This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
The meaning of this preface is dependent on the fact that this second edition begins with the novel-like parts of the book, parts overtly bound to the impossible and to death (Story of rats, Dianus) The first part, The Oresteia, removed to the end, itself reaches for this truth of the impossible and of death. Less directly. [But I am far from having the certainty today of making myself heard better than fifteen years ago. Introducing at first these two passages, which bind my thought to a romantic form, in the end deferring to the parts where I have given way to a poetic disorder, in spite of all being, it seems more clear to me. Without doubt I am also more clear by placing in advance the sexual disorder, which marks the first 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 am opposed to the tendency, which it seems to carry today. I am not of those who sees an escape in forgetting 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, be impossible for us to imagine). I don't think otherwise that the book could enjoy the sense of an unlivable sexual liberty. On the contrary: that which sexual madness has is unbreathable in the last place.] Chapter II. How to situate the category of the impossible (written Friday afternoon) The category of the impossible is far from having been the object of sufficient attention. At the outset it serves as pretext for the emphasis, the possible is the only object constantly sought out. Finally, wisdom [sagesse] and reflection turn away from the impossible, After all, the living is the essential; and the impossible, has concerns which lie with death. It is to avow a tragic destiny when man goes so far as to chose the impossible. His choice is made in an inevitable disorder and, willed or not, for a part, his choice is blind. In opposition, the possible is the object of an inevitable choice. The essential is of the living. The impossible, on the contrary, is death, to which it is true that man is promised. Everyday, clear reflection has the possible for its object. The Impossible, on the contrary, is a disorder, an aberration. It is a disorder which only brings about despair and passion... An excessive disorder to which one is only condemned by madness. Those who assume a tragic destiny are only hungry for the impossible.  The impossible, surely, cannot be defined. I can thus define the possible, so that the impossible can only be... [can only be being..] II The impossible! The texts which now assume the new title, they respond to it better than they
1 Boldface 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.
had not responded to at first. I have wanted, after fifteen years, to speak of The Hatred of poetry. The first title was not clear. I dreamed of the aversion which had been inspired in me to “beautiful poetry”. Always the poetry of Baudelaire – or that of Rimbaud – had only inspired in me this hatred. But I don't at all like the insipidity of lyricism... [It is for this reason that poetry did not excite my pleasure, that it rarely accedes to violence, that I have wanted to say of The Hatred of poetry. Without a doubt, the only means that I have of expressing myself is extreme slowness. I know not whether the equivocation which today rules over the word delirium endures as much as the prior. I would like to give voice to the resolution of the here and now. Perhaps after having admitted to my first aberration, certain rare readers will permit it a second chance. I scarcely hate less than poetry produces delirium. Delirium always has the advantage over poetry of being involuntary. And how could I be successful at laying the ground without passing by the double detour of the hatred of poetry and the hatred of delirium. I have not willed these detours but – I am quite sure – I could not have (but otherwise I could not there be successful, or else only rarely) I could not duly set forth my object, the impossible, of the failure which is beautiful poetry – finally setting forth the impoverishment of delirium – in order to conduct a reader/reading of that cold violence which does not support confusion (which demands lucidity).] The possible views only the real, but human reality is double. To begin, the former is the reality of common sense. It is that which, today, science describes – and that otherwise wishes to describe religions. But in the spirit of religions, suppression is possible. It is why death could be seen in two manners. But if religion discerns the possible, it can once again attain the impossible. A path that science cannot follow. But if science discerns the possible – it ought to discern exactly. It remains silent at the very instant where reflection is engaged in the impossible. Science sees death but, if it speaks of death, it is a matter of its real consequences. If it takes account of the sentiments which oppress the survivors, it is in the region where the manifestations which cleanse some inflamed being are precisely calculable. If I take into view the lacerations – the terror and the horror – which follow death, they are not objects of science that reduces to the objective analysis of relations. I do not wish to have recourse to the descriptions of the phenomenologists: they are not objective but by a slippage.  Phenomenology takes in view the effect of suppressions, only literature attains the effect of suppressions. Literature is not a void but it is not any more objective knowledge. My sorrow, in my consciousness, has a sense, but I can not thus make this sense into an object. The sorrow of death that phenomenology describes is never an object. The domain of death pertains to the subject. If, beyond the aspects that medicine objectively describes I speak of death, it is within the scope where the subjectivity of consciousness is in play. It goes the same way if I would put into play the objective truth of love. As for evidence, like that of death, it has sees nothing of these sentiments which are describable by literature. It is a luxury, but it is once again a weakness. Having this weakness, I thus apparently expose myself, give to myself a deceptive luxury. But closing myself up vainly in deception, I lose – in gaining the dissatisfaction of a sticky heaviness (that of phrases which are nothing but “plumes of a peacock”) - the integrity of a despair to which I have rights. The despair is not always of sobbing and tears. My despair, if I will, is reducible to the ironic sobriety of silence. But without the shadow of pretension. In truth, we can not say anything of death objectively. We can say nothing more of love on the level of science. Neither of laughter or of tears. Or of poetry. Nothing could be said, where I did not have the objectivity of biology. It doesnot touch upon my
