Sort of a mixed bag. I'm always interested when Seminary students write about Bataille or Blanchot, and Biles reports that he was a seminary student wSort of a mixed bag. I'm always interested when Seminary students write about Bataille or Blanchot, and Biles reports that he was a seminary student when he started the book.
The problem, ultimately, is that most of Biles's theses come from other secondary readings of Bataille (a lot of quoting of both Denis Hollier & Mark Irwin in here), and as such most of the information isn't new. Interestingly, there's a major focus on Bataille's Lascaux study, which is rare for a book like this. The problem is that while each chapter does indeed sort of feed into the larger idea of Bataille's conception of 'monstrosity,' it doesn't really add up to a coherent whole, and the actual explication of the thesis seems largely disconnected from many of the individual chapters. The "Bataillean Meditations" at the end of the book are great, in that the short chapter incorporates Biles's thesis better than the rest of the book, and the chapter that's partially about Bellmer as much as Bataille is also interesting, but once again seems to rely more on Bellmer scholarship than any sort of actual development of ideas. Still, some interesting work....more
The fact that this book functions as a biography has more to do with Bataille's insistence than anything else; a similar task (ouAbsolutely essential.
The fact that this book functions as a biography has more to do with Bataille's insistence than anything else; a similar task (outlining a man's life while also explicating his entire body of work) would not work for just any one. Bataille, as this book (as virtually all of his own writing shows), is different. To refuse theory out of the desire to simply experience everything--to never write of something he himself was not willing to entertain, engage, all the way until death, where he experienced death to the fullest (a darkly ironic current in my word choice here). This is essential, for many reasons: it contextualizes Bataille's entire body of work (nary a book is left without mention [save one caveat--the fact that Tomb of Louis XXX goes without mention?]), it gives an overview of French intellectual political engagement before and around the second World War, it reveals Breton's surrealism for the farce that it insistently is (a caveat I have with everyone's totally misguided appropriation of Bataille: FACTUALLY, Bataille was NEVER a surrealist. He never joined the surrealist party. He never truly got along with Breton. He never WANTED to join the surrealist party. He saw its hypocrisy from the beginning, the fact that surrealism under the auspices of Breton could never achieve what it claimed to set out, so hey, please do me a favor and stop calling Bataille a surrealist, it makes me ache), it demonstrates the intensity and consistency of Bataille's thought as a man alone, outside all marked intellectual communities while insisting upon the idea of a community.
If you are interested in Bataille, despite the overwhelming size of this, I absolutely would insist this be read. The much shorter Stuart Kendall biography-- Georges Bataille is interested for a brief look (and Kendall, with his own specific interests [which actually ally with my interest in Bataille] expounds in certain places that Surya doesn't), but for a totally astounding context, this is absolutely the place to go. It's brilliantly written at that....more
This is one of the best collections of essays on Bataille that I've read, and especially as the essays often deal with the saced,there is much attentiThis is one of the best collections of essays on Bataille that I've read, and especially as the essays often deal with the saced,there is much attention paid to my favorite parts of Bataille's thought. There's a great essay on The Impossible, and a lot of other really great work herein. ...more
Having, since I received it, read & re-read Stuart Kendall's translation of Bataille's THE LITTLE ONE and TOMB OF LOUIS XXX (collected as Louis XXHaving, since I received it, read & re-read Stuart Kendall's translation of Bataille's THE LITTLE ONE and TOMB OF LOUIS XXX (collected as Louis XXX), and the essay that follows, with much interest (coupled with the realization that Kendall translated The Unfinished System of Nonknowledge, one of my absolute favorite collections of Bataille's writings), had me craving more Kendall/Bataille matchups, so I immediately sought this out and developed it in about two days.
Kendall is, without a doubt, an expert on Bataille, & perhaps the primary English speaking/writing expert on Bataille in this day & age. Kendall, in addition to being a scholar & thus informing his "critical biography" with accurate information & well-researched details, he also manages to "understand" Bataille's writing (at least as much as Bataille himself can be "understood") far more than most scholars who write book-length studies of the man's work.
