DISCURSIVE BODIES: The Corpses of

Georges Bataille's The Blue of Noon

 

 

...[E]roticism which is a fusion, which shifts interest away from and beyond the person and his limits, is nevertheless expressed by an object. We are faced with the paradox of an object which implies the abolition of the limits of all objects, of an erotic object.

                                                      Bataille, Eroticism, p. 130

 

 

PREFACE

 

In the middle of the night, the narrator enters his mother's bedroom, removes his pajamas and masturbates in front of her corpse. Yet it was the author too, who was crying at the foot of his mother's deathbed, the bed where two years earlier he held an orgy on his thirty-first birthday. The life-giving lifeless body, or the bodies intertwined in lovemaking. Grieving alone in thick silence, the final incarnation of physical origin revolves from its intimate accumulation of memories into the fixed non-presence of death. Fixate on an object: the bed is exploding with memories. It becomes the tangible resonance between an erotic fever dream and the terrorizing distress of death's physical form; but more importantly, it remains steadily approachable, unlike the corpse its metaphor supplants. The bed becomes the means for a possible transgression of death. Arousal usurps grief and allows the narrator the stimulating force necessary to himself become corpse-like. [1]

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Corpses are the things of nightmares, figures that vibrate perpetually with the deafening echo of the last breath of presence. Georges Bataille's [2] 1935 novel The Blue of Noon is inundated with literal and metaphorical descriptions of corpses, which are used to convey the narrator's self-ravaging tides of fear and desire. Simultaneously, the novel is interjected with strangely removed (despite the narrator's physical proximity) observations of the political events leading up to World War II. When viewed in the context of its author's biography and the period in which it was written, the disjointed poetic narrative that it unfurls is both personal and prolific. [3]

 

Like all of Bataille's narrative works, The Blue of Noon is in part a self-mediated biography, told through the thinly veiled voice of his male narrator Henri Troppmann. Although the implications will not be thoroughly explored here, the question of what requisites lend momentum to societies transgressions looms darkly in the background. Death exposes a very particular, and perhaps a penultimate, chaos; to surpass tears with momentary satiation does not escape comprehension. I would like to use specific passages from The Blue of Noon to discuss Bataille's personal and authorial transgression of the Impossible, and more precisely to study his use of corpses as signifiers for this exploration of threshold and how to implement language in describing this struggle. From his notions on expenditure, to the death of philosophy, Bataille waged a war on limits. Before aging into the figure we study here, Bataille was a young adult on the path to becoming a monk. [4]

 

Between the years 1920-1924, Georges Bataille's belief system underwent a dramatic shift. A series of encounters during this period helped set into motion a dizzying struggle with paradox Bataille attempted to both define and destroy for the duration of his life. Small cracks had begun to destabilize the foundation of a devout Catholicism he had presumably taken up as a means of insulating himself from the madness of his childhood; but it wasn't until his initial readings of Nietzsche that he felt deeply confounded by an intellectual choice in obsessive pursuits. His reaction to Nietzsche was in fact so provocative, that his first response was to reject the material. Reflecting years later on this moment, Bataille stated,  "It is natural for a man encountering the destiny which belongs to him to experience an initial moment of recoil." [5] The terror of his adolescence crashed over him for a second (and certainly not the last) time, but unlike his self-enclosing escape into religion, he chose to pursue this new and unnerving opening before him. By yielding to the Death of God and the laughing whilst peering into the void, transgression became his anti-idealistic ideal for living, signifying the end of an upright value system, in which all subjects are interchangeable and every structure is offered up for transmutable inversion. In his personal life, this allowed for his most debased desires to be structured accordingly; the brothel would become his church, and every person, from himself, to his mother, to his lovers (prostitutes, wives, and mistresses alike) was ultimately, a corpse. Bataille's association of human flesh to an ever-present mortality may be a holdover from his years of monistic study, but it also stems from childhood memories of his blind, syphilitic father, who deteriorated progressively into madness until his death. Bataille claims to have been in love with his father until the age of fourteen. At the onset of the new self-consciousness of puberty this adoration shifted to a deep hate. [6] By focusing on the movement of shifting, my investigation of The Blue of Noon begins: with love and hate, desire and repulsion, the nakedness of flesh and the nudity of death.

