Disgust in cultural

Disgust is the name given to the sensation of a strong aversion in connection with aversion. Unlike other less severe forms of rejection, disgust expressed sometimes by strong physical reactions such as nausea and vomiting, sweating, falling blood pressure up to fainting. Scientifically, disgust is not just an affect, but also an instinct. The instinctive response is innate with regard to certain smells, tastes and visions. Additional feelings of disgust will also be during socializationacquired. Disgust serves the prevention of illnesses. Nutritional taboos are also respected because taboo potential foods cause nauseated feelings of disgust.

According to the former view of Lothar Penning, who had dealt with socio-scientific and cultural-historical aspects of disgust, disgust was defined as a social mechanism “that culturally conditioned and pedagogically conveys, makes use of the primitive break and gag reflex, the pre-rational acquired to protect basic social identity. ”

Disgust also plays a role in some phobias, but the essential feature of a phobia is fear, not disgust. Extreme nausea is referred to in psychology as idiosyncrasy. In the case of the disease Huntington’s disease, on the other hand, those affected do not feel any disgust at all and can no longer interpret the corresponding facial expression in others.

Cultural History

Disgust is not a cultural-historical constant, even within a cultural space. The sociologist Norbert Elias, in his work On the Process of Civilization, has shown that today’s European notions of “decent behavior” have evolved over the centuries through the Middle Ages, and that their manifestation is part of a social process in the process of control physical needs became more important. This process started from the nobility and gradually became the overall social standard. Elias uses sources, especially table-toppers, to show a sense of shame and embarrassment increase significantly over the centuries, which corresponds to an increase in disgust sensitivity.

Handkerchiefs were used by the nobility only in modern times, before it was common practice to blow their hands and then wipe them on their clothes. Often the tablecloth, which was only available to the nobility, was used, but in the 15th century this was already considered unfaithful. When eating, you should blow your left hand because you ate with your right hand (the fork was introduced gradually in the 16th century).

In a medieval table breed it says “do not spit over or on the table” and “do not spit in the basin if you wash your hands”. The spitting itself is not objected to, even in the presence of others or while eating. It was considered decent to spit under the table or behind. Regular spitting out of saliva was considered necessary. In the seventeenth century it was not proper to spit on the earth in the presence of superior people; in the eighteenth century the use of a handkerchief and a certain discretion were demanded. In the house were in the upper layers spittoonscommon. In the 19th century, it is said in an English quote: “Spitting is at all times a disgusting habit” (spitting is a disgusting habit at all times).

According to Elias, hygiene concepts have nothing to do with the increasing taboo of spitting, as this is hardly cited as justification. “So too the feelings of embarrassment and disgust increase the secretion of sputum long before one has any clear idea of the transmission of certain pathogens through the sputum. The motivation from a societal point of view exists long before the motivation by scientific insights. ” The sensitivity to body exudates of others had obviously increased over the centuries. In many Asian countries, however, spitting in public is still common and does not arouse disgust.

Other body excretions were not considered disgusting for a long time. It was quite common at all stalls to make the public need, as evidenced by sources. In a writing by Erasmus of Rotterdam it says “Incivile est eum salutare, qui reddit urinam aut alvum exonerat ” (it is rude to greet someone who is just urinating or relieved). At that time in the 16th century emerging rules to suppress Flatulenzen, he described as inappropriate, since that is not healthy. Beginning of the 17th century is expected that the defecationwithout witnesses takes place in secret. However, this does not apply to the emperors and kings, who regularly seated themselves in the so-called ” Leibstuhl” and granted audiences as a special favor.

Then, in 1729, a French author declares: “Il est très incivil de laisser sortir des vents de son corps, soit par haut, soit par bas, quan mesme ce seroit sans faire aucun bruit, lorsqu’on est en compagnie.” (It is very uncivilized to let your body escape in the presence of other air, be it up or down, even if it happens silently). Elias notes an increasing sensitivity in dealing with all utterances of instinct, whereby the newly introduced rules of behavior first of all had the function of social differentiation, the distinction of the socially superior from the “people”.

