Bataille 01

Bataille 01

Bataille on Nietzsche
Do you seek warmth of me? Come not too close, I counsel, or your hands may burn. For look! My ardor exceeds the limit, and I barely restrain the flames from leaping from my body!
— 1881-86 *
MOTIVATING THIS writing–as I see it–is fear of going crazy.
I’m on fire with painful longings, persisting in me like unsatisfied desire.
In one sense, my tension is a crazy urge to laugh, not so different in its way from the ravaging passions of Sade’s heroes but close, too, to the tensions of the martyrs and saints . . .
On this score, I have few doubts–my delirium brings out human qualities. Though by implication an imbalance is there as well–and distressingly I’m deprived of all rest. I’m ablaze, disoriented–and finally empty. Whatever great or necessary actions come to mind, none answers to this feverishness. I’m speaking of moral concerns–of discovering some object that surpasses all others in value!
Compared to the moral ends normally advanced, the object I refer to is incommensurable. Moral ends seem deceptive and lusterless. Still, only moral ends translate to acts (aren’t they determined as a demand for definite acts?).
The truth is, concern about this or that limited good can sometimes lead to the summit I am approaching. But this occurs in a roundabout way. And moral ends, in this case, are distinct from any excesses they occasion. States of glory and moments of sacredness (which reveal incommensurability) surpass results intentionally sought. Ordinary morality puts these results on the same footing as sacrificial ends. Sacrifice explores the grounding of worlds, and the destruction realized discloses a sacrificial laceration. All the same, it’s for the most banal reasons that sacrifice is celebrated. Morality addresses our good.

(Things changed in appearance when God was represented as a unique and veritable end. Now, some will say the incommensurability of which I speak is simply God’s transcendence. But for me transcendence is avoiding my object. Nothing radically changes when instead of human satisfaction, we think of the satisfaction of some heavenly being! God’s person displaces the problem and does not abolish it. It simply introduces confusions. When so moved or when circumstances require–in regard to God–being will grant itself an incommensurable essence. By serving God and acting on his behalf we reduce him to ordinary, ends that exist in action. If he were situated beyond, there would be nothing to be done on his behalf.)

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