The Stopover Between Being and Oblivion: Understanding an emotional response to kitsch, in a context of more prevailing attitudes of abjection, and an exploration of kitsch’s relationship to death. By Hannah Summers
A Brief History and a Definition of Kitsch
Defining the Abject in Conjunction to Kitsch
Clear Cut Abjection
Abjection Posing as Ironic Celebration
Kitsch and Death
Fig. 1: Photograph of my Grandmother’s ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’ print
Fig. 2: Photograph of my own framed ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’ print, 43 x 32cm
Fig. 3: An example of Nazi Propaganda, taken from Jill Ashley Art and Design Blog, URL: http://jhawcutt93.blogspot.com/2012_01_01_archive.html (18 February 2012)
Fig. 4: Another example of Nazi propaganda, taken from Adolf Hitler Best Pictures Blog, URL: http://adolfhitlerbestpictures.blogspot.com/2010/01/adolf‐hitler‐ pictures‐on‐nazi.html (18 February 2012)
Fig. 5: A screenshot of the drag queen, Divine, in ‘Pink Flamingos, taken from the USC School of Cinematic Arts Website, URL: http://cinema.usc.edu/events/event.cfm?id=11879 (18 February 2012)
Fig. 6: Images of shrines, photograph taken of Betty Spackman’s book, A Profound Weakness: Christians and Kitsch
Fig. 7: Images of sand under a microscope, credited to Prof. Gary Greenberg, taken from Mail Online Website, URL: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article‐2011471/Pictures‐sand‐ Close‐photographs‐reveal‐incredible‐beauty.html (18 February 2012)
In this dissertation, I intend to explore a personal and moving experience I have had with a kitsch image, ‘Jesus of the Sacred Heart’, by juxtaposing it with more common reactions of abjection where kitsch is concerned. I will use a psychoanalytical approach in order to bring out the different types of abjection that occur – namely, straightforward refusal and, also, the more complex ironic celebration. I aim to elucidate my findings further by discussing the inherent relationship between kitsch and death. By doing so, I ultimately hope to posit a new way of understanding kitsch, that places it closer to art and lessens its connection to the abject. I believe that this is an understanding that is strongly lacking from our historical and cultural discourse at present.
Kitsch. In the most relatively benign terms, it is derided as “tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or indiscriminating taste”1. Turn it up a gear and we have Nabokov lambasting it as “banality, vulgarity and sham”2. Elsewhere, it has been accorded “deceptive”3 and “dangerous”4 qualities, been likened variously to a vampire that “draws its life blood”5 from true culture, a prostitute who “pretends to demand nothing of its customers except their money”6, and an “anti-system”7 of culture, attacking it from the inside like a parasite. In fact, Hermann Broch has thrown all caution to the wind and has moralistically branded it as an “evil”8 force; the “Lucifer”9 to the avant-garde’s stoically suffering Christ. I still have a copy of the reading list prescribed to me in my first year of art school on the subject of kitsch, comprising of many texts that would inundate me with descriptions to match those above. At the top of that list was Clement Greenberg’s ‘The Avant-garde and Kitsch’, an indicator that it is still considered by many to be the seminal and defining treatise on the kitsch phenomenon. As a young and impressionable student, the highly polemical and impassioned tone of the text had instant appeal. To Greenberg, the avant-garde represented truth and purity, whilst kitsch was undoubtedly a malign threat to this sacred culture. My purpose was clear – I had to reject kitsch at all costs. Such passions were inflamed by Greenberg’s oft-quoted decrying of kitsch thus: “Kitsch is mechanical and operates by formulas. Kitsch is vicarious experience and faked sensations. Kitsch changes according to style, but remains the same. Kitsch is the epitome of all that is spurious in the life of our times.”10 Greenberg paints a picture of kitsch as a many-headed monster, banal yet sinister, duping the ignorant into its clutches. One can see why these notions might fuel a misplaced sense of artistic righteousness. In short, ‘The Avant-garde and Kitsch’ had such a profound effect on me that I was not prepared for the possibility that Greenberg’s arguments might not empirically stand to reason, because he had never properly engaged with the subject he was so dismissive of. I certainly did not expect that I might ever properly engage with a piece of kitsch myself. 1
URL: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/kitsch Nabokov, Vladimir, ‘Philistines and Philistinism’ in Lectures on Russian Literature, pg. 311 3 Greenberg, Clement, ‘Avant-Garde and Kitsch’ in Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, page 544 4 As above 5 As above, page 543 6 As above 7 Broch, Hermann, ‘Notes on the Problem of Kitsch’ in Kitsch: The World of Bad Taste, page 62 8 As above, page 63 9 As above 10 Greenberg, ‘Avant-Garde and Kitsch’, page 543 2
I decided to bring this new found cultural awareness to a particular kitsch artefact that was very familiar to me: a framed print of the ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’11 that has always hung on my Grandmother’s wall. By beginning to properly dissect an image that had always been engraved somewhere on my consciousness, I now began to question what I had always taken for granted. I saw that Jesus appeared in an extremely feminised manner, possibly to an extent that would be considered controversial in another context: his hair was delicately curled, his eyes were docile, and the stigmata on his pale, beseeching hands suggested female penetration and menstruation. I wondered how such a gender-ambiguous image had become so widely spread a symbol of the Catholic faith, and whether the Catholic Church approved of such a symbol. The image now seemed to hint at some unresolved paradox at the centre of a Church that preaches the stereotypically feminine values of forgiveness, compassion, and gentleness, yet also promotes the maintenance of strict gender roles, and a traditional, patriarchal family unit. These were questions that I would normally expect to be provoked by a piece of art showing in a gallery, or reviewed by a magazine, or approved in some way by an establishment of some sort, not a piece of kitsch. I was then struck by the way in which my Grandmother had placed a card inscribed with the Catholic prayer of Memorare (meaning ‘remembrance’) in the corner of the frame as a miniature memorial to my Grandfather’s death, according the image a spiritual depth that I found genuinely moving and sad. This miniature shrine spoke of the importance of spirituality, commemoration and small human gestures in the face of something as terrifying and senseless as death. The sublimation of all these ideas within one kitsch image was very powerful, the opposite, if you will, of being “vicarious” and “spurious”. Understanding my intellectual response, and answering the questions about the Church’s relationship to the ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’, is not the focus of my dissertation (and, in fact, Colleen MacDannell has already answered many of them in her excellent book, Material Christianity: Religion and Popular Culture in America). What I am interested in understanding is how a piece of ‘sentimental’ and ‘low-brow’ kitsch provoked such a genuine and emotional reaction in me, so vastly different to the attitude of Clement Greenberg and the other sources on my first year reading list. Furthermore, I want to explore the juxtaposition of kitsch and death that I experienced in greater depth to aid this understanding. In practical terms, I will begin by exploring the attitudes most commonly held in cultural discourse towards kitsch. These attitudes can be typified easily into two categories: one of aesthetic and moral disgust and one of ironic celebration. I want to use, primarily, the attitude of Clement Greenberg as an example of the former, and the camp persona of cult film director, John Waters, as an example of the latter. Although these opinions may seem drastically dichotomous, I believe they are linked by an innate desire to intellectually distance kitsch. Julia Kristeva’s psychoanalytical theory of abjection is 11
