As literary critics and language theorists, Viktor Shklovsky and Mikhail Bakhtin each utilize “aesthetic distance” in an unconventional way—unrelated, it would seem, to the usual aesthetic criteria of beauty, goodness, or truth. For the Formalist Shklovsky, the distancing or estrangement of an object sharpens our perception and stimulates our senses, thereby arousing us to artistic (as opposed to drably everyday) experience. For the dialogic Bakhtin, the mandate to “be outside” that which you create is a matter of subject-subject relations, not subject-object. This essay considers only one aspect of this intersection: the role of pain (the hurting body as the norm) in these two aesthetic economies, Shklovsky's and Bakhtin's.

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