The Westermarck Effect is a psychological phenomena named after Finnish anthropologist Edvard Westermarck. The effect is that (according to Wikipedia): "when two people live in close domestic proximity during the first few years in the life of either one, both are desensitized to later close sexual attraction." Which is why most people don't get the hots for their sibling.
However, if siblings don't grow up together and only meet for the first time later in life, they may be intensely sexually attracted to each other. This is known as genetic sexual attraction, or GSA. Again, from Wikipedia:
Several factors may contribute to GSA. People commonly rank faces similar to their own as more attractive, trustworthy, etc. than average... Shared interests and personality traits are commonly considered desirable in a mate... In cases of parent-child attraction, the parent may recognize traits of their sometime mate in the child. Such reunions typically produce complex emotions in all involved.
Finally, there is the phenomena known as the Westermarck Trap, which occurs when two people who have grown up together (and thus are sexually desensitized to each other) are expected to marry each other, because of an arranged marriage. According to one theory, this is what the novel Frankenstein depicts:
Students of the Westermarck effect may be interested to know that this trap is depicted in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, in which Victor Frankenstein is expected to marry a cousin reared with him. Instead, he creates a monster that persecutes him and murders his prospective bride before the marriage can be consummated. It is suggested that the plot owes something to Mary Shelley's own experience of the Westermarck effect, following a childhood in which she was reared with a stepbrother. Her own personal solution was not to create a monster but to elope with a married man (Percy Bysshe Shelley) at the age of 16.
One of the weirdest books you'll ever read is by my pal, Steve Aylett, and it's titled Lint. (You can order it through the Amazon link below.)
Lint is the "biography" of Jeff Lint, poverty-stricken, mad genius, hack writer, who is basically a cross between Kilgore Trout and Salvador Dali.
One of Lint's fictional creations was a comic-book character dubbed "The Caterer." And now you can read an actual issue of this gonzo masterpiece, thanks to Floating World Comics. A sample is to the right.
You must investigate this saga of one man and his senseless quest for perfect absurdity in a violent world, or risk being rendered null and void!
In those antique pre-internet days of the book's debut, your only resources for contacting and receiving strange information was the USPS. There are plenty of cheap copies of HWBM available online, if you want to get a nostalgic snapshot of that era.
But the SubGeniuses behind the book have also launched THE HIGH WEIRDNESS PROJECT, which strives to replicate the book as a web-based experience.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Strange Things, by Boris Servais, is a book you won't find for sale on Amazon. Servais had it "Produced in Italy by a specialized printer for small-size books, it collects odd discoveries and inventions around nostalgic aviation, astronautics, time trips or science fiction warfare." Below is an example of one of the entries. (via Book By Its Cover)
I can heartily recommend this book to any reader interested in oddball comics or strange corners of pop culture in general. The authors are acknowledged comics experts, and they've dug up some very bizarre comics, here shown as cover images only, no interior pages from the offenders. Your life will never be the same, after you've been introduced to, say, All-Negro Comics or Hansi, the Girl Who Loved the Swatstika.
Welcome to the very first contest sponsored by your pals here at WEIRD UNIVERSE.
Here's the deal:
The single prize is a used but in-good-shape trade paperback copy of Ricky Jay's Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women, an essential handbook for any true lover of the weird.
The challenge: to win the book, you must identify the painting and artist behind this little visual snippet to the right. The painter is one of the more famous outsider artists of the past 200 years. With luck, this challenge will be neither too easy nor too hard. If the contest goes on for any length of time without a winner, I'll post more snippets of the canvas, and other clues.
Please make your guess in the COMMENTS section of this post, not through email. Priority of the response, in the case of multiple correct guesses, determines the winner.
When we have a winner, I'll get their snailmail and post the book with some of my mailart on the envelope.
I'll be away in Seattle from Friday October 10 through Monday October 13, attending the launch party of my new novel, Cosmocopia. But I've stacked up four posts in the queue, all new FOLLIES OF THE MAD MEN. Enjoy!