Refer to fig. 1 and 2
of the utmost relevance to understanding what lies beneath the need to distance and reject something from ourselves, and why kitsch so often becomes a site of abjection, and I intend to use psychoanalysis as a means of enhancing this understanding. I then want to explore my own personal connection to the kitsch image of the ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’ as I believe that it occurs outside the realm of abjection. I want to know whether there is a historical precedent for this connection, whether others have had the same connection as I have, and what impact this has on our common understanding of kitsch as second-rate art. I believe that understanding kitsch’s relationship to death is vital to this undertaking, and the texts of Walter Benjamin and Celeste Olalquiaga upon the symbolic value of kitsch as the dust of a “shattered aura”12, and Philip Pullman’s writing about the importance of self-awareness to our race, have helped me form a view on this relationship. My ultimate ambition is that my investigations might warrant a perspective on kitsch that is free from abjection, and free from the problematic biases that are the foundations of many of the prevailing attitudes towards kitsch in cultural and historical discourse at present.
Olalquiaga, Celeste, The Artificial Kingdom: On the Kitsch Experience, page 18
A Brief History and a Definition of Kitsch
There is a general consensus that, as a term, kitsch was coined in the 1860s and 1870s art markets in Munich to denote inferior copies of high art being pawned cheaply to those who could not afford the originals. It was a phenomenon that spread quickly to other cultures, due to the fact that the industrial revolution was giving rise to a new bourgeois class of people who had disposable incomes and an increasing appetite for cultural distraction and interior decoration. These appetites were met by the ability of mass reproduction to churn out art objects and design at faster and cheaper rates. And so, kitsch was supposedly born. Stylistically, kitsch is said to be created to appeal to the masses. Hence, simplified sentiment and exaggerated emotion take precedence over high-minded intellectual conceits; not too distant a concept to that of the art of the Romantic and Rococco movements. I believe that there are no real ways to aesthetically typify kitsch, because one’s view of its aesthetics is so heavily determined by class, taste and upbringing. In fact, to the person who genuinely engages with kitsch, it really is art. I do believe that Milan Kundera came closest to hitting the nail on the head, though, when he said that “kitsch is the absolute denial of shit”13. However, I feel that this is a metaphysical concept, as well as an aesthetic one – in our daily lives, we continually have to deny “shit” in order to remain intact (a theory I will delve into further later on). Hence, I will attempt to demarcate, when necessary within this essay, if I am discussing aesthetic kitsch, as opposed to metaphysical kitsch. The exact etymology of the term is quite uncertain. English-speaking countries have often logically attributed it to the German verb kitschen, which means to “to stroke, pet, smear, or lump together”14 or “to collect rubbish from the streets”15, both of which seem relevant to the view of aesthetic kitsch as schmaltzy trash. However, in Germany, strangely, it is often thought to be a mispronunciation of the English word, sketch, possibly originating from tourists asking for cheap and quick sketches of the Bavarian scenery as a souvenir of their experience, which seems relevant to the notion of aesthetic kitsch being a facsimile of true art, and also underlines the importance of commemoration and nostalgia in kitsch. Even in the roots of the word, we can see the concept forming of kitsch being a means to replicate a memory or event in a slightly different and possibly more sentimental way than when it existed, which hints at its relationship to death. There are further theories moreover; that it could be an inversion of the French term, chic, or a derivation of keetcheetsya, a Russian word describing something puffed up and pretentious. Another point of interest is that, even in its 13
Kundera, Milan, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, page 248 Bearn, Gordon C.F., ‘Kitsch’ in Encyclopaedia of Aesthetics, page 66 15 URL: http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/kitsch.htm 14
etymology, kitsch is an unknown and elusive quantity, impossible to pin down where it exactly it originates from. It lends itself to being personified as a shady, duplicitous character, evaporating every time a definition comes close to grasping it. The varied and vague meanings and origins attributed to kitsch convey that it is a term that can be easily manipulated to mean many things, thereby becoming a vessel for our own interpretations. Theodor Adorno was right when he said “it is impossible to define what kitsch or artistic trash is”.16 The ‘official’ definition of kitsch according to the Oxford Dictionary goes as follows: “Art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way”17 This makes reference to what I feel to be the two prevailing attitudes towards kitsch – that it is art for ‘philistines’, but that it can be celebrated by the cultured in a condescending manner. In this sense, I believe the dictionary definition to be very useful as it shows that the concept of aesthetic kitsch is completely intertwined with the reactions to it. I would like to hypothesise that the reason that Greenberg and other such heavyweight art critics’ attempts to impose a system to identify kitsch have become vague and arbitrary, is that they have not realised that aesthetic kitsch is not kitsch until someone (namely them) defines it as such. Kitsch can never be understood as an object on its own terms. The reaction to it forces it into being. Hence, to the ‘philistine’ who genuinely engages with aesthetic kitsch, it is in fact ‘art’. Without understanding this, any attempt at clarification will descend into artistic demagogy. I wonder how my own emotional reaction to the ‘Sacred Heart’ fits into this dialogue. Can I truly see the ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’ as art? Or does my knowledge that others may see it as kitsch for its sentimental and exaggerated qualities prevent me from doing so? Since we now understand that kitsch is more of a descriptor of the reaction of a subject to an object, then it logically follows that the term must provide an insight into the subject’s frame of mind in the context of this interaction. One of the consequences of using the term, ‘kitsch’, to describe art and design of seemingly derivative, sentimental and tacky qualities, is that it also implies an assumed position of superiority to the above. Thus, if one uses the term, ‘kitsch’, as a descriptor, one is not only describing an object or experience, but is also unwittingly revealing one’s perception of oneself as cultured and tasteful. In other words, it reveals a desire to abject kitsch. This inevitably leads to the question: why does this desire to abject manifest in the first place?
