What is the power of the monstrous? Where does it get this power? Jacques Derrida, who in his early work associated the future as such with a certain monstrosity (cf Derrida’s preface to Of Grammatology), said in an interview:

A monster may be obviously a composite figure of heterogenous organisms that are grafted onto each other. This graft, this hybridization, this composition that puts heterogeneous bodies together may be called a monster. This in fact happens in certain kinds of writing. At that moment, monstrosity may reveal or make one aware of what the norm is and when this norm has a history–which is the case with discursive norms, philosophical norms, socio-cultural norms, they have a history–any appearance of monstrosity in this domain allows an analysis of the history of the norms. But to do that, one must conduct not only a theoretical analysis, one must produce what in fact looks like a discursive monster so that the analysis will be a practical effect, so that people will be forced to become aware of the history of normality. But a monster is not just that, it is not just this chimerical figure in some way that grafts one animal onto another, one living being onto another. A monster is always alive, let us not forget. Monsters are living beings. This monster is also that which appears for the first time, and consequently, is not yet recognized. A monster is a species for which we do not yet have a name, which does not mean that the species is abnormal, namely, the composition or hybridization of already known species. Simply, it shows itself–that is what the word monster means–it shows itself in something that is not yet shown and that therefore looks like a hallucination, it strikes the eye, it frightens precisely because no anticipation had prepared one to identify this figure. . . . But as soon as one perceives a monster in a monster, one begins to domesticate it, one begins, because of the `as such’–it is a monster as monster–to compare it to the norms to analyze it, consequently to master whatever could be terrifying in this figure of the monster. And the movement of accustoming oneself, but also of legitimation and, consequently, of normalization, has already begun. However monstrous events or texts may be, from the moment they enter into culture, the movement of acculturation, precisely, of domestication, of normalization has already begun. . . . This is the movement of culture. Texts and discourses that provoke at the outset reactions of rejection, that are denounced precisely as anomalies or monstrosities are often texts that, before being in turn appropriated, assimilated, acculturated, transform the nature of the field of reception, transform the nature of social and cultural experience, historical experience. All history has shown that each time an event has been produced, for example in philosophy or in poetry, it took the form of the unacceptable, or even of the intolerable, of the incomprehensible, that is, of a certain monstrosity” (Derrida, Points 385-87)

There are some key tools for the method of ontogenesis in Derrida’s words.

 

The first is a question of duration: monstrosity is a moment of awakening to the norm; the norm is historicized in the monstrous. But what is it about the processes of duration that remains central to the “life” of the monstrous? Isn’t it simply in the fact that these processes are nothing other than the ingression of the world into the production of an actual entity? The second domain that Derrida opens is one of force. What is the force of the monster? From whence does it derive this force? For Derrida at least part of the aggression of the monster, its specific departure from the image of thought as Happy Soul, is in a Hegelian-Lacanian misrecognition, absence of recognition, or even failure of cognition. Finally, Derrida opens thought toward the event. However, this event that Derrida points to bears closer resemblance to the “punctum” of the monster that I charted above with the help of Ansell Pearson. For Derrida (and others before and after him such as Bachelard and Badiou), the monster is like a suspension in time, monstrosity is the absolute Abyss.

But Derrida and this tradition of monster criticism takes the remarkable nature of the monster and turns it into external difference, they spatialize difference: the monster is appropriated by culture because its difference is externalized outside of both culture and nature, it is pure excess. It is then first and foremost representation, metaphor, and identity, which in its essential ambivalence nonetheless does not exceed dialectical thought. The intolerable and the incomprehensible are the badges of honor in this discourse of the monstrous, objectified, victimized Other.

I want to pragmatically experiment with Derrida’s monstrous event and Gilles Deleuze’s notion of a continuous, vital, virtual-actual circuit of becoming. Consider this passage—is it any coincidence that both Derrida and Deleuze refer to writing and the event?