In general, odor tolerance in Europe used to be much greater than it is today, and odors have long been given no particular attention. Alain Corbin describes the situation in Paris at the time of Rousseau: ” the droppings accumulate everywhere, in the avenues, at the foot of the turnpikes, in the cabs. The Kloakenentleerer pollute the streets; In order to save their way to the Schindanger, they simply dump the barrels into the gutter. The mills and tanneries also play their part in increasing the amount of urine. The facades of the Parisian houses are decomposed by urine. ”

Smell and stench were only publicly discussed in the 18th century. “From the mid-18th to the end of the 19th century, a process reinforced by the French historian Alain Corbin as the ‘olfactory revolution’, as a fundamental change in the perception, evaluation and interpretation of the odors. Characteristic is the growing collective sensitivity to all kinds of odors. Although the intensity and penetrance of the odors had not changed in previous epochs, the tolerance threshold dropped almost abruptly, and everything that was considered normal so far – the odors of the Body, the living spaces and the city, the smell of faeces and manure, stinking waste mountains, etc. – was now considered unbearable. ”

Background of the new odor reaction and the associated disgusting reactions were the scientific miasma theory emerging at that time and the assumption that strong odors are carriers of pathogens, meaning that the smell alone could cause disease. This led to a fundamental change in the concepts of cleanliness and hygiene and to strive for the “cleansing” of the air. At the same time, there was an aversion to the perception of body odors, both one’s own and those of others. In the following years, unlike the “common people”, the upper classes succeeded in largely eliminating their own odor or by using fragrancesdrowning, body odor became a social differentiator.

The slaughter of livestock and their processing into meat and sausage products was basically public for centuries, both in the countryside and in the cities. Hardly anyone took offense at the sight. It was not until the 19th century that slaughterhouses were relocated to the outskirts of cities, which, according to sociologists, was associated with a heightened sense of disgust. Around the same time it is also unusual to serve prepared animals in the whole and only at on the board carve. A French cookbook from 1894 states: “By virtue of skillful decoration or refined cooking methods hiding the cruel appearance of pieces of meat, cooking certainly contributes to a refinement of customs. Compare what I have called the “nations of the bloody courts” with the “nations of the sauces” and then see whether the latter is not the more civilized. ”

Cultural differences
Because disgust is partially a result of social conditioning, there are differences among different cultures in the objects of disgust. Americans “are more likely to link feelings of disgust to actions that limit a person’s rights or degrade a person’s dignity” while Japanese people “are more likely to link feelings of disgust to actions that frustrate their integration into the social world”.

Practices construed as socially acceptable, may also be met with reactions of aversion by other cultures. For example, instead of kissing, mothers from the Manchu minority ethnic group, as only researched in the 1900s in Aigun of Northern Manchuria where the researcher S. M. Shirokogoroff personally believed the Manchu element were “purer” than those of Southern Manchuria and Peking, used to show affection for their children by performing fellatio on their male babies, placing the penis in their mouths and stimulating it, while the Manchu regarded public kissing with revulsion. Also, Chinese and Vietnamese culture directly advocate consuming human placenta. Chinese nursing mothers were suggested to boil the placenta and drink the broth to improve the quality of their milk. Similiarly, Chinese also consume the bull penis soup for health purpose.

Disgust is one of the basic emotions recognizable across multiple cultures and is a response to something revolting typically involving taste or sight. Though different cultures find different things disgusting, the reaction to the grotesque things remains the same throughout each culture; people and their emotional reactions in the realm of disgust remain the same.

Disgust in literature

The Latin poetry of antiquity contains a whole series of disgusting descriptions, often in the context of military conflicts, even if there is no Latin term that corresponds exactly to this emotion. There is the term fastidium with the meaning of weariness, taedium with the connotation of extreme boredom and nausea for physical nausea.

While Vergil largely dispenses with drastic effects, they occur in Ovid, but almost exclusively in his work Metamorphoses. In a battle of Centaurs he describes in great detail various wounds and mutilations. “With Seneca, the portrayal of the horrible in Roman poetry reaches its first peak.” Seneca is a Stoic; the descriptions have with him the task of making clear the imperturbability of his heroes, which can not be defeated by disgust. That in his tragediesrecurrent motive is the injury and destruction of the human body. The most dramatic scenes can be found in his work Thyestes. The highlight is the sacrificial slaughter of the sons of Atreus and the description of how they are prepared as a meal.

