I am grateful to An Anatomy of Literary Nonsense by Wim Tigges for making the link between kitsch and the grotesque.
The grotesque typically combines heterogeneous categories: in this case an animal and inanimate object.
Contrary to the notion of the lack of utility of such combinations it is clear that the example of the ashtray is functional.
- A creature 'low' in the scale of being - associated with earth and water (Compare Shakespeare's Caliban in The Tempest)
- A figure of evil; Satan, in Milton's Paradise Lost shifts shapes accordingly.
- Open-mouthed is the popular form of the open-body identified by Bakhtin in Rabelais and His World.
- A figure of metamorphosis, in its life-cycle, mirrors the unstable nature of the grotesque world
- Elements of play, humour, and the ridiculous
- Body-part exaggeration of size - mouth / tongue.
- A reminder of death - this is, finally, an ash-tray. The grotesque, finally, is the decomposition of bodies
- But laughter asserts life against death.