Chapter

Desire and Difference

Jonathan Dollimore

in Sexual Dissidence

Published in print August 1991 | ISBN: 9780198112259
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670732 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112259.003.0021
Desire and Difference

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The instance of homosexuality is not incidental since ‘perverse’ desire figures centrally in Roland Barthes's influential theories of difference and textuality. Like Oscar Wilde, André Gide, and others, Barthes uses perverse desire to animate and inform his aesthetic and linguistic theories, and it is in terms of language and art that such strategies would in part operate. From the vantage point of so-called post-liberation, the political blindnesses of sexual desire, and how disastrous it can be to make sexuality the prime mover of a political vision. What one learns from Wilde, Gide, Barthes, and others is that a conventionally understood politics which ignores sexual desire will quite possibly be as disastrous as one which makes that desire the prime mover in the age of so-called post-liberation. It is not exactly that they bring sexuality to politics; rather, deviant desire brings with it a different kind of political knowledge, and hence inflects both desire and politics differently.

Keywords: homosexuality; desire; Roland Barthes; difference; Oscar Wilde; André Gide; sexuality; politics; textuality

Chapter.  12392 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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