ALE♡HINA VOL001: The Dichotomy of Grotesqueness and the New Canon

TOC: {Grotesque Elements} {A Line Between Grotesqueness and the New Canon} {D-Evolution} {Intrusiveness Within Grotesque Imageries} {Grotesqueness Within Decentralism}

This is an analysis of The Grotesque Image of the Body and Its Sources by Mikhail Bakhtin and Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan interpreted by Alecchina


Grotesque Elements
Grotesque elements are addressed with the intention of self-expression, hence might be the reason for the intrusive thoughts to evolve around gruesome imageries. However, the definition of grotesque in society might induce more negative than positive connotations, which hinders one from expressing one’s emotions publicly as the definition of grotesqueness is described as strange and unpleasant. The elements that make an object be deemed grotesque are independence which portrays an existence of secondary life, a penetrable depth and bumps, and the two opposite ends with the connection in between.

The essence, which reveals the complexity of an inner world, depicts the idea, the topic, or the object to be grotesque by admitting the existence of secondary life within. For instance, the process of giving birth is deemed to be grotesque and uncanny as it visualizes life evolving within another existence. The world is divided heavily by drawing the line between the internal and external world and solely admitting the external world to exist. As the object which exists in the internal world crosses the boundaries of the external realm, it results in the object being grotesque. Another physical example might be an accident exposing the internal organs of one’s body. By comparing the reaction toward the corpse with and without any internal object leaking out of one’s flesh, it becomes obvious that the crossover between the internal and external realms is what makes one grotesque. This logic moreover applies to spiritual objects such as ideas, expressions, and thoughts. As one initiates a conversation involving mental issues and emotional expression, one starts to feel uncomfortable and endeavors to ease the situation. Thoughts and expressions are the outcomes built within our body, hence are stigmatized to stay within our body. As it crosses the gateway to the external realm through our mouth, nose, and eyes, it is instantly deemed to be burdensome and grotesque.

Orifices and convexities induce uncertainty as they symbolize a possibility of falling into or off to an unknown realm beyond the body’s limited space, which dictates the grotesqueness of an object. Human body parts that are involved around the gateway to the internal world, such as sexual organs (penetrable depth and bump), are deemed to be grotesque, resulting in one using words with limitation if it is intended to be addressed in a socially acceptable manner, hence the reason for the sexual organs to be used more as a dramatic expression. Some body parts which indicate grotesqueness are the mouth, nose, anus, vagina, and penis as they all have orifices and convexities leading the object to the internal and external realms. For instance, the action of blowing a nose is deemed to be dirty and grotesque as mucus travels through the nasal passages and reveals its existence to the external world. The mouth is deemed to be fear-mongering, eerie, and grotesque from the perspective of the prey or the food from the thoughts of physically and spiritually going into an unknown realm. The depth and bumps are moreover the characteristics of grotesqueness in terms of landscapes and architecture, such as mountains, tunnels, abyss, towers, and blackhole. One reason for acrophobia might be anxiety induced by the probability of falling into an unknown realm called death.

The interaction of the two opposite ends exudes uncanniness by signifying the connection between the two, hence the reason why intestines are considered to be grotesque. The features that signify the similarity between the two polar opposite points are deemed to be grotesque, which moreover includes the phase of transitioning and morphing to another, as it indicates an unknown connection between one another.


For instance, with the concept of life as a line segment with birth and death as the two endpoints, any actions or objects that stand near the endpoints are usually deemed to be grotesque in the new canon because they visualize the transition to the next phase.


The action or an object is regarded to be grotesque as it signifies a cycle or an infinite loop, blurring out the boundaries between the two opposites. The uncertainty and the confusion lead one to feel uncomfortable, hence making the object to be grotesque.


A Line Between Grotesqueness and the New Canon
Grotesqueness and the new canon are the two opposites that exist in the universe, which are accountable for how the object is perceived. The grotesque features tend to be extreme and imbalanced which, in effect, causes one to feel trapped by the uncertainty, whereas features of the new canon are sought to be balanced and mild. Drastic concavities and convexities, to illustrate, are the main characteristics of grotesqueness, on the contrary, a flat plane without any openings would symbolize the new canon as it signifies a balanced state. From the perspective of the new canon, any openings would be disregarded as it focuses on maintaining the status quo. Grotesque elements are moreover sought to be dependent on the object that they came from and addressed as two objects connected rather than being two independent objects. Through the lens of grotesqueness, for instance, the mouth and the anus connected by the intestines are inseparable from each other as it does not disregard the connection between the two. However, in the new canon, the mouth and the anus are perceived as two independent objects which disconnect themselves from one another. The intestines are completely disregarded as they connotate the existence of substances metamorphosing into another as they travel through the intestines and colon. The mouth and the anus are solely perceived as an object without admitting the existence of an opening to avoid any grotesqueness connotated with the existence of the internal realm.