being if I love, if I laugh, if I cry. Straight from the beginning, it is true without wanting to cut off, I have the same doubt regarding the possibility of a philosophy, in the sense where knowledge deceives me. At the end, it decays, when the impossible and not the possible reveals itself. Sinking into the night of poetry, the sobs, the tears expose to my eyes the impossible. Philosophy, concealment and love or laughter succeed in taking advantage of me. These brief indications can not, without a doubt, decide conviction. We decay during finally satisfying the conditions of ensnarement into which, of many ways, the ensemble of humans is fallen. We have searched on all sides. But there where the impossible rages (where to clarity – but at the limit of reason – convulsive emotion succeeds), the explication unveils itself; there where the impossible rages all explication unveils itself. The book is, in other words, entirely in opposition to explication. [Since very distant times, laughter enjoyed its own mockery, sobs, songs and love complete the diversion of the human being. Since very distant times, laughter enjoyed its own mockery, certain times tears have completed the diversion itself which gives way to tears delirium exhausts, fascinates me laughter tears love  and philosophy poetry if I do not abuse the others who abuse me. But the explications that one day I don't avoid to sketch, I imagine at least, denounced before my eyes the mendacity that I have never ceased to be. The book at first betrayed me. It engaged itself in the maze where at least I will have known at first that I'll loose myself. But if I write as before, I have known that I deceive but I am the first victim of the lie. Literature lies and its entire alacrity is made from the certainty of deception.] Shadowy, within philosophy, I aim to say in these possible terms that which only has the power of expression in poetry, which is the language of the impossible. The misery of life adheres to the mis-recognition of the misery which in secret is blazing glory of which the explosion lies secret. It could be that philosophy may be possible. That it could itself. But the impossible alone is made of its secret. Decipherable and indecipherable, while I come to the necessity of hiding that which I unveil. I would like to come to the evidence of tears. Only death is rather madness for giving me the appearance of the horror and simplicity of a song more idiotic than silence. I would want, if I do not miss [in] the tears of death: of tears of final death, mad and bloody, also that one mad-laugh deceiving the heart. It is sure that before all I would like to deceive my resolution. I would like to reduce myself to tears, to exhaustion, to shame, but to finish with the inertia of regrets, found at the end of a silent death – but a hiccup betrays me. But a dissimulation, it is missing at death, the smile in the corner of the mouth of a theatrical cadaver. As if I let it end with life – naiveté – all with the ink. In returning to my discussion so to say, to the truth.
Chapter III. Of death descending into laughter Human reality is essentially double. At first the reality of common sense, the one that science envisions and which is given at the outset as basic and the on the other hand, death, which could itself be awareness of the two ways It is not a matter of how to properly speak of reality, on the contrary it is a matter of disappearance, of suppression but suppression itself could be envisaged in many ways so sadly or happily but, sadness or gaiety only represent opposed aspects to the interior of a great complexity.  It is easy to see that sadness is at times exciting, but that is more often bound to depression. If I conceive of death conventionally, in actual conditions, it is importantly a descent but there it is a principle. If I compare it to the feeling, reality has a sense which could be defined, which, according to the case, does not change, or changes little. The feeling, on the contrary, is highly variable. Thus the death of a friend or that of an enemy exhibit, in each case, the different aspects. in principle: the death of a friend is tragic the death of an enemy could be envisioned in a tragic aspect, but then it is not a question of a constraining necessity. At the extreme, the death of the enemy is liable to assume a comic aspect. Between the two, I can sacrifice the enemy. In this case, the corpse that the enemy becomes in sacrifice is sacred – that which opens the developed perspectives of religion. But sacrifice is not necessarily that of the enemy : in Christianity it is not only the friend but God. On another side, laughter itself refers to the totality of contradictory possibilities, to sadness and yet I can not then neglect the possibility of a complex, in which possibilities open onto apparently contradictory senses. Laughter and sadness, joyous tears, in no way only represent the limits of sometimes torrential possibilities: heaviness itself is at times delirious. If we know nothing of the excessive torments of death, it is a question of difficulties which are not all the final limits. Without a doubt, laughter appears a priori to separate every distant possibility and, it is true that in the whole it excludes a serious character. Its limits are thus well entrenched. But this aspect itself is not so clear as it appeared at first. If laughter in principle excludes the serious, if the death of a friendly being cuts off the possibility of laughter, it is not necessarily a question of a definitive contradiction. The human machine is susceptible to incoherences. [These several considerations of which I ought to speak have such an aspect that the one decays in conclusion as they lead to nothing. It is possible for me in any case to draw a precise conclusion beyond a certain positive but limited experience corresponds to the banal experience of order I have the experience of individual death which in religion has diverse aspects these aspects are scarcely coherent and they are variable They could be seen in this thought, popular or not, that affirms itself as religious thought. If I proceed initially from there to no thought. and otherwise I can not proceed thus without abuse because in fact the experience is of that
