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The Solar Anus: A Traversal

Didi Chang-Park

The Solar Anus first struck me for its title

A strange concatenation of something high, distant, something we cannot look at nor touch

and something dark, fleshy, difficult to see taboo to touch

yet intimately part of our bodies.

The Solar Anus:

Written in 1929 by Georges Bataille, a French theorist

of the erotic

It is his first text

in a body of work that explores the transgressive limits

of human experience

I had first read his pornographic novella Story of the Eye about a year ago

And his philosophical treatise Erotism

Bataille regularly takes the abject fleshy body, the body that sweats, smells, defecates, urinates,
sexually swells and connects it to concepts of breathtaking generality

to the spiritual

to the nature of language

to the metaphysics of being

Enamored by this Bataillean cohesion

enamored by the stickiness of his connections

I forgot that Bataille is also

Maddeningly confusing

And was not prepared to deal with the striking disarray of the Solar Anus
a text so often ignored

thought of as preparatory

a sketch for his future works


coarse, even

too short at 64 sentences

maybe just the ravings of the son of a madman

The Solar Anus seems to proceed not line by line as a text should,

but vertically perhaps, leaping from the page

archaic and mystical

I approached this text bewildered

And to give you a premonition of my exit

I will say

That I

experienced it as a labyrinth.

the labyrinth:

the labyrinth of the Cretan myth

the labyrinth of my experience, twisting through its thread of text

the labyrinth that structures the human being.

When I entered the text of the The Solar Anus

I hoped outright to read a luscious description of that strange object,

The Solar Anus

Or to encounter a philosophical treatise that makes lucid an esoteric metaphor

But instead I found what began as a mythic tale

A celestial metaphysics

Like a labyrinthian galaxy

hiding the Solar Anus within.

Bataille begins the text with a resounding declaration:

It is clear that the world is purely parodic,

in other words,
that each thing seen is the parody of another,
or is the same thing in a deceptive form.

Beginning with a world of equivalences, a hall of mirrors

Bataille continues, tying this reflective world to the concrete

thread of language:

Ever since sentences started to circulate in brains devoted to reflection,

an effort at total identification has been made,
because with the aid of a copula each sentence ties one thing to another;
all things would be visibly connected
if one could discover at a single glance
and in its totality
the tracings of Ariadnes thread
leading thought into its own labyrinth.

Third, Bataille writes,

But the copula of terms is no less irritating

than the copulation

of bodies.

And when I scream I AM THE SUN

an integral erection results

because the verb to be
is the vehicle

of amorous frenzy.

These three sentences form a threshold

for the labyrinth which

once one enters

one loses all sense

of orientation.

Before following the copulaic thread

Let us pause on this curious suggestion

Of Ariadnes thread leading thought into its own labyrinth.

Let us pause to recount the Cretan tale of the Minotaur and the labyrinth.

It begins with Queen Pasiphas sexual passion for a bull

They beget a half-man, half-bull monster: the Minotaur.

King Minos angered at his wifes perversion

Calls for Daedalus, paragon of artistry and craft

To construct a labyrinth in which to hide the beast

Each year young men are brought in

to meet the Minotaur

Each year dying as

in an endless bloody bullfight

until Theseus, with the aid of Ariadnes thread

slays the Minotaur

Liberating the city from its ritualistic past.

If the thread of the myth

leads Theseus in and out to victory

The thread of The Solar Anus leads

thought into its own labyrinth

The copula which coheres the text

Entangles itself within


I imagine a Daedalus laying the stones of the maze piece by piece as he himself traverses it

Recursively tracing back and forth, not knowing a single straight path in his own creation

Unable to envision the blueprint of his mind

Bataille builds as he traverses

creates as he connects

Traversing a labyrinthian world wherein

Beings only die to be born,

in the manner of phalluses that leave bodies in order to enter them.


A dog devouring the stomach of a goose,

a drunken vomiting woman,
a sobbing accountant,
a jar of mustard represent the confusion
that serves as the vehicle of love.


