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Copyright © 1996 The Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved.Diacritics 26.2 (1996) 59-73
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Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism
Jean-Michel Heimonet 1
It is always relatively surprising to see how the great minds of an era manifest a kind of blindness when it comes to judging their peers, whether one is thinking of Balzac as the reader of Stendhal or Gide as the reader of Proust. This is undoubtedly because any truly forceful mind is also a mind so obsessed and fascinated by its own way of apprehending the world that it can admit no other system of reference, no other range of values than its own. From this point of view, "A New Mysticism," the article that Sartre devoted in some bad faith to Bataille's Inner Experience when the book was published in 1943, should be accorded a prime place in the annals of great literary misunderstandings. There is no doubt that the brilliant philosopher of Being and Nothingness commits a strange blunder--strange, at least, for an intellectual of his stature--with respect to the conceptual sacrifice by which Bataille seeks to reveal and, at the same time, cast out modern man's nostalgia for the sacred. But is "blunder" the right word? Because everything in the book proceeds not as though Sartre had not understood, or badly understood, but rather as though he had pretended not to understand the true stakes that in turn are revealed and consumed by this impossible book. The harshness of his critiques, the vehemence of tone--poorly tempered by a forced irony--instead prove that Inner Experience had hit home, at a level unusual for intellectual polemics. Struck to the core, Sartre reacted. This explains why "A New Mysticism" is a "boomerang" text, or a revealing one, in the photographic sense, being more valuable for what it tells us about its author than for what it teaches about the object being criticized. It is a text in which the reader has to read what is not said, "between the lines," seeking the cause for the text's often flagrantly unjust and indeed petty and truistic assertions, in its defense system, or, to borrow a term from the field of psychoanalysis which Sartre so abhorred, in the author's "denials." To put it clearly, is not the presence of the sacred, this unknowable and virulent sacred, which seeps out of every part of Bataille's book, through the cracks and tears in its "form" and the paradoxical gaps in its "content," also the presence that ceaselessly haunts, with its shadow and disturbing light, the thinking of the last great philosopher-monster? In his didactic concern to be convincing, Sartre divided his article into three parts, the first two dealing respectively with "form" and "content," the third functioning as a verdict. Viewed fifty years later, such a division applied to a text as anti-academic as Inner Experience might seem comical. It points, however, to the seriousness being
file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262.htm Page 1
But what Sartre finds really outrageous is that this feeling is still speaking: it is not at all meant to resolve itself in shouts or in silence. passion is restrained in argumentation and organized thought. Bataille embodies excess. However spiritual the "ulcers" and the "scars" he reveals with a certain delectation as testimonial to human misery. Finally. immediate and sufficient expression ("Mr. with the ineffable of passion and will. is divided and ambivalent in his attitude toward this sui generis sacrifice of discourse. one is inclined to wonder to what extent the purpose file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262." which is that line from Pascal to the surrealists. In other respects. all the better to show off his skill." "at the beginning and at the end" .Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism . but--so as to make the torture perfect--to sacrifice words by using words themselves. One might as well say that what the representatives of this tradition share is a pathic use of thought and speech. even before being located and fixed within the design of an argument. Sartre describes this sacrifice of words as something like the handicap a billiard player voluntarily takes on. so that language is compelled to say that which goes beyond language [see 179]. In modern writers. which leads them to scorn "the serene craft of writing" . which posits a language holocaust. the impetus that continually animates his writing is the desire to bare himself. this tradition had become even more intensified. Sartre's superior mandarin attitude explains why his first task had been to divide literary and philosophical history into two "frames of mind. made up of writers anxious to express (themselves). and even still in Nietzsche. In Pascal. already suspect for its irrationalism and vitalism. in the exalted illumination of the moment. he hates it as a kind of screen interposed between thought and life. Bataille "hates" language.Jean-Michel Heimonet .htm Page 2 ." the strange goal of Inner Experience will become the sacrifice of words. whole and immediate" ). by burning them. To satisfy this "hatred." the same "prophetic preaching tone" . one of those "exquisite irritations" that an author might impose on himself as a challenge and stimulus to his writing. Bataille's style and writing already had their place in a "tradition. From one end of the text to the other. Sartre acts as censor and judge. Or." is equally characteristic of Bataille. In his relation to this tradition. who does not hesitate in his novels to confide "the most puerile details" of his personal life. This tendency." the same "passionate symbolism. to achieve a degree of existential authenticity and depth. since his aim is to disparage Bataille. for his part. stripped of convention. the philosophical naiveté of "Mr. He takes the tradition to its most fierce and in the same move gets out of it. is not exactly Sartre's interpretation but rather more our own. in Bataille." Although original. he sees nothing (or does not want to see anything) other than a technical problem. passion literally blows apart the frame of discourse: "feeling is everywhere. writing down their [End Page 59] thoughts as they come. which Bataille knew only in translation [see "NM" 194]. the religious element in which Inner Experience is immersed is even more closely allied to Nietzsche's style in Ecce Homo or The Will to Power. the writer seeks to express not only his mind but also his body and its living reality. helter-skelter." particularly his rapid and unprofessional reading of Jaspers and Heidegger. to establish with the reader a sort of "carnal promiscuity.Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:33 Europe/Copenhagen accorded in Sartre's text to knowledge as organized within the academy and to the institutional function of the academy." Thus we get Breton. which Sartre describes as "exhibitionist. pitilessly pointing out. posing an obstacle to living. there is the same "breathless disarray. At the outset. Bataille would like to exist here and now. with the derisive scorn of the specialist. a literary game. Sartre. dispensing them heedlessly. paradoxically intended to regenerate language by confronting it with its other. on the other hand. 1 This interpretation. by way of Nietzsche. by "tracing squares on the green felt [tracer des cadres sur le tapis vert]" . If one is to believe Sartre. Disregarding the classical writerly values of restraint and modesty. the power of an unbridled affectivity. Bataille.