“No work of Roman literature is as rich in grisly and disgusting games as the Pharsalia Lukans. Lukan’s historical epic almost appears as a reservoir of Roman tradition of horror. ” The battle of Pharsalos and the downfall of the Roman Republic are portrayed. Two sections are devoted to the decay of corpses, as well as a detailed account of cruel death scenarios as a result of snake bites, and more. a. the gradual dissolution of a body. The works of Statius and Silius Italicus indulge a little less in gruesome motives and tie in so far more to Ovid.

Modern Literature
Motives of the disgusting can be found later in the pre-modern literature, but more in the form of the grotesque. An example is Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais, where urine, feces and bodily secretions play a role. However, the author does not want to provoke disgust, but strives for the “effect of liberating laughter”. The literary treatment of these motifs changes from Voltaire, who consciously portrays in Candide the ugly and the repulsive as an antithesis to the idea of theodicy, in which even evil always makes sense. A quotation: “When he went for a walk the following day, he met a beggar covered with pus-covered beggars with extinguished eyes, gnawed-up nose, crooked mouth, and black tooth stumps, who had to growl every word hoarse; horrible coughing fits tormented him, spitting out a tooth every time. ”

The break with the tradition of the “fine arts” can also be found in Heinrich von Kleist. ” Penthesilea (1808) is the first great literary work of literary extremism. The drama does not want to cause more fear and pity, but provokes catharsis by disgust. Later authors of the 19th century, think of the Romantics above all, were careful not to be extreme. ”

The literary direction of naturalism treated social problems and also represented illness, alcoholism and physical degeneration, disgusting motives were accepted as a means of provocation and criticism. The leading figure was Émile Zola, the most important German representative was Gerhart Hauptmann.

In France, Georges Bataille, Charles Baudelaire, the Comte de Lautréamont, Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud were among the modern writers who in their works were partially taboo dramatically. Repellent is treated by them for its own sake, to describe life in its “brutality and animality”. Baudelaires Les Fleurs du Mal caused a scandal and led to a criminal case.

Targeted at disgust effects are also representatives of Expressionism, such as Gottfried Benn, Georg Trakl and Hans Henny Jahnn. “In aesthetic terms, the extremist specializes in the destruction of literary norms and linguistic rules. Paired with his eccentric language is the preference for taboo or popular “. Trakl theme in his poems decay, decay and death, as well as the medical Benn. Jahnn’s drama Pastor Ephraim Magnus (1919) “is a peculiar repository of atrocities and horrors that are unparalleled in view of the extreme accumulation of topics such as necrophilia, cannibalism, castration,Blasphemy, incest and decay. Jahnn’s drama is based on the anti-aesthetic effect of disgust as explicitly as nowhere else after Penthesilea. ”

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Disgust is also a key concept in Friedrich Nietzsche’s work Thus sprach Zarathustra. Zarathustra is here a forerunner of the expected superman and as such a man without disgust, it is said. In a scene, however, he sets his “abysmal thought” and breaks it out in the exclamation: “Disgust, disgust, disgust – woe to me!” Again and again in this piece is disgusting themed and it will “the entire metaphor of spitting, choking out “Vomiting, including all the fecal juries – a whole world of fie – endeavors.” The overcoming of any disgust is portrayed by Nietzsche as an aspired goal. Numerous statements show that the philosopher himself was very disgusting, which he euphemistically reinterpreted as “hypersensitivity”. Nietzsche’s disgust with the common, ordinary lowlands of humanity can already be found in the early work, as does the transference of disgust from the physiological to the moral world. ” He writes at one point:” I am perfectly irritable of the cleanliness instinct so that I smell the innermost, the ‘guts’ of every soul physiologically If I have been right to observe, those of my cleanliness and indifferent natures also feel the caution of my disgust on their part The disgust at the people, the ‘rabble’ was always my greatest danger. ”

The writer Franz Kafka has expressed himself in private letters and records of personal feelings of disgust. As a motif, this emotion plays a role in his story The Transfiguration, in which the protagonist transforms overnight into an insect (“pest”), whereupon the family reacts with horror and increasing disgust.