Bearn, ‘Kitsch’, page 66 URL: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/kitsch
Defining the Abject
Abject comes from the Latin, ‘adjectus’, which literally means to throw away and cast off, or to debase or lower. In the present day, the connotations of degradation have become more common, and ‘abject’ is now used to describe an extreme state of misery and shame (for example, to be in a state of abject despair). Cultural theorist, Julia Kristeva appropriated the term and its connotations to posit her own theory of what the abject was in her 1941 book, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Kristeva coupled the notion of casting off and throwing away with the strong, driving human instinct of disgust. Disgust enables the necessary avoidance of that which would bring us death, disease and illness; that which would physically harm us. It is an important instinct for survival. Kristeva wrote that we do not only continually have to reject and cast off these abject things in order to protect ourselves physically, but we also use it to protect ourselves psychologically. For example, she discusses the necessity of a child recognising their mother as abject, in order to cast her off and form an individual identity. Kristeva furthered the concept of the abject in relation to the Lacanian notion of the symbolic order – the structure that holds society together based on laws, language and exclusion of the abject: “Discomfort, unease, dizziness stemming from an ambiguity that, through the violence of a revolt against, demarcates a space out of which signs and objects arise.”18 In some ways, we could say the symbolic order is a patriarchal concept, based as it is on the highlyvalued notions of reason, and intellect, notions that are commonly consigned to the male realm. Furthermore, the child must cut their ties to the abject, their own body and, most significantly, their mother, in order to enter it. This posits the feminine a being closer to the abject than the masculine is. Ultimately, the abject is death (note I did not say denotes or symbolises, there can be no symbols or signs in the realm of the abject, they belong to the symbolic order); death of the body in physical terms, death of identity by being subsumed by the mother’s womb, death of reason and intellect by destabilising the symbolic order. We can see many correlations between Kristeva’s theory of abjection and the reactions towards kitsch. For example, the language that is used to describe the two phenomenons seems very similar. She describes the abject as the “place where meaning collapses”19, in the same way Greenberg has
Kristeva, Julia, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, page 10 As above, page 2
discussed kitsch as art for the “insensible”20, connoting that both kitsch and the abject are places devoid of order, where madness rules. Kristeva writes that the abject: “…disturbs identity, system, order… does not respect borders, positions, rules.”21 Similarly, one of the reasons kitsch is so frustrating to its critics is that it seems to pilfer from and desecrate carefully formed ideas of the avant-garde and all of art history, without ‘paying its dues’, so to speak. Greenberg speaks of this perceived criminality of kitsch in relation to the avant-garde thus: “It borrows from it devices, tricks, stratagems, rules of thumb, themes, converts them into a system, and discards the rest. What I, personally, find most striking in the relationship between kitsch and the abject is that Kristeva writes that: “Food loathing is the most elementary and most archaic form of abjection.”22 Kitsch is often spoken about in terms of food and, obviously, taste - bad taste, poor taste, disgusting, nauseating, sickly, saccharine, sweet, sour. This again leads me to believe that kitsch is not an area that is being critiqued solely on the grounds of intellectual reason, but rather a more primitive revulsion against an abject force. In some ways, I believe that Kristeva’s theory has a precedent in Sartre’s philosophical novel, Nausea, where the main character, Antoine Roquentin, is undergoing an existential crisis as he attempts to place himself in a world that he perceives as devoid of meaning. In some ways, we could look at it as though he has realised the falsity of the symbolic order, and is struggling to make sense in the aftermath of this realisation. As part of his predicament, he is perpetually revolted by his surroundings and finds himself placed within a dizzying nauseous cycle. As Nicola Cotton pointed out in her excellent essay, Mind Over Matter, for the exhibition catalogue, Nausea: Encounters with Ugliness, what truly repulses Roquentin about his surroundings is not their actual disgusting physicality, but his desire to be a part of their meaninglessness, to be contingent with their abjectness. As Kristeva has said, the abject continually seduces and threatens us, draws us and repels us. She compares it to a “vortex of summons and repulsion”23. We are stuck in the middle of a desperate fight between dissolving into its deathly clutches and running from it back to the symbolic order: In some ways, we could link this to Milan Kundera’s idea that vertigo is not the fear of falling, but our fear of our desire to fall. Could we extend these notions of attraction and repulsion to the critics and abjectors of kitsch? Is their desire to abject it really a desperate fight against its attraction to them? 20
Greenberg, ‘Avant-Garde and Kitsch’, page 543 Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, page 4 22 As above, page 2 23 As above, page 1 21
Possibly they, too, are seduced by the perceived meaninglessness of kitsch, their enemy that smiles at them. Possibly, they even might envy the simplicity it seems to offer. One thing is certain, by embroiling themselves in a battle with kitsch, it will be all the more difficult to extricate themselves from it: “... “subject” and “object” push each other away, confront each other, collapse, and start again – inseparable, contaminated, condemned, at the boundary of what is assumable, thinkable: abject.” 24 The more they perceive kitsch as the enemy and struggle against it, the wider its sinister smile will become.