on lived experience--in the sense in which German phenomenology uses the term Erlebnis [see 189]. and a church. the least trustworthy aspect of discourse. a contribution to the rejuvenation of the art of the essay. For.Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:35 Europe/Copenhagen of this technical observation is to reassure. 2 The entire second part of Sartre's essay. explosive mix of psychic proceedings. in a much more perfidious manner.Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism ." Which is a way of saying that form is nothing if not the most superficial. in the usual economy of speech. accessible and compliant. Sartre himself is quick to take back what he has just conceded. Sartre's literary work--his plays and novels--is only the reworking of the philosophical theses it serves to popularize. Once the cardinal stakes underlying experience have been uncovered. once file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262. independent of dogma. As heir to the Enlightenment. The "slippery sentences" with which Bataille stretches and suspends the meaning of words shatters Sartre's vision of a coherent and intelligible world [see 118]. because of its artifices. "form is not everything. for the transmission of a message.'" of "'emotional knowledge'" and "'rational knowledge'" . a little bit in the way one might sing or joke to disguise one's anxiety. one for whom language is not a problem but a simple instrument. he commits the logical heresy of mixing "poetry" and "philosophy. turning them back on themselves. and all the more impossible to exorcise since it is based. in such a way that each thesis." Again Sartre sees in this only a "circle"--vicious in all its points--where discourse keeps going around and around crazily without coming up with anything positive . the issue for Sartre becomes not just removing or invalidating these stakes but. a new form of religion. the author of Inner Experience informs his reader of his intention to arrive at "a synthesis of 'rapture' and 'rigorous intellectual method. the form of which seemed to have been fixed since Voltaire.htm Page 3 ." which finally is the only thing that matters . with that which. and for inventing. as in Kierkegaard. at the least. responsible for drawing the reader into the "ineffable" as if into [End Page 60] a trap where reason founders. is supposed to exclude passion--or at least to extinguish it. The magnanimous professor Sartre finishes up by conceding to the pupil Bataille the innovative aspect of his writing. As rudimentary as it seems.Jean-Michel Heimonet . From start to finish Sartre has alway remained a classical writer. which concentrates on the examination of this "form. are the product of a monstrous and. rites of worship. What is shocking about the form of Inner Experience is that it casts doubt onto the reassuring conception of language as instrument. In addition one should not misunderstand the meaning of the "praise" at the end of the first part of the article. the most playful. Repeating the founding gesture of romanticism. In this light. and on his way toward Marxism. But what is this appreciation worth in the wake of a critique denouncing the incompetence (the unprofessionalism) and the vacuity of the book? Moreover. as he says. In spite of "a little hollow emphasis and some clumsiness in the handling of abstraction." will be to demonstrate the essentially perverse and noxious character of Inner Experience. the part that is used (by Bataille) to cover up the nothingness of the "content. this strategy is not lacking in efficiency. and. according to Sartre. one that is reducible to a concept. by way of a detour through a critical approach pushed to its limits. Sartre reproaches Bataille for having God survive his own death. It is no less true that this self-sacrifice of language offends his taste for a stable truth. such sentences. Inner Experience is. Bataille does not limit himself simply to exalting passion but goes further by wanting to make it live with its opposite. As early as the foreword.
Sartre will have to prove that Bataille is a "real" mystic. reducing its power and its will "to be everything. which Bataille developed in several articles at the beginning of the 1930s. for the "apprentice mystic" (one might say "sorcerer"). as he does. To counter this. And all the better if covering up the theoretical premises underlying experience allows Sartre to reduce experience to a moment of pure illumination.htm Page 4 . In the same way. not simply a "devout Christian" but a Christian "ashamed" of being a Christian [183. showing that it is easier to forget rigorous and philosophically irrefutable texts than to refute them. heterogeneous reality cannot be defined by what it is." is in reality nothing but the obverse of erecting the subject as sacred." is only an ingenious rhetorical effect intended to disguise the "totalitarian" character of his discourse [see 182]. by a methodical file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262. it is the art of turning an "auto-da-fé" into an "apotheosis" . for an audience of his "equals" but for his "zealots" [zélateurs]. it is curious that Sartre is unaware. which is valuable only to the person who has undergone it. who. Bataille utilizes the "techniques" of philosophy to narrate a spiritual "adventure" alien to its framework. This motive. or pretends to be unaware. As an "edifying [End Page 61] narrative. bringing it down off its pedestal. It is more relevant to point out the motive for their tendentiousness." conducted by means of "nonknowledge. 217]. of "heterology. in particular." that science of the sacred set free from the church.Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism . with respect to its "content. the science of "unexplainable difference. the sacred that is revealed is not tied to the attainment of transcendence but results instead from the exercise of the critical faculties.Jean-Michel Heimonet . as we have already seen. since his references to the ritual of amok. Looked at in detail." the exigency of a universal "communication" with the rest of the world. through the infinite questioning of thought and language. to the ceremony of potlatch. Finally." as Bataille himself defined it [OC 1: 345]. Like God. In this regard." he "descends again among us" to drag us along in his fall . An adept of "the doctrine of pain" [dolorisme] . whose so-called "sacrifice of words. Bataille's desire to "lose himself. Bataille does not write. Sartre will show that this verbal sacrifice. an instant of affective ecstasy. looking down on common humanity." as the opposite of what it declares. Sartre's is indeed a feigned ignorance. It is possible to speak of this reality only in an indirect way.Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:36 Europe/Copenhagen stripped of the mask of its "form. In a thinker who boasts about knowing everything. is contradicted by the hierarchical and elitist vision of Inner Experience. values suffering and torment for their own sake as supreme . which results in "de-sacralizing" the subject." will appear. by the enumeration of its predicates or of the positive qualities that make it up. proceeds according to the negative method that is specific to the mystic. and to the "effervescence" of festivals are enough to show that Sartre is familiar with the texts of Bataille relevant to the critique of usefulness and to the analysis of the fastuary. From the bottom of his abjection Bataille remains above. each of these criticisms by Sartre is without interest. is based on contradiction." his work is the story of a "second descent": returning from an "unknown region. "The Idea of Expenditure" ["La notion de dépense"] and "The Psychological Structure of Fascism" ["La structure psychologique du fascisme"]. this omission serves strategic goals. alien to the nature of its knowledge and to the scope of its aims [see 190]. unproductive aspects of expenditure [see 212]. as he claims. We should recall that heterology. Bataille defines inner experience by opposition to traditional mysticism.
