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Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. University of Texas Press, Carlyle, Thomas. Chapman and Hall Limited, Cawelti, John G. University of Chicago Press, , pp. Clute, John. Pardon this Intrusion: Fantastika in the World Storm. Beccon Publications, , pp. Miller, Dean A. The Epic Hero. John Hopkins University Press, McCullough, Joseph A. She started organising the Fantastika conferences four years ago at Lancaster University, UK, and has expanded the conference to journal form in the hopes of maintaining and expanding the Fantastika community once she moves back to Canada this summer.

Certainly the Weird operates in a similar, or parallel, manner to Fantastika as both represent a spe ctrum of the fantastic rather than being governed by rigid fundamental aspects. Increasing interest in the Weird was, and has always been, inevitably followed by questions of definition. The literary tradition of the weird tale has been immensely self - reflexive since its inception, as critics are often practicing writers in the field.

Joshi has published extensively on the Weird, indeed his editing and championing of H. Critical discourse on the Weird is thus haunted by the anticipated necessity to either resist or acquiesce to such an inevitably fraught process. The weird tale has a long tradition of fluidity. Although consolidated by the pulp magazine Weird Tales, which ran initially from to , it exists more as a perceived mode than concretised genre.

The Weird as a literary form receives a copious amount of material debating its definition. Succinctly, what constitutes a weird tale develops from primarily referring to fate or inevitability to encompass the supernatural, strange and uncanny.

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The New Weird particularly emphasises this similarity by not differentiating or favouring any particular stylistic influence over another, creating a vibrant field that aptly seems to resist empirical interrogation and categorisation. Focusing on an overlooked etymological and literary heritage, this article will provide fresh insight into the Weird, celebrating its self - consciously open, interpretative and crucially all-encompassing nature akin to the aforementioned Fantastika inclusivity.

The self-reflexivity of the Weird, in which writers are often also critics within the field, is a long-standing penchant. James , the essay is a landmark that testifies the pervasive examples of tales deemed to have a certain weirdness about them. For Lovecraft however there is a particular distinction between the aforementioned Gothic or supernatural fiction and the weird tale. Essentially there is considered to be a particular separation between weird tales and other examples of supernatural fiction; indeed, this distinction is outlined by Lovecraft himself: The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule.

Concrete details are absent in Weird narratives, producing a fundamental atmosphere of indeterminacy, emphasising a feeling of unease or particularly visceral reaction. Vitally, Lovecraft consolidates this interrogation as an inquisitive confrontation with the unknown, a topic which is illustrated by his Cosmic Horror tales that at their core explore the limitation of human epistemology. The semantic shift that the eponymous term has experienced is equally wrapped up in this evolutionary process, moving from referring to the inevitable to the inexplicable.

These developments persist in the modern utilisation and, as such, an investigation into the linguistic roots permits a greater understanding of both the weird tale and the Weird itself. To understand these alternate connotations, it is useful to examine the linguistic root and development. The Norn were considered to perceive the destiny of the cosmos; their gaze beheld not only the essence of humanity but also that of the gods.

The original meaning, whilst less overt, endures within the Weird and its cosmic determinism, articulating an enduring anxiety of empirical research by interrogating the foundations of human existence: our history. Similar to other mythological traditions which contain three goddesses of fate — the Greek Moirai or Roman Parcae for instance — the Norn stand outside of the conventional metaphysical existence.

Yet unlike these examples, which centre around the spinning, measuring and cutting of the thread of life, the Norn instead emph asise the perception of inevitability. The influence of this mythological tradition is identifiable in a range of Weird fiction.

Lovecraft Omnibus 3 74 , depicts the eponymous eldritch terror as existing outside human concepts of time and space, with the promise of its destined return. From a human perspective, Cthulhu is evidently terrifying as it defies our conception of material laws, yet crucially its enduring existence before and after humanity is also a form of inevitability, suggesting it is situated in a wider, cosmic understanding outside human comprehension.

Each of these contains the presence of unknowability entwined with inevitability, an encounter with something incomprehensible that has existed both before and will remain after humankind: the ancient past that will subsist into the distant future. The adoption of mythological traditions expands its meaning to refer to omniscient knowledge or entities, which are then appropriated by a discourse interes ted in that which lies outside of the human: the ontological, metaphysical and epistemological Other.

This difference is a crucial starting point to understand the development of the wyrd, as it shifts from referring primarily to inevitable prophecies to focus on a degree of unknowability, a fundamental ontological separation which arises when confronting the Other, essentially the inhuman. The Norn and weird sisters represent unknowable entities, yet they also are beheld as being all-knowing and as such equally represent the known and unknown. Yet they are distanced from humanity by their incomprehensibility, existing on a separate plane of reality, and thus their unique understanding sets them apart from metaphysical laws as perceived by humans.

The later weird monsters of Lovecraft and his contemporaries are akin to this distanced nature of the Norn or weird sisters due to the emphasis placed upon this fundamental separation. The interest in the unknown or outer qualities of the Weird is one which continues from the Norn into the weird sisters. This action suggests the inevitability of the situation, in which the sisters act as a conduit to convey the preordained future which, to them, is evident due to their elevated insight, which meanwhile appears almost fantastical to the bewildered ears of mortal humans.

The foretelling in Macbeth acts as a form of equivocation, in which the ambiguity of language permits the potential for interpretation through obscurity. These women are accordingly no longer the celestial sisters of Fate but are corporeal beings who instead draw upon supernatural power. Unlike the intrinsic omniscience of the Norn, Macbeth perceives that the witches draw their knowledge from elsewhere, from an external supernatural source.

The lack of conclusive answers differs from a sense of the unknown derived from a separation of ontology, the subversion of a human system rather than the acknowledgement of knowledge beyond understanding. The failure of language to reliably denote meaning requires interpretation and is utilised to obfuscate the prophecy, an alternate version of the unknown in which linguistic representation cannot fully realise conceptualisation. Building from the absence in understanding an ontological unknown, this obscurity is rather an epistemological unknown, in which a gap in human knowledge is utilised to convey the sense of something greater, beyond our understanding, by revealing the incapacity of our human linguistic structure to succinctly denote meaning.

