From Visceral to the Aesthetic
Ryynänen, M., Kosonen, H. S., & Ylönen, S. C. (2023). From Visceral to the Aesthetic. In M. Ryynänen, H. Kosonen, & S. Ylönen (Eds.), Cultural Approaches to Disgust and the Visceral (pp. 3-15). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003205364-2
© 2023 selection and editorial matter, Max Ryynänen, Heidi S. Kosonen and Susanne C. Ylönen; individual chapters, the contributors
We recoil at the thought of eating rotten meat or moldy strawberries and feel uncomfortable with the bad breath of a person we do not specifically like. We may feel disgusted when Divine, one of the protagonists of John Waters’ film Pink Flamingos (1972) eats dog feces – or when Akwaeke Emezi, in her debut novel Freshwater (2018), describes how the protagonist, in veterinary school, mutilates cadavers, separates skin from muscle, and lifts “delicate sheets of fascia” with the scalpel (Emezi 2018, 41). Disgust is, alongside surprise, sadness, happiness, fear, anger, and contempt mentioned in the list of so-called universal emotions (Ekman 1970). It is often visualized as a wrinkled nose. According to Winfred Menninghaus, who terms disgust “one of the most violent affectations of the human perceptual system” (2003, 1), disgust is probably the most visceral of these basic human emotions. From psychologists (Angyal 1941) and epidemiologists (Curtis 2013) to philosophers (Korsmeyer 2011), scholars have recognized the way disgust has the potential to turn our bodies upside down through a spasming stomach and gag reflex. Disgust extends, though, far beyond the visceral. When disgust is discussed, the attention is often on the extremes, but there is a broad variety of levels and types of disgust one could focus on (Korsmeyer 2011). There is shallow disgust as much as there is violent. ...
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