 

 

PART ONE

 

I know. I'm going to die in disgraceful circumstances. Today, I am overjoyed at being an object of horror and repugnance to the one being whom I am bound to. My desire? Whatever worst things can happen to a man who will scoff at them. The blank head in which "I" am has become so frightened and greedy that only my death could satisfy it.

                                                      Bataille, BN, p. 23

 

Part One of The Blue of Noon is two pages in length, typeset (almost) entirely in italics, and it's opening sentences read as if it were penned by Bataille's interpretation of his father's hand. In some ways, Troppmann's voice is formed by the alienated anguish of an adolescent Bataille playing ventriloquist. Bataille as the still-scorned adult creates what he deems to have been his father's internal dialogue and injects it with his own resentments. Keep in mind that Bataille was fathered by a man already blind from syphilis. Bataille recalls (fictively?) readying his father's bedpan, watching "those huge eyes [that] went almost entirely blank when he pissed." [7] Perhaps, as a young child, this specialized position of secondary caregiver allowed him to both love his father (with pity due to his total dependency, or without, simply because the strangeness was captivating) and abnormally recast his overwhelmed mother as his competitor. All of the is apparently changed as Bataille became a teenager, when maybe for the first time social consciousness inflicted him with a nauseating realization that his family life was far from typical. Although there is no account of an explicit event that facilitated this change, his father would forever more be recalled as that "object of horror and repugnance" that Bataille's narrator Troppmann perpetually attempts to dominate in The Blue of Noon. A frightened, racing "I," waiting for death in the middle of this figurative night. One afternoon, while walking in a city "that looked like the setting for a tragedy," the narrator passes a gravesite, extending an "ironic invitation" to its owner. In the middle of the night Troppmann comes face to face with this dead man, the "Commendatore" (notably the only word in all of Part One not in italics). This figure of authority confronts Troppmann in the same manner in which Bataille is menaced by the dead eyes of his father.

 

Facing him, I started to tremble. Facing him, I became derelict. Next to me lay the second victim. The utter repugnance on her lips made them resemble the lips of a certain dead woman. From them dribbled something more dreadful than blood. Since that day, I have been doomed to solitude that I reject and no longer have the heart to endure. However, to renew the invitation, one shout is all I need; and if I could trust my blind anger, this time it wouldn't be me who exited, but the old man's corpse.

                                                      Bataille, BN, p. 24

 

His mother (or is it Dorthea?), the other victim of his father's illness (via Bataille's conferral of contempt), lays beside Bataille in this family grave; but sympathy for this dead woman (or is it just Dorthea with ejaculate on her lips) will be replaced with repulsion in  "blind anger," when the narrator realizes that she has copulated with his father. A slightly altered excerpt of this novel's opening passage appears in Bataille's Inner Experience, published in 1943, but which he dates at its conclusion as August 1934. In this version the last phrase of the paragraph is replaced with:

 

Yet I have only a cry to repeat the invitation and–if I believe my anger–it would no longer be me, it would be the shadow of the old man who would go away.

                                             Bataille, Inner Experience, p. 79

 