which surpasses utilitarian experience. which is essentially the experience of death  which leads only to a possibility given at the outset by the experience of death naturally this experience of death could be suppressed but suppression pure and simple – which is possible – in all cases leaves an opening which is that pure and simple terror which can not be entirely suppressed the other part of which is the poetic opening given either in tragedy or in comedy (for I satisfy myself with a view of the ensemble of open possibilities in writing). So well that the one could speak finally in laughter and in tears that without a doubt it signifies that work of death.] [If from the outset I take view of the totality of the world, of the foundation, of the inaccessible base of the immense reality which encircles me, it is difficult for me to speak. How that I arrive at it gives a sense, the sense remains forever incontestable. Nevertheless I can not from there conclude at nonsense. Perhaps an other intelligence perceives that which escapes me. But the fact that I can not discover surely and simply the sense of that which is, permits this human life that I bear and am tormented by to nonsense. This human life which, nevertheless, I then say at the same time as, in all manners, it escapes to nonsense, that its destiny itself is to escape and to deny at any cost. But that it in being also uninhibited that the sense at which it itself is permitted to arrive is never the only one conceivable and that, to conclude, it remains doubtable. It is not at the ends of truth upon which I can ground that negative. It is not of the absolute that the despair, the definitive imprisonment to which – I well know – I am abandoned. And the rest is insignificant! Not that I can not draw from the world a great number of certainties. But of such certitudes aside from their limited effects leave me indifferent. They teach me nothing of death. They abandon me to finish with the solitude of death. This solitude is not necessarily terrible. Disappearance could be joyous right up until the end, up to the end passing before my eyes for an unlimited pleasantry, but this negation of the limit implies nevertheless that I disappear: they imply at the end that every phrase which my presence on the world has grounded loses an initial sense : itself of the I that death suddenly unveils and on which the totality of the world rests. The totality of the world rests finally on the precariousness of the me, on death. But death in principle is an accident of the individual. Envisioned as it is in Valéry's proposition (“We other civilizations, we know that we are mortal”), death loses this individual aspect. In other words a civilization  is not the totality of the world: it also decays as death can in no case not be concerned. So much then that the slipping of the mortal me into the world would be an abuse that I make of language. It is possible, but the abuse, I cannot thus evade within the order or the individual encloses me. I am individual: nothing in me escapes from death if not in the order where I imagine escaping individuality. But the beyond the individual is in me naught but an arbitrary supposition. And this arbitrary supposition in me is an abstract construction which elaborates itself on the foundations which are not foundations but variable imaginations. Only the individual and death do not escape from an uncertain character.] [I ought not permit the least ambiguity: thus I attain the real. Likewise, if I thus put science into question. But in vain I put in question, I can not thus dissolve it. In such a fashion that I could represent it but not surpass it. It gives thought access to a stable foundation. But there remains in the margins of
the foundation an inaccessible, an impossible, that I can not any more eliminate. impossible not in the sense of an accepted renunciation, but of a sorrowful and insurmountable exasperation. This exasperation I can in no way define. If I can speak of it, it is by a tendency that I call the poetic tendency. I can not approach the tendency than in the renunciation of knowledge. Poetry is the renunciation of knowledge and since my approach must affirm empirically the impossibility that arrives at the knowledge of death. At the same time I can not arrive at the knowledge of that which could be strictly speaking, given as its contrary, the problem of sexuality... ...But aside from these precise changes and materials in play in sexuality, themselves that consciousness leaves to reproduction, there is a sort of transfiguring aura in the essence of desire, at the moment of coupling. This aura is the sign of the disorder and interruption in the whole of the human being which – more or less reasonably – conscious activity unleashes in view of calculable results. Chapter IV. From death to sexuality and to sexual disorder perhaps development against sexual disorder after a II in the center But before the republication of these successive depictions of sexual disorder (that characterizes the following narratives) or of tragic distress (?)  (toward whose principle The Oresteia would strive) here I have thought it necessary to insist on the horror toward which the disorder moves. I believe it necessary, having guarded an ambiguity which, moreover, has here ceased to appear tenable to me. But examples of where I have not spoken in my own name Madame Edwarda and The Dead Man to slip toward the horror of sensual pleasure the hatred of pleasure hatred of poetry hatred of the pleasure of synthesis how to escape from poetry while returning to the source which is the Impossible dialectic(al) poetry is an impossibility literature necessity of escaping itself and of returning to the impossible real to reality insofar as it is real but in contestation of the possible sole meaning of Sade the various impossibles the sexual impossible most terrible : Sade that Sade was the most terrible
but at the end to conclude, justly, on Sade a) it was the impossible in his life b) in his death at the depths the logically possible is possibly the most impossible. one day I must say that the possible is Khrushchev Blanchot's example perhaps Sade at the end of the preface the impossible should thus be a philosophical category in effect, it is the only outcome of philosophy in particular Sartre-Heidegger perhaps the choice of Sartre-Heidegger is itself an indication the fact is that personal although without doubt Kojève Koyré The Impossible is literature I think the problem must be posed, not the solution a book alone is the impossibles I must make this preface the only one possible for, to speak of the impossible is the only way to describe the possible, for possible man should be placed in the face of the impossible obviously it is not a solution literature thus can not then, man is the impossible  taken seriously precisely poetry is the impossible. Chapter V. The letter to Lindon as formulation of a conclusion and, initially, of an early plan.