Kristeva, Julia, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, page 18
Clear Cut Abjection
I have underlined the clear correlations between Kristeva’s theory of abjection and the language used by Greenberg and other critics to denote kitsch. I have also established that by labelling something as kitsch, one is effectively carrying out an intellectual abjection. Therefore, I now want to explore the reasons why this desire to abject kitsch occurs in the first place. To put Greenberg, Adorno and Broch, some of kitsch’s fiercest critics, within the context of the time they wrote their treatises on the subject, we can see some understandable, and even justifiable, motives behind their desire to abject kitsch. Their various texts were written in the 30s and 40s, when Communism had already begun its march through the East, and the threat of the Nazi regime loomed large. I can see why this would have cast a shadow over the judgements of these critics of kitsch, as is suggested by Greenberg’s analogy that in fascism: “Revolvers and torches begin to be mentioned in the same breath as culture. In the name of godliness or the blood’s health, the statue smashing commences.”25 The critics of kitsch had seen a nation’s books burned and, indeed, their statues smashed. To focus specifically on the Nazis, the critics had seen this art replaced with propaganda bedecked with Aryan smiles and heroic Hitlers.26 They saw flowers, rays of sun, beatific smiles and devoted salutes be pasted over some of the most horrifying atrocities in history – atrocities that had occurred in order to deny and destroy the existence of Hitler’s own abject fears and his attempts to reject all that which did not fit within his vision for the ‘Fatherland’. One can see that the juxtaposition of saccharine sentiment and kitsch ideals with Nazi terror would seem completely sickening. Milan Kundera wrote about the equally destructive Communism: “...everything that infringes on kitsch must be banished for life: every display of individualism (because a deviation from the collective is a spit in the eye of the smiling brotherhood); every doubt (because anyone who starts doubting details will end by doubting life itself); all irony (because in the realm of kitsch everything must be taken quite seriously)”27 In other words, in order to function, a totalitarian regime must constantly reject and, where possible, eliminate that which contradicts it. This is abjection. Thus, we can see that totalitarian regimes will always be kitsch, as, to use Kundera’s own phrase, they are based and maintained on the “absolute denial of shit”. By taking these facts into consideration, the attitude of Greenberg et al seems almost permissible and logical. However, I still believe that a hatred of totalitarianism is too simplistic a 25
Greenberg, ‘The Avant-Garde and Kitsch’, page 547 Refer to fig. 3 and 4 27 Kundera, Milan, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, page 251-252 26
premise for a complete rejection and stigmatisation of kitsch. “Statue-smashing” should not be replaced by kitsch-bashing. By doing this, we are only erecting another regime: taste. Furthermore, the Nazis and Communists are obviously extreme examples of symbolic orders built upon abjection and kitsch and, thus, prove that any attempt to live in complete “denial of shit” has catastrophic results. However, I do believe that there are times in life where a kitsch viewpoint is essential, as I will go into in more depth later. Furthermore, any hatred and blame towards totalitarian regimes must surely be primarily directed towards the perpetrators of the regime, not its propaganda and iconography. In fact, in terms of the latter, it is of the utmost importance that we bring the questioning and open mind that we would bring to any piece of art, and I do believe that propaganda is art. Only by doing this, will we understand the language of dictatorship. Only by doing this, will we develop the ability to see through political and ideological lies. Only by doing this, will we prevent the atrocities of the Nazi and Communist regimes occurring again. Less justifiably, the attitude of Greenberg and his peers towards kitsch can be seen as a manifestation of underlying distrust of the feminine. MacDannell explains this most effectively: “categories of gender are used to distinguish art from kitsch...Art was given characteristics that Western culture defines as masculine: strength, power, nobility. Kitsch became associated with stereotypical feminine qualities: sentimentality, superficiality and, and intimacy.”28 Indeed, kitsch is often accused of being too intimate with one’s emotions and of appealing too baldly to one’s sentiment, as Clement Greenberg will attest: “[kitsch] provides vicarious experience for the insensitive with far greater immediacy...”29 This attitude clearly stems from Kant’s notion that art which directly engages with the senses is “barbaric”30. There is a dichotomy inherent here that seems to keep reappearing in accordance with the symbolic order and its need to abject that which threatens it: intellectual is good, emotional is bad, art is good, kitsch is bad, masculine is good, feminine is bad. I believe that this binary formula still dictates many of the unspoken rules of the modern day art establishment. Grayson Perry, somewhat a fixture of said establishment in Britain, and a man with considerable experience of both genders, surmises this premise most succinctly: “The art world overprivileges an intellectual view of the world rather than an emotional one, which might be generalised as feminine. I think it's perfectly valid to say you love a piece because it makes you cry, rather than saying it references Lacan.”31 Ironically, my interaction with my Grandmother’s ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’ has led me to write a dissertation that references Lacan, but I would say the experience initially brought me closer to tears 28
MacDannell, Colleen, Material Christianity: Religion and Popular Culture in America, page 124 Greenberg, ‘Avant-Garde and Kitsch’, page 546 30 Bearn, Gordon C.F., ‘Kitsch’ in Encyclopaedia of Aesthetics, page 68 31 URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/25/relationships-men-women-grayson-perry 29
than psychoanalytical ponderings. MacDannell and Perry’s observations allow me to understand why there is so little historical or modern cultural discourse that validates my experience. Though the underlying misogyny of the art establishment is an important and relevant subject to explore (and one which MacDannell sheds much light on in her books), I do not wish to delve much further into such a loaded area in this dissertation, as I am more interested in understanding kitsch’s relationship with death. To carry on the tradition of Kristeva and Lacan, psychoanalysis of Greenberg’s attitude might hold the key to truly understanding where the need to abject kitsch arises from. I discussed the matter with consultant psychiatrist in psychotherapy, Dr. Mark Cohen. Upon describing the language that Greenberg and his peers use when discussing kitsch, he was saw a link with the Kleinian concept of ‘projection’. He described it as such: “It’s a defensive manoeuvre, in a way, [against] something that causes or might cause you anxiety... you can get rid of it [the anxiety] by the projective process and locate it in somebody or something else.” I believe that kitsch is the “something” in which the anxieties of Greenberg and others are stored. This would explain why kitsch is sometimes spoken about fearfully and sometimes dismissively. Belittling anxieties is a natural way of coping with them. I would posit that to Greenberg, kitsch is a site of abjection. This hypothesis becomes more interesting when we refer again to Kundera’s proclamation that kitsch is in itself an abjection (“kitsch is the absolute denial of shit”). Effectively, this means that Greenberg is effectively carrying out an abjection of abjection itself or, in clearer terms, his attitude springs from a need to show that he can accept what kitsch denies, specifically, the abject, and what the abject ultimately signifies, death. I would argue that Greenberg’s fear of kitsch is really a complex expression of his desire to show how, with his cultured taste and superior intellect, he has no need to fear death or to abject it in a kitsch manner. Of course, this is not true – we all fear death and there is no real way of rationalising this fear. In their attempts to do, Greenberg and his peers come across as more neurotic than those who simply attempt to understand it through kitsch, like my Grandmother. In relating this to Dr. Cohen, he explained my hypothesis to me using the diagnostic terms Melanie Klein posited as part of her psychoanalytical theory of projection. She believed that we could classify two significant states of mind, or ‘positions’ as she called them, stemming from the act of projection, or its inverse, introjection: she called the first, ‘paranoid-schizoid’, and the second, ‘depressive’. The former occurs if one projects one’s fears and anxieties externally and, as a result, feel victimised by them. The latter occurs when one takes one’s fears and anxieties within oneself and, supposedly, gains a better grasp on them. The first, according to Dr. Cohen, is often seen as “primitive”, whereas the latter is often seen as a more “mature” defensive manoeuvre. My argument would then be that the art establishment, as symbolised by Clement Greenberg, believes itself to be of a ‘depressive’ mindset – due to their enlightened perspective on the world, they can assimilate themselves with the abject and, 21
thus, have no fear of death – but in actual fact there is paranoid-schizoid aspect to their abjection of kitsch – they attempt to cast it out, find themselves to be persecuted by it and, thus, see it as “evil”. In Broch’s own words, kitsch, to them, truly is the “enemy within”32. Hence, if we were to personify the art establishment in its views towards kitsch, as represented by Clement Greenberg, we would say that he (for it is most certainly a he) is of a paranoid-schizoid state of mind, but is masquerading as being of a depressive one, in a complex defence mechanism against his innate fear of death.
