Hegel, Death and Sacrifice Author(s): Georges Bataille and Jonathan Strauss Source: Yale French Studies, No.

78, On Bataille (1990), pp. 9-28 Published by: Yale University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2930112 Accessed: 27/10/2010 23:16
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Hegel, Death and Sacrifice'
of The animaldies.Butthedeathoftheanimalis thebecoming


Man's Negativity In the Lecturesof 1805-1806, at the momentofhis thought's full the periodwhenhe was writing maturity, during The Phenomenolin thesetermsthe black character ogyofSpirit, Hegel expressed of humanity: "Man is thatnight, thatempty whichcontainsevNothingness, in itsundivided erything thewealthofan infinite simplicity: number ofrepresentations, of images,not one ofwhichcomes precisely to are not [there] mind,or which [moreover], insofar as theyare really It is thenight, present. theinteriority-or-theintimacy ofNature whichexistshere:[the] In phantasmagorical purepersonal-Ego. repit is night on all sides:heresuddenly resentations surges up a bloodspattered head; there, another, white,apparition; and they disappear just as abruptly. That is the nightthatone perceives ifone looks a man in the eyes: then one is delvinginto a nightwhich becomes it is thenight oftheworld terrible; whichthenpresents itself tous."2
a study on the-fundamentally 1. Excerpt from Hegelian-thought ofAlexander as possible, tobe Hegel'sthought, Thisthought Kojeve. seeks,so far sucha contempowhatHegeldidnotknow(knowing, for rary spirit, knowing example, theevents that since 1917and,as well,thephilosophy haveoccurred ofHeidegger), couldgrasp it and and courage, developit. Alexander Kojeve'soriginality it mustbe said, is to have of going any further, the necessity, perceivedthe impossibility consequently, ofrenouncing the creation ofan original philosophy and,thereby, theinterminable ofthought. This essaywas first whichis theavowalofthevanity starting-over pub? 1988. ofEditions Gallimard lishedin Deucalion 5 (1955).Withpermission ed. 2. G. W. F. Hegel, Jenenser Philosophiedes Geistesin SamtlicheWerke, vol.20 180-81.CitedbyKojeve FelixMeiner, in Hoffmeister, (Leipzig: 1931), Johannes C) 1990byYale University. YFS 78, On Bataille,ed. Allan Stoekl,


as K.theman who negatesNature-by introducing the anomalyof a "pure. 573. changesthereality it he createsa Nature and in destroying the given. principle without biological ty." I havefelt accessto Hegel'sdisconcerting obliged world. examination. the real worldto proudspiritdeems itselfcapable ofsubordinating Alexander in citing ofitsowndreams. TEL). TEL. really(in itself) negationis exteriorized.(Paris: Introduction [Paris: 1947). manner in a fundamental (hewas at anyratea romantic was perhaps revoat thebeginning-inhisyouth-. from risksassumedwithout necessivoluntary (resulting essentially nevertheless the of is action. Man and ofNature. same thing.(TELedition ofHegel. thearbitrariness says of these lines thattheyexpress"the centraland finalidea of andthe whichis "theidea thatthefoundation Hegelianphilosophy. works he transforms fights.But thereis a complementary in consciousness-where ofNatureis notmerely thisnegation given that which existsin itselfappears(but only to disappear)-. a humanlife"(K. 537. Gallimard. text. citedin thetext.10 Yale FrenchStudies whereHegel'sRomanticism this"beautiful finds Ofcourse. To permit bothits violentcontrasts and its to mark.forHegel. 550). intoit.On Indeed. "the 'dialectical' or anthropological whichis the ofdeath (or." and empirical exisreality sourceofhumanobjective (Wirklichkeit) whichmanifests itself as negative tence(Dasein) aretheNothingness or creative Action. this and in beingexteriorized.personalego"-is present like a flip-side. Kojeve. 539).548. a phantasmagoria wherenothing existsexceptabnothingappearsbut to disappear.he transforms totheReading Gallimard. of philosophy For Kojeve. 575.Actionis Negativity. . whenhe was a commonplace bywhicha themethod buthe didnotsee in Romanticism lutionary). and Negativity Action. which it sorbedwithoutrespitein the annihilationof time. Hegel is in thefinalanalysisa philosophy ofatheism)"(K.) Henceforth 19801. is nottobe understood expression. loosely. withinthatNature'sheartlike a night whicharein themselves-like ofthosethings withintheexteriority in which nothingtakes shape but to evanesce. them.from aspect: drawsthe beautyofa dream. bya careful ultimateunity. reasons). theone hand. within like an intimacy light. TEL.man's Butifmanis "deathliving givenin deathby virtueof the factthatman's deathis negativity.freeand self-conscious." it IfHegelwas a romantic.

