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n Literator : Journal of Literary Criticism, Comparative Linguistics and Literary Studies - Doubling desire : the Yeatsian Daimon : research article
Doubling desire : the Yeatsian Daimon
Through the agency of Daimonic desire, Yeatsian spiritualism repeats empirical existence. In positing a desire that extends beyond the limits of individual human life, Yeats denies the definitive value of an exclusive finitude, such as that perceived by Michel Foucault in The Order of Things(1974). If Yeats, involved in a qualified manner in an aspect of Foucault's analytic of finitude, is a modernist, he is related to that type Fredric Jameson calls the "anti-modern modernist" (Jameson, 1991:304), the modernist who reacts against modernisation.
In discussing Daimonic desire, then, it is congruous with a reading of Yeats to do so both from the perspective of the empirical realm of the "dying generations", and the spiritual realm of the "artifice of eternity". In the first case the Daimon can surely be understood as a manifestation of the Zeitgeist, but how do we understand the spirits in the second case, who have transcended the ultimate limit of finitude, death itself, and who thus rock the three Foucauldian cornerstones of finitude - life, labour, and language, "marked by the spatiality of the body, the yawning of desire, and the time of language" (Foucault, 1974:315)? Clearly, for Yeats, life is not limited by death; labour is not limited by a somnolent desire; and language is not confined within the span of a single life
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