In At the Mountains of Madness, an expedition to Antarctica results in the discovery of a hidden city at its mountainous peaks. Its derelict halls, composed of non-Euclidean architecture, are explored by the two main characters until they unwittingly encounter a Shoggoth, a sight too horrific to process or explain. Language is central to the Weird, the gaps in representation and depiction offering the perfect location for the indescribable. Language forms a central component of the weird tale. Its self-equivocation gestures to the unfamiliar, to a gap in understanding or absence in kno wledge.

The witches are the perfect vehicle for this shift, as their intrinsic semantic association with the supernatural and uncanny, evident in their language, reflects the definition that the Online Etymology Dictionary outlines. Yet whilst this reinforces their supernatural nature, the witches also retain an earthly sense, with their connection to the element of the wind, in contrast with the divinity of the Norn or sisters.

Their divination is however imperfect; based off the supernatural spectacle, the witches are merely conduits for a magical performance and as such they cannot match the innate knowledge of the weird sisters. In fact, whilst each singular item is well documented, its purpose and the resulting outcome are mysterious: akin to the Shoggoth, parts are detailed but the whole is avoided in a fusion of the material and immaterial.

The emphasis placed within the play on spectacle, the elaborate invocations and the later macabre spectres, capitalises on the terror of the supernatural, rather than the awe of the celestial, emphasising a developing theatrical or visual centrality to the weird tale. At the heart of these components is their degree of familiarity: the objects and language of the witches can be grappled with, whilst the Norn lie beyond human understanding.

However, during this time-frame the weird tale becomes more recognisable by its contemporary definition. Although such founding authors as James, Machen or Hodgson towards the end of the nineteenth century would not self -consciously identify as Weird writers, the associated terminology does creep into their fiction. These developments begin to mark the emergence of the contemporary weird tale, inspired heavily by specific hermetic investigations of the late Victorian period. The establishment of such organisations as The Theosophical Society in and The Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn in reflects an increasing literary and cultural enthusiasm for the occult unknown.

This belief recalls the division between the known and unknown that has been discussed throughout this article, from the divinity of the Fates to the supernatural invocations of the witches. Yet the weird tale has developed throughout its history. Therefore, whilst Joshi does provide an extensive and detailed history, I would instead suggest that the weird tale is an enduring and develo ping format, one whose application will always be pertinent to the method in which uncanny, strange or unusual events in daily life are conceptualised.

So why is etymology important or valuable, is it able to provide us with an alternate perspective of the weird tale? As demonstrated throughout the article, Weird writers are often very self-aware of their intent and the visceral affect of their work. Although a valid concern, I would argue that etymology provides a valuable perspective as, rather than attempting to systematise or identify core Weird aspects, it instead demonstrates how the base term has changed. Dick or Haruki Murakami which whilst not chiefly Weird, do have a distinctly eerie quality to them. In many ways then the inexplicable is inherently ingrained into our cultural matrix, whether this be a perception of dislocation, unease or transcendental awe, the sense of the unknown continues to drive human progression.

As this article has set out, the term weird has shifted from its original application, gaining new semantic meaning and indeed becoming the identifying cornerstone for a certain stream of fiction. Like Fantastika, the weird tale continuously draws upon diverse sources, their fundamental progressive momentum reaching towards new methods of replicating the fantastical and strange.

Following on from and responding against the advocation of individual reason as cardinal in the Age of Enlightenment, these investigations interrogate the validity of empirical interpretation, and are instead drawn to the allure of the ineffable. Liminal literary categories such as Fantastika and the Weird thus offer an alternative mode of reading, as by challenging rigid compartmentalisation they celebrate an opening up of imaginative vistas rather than the restriction of imposing boundaries.

Throughout the article, for distinction, I will refer to the contemporarily recognised literary form as a capitalised Weird and retain lower-case for the more descriptive pre-cursor, i. The New Weird generally refers to a wave of Weird fiction operating since the start of the twenty- first century. The term was coined during an online forum discussion that included participation from many influential writers within the field. Works Cited Alcott, Louisa May. Project Gutenburg Australia. Accessed on 20 November Blackwood, Algernon. Incredible Adventures. Project Gutenburg. Accessed on 19 August Cardin, Matt.

Dunsany, Lord. Penguin Books, Harman, Graham. Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy. John Hunt Publishing, Jochens, Jenny. Old Norse Images of Women. University of Philadelphia Press, Joshi, S. The Evolution of the Weird Tale. Hippocampus Press, The Weird Tale. Wildside Press, Lovecraft, H.

At the Mountains of Madness. The Modern Library, HarperCollins Publishers, Lovecraft Archive. Atlantic Books, Mark Bould, Andrew M. Butler, Adam Roberts and Sherryl Vint. Shakespeare, William. Shamas, Laura. Peter Lang, The New Weird. Tachyon Publications, Warner, Mariana. Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, June Kerry also works more widely in the fields of: Scien ce Fiction particularly Cosmic Horror and Cyberpunk , the Gothic, and digital narratives.

But what is Weird Fiction, how exactly does it disturb, and why is this disturbance important? My aim here is to highlight the way in which Weird Fiction disrupts anthropocentric perceptions of the world. The Weird achieves this through its inclusion of unsettling narrative content and themes. I would argue that the uneasy nature of the Weird is a dynamic force that acts upon the reader, piercing their comfortable understanding of the world.

Thus, the Weird exposes the darkness of reality by revealing that the universe is not, in fact, under human mastery. I will first consider Weird Fiction within the space of Fantastika, looking at how Weird Fiction fits into Fantastika and the role it plays within that framework.

Furthermore, I want to suggest that the aesthetics of the Weird open a path for contemporary literary scho larship to renew and transform its focus on materiality. This is achieved in the Weird through an emphasis on disgust, the grotesque and fear of contamination. I argue that an amalgamation of these components, as they coalesce within the Weird, results in a destabilisation of anthropocentric ways of seeing and thinking about the world. This challenge to anthropocentricism is crucial because the human subject naturally perceives the world through a human-centric lens.

Joshi and Eugene Thacker will be examined. I will also look at a shift towards materiality and a focus on nonhuman entities in critical theory. Rather than favouring human experience above all else, Speculative Realist approaches instead offer a worldview that accounts for the significance of nonhuman beings, and the connections between human and nonhuman entities.