Broch, ‘Notes on the Problem of Kitsch’, page 62
Abjection Posing as Ironic Celebration
I have covered those who abject kitsch in a fairly straightforward manner (albeit there are more complex reasons underlying this abjection); those who see it merely in terms of art being good, kitsch being bad, therefore kitsch must be rejected. But what about those who, like the Dictionary stated, appreciate kitsch in an “ironic or knowing way”, those who revel in its sensory and “barbaric” delights? Alongside the lofty, Greenbergian criticism of kitsch, there is now a proliferation of attitudes that seem to gleefully poke fun at the sombreness of this criticism. This can be identified as ‘camp’, a sensibility which rejoices in kitsch, trash, cheese and anything else that could be seen as a challenge to conventional notions of taste. I am inclined to support the notion of camp - playfulness and humour is being infinitely preferable to high-minded seriousness – however, the concept certainly requires further analysis. As Susan Sontag wrote in the first proper exploration of the term, Notes on Camp: “Camp taste transcends the nausea of the replica”.33 I believe there is great merit to this view of the world. We can take the cult film director of Pink Flamingos, Polyester and Female Trouble, John Waters, who is often referred to as the ‘King of Kitsch’ or the ‘King of Camp’ (although I am sure he would prefer the ‘King of Filth’), as an example of the importance of camp and finding transcendence in the banal. Waters has a deep-rooted affinity for all that is bizarre, ugly, grotesque and trite, that is to say, everything considered to be in bad taste. His films are odes to the debris that washes up on the shore of popular culture. They are trash odysseys where drag queens shoot up eyeliner and eat dog shit.34 They subvert and challenge dictums of class and taste. As Philip Hoare said of him: “He is the dark mirror of contemporary culture.”35 However, John Waters now has quite a defined role within the mainstream. His witticisms have become famous (“If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't fuck 'em!”36 is one example), he often frequents chat shows and one of his first directorial forays, Hairspray, has been turned into a Tony award-winning musical and a extravagantly produced Hollywood film. His last public appearance was even in a Nicki Minaj music video. There does seem to be genuine affection for the persona Waters has carved out for himself, outside of his cult niche. In this respect, he has 33
Sontag, Susan, ‘Notes on Camp’ in Against Interpretation and Other Essays, page 289 Refer to fig. 5 35 Waters, John, Role Models, blurb 36 URL: http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/17366.John_Waters 34
become almost like a ‘trickster’ in our society, a age-old tradition that has many incarnations – the Greek god, Pan, the Native American character of the coyote, and the court jesters of medieval and middle ages. The trickster is a mischievous character who often acts unconventionally, takes pleasure in duping and shocking others, and generally speaks or acts in a way that others fear to. Often, the character is portrayed in an ambiguous way – he may be able to transition between forms and genders. It is clear that the flamboyant and camp ‘dandy’ is probably the most recent example of the phenomenon; camp’s role, in general, is to play tricks on the taste. We could say that the trickster and, thus, one who exhibits a camp sensibility exists on the parameter separating the symbolic order and the abject, as they are allowed to say the things that others fear to, under the pretence of providing amusement and distraction. Hence, the role of Waters, and other such agent provocateurs of taste, is to provide to their audience, the frisson of excitement that is experienced when taboos are broken. Though this is, in many ways, a subversive role, it is still a role that is very much indebted to the symbolic order that it critiques. Where, after all, would a jester be without spectators to laugh at him? Therein, effectively, lies one of the limitations of using camp as a method of interacting with kitsch. In addition to this limitation is that, despite the apparent anarchy of the camp position, it has its own strict set of rules and regimens that seem to contradict this façade. One could argue that by adopting kitsch, in attempt to flout the paradigms of taste, one is still conceding that these paradigms exist and that kitsch falls short of them. In fact, John Waters alludes to this most succinctly: “In order to acquire bad taste, one must first have very, very good taste.”37 An idea, that surely stems from Charles Baudelaire’s proclamation over a century before: “What is exhilarating in bad taste is the aristocratic pleasure of giving offense.”38 There is a ‘naughtiness’ attached to camp, the notion that one is indulging in something that one ought to really know better about. Kitsch is, therefore, seen as a dirty secret or a guilty pleasure that, perversely, exposes one as being cultured. Baudelaire’s statement is particularly interesting. It underlines the notion that there is potential pleasure to be gained from revelling in the abject (“exhilarating” he calls it) but that we must draw the lines of the symbolic order (suggested by his reference to the aristocracy) in order to so in a sanctified manner. This sanitised pleasure in kitsch reminds me, again, of Kristeva’s theory of the abject and, in this instance, its relation to ritual. Barbara Creed, a feminist film critic who based her book, The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis on Kristeva’s writings, spoke of this relationship: “Ritual becomes a means by which societies both renew their initial contact with the abject element and then exclude that element.”39 37 38
Gillilan, Lesley, Kitsch Deluxe, page 8 URL: http://thinkexist.com/quotation/what_is_exhilarating_in_bad_taste_is_the/326849.html
