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Smells Like Lautréamont’s Spirit

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  1. Introduction
  2. Understanding the drastic change in art perception
  3. Poetry and other forms of art as vehicles for pure rationality
  4. Women's infiltration of male dominated rock 'n' roll
  5. The language used by Riot Grrrls
  6. Lautréamont's character
  7. Conclusion

In 1790, Immanuel Kant published an essay that read as complicated as the art he sought to promote. ?Critique of Judgment? serves as the ultimate philosophy of aesthetics, proclaiming ?Genius is the talent (or natural gift) which gives rule to art? (Kant 150). Kant's judgments define ?true? art as solely deriving from intellect. Not only does his notion of art as reserved for brilliant minds exclude most people in general, but also rejects the value of emotion. Instead, people are encouraged to survive strictly on logic and ignore politics. Such disparity between mind and body, reason and emotion, isolates humanity from the very nature which makes us human. Kant even goes a step further to categorize art though gender: men compose the intellectual genius and women, the emotional barbaric. However, over two-hundred years later, the Avante-Garde movement unleashed the definitive rebuttal against its highly aesthetic predecessors?extreme emotion. An innovator of the Avante-Garde, Lautréamont employs the concept of negation to wage a war against aestheticism in art. In Les Chants de Maldoror, his exercise in shock value subtly implores us to feel anger at the tolerance of injustice that aestheticism encouraged. Were his tactics successful in spreading anger and other emotion as both a reaction to and inspiration for art?

[...] Like lyrics, the scream is a rebellion against a patriarchal society, except this time, language itself is accused of being constructed and constricted by men; female singers scream because the only sounds untarnished by male hands are wordless utterances. However, an even deeper meaning, involving emotion, is contained in a scream: ?Being far from a fluid signifier, screams are also emotional ejaculations bearing specific associations with highly charged events?like rape, orgasm or childbirth? (Gottlieb and Wald 261). That is to say, a scream in itself is as three-dimensional as a woman as it can evoke feeling of both pleasure and pain. [...]


[...] Lautréamont's character, Maldoror, experiences a similar release: In describing another grotesque encounter of injustice, Maldoror responds, I quaked like the lava inside of a volcano. In the end, my tight chest unable to exhale the life-giving air quickly enough, my lips parted and I cried out a cry so earsplitting that I heard (Lautréamont 53). So repulsed and outraged at violence and injustice, he cannot fathom any words. The significance behind the scream is empathetic?a reaction to the abuse he witnesses happening to other people. [...]


[...] the Avante- Garde, and the present, about the creation and purpose of art. Ultimately, through using methods of negation, both the Riot Grrrls and Lautréamont merge emotion with intellect, proving that the two cannot be mutually exclusive. In order to understand this drastic change in art perception, it is imperative to explore the various meanings and applications of negation in the works of Lautréamont and Riot Grrrls. The governing principle of negation is the critique of the common sense. In Les Chants de Maldoror, Lautréamont's attacks conformity of mankind through shock value, especially when characterizing Maldoror as cruel: he hurled himself resolutely into a career of evil Who could guess whenever he hugged a rosycheeked young child, that he was longing to hack off those cheeks with a razor and would have done so often had the idea of Justice and her long cortege of punishments restrained him on ever occasion (Lautréamont 2). [...]

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