At its most basic, Weird Fiction is a mode of literature that borrows elements from other genre fictions. These novels could be classified as Fantastika, though they do not sit comfortably as strictly Science Fiction or Fantasy. Such a move would not be necessary, or even helpful, because Weird Fiction is not a stable category.

Weird Fiction does not consist of identifiable themes and tropes, but rather it is an open, fluid system with no fixed parameters. Weird Fiction lives between genres, but its fluid nature also blurs the boundaries that split these genres — boundaries that were never quite stable to begin with.

This blurring of genre and literary fictions can be seen in the work of authors like Karen Russell and Kelly Link. This is why the texts comprising Weird Fiction constitute a fluid body that blurs traditional genre categories. It reifies the already fuzzy lines between more traditional genres, whereas the Weird is better understood as a literary mode.

The Weird is a destabilising entity, as well as blurring genre boundaries it also causes disruption by psychologically unsettling the reader or audience of a given text. This disruptive quality of the Weird is identified through a nagging sense of dread, an uneasiness that creeps into a text and weaves through it.

The reader, then, senses something more dark and sinister lurking beneath the surface narrative. The Weird does not operate on the level of a cheap jump-scare or a suspenseful thriller, rather, its unsettling aspect does not necessarily derive from plot, but also from the tone and themes of a Weird text. Furthermore, the disturbing and sinister force of the Weird draws attention to the unknown quality of the world, and the universe at large.

Consequently, the reader feels unsettled by the Weird but cannot fully comprehend or articulate why. This, in turn, emphasises the inherently limited nature of human consciousness and human understanding, which results in the realisation that any human viewpoint is not necessarily privileged or unique. Being human does not imply mastery of all knowledge, as there are so many intricate processes at play in the impossibly immense cosmos, that the primate human brain simply cannot comprehend it all. Rather, the reader is constantly on edge within the fluctuating push-and-pull nature of the Weird, seeking to find a glimpse of clarity within its murky space.

Weird Fiction is a diverse body of literature, and is currently thriving amongst and alongside contemporary Science Fiction and Fantasy writing. One of the best places to start with in an assessment of the Weird is the imposing figure of H. Although Lovecraft himself did not ascribe to a definite school of philosophical thought, a materialist thread throughout his fiction has been observed by contemporary readers. The genius of Lovecraft stems from his particular strain of Weird cosmic horror and the darkness of his work manifests in the fact that the human characters of his stories act and exist in a fundamentally uncaring universe.

Therefore, a turn away from anthropocentricism is inherent within the Weird, since Weird Fiction dethrones human consciousness as the most important force on offer in the universe by exposing the complex vastness of the cosmos, and exploring the dark entities within. However, cosmic horror is not the only aesthetic avenue through which Weird Fiction unseats human consciousness from its apparently universal centrality.

Additionally, the very base materiality of the nonhuman world presented in Weird texts unsettles the human-centric view. In fact, the Weird suggests a path forward for theory, as it emphasises the value of the materiality of the world and credits both human and nonhuman entities with subjective agency. Weird Fiction foregrounds the materiality of the world in two primary ways. First, it destabilises anthropocentricism through blurring boundaries between human and nonhuman beings.

The Weird breaks free of this urge to pin down uncertain, nonhuman entities by undermining anthropocentricism as a viable worldview. This statement can be extended to contemporary Weird Fiction, where the material, nonhuman world is portrayed with its own inherent agency, such that the nonhuman world functions of its own accord without human intervention. Another way that the Weird emphasises the importance of materiality is that it draws attention to the physicality of the embodied subject.

Weird Fiction is extremely concerned with the materiality of the body, and how that body both human and nonhuman exists and interacts within the wider, physical world. Typically, allusions to flowers and the natural world are romanticised in grandiose terms, but this scene operates in a Weird mode, which twists nature to lay bare its sinister quality. Moreover, the concern with the physicality of the material body leads on to a key feature of the Weird, namely, the significance of the grotesque. The grotesque in Weird Fiction is often expressed as primal disgust. Importantly, disgust in Weird Fiction stems from a fear of contamination, and particularly disgust felt by human subjects who come in contact with contaminants outside the body, resulting in a fear that their body will become polluted by disturbing substances.

These contaminants take many forms in various weird texts, but the substance is always a nonhuman object or material, often taking the form of a liquid, a vapour or a spore. Common transmitters of disgust include slime and fungus. Fungal forms and substances are particularly notable focuses of disgust in weird fiction. Certainly, a fascination with the grotesque and disgustingly inexplicable nature of the fungoid still proves fruitful today, with fungus providing the basis for texts from the best-selling novel The Girl with All the Gifts by M.

In Weird Fiction, the grotesque often manifests in line with both these definitions. In Authority, the second book of the series, the protagonist, Control, is confronted with a grotesque artwork painted by an unhinged colleague who has returned from Area X. The grotesque is a prominent feature of the Weird, since it is from the grotesque that visceral disgust and revulsion stem. Through contamination by fungus or slime, the human body can no longer provide a clear barrier between the human and nonhuman, nor between the self and other.

This dynamic of uncertainly and unstable identity is an essential feature of the Weird. The threat of contamination by any slimy nonhuman substance is met, therefore, with disgust because its very presence disrupts any understanding of a world in which the human is privileged. This primordial ooze is a reminder of the pertinence of the nonhuman world, as it communicates to the human subject that there is nothing unique about being human.

All life comes from the same slime. Fungus is a destabilising type of lifeform because it does not fit neatly into the animal-plant binary as understood by humans. In fact, fungus aptly embodies the essence of the Weird due to its inability to slot neatly into discrete categorisation. It has no skeletal structure nor internal organs, but is more clo sely related to animal and, therefore, to human life than it is to plant-life. Mushrooms can be nourishing and perfectly safe to ingest, but can also be fatally poisonous, and at times it can be nearly impossible to tell the difference between the two.

The women of the village have all recently perished after developing a fatal fungal infection, such that the only remaining inhabitants of the Valley of the Rocks are all men. Throughout the novel, Nate struggles to find new stories that appropriately frame the now-womanless world, failing to find any language that reflects this new world.

