Mystical eroticism in Bataille, Miller, and Ikkyu

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in English


Department of English


Advisor: Andrew Slade


This thesis uses Zen concepts to explore the similarities between erotic and mystical experience as represented by Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye and The Impossible, Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, and Ikkyu's poetry. It argues that the moments of absolute erotic dissolution described literally or metaphorically within these texts signal authentic mystical awakenings. Mystical and erotic experiences push the individual beyond rational considerations, toward an absolute consciousness: a realization of impermanence, a sense of death, a feeling of oneness, and attention to the now. This work challenges the notion that mystical experience demands spiritual or moral purity.


Bataille, Georges, 1897-1962. Histoire de l'oeil Criticism, Textual, Bataille, Georges, 1897-1962. Impossible Criticism, Textual, Miller, Henry, 1891-1980. Tropic of Cancer Criticism, Textual, Ikkyū, 1394-1481. Selections Criticism, Textual, Mysticism in literature, Eroticism in literature, Zen Buddhism, Comparative literature; eroticism; mysticism; Georges Bataille; Henry Miller; Ikkyu; Zen

Rights Statement

Copyright 2013, author