The successful impotent

Deconstructing Platonic Eros in Walter Siti’s Scuola di nudo


  • Valeria Spacciante Columbia University



Walter Siti, Plato’s theory of Eros, queer theory, slave-master dialectic, René Girard, mimetic desire


This article analyzes the development of the protagonist’s conception of desire in one of the most relevant works in the Italian queer canon – Walter Siti’s Scuola di nudo – in order to show how the Platonic erotic conception eventually yields to modern theories on social behavior in the context of power relations between individuals as formulated by Hegel, Kojève, and Girard. Such a conclusion marks the paradoxical failure of the main character Walter, since it proves his intellectual defeat against the prevarication logic governing the contemporary world. From the close reading of the novel, it appears that the analysis of desire becomes the stage of Walter’s personal struggle, who at the end of the novel rejects intellectualized love and accepts abusive relationships as the only successful kind of relationship. An effective image to describe Walter’s inner development throughout the novel is the “katabasis”, since he moves from an extremely intellectualized to a utilitarian conception of love. Such a shift of perspective ensures Walter’s integration into society, but on the other hand confirms his intellectual ineptitude and inability to oppose an ideological system which he despises.




How to Cite

Spacciante, V. (2021). The successful impotent: Deconstructing Platonic Eros in Walter Siti’s Scuola di nudo. Whatever. A Transdisciplinary Journal of Queer Theories and Studies, 4(1), 125–160.