. in AllanBloom's ofKojeve's Introduction reedition totheReading of Hegel(NewYork: (andabridgment) BasicBooks. Hegel. Andbeing the(temporal) 'Subject'necessarily has.] . (TEL.It is thelatter thatI havetranslated. express-and reveal-that appearance. from whichall ofBataille'sreferences 529-75. on the otherhand thereis Action. "Subject" I have negation for this(asI havealready doneinthepreceding followed thepart ofIntroducparagraph) tionto theReadingofHegel whichconcerns parts2 and3 ofthepresent study. "The Idea ofDeath in thePhilosophy ofHegel. 527-73. (atonce objectand man who thinksand subject. In thisparagraph. V. and. A. i.573.e. whereman "differs fromNothingness hand. thatNothingness thatgnawshim whereman's Negativity. TEL. head. World. and diluted a thathas surged itself. I repeat in a different 3.. W. V. at the phyis to describethe totality whichappearsbefore our same timethatit accountsforeverything accountofthethought andlanguage to givean integrated which eyes. note:This appendix.On theother.atfirst difficult thesecondpartofthatsentence.work.consequently. Miller(Oxford: ofSpirit. it is notincluded Kojevearetaken. Appendix II.[Translator's note. tocomprehend inits glance. whichmustbe before annihilation being:thebeingofthe a beginning. changestheworld). annihilation in Being."In particular. whichnihilates ofthenothingness beingnothingness as Time)."4 andthefollowing. However."Kojeve.real world changedor unchanged.therefore.) [Translator's to remains untranslated in English. "pure Nothingness. Oxford University Press. world. thewholeofconcrete creates reality from within. is a Philosophy Hegel'sPhilosophy ofDeath-or ofAtheism3 ofHegelianphilosoThe essential-and theoriginal-characteristic ofwhat is. Pagereferenceswillhereafter be given totheEnglish translation byA. blood-spattered destruction up On the one struggle. form whathas been Butnotonlyin a different I havetodevelop saidbyAlexander Kojeve.9-10. "In my opinion. On the one handthereis poetry. which is often at withthequotations as I haverendered significant variance them. 575).GEORGES BATAILLE 11 the a worldwhichwas not. "Everything dependson one's exandunderstanding Truth not(only) as substance."says Hegel.G." a historical onlyfora certaintime"(K. Kojeve's version differs from that ofHyppolite from andBataille's both.Miller. ofthe 'Subject'is thetemporalizing concrete aspect: "The beingor theannihilation the annihilated ofBeing.F.The Phenomenology trans. essentially whichis. form. butalso as pressing subject.1969).the (insofar ofitself: therefore is essentially it has an end.1977).J 4. In his footnotes. Cf. Batailleattributes theFrench versions he uses ofHegel to Jean translation of The Phenomenology Hyppolite's of and often also citesthepagesfrom Spirit Introduction a la lecturede Hegel where Alexandre Kojeve quotesthesamepassages.

in the Hegelian man's naturalbeingdid not sense. 530). movement ofhistory. longer. himNegativity. occupya sovereign as a regent. isolated from a whole. whichhe placesat theheart. and Hegel.for and Spirit speaking. phasizes Man's liberty. "dialectical") theJudeo-Christian is fully realworld. Like Judeohistoricity. "[knowledge] reality. ofthetotality center. which casthimintotheincessant ofnegativity oftheconcrete real himandwhichalonerealizesthetotality changes to the finish what to it has finish time."spirituality" being.12 Yale FrenchStudies it does notand is incomplete. andtheforce." through whichalone is capable ofbeingrevealed ofhumanreality. Sage (ofHegel)-in spirit ofits becomingofbeingand the totality in full.528. a ble to isolatefrom whereman has takentheplace ofGod.desires it-there would be no man or chooses no liberty.thehumanreality Butfor is very different from thatofGreekphilosophy.whichsurvives merely better.and-what is more-if deathdidnotdwellinhimas thesourceof itand his anguish-and all themoreso in thathe seeksit out. TEL." truly "objectively or "dialectical"beingis "necesto Hegel. . the Hegelian man is a spiritual(i. thisanthropology does not Discourse"(K. an indissoluble "in additionto the ontological the same time be anthropological: mustfind those bases ofnatural Kojevewrites.it is actually theheartofthetotality.e. If the animal which constitutes die.the "spiritual" According This meansthatdeathalone assuresthe and finite.the development whichGod onlyprovisionally occupies. whichemis thatoftheJudeo-Christian His anthropology and individuality. sometimesfreely in whatnonetheless ifhe revels In other orindividual.Henceforth from stone. frightens a then man is Man: he himself separates truly being itself. Christianman. sciencesbutas a movement impossiMan as do themodern envisage In a sense." sarilytemporal existenceof a "spiritual"or "dialectical"being. history who risks him. words. mustat Knowledge totality. being. power through and immutable in the passageoftime. naturalknowledge In other words.identicalwithhimself.from entities. and the while awaitingsomething history Only completed whom then revealed the of history revealed.ifhe is the being. properly onlyin thehereafter. ized and manifest is God: "an infinite andeternal real"Spirit..And so theidea ofan eternal a provisional God is in thisperspective end. theology. position. theviolence he bearswithin ble given.Of course. anybutabstract cannotenvisage whichalone is concrete. tradition. (identical) no a he like an is immutatheanimal.Yet.Onlyhistory is.

But it is with workand its necessary humor..no doubtinvoluntarily." based precisely on thefactthatnothing was already divineis myth senseofsacred)whichis finite.at whatever anguish to him.. topassthrough deathis so absent from thedivine that a mythsituatedin the tradition figure associateddeath. to that. least. for themoment.and the agonyof death.He does notdwellon themandavoidsdrawing preciseconcluthe situationHegel got sions. and their extreme implicitly ultidifficulty fullconsideration.Hegel neverexpressed affirmed are ambiguous.I havemerely. it explicitly. In orderto expressappropriately one wouldneed thetone.to the heightofdeath. nonetheless. seems.GEORGES BATAILLE 13 The Tragi-Comic Aspect ofMan's Divinity This way of seeing thingscan with justice be considered comic. . toward for him-to addup thesum Hegelwas able-and itwas necessary ofthemovements (theTotality) whichwereproduced in history.Before theChristian Hegel's"absolute knowledge.. The textswhereit is Besides. orin general anything approaching it)onlyiftheSageraiseshimself. partakes introduce theforgetting thatone cannotunarbitrarily ofhis eternal divinity-whichis his-into the consciousnessof an omnipotent andinfinite God. mately keptthemfrom is circumKojevehimself spect.a movement thefinite. A Fundamental Text shuffled cards.withthe eternaland unique God of the JudeoThe deathofJesus ofcomedy Christian totheextent sphere. the horror of tragedy. But things would quicklytake on a comic appearance. incompatible asI shall return to thissubject. onlyonenecessity in emerges a precisefashion: there can be authentic Wisdom(absolute Wisdom. possible(inthepre-Christian Butthe vague consciousnessin whichthe (Christian) mythofthe deathof God tookform from thatofHegel: in order to differed..in a restrained form. of the apotheosizedand sovereign by divine grandeur Sage. It is difficult to pass froma humanityhumiliated In whatI havewritten up to thispoint. Be thatas itmay. in contradiction withits basis. ifI can put it thisway. it misrepresent was possibleto add on.his prideswollenwithhumanvanity..or at himself into. siduity. a figure ofGodthatlimited theinfinite as thetotality.

