- ent variations. . . . The forms of a beautiful body are determined by lines the center of which is constantly changing, and . . . has a stationary point in our sex still less than in the female."

The classical aesthetics does not simply avoid birth and death, with the concomitant disgusting visions of a prefigurative becoming and a decomposition into stinking corruption. Instead, it attempts to inscribe both, as it were, “at once, and in an instant,” upon the beautiful body. To be sure, this inscription takes a distinctly moderate form: for the defigurative infinitization of a particular fruitful moment shortly before maximal articulation is actually aimed at overcoming every disgustatory value—even disgust at the “merely beautiful” itself. Despite all vibration in the smallest detail, this eternity of beautiful youth is averse to decisive external alterations. It does not wish to endure birth and death as its other— but rather, through a process of infinitesimalization, to incorporate them into its own confinium. Apollo remains Apollo, Venus Venus. The extreme counterpole of their eternity is not represented by the gradual figurative transformation from birth to death, but by the abrupt metamorphosis in Ovid’s sense." [Disgust]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Mon May 04, 2015 7:12 pm

William Bouguereau. Venus with Doves, 1879.

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Meninghaus wrote:
"Michail Bakhtin has described a construct governed by both positive and negative rules that are opposed, point by point, to those for the aesthetic body. The “extra-essential accretions” of the one mark the positive realm of the other:

"The grotesque body is not separated from the rest of the world. It is not a closed, completed unit; it is unfinished, outgrows itself, transgresses its own limits. The stress is laid on those parts of the body that are open to the outside world, that is, the parts through which the world enters the body or emerges from it, or through which the body itself goes out to meet the world. This means that the emphasis is on the apertures or the convexities, or on various ramifications and off- shoots: the open mouth, the genital organs, the breasts, the phallus, the potbelly, the nose. The body discloses its essence as a principle of growth which exceeds its own limits only in copulation, pregnancy, childbirth, the throes of death, eating, drinking, or defecation. . . .

The age of the body is most frequently represented in immediate proximity to birth or death, to infancy or old age, to the womb or the grave, to the bosom that gives life or swallows it up. . . .
The Renaissance saw the body in quite a different light than the Middle ages, in a different aspect of its life, and a different relation to the exterior nonbodily world. As conceived by these canons, the body was first of all a strictly completed, finished product.

Furthermore, it was isolated, alone, fenced off from all other bodies. All signs of its unfinished character, of its growth and proliferation were eliminated; its protuberances and offshoots were removed, its convexities (signs of new sprouts and buds) smoothed out, its apertures closed. The ever unfinished nature of the body was hidden, kept secret; conception, pregnancy, childbirth, death throes, were almost never shown. The age represented was as far removed from the mother’s womb as from the grave, the age most distant from either threshold of individual life.

In the new bodily canon, the focus is on the individually characteristic and expressive parts of the body: the head, face, eyes, lips; on the muscular system; and on the body’s position vis-á-vis the external world."

With striking precision, the inversion of Bakhtin’s description produces the ideally beautiful body in the sense of Winckelmann, Lessing, and Herder." [Disgust]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Mon May 04, 2015 7:25 pm

What can be more disgusting than something beautiful degrading itself before the ugly; something brilliant smothering itself in shit?

The Sacher Masoch fetish of giving what he owned, to something base and vile
Degrading himself through it.

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Mon May 04, 2015 7:34 pm

Floating through the caves of [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], with its lighted stalagmites reflecting reds and greens, I was taken over by sadness when I thought about the possibility of all those formations, that took thousands of years to become what they are, could be destroyed by a vulgar imbecile with a hammer he purchased at a convenient store.
Sadness became rage, and considered the pleasure I could derive from smashing such a creature with his own hammer, after the damage had been irreparably completed.

Then, at the pit of my stomach disgust.
Like when watching a beautiful woman fornicating with a chimpanzee.
All that time it took to make her what she is, gone with one careless, vulgar, act.


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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Mon May 04, 2015 7:48 pm

Satyr wrote:
What can be more disgusting than something beautiful degrading itself before the ugly; something brilliant smothering itself in shit?

The Sacher Masoch fetish of giving what he owned, to something base and vile
Degrading himself through it.  


The difference between the ideal beauty and the erotic beauty; the latter turning into a reactionary festish against the excessive anaesthetics and fear and disgust at the sight of blood, of death as pollution and its covering up. The perversion of extreme leftists like Bataille could call disgusting travesties "affirmation of death" - as the highest affirmation of life's reality principle...

The distinction between affirmation of life and the worship of death is severed:

Meninghaus wrote:
"Pollution of the beautiful, self-mutilation, and aesthetic practices of the informe all terminate in an affirmative relation to death in its material existence: corpse and decay. Against the cosmetic struggle against death’s traces, Bataille’s “heterology”—as a “science of what is completely other”—offers a “play of man and his own decomposition.” Bizarre archaic festivals epitomize this play:

"We are far away from the savages who hung the skulls of their ancestors on greasy poles during enormous festivals, who rammed the tibia of their fathers into pig-mouths the moment the slit-throat pigs vomited waves of blood. [. . . Today,] the play of man and his own decomposition continues in the most desultory conditions, without the former ever having the courage to confront the latter. It seems we shall never be able to stand in face of the grandiose image of a decomposition whose risk, intervening with each breath, is nev- ertheless the very sense of a life that we prefer, we do not know why, to that of another whose respiration might survive us. Of this image, we only know the negative form, the soaps, the toothbrushes, and all the pharmaceutical products whose accumulation allows us to painfully escape, each day, from filth and death."" [Disgust]



Meninghaus wrote:
"Already for early Bataille, de Sade embodies “sacred” violence:

“Art . . . proceeds in this sense through successive destructions. To the extent it liberates libidinous instincts, these instincts are sadistic.”

