A Touch of the Weird: Embracing the Uncanny: The Allure and Power of the Strange in Machado's Worldview - Carmen Maria Machado

American literature essay. Literary analysis of works and characters - Sykalo Evgen 2023

A Touch of the Weird: Embracing the Uncanny: The Allure and Power of the Strange in Machado's Worldview
Carmen Maria Machado

The fascinating world of Carmen Maria Machado grows on the edges of reality, where the boundaries between the real and the imaginary are hazy and the eerie hums menacingly from the shadows. She explores the seductive power of the odd in her collection "A Touch of the Weird," not as a cause of terror or panic but rather as a driving force for empowerment and self-discovery. Machado asks us to embrace the strange, to enjoy in the chills it gives us, and to find beauty and purpose in the shadows that dance at the border of our awareness through her expertly crafted stories and essays.

The Temptation of the Hidden:

Machado's writing style is weird in and of itself; it skillfully blends evocative descriptions with eerie images in a way that is both disconcerting and captivating. In "The Husband Stitch," the bizarre act of surgically joining two women together is transformed into a wonderfully lovely allegory for feminine intimacy and identity problems. In a similar vein, "The Green Room" pushes the limits of what is deemed attractive and human by turning a reality program into a horrifying display of bodily horror. However, Machado never loses sight of the seductive force of the unusual, even in the face of the uncomfortable. Not only is the monster in her work disgusting, but it also captivates us with its hushed promises of unspoken knowledge and life-changing encounters.

Going Beyond the Binary:

Machado is not limited to the supernatural in his appreciation of the spooky. She highlights how cultural norms themselves can be monstrous in her works on pop culture and literature, challenging our binary conception of normalcy and abnormality. For instance, her examination of Disney princesses reveals the hidden fears and demands that these ostensibly harmless stories put on women and girls. By dissecting these well-known stories, Machado challenges us to examine the fundamentals of what we take to be "normal" and to accept the wide range of human experiences, including the unusual and uncomfortable ones.

The Transformative Power:

In Machado's writing, the uncanny is not only something to be noticed; it is a force that has the power to change us. The power to erase undesired memories is bestowed upon characters in "The Angel of Forgetfulness," causing a blurring of the boundaries between desire and reality. This investigation of memory and its malleability forces us to face the ways in which we create our own stories and to think about the freeing and potentially dangerous aspects of forgetting. Comparably, "The Old Woman Who Lived in a Pepperbox" explores themes of aging and mortality through the fanciful and horrific, yet in the end, it delivers a startlingly positive message about accepting change and the transformational power of the unknown.

In summary:

"A Touch of the Weird" by Carmen Maria Machado is a testimonial to the power and attraction of the unusual. She challenges us to leave the safety of the familiar and embrace the strange in her engrossing tales and perceptive essays—not as something to be dreaded but as a source of wonder, self-discovery, and even emancipation. Machado reminds us that the genuine enchantment is not in the absence of the weird but rather in our readiness to open our eyes and hearts to its transforming potential by questioning our conception of normalcy and honoring the wide range of human experiences.

Additional Thoughts:

Examine particular sections of "A Touch of the Weird" to see how Machado evokes the strange with language and imagery.
Examine the connections between Machado's writing and other literary and artistic movements that investigate the eerie, such as surrealism, magical realism, and Gothic fiction.
Think about the reader's function in Machado's writing. In what way does she ask us to share in the uncanny experience?
Examine how Machado's perspective on the odd and the excluded is influenced by her experiences as a queer Latina woman and her personal identity.
You can create an even more complex and perceptive critique of Machado's engrossing and provocative book by going further into these areas. Recall that the world is full of amazing and unusual things, and that sometimes the most life-changing adventures start with just one step into the unknown. Thus, rather than viewing the strange as something to be avoided, let's welcome it as a sign that more amazing things are frequently found right on the brink of our comfort zones and a doorway to new opportunities.