Consider the variations in these two versions in terms of différence: how does one read the slippage of meaning that is the space between rewording, word choice, and ordering? I trust, no I believe that this description calls for a specific type of anger, it is blind like Bataille's father, or rather the anger recalls with its modification the self-trauma induced by Bataille's recognition of all the tangents his father's blindness illuminated. The choice of words lays the foundation for a hyper-personalized value system, as their placement becomes potential inclusion or exclusion for any reader outside of their author. Despite this phrase's explicitness made intentionally (paradoxically) ambiguous, one can make out how even as a corpse the old man still casts a shadow of negatively charged influence over Bataille. The perpetually hovering, disfigured father figure Bataille is wishing would finally exit, would finally go away. Shadows and solid objects, corpses and living flesh. Bataille poignantly fumbles with dissonance between phrases, allowing this potential of signification to vibrate stiffly within certain fields of meaning while one may simultaneously ride out into infinity on their reverberations. "We do not have access to a thing or a state, but only to coming. We have access to an access." (Jean-Luc Nancy, Being Singular Plural, p. 15) This is the standstill of philosophical discourse that Bataille's narrative inhabits. One may begin a dialogue with a statement, but the choice of composition in the first utterance to the idea reworked to the nth degree, offer nothing more than an opening. These phrases will never allow a direct, experiential contact with that which is being described. If one is willing to take this (at the least) into a peripheral consideration, than one may begin to unravel the autobiographical elements ever present in Bataille's fictional narratives. Troppmann and his object of desire Dorthea are Bataille's literary attempt at personifying the abstract, disillusioned memory of his parents with the ironically heroic characteristics he gives to these main characters. The Blue of Noon is in part a subconscious homage, a sort of psychological evacuation of the remembrance of this estranged state of childhood. It is a reaffirmation of the glory of the initial realization of separateness purchased in time coming into adulthood. As an adult (Bataille was 38 when he wrote this novel), Bataille is free to remember his parents as he wishes (in 1935 his father had been dead twenty years, his mother for five), and so he creates characters that both incorporate and reject (but always with a disaffected violence) his memories of them and their continued influence on his life. The act of writing, the story of Genesis: a God dissatisfied by a world of vegetation and beasts, creates man in his image, in hopes of rectifying the inadequacy he perceives in his world? The author makes characters from his dissatisfactions; they are made in his image (by his interpreted memories for them) and must therefore also possess a self-conscious will that dooms them to the endless pursuit of this same unfulfilling coming into the world.

 

Born of disreputable pain, the insolence that persists in spite of everything started growing again: slowly at first, then in a sudden burst that has blinded and transfigured me with a happiness that defies all reason. At this moment I am intoxicated with happiness. Drunk with it. I'll sing and shout it forth at the top of my lungs. In my idiotic heart, idiocy is singing its head off. IHAVE PREVAILED!

                                                      Bataille, BN, p. 24

 

Credo quia absurdum. [8] In this last passage from Part One, Bataille is speaking, all at once, in a sudden burst, as Bataille, maybe as Troppmann, through the interpreted voice of his father, as a continuation of the Father. Through this polymorphous voice, Bataille allows for an ecstatic accessing of the condition humaine. Man is blinded by his attempts (in project or science) to prevail against nature (death and sex) . [9] It is only through his blindness, his idiocy, that man can congratulate himself for adhering to the order of law. Resistance to this ordering is futile, as vain as the construction of order itself is. If one is not aware of this constructed illusion, if one does celebrate it "with a happiness that defies all reason," then one seals his conception of the world within the closed lines erected through the trial and error of those devoted to the project of preservation. In this passage, the blindness being described is two-fold; on the first order, it exists as a rejection of nature that privileges order and project; on the second, it is seeing the first order through the blurred focus of transgression.

 

Through drunkenness, sexuality, and other expenditures of energy categorized as being consumptive and non-productive, the characters of Bataille's narrative seem to aspire to a constant state of transgression. [10] From the beginning to the end of the novel their actions attest to this (in the Introduction of the novel Troppmann and Dirty retreat very drunkenly to a prestigious hotel, where Dirty proceeds to vomit and shit in the presence of an elevator attendant and a maid). More importantly, Bataille's use of language in The Blue of Noon is a rejection of an explicit subjectivity, which allows him to go beyond simply describing his characters acts of transgression, and in turn, participate in an authorial transgression of his own. Bataille is the author of the narrative, but the characters he constructs are woven from his interpretation of the autobiographies of multiple subjects. His narrator is speaking in a perpetual out of body experience, like someone who is dead, or watching his life unfold with a conscious disregard for the consequences. Troppmann knows he is already already a corpse and lives his life accordingly. By endowing Troppmann with the split consciousness of his own traumas, and allowing his narrator to slip through past, present and dream states with equal ardor, Bataille creates a fragmented portrait of a man who is enlivened by knowing he is surrounded by an all consuming death. Bataille writes, "I will never forget what connects the violent and the marvelous to the will to open one's eyes, to face what is happening, what is. [11]