While it doesn't inherently need saying, Kendall himself points out that available biographical details of Bataille's life are owed almost exclusively to Michael Surya's necessary biography. However, this is more than just a more easily palatable digest of Surya's tomb--in addition to guiding us through Bataille's life, Kendall extricates man of Bataille's major works, discussing them in clear terms while refusing to demean the import of the work. This is a major skill, as Bataille's labyrinthine & heterogeneous thought often proves to be both contradictory & impenetrable, or at least othered from what a surface level reading would assume. As such, Kendall demonstrates a great way in & out of the formlessness of Bataille's work, and within this navigation of the labyrinthine, he touches upon why the work is important, and still (to this day) so often misunderstood, if not completely ignored.
As a somewhat off-topic note, I found it fascinating that beyond just being "read bedtime stories by Georges Bataille," as a child, filmmaker Jean Rollin actually spent a great deal of his adolescence living with Bataille, as his mother Denise Rollin was one of Bataille's lover, though she seemed unaware of his actual presence and often considered Bataille a simple actor... also incredible revelationin the fact that after being Bataille's lover, Denise Rollin became the on-again off-again 'companion' of Maurice Blanchot, which is a pretty excellent & earth-shattering pedigree to consider Jean Rollin's lesbian vampire films from....more
A new Ur-text, in its coalescing of so many thoughts and ideas that surround Bataille, while also existing as a perfect (ly) heterogeneous monument ofA new Ur-text, in its coalescing of so many thoughts and ideas that surround Bataille, while also existing as a perfect (ly) heterogeneous monument of the text. Sacrifice. First, we must approach the texts inside the volume on their own: assemblages, perfectly formless paths, winding poetry, speculative philosophy, reflections on meditation, narrative fragments, all adding up to a brief burst of affect &, in a sense, an evil eroticism. Written surrounding La Somme Atheologique, dispersed with bits of The Orestia and Archangelique, poetry floats through, we see meaning, & pictures! fragments of poetry with photographs! A combinatory wet dream that floats my head-space with the destruction of language. "The Little One." "The Tomb of Louis XXX." With both of these texts, I can start to understand when Anne-Marie Albiach talks about the violence of Bataille's writing in a way that, before, I was only speculating about.
Secondly, there is the issue of Stuart Kendall's translation and postface-- the translation is terrific. I hadn't realized that Kendall was the translator of The Unfinished System of Nonknowledge, which is both an absolutely essential collection & brings out language in Bataille in a urgently poeticized manner. So, the translation here is also great. I think it makes more sense to translate "la queue" as "cock" here, whereas I feel that other translators of Bataille would have probably (possibly) used arse. The essay at the end, the postface, "Larvatus Prodeo" is also brilliantly fucking conceived. Kendall's Bataille scholarship reaches far beyond the normally referenced material and into formerly undiscussed (at least in English) content. Thus, Kendall seems to be one of the few to understand and also explicitly discuss the change in the way Bataille wrote starting after the Fall of 1942--the textual strategies of combination, assemblage, jarring forms & genres butting up against each other. Also, Kendall confirms that Jesuve (from "The Solar Anus") is indeed a combinatory effect of both "Jesus" & "Vesuvius"--which absolutely shocked me, as I had scribbed that in the margin of my copy of Visions of Excess when I was a clueless undergrad student more obsessed with a literal sense of Bataille's "transgression" than at a textual or speculative-philosophical (if you can't tell, I really like Kendall's use of "speculative philosophy" to describe what Bataille does-- I think it pays the most credit to Bataille while also looks forward to current realms of speculative philosophy).