htm Page 5 . language as an end in itself.Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism ." As the privileged medium of authentic communication between self-aware beings." It is this autotelic character of language." being what Jakobson would define a hundred and fifty years later as that sui generis quality of literary language. Inspired by the philosophical idealism of Fichte. it marks.Jean-Michel Heimonet . the very birth of modernity. after itself. Whatever Sartre says." in which words follow the example of "mathematical formulas. it is not exactly the tradition evoked by Sartre that should be retained. that Novalis uncovered in his famous Monologue. in that it can encompass (without ever attaining) its ineffable object only after having exhausted all the resources offered by human knowledge and mind. but rather of a hyperintellectualism. Between such a method and the classical mystical approach. there is. One is dealing here with absence. Inner Experience belongs to the much more recent tradition of European romanticism. This is the displacement designated by the untranslatable German term Weltfrömmigkeit: to produce the sacred out of nothing. with words stumbling over that which surpasses them. of those elements that absolutely resist intellectual solutions. starting from the sole resources of the mind taking itself for its own object in a kind of language inflation. with all the hyperbole and spiraling self-reflection [mise en abyme] of critical thought at its most demanding and most strenuous. The awareness of a disturbance inherent to language is specifically modern. classical writers such as "Pascal" or "Montaigne. when orthodox religion was brought down in ruins by the rationalist critique and by its own compromised relationship to earthly interests. Whatever his detractor says. a science. with "nonknowledge." In his novel Lucinde. expressing nothing if not their own marvelous nature" [Novalis OC 2: 86]." but "simply to speak. This autotelic vocation of discourse exhausting and expending itself in eternal questioning is equally at the center of the project that Frederic Schlegel undertook to compose a "grammatical mysticism. Language is intransitive: one does not speak in order to say "something specific. and not as the substitute for the named object." taken in for "its own sake. in the history of ideas. As a sacrificial operation resulting from the [End Page 62] deploying of contradictions and from the crisis of discourse. In its most human dimension. this verbal exercise corresponds to a displacement of the sacred. the poetic word constitutes "a world in itself." "playing exclusively among themselves. thinkers had already posited a "poetic function of language. heterology remains. in fact. Bataille's discourse is not the product of an "anti-intellectualism" . The reason for this is simply a matter of cultural chronology. where the accent is put not on the referent. an essential difference that Sartre refuses to see. hence. because the problematic of language as the only medium of human experience did not appear in their time with the acuity and the urgency that it has taken on for us." which suggests plenitude. an active discourse. for itself alone. or the cognitive void. it more willingly takes on as its object whatever it may think file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262." or (why not) "Epicurus. this mysticism takes the form of an infinite reflection and circling back of thought on itself: "Thought presents the unique attribute that. however. language does not serve as a vehicle for a set of contents. Since the end of the eighteenth century." even though their writing is characterized by looser argumentation and the effort to convey an immediate impression. While mystic discourse is a passive discourse modeled on amplitude of feeling.Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:37 Europe/Copenhagen enunciation of everything that it is not. cannot serve as reference points." where "word is felt as word. it represents an attempt to express the need for a transcendence freed from the churches. as a piece of information or a message that may be useful in a goal-oriented world. As for situating this "new mysticism" in a tradition. but on the "message as such. pointing to that which is beyond words.
