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The Accursed Share 1: Consumption

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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  730 ratings  ·  19 reviews
The three volumes of The Accursed Share address what Georges Bataille sees as the paradox of utility: namely, if being useful means serving a further end, then the ultimate end of utility can only be uselessness. In the second and third volumes, The History of Eroticism and Sovereignty, Bataille explores the same paradox of utility from an anthropological and an ethical pe ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published March 26th 1991 by Zone Books (first published 1949)
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MG
I pulled this from my shelf as I was dusting, having read it some 15 years ago. 15 years ago! I liked it then, and I still like it. Bataille critiques traditional economy and examines what he calls the 'general economy', an economy not wholly based on production (as Marx would have it), but excess and expenditure, or non-productive surplus. On a philosophical level, it defines self-consciousness or a liberated subjectivity as 'prestige'--an economy of gift exchange that runs on endless consumpti ...more
Tosh
A combination of the Erotic with the Economic. How does Georges Bataille combine the two. One of the most original thinkers in contemporary (20th Century) literature. Bataille not only sees economy as a means to exchange goods but also the the extras that are there and how one uses the 'extras'. The excess of power, exchange, and perhaps love itself. Difficult at times, but also incredibly rewarding.

A good introduction to Bataille's work is for sure his fiction (The Story of the Eye, etc.) but
...more
Nathan
Dec 27, 2007 Nathan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in Anthropology, Economics, Religious Studies
Though Bataille continues to deal with religion and ritual in this book, his concerns are more classically Anthropological than in Theory of Religion (population growth, scarcity, social structure etc.). The project he sets out in the introductory chapters is the development of
a "general economy": a system that not only accounts for the
development and exchange of goods, but of all energy on the Earth. From the perspective of general economy, life is a terrific excess that cannot be fully utilize
...more
Darren
Bataille's philosophy of History. Totally cogent and elegant. More legible than his theories of erotics.
Tarbuckle
As is the case with everything that I've read by Bataille, The Accursed Share is timbered with the author's experience of war, and particularly of the element of nihilistic Fascistic violence by and within which his native France was subsumed—and it's also the case that he finds in this destructive element not only an essential stratum of the human condition, but one replete with energies whose power source he desires to identify, if not tap into, for (transgressive) reasons both collective and ...more
Jean d'Arp
Extraits:

"L'organisme vivant, dans la situation que déterminent les jeux de l'énergie à la surface du globe, reçoit en principe plus d'énergie qu'il n'est nécessaire au maintient de la vie; l'énergie (la richesse) excédante peut être utilisée à la croissance d'un système (p.ex. d'un organisme); si le système ne peut plus croître, ou si l'excédent ne peut en entier être absorbé dans sa croissance, il faut nécessairement le perdre sans profit, le dépenser, volontiers ou non, glorieusement ou sinon
...more
Left Sr
A magnificent text on the destructive tendency of economy and Bataille's vision of a "headless society". The only bad part of it is when he defends Stalinist Russia, arguing against his own thesis to do so- he proposes that Russia needs to accumulate purposefully in order to achieve full capitalism so that it can reach communism, but this contradicts his own vision of societies of wasteful and extravagant use value, as well as accepting the excuses made for Bolshevik dictatorship, a bit shortsig ...more
M.
Bataille-the-philosopher becomes Bataille-the-economist, and to do this becomes Bataille-the-historian. Economics is 50% a mystery to my humanities upbringing, but the fact that Bataille roots his theory of general economy in "historical examples" instead of, well, the impossible as he normally does brings this closer to lucid. I started this a while ago and couldn't "get into it," but managed to read the last 150 pages in 2 sittings today. I think the ideas here are important, and I'm excited t ...more
Simei Doblinski
"De todos os lados e de todas as formas um mundo em movimento quer ser mudado"
Asamatteroffact Glesmann
Somewhat reminiscent to Weber's 'Capitalism & the Protestant Ethic', this book outlines the parallel processes of economic & religious historical developments. Somewhat difficult to get into & the final chapter focuses entirely on the Soviet Union, which is kind of an odd finish to read now that the Cold War is long over. But otherwise a pretty interesting read. Not as good as Bataille's Part 2: Theory of Religion.
Chris Nagel
Intriguing opening salvo. I'm profoundly puzzled by the connection between the analyses of economies and self-consciousness. I gather that the limited economies discussed here, and the limited analyses of economies, are what make it unclear how self-consciousness depends on the general economic move of expenditure -- thus to have no object.
Michael
After reading this, I now subscribe to Bataille's theory of "general economy." On this view, economies aren't about production but the dissipation of surplus energy. By extension, next time I meet someone who drives a Hummer, I'll shake their hand and smile. Of course I'm joking.
Tony
A revelation early on in my philosophical wanderings. Eroto-econo-socio-anthropology at its best.
Daniel
Mar 19, 2008 Daniel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Daniel by: philosopher extraordinaire tzuchien
various bataille pieces - essays on sacrifice and "potlatch" are winners.
Katie Muffett
Jan 30, 2008 Katie Muffett marked it as to-read
I've glimpsed into this and am excited. Unnaturallye excited.
Count No Count
Origins of the potluck, you greenbean casserole eating turkeys.
Trevor
Feb 22, 2010 Trevor added it
As recommended by Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen...
Richard
This book explained current politics to me
Max Maslansky
Pot-latching. Yum
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French essayist, philosophical theorist and novelist, often called the "metaphysician of evil." Bataille was interested in sex, death, degradation, and the power and potential of the obscene. He rejected traditional literature and considered that the ultimate aim of all intellectual, artistic, or religious activity should be the annihilation of the rational individual in a violent, transcendental ...more
More about Georges Bataille...
Story of the Eye Erotism: Death and Sensuality Blue of Noon Visions of Excess My Mother/Madame Edwarda/The Dead Man

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“Under the present conditions, everything conspires to obscure the basic movement that tends to restore wealth to its function, to gift-giving, to squandering without reciprocation.” 2 likes
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