巴岱伊論尼采 20

Bataille 20

Bataille on Nietzsche

Summit and Decline
It would be terrible to still believe in sin; on the contrary everything we do, if we need to say this a thousand times, is innocent.
 1881-82

More often than the sacred object, desire has as its object the flesh; and in carnal desire, an interplay of “communication” appears in all its stringent complexity.


In the carnal act, we taint the limit of our being even while, in the process tainting ourselves, we cross it.


THE SOVEREIGN desire of beings is what is beyond being. Anguish is the feeling of danger related to this inexhaustible expectation.


In the realm of sensuality, a being of flesh is the object of desire. Although, in that being, what attracts isn’t immediate being but a wound, a break in the body’s integrity, the orifice of filth. This wound doesn’t precisely risk life–only life’s integrity and its purity.

It doesn’t kill, it sullies. What is disclosed in defilement doesn’t differ substantially from what is revealed in death–the dead body and excreted matter are both expressive of nothingness, while the dead body in addition participates in filth. Excrement is the dead part of me I have to get rid of, by making it disappear, finally annihilating it. In sensuality as in death, moreover, nothingness in itself isn’t what attracts us.



What captivates us about death, leaving us overwhelmed but silently possessed of a feeling of sacredness or voidness, isn’t the dead body as such. If we see (or see in our imaginations) the horror of death as an actuality–the cadaver plain and simple, and its decay— we experience only disgust. The high-minded respect, calmness, even the gentle reverence with which we offer tribute, is related to artificial aspects. Hence the apparent serenity of a dead person whose jaw a couple of hours earlier was wrapped shut.


It’s the same with sensuality–a transposition is required in order for us to be attracted to nothingness. We’re horrified by excretions, even insurmountably disgusted. We limit ourselves to being attracted to a condition wherein a transposition is possible–to being drawn to a nakedness that we can choose to see as immediately attractive for reasons of skin tone or formal purity.


The obscenity of bodies derives from a disgust with excretion, put aside out of shame, while at the same time we ignore the formal ugliness of the organs. Obscenity is a zone of nothingness we have to cross–without which beauty lacks the suspended, risked aspect that brings about our damnation. Attractive, voluptuous nakedness finally triumphs when defilement causes us to risk ourselves (though in other cases, nakedness fails because it remains ugliness wholly at the level of defilement).



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