In the field of these “instincts,” the pivotal ideal of beautiful form receives new definition: its charm now lies solely in its capacity to intensify the pleasure at its own pollution and destruction.
Henceforth, beauty is the substrate of a “filthy and glaring sacrilege” to be inflicted on it: “It seems, in fact, that desire has nothing to do with ideal beauty, or, more precisely, that it only arises in order to stain and wither beauty.”

True, beauty does construct a ban on animality, a ban transformed into form—Bataille here confirming the classical rules for disgust avoidance and the diagnoses of both Nietzsche and Freud concerning the taboo inscribed within aesthetic culture. But precisely through this process, it attracts the “transgression” of “desire.” From this idea, the later text L’érotisme (Death and Sensuality) concludes, in complete seriousness, that ugly women are “depressing” for men because they offer nothing to “sacrifice,” nothing to pollute:

Beauty is desired so that it can be befouled. Not for its own sake, but for the joy tasted in the certainty of profaning it. In sacrifice, the victim was chosen in a manner allowing his perfection to render perceptible the brutality of death. Human beauty, in the union of bodies, introduces the opposition between purest humanity and the hideous animality of the organs. . . . For a man, there is nothing more depressing than the ugliness of a woman, from whom the ugliness of the organs or the sexual act does not emerge. Beauty’s importance primarily resides in the assumption that ugliness cannot be befouled, and that befouling is the very essence of eroticism.


Self-mutilation is an additional channel for the transgressive violence of desire. Bataille aligns Vincent van Gogh’s severing of his own ear with ritual self-inflicted injuries in sacrifices and initiations. He celebrates the “radical transformation” made possible through such acts:

Such an action would be characterized by the fact that it would have the power to liberate heterogeneous elements and to break the habitual homogeneity of the individual, in the same way that vomiting would be opposed to its opposite, the communal eating of food. Sacrifice considered in its essential phase would only be the rejection of what had been appropriated by a person or by a group . . . the victim struck down in a pool of blood, the severed finger or ear, the torn-out eye—do not appreciably differ from vomited food. . . . The one who sacrifices is free—free to indulge in a similar disgorging, free, continuously identifying with the victim, to vomit his own being just as he has vomited a piece of himself or a bull." [Disgust]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Mon May 04, 2015 7:48 pm

Satyr wrote:
Floating through the caves of [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], with its lighted stalagmites reflecting reds and greens, I was taken over by sadness when I thought about the possibility of all those formations, that took thousands of years to become what they are, could be destroyed by a vulgar imbecile with a hammer he purchased at a convenient store.
Sadness became rage, and considered the pleasure I could derive from smashing such a creature with his own hammer, after the damage had been irreparably completed.

Then, at the pit of my stomach disgust.
Like when watching a beautiful woman fornicating with a chimpanzee.
All that time it took to make her what she is, gone with one careless, vulgar, act.  


beautiful.

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Tue May 05, 2015 2:39 am

I experimented once by making my sexual behavior unfiltered for one day. When I saw an attractive young woman I would stare as much to my "heart's" content, knowing it would likely creep them out. Two girls walking together returned the looks reciprocally, raising their eyebrows from behind their sunglasses and smiling at me. Another young woman in the school's library gave me a look of disgust; I persisted and her expression turned increasingly twisted as I only responded with a defiant, almost laughing grin. In my mind I told myself I was delivering a message to her that I wouldn't feel ashamed about my attraction to her. I told myself what I wanted to hear, a justification for why she deserves to feel uncomfortable (i had misogyny issues). Eventually she got up and left, likely realizing any expressions of dislike towards my behavior were fruitless and in fact only inflamed the situation.

I wonder how she felt as she left - did she feel disgusted (superior) or upset? Maybe both. Seemed more like a moral disgust than a sexual one. It's peculiar how you can tell. With a moral disgust there seems to be a kind of retreat of the heart/chest area - to keep your heart from being infected with the disease of base and uncultured behavior. Sexual appears more focused around the mouth, consumption - perhaps even a tongue sticking out like a baby does to unsavory foods.
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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Wed May 06, 2015 7:29 am

I have trouble recalling having felt moral disgust in any way. I can't really recall a retreat of the heart/chest area either except during a free fall. Would you describe a situation when you've felt moral disgust?
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PostSubject: Re: Disgust Wed May 06, 2015 11:36 am

Stuart- wrote:
I have trouble recalling having felt moral disgust in any way. I can't really recall a retreat of the heart/chest area either except during a free fall. Would you describe a situation when you've felt moral disgust?

I'd imagine the circumstance would emerge out of the realization of the disparity between a shortsighted understanding or misunderstanding and farsighted understanding of, say, a woman for whom one has fallen.
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