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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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Volitional Etiologies: Toward a Weak Theory of Etiology

Volitional Etiologies: Toward a Weak Theory of Etiology

(p.100) Five Volitional Etiologies: Toward a Weak Theory of Etiology
The Book of Minor Perverts

Benjamin Kahan

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the temporal structure of etiology, taking alcohol as its case study. Almost all acquired etiologies of sexual aberration operate under the assumption that heterosexuality or the normal operation of the sexual instinct precedes the etiological event that leads to sexual deviation or aberration. Acquired etiology, thus, is the central mechanism of sexology’s sequencing practices. Reading the works of Iwan Bloch, Magnus Hirschfeld, Stella Browne, Edmund Bergler, and Auguste Forel, this chapter argues that sexologists have a difficult time establishing the sexual sequencing of homosexuality and alcohol. That is, they struggle to determine whether alcoholism causes homosexuality, homosexuality causes alcoholism, or whether they are simultaneous comorbidities. Tracking this inability to order cause and effect, this chapter suggests that sexuality is written under the sign of what Michel Foucault would call “decompartmentalization." That is, sexuality by the middle of the twentieth century has not yet been compartmentalized around object choice and incorporates a number of categories and patterns that will come to be written out of the sphere of the sexual: criminality, alcoholism, gambling, lying, and other vices.

Keywords:   weak theory, volition, Under the Volcano, Charles R. Jackson, Lost Weekend, Malcom Lowry, alcoholism, sexual sequence, decompartmentalization, temporality

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