Language helps shape the world from a human perspective, but language comes under stress in the Weird and breaks down, unable to describe the strangeness of the world in any meaningful way. There are no more stories. When faced with an inexplicable incident or sensation, in this case the trauma of losing the women, the Weird manifests as that which is impossible to articulate. The yellow fungus that killed the women is, from the outset, presented as a distinctly feminine disease. The fungus is clearly depicted as an aggressive bodily invasion, it is a gross contaminant that breaks through the body and, in turn, breaks down the body.

The fungal infection has invaded the body through open orifices, thus exposing the human body as a porous and unstable membrane, rather than a fixed entity. The opening of the mouth and nose shatters any illusion that the body is a self-contained and stable unit, since the presence of bodily orifices continually remind the human subject that there are gaps in the body, holes that can bestow external substances and entities passage inside the body.

These questions are never resolved, so this uncertainty of the fungal origin hangs tentatively throughout the course of the novella. Regardless of the true origin of the deadly yellow fungus, Nate has witnessed the damage its contamination can wreak. The fungus will not stand still, nature does not stand still and thus life does not stand still.

Writing on the philosophy of Horror fiction, Eugene Thacker offers F. The Beauty also explores the fluctuating nature of human society and culture. There, it recognises itself as having a history that predates its own birth … In time, the subject incorporates fragments of a history into a formulation of a self. Nature adapts and grows, and so must human culture, even if this growth means the deconstruction of the security previously granted by an anthropocentric understanding of the world.

Human history and culture are changed in The Beauty, in which humanity is bestowed with a brand new creation myth. Unlike the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden, where human beings are dragged away from their ideal union with nature, the creation myth of The Beauty is one in which nature plays an essential role.

The death of the women was bo th natural and unnatural. It is natural in the sense that a fungus rather than, say, a man -made chemical took the lives of these women, but also unnatural in that the absence of the women is dislocating and traumatic for the men left behind. In this way, the deaths of the women can be read as a rupture in cultural and historical human narratives, a break in the apparently linear progress of human history.

The inhabitants of the Valley of the Rocks have suffered an indescribable trauma, and thus cannot return to culture and creation as previously understood, since those grand narratives have failed them. Instead, a new understanding of the human condition must be drawn up, one in which the men are inescapably linked to an un-romanticised nature, rather than detached from it.

Therefore, the new world order that emerges in The Beauty is a human culture that conceptually aligns with Speculative Realism, as it displaces the previous closed-off and limiting anthropocentricism and replaces it with a human assimilation into nature. The new creation myth put forth in The Beauty is an assimilation of humanity, and specifically biological males, into nature.

Yet this particular myth is rife with oedipal underpinnings, exemplified by the comfort Nate feels listening to a soothing humming noise that infiltrates his mind. Rather it is representative of how human and nonhuman entities can be intrinsically linked. Once again, the tradition of rendering experience into a coherent narrative has failed, signalling the failure of language as a tool of constructing culture. Everything shifts when the Beauty enters the world.

This method of sharing information implies the liveliness and interconnected nature of all entities, and also signifies the inevitable shift away from words as a primary method of communication. A woman. The Beauty slips between categories — human-nonhuman, subject-object — it is unstuck in language. This dehumanising quality of the Beauty is met with disgust from the men in the text, this disgust is a result of a fear of contamination f rom the fungoid figures. This is further complicated by the personal horror that the men experience when they feel overwhelming disgust mixed with lust and desire.

Initially, the uncontrollable lust Nate and the other men feel toward the Beauty is driven by a maddening disgust, felt by the men who desire the Beauty but are repulsed by the contamination the fungus could to wreak upon their bodies, and to their humanity. Though this disgust never truly dissipates, most of the men are reconciled to their desire for the Beauty. It appears as though the fungus that killed the women has somehow adapted, reformed, to creature these fungoid women. It is not governed by a fixed hierarchy with humans at the top, but rather fluctuates and changes through an expansive network of chemicals and organisms.

In the end, Nate and the men that remain in the village have given up fighting to maintain any worldview that privileges the human. The Beauty is not an attack on humanity, and neither is nature punishing the human subject: there is no moral element to this alteration, it is simply a feature of the transformative natural world. This destabilising character is the consequence of the Weird acting as a disruptive mode within Weird Fiction.

The Weird helps the reader reimagine the world via disturbing imagery such as fungoid-human hybrids and monstrous births. Both Speculative Realism and the Weird de -centre the human subject, in that both the theory and the mode suggest visions of the world that value nonhuman entities, and stress the importance of the connective feed between all objects. The everyday world is full of darkness and mystery to which the human mind is not attuned. Thinking through the Weird opens up many avenues to explore in contemporary scholarship, such as new ideas of materialism and hybrid identities.

These destabilising ideas exist in the everyday world, but it is through works of Weird Fiction and genres of Fantastika that these issues come into focus. This is due to the fact that ideas of genre fluidity within Fantastika are augmented in studying the Weird, with its inherent lack of rigidity. Therefore, the Weird enriches our understanding of Fantastika by demonstrating the fundamental role that disgust plays in defamiliarising the world of the text.

Examining disgust borne from the Weird, which is embedded in themes of bodily contamination and images of the grotesque, enables the study of the crucially fluid and transformative nature of Fantastika. Finally, the consideration of liminal genres within Fantastika encourages a scholarship open to the qualities and aesthetics of the Weird. Works Cited Bennett, Jane. Duke UP, Grey, Orrin and Silvia Moreno-Garcia, eds. Innsmouth Free Press, , pp. Zero Books, Hayles, N. University of Chicago Press, Penguin Modern Classics, , pp. Luckhurst, Roger. Oxford University Press, , pp.

McElroy, Bernard. Fiction of the Modern Grotesque. Palgrave Macmillan, The Modern Library, , pp. Perdido Street Station. Pan Macmillan, Routledge, , pp. Moorcock, Michael. Corvus, , pp. Morton, Timothy. Columbia University Press, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World. University of Minnesota Press, Thacker, Eugene.

In the Dust of This Planet. Tentacles Longer Than Night. Trigg, Dylan. The Thing: A Phenomenology of Horror. Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. Princeton University Press, VanderMeer, Jeff. Fourth Estate, Whiteley, Aliya. The Beauty. Unsung Stories, Woodard, Ben. Slime Dynamics. Zero Books. Her research interests include weird fiction, posthumanism, human-animal studies, ecocriticism, and speculative fiction in general.