Grotesque elements are moreover used to address expression infinitely rather than practicality, whereas elements that support the new canon are used to address the opposite. New canon elements are sought to have limited expression compared to the grotesque elements as they shift the focus solely to physical practicality. For instance, body parts that support the new canon, such as hands, feet, legs, arms, eyes, and ears, are indicated with senses and functions to examine the distance, weight, and direction in the physical world. Although they do have concavities and convexities, those features are utterly disregarded through the lens of the new canon until they come into contact with grotesque elements. The eyes, for example, are deemed as grotesque bodily parts as one regards the substances coming into or out of the sockets as proving the existence of the internal realm. Fingers and toes are moreover regarded as grotesque parts of the body as they come into contact with the mouth, the nose, and the anus as one focuses on the concavities and orifices and the way it connects the internal and external realm. It is surely possible for the body parts that are generally regarded as grotesque elements to be seen through the lens of the new canon with efforts to neglect the characteristics and elements that resemble the body part to be grotesque. To address the terms and objects that are sought to be grotesque, one needs to close the opening to the second realm and be addressed as one independent object solely regarding what is shown externally. The object needs to be cleansed from any sort of expression and history, and solely address the practicality to get rid of any kind of stigma bonded with the object to prioritize the idea of practicality rather than the object in itself. The operation, as an illustration, prioritizes the idea of succeeding and rehabilitating the body rather than the operator’s or the patient’s expression, history, and emotion bonded with the parts of the body. Working in the medical field requires one to be numb to the existence of the internal organs, sexual organs, blood, etc. as they are aware of the fact that they are dealing with the elements that are generally deemed to be grotesque.

Mikhail Bakhtin, from The Grotesque Image of the Body and Its Resources, stated, “This boundless ocean of grotesque bodily imagery within time and space extends to… the entire system of gesticulation; in the midst of it the bodily canon of… polite conversation of modern times is a tiny island”, to refer to the relation and differences between the space of the new canon and grotesqueness. The new canon refers to the idea of limitation and narrowness secured with the ends, whereas the grotesque elements to the infinite extension surrounding the new canon, hence the reason for the difficulty of erasing the stigma connotated with grotesque elements. For instance, the topic of operation, specifically regarding the sexual organs, is hard to address the issue without the denunciation implied with it, thus making it difficult for one to address the serious issue publicly. The idea of limitation and infinity can be referred to as both physical and spiritual realms. The relationship between the void of space, the Earth’s crust, and the core can be an illustration to refer to the idea in a physical sense. The crust of the Earth, which resembles the new canon, is divided into continents to acknowledge the existence of ends to acquaint assurance. The crust is sandwiched by the core of the Earth and the infinite void of space, the grotesque elements, which are connotated with the idea of death to implicate uncertainty. Cognitively, life, the new canon, is interposed by birth and death, the grotesque elements.