"-if we wishso to namethatunreality"Death.as when we say of something: thereto something falseand." as leftin "lambeaux" forexample. elementsfrom constitutive A. (TEL.CitedbyKojeve. 538-39. tonishment discourse) should have had the force(an incomparable force)to separateits These elements(thistree. is Now.." torespond whichhis "inability as ofclothorpaper) (shreds. remainclosed to us.in spite of an appearanceof relativeclarity.thelifeofSpirit whichbeautycannotfulfill.having(thus)disposedofit.] . thetaskwhichdemands ofbeauty." rissenheit" to notethat ofHegel. Hegel."writes there is and to upholdtheworkofdeathis thing is themostterrible hates beauty Impotent thegreatest strength. makesthisdemand becauseunderstanding thisawareness. trans.unlike of "shredding" has themeanings theword"dechirement" InL'Exunits. no. 19.[Translator's note. Spirit with it.) Kojeve." by "dechirement. language.. 1954). d6chirer. Cf.19). Spirit. the Totality. onlyforan understanding Hegel. .I did not want to weighthis textdownby givingthe "enigit. itself onlybyfinding its truth the awayfrom thatturns bybeingthePositive power that(prodigious) or (thisis) thisis nothing Negative.540-41. 5. ofthisadmirable ofthe "capitalimportance" thestart from ofHegel. intopredetermined a disarticulation doesnotimply "dismemberment.pass from in whichit contemis thatpoweronlyto thedegree else.ThePhenomenologyof "ZertheGerman andBatailleall translate Hyppolite. (Paris:Gallimard. omitted Kojeve's would consequences.It is important in Miller's translation same wordwhichappears and "tearing" and.butin all regards. the whichI in turn havegivenas "dismemberment.and sparesitselfdestrucnot thatlifewhichis frightened attains butthatlifewhichassumesdeathandliveswithit. it is both fundamental thathumanunderstanding (thatis. This prolonged to face dwells face platesthe Negative (and) thenegative intogivenwhichtransposes is themagicalforce sojourn Being.Spirit tion. and altogether of asworthy ForHegel. point.Bataillespeaks of himself p6rienceint6rieure. V.Miller." The Human NegationofNatureand oftheNaturalBeingofMan thepassagejustcitedat an earlier tohavestarted I ought In principle. a requirement ofdeath.ButI shall sketchout thesenseofthe matic"lineswhichprecede whichthe without linesbyrestating interpretation. the necessity fullyexpresses not text. It is not in absolutedismemberment. achevaitde.14 Yale FrenchStudies forceto thePhenomenology ofSpirit5 thepreface A passagefrom Thereis no doubt of such an attitude.

lostin a globalanimality lostin Nature(andin thetotality is itself ofall justas thatanimality dies. supports Man).GEORGES BATAILLE 15 from thewhole. thenit wouldnameitself monstrous and effects do what the understanding normally by means oflanguage. does not it himself. ofthe "pureabstract energy I. all it takesis contrived: itfor Buthe separates he a brushstroke.as when.it is his isolationfrom in themidstofhis ownkind. Nature. . his isolation Nature. separate from the others a flywouldneed the forthe flies.he is first negates:he cannottherefore negateNaturewithoutnegating himin Kojeve'sbizarre exofman is reflected self.consequently.for he makesa toolof reducing example.. theanimalindissolubly linkedto anthropomorphic and which thewhole ofNature. breaker ofNature's whichseeksman'sdeath.To separateitself force oftheunderstanding. and.The intrinsic totality ofall Nature(natural thattotality is first pression.. This seems main.But in this game the human animal findsdeath.Last year's has disappeared. unity.negating him to disappear whichcondemn definitively. animal"(Nature. Actionof the understanding the separating the implies monstrous ofthought. The animal. Perhaps.withina worldformed ofseparated founds and denominated entities. equal to themselves a fly a biologist can separate from theswarm. but nothing like the waves of the sea. It is the veryseparation of Man's being. not the underIt is undoubtedly whichpropsup Man's Negativity.without out its depointing cisive consequences.bonds "bound together by spatial and temporal. ofthewhole-which firmly stitutive upholdstheir separation. . to whichit offers no oppositionnothing. Theirseparation whichare indissoluble. it (andthetoolwill be themodelofan objectisolatedfrom Nature)insofar he Man at Man as is cannotstop is exposed himself. No doubt the individual fly .but today'sfliesare the same as thoseoflast year." whichis essentially opto the inseparable character ofthe elements-conposed to fusion. it is "the being). To negateNature is to negatethe animal to his own Negativity.Forthe man who negatesnaturecould not in any way live outside of it. it that is)-does not truly disappear. He is not merelya man who negates ofall an animal. The flies rehave died? .thatis to say the verything he Nature.Theyare thisstone)arein fact thisbird. it to his ownends. Thus humanNegadesireto negateNaturein destroying Man's effective it-in tivity. inseparable indeed material. of elementsand by founding which alone foundsthe separation it itselfon it." impliesthehumanNegativity toward NatureofwhichI spoke. andyet standing.