Her doctoral thesis examines the disruptive forces of the Weird in contemporary weird fiction. On Placing the Grotesque Nahid Shahbazi Moghadam With a long history dating back to cave art, the grotesque has been variously presented and widely disputed in its degree of seriousness and the level of importance attributed to its manifestation in a vast range of artistic and literary works.

As an aesthetic category of art and literature, it has constantly given rise to critical studies of both diverse and complementary nature about a mode which is very often misunderstood and taken to be incomprehensible, absurd, or appalling. While a considerable amount of misunderstanding is related to the definition of the mode, a good deal of that goes to its categorisation and the overlaps with similar modes. Accordingly, the present work initially reviews the definition of the grotesque through a survey of its most commonly discussed elements to elaborate on classifications and interrelatedness of those elements for the feasibility of moving towards a more comprehensive definition.

Then, by drawing from certain relevant studies, my major concern is to discuss possible subcategories of the grotesque in relation to its neighbouring modes. Becoming excessively free from the limitation once surrounding it, the word is too rashly employed at some present implications. As defined in many dictionaries as well as glossaries of literary terms, the gr otesque has mostly been restricted to a mere description which considers it as a manifestation of distorted human features with an ultimate goal of creating excessive horror or laughter.

Such definitions describe the grotesque only partially as they mainly deal with some of the characteristics which function in the forming of the grotesque. Among sources on literary theories, one of the most detailed discussions is arguably presented by Encyclopaedia of Contemporary Literary Theory: Approaches, Scholars, Terms , which basically surveys theoretical studies on the mode. There are a number of recurrent elements of the mode such as fusion of discordant parts, copresentation of opposites, deformity, distortion, exaggeration, degradation, alienation and the like; with which the grotesque has been aptly identified.

These elements are discussed in various studies, some of which classifying them in certain groups. The present study does not exclude those aspects related to the effect of the mode in its focus on the structure; rather, it aims to classify the recurrent elements into two main divisions in discussing literary grotesque in general and grotesque fiction in particular.

In a structural sense, the grotesque manifests itself through a number of elements, the most distinctive of which is the fusion of human with nonhuman parts namely plants and animals, though not certainly limited to them. The grotesque is mainly associated with distorted images of various kinds. Distortion, as such, generally portrays disproportionate combinations of discordant parts mostly in an exaggerated manner. These combinations are crucial to the essence of the grotesque since they give way to a series of defamiliarised and incongruous mixtures in a set world.

Along with the fusion of human, animals, and plants, any fusion of organic and inorganic including bodies reduced to human-like objects like automata and waxed dolls can be similarly can be considered as distorted and discordant images Kayser As such, these images contribute to a phenomenological resistance of the grotesque to definite classification.

That the grotesque fuses discordant parts is not necessarily restricted to a body in its material form. Hence, in most cases, there would be nothing elementally grotesque if the fusion collapsed. In separation, even a monster is not necessarily a grotesque phenomenon. To sum up, the fusion of discordant parts in distorted, incongruent, bizarre, and exaggerated combinations is crucial to the mode since it sets the dividing lines and distinguishes the grotesque from similar and easily confused terms and modes. Another element to consider as a structural feature is the co -presentation of opposites or clash of incompatibles discussed in many scholarly works with respect to the mode as being a mixture of horror and laughter or comedy and tragedy.

Accordingly, to avoid too much focus on this controversial element, we may agree that it does not seem to be the most important factor which one of the two elements of comic and tragic is more prevalent as long as a mingling of both is recognisable and the associated effect is evoked. The inseparable mixture of comic and tragic in the grotesque and the resulting contradictory feelings it evokes can be included in a broader term signifying the simultaneous blend of opposites.

This implies that this characteristic is not just restricted to the comic and horrific nature of the mode. The coexistence of opposite elements is not necessarily demonstrated only through two contradictory entities brought together via the grotesque. It is very often the case that a single entity or a character is by nature self-contradictory or evokes contradictions, and is hence inclined towards the grotesque. To put it more accurately, a clash o f incompatibility in grotesque fiction can well rely on contradictory nature of a focal image, an object or a character.

Apart from the portrayal of discordant parts of human and nonhuman in transcategorical fusions, bodily portrayal involving scatological images and excessive sexuality share the exaggeration and distortion reinforced through the grotesque. Such representations are basically manifested in either or both domains of excessive sexuality and scatological images. As later highlighted, some categories of grotesque fiction are more abundant in the portrayal of bodily excesses.

That scatological representations and strange or excessive sexuality can be part of the grotesque is least disputed, but the range of attitudes towards its effect gives rise to contradictory views. The depiction of the animal side of mankind, prevalent in works of the grotesque, has most to do with the animalism within man and is mostly pictured in an appalling manner, exposing human to the reality of his limited and imperfect nature.

He does pronounce this debasement in a regenerative and positive manner since the downward movement to bodily lower stratum is the backbone of all grotesque imagery, through which the high is uncrowned and unburdened. As can be observed, this also indicates his positivity towards the degrading effect of the grotesque. His attitude, noteworthy as it is, appears to be temporally restricted and best applicable to early modern era.

As a matter of fact, as long as excessive body imagery maintain its vitality in the shaping of the mode, grotesque potentially entertains both viewpoints depending on the context to which the literary creation belongs and the more humoristic or horrifying nature of the work it is presented in. Another element of the mode, complexities and fluctuations of identity, is intensively portrayed by authors writing in the vein of the grotesque if not widely addressed in critical studies. Inclined towards the demonic aspects of the grotesque, he mostly views the identity motif in the grotesque as one under the threat of abysmal forces crucial to the mode.

The notion of transformation is noteworthy in that it also signifies the transgression of categories of being by lowering individuals into a subhuman state, either biologically or ontologically. Accordingly, the structural elements discussed above contribute to the conception of the grotesque, rendering the effectual elements through the representation or reception of the grotesque within its literary domain.

I employ the terms structural and effe ctual so as to distinguish respectively between those elements forming the mode and those conveyed through such representations. As the name may suggest, the group of effectual elements, subdivided into alienation and degradation, has to do with the effects that the grotesque has the potentiality to evoke.