In the negative dialectic that informs Inner Experience. Long before the dialectical approach had become the prerogative of philosophy. no longer having the possibility of expressing whatever comes to it from the external world as incontestably sacred--romanticism having exhausted the possibilities of renewal-. a symbolic no-man's-land that simultaneously reveals to the discourse its own finitude and its beyond. this gratuitousness--Bataille called it "sovereignty"--of language. aimed to demonstrate the inadequacy of linear thought. which aims to produce History by the surpassing of contradictions. From the intertextual point of view. . experience is reduced to a narcissistic game. is also found in the text of an article by Bataille published in 1939. in a perfect movement of spiritual autarchy. It is no longer centrifugal but centripetal. to empty it of positive content by pressing it up against a blind spot." And. in the fact that there is no Aufhebung. or Jaspers--all three under suspicion for being file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262. The same idea of an absolute birth of the sacred. For the engaged thinker that Sartre always wanted to be. based on the systematic exercise of paradox. "aware of the created elements in what it had always added to the world . this spiritual conflict is a conflict for its own sake. Bataille retains only the idea that "reality is conflict. circumscribed within the limits of consciousness and representation.. arising ex nihilo solely from the play and conflict of spiritual forces. that of internal contradiction." but. The function of irony is to "torture" discourse. From Hegel (Sartre thinks). the principle of "nonknowledge" that gives Inner Experience its rhythm is the twin of what Novalis called néscience. So for Marx the contradictions that undermine bourgeois society must necessarily open out onto the "great eve" of the revolution and the victory of the proletariat. the strategy of irony. had Novalis not written that "all production is accomplished by the union of opposites"? And in writers associated with early German romanticism (Frühromantik). [art] could turn itself away from all past or present reality and create out of itself its own reality" [OC 1: 561-62]. like Kierkegaard. . according to which all true "knowledge" is only the ephemeral residue of an "ignorance.Jean-Michel Heimonet . the conflict of oppositions takes place rigorously in the other direction. The "great quest" on which the modern mind and modern art has embarked since the advent of romanticism is an expression of the sense that the sacred is missing in a world submitted to the goals of utilitarian reason: "It seems in retrospect that art. . Common to romanticism and modernism. Working at the level of language. [End Page 63] [Begin Page 65] This tradition is the one that Sartre refused to take into account. . is unacceptable. it plays the role of a catalyst intended to disturb. could no longer continue if it did not have the strength to arrive at the sacred moment on its own resources". Compared to the true dialectic. for the simple reason that it upset his intellectual horizon.htm Page 6 .Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:39 Europe/Copenhagen about endlessly. out of which came Hegel's fortune. it goes not from the subject toward the external world but from the ego toward the interiorized world. and hence to solicit discourse and throw it back into the enigmatic labyrinths of an endless self-sustaining questioning. as Marx would later appropriate it. more precisely his vision of a world that can be reduced to History. this intellectual "mystique" is based on an identical principle. . that the contradiction goes beyond (or infringes upon) the epiphany of a third term where the conflict of oppositions would be resolved and validated. Schlegel could conclude that it is "in its own quest that the human spirit finds the secret it has set out to seek" [209-11]. Nietzsche." where the insatiable quest undertaken by the mind to push beyond its limits will necessarily take any knowledge ["Pollen" 221].Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism . Contradiction as practiced by the romantics differs in fact from Hegelian dialectic.
" By offering the vision of a "man who creates himself as conflict. This will be Sartre's conclusion.Jean-Michel Heimonet . Unlike the situation of the slave who rises up against his enslavement. Finally Sartre's critique goes well beyond Bataille's book and uses it as a vehicle to criticize the romantic idea of Bildung. a revolt not against injustice or tyranny." that is. sanctified by its revolt the Ego becomes the "unique" one. Bataille committed what in the eyes of an "intellectual of the left" appeared as the worst of philosophical and political crimes: he substituted "tragic" for "dialectic. some Aufhebung. Arguing against the interventions of Sartre and Jeanson.Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:40 Europe/Copenhagen romantics--he suppresses the "moment of synthesis. hence. the form and nature of the language of the intellectual." with no hope of producing. At first Sartre sees only narcissism evolving into egocentrism. 38. for the resolution of that split in action [see "NM" 188]. The point of this polemic is to specify the radical antagonism between Sartre and Bataille concerning the role of the intellectual in society and. its worst. Among all the texts that Bataille wrote on the question of engagement. few have the decisive clarity of those he devoted to defending Camus against the editorial board of the journal Les temps modernes. is very precisely what Sartre and Jeanson found intolerable. in and for history. the all-powerful negating subject of the real [see 194-95]. but against the human condition. who reproached Camus for the Icarian aspect of his position--that of the "beautiful soul" soaring over history--Bataille objected that during the period when Stalin was taking up the relay file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262. By not deigning to "involve himself in the thick of new undertakings so as to contribute to building a new humanity that will surpass itself toward new goals.Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism ." Existing before "every action. the rebel's awakening to consciousness and dignity comes as a result of [End Page 65] a "conquest" over "nonmeaning." the anguishes of "Mr. which would have material form in the world of facts. revolt." not through externalizing his decisions in the historical world but through the exacerbation of his internal tensions. refuses to participate in the practical and empirical side of human life. like the subject in Bataille's description of inner experience." considering that conflict is "without solution. in an autarchic manner. Sheltered within its interiority.htm Page 7 . meaning: it is synonymous with "uselessness. it lacks didacticism as much as it lacks efficacy." Inner experience. With a ten-year lead. without recourse to the external world of the senses." to the absence of meaning in its surroundings. the hyperconsciousness of the split between subject and object. the Ego issues a challenge to the "void. to invalidate the power that idealism confers on the Ego to invent itself and its own world out of the depths of interiority. "creates nothing. 365]. or between consciousness and the empirical world. As one knows. 32. the metaphysical rebel is motivated by a rising up of his whole being against the absurdity of his condition. as Bataille sees it. from the "pleasure of drinking alcohol or sunning oneself on the beach" . that is. writes Camus. The absoluteness of the Ego and of the world is criticized for two correlative reasons. that is. it does not produce a political plan capable of changing the world. in any tangible form." In the absence of a specific obstacle. In other words. as far as the future of human collectivity is concerned. the sovereignty and/or the absoluteness of this revolt being exercised for its own sake and against the "void. The same argument Sartre had used to disparage Bataille's "mysticism" would now be applied to Camus's "metaphysical" revolt. the article in Situations heralds the polemic that will set Camus against Sartre at the moment of the publication of The Rebel [L'homme révolté]. resolutely interior. it contradicts purely historical philosophies in which value is conquered [if it is conquered] after action" [28. Bataille" will remain "un-usable. But this totalitarian narcissism also takes on another." in a kind of "ecstatic fainting" that is in no way different.