Love, or infantile rage, or a provincial dowagers vanity, or clerical pornography, or the

diamond of a soprano bewilder individuals forgotten in dusty apartments.
And he continues:

They can very well try to find each other; they will never find anything but parodic images, and
they will fall asleep as empty as mirrors.

In this seeming chaos here Bataille briefly alludes

to a fundamental exigency for the labyrinth,

for the thread:

a fundamental connective force

an inherent structure

of the human being

who is insufficient without another,

without a lover,

without a social relationality.

As rapt as we become

with experiencing the thread, the labyrinth

The text I speak of is entitled

The Solar Anus

and when The Solar Anus appears

the thread and

the walls of the labyrinth we traverse

are interrupted

by the declamation

When my face is flushed with blood, it becomes red and obscene.

Bataille describes

A crazed eruption of death and terror of infertile erotic movements

Using a word of his own creation

He calls this eruption The Jesuve,

the image of an erotic movement

that burglarizes the ideas contained in the mind

giving them the force of a scandalous eruptions

Is Bataille meeting the Minotaur to slay it

Or is he becoming the Minotaur himself?

He is becoming The Jesuve

the filthy parody of the torrid and blinding sun.

Jesus, Vesuvius

The godly sun and the volcanic anus of the earth

The sun and the anus form together to make the minotaur that Bataille


And in 1962 Bataille IS NOT

Following his death

Critique publishes a 1963 issue, Hommage Georges Bataille

Foucault contributes an essay entitled A Preface to Transgression

A standalone essay, but A Preface To

Foucault calls for a writing that Bataille inspires

but that does not yet exist

Against the binary and the synthesis of opposition

Foucault describes Batailles work

As a spiral structure

a spiral which no simple infraction can exhaust

perhaps it is like a flash of lightning in the night which,

from the beginning of time, gives a dense and black intensity to the night it denies

Could not Foucault describe the Solar Anus better

But The Solar Anus is not

Unquestionably transgressive

And we must press this question

For Foucault writes a Preface to

Rather than an Elegy for


Because he is calling for

something better

for new ways in which we can

push ourselves to

speak of that which we cannot speak

Reconsider the title:

The Solar Anus

Could anything be more dialectical than a phrase

that merges the solar thesis and the anal antithesis?

the masculine le soleil

the feminine la nuit

the bright sun

the dark anus

I struggle to crown this a text transgressive when it relies

so clearly on this dialectic:


violating the girl to whom I will have been able to say: you are the night.


the night to which The Sun exclusively loves [and] and directs its luminous violence, its ignoble

This dialectic which ends The Solar Anus,

the final sentence:

The solar annulus is the intact anus of her body at eighteen years to which nothing sufficiently
blinding can be compared except the sun, even though the anus is night.

Bataille is entrapped in his own system

Operating on the phallic transgression of la femme

In violating the structure he reaffirms it

But despite Batailles

boundedness to his own world

one that is not ours

We may inherit the labyrinthian

structure of being.

The labyrinth of The Solar Anus

Melts within its structure

Thread and wall intermingling

As a single linguistic body

To quote again Foucault


continually breaks down at

the center of its space,

exposing in his nakedness, in the

inertia of ecstasy,

a visible and insistent subject

who had tried to keep language at arms length,

but who now finds himself thrown by it,

exhausted, upon the sands of that which he can no longer say.

In the beginning of this class

we all set out to write essays

not Essays but Essayisms:

more digressive than systematic,

more interrogative than declarative,

more descriptive than explanatory

The Solar Anus:

Certainly essayistic

Certainly labyrinthian

And to perform this labyrinth of language

is perhaps the foremost task

we do as writers
as thinkers

as lovers

threading ourselves to other ideas

to other bodies

through the words we speak, write, enact

In looking at texts that resist built structures

in the anti-architectural

in the ethics of transgression

I hope we can learn to know again

why we love language

why language entraps

but simultaneously liberates

the body

and to consider

for the future:

what labyrinths will we create?