The concept of alienation is basically elaborated by Kayser and Thomson. Among the more recent critics, Meindl also discusses alienation in relation to madness. Both Kayser and Thomson pronounce this element in an approximate cause-effect relationship with the clash of incompatibles. As it can be deduced from his standpoint, alienation is particularly interrelated with categorical transgression and the clash of incompatibles. Dieter Meindl contributes a postmodern touch to this concept by relating it to madness. As such, alienation may be observed from the two perspective of external and internal estrangement.

And, in this manner, contemporary fiction can well portray characters not only isolated from the outer world but also alienated within. Taking the aforementioned discussions into account, it can be asserted that the already alienated human being from his surrounding may reach the height of grotesqueries once he is mentally and internally alienated by a stroke of madness or mental disorder, which also involves humiliation.

However, along with degradation, alienation is still prevalent and discernible as a major effectual feature of the grotesque eve n taking that the notion of supernaturalism may have lost some of its glamour. Although many of the contemporary critics such as McElroy and Clark assert that grotesque literature involves degradation, views as positive as that of Bakhtin do not prevail among scholarly ideas, particularly those dealing with contemporary literature.

All in all, the concept of degradation can be pictured both at physical and mental levels. Physically speaking, it mainly involves deformities, physical defects, and distorted ugly appearance. In a mental sense, it mostly entails psychic disorders, nervous breakdowns, insanity , and aggression. Moreover, death, which is attributed to the grotesque for rendering fanciful and excited imagination, can portray an ultimate form of degradation Ruskin Hence, this concept can be taken as an effectual element of grotesque representations which is depicted through deformity, madness, aggression, or death and may appear under one or some of these guises.

Excessive body imagery and obliteration or blur of identity also accompany the central image or motif to effect alienation and degradation in form of nervous breakdown, madness, rejection, death, and the like. Beyond the conception of a basic pattern, the grotesque can also be recognised in the centrality of a character, human or non -human; the focal image which represents the grotesque at a pictorial or metaphoric level.

Hence, the grotesque image involves a thing or animate being which is basically related to the fusion of discordant parts and can refer to a character of any type in works of fiction by extension. Attempts at Categorisation The grotesque has long been disputed for the various, even opposing, types of representation through which it has been depicted and traced.

It also bears resemblance to and is connecte d with the fantastic, caricature, and the like. Although such a flexibility and interconnectedness has been a thread to its integrity as a self-standing aesthetic category, it can as well demonstrate the wide range of meaning the grotesque has the capacity to render while retaining its unique basic structure. As such, the grotesque can be discussed and classified not only in relation to other modes and genres, but also with regard to its own varying types of representation.

In this section, I would draw from certain relevant discussions on the categories of the grotesque and its interrelatedness with other modes and gen res in order to elaborate on its categorisation and overlaps with the neighbouring modes in the succeeding part.

Emphasising the psychological effect of the grotesque on the perceiver, Wieland focuses on the three elements of laughter, horror , and astonishment Barasch ; Clayborough 66; Kayser In the preface to Cromwell , Hugo notes the juxtaposition of ludicrous and fearful and emphasises deformity in grotesque manifestations Kayser ; Barasch 55; Bakhtin Based on the artistic mind creating the form, Lily Campbell divides the mode into fanciful, artificial, and great grotesque, the last of which comprises both the fancifulness and the play of the artificial grotesque Barasch Her dissertation discusses the grotesque in terms of external and internal elements.

In a broad sense of categorisation, Peter Fingesten speaks of the grotesque as genuine and quasi-grotesque, implying that the grotesque dominates in some works and is partially employed in some others The dividing line is that genuine grotesque requires a harmony between form and subject matter in that both the visual form and the subject are discerned as grotesque, otherwise the work can be classified as quasi-grotesque Due to its overlap with the fantastic, caricature, and other relevant modes, the grotesque has been variously discussed in its interrelationship and distinctiveness as well.

Even though the two terms can now be taken as explicably distinct from each other, they did not appear as much different more than a century ago. As a matter of fact, the grotesque was rather too closely associated with caricature in its early critical history.

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Schneegans reviews the so far presented definitions of the grotesque and opposes Wright in that he associates the mode with satire rather than caricature. He mainly concentrates on Rabelais for his elaboration of the grotesque satire. Although he does not elaborate on placing the grotesque between the fantastic and caricature, it is worthwhile to consider his standpoint in classifying the grotesque, its variations and neighbouring modes. Both are controversial terms and are sometimes interchangeably used to refer to the same phenomenon.

Uncanny, supernatural and other similar attributions are ascribed to both modes. Some critics differentiate the two by referring to the fantastic as a quality of losing touch with reality and the grotesque as portrayed within the real world. However, discussions basically focusing on the fantastic have very often considered it, similar to the grotesque, as a blend of the real and supernatural.

To attribute to the fantastic an in-between status, dangling between natural and supernatural or uncanny and marvellous, complicates its distinction from the grotesque since the grotesque can also rely on the simultaneous presentation of the imaginary and real. It is noteworthy, though, that certain characteristics of the grotesque such as images of material body and excessive physical life leading to humiliation, clarifies distinctions between the two modes.

The Borderlines and Overlaps: An Interface The notion developed in this study for the overlaps of these neighbouring modes derives from an eclecticism of the aforementioned discussions. In this regard, the grotesque may be depicted either as situated at a rather distinct in-between stage or bordering on the fantastic and caricature.

Not subcategorising the grotesque into the realm of the fantastic as Symonds and Chao do, I take grotesque fiction as possibly either inclined towards the fantastic or caricature. The distinction between fantastic-grotesque and grotesque- caricature can be made through the presence or absence of the supernatural respectively.


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Fantastic-grotesque drags the clash of fantasy and reality towards an implausible or unrealistic edge since uncanny and inexplicable events take place and ultimately remain in a state of irresolution. While the fantastic-grotesque relies on the emergence of the supernatural and the horrifying, no such uncanny or supernatural dimensions are detectable in grotesque-caricature. Devoid of uncanny incidents, grotesque-caricature best relies on shock effect and parody mainly through the clash evoked by simultaneous sentiments of repulsion and attraction.

