Saturday, May 28, 2011

Schizogenesis: a "fiction" by Georges Bataille (1/2)

"...the moment of continuity that is the processes of schizogenesis creates a bridge between the one and others.... I can thence grasp the unbreakable chain between all beings formed of these moments of continuity... not with an abstract concept but rather in moments of comic subversion.” - Unpublished Philosophical Epilogue to On Nietzsche
“Transcendence has fallen into comedy. It's still possible to transcend states of apathy, but only on condition of losing ourselves in immanence – and given that we fight for others too... “Reduced to comedy, transcendence produces men whose vulgarity sheds light on deep immanence... the sense of immanence with the masses relates to needs as necessary for me as physical lovemaking.” - On Nietzsche

Georges Bataille 
Translation by Prof. Rowan

Prefatory Note

Published in 1949, La Scissiparité, which I have here translated as Schizogenesis - in order to dissociate the purely biological meaning of the word as a synonym for mitosis - constitutes the last work of fiction published by Georges Bataille that has until now remained unavailable in English translation. This enigmatic text is closely intertwined with the fictions of The Impossible, in which Dianus and Father A. are portrayed as twin brothers - as doubles [the word dédoublement plays an important role here, meaning at once doubling, duplicity and duplication]. It, however, presents in literary form Bataille's philosophical alternative to the metaphysics of transcendence and the myth of the subject - of the self that endures time relatively "unchanged."

Possessed by rage and enraged.
My head? A nail, a nail newly born
I cry. No one hears me. The opacity, eternity, empty silence – mine, of course.
In screaming out I suppress myself: this conviction is worthy of praise.
I will eat, d..., write, laugh, fear death, and grow pale at the idea of my nails being turned back.


I would like to take hold of an unyielding idea of myself, to raise my furrowed brow into the air, denying the odor of death.
I would like to forget the imperceptible slippage of myself into corruption.
I'm nauseated by the sky whose blinding sweetness has the obscenity of a “girl” going to bed.
I imagine an attractive prostitute, elegant, naked and dispirited, with her piglet-like gaity.

A festive sun flooded the room. I shaved myself clean before the mirror bordered with an ornate gilded frame. Standing up, I turned back toward the orb of the sun, but the mirror reproduced its image before my face. Who am I? I ought to have had the strength in me to trace clearly the letters of my name and today's date upon the sun-lit window: there, I should have stopped thinking and laughed at it all the more. Am I but an effect of the mirror's duplicity [mensonge], the illuminated immensity, and of this too easy relation with myself?

I ought to have a sublime idea of myself: for that, I have the necessary strength. I equate love (bodies touching indecently) with the limitlessness of being – with nausea, the sun, and death. Obscenity reveals a moment which flows into a delirium of sense.

It is that part within my character that is least often accused (but, at last): the side gustave (or pig).

A. Giacometti - Illustrations for Story of Rats


Letter from the author to Mme E...

Received a telegram from the Monsignor:

“Success. Hurry. Difficult situation.”

I gazed at myself at length in the mirror and I'm afraid to burst into laughter.

The duplicity [dédoublements] of the Monsignor irritates me to the point of losing my head. What it lets me catch a glimpse of it is the ground of things, which is decidedly a lie.

Letter from Mme E... to the author

...finally, my throat has closed up. The state into which your words have placed me is the most nerve-wracking I have known. At moments I burst into laughter. And I imagine that, from now on, the laughter of madness is endless. It stops, and at that very moment I have the distressing yet voluptuous feeling of being caught in a trap, like a rat...


Met Mme E... in Paris. We departed the next day for Rome, where we awaited Monsignor. Monsignor, or rather...

Opera. Loud music. Much liquor.

In the morning, falling, with a sharp knife in hand, I cut open my finger. Mme E... laughed loudly to see me fall, but the blood abounded and her having laughed heightened the awkwardness. I brought the discomfort to an end with a smile: I was pleasant, loose and adorable: she, sly, pale and willfully indecent.

If intelligence is feminine...
... I would want that mine would, in a resolute movement, come to resemble an impious woman.
There is a conjugation of corporeal verbs whose end is a comical song.
I'll sing to the shame of the banquet table :
Ravadja la moukère
Ravadja bono
and the violence of the song, in spite of me, outside of me, rebounds:

Soak your ass in a bowl of stew,
You will see if it is hot or cool.

If she did not go until Ravjada, this impious woman would neither have so resolutely illuminated the force of decay nor have been so resolutely beautiful: the rot and ray of the sun. But it is my way of loving Mme E..., of laughing and, finally, of reasoning.

Visited Alexandrette at two o'clock. I tremble (the liquor from the night before?). It seemed hateful like the little fly-cages, which, as a child, I filled with disgustingly living insects. It was gone and we remained, Mme E... and myself, in a desert of f..., within a grandiloquent movement exposed to the hostility of the stars. Within two hours we departed on the train to Rome.

Music from yesterday evening lept into my head. To cry, to vomit gaily. Disheveled streams. Courtesy of Mme E... Bare-shouldered, well educated, but such indecency!

André Masson - Acèphale
(To be continued. Or as the French say, à suivre. The second part and more myth against myth coming soon!)
"I feel in solidarity with all beings. I can see within myself a nun, a blushing little girl, a sadist... I say a man, a woman. I search within myself for the meaning of these words. The human being is evidently the amphibian that, according to Hegel, 'spiritual culture' has made him into: life divided between 'two contradictory worlds.'" - Samois - 12 August 1944.

Original text in Volume 3 of Bataille's Oeuvres Complètes, 225-232. Gallimard, 1971.

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