In German-language literature of the 20th century disgust is often discussed, especially among Austrian authors. “The staging of the ugly and repulsive, which has become a central theme of literary modernism since the poetry of Charles Baudelaire, is represented in almost unprecedented fashion in twentieth-century Austrian literature.” Typical representatives are Thomas Bernhard, Josef Winkler, Werner Schwab and Elfriede Jelinek. In her works there are numerous taboos, represented by the means of a “violent rhetoric” (excitable speech), which also wants to attack the body of the reader.

The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre has written a novel called The Disgust (La nausée), which is considered the literary masterpiece of existentialism. The protagonist’s disgust is fundamentally directed against the supposed futility and uncertainty of any existence. Names for this as it were purely spiritual disgust are Daseinsekel or Weltekel. The described feelings of the main character Antoine Roquentin are assigned in psychology, however, the melancholy and occur among others in depressiveson. “Melancholy can be described from an existential analytical point of view as follows: on the one hand as alienation of man from oneself, the other and things, on the other hand as inhibition of existence, that is, as a modification of the relation to time, of temporality.” This alienation is an essential feature of Roquentin’s condition. Sartre originally wanted to call the novel Melancholia.

Staged disgust
Not only beauty, but also terrifying and grotesque has always been portrayed in literature and art, although not necessarily with the aim of arousing disgust. “In Naturalism and Expressionism, the representations of the disgusting are directed against the beautiful appearance of classical art. The aesthetic of beauty was juxtaposed with that of the ugly in a provocative way. ” In the emerging theory of aesthetics in the eighteenth century, the ugly and disgusting was at first completely ignored.

Freud’s psychology regards disgust as an ambivalent emotion, based on the baby’s original interest in fecal matter, which he is only weaned off with the help of socialization. Thus, the former “object of desire” is transformed into an object of displeasure and disgust. In the layers of the unconscious, however, the repressed fascination is retained and repeatedly appears in masked form, according to this theory. ” MasochisticPersonalities do something similar to the reader or viewer of artistic representations of the terrible or disgusting. They can be magically attracted by unlucky-moving objects. The hidden source of pleasure lies in the satisfaction of a more or less conscious need for punishment over forbidden desires and impulses. ” The gusting of staged disgust in the field of art is socially accepted. Public indignation about taboo violations is generally directed only against the respective artists, not against the recipients. In doing so, the audience voluntarily sets itself aside from the disgusting and temporary, so that a certain inner distance can be built up, especially in the field of film, theater or painting.

According to Thomas Anz, “disgusting” also fulfills other (unconscious) needs. “Fantasies about collective catastrophes of apocalyptic proportions, which in the history of art and literature are always associated with disgusting fantasies, correspond at the same time to moral and aggressive needs in the tradition of religious apocalypse.”

Modern Art
The conscious provocation of feelings of disgust is a means of different directions of modern art and is mainly used in performances. The disgust is often triggered by the use of body fluids and products, which are declared “art material”. In doing so, social taboos are violated. Known for this was the so-called Viennese Actionism. Also body art as a form of action art and eat art use partially disgusting effects. By their own admission, the artists want to express a protest against social constraints and values.

Among other things, the Viennese actionists declared that they wanted a special intensity of expression and the overpowering of the spectators, which could only be achieved by direct physical intervention. The best-known appearance of the group in an auditorium of the University of Vienna in 1968 was to publicly urinate, defecate and vomit and in between to sing the Austrian national anthem. It was about to show “that the people are more upset with a load of shit, than in all reports on the then-fought Vietnam War.” The greatest popularity of the Viennese actionists in the following period Hermann Nitschwho, in his performances, let a lot of animal blood flow. He had animals slaughtered publicly and then smeared blood and offal canvases and persons. In addition, he created “Schüttbilder” by running blood over canvas. At the beginning of the 1970s, Nitsch turned to the theater and since then regularly performs so-called “orgies-mystery games”. He has written a comprehensive theoretical essay on his art and refers to theories of Sigmund Freud. The goal of his performances was the dissolution of neuroses and a catharsis.

