Fighting for the Mind: The Grotesque in Clytie

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Fighting for Our Mind: The Grotesque in “Clytie” The representation of mental ideas through a medium of communication is the fundamental challenge facing artists. On a rudimentary level, conceptualization in literature is a balancing act – the writer on one side and the reader on the other. This involves the somewhat nebulous processes of creation of meaning on the part of the writer and translation of this meaning by the reader. Flannery O’Connor’s “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction” written in 1960, is a reactionary essay to the democratization of literature, and attempts to elevate the role of the writer in the creation of meaning. The writer is seen as a literary “prophet”, a “realist of distances” (O’Connor, 818), because he takes upon himself the task of explicitly illuminating that which most other texts merely imply, and thus the scales of meaning are tipped almost entirely in favor of the writer. Writers of grotesque fiction are thus those that go the greatest distance in bringing to the surface the intricate nuances of our existence by conjuring up characters (and situations) whose traditional physicality and/or personality is maimed and contorted under the burden of ideas trying to be elicited by the writer. It is as if the characters are the materialization of traditionally intangible concepts and notions. In traversing this distance, a necessary sacrifice is made of the intermediary subject matter that lies between the essential concrete needed to create the basic familiar outline and the deeper reality that is being highlighted. In part, it is simply a stylistic sacrifice that prevents the dilution of the deeper reality, where the absence of the familiar accentuates the presence of the extreme. Like a wormhole that bends space and connects two points without having to traverse the distance between them, so the writer of the
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