Failing Desire

Karmen MacKendrick
eISBN-13: 9781438468921

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Luckily for human diversity, we are perfectly capable of desiring impossible things. Failing Desire explores a particular set of these impossibilities, those connected to humiliation. These include the failure of autonomy in submission, of inward privacy in confession, of visual modesty in exhibition, and of dignity in playing various roles. Historically, those who find pleasure in these failures range from ancient Cynics through early Christian monks to those now drawn by queer or perverse eroticism. As Judith Halberstam pointed out in The Queer Art of Failure, failure can actually be a mode of resistance to demands for what a culture defines as success. Karmen MacKendrick draws on this interest in queer refusals. To value, desire, or seek humiliation undercuts any striving for success, but it draws our attention particularly to the failures of knowledge as a form of power, whether that knowledge is of one body or of a population. How can we understand will that seeks not to govern itself, psychology that constructs inwardness by telling all, blushing shame that delights in exposure, or dignity that refuses its lofty position? Failing Desire suggests that the power of these desires and pleasures comes out of the very realization that this question can never quite be answered.

ISBNs 143846892X, 9781438468914, 9781438468921
Language English
Number of Pages 220