The Impossible Preface – January 1962 Manuscript Version
The meaning of this preface is dependent on the fact that this second edition begins with thenovel-like parts of the book, parts overtly bound to the impossible and to death (
Story of rats, Dianus
)The first part,
, removed to the end, itself reaches for this truth of the impossibleand of death. Less directly.[But I am far from having the certainty today of making myself heard better than fifteen yearsago.Introducing at first these two passages, which bind my thought to a romantic form, in the enddeferring to the parts where I have given way to a poetic disorder, in spite of all being, it seems moreclear to me.Without doubt I am also more clear by placing in advance the sexual disorder, which marks thefirst two parts of this edition. However, I have no intention here of singing the praise of the disorder.On the contrary. Sexual disorder is accursed, in my sense. In this respect, in spite of appearances, I amopposed to the tendency, which it seems to carry today. I am not of those who sees an escape inforgetting sexual prohibitions. I even think that human possibility is dependent on these
interdictions: this possibility we can not imagine without these prohibitions (it would at least, in fact, beimpossible for us to imagine). I don't think otherwise that the book could enjoy the sense of anunlivable sexual liberty. On the contrary: that which sexual madness has is unbreathable in the last place.]
How to situate the category of the impossible (written Friday afternoon)The category of
is far from having been the object of sufficient attention. At theoutset it serves as pretext for the emphasis,
is the only object constantly sought out.Finally, wisdom [
] and reflection turn away from
,After all, the living is the essential; and
has concerns which lie with death. It isto avow a tragic destiny when man goes so far as to chose
is made in aninevitable disorder and, willed or not, for a part, his choice is blind.In opposition, the
is the object of an inevitable choice. The essential is of the living.
, on the contrary, is death, to which it is true that man is promised.Everyday, clear reflection has the
for its object.
, on the contrary, is adisorder, an aberration. It is a disorder which only brings about despair and passion... An excessivedisorder to which one is only condemned by madness.Those who assume a tragic destiny are only hungry for the
, surely, cannot be defined.I can thus define the possible, so that the impossible can only be... [can only be being..]
! The texts which now assume the new title, they respond to it better than they
1Boldface numbers in square brackets refer to the corresponding original page of Georges Bataille,
Oeuvres Complètes,tome III
(Paris: Gallimard, 1973). Translation by Rowan G. Tepper, M.A. – Completed 11/19/2008.