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The Book of Minor PervertsSexology, Etiology, and the Emergences of Sexuality$
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Benjamin Kahan

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226607818

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226608006.001.0001

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Magia Sexualis, Sexual Subjectivity, and the Willfulness of Sexual Aim

Magia Sexualis, Sexual Subjectivity, and the Willfulness of Sexual Aim

(p.66) Three Magia Sexualis, Sexual Subjectivity, and the Willfulness of Sexual Aim
The Book of Minor Perverts

Benjamin Kahan

University of Chicago Press

This chapter argues that conceptions of magic, sorcery, witchcraft, and the occult have influenced constructions of sex and sexuality to a much greater extent than has been realized in the existing scholarship. It contends that magia sexualis and its notion of will in particular play an essential role in the construction of sexual subjectivity. The chapter begins by thinking about the possibilities of attraction without desire or sexuality by considering the quasi-magical/quasi-chemical idea of elective affinities in Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein’s The Mysteries of New Orleans (1854/5). In the second section, it traces the afterlife of this sexual subjectivity and its relation to will in George du Maurier’s Trilby (1894) in order to chart a genealogy of aim-based sexuality. The chapter concludes by examining Paschal Beverly Randolph's pioneering sexual magic, arguing that he is one of the earliest theorists and instantiators of sexual subjectivity. In particular, the chapter argues that he constructs his vision of sexual subjectivity in relation to the specter of American slavery.

Keywords:   magia sexualis, Trilby, Mysteries of New Orleans, Paschal Beverly Randolph, subjectivity, ars erotica, elective affinity, George de Maurier, race, will

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