Anyway, this little volume will haunt me for a while, and I feel like the next month or so will be spent dipping in an out of it, looking back and forth and through, incorporating it into my being....more
I was thrilled to receive this book as a gift from one of my besties. While I've had the Atlas Arkhive of Bataille & Co's Encyclopaedia AcephalicaI was thrilled to receive this book as a gift from one of my besties. While I've had the Atlas Arkhive of Bataille & Co's Encyclopaedia Acephalica: Comprising the Critical Dictionary & Related Texts, which I know contains a translation of the entire DICTIONARY that came from the pages of DOCUMENTS, as well as some articles as well, I thought this book would serve as a good introduction before jumping into the primary texts. In a way, I think I'm write. This over a very easy overview of the DOCUMENTS project, as well as being a catalog from an art show, thus featuring many high resolution/quality reproductions from the magazine--images that I know are better reproduced here than in the Atlas book. The introductory essays are fantastic as well, addressing each 'category' offered on the front of the magazine: DOCTINES, ARCHAEOLOGY, BEAUX-ARTS, ETHNOGRAPHY & VARIETY. Over all an excellent resource to have on hand....more
"To read Bataille is to have a feel for what it is like to be dealt a mortal wound, or, more precisely, to be struck in an already mortal wound."
Green"To read Bataille is to have a feel for what it is like to be dealt a mortal wound, or, more precisely, to be struck in an already mortal wound."
Greene's book takes an approach to Bataille similar (though ultimately very different) as Nick Land's The Thirst for Annihilation—writing not of Bataille, but rather with Bataille, through Bataille, through the night and the sun, into the space of Bataille's thought.
The words Greene writes feel honest—they feel like reading Bataille and letting his words touch, penetrate, what you're supposed to do. Benjamin Noys said that one can not write for or against (or even about) Bataille, and Greene demonstrates that, writes only with Bataille, and the cooperation is beautiful....more
Comparing the sacred practices of Bataille & Simone Weil, Irwin comes to some great conclusions and similarities, and I'm struck, specifically, byComparing the sacred practices of Bataille & Simone Weil, Irwin comes to some great conclusions and similarities, and I'm struck, specifically, by this fragment from the final paragraph of the book's conclusion:
[...]their relentless discontent with the merely given; their determination to escape the "profane" realm of submission to established authority and to explore (if necessary, invent) the sacred region of tireless contestation and poetic self-creation.
Dealing primarily with both authors' work in the midst of the second World War, there's weird/freaky accusations against both during this time. That Bataille's turn to mysticism was fascistic in its refusal of active engagement on the fore front (a total misreading of Bataille's war time praxis, as the book detailedly examines. That Weil's saintdom was mental illness (starving herself, writing instead of taking care of her health, her desire to sacrifice herself to battle). It seems hyper-relevant to the current zeitgeist, as if the awareness of self & an 'inner-experience,' this idea of sacrifice, could be the one solution to much of the world's ailments... though there's something impossible here, for when one is striving for pure autonomy one cannot count on the realms of others.
Regardless, this book strikes me as important, both in developing a further politicalization of Bataille, but more importantly in revealing the true mystical, religious nature of Bataille's work, and the tangential work of Weil, interesting in its own capacity but, of course, ever-so-slightly less interesting than my personal interests....more
Second reading, April 25th 2014: This is brilliant, and I totally missed why the first time I read this, but luckily a recent obsession with Paul BuckSecond reading, April 25th 2014: This is brilliant, and I totally missed why the first time I read this, but luckily a recent obsession with Paul Buck had me pining to revisit it; and upon realizing it had translations of Agnes Rouzier & Bernard Noel that weren't available anywhere else, I was more than thrilled to dive in. Also worth noting: Buck's translation of THE DEAD MAN is great, but what is most useful is that he actually translates all the notes/back matter from the Oeuvres Completes into English, which is pertinent info and not available anywhere else! The longest essay that closes the book drags a bit, but almost everything in here is great. Noel's essay in particular is a standout. & Mitsou Ronat's essay on Laure & the phonetics & significance of her name is pretty stunning. The bibliography in the back is so fucking extensive there's a million articles & essays of interest I hadn't heard of.
First reading, March 26th, 2012: In the late 80s or something there was a conference on Bataille--this book is a sort of a collection of texts and articles surround the conference. It's ultimately interesting because it was a conference tha existed largely outside of academia (this was, it's my impression, before Bataille as much of staple of academia as he is, to some extent, now). There's also a lot of creative work in here that vibes with Bataille and his ideas, plus some great translated work from other French authors that hasn't appeared anywhere else....more
Noys's introduction is, I think, a very good introduction. He insists that to either appropriate Bataille or to reject Bataille is to mis-read BataillNoys's introduction is, I think, a very good introduction. He insists that to either appropriate Bataille or to reject Bataille is to mis-read Bataille, as either mode of reading denies the heterogeneity that is hyper-present throughout Bataille's thought. It's an interesting position to take, but one that, Noys shows, Bataille himself presents. Collected below are the excerpts from the excellent essay, which moves through the main areas of Bataille's thought, which struck me as most prescient.
