Category Archives: Bataille

A ruinous truth

‘God’, said Angela of Foligno, ‘gave his son, whom he loved, a poverty such that there never was, and there never will be a poor man equal to him. And yet he had Being as property. He possessed substance and it was his such that that belonging is above human speech. And yet God made him poor, as if the substance was not his’.

That the immovable substance should not be, even for God, sovereign satisfaction, that destitution and death should be the beyond required for the glory of He *who is* eternal beatitude – as well as for that of whomever possesses in his or her way the illusory attribute of substance –, a truth as ruinous could not be nakedly accessible for the saint. Still: starting from an ecstatic vision, it can’t be avoided.

— Bataille, Guilty (tr. Kendall)

The danger that is literature

It certainly is a warning. It says there is a danger, but maybe, once you realize the danger, you have good reasons for confronting that danger. And I think it’s important for us to confront the danger that is literature. I think it is a very great and real danger, but that you are not a man if you do not confront that danger. And I think that in literature, we can see the human perspective in its entirety, because literature doesn’t let us live without seeing human nature under its most violent aspect. […] Finally, it’s literature that permits us to perceive the worst and learn how to confront it, how to overcome it. In short, a man who plays finds in the game the force to overcome the horror the game contains.



In a chaos that would kill cows. My solid peasant head resists. The bludgeon blows from the alcohol suggest only ‘satisfied desire’. It is difficult to perceive, in the disorder of these pages, the mediocre incoherence of a life. If a virtue subsists in me, I exhaust it by going to the ends of the vulgarity of the circumstances, by becoming ungraspable, by disengaging myself without a word from what seems to enclose me.

– Bataille, Guilty (tr. Kendall)

I have hoped for the laceration of the heavens

I have hoped for the laceration of the heavens (the moment when the intelligible order of known – yet strange – objects gives way to a presence that is only intelligible to the heart). I have hoped for it, but the sky has not opened. There is something insoluble in this waiting like a nestled beast of prey, gnawed at by hunger. The absurdity: ‘Is it God that I would like to tear apart?’ As if I were a true beast of prey, but I am even more sick. Because I laugh at my own hunger, I don’t want to eat anything, I would rather be eaten. Love gnaws at me: there is no other escape than a quick death. I am waiting for a response in the darkness in which I live. Perhaps, because of being crushed, I would remain a forgotten waste! No response to this exhausting agitation: everything stays empty. Whereas if … but I have no God to implore.

— Bataille, Guilty (tr. Kendall)

Experience is in the first place a struggle against the spell in which useful language holds us.

— Battaille (via here)

The yoga of despair

This mastery of our innermost movements, which in the long run we can acquire, is well known: it is yoga. But yoga is given in the form of coarse recipes, embellished with pedantism and with bizarre statements. And yoga, practiced for its own sake, advances no further than an aesthetics or a hygiene, whereas I have recourse to the same means (laid bare), in despair.

— Bataille, Inner Experience (tr. L.A. Boldt)



I refused the reduction of experience to the poverty which I am. Even my ‘poverty’, in its own interest, demanded that I emerge from it. Revolt often has humble beginnings, but once begun doesn’t stop: I first wanted to return from a contemplation which brought the object back to me (as usually happens when we enjoy scenery) to the vision of this object in which I lose myself at other times, which I call the unknown and which is distinct from Nothingness by nothing which discourse can enunciate.
Experience would only be an enticement if it weren’t revolt: in the first place against the attachment of the mind to action (to project, to discourse — against the verbal servitude of reasonable being, of the servant); in the second place against the reassurances, the submissiveness which experience itself introduces.

— Bataille, Inner Experience (trans. L.A. Boldt)


I could have told myself: value, authority — this is ecstasy; inner experience is ecstasy; ecstasy is, it seems, communication, which is opposed to the ‘turning in on oneself’ of which I have spoken. I would have in this way known and found (there was a time when I thought myself to know, to have found). But we reach ecstasy by a contestation of knowledge. Were I to stop at ecstasy and grasp it, in the end I would define it. But nothing resists the contestation of knowledge and I have seen at the end that the idea of communication itself leaves naked — not knowing anything. Whatever it may be — failing a positive revelation within me, present at the extreme — I can provide it with neither a justification nor an end. I remain in intolerable non-knowledge, which has no other way out than ecstasy itself.

— Bataille, Inner Experience (trans. L.A. Boldt)