BATAILLE Georges—writer and thinker, b. December 10, 1897 in Billonm, d. December 9, 1962 in Paris.

He finished archivist studies in l’École des Chartres and for his whole life worked as a custodian and librarian. In 1922 while working in the National Library in Paris he became interested in the works of philosophers (chiefly Nietzsche). In 1924 he made contact with surrealists, and 1929 he discovered the works of Hegel. In 1935 he founded the “revolutionary” association Contre-Attaque. Later he founded the secret association Acéphale. He was one of the founders of the Collège de sociologie, the aim of which was the study of irrational social phenomena that are the place where the sacred becomes present. He founded, and collaborated in, several literary and social-political journals such as “Documents”, “La critique sociale”, and “Critique”. His first philosophical work, L’expérience intérieure (Doświadczenie wewnętrzne [Internal experience], Wwa 1998), written after many essays and erotic stories, was published in Paris in 1943. In the form of an atheological mysticism expressed in aphorisms Bataille wanted to say what was inexpressible, to think about what positive thought is silent, the apex of which, according to Bataille, was Hegel’s philosophy. The desire to express the “impossible” became an original thread that united Bataille’s entire work. The problematic of his work considered most of the domains of the humanities. In La part maudite, essai d’économie général, published in 1949 in Paris, Bataille presented in systematic form (referring to the thought of Mauss and Durkheim) one of the leitmotifs of his thought: on the insurmountable dualism between the homogenous sphere (the rational and teleologically directed production) and the heterogenous sphere (the sphere of aimless dissipation). Bataille’s second systematic work, L’érotisme (P 1957; Erotyzm [Eroticism], Literatura na Świecie [Literature in the World] (1973) n. 8–9) discusses the dualism between taboo and violation (trespass), or between continuity and discontinuity, which corresponds to the dualism of production—dissipation.

Other works of Bataille: Histoire de l’oeil (P 1928, 19673; Historia oka i inne historie [History of the eye and other histories, Kr 1991); Madame Edwarda (P 1937, 19664; Madame Edwarda, Literatura na Świecie [Literature in the world] (1985) n. 10); Le coupable (P 1944); Sur Nietzsche. Volonté de chance (P 1945; O Nietzschem [On Nietzsche], Literatura na Świece [Literature in the World] (1985) n. 10); Théorie de la religion (P 1948; Teoria religii, Wwa 1996); L’abbé C (P 1950; Ksiądz C. [Priest C.], Wwa 1998); Manet (G 1951); Lascaux ou la naissance de l’art (G 1955); La littérature et le mal (P 1957; Literatura a zło, Kr 1992); Les larmes d’Éros (P 1962).

In 1970 the publisher Gallimard started an edition of Oeuvres complètes B. (v. I–XII) containing also unpublished works, articles, lectures, dossiers, notes, etc.

In his works, Bataille presents a vision of man as torn between the sphere of the profane, in which discursive reason, with a concern for self-preservation, wants to dominate the world by knowledge, and the sphere of the sacred. The sacral world, according to Bataille, is the world of force, excess, extravagant expenditure, and lifted prohibition. Man opens to this “other world” in his internal experience. Western philosophy, according to Bataille, reduces all experience to the experience of the present, to the knowledge of objects. The state of dread, pointing to “something” entirely “other”, which cannot be appropriated (man by knowledge, according to Nietzsche, strives to appropriate the world and to manipulate things), directs man to a desert, to nothingness, and it strengthens the consciousness of death that sets apart man as such. In internal experience man transcends traditional philosophical knowledge. By negation (infinite questioning) as a method, this experience finally becomes an atheological experience, since in questioning and annihilating every “presence” (objectivity), he comes to assert to absence of God—the source of all being—as an object of thought. In this way internal experience changes into ecstasy, which consists in a complete “dissolution” of the world in one’s own “I”, in the absence of any stable point of reference. The experience that annihilates the external world should lead to the recognition of one sole authority, oneself, the human being, who is defined as desire. The purpose of man’s life is the striving for sovereignty. The sovereign man—by transgressing the human order—is not realized in the world of work, but he confirms his authenticity by direct participation in the world of force, in the trance of death and eroticism.

Bataille’s anthropological views presuppose a certain cosmogony as they call upon the concept of excess (excès). In nature, according to Bataille, a certain energy is gathered (the sun, which supports life on earth, provides energy without demanding anything in return), which must be dissipated under the form of unrestrained elementality or excitement. With no connection to utility, “spending” (dépense) and “absorption” (consumation), which surpasses the industriousness of comsumption, are two modes of activity where man expresses his presence in the world. Bataille wants to replace the conception of man presupposed by classical economy with another that is recognized within “general economy” (économie généralisée), which states that man belongs to the world of the sacred, which removes the practical order of things.

B. Actes de colloque de Centre Culturel International de Cerisy-la Salle: Vers une Révolution Culturelle: Artaud, B. (juillet 1972), ed. U. G. E., coll. “10/18”; J. Chatain, Georges B., P 1973; A. Arbaud, G. Excoffon-Lafarge, Bataille, P 1978; D. Hawley, L’oeuvre insolite de Georges B. Un hiérophanie moderne, G-P 1978; J. Libertson, Proximity, Levinas, Blanchot, B. and Communication, Hg 1982; J. C. Renard, “Expérience intérieure” de Georges B. ou la négation de la mystère, P 1987; A. Vinsion, Métaphysique de amour et métaphysique de la mort chez B. et chez Schopenhauer, Les Études philosophiques (1990), 231–250; B. lesen. Die Schrift und das Unmögliche, Mn 1992; Das Denken des Herrn. B. zwischen Hegel und dem Surrealismus. Essays., F 1992; F. Warin, Nietzsche et B. La parodie a l’infini, P 1994; On B. Critical essays, NY 1995; P Wiechens, B. zur Einführung, H 1995.

Reet Otsason

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