My paper argues that Beautiful Losers is animated by a visionary thrust towards totality. The totalizing impulse is expressed in the novel in the trope of the perfect body, but the perfect body implies, as well, the perfect representation—an embodiment, in art, of everything. The article looks at different ways in which Cohen elides sacral images of totality (meaning apocalyptic images, or constructions of the
universal body) and fascistic or totalitarian images of totality. I come to the conclusion that Cohen is making an extreme case for art: he adopts and exposes the darker implications of the quest for perfect (total) form, and yet he pursues the total vision anyway. The novel suggests that the
perfect artist cannot help but respond to a spiritually-inflected desire to perceive the world’s ineffable organization as one body.
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