Writing is a question of becoming, always incomplete, always in the midst of being formed, and goes beyond the matter of any livable or lived experience. It is a process, that is a passage of Life that traverses both the livable and the lived. Writing is inseparable from becoming: in writing, one becomes-woman, becomes-animal or vegetable, becomes molecule to the point of becoming-imperceptible. These becomings may be linked to each other by a particular line, as in Le Clezio’s novels; or they may coexist at every level, following the doorways, thresholds, and zones that make up the entire universe, as in Lovecratt’s powerful oeuvre. Becoming does not move in the other direction, and one does not become Man, insofar as man presents himself as a dominant form of expression that claims to impose itself on all matter, whereas woman, animal, or molecule always has a component of flight that escapes its own formalization. The shame of being a man-is there any better reason to write? Even when it is a woman who is becoming, she has to become-woman, and this becoming has nothing to do with a state she could claim as her own. To become is not to attain a form (identification, imitation, Mimesis) but to find the zone of proximity, indiscernibility, or indifferentiation where one can no longer be distinguished from a woman, an animal, or a molecule-neither imprecise nor general, but unforeseen and non preexistent, singularized out of a population rather than determined in a form. (Deleuze “Literature and Life” in Essays Critical and Clinical 1)

Deleuze takes us beyond the human into an unforeseen and non preexistent interzone, as Burroughs has it, a zone of proximity, miscegenation, and re/action. This is what David Cronenberg (who also made Naked Lunch) successfully does in both A History of Violence and A Question of Method: in the latter, he creates an interzone between analyst and analysand that becomes a timespace of intensive becoming, an affirmation of monstrosity as an expression of freedom, a pragmatic yet abstract experimentation with bodies, affects, desire, and technology; in A History of Violence, a man is confronted with the residual effects of a violent past, but whose monstrosity lies in the fact that his body has continued an affective resonance with that violence (i.e. he reconnects to his highly complex bodily capacity for physical violence), and it is that burst of a body re-enchanted by its own virtual monstrosity in a moment of life-threatening violence that catalyzes various becomings in the interzone of the family. We can say that throughout his work, Cronenberg has bodied forth monstrous assemblages populating infinitely spongy interzones: to make an affirmation of becoming itself.

Returning to a question I posed above, we could say that the specific power of the monster is rooted in the intensive processes of the multiplicities from which it arises, but it obscures a simpler point: power is nothing other than affect. That everything organic and (but differently) inorganic in the universe has a specific and yet infinite (immense and immeasurable but susceptible to control) capacity to affect and be affected, when you subtract consciousness, the entire ecology is vibrating (Goodman qtd. in Clough). Michael Hardt, in his important encounter with Deleuze, writes,

Deleuze accepts this conception of Spinoza’s naturalism, but for him it presents only
half the picture. In effect, Deleuze complements the reference to Renaissance naturalism
with a second reference, a reference to modern materialism (Hobbes, in particular).
Spinoza’s conception of power is not only a principle of action, Deleuze claims, but also,
to the same extent, a principle of affection. In other words, the essence of nature as power
implies equally a production and a sensibility: “All power bears with it a corresponding
and inseparable power to be affected” (93). Power in Spinoza has two sides that are
always equal and indivisible: the power to effect and the power to be affected, production
and sensibility. Therefore, Spinoza can add a second aspect to the affirmation of the a
posteriori proof of God: Not only does God have an absolutely infinite power to exist,
God also has the power to be affected in an absolutely infinite number of ways. This is precisely the point at which, in Nietzsche and Philosophy, Deleuze identified a
link between Spinoza and Nietzsche (62). A will to power is always accompanied by a
feeling of power. Furthermore, this Nietzschean pathos does not involve a body
“suffering” from passions; rather, pathos plays an active, productive role. (Michael Hardt, Gilles Deleuze, 72).

If monstrosity is a method of singularizing intensive multiplicities out of a population, as Deleuze writes, this line of flight emerges from a specific ecology’s affective conditions, its relations of force. An ecology of mind-becoming-sensation. It is within this ecology of force and sensation that monstrosity does that thing it does. It does not represent an abyss in time, but is rather a fully historical, immanent, process that is ontologically continuous with its own ecologies but transversal to its refrains, both abstract and empirical. Brian Massumi writes in A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia:

Becoming-other is an exponential expansion of a body’s repertory of responses. Not only does each stimulus evoke an indeterminate number of pragmatic responses, but there is a change in the body’s mode of response. (100)

Massumi speaks movingly about autonomic processes becoming autonomous and indeterminate, free falling through a fractal “abyss” of pure potentiality (I confess an allergy to abysses, but the movement of the concept is what is at stake). This increase in the body’s degrees of freedom Massumi terms “imagination.” “Imagination is rational thought bought back to the body. It is a pragmatic, synthetic mode of thought which takes the body not as an ‘object’ but as a realm of virtuality, not as a site for the application of an abstract model or prefabricated general idea but as a site for superabstract invention” (100). Charles Sanders Pierce gave a different name to this “superabstract invention”: abduction. For Pierce, Abduction was a form of rationality that could intuit relations across incompossible terms—a logic that follows the articulations of processes that are external to their terms.

