His is a journey marked by the questioning of experience itself, until what is reached is sovereign laughter, non-knowledge, and a Presence in no way distinct from Absence, where "The mind moves in a strange world where anguish and ecstasy ...
In this text, Bataille clarifies his idea of the ‘excluded part’, i.e. that which is left behind by science. Bataille seeks to create an approach that would challenge the abstracted method of science, which presents the world as idealized and homogeneous. The aim of Bataille’s ‘science of the heterogeneous’ is to shed light on the unproductive expenditure of life, which moves between the sacred and the unclean. In pursuing this, he debunks the common idea that what is profane is already (...) impure and vice versa. This text is notable for the new vocabulary that Bataille introduces in order to define heterology. Terms like heterodoxy, agiology and scatology rehabilitate the ideas of the unclean and the profane by structuring them in a new discourse, in which the excluded part is taken as the foundation for the new science of the impossible. Finally, the text shows how Bataille articulates this new science through providing examples largely from the study of religion and psychoanalysis. (shrink)
Most Anglo-American readers know Bataille as a novelist. The "Accursed Share "provides an excellent introduction to Bataille the philosopher. Here he uses his unique economic theory as the basis for an incisive inquiry into the very nature of civilization. Unlike conventional economic models based on notions of scarcity, Bataille's theory develops the concept of excess: a civilization, he argues, reveals its order most clearly in the treatment of its surplus energy. The result is a brilliant blend of ethics, aesthetics, and (...) cultural anthropology that challenges both mainstream economics and ethnology. The three volumes of "The Accursed Share" address what Georges Bataille sees as the paradox of utility: namely, if being useful means serving a further end, then the ultimate end of utility can only be uselessness. The first volume, the only one published before Bataille's death, treated this paradox in economic terms, showing that "it is not necessity but its contrary, luxury, that presents living matter and mankind with their fundamental problems." In the second and third volumes, "The History of Eroticism" and "Sovereignty", Bataille explores the same paradox of utility from an anthropological and an ethical perspective, respectively. "The History of Eroticism" analyzes the fears and fascination, the prohibitions and transgressions attached to the realm of eroticism as so many expressions of the "uselessness" of erotic life. In the third volume, Bataille raises the ethical problems of sovereignty, of "the independence of man relative to useful ends.". (shrink)
A poetic, philosophical, and political account of Nietzsches importance to Bataille, and of Batailles experience in Nazi-occupied France. Georges Bataille wrote On Nietzsche in the final months of the Nazi occupation of France in order to cleanse the German philosopher of the stain of Nazism. More than merely a treatise on Nietzsche, the book is as much a work of ethics in which thought is put to the test of experience and experience pushed to its limits. At once personal and (...) political, it was written as an act of war, its publication contingent upon the German retreat. The result is a poetic and philosophicaland occasionally harrowingrecord of life during wartime. Following Inner Experience and Guilty, On Nietzsche is the third volume of Batailles Summa Atheologica. Haunted by the recognition that existence cannot be at once autonomous and viable, herein the author yearns for community from the depths of personal isolation and transforms Nietzsches will to power into his own will to chance. This new translation includes Memorandum, a selection of 280 passages from Nietzsches works edited and introduced by Bataille. Originally published separately, Bataille planned to include the text in future editions of On Nietzsche. This edition also features the full notes and annotations from the French edition of Batailles Oeuvres Complètes, as well as an incisive introductory essay by Stuart Kendall that situates the work historically, biographically, and philosophically. (shrink)
This lecture argues for a theory of play that departs from the Freudian analysis of pleasure and pain that associates pleasure with the resolution of a psychic tension or anxiety rather than with play and its ambiguities. It advances the idea that poetry, the domain of the aesthetic, eroticism, as well as that of the sacred involve forms of play. Play is here conceptualized in its positive aspect as an experience beyond reflective consciousness or calculation and that relates instead to (...) the improbable, the fascinating, the risky and thus to the death instinct. To that extent, the decisive part of play concerns the role of the unconscious in its elaboration. It is from such a perspective that it proposes the identity of pleasure and play. (shrink)
Georges Bataille's work is an essential reference in any discussion of modernity and postmodernity. An important influence on Foucault, Derrida and post-structuralism, Bataille is a thinker of key significance. This volume makes a selection from the entire body of his academic work, showing how his thinking on sacrifice, eroticism, taboo and transgression, and the nature of identity inform his social theory. Bataille - Essential Writings contains much previously untranslated material, including the complete texts of seven essays, and long extracts from (...) many others. It is the most comprehensive selection of Bataille's work to date, edited by an acknowledged authority. Bataille - Essential Writings will be the standard introductory text to this profound and difficult thinker. (shrink)
Georges Bataille considered The Accursed Share, his radical critique of economic theories based on rational categories of need, scarcity, and utility, his most important project. In Volume I, he announced two further volumes, The History of Eroticism and Sovereignty, but he never published them in book form. This Zone edition includes in a single volume a reconstruction of completed versions of these texts as published in Bataille’s posthumous collected works. Here, Bataille expands on the notion developed in Volume I of (...) an economics based not on the management of scarce resources but on the exuberant consumption of excess production, the accursed share. In its first part, Bataille identifies eroticism as an ideal form of consumption, since in his view it is useless, purposeless. As this expenditure of excess energy demarcates the realm of human autonomy, the study of eroticism leads naturally to an examination of sovereignty, in which Bataille defines the sovereign individual as one who consumes and does not labor, creating a life beyond the realm of utility. (shrink)