hunchbacks : bunches of hunches

To some, stroking the hump of the hunchback insures good luck, like “gobbo” in Italy, the impish man, wanky figure, libidinous, with top hat and hump, a kind of Berlusconi , a devilish little beast, but one with access to power. Claire Fontaine was inspired by Walter Benjamin’s portrayal of the hunchback in her video The Assistants which invokes distortion, power and deformity which Benjamin wrapped around myth in “the cares of the family man”, clearly, a vague ambiguous concept, one rooted perhaps in Kafka and his Gregor Samsa, the kind of hybrid creatures who are disturbing by their uncanny familiarity yet perplexing alienation to the concept of law of all manners, the life force of animalism striving for a return to the natural habitat, a redemption from the untrustworthy promises and entreaties of salvation.

---Diego Rivera Disembarkation of the Spanish at Vera Cruz (with Portrait of Cortez as a Hunchback) Painting.--- Read More:

…The fish was a twelve-inch rainbow trout with a huge hump on its back. A hunchback trout. The first I’d ever seen. The hump was probably due to an injury that occurred when the trout was young. Maybe a horse stepped on it or a tree fell over in a storm or its mother spawned where they were building a bridge.

There was a fine thing about that trout. I only wish I could have made a death mask of him. Not of his body though, but of his energy. I don’t know if anyone would have understood his body. I put it in my creel.

Later in the afternoon when the telephone booths began to grow dark at the edges, I punched out of the creek and went home. I had that hunchback trout for dinner. Wrapped in cornmeal and fried in butter, its hump tasted sweet as the kisses of Esmeralda. ( Richard Brautigan, The Hunchback Trout )

In Walter Benjamina figure of fallen life, of iniquity,salacious,perverted dirty life; the distorted life of the hunchback, bent, down and over by an undescribable cosmic burden that defies articulation or even complete sensory perception. Benjamin’s assertion is that the space opened up in modernity at the heart of law, law preserving violence is going to create metaphors of subjection to it, a hunchback’s mentality as if the hump contained all the pathologies of the full inclusion of lawmaking violence that could be packed in, a kind of subjective weight, which like Brautigan’s trout is a sweet cannibal’s feast, the sugary treat of messianism, eating a mouthful of the eternal, like stealing a lunch of one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

---Benjamin sees himself as the hunchback living in the "interstices" (see the work of Miami philosopher and artist, Alfredo Triff) of his imaginary city. See Alfredo Triff, Art and The Interstice . He often signed his letters "the hunchback." Professor Arendt says: "In his writings and also in conversation he used to speak about the 'little hunchback,' ... a German fairy tale figure out of Des Knaben Wunderhorn, the famous collection of German folk poetry." Benjamin is the collector, the hunchback, who redeems objects from utilitarian routine--- Read More: image:

…The other is quasi-humanity, as displayed in the crossbreed’s look of human understanding and indicated by Odradek’s ability to speak. Kafka’s creatures, Benjamin argues, are linked to the hunchback, a figure that is always present but never directly mentioned in his works. The link here is burden, and Benjamin will draw an analogy between the distorted life of creatures like Odradek, the repeated images in Kafka of the
man who bows his head far down on his chest: the fatigue of the court officials, the noise affecting the doormen in the hotel, the low ceiling facing the visitors in the gallery and the severe heaviness of what drives his human protagonists….( Abbott)

---Zizek:It is crucial to remember here that, in the encounter between the man from the country and the guardian of the Door of the Law, it is the guardian, the figure of authority, who is hunched, not the man from the country, who stands upright. (This point is noted by the priest in his debate with Josef K. that follows the parable on the Door of the Law in The Trial: the priest makes it clear that it is the guardian who is subordinated here, playing the role of a servant.) We should therefore not idealize the disfigured “creature” into a pathetic figure of the marginalized, excluded from full humanity, the object of solidarity with the victim—if anything, the creaturely hunchback is the prototype of the servant of Power. Read More:

…Crucial here is the claim (which is actually a microcosm of his entire theory of divine violence) that the hunchback will disappear with the coming of the messiah. The hunchback, as we have seen, appears in Benjamin’s work as the paradigm of mere or creaturely life. Its life is distorted, fallen: the clearest possible exemplification of the creaturely dimension of the human, weighed down by the obscene dimension of law. Divine violence, synonymous with the coming of the messiah, would therefore represent an intervention into precisely this dimension of human subjectivity….Read More:

---The story is told of an automaton constructed in such a way that it could play a winning game of chess, answering each move of an opponent with a countermove. A puppet in Turkish attire and with a hookah in its mouth sat before a chessboard placed on a large table. A system of mirrors created the illusion that this table was transparent from all sides. Actually, a little hunchback who was an expert chess player sat inside and gu

the puppet’s hand by means of strings. One can imagine a philosophical counterpart to this device. The puppet called ‘historical materialism’ is to win all the time. It can easily be a match for anyone if it enlists the services of theology, which today, as we know, is wizened and has to keep out of sight. --- Read More:


Just as K. paused for a while some young girls ran out of one of the flats and rushed higher up the stairs, laughing. K. followed them slowly, caught up with one of the girls who had stumbled and been left behind by the others, and asked her as they went up side by side, “Is there a painter, Titorelli, who lives here?” The girl, hardly thirteen years old and somewhat hunchbacked, jabbed him with her elbow and looked at him sideways. Her youth and her bodily defects had done nothing to stop her being already quite depraved. She did not smile once, but looked at K. earnestly, with sharp, acquisitive eyes. K. pretended not to notice her behaviour and asked, “Do you know Titorelli, the painter?” She nodded and asked in reply, “What d’you want to see him for?” K. thought it would be to his advantage quickly to find out something more about Titorelli. “I want to have him paint my portrait,” he said. “Paint your portrait?” she asked, opening her mouth too wide and lightly hitting K. with her hand as if he had said something extraordinarily surprising or clumsy, with both hands she lifted her skirt, which was already very short, and, as fast as she could, she ran off after the other girls whose indistinct shouts lost themselves in the heights. At the next turn of the stairs, however, K. encountered all the girls once more. The hunchbacked girl had clearly told them about K.’s intentions and they were waiting for him. They
stood on both sides of the stairs, pressing themselves against the wall so that K. could get through between them, and smoothed their aprons down with their hands. All their faces, even in this guard of honour, showed a mixture of childishness and depravity. Up at the head of the line of girls, who now, laughing, began to close in around K., was the hunchback who had taken on the role of leader. It was thanks to her that K. found the right direction without delay – he would have continued up the stairs straight in front of him, but she showed him that to reach Titorelli he would need to turn off to one side….

---Hannah Arendt summarizes Benjamin's stance in her introduction to Illuminations: "Collecting is the redemption of things which is to complement the redemption of man." The hunchback, thus, also becomes an object of redemption, a person who is in turn "collected" or seen aesthetically and morally, in something akin to a dream state. --- Read More: image:

…The only one to succeed was the hunchback when she slipped through under his outstretched arm, but the painter chased after her, grabbed her by the skirt, span her once round and set her down again by the door with the other girls who, unlike the first, had not dared to cross the
doorstep while the painter had left his post. K. did not know what he was to make of all this, as they all seemed to be having fun. One
behind the other, the girls by the door stretched their necks up high and called out various words to the painter which were meant in jest but
which K. did not understand, and even the painter laughed as the hunchback whirled round in his hand. Then he shut the door, bowed once more to K., offered him his hand and introduced himself, saying, “Titorelli, painter”. Read More:

---Mexico, state of Puebla, Las Bocas Reclining hunchback holding rectangular Painting/Print Artwork --- Read More:,-STATE-OF-PUEBLA,-LAS-BOCAS-RECLINING-HUNCHBACK-HOLDING-RECTANGULAR

“When I go down to the cellar                                   When I go into my kitchen,
There to draw some wine,                                            There my soup to make
A little hunchback who‟s in there                             A little hunchback who‟s in there
Grabs that jug of mine.                                                 My little pot did break.”

In Benjamin‟s phrase from Berlin Childhood, the hunchback poses the threat of being looked at by someone you can‟t see. The boy is fascinated, the little hunchback paralyses him, casts a spell on him. It is a kind of hex, an invitation to be one with the piles of debris the hunchback made.Read More:…There is hope that the little hunchback will vanish some day. That he not only won‟t be seen anymore, but will cease his threatening presence. This messianic promise is connected to Benjamin‟s thinking as it reveals itself in his theses “On the Concept of History”. In his essay on Kafka he expresses the promise in quoting a word by Gershom Scholem who is the great rabbi in this phrase: “This little man is at home in distorted life; he will disappear with the coming of the Messiah, who (a great rabbi once said) will not wish to change the world by force but will merely make a slight adjustment in it.” ( ibid.)

---Kirshenblatt, Mayer (1916- ) The Hunchback's Wedding, 1996 Acrylic on canvas 36 x 48 in.---

Sigmund Freud: On the other hand the following example, which evinces, as it were, the complementary faulty thinking, is a witticism without any doubt. Again it is a story of a marriage agent. The agent is defending the girl he has proposed against the attacks of her prospective fiancé. “The mother-in-law does not suit me,” the latter remarks. “She is a crabbed, foolish person.” “That’s true,” replies the agent, “but you are not going to marry the mother-in-law, but the daughter.” “Yes, but she is no longer young, and she is not pretty, either.” “That’s nothing: if she is not young or pretty you can trust her all the more.” “But she hasn’t much money.” “Why talk of money? Are you going to marry money? You want a wife, don’t you?” “But she is a hunchback.” “Well, what of that? Do you expect her to have no blemishes at all?” Read More:

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