From the Polymorphous Perverse to the Perverse Dynamic

Jonathan Dollimore

in Sexual Dissidence

Published in print August 1991 | ISBN: 9780198112259
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670732 | DOI:
From the Polymorphous Perverse to the Perverse Dynamic

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The undifferentiated desire of polymorphous perversity, liberated into its own truth, freed from repressive constraint, could become an inherently subversive force. In Life against Death, Norman O. Brown argued that our survival, as individuals and as a species facing the possibility of nuclear destruction, depended on undoing repression. Such notions of what might actually comprise a liberated desire, polymorphous or otherwise, were revealingly culture-bound. Thus, even as he spoke of a transhistorical instinctual structure, Wilhelm Reich, the most famous of all sexual radicals, articulated it in terms which presupposed heterosexual genital norms. The perverse dynamic also suggests that the anthropologist's boundary between the lawful and the illicit is not so much a dividing line as the visible manifestation of an overlap. Something like this is true of John Rechy's gay cruising grounds, which are all public spaces and places where straight and gay men both go without mixing or meeting.

Keywords: polymorphous perversity; Norman O. Brown; repression; Wilhelm Reich; perverse dynamic; John Rechy

Chapter.  6066 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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