The esthete.oftheUnderstanding-the Nature. and describes affirms a personalmomentof Hegel.But the same ambiguity the mystic he admirably describes is found in . 1481). actionit would no longerexist. where from whatsurrounds is yetseparated nothing eachelement.6 6. is on thatsideoftheworld thebeauty ofthedream Indeed. it wouldbe engaged in it is an end. theromantic.on the contrary.Hegel's textpresents but one enunciatedin a philosophicalmannerwhich is. thathe is a separatedand irreplaceable being. (The passagein questionis from the states that"impotent 1936-37lectures.Through whatbeautyis: beauty. actionwouldfirst whichseeksnothdestroy to moveitself butwhichis disturbed ing. is given in space and time. powerless why it cannotyield to the activenegationof the Understanding.But beautycannotact.the onlyone whichfrightens. violence-Hegel.The onlytruedeathsupposesseparationand." Inparticular.through thediscourse whichseparates.)I is incapable Kojeve simply beauty ofbending to therequirements oftheUnderstanding. oftheUnderstanding-opposing itself to thepurebeauty Negativity ofthe dream.16 Yale French Studies findsprecisely human death.WhatHegel unleasheshereis not the violenceof or theviolence. in otherwordsthe Sage. Knowledge This is not an unbridled violence. does theforce not have the Moreover. in the sense thatto upholdthatwork. to upholdandpreserve is incapable Beauty ofit.where in contrast to the abstract objects of the Understanding. to whom an absolute has conferred definitive satisfaction.sibylline.whichis. not susceptible and whyit is. "Impotent BeautyHates the Understanding" a simpleand commontruth.In the passage fromthe Prefacecited above.orit is not: thatis whyit is Action.whichis impotent. to acting. evenin principle. it.it is the energy. themystic. which freezes-but which only frightens and transfixes the man who is in his future absorbed to theextent disappearance. properly speaking. flee itself as something theidea ofdeathandspeakofNothingness which is.since and preserve itself. in thisway. whichcannotact. beauty to therequestoftheUnderstanding. theconsciousness of beingseparated. [Transfrom lator'snote: thispassagetoo is missing Bloom'sabridgment ofKojeve. Here myinterpretation differs from slightly Kojeve's(146 [TEL.Beautyis sovereign. whichrefuses by oftheUnderstanding. whichchangestheworldand itself becomesotherthanit is. whichasks it powerto respond theworkofhumandeath. which starts onlywiththelectures givenin 1937-38. It can onlybe concretely. Up to thispoint.

is noneother therefore." philosophers at leastultimately. but. and the lucid gaze. oftherevolutionary figure whose egotistical limitsdesire. thatthehumanbeinghimself That is to say.It cannot become conscious Negativity. and thatofthemanpinnedto his work. ly-but notfor from annihilation"-beardeathand death and wantsto save itselffrom in it.) results. Kojeve seemsto me (inHegel. In truth. That is the historic struggle himself whereMan constitutes as "Subject"or as "abstract struggle as a separated and namedbeing. mystic. for itis onlythematter ofa certain him. aspectin thisphilosophy.548.inaddition. theviolentand laborious attitude Negative."contemplating theNegative intheface.in Heidegger). self-conscious. not to have envisaged.GEORGES BATAILLE 17 without consciousness ofitself cannot therefore This beauty realwhich"recoils in horror thesamereasonas life. absorbedin the awakenedin dismemberment.This impotent at leastsuffers itself from preserve beauty feeling ofwhatis (ofthe oftheprofoundly indissoluble thebreakup Totality Beautywould like to remainthe sign of an accord concrete-real). I would like to comparethatHegeliandoctrine ofdeath withwhatwe knowabout "sacrifice. ofthemaster thefigure the and thatoftheskeptic." "thatthought and thediscourse "Thatis to say. and. beyond a "consciousmysticism." conscious ofmaking from a Being Nothingness. dismemberment".who turns figure from death. Actionwhichactuwhichrevealsthe real are bornofthe negative alizes Nothingness byannihilating Being:thegiven beingofMan (in and the givenbeingofNature(through the Struggle) Work-which from thereal contact withdeathin theStruggle. .This philosophy interest is not onlya philosophy of and work. thanthatAction:he is deathwhichlivesa humanlife"(K.It is also one ofclass struggle I do notintend thelimitsofthisstudy Butwithin to envisage this otherside." butnever right abletotranspose being it intoBeing. I" ofthe "Understanding. comeout ofit.as Hegelobviously "in absolute himself. 550). The divergent one havingtheambition possibilities ofopposedhumanfigures confront eachother andassemblein it: the ofthedying man and oftheproudone. unlike hewouldnever period: Hegel. The atheistic consciousofhaving to die and to disappear. moreover. of the real with itself. would said concerning live. wrong classicalmysticism. theonly to be complete. death. TEL." Kojeveclarifies. to do it and maintaining refusing himself in ambiguity.This latter presupposes of Man againstNatureand is its end. I wantto insiston the continualconnection betweenan abyssal down-to-earth aspectand a tough. defining that impasse as a Negativity whichwouldno longer havea field ofaction(attheendofhistory).