is discourse.Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism . Bataille does not disguise the fragility of his position." In a word. and most indissociably. It heralded particularly the democratic idea now prevailing of a universal community founded on public debate. Beyond theory. 2. indeed alienates or even "condemns" the Ego to the other--doing so even in spite of the Ego's desire to dominate the other. in particular the risk of having it confused with a "foolishly verbal attitude" . revolt is objectively limited by the necessity of proceeding according to the law of signs and representation.htm Page 8 . The practice of this law reveals to the practitioner the two cardinal virtues of discourse in the domain of moral meaning and ethics: 1. however.Jean-Michel Heimonet . from its delayed translation into signs and symbols (the gap in which the Ego learns to laugh at what is most important to it is exactly what romanticism means by irony). at the beginning of the Cold War. It is he who speaks in me. . We have to recognize. this ethics remains entwined with and in language. questioning with an ever-sharper conscience the ways in which it drove "the human species to suicide. "The third element. and to its communication with the rest of the world." inasmuch as this reach corresponds to the extreme end of consciousness/conscience [conscience] and of language [OC 5: 19]. The insurmountable distance that separates desire." which Sartre mocked. The fact that this distance is linked to the presence of a medium the necessary/universal character of which restores the subject to its proper level and place: to the level and place of others. file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262. to question the real instead of plunging into it in the illusion that one is in control of it. is the consciousness of others" [75. A fact that brings us directly back to Inner Experience. the only profoundly human attitude no longer consisted in making History but in "revolting against it" [OC 11: 232]. the companion. the revolt against history comes out of an ethics. To "revolt against history" in fact means to refuse to play its game. that in 1952. as an aspiration to totality. This revolt joined up with Camus's revolt in that it excluded action--or. from a general human attitude toward the dangers and trials of existence. the reader that moves me. As long as it remains human. a revolt against history means to oppose and to substitute reflection for action. the intellectual "torture. Moved by the desire to be "all." And further on: "The subject of inner experience. historical animal/symbolic animal. . as Sartre and Jeanson did when they took the worn-out schemas from class struggle and traditional Marxist ideas and applied them to the crisis at hand . all this in order to distance oneself from history and to take a good look at it.Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:41 Europe/Copenhagen from Hitler in the race to horror. [End Page 66] It is with these two necessary and universal attributes of the medium of language that inner experience leads to the dissemination of the Ego within the enclosure of signs that it has tried to break out of. Several passages in the book--which Sartre is careful to cite--consider the excessive practice of discourse as the strongest and the most tenuous bond that attaches. The unity of the book is to be found in its debunking trajectory. such a position was not lacking in courage or relevance. who maintains in me the discourse which lives for his sake. to which the subject submits in order to rediscover the other. This being said. Historical crises and violence will not be fundamentally resolved by action but rather by dialogue among the aware." the self measures its finitude by going "to the farthest possible reach of the human. to refuse to supply it with new programs under the pretext of changing it. wherever it may reside . taking sides in words. what amounts to the same thing for the intellectual." to be "God Himself. within the limits of the circle constituted by the totality of conscious beings with whom it must communicate each time it is manifested as human. And since man is reciprocally.
In order for the ethical function to intervene.Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:42 Europe/Copenhagen 76]. which shows that "everyone is enclosed in the unique and large unity of pure spirit. when there is no longer any way for language to be used as a means aimed at expressing the interests (the "contents") of a so-called subject that existed before language. from Epicurus to Gide. discourse. Ethics." A true pragmatist.Jean-Michel Heimonet . This principle is." inside a "circle" that "the finite mind can enlarge infinitely. He did not understand that the wrenching opposition between the self-sanctifying desire of the subject and the self-sacrificial reality of its practice represented the specific ethical dimension of Inner Experience. has to turn back on itself. Because it is not sufficient simply to speak or write. or. "escaping the domain of the project [End Page 67] through a project"--cannot be anything but unacceptable. on the concept of the pro-ject." Self-probing and communication among consciousnesses are for Sartre only forms of disengagement. or the "content by default" of inner experience. the "principle of experience"--that is. "Contradiction erupts (writes Sartre) in the condition of the subject thus torn between two opposing demands": the wish to be everything. indeed aberrant [see 204]. an "escape plan" allowing the subject to pull away from History ["NM" 203]. of discourse. the ultimate form of the "revolt against history. It is necessary to differentiate between two types. or what one might otherwise call the sui generis limitation on desire. Beyond any chronology." a principle that sets the practical project of imposing one's will on the world against the completely different project of breaking out and getting beyond this control." and the necessity in which the subject is obliged." the course of which is determined by the project and its attributes. Bataille appears to Sartre as the last scion in a "family of minds" of a "mystical or sensualist" type. In the attempt to escape the linear time of History. that man can exist fully only in representation--as a "vain struggle. the harsh fact that thought neutralizes action. what the members of this family have in common is their avid desire to live "immediately and completely" by substituting for the "well laid-out life." This synonymy. 2 as with two poles between which one has to oscillate indefinitely without ever resolving to jump into history. This circular movement of a consciousness that has relinquished the power of shaping the world according to its desire or ideal is a further prolonging of the romantic tradition. or rather two regimes or two qualities. as Sartre does. but the boundaries of which it cannot cross. in order for the ethical function of discourse to be revealed. it is what teaches the subject the human tragedy of the split between desire and duty. such as file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262. which is also the time in which projects are reified and accumulated. Sartre translates this spiritual obligation--that man must go through life meaningfully. to lose itself in the multitude and dissolve into the totality of signs and conscious beings [see "NM" 203]. appears only to the degree that language has stopped being an instrument. totally escaped Sartre.htm Page 9 . between "putting into action and putting into question" ["mise en action et mise en question"]. taken to its extreme by the play of contradictions. Bataille writes. however. between liberty and morality." a "battle lost before it is waged.Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism . as the ability to externalize and turn vested interests into concrete reality by means of action. as Bataille writes. as a practitioner of excessive discourse. And in fact when one bases existence and freedom. It is precisely this state of being torn that constitutes the reason for being. has to revert to its own mystery as well as to the mystery of an endless questioning in the course of which the former user of discourse must experiment with the objective synonymy between "nonknowledge" and "nonpower. It is the actualized expression of the founding idea of idealism as Fichte described it in The Science of Knowledge. to be "on top.