Thus the difference isn’t between ideas and impressions but between two sorts of impressions or ideas: impressions or ideas of terms and impressions or ideas of relations. The real empiricist world is thereby laid out for the first time to the fullest: it is a world of exteriority, a world in which thought itself exists in a fundamental relationship with the Outside, a world in which terms are veritable atoms and relations veritable external passages; a world in which the conjunction “and” dethrones the interiority of the verb “is”; a harlequin world of multicolored patterns and non-totalizable fragments where communication takes place through external relations. Hume’s thought is built up in a double way: through the atomism that shows how ideas or sensory impressions refer to punctual minima producing time and space; and through the associationism that shows how relations are established between these terms, always external to them, and dependent on other principles. On the one hand, a physics of the mind; on the other, a logic of relations. It is thus Hume who first breaks with the constraining form of predicative judgment and makes possible an autonomous logic of relations, discovering a conjunctive world of atoms and relations, later developed by Bertrand Russell and modern logic, for relations are the conjunctions themselves. Deleuze, Pure Immanence 38.

Could we not say then that the hold of the monster in contemporary culture continues a simple but very old, because pragmatic intuition: monsters catalyze the imagination of “a world in which the conjunction ‘and’ dethrones the interiority of the verb ‘is’.” In the sense of an experiment in intuitive imagining relations external to their terms, monstrosity and counter-actualization are closely allied methods. Despite his limitations in being able to think intensive science with radical politics, Delanda’s modelizations can inspire experimentations in monstrosity. He writes in Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy of how “some areas of the world, those defined by processes which are nonlinear and which operate far from equilibrium, do not conceal the virtual underneath extensities and qualities but rather reveal it, or allow it to express itself. These areas would represent a spontaneous movement towards the virtual which is still physical and corporeal but which may be given a boost making it reach the level of a pure virtuality. To the extent that counter-actualization accelerates an escape from actuality which is already present in some intensive processes, the quasi-causal operator is referred to as a ‘line of flight’” (114).

One should not stop there. The aim of a radically material ontology of monstrosity should be a practice that moves along its lines of flight as much as diagrams the tendencies of its own habits: a superabstract inventionism, or more simply, the imagination of “and.”

My (whose?) imagination is drawn today to movements of solidarity across molar differences, circuits of care and friendship, practices of hacktivism and information tactics, slow foods, DIY, the practices of digital archivists, artists, and filmmakers in Mumbai (Ranjit Kandalgaonkar, (anonymous-uk (http://www.anonymousuk.com/), Arianna Bove and Erik Empson’s http://www.generation-online.org/; re-occupying bazaar ecologies (Jussi Parrika and Steven Shukaitus), and media activism (Marc Garrett, Simon Crab, Derek Richards, Gini Simpson, and many others). The proliferation of sites, surfaces, and perceptions of value has produced zones of indetermination in which quasi-causal lines of flight hack transversally and pragmatically toward a new plane of consistency, a new assemblage, a monstrous imagination. Isn’t this finally one sense of Donna Harraway’s crucial essay, “The Promises of Monsters”—that monsters promise a return to intensive materialism, power-capacity, and to untimely history. This promise is affirmed in practices of creating a conjuncture, an “and.”

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Comments
  1. Katherine says:

    I really enjoyed the part in this blog that talked about how the monster is a conglomeration of many different parts and how it is to be feared only because it is unknown. I feel like humans fear uncertainty more than anything else in our world. Even by giving something frightening a name, such as monster, we are then able to categorize it and place it within the context it belongs. Knowing something about the creature, even simply it’s name, makes it less terrifying. This really made me think about society in general and how we may fear completely harmless things only because we have no previous notion of them in our minds. Likewise, we may need to fear things that we accept, but we choose to accept them only because we know what they are.

