An Issue of Desire in its Relation to the Textual Subject/Object

This is a dude who would not be an object of desire in any of the books mentioned in this post


I was debating whether or not posting about this topic, that will be revealed shortly, was something that should be done in what is ultimately a very public forum, or if it was something better suited for one of my more personal blogs. Ultimately I have decided, I think, that posting here is the best idea, mainly because I am actually more interested in what other people have to say about it than what I have to say about it.

I will preface this by stating that, generally, I cannot fully mesh entirely with a narrative that is intended to be read entirely on a level of empathy. I prefer there to be a constant awareness that what is being read (or written) is a text, a book, a narrative, etc. I hate the idea of liking a book because you can “relate to a character,” in fact a lot of the time I don’t like characters, realistic ones at least. I like characters more as ideas, completely flat, lacking depth. Events over an over-wrought psychology, etc. But that’s not my point, nor is it what I want to talk about.

As someone who is queer, I like reading books by queer authors, queer narratives. As someone who is arguably a pervert, I also like reading erotica, particularly of the French vein. And in the history of French literature there is an abundance of smutty stories, and what I like about these stories is that they are literary (let’s pretend that this means something even though the “genre” of literary fiction in and of itself is a useless demarcation). I have nothing against smut for the sake of smut, it’s great, but you know, I’m also a whore for form and structure and extra-textual shit (in Barthes’s terms, I am more a fan of the “writerly text”). I actually like it when an entirely smutty story has some pretension that its form is transgressing its content, in fact I love it. Whether it works or not is always interesting, it’s just something that I’m way into.

The history of ‘literary’ queer fiction, especially in terms of queer fiction that is more overtly “writerly” (experimental, avant-garde, whatever), is littered almost primarily with desire for young boys. Tony Duvert’s entire praxis was based on a developed theory of an autonomous childhood sexuality, and one of his two books of fiction available in English (When Jonathan Died, now out of print, of course) is basically a paean to man-boy love. I am okay with this, particularly because the narrative acts as an exploration of theories espoused in Duvert’s fairly well known theoretical text, Good Sex Illustrated. Similarly, Guy Hocquenghem wrote about man-boy love. Steve Abott, though not French, explores this theme in the fantastic Holy Terror, it’s a regular topic in Matthew Stadler’s work, and as I’m sure most readers of this site are aware, the objects of sexual desire in all of Dennis Cooper’s totally amazing works of fiction are young teenage boys. Burroughs wrote about how sublime the long skinny cock of a young boy is. Of course, even in heterosexual literary erotica the object of desire is most often a young teenage girl (for examples: Pierre Louys, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Bernard Noel, Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues, etc, etc). Alternatively, sometimes the young lusty female is the subject of desire instead of the object, taking what is occasionally the first person perspective, or at least the locus of a third person narrative (consider what are arguably the ultimate classics of French Erotica: Story of O, Emmanuelle, and Bataille’s quintessential Story of the Eye).

Jumping back to queer, “writerly” texts, it seems like there are only two alternatives to finding the young boy the object of sexual desire:

1) You can locate your narrative among the world of hookers or anonymous hookups (John Rechy, Renaud Camus)
2) You can focus on the ugly, the abject, the gutter (Peter Sotos, Jean Genet, Pierre Guyotat)

I am okay with all of this, obviously, I will still generally preference queer literary erotica/fiction over heterosexual literary erotica/fiction if only because it is easier to subject myself to a jouissance via the text. I mean, besides, in most cases (at least the texts listed above) desire is probed in order to explore a larger concept. But when it comes down to it, my sexual preference is for older, middle-aged, hairy dudes. It is this demographic that is generally located in the “predator” position (I use this term slightly tongue-in-cheek) in the narratives mentioned above. But hey, what’s up with this? Basically what I’m saying is that I want to read novels that are basically Alain Robbe-Grillet’s late-70s narratives, except for my own pleasure, I want there to be middle-aged hunks instead of 14 year old girls lying dead on the table, naked, blood spilling over the empty white floor.

I guess I don’t have any specific questions about this, but is there anybody else who suffers this situation? I am, as evidenced by this post, severely under-read in female/female queer narratives so I can’t confidently stereotype those here either. So, let’s talk about this.

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