"It is this instability, this flowing out from the image, that makes Bataille's images reach out to the reader and at the same time resist appropriation by either the reader or by Bataille's own writings. These images are never formless as such, which would be to produce and form the formless, but they are formless in the derangement of form, like the spider or spit. It is the difficulty of appropriating the subversive image, of producing a theory of the image from Bataille that is no doubt why he is so little read on the image. The necessity of reading Bataille lies in this impossibility of the formation of a theory of the image as well, but it is a difficult demand to meet. This impossibility is never just a reflection of Bataille's state of mind; it must be read in images and in the act of vision. While he wrote about images that communicated intensely to him, lightning-flash images that obsessed and moved him, what provoked him was that they produced an affect leading to communication. It was never a matter of personal contemplation but a sharing with others through the image, the image as the opening of the Other." (35)
"To reject Bataille is to reject violence, but this does not lessen the power of violence, it increases it; to appropriate Bataille means to accept violence but then only to celebrate it and thereby increase it. Sovereignty shatters the limits of these gestures, so the question of sovereignty is also a question of violence that is irreducible: 'Violence is as stubbornly there just as much as death' (E, 187)." (62)\
"An interpretation of the summit as an impossible limit gives us access to an experience of radical disorientation. Bataille has taken us back to a labyrinth where Ariadne's thread has been broken, and the labyrinth itself is unstable.
This is not only a spatial but also a temporal disorientation. In fact, for Bataille, it is impossible to completely separate the spatial from the temporal, in particular because, as we will see, spatial arrangements also dictate an experience of time. They also both undergo radical disorientation in Bataille's description of the summit, and Gill has interpreted the temporal effects of the summit in very similar terms to the spatial effects I have note: 'So both times at once. At the same time. A "moment of fissure", and a sliding away. Summit and decline simultaneously.' It is not possible to secure the summit either in space or in time but only in its collapse, which itself collapses the distinction between space and time." (71-72)
"Bataille resists the idea that transgression could lead to the complete lifting of all taboos on sexuality and the return to some idyllic state of nature. That prospect is a myth that refuses to negotiate with the violence and anguish involved in sexuality, and so a project of sexual liberation based on a natural sexuality will actually increase sexual misery. This is because transgression can never eliminate all taboos: 'But a transgression is not the same as a back-to-nature movement; it suspends a taboo without suppressing it' (E, 36). While Bataille resists a project of sexual liberation his thought of transgression is actually an expansion of sexual freedom that is sensitive to the violence that all sexuality involves." (84-85)
(Quoted entirely from Abbe C) "The only way to atone for the sin of writing is to annihilate what is written. But the author can only do that; destruction leaves that which is essential intact. I can, however, tie negation so closely to affirmation that my pen gradually effaces what it has written. In doing so it accomplishes, in a word, what is generally accomplished by 'time' -- which, from among its multifarious edifices, allows only the traces of death to subsist. I believe that the secret of literature is there, and a book is not a thing of beauty unless it is skillfully adorned with the indifference of ruins. (AC, 128)" (93)
"Transgression and difference open the possibility of another time: 'Ecstatic time can only find itself in the vision of things that puerile chance causes brusquely to appear: cadavers, nudity, explosions, spilled blood, abysses, sunbursts, and thunder' (VE, 200). This is not an alternative model of time but a possibility that ruptures the order of time without reordering itself. It is an experience of chance that Bataille regarded as central to existence itself. Time is usually read as an ordering of causal chains which are opposed to chance or which integrate chance within historical narratives. Bataille's fictional narratives explode this ordered narration through their inscription of chance and difference. For Bataille time emerges in all its violence as a disorder which cannot be organised: 'Because of the Revolution, divine authority ceases to found power; authority no longer belongs to God, but to time, whose free exuberance puts kings to death, to time incarnated today in the explosive tumult of peoples' (VE, 200, italics added). The 'model' of time is the rupture of revolution, the destruction of any model." (101)