Influenced by Viennese actionism are the performances of Paul McCarthy, which deliberately focus on disgusting effects. In 1975, for example, he produced his video Sailor’s Meat, in which McCarthy acted with a blond women’s wig and panties and smeared for 28 minutes with the help of ketchup, mayonnaise and raw meat, which he first chewed and then spit out again. He also handled a dildo, which he dipped into the mayonnaise. Self-staining is a stylistic device of body art. “If McCarthy own excrements with typical American products like ketchup, mayonnaise, body cream or hot dogsmixed into a hideous sauce, it attacks the concept of cleanliness in society. ”

Often excrement is used in the “disgusting art”. Particularly well-known is the Merda d’artista (“artist’s shit “) by Piero Manzoni. In May 1961, he allegedly filled 90 tin cans with his own feces, numbered and signed them and offered them for the equivalent of 30 grams of gold. The cans today have a high collector value, and it is unclear what the content actually consists of. The disgust is based solely on the idea. Wim Delvoye constructed a mechanical object called CloacaIt simulates the digestive process deceptively real with the help of bio-reactors and eliminates artificial feces after feeding with food, which corresponds and smells like chemically genuine fecal matter. These excretions are now purchased by collectors.

Even dead animals are used in modern art to provoke and cause disgust. Damien Hirst lays animal carcasses in formaldehyde and exhibits them. The most famous object is an inlaid tiger shark from the 1990s, which now begins to decay, because it can not be preserved permanently. Austrian action artist Wolfgang Flatzmade in 2001 with an action called “meat” quite a stir in the media, as he dropped a dead ox from a helicopter in Berlin. After the impact, several firecrackers exploded. Flatz hung on a construction crane during the action in Christ pose. According to him, he wanted to point out the disturbed relationship of society to the topic of meat. The influence of Viennese Actionism is clearly recognizable.

Decay, putrefaction and putrefaction are also themes of modern art. Dieter Roth deliberately made objects of food moldy, as did Briton Sam Taylor-Wood in a video in fast motion. Photographers who deliberately use disgusting effects include Joel-Peter Witkin and Cindy Sherman.

In his treatise on the theory of aesthetics, Theodor W. Adorno has established a general preference of modern art for the disgusting and physically repulsive. He sees this as an indication of the tendency to “sue” society and “denounce the world” by demonstratively presenting the denied and repressed.

Modern Theater
Hermann Nitsch has meanwhile mainly shifted his art of action to the theater. He regularly performs in his own castle in Austria the so-called orgies-mystery games, in which u. a. Slaughtered animals are gutted, accompanied by orchestral sounds. Nitsch integrates religious sacrificial rituals and elements of the Christian liturgy. In 2005, he was allowed to perform this spectacle for the first time in the renowned Vienna Burgtheater.

The modern German director’s theater now also often uses blood and other body fluids, which has led to theatrical critics to form the keyword disgusting theater and in the recent past to a controversial discussion of German theater, in which all national print media have participated. “At the moment it is being discussed whether actors on Germany’s stages often puke, piss and masturbate, or do even more terrible things. ‘Disgusting theater’ is that. ” The director Christoph Schlingensief is considered one of the” pioneers “of this direction. 2006 smeared the actors of the Macbeth production of Jürgen Goschin Dusseldorf with excrement and fake blood, on the big stages in Berlin and Hamburg there were also performances in which blood and urine played an important role.

Striking is that there are staging in this style so far only in German-speaking countries. Director Nicolas Stemann explains this with the self-image of German theater, which sees itself as political: “For us, since Brecht, it has been about winning society for political discourse and using the theater for it. Or since Schiller. ” Stephan Kimmig points out that in each crime scene more blood and violence can be seen than on the theater stages.

