Volume 6, Issue 13, Fall 2010
How Mina Loy Exceeds George Bataille
For Mina Loy, human appetites are often comical, even uproarious. This essay considers Loy’s use of risibility–the desire to laugh–as it accompanies and extends her examinations of longings such as sexuality and hunger. Modernist philosophers like Nietzsche, Bergson, and Freud were preoccupied with laughter; Loy responds to their approaches in her writing, as do many of her contemporaries, particularly Wyndham Lewis. Here it is argued that in her poetry and her thirties novel, Insel, Loy depicts a desiring body neither whole nor inviolate—a body determined by otherness and endlessness. Loy’s articulation of desire, in other words, is both in league with, and more extreme than that of French philosopher Georges Bataille, who was himself a product of a large-scale reconsideration
of human longing at the outset of the twentieth century.