in of has playeda role thespirit thesimplest men.essentially in sacrifice being. . It does not attain that (prodigious) powerby being the to whichit contemplates theNegative face poweronlyin thedegree thattheinstitution ofsacrifice Ifone takesintoaccountthefact is it is clearthatNegativity.a) The abstract workof art (434-35). On thesecondpageHegellimitshimself to considerations proper to "aesthetic religion" oftheGreeks). chapter B.manis onlyopposedto corporeal thebeing thatis given.and on the otherhand.butalso thatit construction notonlyis thearbitrary death." theproblem ofHegelis given in theactionofsacrifice."deathwhichlives a humanlife. response formulation ofwhichI repeat: in absolutedismemattainsits truth itself "Spirit onlybyfinding berment." .in ofless interest thantheimplicit myopinion. . theanimal8in himself. justas opposedto theplant. there is nothingtoprove thatthechoiceofan animalsignifies theunconscious desire toopposethe animalas such. and on theother.18 Yale French Studies II. In strikesthe corporeal sacrifice. itis.from ofsacrifice. no. incarnated in Man's practically universal. of Man has.on the level. death.: Religion in theform of Art. In thesetwo pages. Actually. .7 It no doubt ofthechapter. makessensein thedevelopment butit strays from the thepointofviewofthetheory essentialand.Hegel dwellson the of objectiveessence. He is."It shouldevenbe said thatsacrifice is theprecise theoriginal to Hegel'srequirement. furthermore. andtheanimalto survive himself allowing onlyas thatnoncorporeal truth whichHegel describes and whichmakes ofman-in Heidegwords-a beinguntodeath(Seinzum Tode). being.on the one hand. Sacrifice. SACRIFICE on theone hand. theGaze ofHegel Absorbedin Death and Sacrifice I shallnotspeakoftheinterpretation ofsacrifice whichHegelgives in ofthePhenomenology the chapter devoted to Religion. The Phenomenology ofSpirit. . representation whichis in thetextofthePreface andwhichI shallcontinue given to analyze.revealed Hegel'sphilosophy.it is precisely that"death livesa humanlife.in a sense. andfounded human in sacrifice truth he destroyed bysacrificing. (thereligion 8. Spirit is that to face [and] dwells with it . ofHegel. I can essentially Concerning sacrifice.although animalsacrifice seemstopredate humansacrifice. say that. ger's or-in thewordsof Kojevehimself. 8: Religion.but withoutdeveloping disappearance its consequences. Positive that turns away from the Negative.without anycom7. Still.

e. i.In a sense. i.ForHegel. satisfaction can only take place. at thevery consciousness moment thatit annihilates thecon(self-) scious being.GEORGES BATAILLE 19 mon grounds comparable to thosewhichare regulated once and for of a Church-but nonetheless all by the ceremonies in a univocal to see thatacrosstheworld manner. not utterly conscious. satisfaction bydeath. It is striking a communal Negaof tivityhas maintaineda strictparallelismin the development stableinstitutions. be.satisfaction would contradict that ifthe satisfied whichdeathdesignates. ungraspIn thesacrifice. beingwho is not conscious. Forwhen the but the revelation Man to himself. the questionofmanifesting theNegaDespite thesedifferences.. ofNegativity is death.That . one in spiritwith the sacrificial weapon. Man CannotImmediately Whether KnowDeath I shall speak laterof the profound differences betweenthe man of ofthefullscope ofwhat sacrifice.of what in a constitutive manner he is. butdeath. In order he would ultimately have to die.and even. in fact. himself withtheanimalthatis struck identifies downdead. byhis own will. In other deathitself wouldhaveto become words. himdies.in a certain way. wereeventually to be driven from mortal. nevertakesplace. tivestillremains(andstillundera concrete form. legedmanifestation reveals In theory. actingin ignorance (unconscious) to theimplications he is doing.orwhichtakesplacein a fugitive. desirecan be appeasedonlyin the consciousness ofdeath.thehumanbeing animalbeingsupporting himself ceasesto himself for Man toreveal tohimself.e. it is his natural.Ifit were based on the exclusionof death.And so he dies in seeinghimself die.is absolute. andtheSage (Hegel)surrendering ofa Knowledge which.whichhis Negativity-whichkills him. The privitheTotality.at theheartof whoseconstitutive elements areinseparable).thisis whattakesplace (whatat least is on thepointoftaking place.in his own eyes.buthe wouldhave to do it whileliving-watching himselfceasingto be. able manner) thesacrificer bymeansofa subterfuge. He Lives orDies. whichhave the same form rather and the same effects. animalbeing whosedeathreveals nothing.ends him and definitively suppresses him-accomplishes alone and whichit alone can accomplish.But it is a comedy! ifsomeother Atleastitwouldbe a comedy method existed which could revealto thelivingtheinvasionofdeath:thatfinishing off of the finite being..

whichis apparently thereal.from from death. pureand simpleimagination suffices. to whichthe masses have recourse.which eats. is fundamental thatHegel's reaction humanbehavto demonstrate or a strange it is par excellencethe ior. at all costs.thereafter. literature prolongs magicofperforor comic.it is the deceiveshimself.whichmakes reasonthatit will one daykill him. but forhim.It is not a fantasy attitude. Or else he can read: to the extentthat it is sovereignin himthehaunting authentic-.or he mustlive withtheimpression of reallydying.man must live at the momentthathe reallydies.in festivals. Furthermore. orbooks.just as beasts us to remainalien and ignorant is are. in performances).tragic In tragedy. althoughwe are who dies. I discusscomedy . Thus. on.his is a creativedeath.20 Yale FrenchStudies mustreflect is whythe consciousnessthathe has ofhimself (must themovement ofnegativity whichcreates mirror) him. I have sought ofrepresentation (inart. a Subterfuge: Knowledge ofDeath CannotDo Without Spectacle thenecessity ofspectacle. in respectto death. But Man takes partin ritesand performances. further 9.Indeed. mances.nothing less animalthanfiction.9 at least.thereby.it is a questionofouridentifying withsome thatwe die. and of believing character butit has alive. therewill be nothingleft.and so the deathawaiting him will not give him a human character.during his lifeit will seemthatdeathis not touchhimbefore destinedto reachhim.but if the consciousness of death-of the marvelousmagic of death-does not he dies. as theclassicsubterfuges. whichhe willingly naturalbeing. between Naive Behaviors and Disagreement and Agreement Hegel's Lucid Reaction withtheprimary it withsacrifice theme Byassociating and. thesame meaning performances.butalso bythecomedieswith In Man it is theanimal. a man ofhim forthevery He will be killedby his own negativity. This difficulty orofrepresentaproclaims thepractice ofwhichitwouldbe possiblefor without tionin general. moreor less separated Man does not live bybreadalone.