"There is productive consumption, broadly speaking consumption which serves the reproduction of the system or the consumption necessary to survival rather than life. This form of consumption is actually directed towards production, it is subject to the delay and detours necessary to reproduction. There is, however, another form of consumption, unproductive expenditure which is an end in itself." (107)
"By returning to a different possibility of economy Bataille dislodges our tendency to project capitalism as the eternal model of economy. Instead, through examining the past economic institution of potlatch described by anthropologists we discover that 'The secondary character of production and acquisition in relation to expenditure appears most clearly in primitive economic institutions, since exchange is still treated as a sumptuary loss of ceded objects: thus at its base exchange presents itself as a process of expenditure, over which a process of acquisition has developed' (VE, 121). For Bataille economy, and especially modern restricted economics in its capitalist form, is secondary to the primacy of this process of expenditure and loss." (107-108)
"Impossibility is the beginning where we encounter our own failure, our own powerlessness, but 'This powerlessness defines an apex of possibility, or at least, awareness of the impossibility opens consciousness to all that it is possible for it to think ' (TE, 10) (Italics mine)." (129)
"Bataille explores the violence of difference in a reading of violence as a general economy. This requires careful and critical reading because it becomes easy to assimilate Bataille to a culture of violence, and all too often 'celebrations' of Bataille do just that. However, in breaking the (violently imposed) taboos on violence Bataille is not aiming to increase violence but to examine how these strict taboos generate their own violence. In this exploration Bataille touches on points of affective excess in his writings, which are heterogeneous in their refusal to be organised within a homogeneous accumulation of knowledge. This is where impossibility and difference are knotted around an affect which, as Bataille suggests of the sacred, both attracts and repulses us (CS, 103-24). Bataille deploys the heterogeneity of these affects to rupture the usual inscription of events within our philosophical, political and social structures. These effects of rupture cannot be gathered up in a new identity as, for example, the 'transgressive'. Transgression does not form an identity and it is the mistake of those who claim a transgressive identity to believe they can limit the play of transgression. The porous nature of individual or group identities based around transgression, usually in the form of transgressive sexualities, indicates how it resists being gathered in identity." (134)
This collection is literally perfect. I explain it to people as a sort of follow up to Visions of Excess, though really it's even better than that becThis collection is literally perfect. I explain it to people as a sort of follow up to Visions of Excess, though really it's even better than that because it's more effuse from the time that Bataille's somme atheologique was written (which is the specific part of Bataille's oeuvre that I'm most obsessed with). "Method of Meditation" being, perhaps, one of the most unknown yet important Bataille essays ever (it's like honestly the coalescing moment of the entire somme atheologique), and also "Aphorisms for the System," and so much more, honestly. There's like one essay in here, a digressive series of "conversations" on laughter which ultimately fail to make much of an impression, but perhaps this is because there are so many voices other than Bataille's in them. Bottom line: this is essential. ...more
This is a really interesting volume. For me, the interest lies in three main points:
1. I was, until recently, unaware of the existence of multiple verThis is a really interesting volume. For me, the interest lies in three main points:
1. I was, until recently, unaware of the existence of multiple version of Story of the Eye, which I have been reading the 1977 translation of regularly since I was 15 years old (almost a decade ago). I am distraught by the fact that the only readily available translation is the 1928 version, and not the "new" version that Bataille wrote/edited in 1944. Clearly Bataille engaged in a massive amount of critical inquiry in the almost 2 decades between the two version. The new version, according to the wonderful detailed notes this volume offered, has actually been translated into English, but it is only available rarely, being desperately out of print, originally published by Olympia Press (and checking online, it is indeed rare to find this translation for less than $50). I now plan on tracking down this "nouvelle" version as quickly as possible. One thing that this volume points out is that some of the colonial implications of the '28 version have been removed, which is of the most interest to me, as someone who virtually idolizes his faults and is constantly seeking a personal justification or understanding for elements that are hard to allow into hero worship (ha!).