    I was also really intrigued by the fact that a monster is “a suspension in time.” When thinking of how monsters have evolved, this matter is extremely important. A monster is not simply the product of all of our fears, but a product of every single fear that every single human has ever had in all of time. Monsters bring with them the fears that we had as children, the fears that our parents might have had, the fears that the first humans ever had, and all of the fears we might ever have in our futures. This is why a monster cannot be summed up or defined in any specific way. It is a continuous process of becoming. It never ceases to change and evolve and because of this, we have no true way of knowing what it is. So we fear it because it is the epitome of uncertainty.

  2. Billy Wallace says:

    Once I was able to decipher this blog post, it definitely became my favorite. One part that really intrigued me came from these lines: “A monster may be obviously a composite figure of heterogenous organisms that are grafted onto each other. This graft, this hybridization, this composition that puts heterogeneous bodies together may be called a monster.” I found this quote to be spot-on and really spoke to the nature of the monster. The monster is never a punctum, but is rather something that is continually being changed. Whether it be from new adaptations, new societal fears, or creative licensing, the monster is continually in change. What is interesting about this, however, is that the new monster is not replacing the ones of old, but is rather just adding on to it. It is literally grafting these new forms on top of the old. This shows the great importance of knowing the history of monsters so that you can fully understand how they have gotten to where they are today. This includes things like terrorists. Seeing a single action by a terrorist does not give us a good view of the assemblage of things that have led up to that point. If we don’t understand the numerous “and’s” associated with monsters, we can never truly understand them fully. The last thing I got from this blog really branches out past the constraints of monstrosity and can apply to anything in life. Nothing is an “is”, everything is continually changing and adapting and is instead an “and”. Like I said earlier, we cannot truly understand anything if we don’t understand the countless things that have led up to the punctum that we currently see.

  3. Haley says:

    Two concepts from this blog stood out for me. First, the vampire as a being that embodies many other ideas stood out because it follows many of the readings our class has already done, as well as the topic for my research. The monster represents a buildup of many different fears and troubles that people want to put a face to, so that the fear may be conquered. Whether it is diseases, foreigners, or societal outcasts, the vampire that we study can be seen to embody features from many undesirable parts of society. The monster can serve as a reflection and a scapegoat in society.
    On top of this, the idea that “monsters catalyze the imagination of ‘a world in which the conjunction ‘and’ dethrones the interiority of the verb ‘is’’ struck me. The monster does not exist in stasis. It is flowing and evolving and changing as the world changes. The “and” that dethrones the “is”, allows for this evolution. It acts as a gateway for the addition of detail. As I said before that the vampire mirrors society, and society changes constantly. Thus the vampire must change with it, while still embodying the same traits that make it a quintessential vampire. In that way it still carries all the reflections and ideas that it did before, but changes to fit society. In each new interpretation, the monster absorbs more information, never staying static. And yes, some old traits can be dropped and new ones picked up, but the essential horror of the monster isn’t lost; the vampire still bites and the werewolf still becomes a wolf in any new interpretation.

  4. Eric Grossman says:

    I’ve noticed a theme throughout all three of the blog posts that we’ve studied. In my mind, all of the blog posts have spoken to how the monster is losing his essence when viewed through a punctumized lens. Regardless of whether or not punctumized is a word, the point that I’m trying to make is that it seems that the monster should be viewed through an ontological lens, an evolutionary lens. In this blog post you said, “A monster may be obviously a composite figure of heterogenous organisms that are grafted onto each other. This graft, this hybridization, this composition that puts heterogeneous bodies together may be called a monster.” When a monster is viewed through an evolutionary lens, we are able to view the various parts that must be, or were, assembled in order to create what we see as the monster. If we are not able to decipher the workings of the monster, it’s evolution, and it’s various parts, then we we will most certainly not have the ability to even give it the label of the monster. It would merely be a lifeless, inanimate, immobile object. However, this is not the case because the audience is able to give the monster life by recognizing its inner workings. That being said, the audience doesn’t always seem to do the job given to it. Sometime the audience is lazy, and would rather look at the monster through the punctumized lens, rather than put in the necessary effort that would allow the monster to gain life. If the audience refuses to animate the monster through recognition, then it will undoubtedly remain dormant. After all, it seems that the monster is only able to exist in the mind of a human, and I’d like to say that the vast majority of audiences are human.