The role of ritual is to allow us a means to acquaint ourselves with the abject so that we can cast it out more firmly and, then, redraw the parameters of the symbolic order more strongly. A clear example would be the widely spread religious ceremony of baptism, where the ‘evil’ element is summoned so that it can be washed away, restoring the receiver of the rite to their clean and proper self. For example, in Christianity the perpetrator of sin, Satan, is eradicated by blessed holy water. In this sense, all rituals are an exorcism of sorts. There is a link between these demarcations of ritual and the more cynically celebratory reactions to kitsch. There is a ritualised element, in Kristeva’s sense of the word, to surrounding oneself with paraphernalia that one recognises to be ‘kitsch’ as opposed to ‘art’. It means that one is coming into contact with the abject element, but is also rejecting it at the same time. One is using its inferiority to promote your superiority, like Greenberg, but unlike Greenberg, you can also keep the abject element in clear view. The successes and the limitations of camp spring essentially from the terms with which it is necessarily surrounded. Describing something as being kitschy, trashy, schmaltzy, cheesy, or just generally in bad taste, whether one is using the word to denote its worthlessness or its fabulous campiness, continues to expose your superiority to it. You are still propagating the regime of taste. As soon as we use the word, ‘kitsch’, the abjection process has basically begun. This is why it is problematic to posit an emotional or genuine response to a kitsch object, as you must firstly identify it as kitsch, and thus justify or defend it in light of this identification. Camp is loving something in spite of, and because of, its flaws – “it’s good because it’s awful”40 - whereas I want to challenge the notion of that there are flaws in the first place, as I do not see any in ‘The Sacred Heart of Jesus’ image. Does this mean that mean that what I am really appreciating is art, not kitsch?
Creed, Barbara, The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, page 8 Sontag, ‘Notes on Camp’, page 292
Kitsch and Death
As I have stated before, there is general consensus that aesthetic kitsch began sometime in the mid 19th century. However, as a metaphysical concept, I believe kitsch has been around for as long as human intelligence has, and for as long as we have understood and feared death. In other words, kitsch has been around since mankind’s Lacanian mirror stage, since Narcissus looked into the mirror and fell in love with the seemingly living, breathing and thinking being that looked back at him, since we understood ourselves as being possessed of an ‘ego’. If we consider Kristeva’s theory of the abject in relation to the notion of the sublime, it can shed light on this concept: “The abject is edged with the sublime. It is not the same moment on the journey, but the same subject and speech bring them into being.”41 The “speech” that she refers to is the capability of both to overstretch and overwhelm us, breaking our borders and subsuming our carefully formed sense of ego entirely. As a result, the abject and the sublime are metaphysical entities that we cannot perpetually be in confrontation with. Although we all may experience a certain crisis of identity in the face of the abject or the sublime - after the death of a loved one, for example - we simply cannot function if we hold it in our constant awareness. To bring the argument back to the abject specifically, we must, as intelligent beings, deny and reject what we know to be true: that we all must die. In other words, we tell ourselves a necessary lie. To do otherwise, would be like holding the image of cadaver in constant consciousness: “The corpse, seen without God and outside of science, is the utmost of abjection... Imaginary uncanniness and real threat, it beckons to us and ends up engulfing us.”42 We would end up in the predicament of Roquentin, who can no longer distinguish his own features in the mirror (a regression to his own pre-mirror stage). They have melted into the gelatinous mass of abjectness that surrounds him. This is truly what metaphysical kitsch means; it is the compulsory refusal of the above, it is the “absolute denial of shit”. We can see that many examples of symbolic order have sprung up around this necessary lie. Religious bodies and art establishments are all based on the same premise that surely we, with all our vitality, cannot just disappear as though we never existed. We use these institutions as a way of either attempting to imprint something before we die, as a paean to our existence, or we put our faith in a life that must come after. Kitsch is often referred to as an “aesthetic
Kristeva, Julia, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, page 11 As above, page 4
lie”43; however, it is more true to say that kitsch, as an aesthetic, has sprung from the deep-rooted cognitive processes surrounding the abjection of death. Hence, aesthetic kitsch will reflect these processes; death will always be symbolised and reduced to a skull, a Grim Reaper or a candle burnt down to the wick. We will commemorate those we love with a photograph, an easily-digestible phrase (“she died in her sleep”, “it was very peaceful”), a tombstone, a wreath of fake flowers or a teddy bear with a Celtic strip on. There is no possible way of representing the real person with all their flaws and passions, attributes and failings; there is no way to replicate a life once it is lost. Some may get angry at the paltry means offered to us to deal with the horror of death. It could be said that kitsch’s inadequacy on this front is part of the reason that it is so often vilified and despised. However, although I understand the anger of not being able to summon somebody back with sentiments and shrines, there is something comforting about our attempts to do so. There is beauty inherent here that tells us a lot about ourselves as a species, in that it shows we are capable of love, compassion, and grief. I think the small gestures, like that of my Grandmother’s, in the face of death are truly poignant. There is something sublime in them, but a sublime which does not threaten to rip us from ourselves, but rather, help us reconnect. This is why I truly found the ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’ to be so emotionally, and even spiritually, moving. Betty Spackman summarises this best the words and images44 of her book, A Profound Weakness: Christians and Kitsch: “Giving somehow counterbalances what has been taken away. Perhaps that is why there are so many flowers and other offerings at a time of loss. People are attempting to tilt the scales in the opposite direction, retrieve dignity, rescue humanity from its dark side. Fill the emptiness.”45 Kitsch is the veil that shrouds death but, in doing so, it also offers us a gateway to the sublime.