The word evolution and devolution are used to describe the phase of metamorphosis to another state that the object undergoes. Metamorphosis, which indicates the connection between the two phases, is deemed to be grotesque as it does not visualize the definite construction of the object formed by the societal norm. For instance, homo neanderthalensis are deemed to be grotesque from the perspective of homo sapiens as it does not ideate the complete state of a human being. As Schneegans proposed, conjoining humane and animalistic elements together are deemed to be grotesque, thus the reason for the evolution state between the homo sapiens and Australopithecus afarensis. The negativity and positivity connotated with the object that is perceived by the canon is deciding whether one is associated with evolution and devolution. A beaked nose, as an illustration, was recognized as evolution and devolution depending on each of their own societal and cultural norm. A beaked nose in European civilization has been deemed connotated with degrading gesticulation as they sought the combination of human and animal traits to be connotated with devolution. Moreover, the nose has been heavily insinuated with the phallus throughout the 16th century1, hence the beaked nose was regarded to be demeaning as the structure resembled a bigger phallus on a face. A beaked nose was firmly established as a Jewish feature later in the mid-18th century, and was used as Nazi propaganda to spread antisemitism. However, a beaked nose was connotated with evolution among the Mayan civilization as they sought positivity within the conjoining of animalistic and humane characteristics2. A beaked nose resembled the beak of a hawk and was sought to be connotated with evolution as having an animalistic feature on top of ruling humane features symbolized strength and power. Kabbalistic Rabbi Aharon Leib Biska, from The Secrets of the Face (חכמת הפרצוף), noted, "A nose that is curved down …with a small hump in the middle attests to a character that seeks to discover the secrets of wisdom, who shall govern fairly, be merciful by nature, joyful, wise and insightful", connotating that the beaked nose symbolized sapience and sensibility in the certain Jewish community during the 19th century3. The factor that decides whether a grotesque element is connotated with evolution or devolution is the perception and the act upon it. As one accepts the feeling of uncertainty and agrees to explore further into the internal realm, one will finally see the beauty within grotesqueness. A new norm then is created as a community is gathered to see in the same perspective, hence creating a new status quo.

Beauty standards, the status quo, work as a mirror to reflect the relation between the new canon and grotesqueness. The status quo seemingly reflects the outcome of European colonization as the Eurocentric features are deemed to be more attractive and accepted, including among the non-European civilizations. The standard, as a result, tries to obtain the status quo of Eurocentrism and fails to include diversity as it is deemed to be extreme (grotesque), hence the features that indicate diversity within race, religion, capital, binariness, bodily structure, and ability are condemned. The status quo fails to recognize beauty among minorities as it fails to detect their existence.

The status quo that rejects grotesqueness tends to constantly try to hide the existence of the inner realm. For instance, orienting around an hourglass figure with no abdominal bump rejects the existence of the internal organs and the uterus as it proves the existence of the internal realm. Intestines remind one of the animalistic abilities, such as indulging and excreting, which results in admitting the existence of the internal world. The standard then constantly tries to close the hole that reveals the internal realm by either perceiving the pain of obtaining the standard as a taboo or by normalizing the struggle to prioritize the obtainment of the beauty standard, resulting in the normalization of extreme body modification that has a possibility of either surrendering to the status quo or death. Substances, such as drugs known for the effect of appetite suppressants or anesthesia, are used as a tool to normalize unnatural rituals to sustain the status quo. Even without the help of the tools, the pain that one undergoes to sustain the status quo either is deemed as a taboo that should not be mentioned publicly or a normal ritual that the general public undergoes. The numbness attached to the new canon then solely regards the criteria that fall into the standard as a balanced state and disregards the individual state of balance to obtain its harmony (flat plane) with no extreme concavities and convexities, resulting in the existence of diversity and individuality to be dismissed. This phenomenon disturbs one to explore each of their own realms to realize and accept the complexity and depth within themselves.


One of the fascinating characteristics of grotesqueness is exploring a way to sync internal and external realms by generating expressions that correspond to their state of mind. Generating one’s own expression embodies acceptance of the internal realm, as one accepts the feeling of uncertainty and confusion situating in their body. The Greek myth of Narcissus, derived from the Greek word narcosis, suggests that the state that Narcissus was trapped in was a form of paralysis or numbness from his perception by not being able to recognize himself through his reflection. Narcissus stumbled upon accepting his own reflection as an extension of himself not knowing how to respond to the flood of unusual thoughts, resulting in him being in a state of narcosis. He expressed his yearning to grasp the concept of his extension and flood of emotion by denying to maintain the basics of survival until he fully understood his own state of mind. Narcissus moreover expressed his confusion and uncertainty by reaching his hand toward the reflection in an attempt to grab the imagery shown in front of him. To recognize one’s own extension, one uses their expression as a tool to amputate oneself to see it in another perspective to locate where one is situated when the perceptual power fails to locate or avoid the cause of irritation. Creating artificial situations under controlled conditions of actions can be a way to use one’s expression as a tool to guide oneself within their internal realm. As one detects certain emotions, one subconsciously tries to find a way to express their state of mind to fully grasp the concept of the object to recognize it as an extension of oneself. As one generates a form of expression corresponding to the unknown object, one builds a bridge of empathy to relate to the object in eagerness to destroy the feeling of uncertainty. A common way of expressing the unusual phenomenon detected within their internal realm is by constructing words or sentences. For instance, expressions such as “eager to jump out of my skin” express discomfort and irritation as they detect unprecedented emotions within their internal realm to numb themselves from such emotions. Labels, such as diagnosis, are moreover used as a tool to relate oneself to the phenomenon in question to amputate oneself from uncertainty and disturbances. These expressions correspond to a method of self-amputation as one vomits out their expression to the external realm, eager to separate themselves from what is situating in their internal realm. Intrusive thoughts visualizing physical fantasies, such as acts involving violent or explicit actions, are formed from auto-amputation power to distance oneself from the irritant to show dominance to conquer a subject that causes discomfort. An extension to generate expressions that correspond to the emotion becomes automatic as one continuously connects the expression to numb oneself from certain emotions, which may result in a flood of intrusive thoughts.