This does not mean that the activity of representing is a solution or an end in itself. the vehicle of a project." which allows the clear-minded individual to escape having to decide between the alternatives. therefore. that organism which during the 1930s had taken on the study of the presence of the sacred in the modern world. on the edge of time. two ethical systems of discourse. an interrogative dialogue that takes place among conscious beings. This critical function of negativity restored to writing is exactly the goal (the "project") that inner experience takes on in order to produce itself: "Inner experience answers to the necessity [End Page 68] that I face--and all of human existence with me--of putting everything in question" [OC 5: 15]. The belief in the instantaneous to be found in Proust or Kierkegaard is. "constitutes by itself the refutation of Hegel's closed system. ." rightly contrasted by Sartre. . Against the ultrapragmatic Kojève. for whom the individual is fundamentally alienated in History but constrained to take part in it and find some resolution there or else be condemned to remain a "beautiful soul" bored to death in its own pure interiority." At a time when any expenditure of human energy in "acting" or "doing" could not but be complicitous with collective suicide. Bataille claims for the sake of his own revolt and negativity the liberty of living at the margin of History." the "immediate life. Bataille opposes the irreducible force of a "negativity without employment. . however. "Negativity emptied of content" (as Bataille calls it). On the one hand. These two visions of time and life. the ultimate method of "doing. Bataille specifies that his personal negativity "had given up its usefulness only after the moment in which it no longer had any use: this is the negativity of someone who no longer has anything to do and not that of someone who prefers to speak" [OC 5: 369-71]. there is linear discourse. This negativity. 3 In his critique of Inner Experience. It continues to act in the form of a critical work that is executed in and for consciousness by interrogating the process that drives it back into idleness." Under these conditions.Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:43 Europe/Copenhagen "utilitarian memory" and "reasoning reason. when confronted with itself.Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism ." which is "temporal in its very being . without letting himself be absorbed by its mechanism. [and] needs Time to realize itself" . Obviously for Sartre all this is only an illusion or an illumination." in which the subject exists intensely.htm Page 10 . and at the peak of the "ecstatic" moment . but instead functions as a mode of reflecting on the meaning and limits of action. and in the absence of a pro-ject or goal that might be worth anything. Sartre might have been remembering the way in which Bataille had collided with the "Hegelian" ideas of Alexandre Kojève. By mentioning the College of Sociology. writing is presented as the ultimate result. "The open wound that is my life. "well laid-out" and "immediate. in which the expenditure and the exhaustion of meaning act as a limitation on desires that have become powerless to achieve their ends.Jean-Michel Heimonet . of unemployment and crime. It thus becomes the privileged organ of human responsibility and commitment." he wrote in his famous letter to Kojève. according to Sartre. is far from passive. on the other hand. of a philosophical thesis or of a political choice that can only be realized in the historical process. Sartre confuses two textual aspects that are file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262. unable to plant themselves within their own solid representations in the expectation that History will somehow fulfill them. correspond indeed to two forms and. there is circular discourse. no longer has to justify action. didactic and heavy. as it must in Sartre. largely viewed. the energy of which is inscribed in discourse and writing. impossible because it is alien to the ontological and anthropological reality of the "Ego.
