“Desire” can be a very loaded word in terms of literary theory. One must examine both the body and soul in relation to imperfections. A most basic definition of “desire” comes from the realization that something is missing. When one has a need or want, the need/want relates to that feeling of absence or being “without.” Desire is the result of a persistent feeling being kept in check by routine or consciousness.
In Aristotle, desire is figured as that which persists between the natural and the psychic domains, mediated by an ethos or a domain of regularly practiced habits” (376).
Plato declared the “body emerges from desire.” Socrates defended further, “this procreation is the union of man and woman and is a divine thing; for conception and generation are an immortal principle in the mortal creature” (372). Therefore, even procreation was explained as a spiritual part of human nature; a spiritual desire. There is a desire to create souls more souls. We could also read the above quote more literally. People desire other people persae, the desire to find and create “the beautiful.” They desire to love, which is both a spiritual and physical desire. I would agree that the concept of finding “the beautiful” applies to literature. Judith Butler states:
Desire of the beautiful requires that writing exceed its own constraints, to present what is “beyond” the world by and through the word” (374).
Some gender driven questions concerning desire…
- Is desire to create “the beautiful” during procreation a masculine concept while the woman is the “passive” object of that beauty?
- If so, are we still to assume homo-eroticism is a main explanation for desire?
- Is desire a merely a masculine characteristic?
- Is a woman less feminine if she has feelings of desire?