 

"Several days ago (not in any nightmare but in fact)..." Troppmann came to a city "that looked like the setting for a tragedy." "One evening," he watches, "two old pederasts twirling as they danced (not in any dream, but in fact)."  "That afternoon" he had passed by a grave. "In the middle of the night" Troppmann is in his room, he comes face to face with authority, the Commendatore; an old man, a ghost or his corpse. [12] What is happening to Bataille's narrator?  The emphatic emphasis of chronology and the insistence that this all takes place "in fact", only works to heighten the reader's perception of the author's hand mutilating the paper before him. This action, the writing, is a dis-remembering, a dismemberment; a purification of self and chronology that tears Troppman with the continuous anguish of death. [13] Bataille states, "[Man] becomes aware that he tears himself, not something exterior that resists him." [14]

 

 

INTERMISSION

 

[N]ot under the cover of this or that sly, unconscious perversion, a shameful accomplice to its opposite (the dignity/shame pair is pulverized forever), but in a redoubled tearing where thought intervenes as the trace of the tear itself... Now this tear cannot be thought (written) unless we deliberately associate jouissance and horror... Eroticism is irreducible contradiction... Prohibition and transgression in fact are not 'identical' (no more than jouissance and horror), but related through a contradictory redoubling: the prohibition is never 'eliminated', never definitively transgressed.

Philippe Sollers, The Roof: Essay in Systematic Reading, p. 67

 

 

With a tear that starts to pull at the stitches of horror and ends in an open-mouthed jouissance, we return again to the scene that began this text.

 

...I woke up around three in the morning. I thought I'd go into the room where the corpse was. I was terrified, but for all my quivering I kept standing there in front of that corpse. Finally I took off my pajamas.                                                                          Bataille, BN, p. 38

 

PART TWO

 

In Part Two of The Blue of Noon we are made aware that the erotic object, the one that keeps resurfacing in this narrative, is a corpse. The walking dead Commendatore and his second victim from Part One both reappear in Troppmann's visions of Dirty. A son, Troppmann, is masturbating in front of a corpse, his mother's. In fits of nervous compulsion or recounted in cathartic outpourings, he makes mention of this incidence several times, both in passing inner-dialogues and directly to other women (notably the story is never related to any of the male characters in the narrative). In the first instance he describes the corpse as belonging to a woman, not beautiful but "shriveled" (to his friend Lazare, p. 38); in another he admits it was his mother (to his lover Xenie, p.76). Dirty seems all too aware and tried by the symptoms; by the middle of the first page of Part Two, the reader learns that Dirty has left Troppmann.

 

..."[Dirty] loved me, but towards the end she used to look at me stupidly, with an evasive, even bitter smile. She was aroused by me, she aroused me, but all we managed to do was nauseate one another. Everything became impossible. I felt done for. At times like that all I could think about was jumping in front of a train..." I paused, then went on. "It always left this taste of corpses–"

Bataille, BN, p. 35

 

