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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Structuralism in Dr. Hoffman

The scene on page 214 near the conclusion of the book has a structuralist element to it. The naked young couples producing the eroto-energy that feeds the desire machines are kept in fine mesh cages. The mesh that surrounds these beings signifies the structure by which we all live. The mesh is designed to keep the desires of the lovers, and ourselves, contained, as in not to be let out. The mesh design is seen throughout the book. Things like roads were given a set of rules by which to follow. The crossword done by the Minister with Desiderio’s assistance is a prominent example of this mesh of reason. Even the mesh of time, as indicated by Einstein, was disrupted. The lovers and their desires being caged up brings summation to the point that even in the production of infinite desire, some of that desire must be contained, meaning a world ruled by infinite desire is simply not possible.


  1. That is a great commentary on Carter's symbolism that I did not think about before reading your post. It is also interesting to note that the one true desire Desiderio feels in the entire novel, to be with and make love to Albertina, is the same desire that he extinguishes by murdering her. This reading of her structure that you have chosen could be taken even further into sexuality or feminist analysis of sexual containment. I am just curious as to why you think Carter chooses to expose limitations on desire and passion.

  2. I agree your with identification of Carter's use of signs, and agree that the mesh cage represents reason's restriction of desire. However, I believe that the novel is suggesting not that a world of infinite desire isn't possible, but rather that it isn't desireable. With reference to the roads, it is possible that they could be designed without method or reason, but they would lose their value. Thus, I suggest that a world without restricting reason is possible and filled with desire, but is in fact an undesireable world.

  3. Blake, I like the idea of an undesirable world of pure desire, however, is there any other way for Dr. Hoffman to contain the desire that the sexual partners emit? So, it seems Carter would be saying, as Micah initially stated, that a world "ruled by infinite desire" is not possible because there has to be restriction in order to harness the pure unadulterated desire.