The Natural History of Desire
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 Hudson and Jacot (The Way Men Think, 1992) make a perplexing and incoherent effort to analogize intimacy and art. The authors declare ``that psychological differences between the sexes are both deeply engrained and imaginatively galvanising'' and ``that there exists a parallel between art and intimate relations.'' Unfortunately, very little that follows has anything to do with these potentially engaging assertions. For example, they devote two chapters to a ``thought experiment'' in which they describe several historically important women, including Margaret Mead and Kate Millett. The experiment requires imagining these figures as men, with the assumption that, as such, their stories would not make sense. The experiment fails thoroughly, however, for well-read readers of gender and sexuality literature, possibly because the authors dismiss these fields as postmodern and liberal to the point of irrelevance. Basically, they see men and women as fundamentally different because of early relationships with parents. Based in Freudian thought, they believe that men and women grow up with different complexes, and ``wounds,'' which color future interactions. The authors are exclusively concerned with ``the mutual fascination of individuals who are categorically dissimilar'' in terms of biological sex, so although they bill this as a history of desire and intimacy, only heterosexual love is addressed. And many of their characterizations of patterns of loving are rooted in stereotypes and structural inequities, criticisms of which they discard as extremist rhetoric of feminists and other radical groups. In their final analysis, intimacy and art are comparable because they both spring from the imagination, what Hudson and Jacot see as the ``mind's central function.'' But there never emerges a natural history of intimacy at all. What could have been a compelling discussion about the imagination is cluttered with conservative biases and false interpretations of social scientific data. (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-300-06293-1
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1995