Impotence, a feigned desire to suicide, an impossible arousal that leaves the taste of corpses. This excerpt comes from the beginning of Troppmann's conversation with his friend Lazare about his sexual difficulties with Dirty. He tells Lazare, as a provocation, that he believes the possible cause of this impotence to stem from his necrophilic desires. He then recounts for her the story of masturbating in front of an unspecified dead woman. Lazare remains steadfastly unfazed and responds by suggesting that Dirty could have played the part of dead woman in order to stimulate him. Despite Dirty being corpse-like just prior to their separation (she is very ill and Troppmann describes her as being shockingly pale and thin), Troppmann is frustratingly aware that the erotic game they play revolves around her defiance. Eroticism is irreducible contradiction (Sollers, p. 67). For reasons unspoken by Dirty and exhaustive to Troppmann, a silent contempt announces the forthcoming split: "We'd reached a point where anyone wandering in and seeing us would have assumed there was a corpse in the room. We came and went without uttering a word." (BN, p. 40) Troppmann's life continues, more or less painfully, without Dirty, wandering drunkenly through the streets of Paris where he eventually meets a girl named Xenie. She is described as "a girl with too much money at loose ends" (BN, p. 50) and later she too assumes "the appearance of a dead woman" (BN, p. 85). It is to her that Troppmann tells a more complete version of his story:

 

"Did you know I have a perverted liking for corpse?"... I was laughing. I was going to tell her the same thing I told Lazare. But this time things were stranger... "When my mother died–" (I felt too weak to go on. It abruptly came back to me: with Lazare, I had been afraid of saying "my mother". Out of shame I said "an elderly woman.")

                                                      Bataille, BN, p. 76

 

With Lazare he did not say it was his mother; but when he recounts the episode for the second time, to Xenie, he does so in full detail. Troppmann is portrayed as being partially uncomfortable with his actions in the story, but he tells it on the first order to unnerve himself and his listeners. The narrator knows that "the prohibition is never 'eliminated', never definitively transgressed" (Sollers, p. 67); but his audience's reaction at least shows the narrator that he is manipulating these boundaries. Troppmann is experimenting with his personal history; sometimes leaving out the details he finds shameful, yet overall aggressively reinforcing how he desires to be perceived. He wants to reassure himself that he is in control of his going out of control; say it until the shame wears through to comfortability. Exploit the restrictions until the boundaries fan out into a murky void, then wait for the next confrontation. Bataille is obsessed with transgression; he makes Troppmann obsessed with his brand of transgression. The (impossible) fact that Troppmann's story is at the same time a firsthand experience of the author's is something Bataille is emphatically alluding to; first by giving it priority via constant reiteration in the Blue of Noon, and secondly by referencing it in autobiographical descriptions. [15] Bataille desires to make this narrative a concrete adjunct to his legacy in order to assure his place within the canon of author's he admires. This self-conscious positioning can be seen in the text Bataille wrote a few years after The Blue of Noon, entitled The Story of Rats [16] . The namesake of the story comes from an incident in the novel where a man orchestrates a very particular scenario in order to achieve sexual release. The narrative described in this text comes from the biography of Marcel Proust. Through Troppmann's repeated telling of this necrophilic incident, Bataille is attempting to perpetuate some sort of sexual deviation myth for himself, so that he, like Sade and Proust, will be remembered not only for his literature, but for his personal strives towards transgression. 

 

Fragmentary memories, disfigured by distance, recollect in a distorted displacement; a novel or a dream.

 

On the same night that Troppmann meets Xenie, but later, much later, he is drunk in front of a cafe, brandishing a leather belt at passing women. He manages to engage a blonde girl in his sadistic play and they reenter the cafe where they dance together as she holds a doll made of pliable wax. Without Dirty, Troppmann is spinning in the down and out. Women become emblematic of this molten rift of jouissance and horror: the doll of the blonde girl plagues Troppmann in its uncanniness, just as the corpse of his mother is an erotic object, and his lovers subject to a perpetually deferred intimacy, symptomatic of the man who is aware that he tears himself, not something exterior that resists him. Fragments of these visions come together in the following nightmare, which must be recounted nearly in its entirety to illustrate all of the connecting points previously discussed:

 

