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The Desiring-ImageGilles Deleuze and Contemporary Queer Cinema$
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Nick Davis

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199993161

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199993161.001.0001

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Hard Bodies and Sex-Blobs

Hard Bodies and Sex-Blobs

Deterritorializing Desire in Naked Lunch and Shortbus

(p.70) 2 Hard Bodies and Sex-Blobs
The Desiring-Image

Nick Davis

Oxford University Press

This chapter highlights symmetries between Cronenberg’s film of Naked Lunch and several other literary adaptations that proved central to 1990s-era New Queer Cinema, a movement that nonetheless discounted Cronenberg entirely. Next, it draws out analogies linking the more expansive, chaotic, and illusory world of Naked Lunch (as compared to Dead Ringers) to the “derationalized” grammars of post–World War II cinema that Deleuze evokes in his book Cinema 2 (as compared with its predecessor, Cinema 1). After analyzing the notorious “sex-blob” sequence as a pivotal illustration of how the movie derationalizes desire, the chapter defends Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch against charges of straightening and commodifying the revolutionary legacy of William S. Burroughs. Lastly, John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus (2006), with its infamous scenes of “actual sex,” reveals how comparably counter-cultural but more eagerly embraced examples of queer cinema may perpetuate clichés about gender and desire in ways Cronenberg’s work avoids.

Keywords:   David Cronenberg, Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs, Cinema 2, Shortbus, John Cameron Mitchell, commodification, actual/virtual

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