2. All of the engravings done for both original versions (the first version featuring engravings by Andre Masson, the second by the amazing Hans Bellmer), are included, in order as they were published originally. This is a very nice thing to have at my reference.
3. Very brief critical essays that have moved beyond Barthes's structural reading into a more content & form based reading. They are not too long, but provide a lot of great ideas.
The other half of the book, the "ICI Field Notes 4," is an interested documentation of what appears to be a sort of artists collective in the vein of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, although not as based on the fabrication of apocrypha. Good stuff though....more
A NOTE ABOUT THIS BOOK, INDEPENDENT UPON THE REVIEW I WROTE LIKE 5 YEARS AGO:
A) THE TRANSLATION HERE IS TOTALLY HORRIBLE B) THIS BOOK RIPS THE WORK OUTA NOTE ABOUT THIS BOOK, INDEPENDENT UPON THE REVIEW I WROTE LIKE 5 YEARS AGO:
A) THE TRANSLATION HERE IS TOTALLY HORRIBLE B) THIS BOOK RIPS THE WORK OUT OF ITS LARGER CONTEXT (WHICH IS IMPORTANT AS BATAILLE WAS THE MASTER OF THE HETEROGENEOUS FORM) WHICH MAKES THE POETRY'S HEART ABSENT, AND REDUCES THE FUNCTIONALITY (THE VIOLENCE, THE HATRED OF POETRY).
SO I WOULD RECOMMEND AVOIDING IT?
I mean just read Louis XXX, The Impossible & the entirety of Bataille's somme atheologique to see how the poetry is supposed to work.
Before I dive into this, if the thumbnail attached to this window is the actual cover of this book, I'm REALLY glad that my own copy is missing the duBefore I dive into this, if the thumbnail attached to this window is the actual cover of this book, I'm REALLY glad that my own copy is missing the dust-jacket, as the cover indicated here is horrible, whereas the clothbound portion of the book is really elegant, with an embossed line-based (very Masson inspired) drawing of an eye--combined with the actual interesting type choices on the inside (very far away from the cover thumbnailed here), it's fairly gorgeous for an academic volume... of course, this all being my impression now upon confronting the actual cover!
Okay, with that aside, this is a fascinating--and I imagine one, if not the most in depth studies--reading of Bataille's most notorious text, which, despite its permeation to masses who are thoroughly missing anything going on in the text other than "weird sex shit," still stands as a sort of cornerstone to Bataille's entire oeuvre.
I would have gotten more out of this if ffrench's excerpts used to illustrate his points were translated into English (as I can't read French well enough to even struggle through multiple sentences at times), but it's basically a Postdoctoral Fellowship paper, so I suppose I should be satisfied enough just at getting the monograph itself. Anyway, ffrench is a great reader of Bataille, although his primary studies in Tel Quel certainly give his reading the Tel Quelian bent, but Tel Quel was perhaps the first group to really engage with Bataille and realize "what was up."