had onlya "senlacked a discursive sual" awareness. reducedto an unintelligible It is truethatHegelhimself. a was conscious of his mains profound Hegel representain a definite tionoftheNegative:he situated it. andin spite emotion. yondlimits. an obscureone.Butfrom he seeksto enrich an external sensethat] the perspective.implicatedin the whole movementof the Phenomenology-where it is the Negativity of as it is assumed. The man of sacrifice.thefactthathe was stillalive The man ofsacrifice. discourse"whichrevealed That Totality "coherent includedthe discoursewhichrevealsit. whatdeathbothgaveand tookawayfrom humanity. this "moment"is included. of sacrifice was of greater inpalpable and intentionalexcitement the of terest than of involuntary sensitivity Hegel. therenevertheless BetweenHegel and the man of sacrifice redifference. pointofthe him to himself. Perhaps forlack of a Catholicreligious experience.insofar animal.it is expression endlessly repeated bytradition. to seize whicheverywhere all ofhumanity alwayssought. on theother was simplyan aggravation.. remain unclear on one point. i. but [also in the thatlifeis necessary it. but which.GEORGES BATAILLE 21 It is notHegelalone. ifHegel'sattitude Indeed. withinthe framework for theslightest Beyond doubt. to dismemberment like a opens itself. obliquely.on the contrary. The excitement is definable. I meanto a universal closerto paganexperience. He maintains it not onlyin the sense his lifeessentially.e.i.") Moreviolently. Hegel. light all things and destroys ofdaytransfigures their limitedmeaning. hand. from whichthe religious experience distanced itself.for theprimary deathevenmoreviolently..Butbecausehe didnotsee thatsacrifice in itself borewitness of death. aboveall.lucidly.e. a profound Reformation Catholic couldalonehaveintroPerhaps piety whichthephenomenology ducedtheinward sensewithout ofsacrifice wouldbe im- . who consciousnessofwhathe did. received theshockof ofhimself (in an "absolutedismemberment. ofdiscourse extended its reachbereasonthatthebroadmovement of the Totality of the real.one cannotsaythatHegel was unawareofthe "moment" of sacrifice. the andthemostagonizing richest whichdoesnotlimititself experience. theatre where therising curtain.10 to the entiremovement the finalexperience-the one I imagineCatholicism 10. beyond discourse. it is sacred horror: which I speak is well-known.whichmakes a man of the human death. opposeslearned consciousness and the ofa discursive limitless to thenaiveteofsacriorganization thinking andthatorganization stillthatconsciousness fice. ontoa realmbeyond thisworld. maintains fortherepresentation ofdeath.

thatMan can affirm withouta beyond andhis individuality. whatsimply is.22 Yale FrenchStudies to thePhenomenology peculiarto theSage-describedin thePreface he initialand universal-he didnotknowto whatextent was at first movement he described theintimate was right-withwhatprecision of the feeling he did not clearlyseparatedeathfrom of Negativity. . vol." Indeed. A" contemplation Negativity Werke. . Kojevesimply it would even be superfluous quently.. outofdecency. 20. thedanger realsacrifice ofdeath objectively for theparticular.evenfrom Hegel'spoint an essential signification.Nonetheless. of yard opposesa sortofshunting sadnessto whichnaiveexperience the emotions.Modem knowledge.-to -But at anyrate. CitedbyKojevein Introduction sacrifice 560]). the desire Hegel places .558 [TEL. believe thata could only be based on at least a Catholic correct phenomenological description period. it doesnotmakehim thewell-being deathdoesnotheighten in what happynordoes it givehim anypleasure. 549.to the Kojeve. withKojeve's ConseNegation.hostiletobeing in military and is notAction. Pleasureand the Sadness ofDeath ofdeathfor theunivocalcharacter Hegelthatinspired Itwas precisely from whichapplies.-was moreinterested suchdeath death. "Certainly. has humanity butI seriously plausiblereason. toitsbestadvantage. to insist.it is through thetheme ofsacrifice he himself thatheperceived usestheword ina moral sense): (but he statesin his Lecturesof 1805-06.uniquein all theworld-and his historicity much moreextensive possible. TEL. Hegel.. toreject withdeath. man's states that the idea of death "is alone capable if satisfying to be which . passagefrom ofMan.in thisrespect. vulgarsatisfaction. "Itis ofthesortthatshowsa character attitude. whichdoesnothing. berment" goestogether. 551). "recognized." saysKojeve. . (inHegel. "and war are the "The state-of-the-soldier. in absolutedismemit truth itself thatSpirit"onlyattains byfinding in principle. in general"sacrificed"?)." in an intrepid couldbe expressed ofhistorical at theorigin struggles.again."Kojevewondered a familiarity from withtheNegative.has assuredly contributed to thesolution ofthatfundamental without enigma any (why."in beingorin becoming one's existencein a universe in existing and in feeling or finitude.Sdmtliche to theReadingofHegel.. thefollowing commentary the Preface: theidea of (K. 261-62. religious ofview. orwithout a God.-that ofhis abstract immediate ." ofthepersonal-I. awareofone'smortality only. thanthatof Hegel's time.He believed tete--tete The factthatHegel himself said. pride. his liberty. from a results waysatisfaction ithisduty. has.

