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May SinclairRe-Thinking Bodies and Minds$
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Rebecca Bowler and Claire Drewery

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474415750

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474415750.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 16 September 2021

Disembodying Desire: Ontological Fantasy, Libidinal Anxiety and the Erotics of Renunciation in May Sinclair

Disembodying Desire: Ontological Fantasy, Libidinal Anxiety and the Erotics of Renunciation in May Sinclair

Chapter:
(p.119) Chapter 6 Disembodying Desire: Ontological Fantasy, Libidinal Anxiety and the Erotics of Renunciation in May Sinclair
Source:
May Sinclair
Author(s):

Faye Pickrem

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474415750.003.0007

This chapter examines Sinclair’s writing through an analysis of desire, anxiety, and the process of subjectivization. I begin with markers of anxiety that haunt both Sinclair’s fiction and theory. These textual tics betray abhorrence, disgust, and even contempt for the body with respect to base carnality and the “unharnessed libido,” as well as an insistent need to corral and discipline the libido into what she deems to be a higher, sublimated form. I argue that the formulation of Sinclair’s theory of sublimation is necessitated by this underlying anxiety and the need to erase the body and the libido in their carnal, appetitive forms. Simultaneously, despite Sinclair’s loss of religious faith, her writing displays a profound uneasiness with the alienation and isolation of the individual in a Godless world. She attempts various substitutions to fill this void, ranging from sublimation to her theory of genius and a “poetics of celibacy” (Raitt), but despite this, the longing for unity internally and within a larger context remains. Rather than channeling the libido into higher aims, I argue that Sinclairian assertions of sublimation fail. Sinclair’s ontological fantasy is revealed qua fantasy and remains performance rather than enactment, encapsulating symptoms of an ever-deferred, idealized desire.

Keywords:   sublimation, libido, celibacy, desire, fantasy, genius

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