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Feast of ExcessA Cultural History of the New Sensibility$
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George Cotkin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190218478

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190218478.001.0001

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Erectile Destruction

Erectile Destruction

Samuel R. Delany and Thomas Pynchon

1972

Chapter:
(p.297) { 21 } Erectile Destruction
Source:
Feast of Excess
Author(s):

George Cotkin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190218478.003.0023

This chapter looks at novels marked by various types of excess. In Pynchon’s great work Gravity’s Rainbow, the reader is assaulted with erudition, puns, and possibilities. At the same time, the excess is directed toward logical ends, and it mimics, in a fashion, the insanity connected with the Second World War and the potential for nuclear annihilation. The book also, within the context of the mainstreaming of pornography and excess in films premiering during in 1972, deals with domination and submission in sexual relations. Such themes appear raw in Delany’s novel from this period, Hogg, which features the varieties of sexual practice—including the grossest. His major science fiction novel from this period, Dhalgren, is about identity, community, and destruction, as well as the potential for liberation, with a storyline that is meant to lead one down various blind alleys of comprehension, in the mode of postmodernism. They were exploring transgression with abandon, as were others in this period, such as film director John Waters.

Keywords:   Samuel R. Delany, Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow, Dhalgren, science fiction, pornography, John Waters

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