AnguishedGaiety To theassociationofdeathandpleasure. in whichthesacrificial precisestateofsensibility element. that of is which. currently nudity.underthe theworld(orrather thegeneral ofdeath form ofdefilement. liketragedy. was an element ofa It mustbe said too thatsacrifice.thetastefor which totheultimate itreleasedseemedinno waycontrary uses ofpleasure. Moreover. and yetthisis precisely ofhumanjoy. pleasure. oflife. That . is notan immediate is obviously given opposedthe 11.ifitis a matter ofthemostcommon interdictions.in a weakenedstate.in which.This coincidence harmonize takesplace butherethey understood as thenaive form it is generally in "sacrifice".it was a sacrificein which woman was the victim. (Ibid. Satisfaction and dismemberment however. banal. joy and all the danger of theprinciple thatjoy.pernicious celebration.or at least sensualpleasure.The feeling consciousnessto the idea of death. it bespokea blind.GEORGES BATAILLE 23 ButifKojevesetsaside vulgar satishave thembe recognized. sacrifice.. whichis nota given. coincide.too. in one point. withpleasure. thefeelingofsacredhorror itself. joined. to multiply the pleasuresof the senses. someirregularity without without the pleasure and themostpowerful ofan interdiction-the of breaking simplest.as existencein present whatMan is: the every time.it wears withdeathall who getcaught out and threatens up in itsmovement. faction-happiness-he now also sets aside Hegel's "absolutedisis noteasilyreconciled memberment": indeed.). the condition thathe has satisfied is such thatin At anyrate. imagery) of sin is connectedin lucid is at the base of erotism. on after whichhe signifies novelty his "animal" needs. at least in consciousness.. Gay Anguish.and in the same mannerthe no human withpleasure.whichmanifests in theworld he has becomeMan. Thisis at leastpossible and. possessionwas associatedin itstimewiththeimageof is very itrefers from ancient association backto a poetry meaningful.in a certain cases..to a tempered sacrifice andtheemotion pleasure. I go so faras to believethat. 11Thereis in fact ofsinis connected feeling in its circumstances. suchdismemberment withthe desireforrecognition. affirmation touphold:theidea toitKojeve's wouldbe difficult respect and in certain manner ofdeathhelps.

ofa gayreaction inthefaceofthe I shallcitea paradoxical example workofdeath.itwas essential its horror-here thehorror as such. theleast. forhim to make ofhimself. He seems to distancehimself most thosewho say: "it is nothing. in horror "recoils In prinbefore death." humanity ciple. thedeathof health.In Wales. I am not sure. family the morethe longertheydancedand the deepertheydrankto his butin suchinstances.in fact. their as clearly as possible.24 Yale FrenchStudies ofconsciousness. the oppositionbetweenthe naive attitudeand thatof the-absolute-Wisdom of Hegel. In prinalwaysin thebackground sadnessofdeath. the otheris alwaysthe image of one's own death.thatof the two attitudesthemorenaiveis theless absolute. stillpracticed ofFinnegan 12 Finnegans Wake-the deathwatch lastwork. was placedopen.after I wantto emphasize.in thisway.to capture ofdeathNegativity in theface. a responseto the reactioncould be considered This paradoxical desire to deny the existenceof death. Jolas. in Critique(July de James Joyce" . Now. His The dead man would be dressedin his finest all the departed who honored would inviteall ofhis friends. similarity.the the readingof this famousnovel is difficult at theplace ofhonorofthehouse. and bylookingtheworkofdeathright byupholding is less opposedto thosewho "recoil"thanto Hegel. the negation.Butfor or at least oftheanimal.the destructive to drive himintoa confrontation with Man's Negativity ject. known butwas The IrishandWelshcustomofthe"wake"is little It is thesubjectofJoyce's at theendofthelast century. the objectofhis destructive is his unconsciousness ofthecause andtheeffects banalprerequisite for of Hegeltogainconsciousness ofhisactions.It is thedeathofan other.videE." from thosewho reactwithgaiety.consciously.withthepresumed condition agreement in the dead man-who is an other-. naturalbeingthathe is. thedead man thatthedrinker his turnwill become shall have no othermeaningthanhis predecessor. A logical desire?Not in deathis commonly on In Mexico today. at best).Only underone of could anyoneso rejoice.I think. (however. envisaged the same level as the amusementsthat can be foundat festivals: dumonomythe "Elucidation book. effects ofNegativity have Natureas theirobciple. ofthisobscure 12.ofthe danger.standing coffin suit and top hat. On thesubject 1948):579-95.

autonomousmannerofbeingonlyto consequently. .immeasurably. long satisfy animalneeds. it is not thatI too say. Discourse Gives UsefulEnds to Sacrifice "Afterwards. in a feverish whereit is my joy thatfinally chill.man is sovereign: he is finally sure. away "it is is or "it false. sovereign Man.a visible 13 obsessionwithdeath. unless.his discursive thought.anguishedgaietycause me. 14." whichmeansa dishprepared hot butserved cold. from a seriesofactssubordinated to a finalresult:thenatural." wouldfollow butwheredejection tearsme apart.couldnotsubsist.andthe thenmakeshis humanity spectacleofsacrifice manifest."On theconwhatis frightening: nothing" from withtheworkofdeath. protect himself thecold). and in return exacerbates thatanguish: accentuated bymyanguish.have retainedthe powerto manifest Sacrifice. ButMan's intelas functions ligence. ultimately." to Man's behavioronce his I have linkedthe meaningof sacrifice Man differs animalneedshavebeensatisfied: from thenatural being is whathe humanly whichhe also is.GEORGES BATAILLE 25 skeletonpuppets.in turning IfI envisagedeathgaily. gay anguish. Reading "chaudet froid" for"chaud-froid.This supposesa servitude. connected is trary. beaufull sovereignty. developed ofservilelabor. thesacrificial gesture is. joywereI nottorn all thewayto the end. ty.To the extent thatdiscourse informs is given it. is powerless to maintain itself without thenaiveattitude subterfuge.Onlysacred.Undertheseconditions able to make a rigorously he as So needed to autonomous gesture. causesme anguish. is a sovereign. limitedto thelevelofimpotent poeticwords.'4 "absolutedismemberment. skeletoncandies.he had to actwithan endin view(hehad to securefood. Freed from he does whathe pleases-his pleaanimal need. animalsatisfaction without whichMan properly speaking.reciprocally. it is extent that uninformed the by meaningful discourse. This cameoutin thedocumentary whichEisenstein drew from hiswork for a longfilm:i VivaMexico!The cruxofthisfilm dealtwiththebizarre practices whichI have discussed. gaiety.skeleton merry-go-rounds-but thiscustomis associatedwithan intensecult ofthedead.whatis sovereign in terms of 13. I wouldliketobring that Thereis oneprecise opposition outfully: on the one hand Hegel's attitudeis less whole than thatof naive but thisis meaningless one sees that humanity.