    That being said, I am still very confused with your idea of the singular, or singularity. I feel as if you are trying to say that the singular is actually composed of multiple bodies, just as the monster is. But then why is it even given the label of “singular”? Why isn’t the singular more accurately given the label of a heterogenous creation, literally a Frankenstein? Why are we forced to reduce the singular to its parts in order to understand it? Furthermore, why isn’t it shown to us in an already denatured, broken form? Wouldn’t this make creation/evolution that much easier. For instance, we see initially see Dracula as an imposing but polite figure. However, later we find out that Dracula is far more than that, and even later we find out that Dracula’s ambiguity may even make it impossible to create a universal definition for the monster. Are we given this singular and mysterious being purposely, in hopes that its ambiguity will frighten us? In theory, if we were able to reduce Dracula, the power of his ambiguity to frighten would simply fall in nonexistence. But, it may, in fact, be quite impossible to fully reduce a monster that inherently has an infinite number of possible interpretations. What happens then? I feel as if, in this case, the whole idea of the singular and it’s creation would need some sort of reform or reanimation.

  5. Zach DeBard says:

    Like Billy, it took me a few read-throughs to understand this blog post, but I really enjoyed this one as well. You said in your blog post that “monstrosity may reveal or make one aware of what the norm is and when this norm has a history… any appearance of monstrosity in this domain allows an analysis of the history of the norms”. This quote ties together really well with our most recent reading in our Writing class, Halberstam’s “Technology of Monstrosity” – a reading which analyzes and speaks about Dracula’s duality, both man and monster, feminine and masculine, living and dead; it also analyzes the strongly anti-Semetic features and connotations found in the character of Count Dracula. Stoker characterized Dracula based on the norms of the time – Jews and homosexuals were evil or wrong in some way – and this personification of Stoker’s own prejudices creates a detailed model of the historical period in which this novel is set.

    You also described the duration of the monster’s existence; you said that “monstrosity is a moment of awakening to the norm; the norm is historicized in the monstrous”. This again can be shown through Dracula. Because Dracula is believed to be an anti-Semitic caricature of the typical Jew as well as an ambiguously sexual being, we as readers are able to see the awakening to the norms of the time. Because the monster is the awakening to the norm of a certain time, the norm of that historical period is forever immortalized as the monster itself. A large part of the world today is much more accepting of both Jews and non-binary gender and sexual identifications and, as such, finds the characterization of the Count strange.

    However, through Dracula, we are able to conduct a semi-informal study of prejudices in the late 19th century. The immortal form of the vampire has immortalized the bigotry of the 19th century. But this is not to say that the vampire is unchanging. Far from it. In the beginning of your blog, you described the monster as a grafting together of ideas, a literary form of Frankenstein’s monster. As time passes and we see the vampire evolve through literature, we need to see that the vampire is not being replaced, whether it is Dracula, Lestat, or Edward Cullen. Each of these examples shows a different view of what the vampire is, but all are a part of the whole. The vampire is not replaced in each new tale told about it; it simply evolves and grafts these new ideas onto its form, creating an ever-changing face of fear – a face that will always reflect the norms of the modern period, therefore historicizing the norms within the form of the monster.

  6. Alexis Newton says:

    I thought the concept of the monster as external and the relation of that to the conjunction “and” and the “interiority” of “is.” I never thought of monsters being completely external to culture and nature. The idea of the monster being “pure excess” is very interesting. It makes me wonder how the monster can be primarily “representation, metaphor, and identity.” What is it that the monster is representing, aside from being “Other,” when it is externalized form both culture and nature? How is the monster formed in the first place if they are completely external from “normal?”

    The relationship between “and” and “is” and the nature of monsters is also intriguing. It makes the concept that monsters are “composite” beings more understandable. Rather than simply saying “a monster is…” one must say “a monster is…and….” The composite nature of monsters does not allow for the monster to be defined by the simple nature of only “is.” I don’t know if this is even close to accurate, but it seems to me that “is” can be used when describing the monster, but “and” is used when describing the assemblage of monstrosity.