In short, the grotesque best borders on caricature once the mode abounds in parodic representations and caricature-like images. A similar classification by Kayser basically focuses on graphic arts and distinguishes works of Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Bruegel and William Blake from those of William Hogarth, Jacques Callot and Francisco Goya: Focusing on the grotesque, one may distinguish between two principal currents, although these two are frequently merged.

Frightful monsters, and fantastic animals.

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I suggest that such terming can possibly make better sense with regard to the interrelationship of the grotesque with the fantastic and caricature. Meanwhile, the grotesque fiction can also be classified in two similar groups, each of which partly oriented towards each of the two currents of horror and abstraction or mockery and physical grossness. The term conceptual grotesque, which I borrow from Carroll, can be used to signify the grotesque as ma inly depicted through incidents and plot.

In conceptual grotesque, categorical transgression is conveyed ontologically in that the violation of existential levels does not literally and physically occur but is conceptually and metaphorically perceived. In fiction works of this nature, the rendition of the grotesque mainly relies on anomalies of the plot and incidents which outweigh representations of excessive bodily life.

In some other works of grotesque fiction, the rendition of the mode basically relies on characterisation and excessive body images. Aversive imagery, desolation, gloom and inertia prevail in such narratives reinforced through grotesque representations. I distinguish this type of grotesque fiction, which is more depicted through characterisation, excessive body imagery and aggressive manners as representational. It is noteworthy, however, that characters in such types of fiction do not necessarily turn to be grotesque due to physical distortion and deformed bodies, that is, deformity is not grotesque by itself; complexities in character and manner, clashing contradictions and identity obliterations are required to render deformed characters as grotesque.

Accordingly, I use the term representational grotesque to refer to works of fiction in which the grotesque basically prevails through characterisation and excessive body imagery. Representational and conceptual grotesque can thus be differentiated from each other on the basis of their respective reliance on characterisation and plot anomalies. In works of fiction, the grotesque can be viably depicted both in the complexities of characterisation and the development of the storyline. Since conceptual grotesque mostly concentrates on plot anomalies, it is more apt to create the sense of confusion inherent to the grotesque.

While it mor e dominantly triggers intellectual uncertainty and the clashing contrast between reality and fantasy or the real and the surreal, representational grotesque elicit more of emotional disharmony and the clashing contrast between repulsion and attraction. The two categories of the grotesque fiction can be distinguished from fantastic - grotesque and grotesque-caricature by an acute observation of the defamiliarising effect prevalent in them.

While fantastic-grotesque and grotesque-caricature are respectively inclined to remain unresolvable and render shock effect, the grotesque itself manipulates both features through its paradoxical nature in which familiar topics shift toward the grotesque by the way they are defamiliarised.

First propagated by Victor Shklovsky as ostraneie, the technique can be well traced and discussed in a vast range of artistic and literary works. Rachel Timoney — in whom he may finally have met his match. Will Doc and Louisa succeed? And might there be a further series to come? Guest stars include Sigourney Weaver. Alongside the programs, WETA features short vignettes featuring cast members, production staff and more. In his work for the Serious Crimes Unit, Luther shines a light into the hearts and minds of psychopaths and killers, and in doing so opens up the shadowy spaces of his own soul.

Throughout the six-part Series I, Luther faces a succession of psychological duels between hunter and hunted, predator and prey. The intensity of his convictions combine with the strength of his passions, provoking the question of whether the detective is a force for good or a man bent on self-destruction. His confidante is his arch-enemy Alice Morgan — portrayed by Ruth Wilson, of Jane Eyre — a beautiful multiple-murderess with whom he becomes locked in a lethal battle of wits. Will his own demons prove to be as dangerous as any of the criminals he pursues? The popularity of the first series, created in , spawned successive seasons that garnered Emmy nominations and earned Elba a Golden Globe Award.

Superintendent Thomas Lynley, 8th Earl of Asherton, and Detective Sergeant Havers, foisted upon each other, must overcome their personality and class differences to solve mysteries such as the death of a playwright at a Scottish retreat, the killing of a beautiful Cambridge student, and the murder of popular cricket hero. As they try to unmask the killers, the relationship between Lynley and Havers evolves into a mutual respect. Secret Tunnel Warfare January 6 visits excavations of World War I trenches of the Western Front to spotlight Allied attempts to break the stalemate of trench warfare with massive engineering operations that dug tunnels under enemy lines and delivered explosive surprise attacks.

In Himalayan Megaquake January 27 , dramatic eyewitness footage reveals the shocking quake that rocked Nepal in April Scientists examine why the earthquake was so devastating and whether another earthquake looms on the horizon. Among them is the two-hour special Royalty Close Up: The Photography of Kent Gavin, in which filmmaker Don Letts utilizes an extraordinary vault of previously unreleased images to explore the work of photojournalist Kent Gavin, who has spent more than 30 years photographing the royal family.

From royal tours abroad to magical moments at Buckingham Palace, the prolific photographer has captured it all, documenting the family as it has changed and evolved throughout the years. Premiering January 5, Season 3 undertakes more fascinating journeys into genealogy through historical research and cutting-edge DNA technology. The engaging family stories in the part new season illuminate the vast patchwork of ethnicity, race and experience that makes up the fabric of America. Three figures in entertainment — Maya Rudolph above, with Gates , Shonda Rhimes and Keenen Ivory Wayans — gain a new understanding of the struggle for.

Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Hader and Norman Lear, who share a gift for comedy, also share a history of family tragedies. It features more about the programs, genealogical research, and a new education curriculum for middle-school and college students based on the series. Episodes of the series repeat Sundays at p. The concert commemorates the 50th anniversary of the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act that was signed into law by President Lyndon B.

Johnson in September The Act called for the creation of the National Endowment for the Humanities NEH and the National Endowment for the Arts NEA as separate, independent agencies, the culmination of a movement calling for the federal government to invest in American cultural endeavors. Song selections for the evening drew from Americanoriginated musical genres, including blues, the American Songbook, and hip-hop the first hip-hop performance in the In Performance at the White House broadcast series. Join the conversation with PBSipwh on social media. The program repeats Sunday, January 10 at p.

