In “Cradling,” a chapter of Baudelaire and Freud, Leo Bersani shows how desire rocks the self. Desire always manifests as a movement that draws the self both toward and away from the object that excites it. Rocking simultaneously invokes infantile erotic enjoyment, an adult sexual act, and the way that fantasy images travel in time and create new temporalities. This essay links Bersani’s 1977 reading of Baudelaire’s poem “Hair” with his later work by showing that when the sexual power of fantasy is denied, it often returns in the form of a fantasy of sexual power.

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