Once the end of knowledge has been attained. far from arriving at the conclusion (as Goetz does in Sartre's play The Devil and the Good Lord) that heaven is empty. For. translation modified]. unsayable. self-sustaining tension in the absence of an answer and to "the necessary failure of an impassioned search for identity" [Philosophical Discourse of Modernity 112. With a belatedness that is surprising in regard to the theory of his time." but is due to the maintenance of an infinite. the aesthetic or philosophical value of a work does not come out of the harmony between "form and content." according to which the text is supposed to provide answers that can be applied in the world of achievable ends." which serves to designate every speech act in which "the propositional content contradicts the affirmation" [Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action 80.)--is defined as a narcissistic or reflexive discourse. translation modified]." Instead of "discovering man. On the ideological level. from whom is wrested all power to materialize his desire in action. He does not make the "vow that was expected of him." "external and internal. it is significant that this utilitarian conception of writing bears a resemblance to the communicational theories of Jürgen Habermas.Jean-Michel Heimonet . the critical radicalism of this experience. and unrepresentable real. It is no coincidence that this analysis aims equally to denounce the "mysticism" of modern discourse ever since the time of the romanticism of Iena with its dangerous tendency to reject the "conquests of Western rationalism" [Philosophical Discourse 121." his faith in an unspeakable. its didacticism and its engagement on the level of a so-called "content.'" file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262. Foucault. Habermas bases his critique of the romantic and modern tradition--in which he would situate Bataille--on the two criteria of contradiction and circularity." a gratifying result which compensates the practitioner for his efforts. it is just as much Bataille's "religiosity." he throws himself into "rediscovering God" ["NM" 218]. charged with carrying out [End Page 69] the positivity in meaning. and the symbolic charm by which its words acquire universal meaning. which. being "born of nonknowledge stays there" indefinitely . .htm Page 11 . that is scandalous. Lacan. . Now it is precisely toward the support of such power. on the other hand. which the systematic search for and use of contradictions for their own sake condemns to "go around in circles" without ever producing any positive content. By evoking the "rather grotesque" attitude that consists in "playing around with the ecstasy of religious and aesthetic inspiration" . Again Sartre prefers to ignore the distinction Bataille makes at the beginning of the book between "confessional experience. leads to the humiliation of the subject. and his own critical experience. "reveal[ing] nothing . . Habermas explains. toward the possibility for man--using Heidegger's words--to install himself as "lord over 'individual being [étant]." that is. the practitioner of inner experience persists in his error and raises the stakes. On the one hand. O. can neither provide the foundations for belief nor leave belief behind" [OC 5: 15. as Sartre sets out in his article in Situations. Sartre does not seem to understand that the "content" of a text is found above all in its "form": the strategic treatment applied to the language within which this text is produced. Like Sartre. "that there is no transcendence. According to this criterion the "discourse of modernity"--the paradigm of which can be traced from the earliest German romantics to the theoreticians of the 1960s (Bataille. its style. For this he borrows from the linguistic pragmatics of K. where the authenticity of the text lies. As we have pointed out. .Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:45 Europe/Copenhagen mutually resistant. 16]. translation modified]. In this type of discourse. which. Apel the concept of "performative contradiction." where the revelation of transcendence constitutes a "haven. Derrida . Habermas echoes Sartre. that the utilitarian pragmatism of Sartre and Habermas leans." "individual and society.Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism .
that philosophical novel only poorly disengaged from surrealism (from "surrealist sorcery" as Sartre now calls it) ["NM" 211]. the fundamental theme of Nausea [La nausée]. Bataille himself was not deluded in this. into the chronology of discourse or story. between rational and real.Jean-Michel Heimonet . Sartre's mysticism is oriented instead toward tangible assets accumulated with the aim of sanctifying the subject and turning it into a being superior to most men. for example. It is a tarnished newness. he also wants power. . and "like a scythe." Stranger to history and to linear time. One could say the same thing of those "perfect moments" that he struggled to concoct during his life with Anny. "my glass of beer .Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:47 Europe/Copenhagen It may be said that just as Sartre wants to "make History" by refusing to waste his negativity in a textual game. you feel sick because you realize that it was there all along. he comes to this conclusion: "A man is always a storyteller . is time. then. since it results in the desanctifying of the subject. limps along in place. between lived experience and its representation in the order of discourse. the necessity of a conclusion. in fact. however: if Bataille's mysticism is practiced in pure loss. Sartre seems to forget that several years earlier he himself had made a few twists in the relation between words and things. from the entrapment and partisanship of things." "crushing our miserable time against the walls. When the singer's voice "rose up in the silence. like the old woman he sees from his window. With this difference. becomes hard. his escape is procured for him through a means that the author of "A New Mysticism" would deem narcissistically idealistic: through art. But one has to choose: to live or to tell" [La nausée 62]. Time." "tears it from its dry little points" . Like the perforated roll in a hurdy-gurdy or a player piano. ." about the very notion of file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262. at the same moment. . Roquentin's energy will then be devoted to the attempt to escape time. "rag-time. Roquentin's problem is. First music. . Reluctant to search for the truth of existence in Monsieur de Rollebon's past or in his own travel memories. Indeed what is taking place here is an inner experience and not simply a distraction or entertainment.Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism . the melody "crosses our time from one part to the next. the new that can never surprise" . It is rather ironic. When he sententiously criticizes the manner in which Bataille "pushes away the reassuring constructions of reason in the name of 'the Ego's experience'" and reproaches him for his "strangeness" regarding the world [192-93].htm Page 12 . an artificial order meant to disguise the contingency of what is and what happens. then literature. . that the "mysticism" he denounces in Bataille applies just as well to a certain aspect of his own work. and when it comes. which makes us wait. he tries to see his life as if he were telling it. to cross the threshold of linear time where life. slices the insipid intimacy of the world" . Putting things into words. and. project or story: "This. The jazz melody. since he notes in his article "The Sacred. Roquentin doubtless knows that music "does not exist" . with the bloom faded." the client's head possesses "the obvious. . If in 1943 Sartre had become the herald of the "pro-ject" and of the "well laid-out" life. . in the absence of all novelty. where the individual acquires an identity by participating in collective history." "something happened". indispensable. Roquentin takes possession of the world again." possesses the magical virtue of substituting a necessary sequential chain of notes for the "flaccid" time of existence. "there is another time" . naked time. is only a convention. then. What is interesting is that this flight of Roquentin from linear time remains very much in the "beautiful soul" style. of his own body: "I felt my body harden and the Nausea disappeared". Take Nausea. it is no less the supra-natural or supra-existential agent of an ek-stase that snatches him away from the Nausea. and to provide man with the illusion of control. which comes slowly into being. . the situation ten years earlier was different.