  7. Steph Kerlakian says:

    I still think it’s very interesting to consider the monster as something made up of other species grafted onto each other. “A monster is a species for which we do not yet have a name, which does not mean that the species is abnormal, namely, the composition or hybridization of already known species.” This is confusing for me, that the monster does not yet have a name. In an older post that you wrote, when you were deciding what the correct way to problematize the monster was, you said that the monster could be a punctum in space and time, like a terrorist or a state enemy. Wouldn’t, then, the monster have a name? Wouldn’t this be its name? Or are you arguing that looking at the monster as punctum is wrong, and it should be viewed as an evolution, like the growing problem of terrorism. Then, wouldn’t it also have a name? Terrorism?

    Futhermore, you say that the monster is a composition or hybridization of already known species. I think this is very interesting because then the terrorist is a composition of other monsters, perhaps the monsters of radicalism, the monsters of insanity… This is the way that I see this argument. This also goes along with the fact that “and” dethrones the interiority of the verb “is”. A monster is a continuing growth, a monster and another monster and another monster built on top of each other – which is exactly what you said earlier – that a monster is a composition or hybridization of already known species.

    I like how you began this post in one way, and then ended it with another concept (the “and” concept) that ties the beginning to it.

  8. Jordan Rook says:

    The meaning of this blog escaped me the first few times I read it. However, it started coming together when students in my class did a small activity in which we continued to add onto the story using the word “and”. This brought forth the idea that the monster is a compilation of the many different ideas that have been used to describe and develop it. This idea infers that it is incorrect to analyze a monster by its punctum, but more so from an ontological perspective. In the study of vampires this is not as applicable to the Bram Stoker’s Dracula because this is almost the source of this monster. If a punctum can be found, Stoker’s Dracula is as close a moment as we can find. In modern times the vampire has gone on to embody most of societies fears and this is where your compilation of “ands” becomes most relevant. No longer is the vampire an expression of anti-semitism or unrepressed sexuality, but it begins to represent everything we fear. It is a monster made of “ands.” Blood lust can be viewed as the fight of addiction by some, but primal instinct by others. The ever evolving vampire created by the changing media surrounding the monster has allowed for the ontological definition of the vampire to be plagued by “ands.” It’s purpose and its importance can only be determined once the many different stories that this monsters embodies is understood.

  9. Alicia Everitt says:

    In contrast to the point that a monster is ‘ingression of the world into the production of an actual entity,” I would like to pose a thought. Perhaps the monster is not the culmination of fear and solely identified by the labeling of such an entity as monstrous. Perhaps the monster is the exact opposite: an embodiment of the unknown and is not defined by its title, but is fearsome because it is unable to be constrained by the definition of a title. Yes, the monster is a defined punctum within the abyss of progression that is monstrosity, but this punctum is not defined by a grafting of already existing traits. This punctum brings fear to people, yet intrigue, do to its representation of the abnormal, not the norm. Monsters are foreign, they are immortal, they are fictional. The very definition of fiction is not reality. I consent that there may be symbolism of reality within the false, but a monster is a representation of what reality is unable to embody—chaos, freedom, darkest indulgences. One may define an entity as a monster and thus think that they have constrained this threat of temptation of the unknown by placing this threat within a physical body which can be defeated. Yet, this entity is fearsome due to its nature of breaking societal restraints, of anarchy, so by defining the absence of order and safety you are feeding directly into its power force. Now the foreign has bounds which attempt to constrain something defined by an inability to be restrained, creating the opportunity for the very concept of this entity to demonstrate its force.

  10. Chelsea Warren says:

    I think, like my fellow classmates listened above, that this blog does a nice job of summarizing the idea that the monster is a composite figure made up of different facets of our culture and in a perpetual continuum of change. To view the monster as a punctum, as a moment in time, is to think also of the study of media ecology as nonexistent since to study anything, one is looking at the past’s influence on the present.

