Georges Bataille: ecstasy and the uneasiness of postmodernism

Found : Georges Bataille: ecstasy and the uneasiness of postmodernism

French philosophers of the 20th century… took the new insights of Friedrich Nietzsche to its extreme and developed a totally new and unheard of philosophy: postmodernism. Crucial in the development of this new philosophy is the work of Georges Bataille (1897-1962). This French philosopher combined his study of Nietzsche with his findings as an ethnologist (especially the work he had done in studying the sacred in different cultures) and developed a metaphysics and an epistemology, that were centered around mystical concepts as nihil, emptiness, darkness, the void. So it seems that with Bataille we see philosophy taking the leap to mysticism. But this leap was (and still is to this day) not unproblematic, both with other postmodern philosophers in the era after Nietzsche, as with Bataille himself, who also showed a philosophical uneasiness in having to take this leap and never fully came to terms with all of the implications of mysticism.

1 Comment

  1. I must expand upon your fine note which is over-generalized in some ways. First, Sartre remained a decrepit old modernist. lol

    Basically, it starts with one French philosopher, Bataille, who really probably more or less clarified Nietzsche and his concept of “power” being related to being so happy that they might have too much happiness, but at any rate they will be able to give some happiness away…

    Weber’s interpretation of Nietzsche’s “power” was way off, “Authority” is actually what I would call alienated power, as power in the Nietzschean sense “to give” never needs “legitimization” rational, traditional, charismatic or otherwise… basically this alienated power called “authority” is to lack happiness so much, that you steal it from others, though the amount will never be enough because the slavish can’t hold on to Power (to give) so even once it is stolen it is horded alienated from itself and transformed into that disgusting thing called “authority.” (You can also see Nietzsche’s concepts of Master and Slave Morality fitting here as well.)

    Due to such misinterpretation, Nietzsche is often framed as a lover of power, in the sense of say C. Wright Mills’ “The Power Elite” or worse by idiots like Richard Dawkins (Sorry Mr. Dawkins, but if I can understand Foucault… and you claim you cannot, as an argument against his work… uh… yeah, go back to making atheism a religion) who continues to link him to Fascism/Nazism, even though, thanks to Bataille and really any close reader of Nietzsche… we recognize that Nietzsche as an “authoritarian” figure or “disciplinarian” is all wrong.

    Anyway… there was Nietzsche, then finally someone (Bataille) interpreted him correctly (and I simply mean in my perspective, because my perspective is all I can speak for. Thus, I can make the same statement in the same exact text as “objectivists”, without claiming an objective knowledge, as I do not imply anything beyond my perspective… in a sense said perspective is simply offered as a gift)

    Foucault and Derrida later pick up on Bataille. Include Nietzsche in that category and you have what might be called “poststructuralism” as say a George Ritzer would group them in said way… though none of them accepted the label. Postmodernism, then developed “out of” it, but it was more a situation of ridiculousness of trying to get the last word in with someone who always answers your questions in advance to make a vague textual reference. (Bataille’s response to Sartre found in “On Nietzsche”)

    Ultimately Lyotard, and worst of all Baudrillard, and all the other postmodernists that came later… really showed up late so to speak and in my perspective, struggled to “out do” the intellectual giants of Bataille, Foucault, and Derrida… and it got actually silly (which is why I offer the perspective of a distinction.) I perceive and somewhat agree with Ritzer’s arbitrary splitting of the group, but for different reasons, while I completely disagree with Ritzer’s opinion that Postmodernism was the most important of the two groups. Thus, another reason why I prefer to make my perspective available here. Postmodernism is really what pops up in the 80s… poststructuralism is well really 40s through 70s almost, or you could take it back to Nietzsche and say 19th century to 70s.

    (But really Nietzsche was out of place in the 19th century or “too modern for the modernists” as Foucault put it… and honestly… Bataille was a bit out of place in the early days of the 30s and 40s… though there were other thinkers like Adorno, Horkheimer, and Benjamin who also started incorporating Nietzsche, though not so much on power, but on aesthetics and how slavish culture had become and such and whether or not we could ever recover from the alienation of leisure and the transformation of art into “mass entertainment” So basically, 60s 70s. Which I think you can also include Deleuze in the “poststructuralist” grouping, though I haven’t really formed a full opinion on him as I haven’t read much of him.)

    Only other thing I want to say is that I think he would call it inner experience rather than mystical experience. I don’t really interpret the philosophical uneasiness, because well I’m not a philosopher. I’m more of a social theorist, but I don’t feel that uneasiness either because the “mystical” experience is achieved basically in what today we would call “edgework” or you could just use “limit-experience” or “transgression” as well. It is the reverse of Zen meditation so to speak… it is almost like a Dionysian trance, even though both result in ecstasy, this “mysticism” breaks with this reality by diving into it, rather than trying to deny it. Though also, to be honest, that duality (Sacred/Profane) you mention, he seeks to dissolve into something that is both and neither… and yeah Derrida kind of just “stole” his “Deconstruction” from Bataille’s “base materialism.” Though he did expand upon it just enough to where I’m down with deconstruction, lol.

    anyhow lmao have a good time laughing at yourself as you read, I had a good time laughing at myself as I wrote lol and don’t forget to open your third nostril. lmao… (vague reference to a Marilyn Manson lyric that was a vague reference to the Pineal Eye. Nerdy joke I know lol)

    All three personalities present offer you a good day sir!

    – Caligula
    – Lord Auch
    – Crucified Dionysus

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