FIRST NOTES [Story of rats (Journal of Dianus) Story of rats written by Dianus Dianus written by Mgr. Alpha (not) Dianus brother of Mgr. Alpha Dianus = Me. Therefore: Story of rats: Journal of Dianus absurd] That Story of rats is a description of the inviability not of the real of the impossible not of something desirable of an absence of escape that leads to «I don't know whether A. lied saying he belonged to the order of the Jesuits»
One must be warned that it is a matter of inviability, of vaine exasperation, of insensate exasperation To define and explicate the link between Story of Rats and Dianus construct if necessary the will to the impossible Call the book The Impossible explicate the title of the book in the preface impossible in the sense of an absence of escape human existence belongs in part to the impossible for instance, to death end to the flesh the flesh of a portion the possible the lovers of course the book was already written (there have been fifteen years) Walking in the storm on one It is not a matter of founding anything not the least principles it would be not to have understood that which I propose, that of confusion with a foundation without the hidden sense overall, without the system inist on the realistic character ask Lindon the distinction of 1947
impossible good but that would not have (make) sense if it was impossible in truth, it is not so much a question, than of the possible, but surpassing all that is annulled (to reiterate) The principle of an action is general. I myself state the principle of non-action, which could be the acceptance of a given form. I'll have taken fifteen years to explicate myself. I'll have known to wait and an attempt was not possible that on condition of thinking no more, of forgetting. I seek, therefore I have not found. when I say «the sweetness of nudity (the birth of legs and breasts) touches upon infinity» I define the impossible Speech of it that is impossible. But of all preliminary ways to this preface, older than fifteen years nevertheless it is out of the question that it be a philosophical definition it suffices to vaguely limit the possible it is a question of opening a way opposite to the voice of parents death sexuality therefore without pretension do not demand anything do not claim anything that is the essential
the bizarre justified feeling but justified by an identity in the ground, of entire identity , but inaccessible, of voluptuous ecstasy and the ecstasy of the saints The one and the other condemnable but this identity in their depths being the inaccessible truth of human life It is Story of Rats and Dianus which justify this publication that I remember of an image but solely by a reconstitution of the author: the brother of a catholic priest E. mistress of the author and D. the whole book in italics the passages in italics in roman type.
But, in the end, I am bound to perceive, in its totality, a convulsion that the global movement of beings puts into play : it responds at once to concern with death, of total disappearance, and of a voluptuous fury forever without limit. In voluptuous ardor there is a fundamental aspiration to nothingness, to the suppression of separate being that we are, suppression that we accept only on the condition of mistaking it for a dizzying loss, loss only having the virtue of fomenting blindness and loss. to put into opposition explosion dizziness and death confusion explosion the dizziness and the confusion are opposed to death while becoming an outburst a dizziness  and a confusion most terrible life going toward death departing from the outburst, etc. therefore the identity of the light and death In a certain point I perceive a double perspective first, that of science, of calculation and of measure but, humanly, I can not escape from that which, in me, is opposed to calculation and to Descartes which touches dizziness and death I am bound to hold that this point has led to to their extreme contradictions that I can not eliminate. on the one hand my lucidity binds me to the distinct and measurable representations of science But I can not let myself be enchanted with the at once satisfying and deceptive calculation of science, that is to say, to yield to that which brings blindness to my confused vision. I specify: the confusion of which is the very matter of poetry itself. I can then say poetry confuses me, it enchants me, it makes an other truth than that of science appear. It is the truth of death of disappearance. Now, disappearance and death, their dizziness, they are never distinct from one another. In them, it is like poetry, which is made of death, disappearance, of blindness, of dizziness. it is not the point where science dies it is another point of view that of poetry of death of dazzling light of blindness according to science but of a blindness which dazzles what I want it to come to is contrary to science blinding dazzling