Thus the simple manifestation of Man's link to the purerevelation ofMan to himself annihilation.laws to which theythemselves themselves. of sacrifice It is not Thus. each thingis thereto servesome purposeor other. The keyto a lesser have reducedit from . What separated werewe not able to glimpsea richer imperceptible image through of meaning. whatis sovereign does notserve. in theopposite function leastthings direction. associatedwithritual. tendsto happiness.Myth. sovereign. to submit labored on theBasis Impotenceofthe Sage to AttainSovereignty ofDiscourse is not absolute either.26 Yale FrenchStudies Indeedbydefinition servitude.apparently. the sovereignty maintainswithinthe absolute to the extentthat the institution a form whose meaningis. generally oftheritualact to thesame purposes as laborin reducethemeaning an agrarian rite.to the benefit of trary. servitude. or laws of action. on the conworldof efficacious activity A slippagecannotfail to occur. which touch on sacrifice and which these alterations an end to a simplemeans. butdiscourse impotent beauty concerning sacrifice slipped intovulgar. Starting naively on thelevelofpoetry. forms of that recalls those were the who mostimpotent sovereignty theleastpropitious for and. insofar who sacrificed inscribed as thesamepeople sacrifice within sovereign It is truethatin a very ofplowmen. (at themoment his attention) when deathtransfixes passes from sovereignty to the ofservileends.for its part. submitsacrifice to the people attempted. witheffects self-serving interpretation. ofa language theframe arbitrary merited thecredence ofrigorous whichnever manner.But simple discourse must respond to the question that discursive themeaning asks concerning thateach thing thought musthave on In principle. weresubmitted. primacy had at first the ofpoetry. reason. oftheSage (Hegel)is not.Todaythatthesis and to make ofsacrifice thefields. discourse becametheabunpurity The substantial danceofrainorthecity's workofFrazer. such as theappeasing imagined ofa godorthe the end ofmeaningful ofbeings. him from it would even be near to it as he could. well-being. butit seemed-reasonable ofthe GoldenBoughis discredited. the level of utility.these and musthave laboredto. Iftheattitude at sovereign. Hegeldidnotdistance authentic andifhe was unabletofind he cameas himself sovereignty.

He welcomedsovereignty as a weight. cannot failto cannever. To thatendI cannotveil the veryminimal(and even inevitable) partof failure. it is rather theexceptional ofthatapproach certainty whichis brought out in myassociations. apparently. sovereign. a piece ofbadluck. ofsense. That sovereignty. not thatdiscourse rigorousness withina framethat cannotsuit him and engageshis sovereignty theopposite: in Hegel's whichatrophies it. was. the sovfor ifI searchfor it: and.GEORGES BATAILLE 27 on the partof the Sage is the fact.")But thismeaning therevelation whichtheSage drew from poverished in the lingering regionswheredeathreigns. . itselfin absolutedismember(but it is my emphasis).thatone must speak ofthe "failure" ofHegel.in fact. thenaiveandthesageones. whichhe let go . a questionofan accident.it is as an authenticmovement.I am undertaking buttheproject ofbeing-sovereignly ofbeing-sovereignly: project preWhatnonetheless assuresthesovereignty of supposesa servile being! is the "absolutedismemberment" ofwhich the momentdescribed But thatrupture fora time. Ifhe failed.Wisdom alone will be full autonomy..butprecisely sovereignty attitudeproceedsfroma movementwhich discourserevealsand from its revelation. is neverseparated It which. doubtless and so in a sense it was not his.on the of attains full its writes meaning.areboth thetwosovereignties. weighty manis alwaysin pursuit ofan authentic Indeed. but thatcould not thenhavebeenin a consciousmanner.Dismemberment whichwouldbe forever deprived is." contrary. The meaningof the failure itself fromthatof the failurewhich caused it: the error differs alone is In general."by finding is unfortunate. We shall see thatin a ofbeing. Hegel speaks. in a certainsense.infact. the bysearching it. ("Spirit only Hegel truth. one cannotsay thatit was the resultof an error. with sense. At least it would be ifwe could findsovereignty . on yetanother differ itis precisely they precise point:on Hegel'spart. Do I intend to minimize Hegel'sattitude? Butthecontrary is true! I wantto showtheincomparable scopeofhis approach. In a sense it is an accidentin the ascent.in the Sage's spirit. sovereignty. itselfis not sovereign. ereignty . it to thegoal ofa Wisdomwhichsupposesthe complesubordinate tion of discourse. It is nota stroke offate.originally his. therefore. To mymind. It is whatlimitedand imment. Although of death..ofdiscourse.therupture.beyondthe difference betweena decline at sovereignties a alteration and an birth (between gradual imperfect manifestation). . it escapedhim. perhaps fortuitous. be fully theSage.

The essentialthingis thatone cannotattainit consciously and seek it. And yetI can believethatnothing is givenus thatis not givenin thatequivocalmanner.28 Studies Yale French topursue ofwayshe continued whatforever number eludedhim. Translated byJonathan Strauss . because seekingdistancesit.

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