Linking classic American literature to contemporary popular
culture, Sublime Enjoyment argues that the rational systems of
normal social life are motivated and sustained by 'perverse'
desires. This perversity arises from the failure of symbolic
satisfactions - love, work, success - to make us happy, and from
our refusal to accept that failure. Hoping to achieve satisfaction,
we respond ultimately to situations that evoke older, more primary
drives and their attendant emotions. But while a conventional
pervert knows exactly what to want, the healthy pervert must find
enjoyment inadvertently: in the object of the sublime, in duty and
reason, and in the obligations of a 'fun morality'. Examining the
ways in which this inadvertence is represented in American
literature and culture, Dennis Foster identifies ways in which
longings are linked to social forces.
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