This essay examines the role of failure in the work of Leo Bersani through the lens of self-shattering, impersonal narcissism, and castration. It revisits Bersani’s account of narcissism and masochism in “Erotic Assumptions” and critiques his subsequent shift toward impersonal narcissism in Homos and Intimacies. The essay concludes by showing how the notion of castration, roundly rejected by Bersani, may address the impasse between solipsism and sociality that he attempted to resolve through sameness.

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