This is a fairly shallow review at this point, as I'm avoiding even addressing any points of ffrench's reading (even the idea of "the cut" itself), but, well, maybe I'll handle that at a future point....more
Somewhat surprisingly, I think I enjoyed this translation/layout just as much as I enjoy the Marion Boyars released translation. This succeeds, I thinSomewhat surprisingly, I think I enjoyed this translation/layout just as much as I enjoy the Marion Boyars released translation. This succeeds, I think, in contemporazing the story in language the way that Peggy Ahwesh & Keith Sanborn's film tried to do with images ("one long female jouissance" according to Ahwesh). The woodcuts (or whatever) that punctuate the story are novel in their explicitness & somewhat hyperbolic humor, but the simple story is what is at the forefront here....more
I decided that I urgently needed to re-read this book after finishing the essay collection Fanged Noumena. I had read this before, three years ago proI decided that I urgently needed to re-read this book after finishing the essay collection Fanged Noumena. I had read this before, three years ago probably, and all I remembered was that the book completely blew my fucking mind and that it took me almost 4 months to get through the second chapter, which gets heavy into hard sciences and thermodynamics and was basically impenetrable. This time through I found the text as a whole far more accessible (I think I was far more 'primed' for this kind of reading at this point), and--barring the catastrophe of having to dry the book out and praying it wasn't water damaged (refer to my Two by Duras commentary in the first part of this list)--I tore through the book in something like 5 days. Having read an excessive amount of both Bataille & secondary readings of Bataille, I say without qualifying the statement that Land understands Bataille more than any one else who has ever written about him, he understands that to actually write about Bataille is to inherently embrace failure, that to adapt Bataille to one's own driving goal is to reduce Bataille to something disposable, and to try to form into Bataille is to refuse the idea that Bataille took so much time to develop, the idea of an entirely heterogeneous oeuvre. Beyond that, Land himself is a compulsively readable genius who is, as I've mentioned before, probably the only critical thinker other than Bataille himself that I want to read over and over again. The ideas in here are mind-blowing and amazing. --------------- I read this again in ~6 days (barring a period in the middle where I lost my backpack containing my book and it ended up under a sprinkler and I had to dry/flatten the book for half a month) and it's fucking perfect and astounding and oh-my-god do I love it. More soon. ---------------- This took me almost 100 days to read, and this is almost exclusively due to the first chapter. I could barely make it through it, and once I did I sat the book down for two months. This book is hard, complex, and absolutely worthwhile. I still can't tell you what the hell was going on in that first chapter, but I know that it's fermenting somewhere in the back of my brain right now, waiting for a break where I can revel in the solar luxuriance of excess.
However, moving past that first chapter things become, at least for me, more readable. Nick Land knows Bataille in and out, and as a follower of Bataille (I took a break from working through his entire oeuvre to read this), I felt comfortable with what he had to say. One of the strongest points of this book is Land's adaptation of the "I" and the inclusiveness of fictive segments ("Fiction is a betrayal of being, but one that is uncircumscribed by the order of the real"). This is not an academic text, this is a text that pushes towards the impossible, with no desire but to reach the summit.
I will make no claim that I understood even half of the book, beyond that first chapter. But I could feel it. I could feel Land's words sink into my skull and rattle any sort of complacency. This is not outdated, this book is the body-becoming.
The only reason I award it four stars instead of five is simple: This isn't Bataille, and the best source for Bataille is, of course, Bataille himself....more
This is really a fantastic piece of work, and there are two immediate reasons:
01) The application of Bataille's ideas (mostly ideas found in his DocumThis is really a fantastic piece of work, and there are two immediate reasons:
01) The application of Bataille's ideas (mostly ideas found in his Documents period) to works of art really, for me at least, helped to illuminate concepts that weren't as clear to me before. It expanded my realm of thought in terms of Bataille scholarship and lead to a few moments of epiphany that were very much needed to put me back on track regarding my own work with Bataille.
02) The sort of recontextualizing that Krauss & Bois forced me to do here made me reconsider art as a whole, another thing that was sorely needed in my life (blah blah blah bourgeois self-identification I know), and really helped to extend my own reading of modernism, as the readings here make more sense to me than Greenberg & followers (ugh). Also reintroduced the magical prose of Krauss, who writes strong words and ideas in a very comprehensive manner.
I used to be hesitant towards October magazine because I had never read it and I knew vague details about the split over Robert Morris/Lynda Benglis debacle, and that gave me some sort of weird impression that October was bound to be more conservative (another thing I never bothered to verify). Of course, it turns out that October seems to just be a lot more theory based and significantly less commercial, which is something I can jive with.
I dogeared & bookmarked & highlighted a lot from this book that I need to revisit, so I'll add some more commentary after I go through the marked parts a few more times. ...more
I am going to go ahead and give this five stars, despite the fact that I found it sort of meandering and boring in parts. The reason for this is that,I am going to go ahead and give this five stars, despite the fact that I found it sort of meandering and boring in parts. The reason for this is that, I think, Bataille does here what he tries to do in Inner Experience, but he gets past the rambling elliptical nature of his thoughts in Inner Experience & moves on towards larger ideas that his obsessions curtail with. ...more