Many critics have explored the homoerotic message in the early portraits of the baroque painter Michelangelo Caravaggio (1573-1610). In Caravaggio's Secrets, Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit emphasize instead the impenetrability of these portraits. The tension between erotic invitation and self-concealing retreat leads Bersani and Dutoit to conclude that the interest of these works is in their representation of an enigmatic address that solicits intimacy in order to block it with a secret.
Bersani and Dutoit offer a psychoanalytic reading of the enigmatic address as initiating relations grounded in paranoid fascination. They study Caravaggio's attempts to move beyond such relations, his experiments with a space no longer circumscribed by the mutual and paranoid, if erotically stimulating, fascination with imaginary secrets. In his most original work, Caravaggio proposes a radically new mode of connectedness, a nonerotic sensuality relevant to the most exciting attempts in our own time to rethink, perhaps even to reinvent, community.
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