I recalled what I had just dreamed: on entering a large room, I found myself in front of a four-poster canopy bed ­– a kind of wheelless hearse. This bed, or hearse, was surrounded by a certain number of men and women; the same, apparently, as my companions of the previous evening... The forth coming entertainment was evidently upsetting and full of outrageous humor: we were expecting a real corpse to appear. At that point I noticed a coffin resting in the middle of the four-poster. The plank covering it disappeared, gliding back as noiselessly as a theatre curtain or the lid of a chest set; but what was revealed was not horrible. The corpse was an object of indefinable shape–– pink wax of dazzling freshness. The wax recalled the blonde girl's doll whose feet had been cut off. What could be more delectable? [T]he pink object, which was both disturbing and appealing, grew considerably larger: it took on the appearance of a gigantic corpse carved in marble... Personally, I could no longer tell whether I was supposed to feel anxious or start laughing. It became clear that if I did start laughing, this corpse of sorts would be nothing but a sarcastic jest; whereas if I started trembling, it would rush at me and tear me to pieces... The recumbent corpse turned into a Minerva in gown and armor, erect and aggressive beneath her helmet... When she saw me, she realized I was afraid. My fear attracted her... Suddenly she came down and started rushing at me, twirling her lugubrious weapon with ever wilder energy. Things were coming to a head. I was paralyzed with horror. I quickly grasped that, in this dream, Dirty (now both insane and dead) had assumed the garb and likeness of the Commendatore. In this unrecognizable guise, she was rushing at me in order to annihilate me.

Bataille, The Blue of Noon, p. 55

 

The main prop on this stage is a bed, simultaneously seen as a hearse even before the narrator realizes there is a coffin resting in it. For Bataille and for Troppmann, the bed is already a signifier of death; the petites morts of the orgy and the mother's corpse on display. In this dream, the corpse inside the coffin first takes a form similar to the wax doll of the blonde girl Troppman had met the night before. [17] Delectable, disturbing, appealing... like his lovers, prostitutes or corpses, all the forms are interchangeable, and desire is kept at a distance. The corpses final form is Dirty as Minerva, insane and dead, and dressed as the Commendatore (i.e. the impotent father). The fear that the narrator is capable of moving through by restructuring it as erotic desire belongs to the mother; the fear that paralyzes him and prevents him from forming intimacy with his lovers belongs to the father. For Troppmann, Dirty is the only character to inhabit both positions at once. She is the "redoubled tearing [that] intervenes as the trace of the tear itself" (Sollers). She senses his vulnerability (...she realized I was afraid), and she is sexually activated by it (...she came down and started rushing at me, twirling her lugubrious weapon with ever wilder energy). The impact of her presence, that incites horror against the backdrop of an overwhelmed jouissance, is how the narrator envisions his death; Dirty is the means for Troppman's transgressions.

 

CONCLUSION

 

[Transgression] serves as a glorification of the nature it excludes: the limit opens violently on to the limitless, finds itself suddenly carried away by the content it had rejected and fulfilled by this alien plentitude which invades it to the core of its being.

Michael Foucault, Preface to Transgression, p. 28

 

 

Dirty is a corpse on a pedestal, her character the continuous obsession of the narrator that propels his movement through the events in The Blue of Noon. Troppmann fixates on her as limit, and in some dazed actuality she is the connector of all the diverse elements of this narrative. The corpse of the mother is just a shield used to lend an air of self-control to the narrator, whereas Dirty disarms him completely. She exposes his weaknesses and imparts the greatest sense of mortality. The body is a confrontation: the corpse is already useless, it can be manipulated for effect; even in her death-like state, Dirty remains a steadfast manifestation of threshold no author can transgress.

 

 

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[1] "[I]n masturbation there is nothing but loss. There is no reciprocity. There is merely the spending away of certain force, and nor return. The body remains, in a sense, a corpse... The self becomes emptier and emptier, till it is almost a nullus, a nothingness." D.H. Lawrence in Obscenity and Pornography in David Bennet p. 179-80.

[2] Born in Billom, France on September 10, 1897; died July 8, 1962 in Paris.

