Saturday, July 07, 2012

Georges Bataille: On The 50th Anniversary Of His Death (video)

Today, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Georges Bataille. I wrote and recorded the following lecture for presentation at Acephalia Encyclopaedica: Conversations on Georges Bataille, which was held today in Portugal. 

My reflections take Bataille's final text, the preface to The Impossible, as their point of departureThe preface was written with a sense of great urgency during January of 1962, as his correspondence with the publisher indicates. During the time between then and the appearance of The Impossible in print that spring, Bataille at last overcame his propensity to "erect artificial obstacles [and] without even knowing me yet, was trying through me to forbid himself from rejoining Laure [his lover, whose death in 1938 profoundly changed him], nevertheless lost forever." After years of delay, Bataille contacted the author of the preceding lines, Jérôme Peignot, the nephew of his long-lost love, expressing his strong desire to meet him (again; they had met while the latter was a child). Of their meeting, Jérôme Peignot wrote only the following poignant words: 

When I arrived at the Pont-Royal bar, there was a man with gray hair waiting for me. What we said to each other then is not important. What is, on the other hand, were the tears I saw rolling down his cheeks. (Jérôme Peignot, "My Diagonal Mother")

In the vocabulary of Buddhism, by publishing The Impossible and at last meeting the nephew of his lost love, Bataille was able to relinquish the last attachments that bound him to this world of the living. Approximately three months later, he died like a cat: peacefully in his sleep, while his wife and young daughter were vacationing in England. I imagine that Georges rejoined Laure in death, and that perhaps, in another life, they would find one another once again.

Other writings by Prof. Rowan on Georges Bataille:
In Memoriam Georges Bataille: (2012; a version of the text of video lecture)
Friendship d'après Georges Bataille (2011)
The Logic of the Lost Moment (2009)
Communism in an Economy of Excess: Toward a General Economics of an Enduring Communist Society (2009)
Par-délà la Poésie (2007)
On Bataille and Desire (2005)

Translations by Prof. Rowan
Schizogenesis (La Scissiparité): Part 1, Part 2
The Oresteia (L'Orestie), Manuscript Version

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