In 1965, Roman Polański’s Film Repulsion (Rejection / Defense) came out in Germany under the title Disgust, but the English title better characterizes the content. The protagonist Carol can not stand closeness and touch by men, her defenses have phobic and neurotic features and increase to hate; her feelings of disgust are part of her mental disorder. Disgust at the audience excite a chopped rabbit head, which Carol puts in her handbag, and then in the apartment slowly rotting rabbit roast.

Horror films often rely on disgusting effects, but they are less common outside of this genre. In the 1960s, a special category was the so-called Splatter, which is characterized by a particularly excessive display of violence and banned in many countries. In movies too, disgust usually occurs when taboos are violated, although this need not always be explicitly demonstrated. Cannibalism is very much taboo, and films with scenes of eating human flesh have long been considered scandalous per se. Examples are The Pigsty by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1968) and Weekend by Jean-Luc Godard (1967). InThe cook, the thief, his wife, and her lover of Peter Greenaway (1989) cannibalism is just one of numerous taboo phrases; Here, a man is finally prepared as a roast with vegetables and herbs.

In the black comedy The Rose War, a wife takes revenge on her husband, who has run over her cat by having him eat a pate, which she tells him after the meal that she has processed his dog in it. The preparation is not visible. The director Fruit Chan from Hong Kong, who shot a film entitled Public Toilet in 2002 and Dumplings in 2004, has repeatedly dealt with “disgusting issues”. Dumplingsare Chinese dumplings. In Chan’s film, a Chinese promises to help women to eternal beauty and youth through her very special dumplings. In the course of the film, it becomes clear that the filling consists essentially of aborted embryos. In China, the film was not shown. Chan hinted in an interview that the theme of the film has a real background.

The director Luis Buñuel has violated the taboos in society in many of his films with the repulsive and disgusting. An ironic head he offers in his late work The specter of freedom: Here a dinner party is shown, which, sitting together around a table, emptied into toilets. In between, individuals apologize to steal a bite in a cabinet.

Disgust is also used deliberately in television programs. In the 12th episode of the series A Heart and a Soul broadcast in 1973, the main character “Disgust Alfred” caused a stir with a footbath in the potato bowl. Later, the disgust caused by the viewer played a role, especially in so-called reality shows. Already in 1996, the show Glücksritter made headlines. In Germany, the 2004 RTL broadcast I am a star – Get me out of here! for fierce public discussions. The media spoke of “disgusting television”; At the time, the word creation was the word of the year in the electionranked 5th In this reality show, more or less prominent participants lived for some time in a camp in the Australian jungle, where they were filmed daily around the clock. For high ratings and fierce criticism provided the regular “test of courage”. For example, Daniel Küblböck had to take a “bath” in several thousand cockroaches for several minutes. The show reached several million viewers and a market share of over 30 percent. Michael Konken, chairman of the German Journalists Association, spoke of a “low point in television entertainment” and “voyeuristic perversion”, in which the Ekelgrenze’ll exceeded.

Despite the criticism of the jungle camp RTL sent some time later a format in which disgust also plays an important role: the show Fear Factor, which has been broadcast very successfully since 2001 at the US station NBC. Among other things, the American candidates had to eat worms and cow’s eyes, were put in a container with snakes or covered with 400 rats. Similar broadcasts are also broadcast in other countries, mostly with high ratings.

A continuation of the “disgusting television” is the series entitled Autopsy – Mysterious Deaths on RTL 2. “Disguised as a series of documentation on the work of criminologists and forensic scientists, bodies of all kinds are presented in every imaginable stage of decay and dissolution. And all real. ” There are also autopsies. In the main target group of 14 to 29-year-olds, the show reaches an audience rating of 13 percent. “Such an aggressive and public-serial presentation of death, mortality and decomposition may not have been on television yet.” According to the journalist Oliver Pfohlmann, the interest of the audience consists both of the desire for tension and of ” voyeurism with sadistic proportions”. The program is something of a “virtual test of courage”.

Media researchers explain the overall success of reality shows similar. According to studies, these formats are mainly favored by “persons with voyeuristic inclinations”, whereby the level of education plays no role. “For non-fearful audiences, voyeurism leads to an intense entertainment experience. By contrast, anxious recipients try to overcome their own fears by looking at the relevant content. ”

Source from Wikipedia