Georges Bataille

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on bataille as the exemplification of the excessive object called "Text"

"the Text does not stop at (good) Literature; it cannot be contained in a hierarchy, even in a simple division of genres. what constitutes the Text is, on the contrary (or precisely), its subversive force in respect of the old classifications. how do you classify a writer like georges bataille? novelist, poet, essayist, economist, philosopher, mystic? the answer is so difficult that the literary manuals generally prefer to forget about Bataille who, in fact, wrote texts, perhaps continuously one single text." [Barthes, Roland. "From Work to Text." Image Music Text. Trans. Stephen Heath. London: Fontana, 1977.]

on lost things

in the past months and weeks i have quietly tried to acquire a copy of nearly all fictional works translated into english, including a small book of fragmentary poetry and prose in a small collection by mark spitzer, titled "Divine Filth: LOST Writings (Scatology and Erotica) by Georges Bataille". a year ago i saw this on the shelf and dismissed it as a minor, inconsequential publication, but suddenly it seems fraught with significance.

LOST. adj.

  1. unable to find one's way: disorientation while standing at the limit of nothingness
  2. no longer in existence, beyond reach: short writings and fragments in bataille's personal notebooks which were ignored by most scholars and subsequently not made accessible to his general readership. and other works which are inaccessible to english readers due to lack of translation.
  3. unsuccessful, not winning: works which did not see publication during bataille's lifetime, rejected for publication.
  4. beyond recovery or redemption, fallen or destroyed: bataille's fatal propensity towards all that is unpleasant and dangerous
  5. completely absorbed into: excess


Can the meaning of a precise moment appear all at once? It need hardly be pointed out: only the succession of moments can become clear. One moment has meaning only in its relation to other moments. We are at each instance only fragments deprived of meaning if we do not relate these fragments to other fragments. How can we refer to this completed whole?"

- Georges Bataille, Tears of Eros


He alone is happy who, having experienced vertigo to the point of trembling in his bones, to the point of being incapable of measuring the extent of his fall, suddenly finds the unhoped-for strength to turn his agony into a joy capable of freezing and transfiguring those who meet it.

From Visions of Excess, "The Practice of Joy Before Death" / Georges Bataille

See Also