    One part that is curious to me is the idea that “as soon as one perceives a monster in a monster, one begins to domesticate it.” Does this mean that we never produce a monster free of our own influence? That although the vampire is produced as an excess part of our society that it can never be a wild, uncontrolled species? That since we domesticate as soon as it is created, that we can always predict its actions and effects? Yet, there is a strong point being made that “the conjunction ‘and’ dethrones the interiority of the verb ‘is’.” This means that while the monster might always exist in “pure excess” it always serves as a “representation, metaphor, and identity” that continually is added upon. This is the very heart of the monster. A monster can never exist for very long, it just serves as a medium as which to spread the media, the monstrosity. The monster is always being added upon, being replaced by a new species of monster, both which are changed by an archetypical monstrosity.

  11. abi says:

    Your ideas about the monster and its apparent “monstrosity” have definitely challenged my attitude towards the vampire in particular. Your blog post that delineates the monster’s ontology from its “punctum” existence especially fascinates me. Often times people mistake a monster’s current status as the sole reason for its existence. However, the ontology of the monster exists within the context that the monster is derived in. It is the social norms and the years of history that build our fear of vampires such as Dracula and our undeniable attraction to modern-day monsters such as Edward Cullen. If we see the vampire as a point in time, we will never fully grasp its “monstrosity”. Instead, we mistakenly evaluate the vampire based solely on its behavior in modern-day media. However, the medium itself is the true message. The vampire’s image is the purest form of communication. The physical manifestation of this representation results in the characters we see in television shows, movies, and books. However, the interpretation of this manifestation is entirely dependent on the audience. Without the audience, there is no reason for the media to exist. The vampire’s representation is purely a form of information transfer; we aim to portray our own social norms in the vampire. This is the sole reason for the “monstrosity” associated with any monster that exists in our society. Interpreting only the actions of the vampire limits our scope of the monster, and ultimately strips the vampire of its “monstrosity”.

    I believe that “monstrosity” does not necessarily have to be a feared concept. Yes, it does have a negative connotation in our society. But “monstrosity” is simply a reflection of our most revered societal values and our inner desires as humans. How we interpret the physical manifestation of these desires depends on how the medium is presented. I think that one quote effectively summarizes the main points you make in this blog post: “A monster may be obviously a composite figure of heterogenous organisms that are grafted onto each other. This graft, this hybridization, this composition that puts heterogeneous bodies together may be called a monster.” The compilation of different traits and characteristics is what the true essence of the monster is comprised of. Looking at one single characteristic distorts our view and limits what we interpret as “monstrosity”. In addition, the association of several characteristics adds multiple dimensions to the monster. As a result, the monster becomes a relatable creature to human beings. We see these creatures as physical manifestations of our inner desires, instead of lifeless entities bent on creating havoc. Without the “and” in its description, the monster becomes a lifeless being, existing in isolation. Believe it or not, the monster plays an integrated role in our society.

    I was wondering if you could explain more about the analogy you made with the existence of the monster and the fluidity of oil. I believe that the movement of oil is a sort of gradual, continuous process. Instead, you compared it to the “punctum” of a monster by describing how it glazes over a certain distance in a short amount of time.

  12. Elizabeth Burger says:

    I agree with my classmates that this blog does an exceptional task at summarizing the subject that the monster is an image constructed of different aspects of our culture and in an everlasting range of change.

    I found my perceptions correlated with Chelsea’s quite a bit. “As soon as one perceive a monster in a monster, one begins to domesticate it.” This is extremely evident in that once an individual in our society is exposed to something unfamiliar, we immediately compare it to an image or memory we are acquainted with. This is our way of handling the unknown and dealing with uncertainty. Therefore, while the monster does exist in “pure excess” it does serve as a “representation, metaphor, and identity” that is continually added upon. Thus, as an ever-fluctuating society, yet as humanity and a cultivation of similar beings, we are always building upon what we know and reverting back to what we have been exposed to. Thus, the vampire is always being expounded upon, yet still resembles the first prominent and engraved image. I believe the first resounding vampire image was Dracula and the most recent etched image of the vampire is Edward Cullen. Dracula holds all of the known facets of not having a soul, requiring blood, and being secluded from society. Yet, Edward was illustrated as expanding from this to become a sleepless being, who sparkles when exposed to sunlight. The oscillating depiction of the vampire follows the ever-changing humankind. From every recollection of a monster comes a previous recall and so on and so forth and in the opposite direction and at the polar point on the spectrum, monsters will continually be added upon, advanced and enhanced.

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