The Magnetism of Disgust

Carolyn Korsmeyer

in Savoring Disgust

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199756940
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895212 | DOI:
The Magnetism of Disgust

Show Summary Details


This chapter addresses various solutions to the paradox of aversion—the puzzle of why we are drawn to art that elicits uncomfortable affective responses such as sorrow, terror, and disgust. This chapter considers theories that have attempted to account for the aesthetic allure of disgust, among them psychoanalytic perspectives, cognitivist approaches, phenomenological analyses; and the possibility that disgust “converts” to a positive affect by means of art. The chapter claims that there are several viable solutions to the paradox, each suitable for different modes of arousal of aesthetic disgust. Central to the approach the chapter considers is a concept of the aesthetic that emphasizes the distilled insight of aesthetic apprehension. Disgust registers physical fragility and mortality in an intimate, visceral manner that is discomforting at the same time that it is valued for the insight rendered. Just as fear grounds encounters with the sublime, disgust affords a reciprocal experience for which the chapter suggests the term “sublate.”

Keywords: paradox of aversion; psychoanalysis; pleasure; cognitivism; tragedy; sublime; sublate. Edmund Burke; David Hume; Julia Kristeva

Chapter.  11582 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.