巴岱伊論尼采 27

Bataille 27

Bataille on Nietzsche
Summit and Decline

And as for decadence, the image of this in many ways is people who do not die prematurely; from their experience, they know the instincts that this implies; during nearly half their lives human beings are decadent.
 1888

Substitution of spiritual summits for immediate ones, however, won’t take place if we don’t admit the primacy of the future over the present and if we don’t draw the consequences of the inevitable decline that follows the summit. Spiritual summits are a negation of what might be given as a summit morality. And they fall into the category ‘the morality of the decline.’


THE SHIFT to spiritual forms requires one main condition, since a pretext would be necessary before rejecting sensuality. If I suppressed consideration of the time to come, I wouldn’t be in a position to resist temptation. I must helplessly give in to the slightest impulse. Temptation isn’t even a notion that can occur to me: from then on temptation is ruled out, and I’m easy prey for desires that now can be thwarted only through outward difficulties. To be honest, this blessed openness isn’t humanly imaginable. Human nature can’t as such reject worries about the future, and the states in which such preoccupations aren’t applicable are either above humanness or below it.

Whatever the case, we escape a giddying sensuality only by representing for ourselves some good situated in a future time, a future that sensuality would destroy and that we have to keep from it. So we can reach the summit beyond the fever of the senses only provided we set up a subsequent goal. Or, if you like (a clearer, more serious consideration), we reach a nonsensual, nonimmediate summit only by referring to a necessarily higher end. And this end isn’t simply located above sensuality (which it brings to a halt); it also must be situated above the spiritual summit. Beyond sensuality, beyond the reply to desire, we are in fact in the realm of the good–which is the realm of the primacy of the future against the present, the area of being’s preservation, contrasted with its glorious loss.


Another way of saying this: resistance to temptation implies abandoning the summit morality, belonging, as this resistance does, to the morality of decline. When we feel our strength ebbing and we decline, we condemn excesses of expenditure in the name of some higher good. As long as youthful excitement impels us, we consent to dangerous squandering, boldly taking the risks that present themselves.


But as soon as our strength begins to ebb or we start to perceive the limits of this strength (when we start to decline), we’re preoccupied with gaining and accumulating goods of all kinds, acquiring wealth, since we’re thinking of the difficulties to come. We act. And the end of action and efforts can only be the acquisition of strength. Now, to the extent that a spiritual summit–which opposes sensuality and pits itself against it–becomes revealed in an unfolding action, it’s associated with efforts that desire to gain some good. Such a summit no longer comes within the rubric of a summit morality, and a decline morality prompts it not so much to desire as to make efforts.



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