In this project, I have sought to compare and contrast contemporary and mainstream understanding of what is erotic against Bataille’s definition of eroticism. I argue that our culture perpetuates and commodifies nostalgia for taboos and transgressions we have, largely, already dispensed with. Where erotic writing was once a site of resistance against dominant social forces, it has now, for the most part, become another product in the marketplace to be consumed and thus a reinforcement of it. However, I have argued that, while our understanding of what is sacred may have changed radically, the structure of the sacred/ profane dichotomy that produced possibilities for transgression still exists and offers the possibility to of resistance through the identification of new ‘sacreds’ that might be transgressed.
The creative writing accompanying this critical exegesis does not neatly mirror the ideas presented in this thesis; they are offered as fictional narratives that might be fruitfully interrogated in the light of them. They were written under the influence, as it were, of Bataille’s concept of eroticism read through a Lacanian lens. And while the stories were written with a greater understanding of Lacanian psychoanalytic concepts, I hope that the effect of it has not been to produce fictional analytical portraits, but rather to produce richer and more complex characters. A reading will reveal examples of transgression, ecstasy, the continuous self and the fragility of language, bound together, in the experiences of the narrator or the characters in the stories. Above all, my goal was to produce a varied set of fictions—in terms of narrative approach, form, length and style—which propose alternate or laterally approached sites of eroticism while staying within the constraints of the genre.
The loss of erotic literature as a tool of resistance to hegemonic models of how we should experience enjoyment is, I feel, more significant than literary critics acknowledge. It is my hope that other creative writers of genre fiction will find the ideas in this project inspiring and motivate them to explore their characters’ erotic lives in a new, more contextual light.