Expression is what connects the internal realm to the external realm, therefore a reason for it to be connotated with grotesqueness. Expressive gesture brings out the substances within the internal realm to the external realm, as the mouth does with vomiting and the anus does with feces. As one expresses intrusive thoughts within the physical reality, it results in behavior regarded to be grotesque, such as gestures of self-harming. Rather than accepting and breaking down the core which initiates the feeling of uncertainty and discomfort (implosion), one denies the existence of the core and chooses to focus on the damages that it made by expressing it in a self-harming manner, causing more damage to one’s internal and external self as the core expands vigorously (explosion). One uses self-harming behavior to amputate oneself from the flood of intrusive thoughts to physically sense the existence of it or to visualize the fantasy through the external realm, as Narcissus deteriorated himself until he understood the concept of his own reflection. The desire to self-harm enlarges in size as one continues to amputate oneself from the intrusive thoughts by acting upon self-harming behaviors.


Grotesqueness Within Decentralism
An explosion affects the surrounding by expanding the centralizer whereas an implosion breaks down the centralizer. A bomb, for instance, explodes as it hits the surface ground which triggers rapid expansion of gas, however, implodes as it is diffused by interfering with certain devices to dispose of the bomb. The bomb acting upon explosion expands itself outward affecting the surroundings as it centralizes the outer world, whereas implosion breaks itself down into a collection of smaller groups as it decentralizes itself. An expression can be used as a navigator to locate and accept the existence of the core to implode as to decentralize the irritation, or as an anesthetic tool to find the equilibrium state by numbing oneself from the cause, which may rather cause an explosion as to centralize the core. Explosion and implosion are connotated with negativity nor positivity as they both contribute to seeking an equilibrium state by self-amputation, as the ultimate goal for amputating oneself is to detach oneself from the object detected.

The concept of centralism and decentralism connotates the existence of a hierarchy within each of their own perception. For instance, a car, as a first-person, compared to a ship in terms of utility can epitomize the concept of centralism, however, highlights decentralism as it is compared to an airplane. The subject that does not fit into the centralizer is deemed to be a source of entertainment, a source of producing certain emotions. The tale of Humpty Dumpty, as an illustration, is deemed to be a source of imagery or entertainment in the eyes of the centralizers as they can hardly empathize with the situation that they have not been in. The existence of de-centralizers in the perspective of the centralizers then becomes solely an example to be used to win an argument or imagery to visualize a situation that one could not empathize with. The perception of the centralizers envisions the concept of the new canon eager to hide the orifices of grotesqueness to obtain the status quo.

Envisioning power within extension requires one to familiarize oneself with uncertainty within the internal realm enough to be able to detonate the centralizing core into fragments of smaller groups. Acknowledging the existence of grotesqueness has enough power to dismantle their own ego as one builds bridges of empathy to expand further into smaller groups, letting one imagine further probabilities that one has unforeseen. Continuously neglecting the existence of grotesqueness causes the centralizer to inflate, therefore placing one in an infinite state of narcosis as one cannot detect the cause of the phenomenon. The infinite state of paralysis continues to heavily depend on self-amputation methods connotated with their physical self to represent their ego, rather than to imagine other possibilities suggesting introducing the existence of de-centralizers.




1. Kroha, Lucienne (2014). The Drama of the Assimilated Jew: Giorgio Bassani's Romanzo di Ferrara. University of Toronto Press. p. 284.
2. "The Maya Concept of Beauty" History on the Net © 2000-2023, Salem Media. March 15, 2023
3. Biska, Rabbi Aharon Leib (1888). Secrets of the Face. Warsaw, Poland. p. 18.