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Title: The Cunning Lust. Aesthetic and Political Perspectives on Masochism.
Authors: Lohmueller, Torben
Keywords: Masochism
Perversion in Art
Issue Date: 6-Dec-2004
Abstract: While the works of Alphonse Donatien de Sade have widely impacted aesthetic and critical discussions in 20th century avant-garde art and critical theory, the supposed ?inventor? of masochism, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, has been largely neglected by scholars and critics alike. Only in recent years and in a tardy response to Gilles Deleuze?s Pr?sentation de Masoch (1969) have Sacher-Masoch and the subject of masochism received some attention within the debates in both German and Cultural Studies, notably by Albrecht Koschorke. Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1988), John Noyes. Mastery of Submission (1997), Michael Gratzke. Liebesschmerz und Textlust (2000). Die verschlagene Lust expands the contexts in which Sacher-Masoch?s work has hitherto been treated to problems in philosophy (master slave dialectic), confessional writing (Rousseau, recent queer studies), history (Sacher-Masoch?s historical and political writings), art history (strategies of visual appropriation), and performance studies (Nietzsche, Cansinos Assens, performance art of the 1960?s). Examined under these cross-disciplinary perspectives masochism proofs to be both a political and an aesthetic strategy, circumventing the dialectical impasses of transgression (as in Sad(e)ism and the early avant-garde) by operating through disavowal, seduction, and experimental reconfigurations of the given. While in existing research, Sacher-Masoch?s work has been predominantly classified as a phenomenon particular to the late nineteenth century, I argue that we must consider its refusal of artistic authorship and destabilisation of the reality principle as prefiguring post-modern theory and aesthetics. The literature discussed includes: Sacher-Masoch?s collections Das Verm?chtnis Kains, Vols. I and II (1877), Russische Hofgeschichten (19uu), his historical works Der Aufstand in Gent unter Kaiser Carl V. (1857), Ungarns Untergang und Maria von ?sterreich (1862), and among others the following: G.W.F. Hegel. Phenomenology, Jean Paul Sartre. Being and Nothingness, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Confessions, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. A Poem is Being Written, Rafael Cansinos Assens. Est?tica y Erotismo de la Pena de Muerte, Herrmann Nitsch. orgien mysterien theatre, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Birth of Tragedy.
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