[3] According to Michel Foucault, Bataille uses an extreme form of language: "The sovereignty of these experiences must surely be recognized some day, and we must try to assimilate them: not to reveal their truth--- a ridiculous pretension with respect to words that form our limits--- but to serve as a basis for finally liberating our language." in A Preface to Transgression, p. 30.

[4] Bataille's Catholicism coincided with the German invasion of his hometown of Rheims, which spurred he and his mother to relocate and abandon his syphilitic, dying father in their home with only a nurse to care for him.

[5] Notes from Guilty in O.C. V p. 505 in Surya p. 53.

[6] In a fit of madness, Bataille's father shouted "Doctor, let me know when you're done fucking my wife!" (Surya. p. 10). Witnessing the father's enraged betrayal of his primary caregivers at this point in Bataille's life make for quite a coming of age revelation.

[7] Surya, p. 7, excerpt from The Story of the Eye p. 72.

[8] "I believe because it is absurd," from Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, or Tertullian, a church leader and prolific author of Early Christianity who notably introduced the word Trinity into the Christian vocabulary.

[9] "Moral isolation means that all the brakes are off; it shows what spending can really mean. The man who admits the value of other people necessarily imposes limits upon himself. Respect for others hinders him and prevents him from measuring the fullest extent of the only aspiration he has that does not bow to his desire to increase his moral and material resources. Blindness due to respect for others happens every day; in the ordinary way we make do with rapid incursions into the world of sexual truths and then openly give them the lie the rest of the time." Bataille, Eroticism, p. 171.

[10] "In excess of the negativity that transforms the human void into human subjectivity, there is an experience of nothingness that prevents transgression turning into dialectical negation. This fissure that constitutes the sexuality that circulates it, throwing up the violent images that illuminate its darkness, opens up the negativity characteristic of action, work and self-consciousness to a negativity that risks itself absolutely, a negativity that, in its transgression of limits, is consumptive, non-productive, self-destructive, hurling itself back into the void from whence it came." Fred Botting and Scott Wilson, Bataille: A Critical Reader, p. 4

[11] As quoted by Philippe Sollers in The Roof: Essay in Systematic Reading, p. 66. 

[12] The excerpts are taken from the following passage: "Several days ago (not in any nightmare, but in fact), I came to a city that looked like the setting for a tragedy. One evening– I mention this only to laugh more cheerlessly– I was not alone as I drunkenly watched two old pederasts twirling as they danced (not in any dream but in fact.) In the middle of the night the Commendatore entered my room. That afternoon, as I was passing his grave, pride had incited me to extend him an ironic invitation. His unexpected arrival appalled me."  Bataille, The Blue of Noon, p. 22-23. Note the parentheses and their adjacent punctuation.

[13] "Death, if that is what we want to call this non-actuality, is of all things the most dreadful, and to hold fast what is dead requires the greatest strength. Lacking strength, Beauty hates the Understanding for asking of her what it cannot do. But the life of Spirit is not the life that shrinks from death and keeps itself untouched by devastation, but rather maintains itself in it. It wins its truth only when, in utter dismemberment, it finds itself." Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, p. 19.

[14] Eroticism, p. 39

[15] "I slept badly and recalled that two years earlier during my mother's absence I abandoned myself to a drawn-out orgy in this room and in this bed which was serving as the support for the corpse. This orgy in the maternal bed took place by chance on the night of my birthday: the obscene postures of my accomplices and my ecstatic movements in the midst of them were interposed between the birth which had given life to me and the dead woman for whom I experienced a desperate love which was expressed on several occasions by terrible absurd sobs. The extreme sensual pleasure of my memories led me into the orgiastic bedroom to masturbate passionately as I looked at the corpse." Bataille, Ouvres complŹtes II, p. 130.

[16] Les Editions de Minuit, 1947.

[17] It is interesting to note the special attention paid to feet in this chapter, itself entitled Motherly Feet. The wax doll of the blonde woman has its feet cut off, as does the second vision of the nightmare corpse: "[The legs] had no feet– they were the long, gnarled stumps of a horse's legs." Bataille, BN, p. 56.