Bearn, Gordon C.F., ‘Kitsch’ in Encyclopaedia of Aesthetics, page 67 Refer to fig. 6 45 Spackman, Betty, A Profound Weakness: Christians and Kitsch, page 209 44
This veil metaphor led me to the writings of Celeste Olalquiaga in her book, The Artificial Kingdom: On the Kitsch Experience, who similarly writes that kitsch is: “...a transparent veil that seduces with the promise of what lies behind it…”46 She elucidates this further in a chapter entitled Dust, in which she responds to a short essay written by Walter Benjamin entitled Dreamkitsch. Benjamin’s essay is about the bright blue of dreams (the blueness representing notions of artistic authenticity and aura) dulling to a dusty grey (the greyness representing mass-production and kitsch). Olalquiaga continues this metaphor, calling the process of the bright incandescence of blue disintegrating into millions of tiny dust particles, grey from a distance, though I will add, glittering up close, a “shattered aura”. There are two sides to this concept which speak volumes about the nature of kitsch. On the one hand, dust is the abject, a persistent symbol of death and decay. If we are to equate kitsch and dust then it becomes logical that: “...kitsch is liable to the same accusations and cleansing operations that dust must endure.”47 This seems very relevant to the prevailing attitudes towards kitsch. What are Greenberg and other’s doing, if not trying to cleanse culture of contamination, to cut off the abject canker of kitsch? On the other hand, if dust is a testament to what has previously existed, then surely it contains some value in of itself. It follows, then, that if kitsch is a cultural form of dust, if it really is a “shattered aura”, then there is still some of that aura contained within it. Furthermore, Olalquiaga states that: “… dust grants things a peculiarity that reconstitutes them as a new experience, validating instead of disqualifying them.”48 This means that aesthetic kitsch similarly validates and illuminates the culture that surrounds it and that gave birth to it. It is as if you were to examine the component parts of aesthetic kitsch in detail, you would see the glimmering particles of aura, and could begin to understand the processes that allowed such an object to come into being. It reminded me of an image I have seen of sand, not dissimilar to dust, under a microscope49. You could see the most beautiful fragments of rock, coral and living organisms, once you saw it up close, in what would normally appear as nondescript granules of sand. I believe this duality of life and death within the metaphor of dust comes the closest
Olalquiaga, Celeste, The Artificial Kingdom: On the Kitsch Experience, page 95 As above, page 94 48 As above, page 91 49 Refer to fig. 7 47
to representing my experience with the ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’ image as it seems to sublimate to me ideas of human endeavour in the face of the abject. Olalquiaga and Benjamin’s appropriation of the word, ‘dust’ to describe the aesthetic kitsch phenomenon, reminded me of another context in which I had seen the term – the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. It a series of books based on inverting the intended message of John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, which charts the casting out of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. In Pullman book’s, instead the original fall of man being the beginning of sin and evil, it is seen as way in which man gains wisdom and knowledge as a species. The trilogy features Pullman’s reimagined Adam and Eve, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, and charts their journey into adulthood as they travel through various parallel worlds. The struggle between innocence (which Pullman really believes to be ignorance) and maturity is played out in many ways throughout the book: in the Church’s attempts to keep children from undergoing puberty, through Lyra’s betrayal of her friend, Roger, which leads to his death and, thus, her gaining the burdens of responsibility and guilt, and through the pivotal sexual awakening of Lyra and Will, who fall in love with each other, and bring wisdom back to the world (the key reversal of the original Biblical tale). One of the many metaphors that he uses to symbolise this struggle, is the concept of Dust (with a capital ‘D’). Dust is an analogy for original Sin, and people gain Dust when they lose their childlike grace and gain maturity as human beings – a process that Pullman believes is necessary and rather than being shameful, commends humanity. The third book of the series, The Amber Spyglass, charts the making of the titular instrument, through which Dust can be seen by the naked human eye. The description of what it appears like through the spyglass is as follows: “... gold... sparkles of light, floating and drifting and sometimes moving in a current of purpose.”50 The interesting thing about these golden particles is that they do not only confer themselves to human beings, but also to the things they create, and the things that they apply their consciousness to. The concept of Dust relates strongly to Walter Benjamin’s concept of aura. They are both ways of symbolising the human mind and intelligence, as aura is supposedly bestowed upon an object by the artist’s hand in crafting it. However, as opposed to Benjamin’s notion that we can only confer aura by creation, I would argue that, like with Dust, we can make art not only by creating, but by thinking, feeling and responding to creations. Art is really a symbiosis of mind and matter. In this sense, I believe that aesthetic kitsch is actually art. There is no border between the two. Although it may often have been produced by mechanical means, we have the power to allow it to transcend. We can make it become art by understanding it as such. If you will allow the analogy, we can confer our Dust onto anything, so that is if was looked at through an amber spyglass, it would seem alive with a 50
Pullman, Philip, The Amber Spyglass, page 243
shimmering aura of golden particles. So, rather than elevating one over the other - mind over matter, intelligence over emotion, male over female, art over kitsch - we should see these see them as equal. We should allow our Dust to flow over everything: “Dust is not a constant. There’s not a fixed quantity that has always been the same. Conscious beings make Dust – they renew it all the time, by thinking and feeling and reflecting, by gaining wisdom and passing it on.”51 I believe that the allegories of dust and Dust, and the multi-faceted meanings they confer truly represent my relationship to ‘The Sacred Heart of Jesus’. It speaks to me of the abject and the sublime, and the importance of bringing a questioning mind to all art objects in order to be open to experiencing these metaphysical entities.
