- 1 Stageness and the Horror Machine
- 2 Violation of the Staged Body
- 3 Producing the Horrifiable Subject: How to Be Scared
- 4 The Reception of Violence
- 5 References
Stageness and the Horror Machine
Essentially functioning as a circuit of horror, the primary mediatic dimension of Grand Guignol can usefully illustrated in terms of a sense of "stageness", that is, a reciprocal connection established between audience and actor through mutually corresponding vectors of attention. Although the actors possess the primary role of performancatory output, the audience takes on a similarly active role of reception and response. Arguably the relation between actor and audience can be seen as that of two stages, related in varying degrees of primacy. Although the actor traditionally occupies the 'primary stage' and the audience as the 'secondary stage' relational politics of Grand Guignol imbues the audience with a high degree of agency, creating an active communicative circuit between the violent spectacle of the actor and visceral reaction of the audience. Casting the audience as "meaning-makers" FIRST NAME Hand and Wilson argue that "the audience is irrefutably implicated in the creative process and an equal partner in the audience-performer dyamic" (77). As observed by Hand and Wilson, the stageness of Grand Guignol is characterized by this equal partnership, a circuit embedded in the larger conceptual apparatus-of-horror; a machine constructed from flesh, seats, darkness and illusion. These cogs work in synchrony, producing and consuming fear, disgust and sexual arousal in a complex web of input and output, in which "form and meaning are negotiated and created" (Hand and Wilson, 77) in the synaptic space between actor and audience and powered by electric viscerality.
Apparatus of Horror
The functioning of this conceptual horror-machine is dependent upon specific interaction between structure and flesh, the makings of the machine. The small stage and cramped seating further conflates the audience/actor bodies through tecnics of claustrophobic closeness; illusion of dismemberment literally spray (TOO GROSS?) in the face of the audience. In the spirit of Donna Haraway's examination of the cyborg, Grand Guignol brings together the tripartite of man, animal and machine (Haraway, 151). Using animal organs to mimick human flesh, man and animal unite as a mechanical cog in the horror-machine. This cyborgian conflation is extended through the scientific disection of the staged body. Opened bodies leak past the confines of the stage, splayed and surgically dissasembled, revealing their organs as mechanical parts. In his study of optics, Johannes Müller similarly describes the body as "a multifarious factory-like enterprise. . . the organism becomes equivalent to an amalgamation of adjacent apparatuses" (Crary 89). Conversely, Vilém Flusser identifies machines as "simulating organs of the human body" (Flusser, 51); the body and machine cry out to each other in their mirrored likenesses. Beyond the obvious illusion of theatrical effect masquerading as corporeal violation, viewing Grand Guignol as this apparatus-of-horror uncovers the hidden illusions that lie in the proposed divisions between audience/performer and man/machine.