The Sunday of the Negative: Reading Bataille Reading Hegel (Suny Series in Hegelian Studies)
Christopher M. Gemerchak
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
A comprehensive philosophical introduction to the thought of Georges Bataille.
Although often considered an esoteric figure occupying the dark fringes of twentieth-century thought, Georges Bataille was a pivotal precursor to a generation of poststructuralist and postmodern thinkers—including Baudrillard, Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, and Lyotard. The Sunday of the Negative provides the most extensive English-language investigation of Bataille's critical treatment of the thought of Hegel, focusing on the notions of subjectivity, desire, self-consciousness, knowledge, and the experience of the divine. The book spans all of Bataille's writings, patiently navigating even the most obscure texts. The author explains how Bataille's notion of self-consciousness both derives from, and is an alternative to, that of Hegel. Disclosing the origins of Bataille's most influential concepts, the book moves across philosophy proper to include reflections on anthropology, economics, cultural criticism, poetry, eroticism, mysticism, and religion.
“I am impressed with the author's careful, clear awareness of the range of Bataille's work, and by the clarity with which Bataille—a writer who famously eludes clarification—is explained throughout. Bataille's flaws and limits are addressed without either simple condemnation or apologies.” — Karmen MacKendrick, author of Immemorial Silence
“Gemerchak is able to tease out the very rigorous philosophy of finitude that underpins Bataille's discourse on transgression. By taking Bataille seriously as a philosopher, Gemerchak has not only provided a context for Bataille's theories, he has also revealed Bataille's true stature as one of the most significant thinkers of the twentieth century.” — Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, author of Lacan: The Absolute Master
for God. For both Hegel and Bataille, then, though with different emphases, a sensuous representation is not merely a limit, but is rather an opening to the divine. In Bataille’s view, the object of desire, God or its human derivative, exceeds its representation, which is but a lure perched above a nothingness that puts the object and the desiring subject—its knowledge, its language, its identity—at risk. Extending like some symbolic iceberg into dark depths, Mysticism, Eroticism, and the
as essential to it as pure selfconsciousness [the realization of absolute negativity].”89 The moment of risk is therefore only meaningful to the extent that it respects life and is in a position to profit from this risk in the future.90 This is the comedy transcribed by reason, a comedy of compromise, which Derrida posits should elicit a “burst of laughter from Bataille. Through a ruse of life, that is, of reason, life has stayed alive. . . . Such is the truth of life. Through this recourse to
is: is it to be spent—according to an individual perspective based on the consciousness of necessity and the fear of indigence—to regenerate further growth through conquest; or is to be spent—according to a general, prodigal, perspective—in a useless and unproductive manner. More appropriately, the question is whether or not the desire for the latter can be recognized and afforded a place within the interests of the modern, “civilized” world. This question will, in different guises, occupy
immobilized, is a disappearing goal, is nothing to appropriate for oneself. In other words, just as the “instant” is not a moment of full self-presence, there is no notion of “sovereignty,” no conceptual nucleus, no definable or sustainable position. In short, it is not a discursive reality. It is not graspable. Were it to be discursive or graspable, it would become another figure of dialectical appropriation, would be a foundation both grounding activity and that at which one could aim: it would
unleashed upon elements of the real, calculated world, elements whose immediate, sensible value has been reduced to their use value, a tendency which “deprived the world of poetry.”111 “Primitive” societies used sacrifice to redress this reduction of sensible, immediate, or sacred value to productive value—even if it served to propitiate a god to secure the god’s beneficence for further production. The victim in poetry is the word. For “poetry,” as Bataille claims, is the “sacrifice in which