Pullman, Philip, The Amber Spyglass, page 520
By engaging emotionally, and intellectually, with my Grandmother’s ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’ picture, and by observing her interaction with it, I have gained more awareness of what it is we convey when we use the term, ‘kitsch’ – a term that is often used to ridicule said image – than I have through much of my reading on the subject through critics such as Greenberg. Firstly, I have identified that kitsch is primarily a metaphysical concept and, secondarily, an aesthetic one. The former denotes an essential denial that we all must practice: that death does not dictate our lives. The latter springs from this denial, it is its aesthetic equivalent. Many, like Clement Greenberg, are suspicious of this necessary lie, as they believe that they can appreciate death in a healthy manner and have no need to abject this, so they abject kitsch instead. This is one of the main reasons that aesthetic kitsch is always spoken about so disdainfully. Other people chose to ironically celebrate kitsch in a somewhat knowing manner, often referred to as camp. Although, there are advantages to camp, at the root of it, the same act of abjection is being carried out, and the regime of taste propelled by Greenberg et al goes fundamentally unchallenged. I believe that the true way of avoiding abjection when discussing kitsch is to stop referring to it as such, and to begin to understand that it is art. The notion of dust/Dust as posited by Celeste Olalquiaga and Philip Pullman is a useful way of bearing this in mind. Similarly to dust, kitsch can be a way of simultaneously reminding us of, and protecting us from, the constant confrontation with the abject, and therefore, death. It can also be a way to experience the “shattered dust” of the aura and, therefore, the sublime. By bringing the ideas of Philip Pullman into this metaphor, we can see that art is truly made by the exchange of meaning with matter. We can create art and confer Dust not only by the labour of craftsmanship, as Walter Benjamin would have it, but by looking and seeing, thinking and feeling, responding to and according places to objects within our universe. In this sense, my Grandmother created a piece of art when she placed a Memorare prayer card in the corner of a religious image. I also created art by emotionally connecting to what I saw. These two creations will overlap for ever more, and pass Dust between themselves. Art is like a rippling veil - sometimes revealing, sometimes concealing. It is the “stopover between being and oblivion”52. Gluttonous death will, of course, eventually unjoint us all, but we must often exist as though this is not true. We must stand straight as though our legs were solid stone foundations, our spines rising out of them like columns, our skin as impenetrable as a brick fortress, and our minds cavernous auditoriums where life’s pleasures and pains will play out. We must try to forget that, one day, we 52
Kundera, Milan, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, page 278
will crumble into rubble and debris, dust and ashes. Living is a denial of death. Art is the celebration of this denial. This is our true achievement: a transgression of the laws of nature; a joyful laugh in the jaws of death.
Memorare Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to Thy protection, implored Thy help or sought Thine intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto Thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother; to Thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in Thy mercy, hear and answer me.
Books Bearn, Gordon C.F., ‘Kitsch’ in Encyclopaedia of Aesthetics, ed. by Kelly (Oxford University Press: New York: 1998) Benjamin, Walter, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (London: Penguin Books Ltd.: 2008) Benjamin, Walter, ‘Dreamkitsch’ in The Work of Art in of its Technical Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media (Harvard University Press: London: 2008) Broch, Hermann, ‘Notes on the Problem of Kitsch’ in Kitsch: The World of Bad Taste, ed. by Gillo Dorfles (New York: Universe Books: 1970) Brown, Curtis F., Star-Spangled Kitsch: An Astounding and Tastelessly Illustrated Exploration of the Bawdy, Gaudy, Shoddy Mass-Art Culture in This Grand Land of Ours (New York: Universe Books: 1975) Calinescu, Matei, Five Faces of Modernity: Modernism, Avant-Garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Postmodernism (Durham: Duke University Press: 1987) Cotton, Nicola,..., in Nausea: Encounters with Ugliness (Nottingham: Djanogly Art Gallery: 2002) Creed, Barbara, The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis (New York: Routledge: 2003) Friedlander, Saul, Reflections of Nazism: An Essay on Kitsch and Death (United Kingdom: Midland Books: 1993) Gillilan, Lesley, Kitsch Deluxe (China: Octopus Publishing Group: 2003) Greenberg, Clement, ‘Avant-Garde and Kitsch’ in Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, ed. by Charles Harrison and Paul Wood (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing: 2003) Hemingway, Wayne, Just Above the Mantelpiece: Mass-market masterpieces (London: BoothClibborn Editions Limited: 2000) Hinshelwood, Robert, Robinson, Susan and Zarate, Oscar, Introducing Melanie Klein (Cambridge: Icon Books Ltd.: 2006) Hyde, Lewis, Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, & Art (Edinburgh: Canongate Books Ltd.: 2008) Kristeva, Julia, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (USA: Columbia University Press: 1982) Kundera, Milan, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (UK: Harper and Row: 1984)
McDannell, Colleen, Material Christianity: Religion and Popular Culture in America (Hong Kong: Yale University Print: 1995) Nabokov, Vladimir, ‘Philistines and Philistinism’ in Lectures on Russian Literature, ed. by Fredson Bowers (USA :Harcourt, Inc: 1981) Olalquiaga, Celeste, The Artificial Kingdom: On the Kitsch Experience (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press: 2002) Pullman, Philip, The Amber Spyglass (London: Scholastic Children’s Books: 2000) Sartre, Jean-Paul, Nausea (UK: Penguin Books Ltd.: 1965) Sontag, Susan, ‘Notes on Camp’ in Against Interpretation and Other Essays (UK: Penguin Classics: 1961) Spackman, Betty, A Profound Weakness: Christians and Kitsch (Carlisle: Piquant Editions: 2005) Waters, John, The Crackpot Obsessions of John Waters (New York: Scribner: 2003) Waters, John, Role Models (New York: Beautiful Books Ltd.: 2010) Articles Anthony, Andrew, ‘The Jeff Koons Show’, The Guardian Website, 2011 URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/oct/16/jeff-koons-art-custody-son (20 February 2012) Glenn, Joshua, ‘Camp: An Introduction’, Hermenaut Online Journal, 2011, URL: http://www.hermenaut.com/a28.shtml (7 December 2011) Wiseman, Eva, ‘What I Know About Women’, The Guardian Website, 2009 URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/25/relationships-men-women-grayson-perry (20 February 2012) Websites ‘Abject’, Online Etymology Dictionary,2012, URL: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=abject (20 February 2012) Good Reads Website, 2012, URL: http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/17366.John_Waters (20 February 2012) ‘Kitsch’, Dictionary Reference Website, 2012, URL: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/kitsch (20 February 2012) ‘Kitsch’, Oxford Dictionaries Website, 2012, URL: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/kitsch (20 February 2012) Rugg, Whitney, ‘Kitsch’, University of Chicago Glossary, 2002, URL: http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/kitsch.htm (20 February 2012) Think Exist Website, 1999-2012, URL: http://thinkexist.com/quotation/what_is_exhilarating_in_bad_taste_is_the/326849.html (20 February 2012) 35
Other Sources My own interview conducted with Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, Dr. Mark Cohen.