Rubenstein, the Laurie M. Knight Foundation, the John D. MacArthur Foundation and the Spencer Foundation. Air travel is generously provided by American Airlines. With a career that spans six decades, Nelson has put his imprint forever on country music and introduced it to new audiences as he has crossed into jazz, blues, folk, rock and Latin styles. With plus recordings, the iconic Texan is the creative genius behind the historic albums Shotgun Willie, Red Headed Stranger and Stardust, and the songwriter of a host of country-music standards.

Nelson has earned numerous awards as a musician and earned extensive credentials as an author, actor and activist. The lively, minute concert was taped November 18 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington and features warm musical tributes to Nelson via performances of his top songs and others he has made his own through iconic recordings and decades of live performance. The Prize, which recognizes.

Air transportation is generously provided by United Airlines. Join the conversation with PBSGershwin on social media. Downton Abbey 6 on Masterpiece The final season of the acclaimed series airs Sundays at 9 p. What will become of the grand estate — and of Robert and Cora? Will Lady Mary or Lady Edith find love again? Will Anna and John Bates be exonerated and finally find peace? And will the rest of the family and staff find happiness and success? Written and created by Julian Fellowes, the co-production of Carnival Films and Masterpiece opened Season 1 with a crisis sparked by the sinking of the Titanic in Having weathered the demise of a string of heirs, the horrors of World War I, the Spanish flu, false convictions and romantic betrayals, not to mention the compromising death of a Turkish diplomat in the throes of passion, Downton Abbey is primed for new surprises in Season 6.

The final season opens in with a series of crises reflecting the momentous changes that are transforming society. Anna Bates faces a murder charge, though many still suspect her husband. And for the rest of the servants, troubling doubts hang over their jobs. Will great houses and the fortunes that support them soon be gone? How will they make their way in the modern era? So why end the series? We can promise a final season full of all the usual drama and intrigue, but with the added excitement of discovering how and where they all end up. Patmore ; and all the rest. Cheerio, friends, and thanks for the memories!

Funding for Downton Abbey, Season 6 on Masterpiece is provided by Viking River Cruises and Ralph Lauren Corporation with additional support from public television viewers and contributors to The Masterpiece Trust, created to help ensure the series' future. New drama series set in Alexandria airs Sundays at 10 p. With the outbreak of the war, Union troops occupied the hotel and converted it into a Union Army medical facility.

Wolfinger and David Zabel ER , Mercy Street is based on historical and composite characters, and the drama combines real and dramatized places and events as backdrops for its storylines. To ensure historical accuracy, the producers engaged an all-star team of advisors headed by noted historian James McPherson and including leading experts on Civil War medicine, military history, African-. American history, women in the Civil War era and more.

The filmmakers enjoyed the opportunity to work in historic locations in the Commonwealth. I knew we had to shoot in practical locations versus building sets on a sound stage. And I knew Centre Hill, a beautiful, historic mansion there, would work perfectly for the Green house. It spotlights the production, the medical history presented in the series, Alexandria as the crossroads of the Civil War, and the reallife places and people of Mercy Street.


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To learn more about Alexandria events and exhibits surrounding the places and history in the series, visit weta. Lens: Little White Lie to 12m. Saturdays and p.

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See page 18 for schedule information. R — Aired within the month. Listings are accurate as of press time. For late-breaking program updates, call or visit weta. Episode 1, A Scandal in Belgravia, airs —9 a. Episode 1, The Empty Hearse, airs noon—2 p. Watson in a special case set in s London. Hudson Una Stubbs also turn up at b Baker Street. Stage and screen legend Julie Andrews returns as host, touring the picturesque city.

Friday, January 1 at 9 p. See weta. Ruth Wilson portrays the murderer he pursues. Part 1 of 6. DCI John Luther returns to work after a spell of leave following the traumatic arrest of the serial killer Henry Madsen. It sounds like an easy assignment for Bennet, but surprises await him. Saturdays at 8 p. Part 1 of The Stories We Tell. Gates explores the unsolved mysteries behind the family stories of political organizer Donna Brazile, actor Ty Burrell and artist Kara Walker as they learn how the legacy of slavery has shaped their identities.

Momentous changes threaten the great house, its owners and staff, and past scandals loom. Episode 1 of 9. Extortion and downsizing threaten Downton Abbey. Change is afoot at the hospital. Hughes poses a delicate question. Daisy speaks her mind, and Anna and Bates wait for the word. See the Saturday, January 2, 8 p. Animal behavior experts offer their insights.

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NOVA uncovers traces of the operation and learns why it failed to break the deadlock of trench warfare. Well-Schooled in Murder. The duo probes the slaying of a student at an elite boarding school. Thursdays at 8 p. A film biography offers a retrospective of the life and times of the child star. See page 4 for details. Obama in the East Room — celebrating art and literature in American musical forms.

The event commemorates the 50th anniversary of the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act. A lineup of top entertainers salutes Murphy from the stage at the Kennedy Center. Martin Ellingham. Part 1 of 8. The new season opens back in Portwenn, but Louisa has left to visit her mother in Spain and gain some perspective on her marriage.

Martin is faced with questions: Will Louisa come back to him? Wedding plans hit a snag. Pigs lead to trouble for Edith and Marigold. Thomas gets a hint. Anna has a secret appointment. Violet and Isobel lock horns over health care. See the Saturday, January 9, 8 p.

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Part 2 of 6. Luther must out-maneuver a trained sniper who is out to kill police officers. Meanwhile, Alice has been investigating Luther and to his horror, seems to know what happened to Madsen during his arrest. She baits him further by asking what Zoe would think if she knew the truth. Sundays at 8 p. See page 5 for details. Part 2 of The Irish Factor. Episode 1 of 3. Staying Alive. Animals are observed outwitting predators, finding or catching food, and raising the next generation. Would they lie, cheat or steal from one another to survive?

Of course they would. This program goes around the world and back in time to investigate how minerals are vital to the origins and evolution of life. Extreme Wonders. Nathaniel Parker and Sharon Small star. See the Sunday, January 10, 8 p. In London, the aristocracy buys decadently expensive accoutrements from a store called Asprey. Carson narrates this documentary about the business. The evening of music was taped November Utilizing an incredible vault of previously unreleased photographs, filmmaker Don Letts explores the work of photojournalist Kent Gavin, who has spent more than 30 years photographing the royal family.