as an indeterminate tendency toward some supreme point where it would be possible to absolve existence. either from above or from below. its value and power of salvation are drawn precisely from the fact that. . constructed with a view to organizing existence.htm Page 13 . Reality surpasses lexicon (that is.Jean-Michel Heimonet . Sometimes things are endowed with "a funny little meaning that surpasses them" . that would be above existence" [247. Like Adolph's suspenders." where "the true secret of existence lies" . Excluded from collective emotions ("I wondered. which. resistant to intellection. prosaic. like this Book. and not mine" ). if it remains distinct from every other book written before. this "inexplicable difference. black was not what was on this piece of wood--it was . in Nausea. But the quest for the heights seems also to characterize Roquentin himself. "Shady" and indeed forcibly "unnameable" things are apprehended according to an approach specific to the mystic: by negation. is in a book--of which the actual book. it was their Sunday. The book will only be redemptive. the individual whose unclassifiable or unusual ontological caliber causes him to stand out among his fellow men [see OC 1: 348]. is "too much" with respect to what can be said about it. . In the tradition of idealism. Roquentin is clearly a special being. This book about nothing strangely recalls the Capital Book of Flaubert or Mallarmé. would itself be the sketch--and it is in a book where Roquentin will undertake his quest for that secret. Black? The root was not black. Thus. he gives himself over to an exorcism. sometimes they remain just the opposite. "washed from the sin of existing") by music [246-47]. element. that "J. he is presented as a sorcerer or a magician. its purpose is to transcend the intolerable.Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism . as with the inaccessible Grail." of course. To be so. had already spoken of "perfect moments" and "privileged situation" in a meaningful way" [OC 1: 560]. In the same ways that "the Jew and the Negress" have been "saved" (in the very religious and even very Christian sense of the word saved. being emptied of its meaning. The hero of Nausea in fact possesses the essential traits by which Bataille defines the "heterogeneous" being. as Bataille would put it. has not been "soiled" by any worldly. the norm). . Each crisis of nausea begins with the gap between words and things. but not "a history book. at the moment of the main crisis in the public garden.Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:49 Europe/Copenhagen "instant" in mystics. as Roquentin is facing the chestnut tree. it cannot be written. "Black? I felt as if the word were deflating. . something that would not exist. an "unbewitching" in front of the portrait of Jean Parrotin--an file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262." which is the very definition of the sacred. and especially not a "narrative." an artificial (that is. . so that its author can "look back on his life without repugnance" .-P. being beyond the power of the human mind. dull opacity of chaos and to exist as pure aspiration. Sartre. for a moment. Nausea. for [End Page 70] the Sartre of 1935. something else . This iconoclastic book should be understood to suggest that there is "behind the printed words. This "something else. each aspect of the root represents an excess. Finally. if I were not going to love people." such as the one in which Roquentin got sidetracked by wanting to "resuscitate M. "above all explanation" . it ought to be "another species of book": a "story. my emphasis]. In the gallery in the Bouville museum. linear) book." Roquentin remembers. we have seen Sartre criticizing the spiritual egotism and megalomania that led Bataille to sanctify himself and place himself above his contemporaries." or. everything points to believing that there is something "beyond meaning. But pay attention: not just any writing. But these two extremes join up again to circumscribe an ineffable space of meaning. by depleting or sacrificing language in order to check off everything that things are not. the consciousness of a profound inadequation between concept and lived experience." the root of the tree "was not black. Roquentin will be saved by writing. behind the pages. And indeed. de Rollebon". defined by a nervous temperament and special powers. that is. But after all. in Its form and in Its content. which "were not purple. From this point of view.
274]. heterogeneous and different from other men: "You will not ever be like them. bloated. who betrays his romantic youth by wrapping Mind in the Prussian state. those who neither know nor see. in sum. If for Nasty. who has succeeded in piercing the "secret of existence". but. the political leader of the peasants. an author "with two faces. his preoccupations lead him into the arcane reaches of the unthinkable. "I succeeded at thirty years of age in this one thing: writing in Nausea--very sincerely. he sets about to dissipate the ether of thought and to recycle metaphysics into the general current of History. the "bastards" [salauds]. And indeed. middling humanity lumped together and uniformly despised as "they" or "them" [see 221]. "As for them. On the one side. indeed. vaguely obscene" [128-29].htm Page 14 ." . Sartre is himself a "crab". this confession remains questionable.Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:50 Europe/Copenhagen operation that he will repeat with the statue of Impétraz symbolizing the bourgeois order: "When one looks straight and directly at a radiant face (Roquentin observes). being himself the cause of this alterity: why can Goetz be nothing but excessive. he cauterized his worry by erecting a perfect system of philosophical and political rationalization that would scarcely upset certain writings file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262. little by little. this nature. it liquefies and dissolves." it claims "to replace the absolute with history" [Théâtre de situations 272. Roquentin is also a prophet. The entire didactic content of the play rests on Difference. the character of Goetz is not unequivocal." after his conversion to history. without any possible reversal or conversion. by contrast. drooling. A shaman. Looking out over Bouville." he writes in The Words [Les mots]. or not just. Soon. In the course of a university and literary career crowned with success. as the book calls them. the radiance disappears. Roquentin. 3 of his first novel: the sickness of "beautiful souls" smitten with the absolute. would not have been anything but an error of youth. Melancholia. . he foresees its apocalypse. who knows him deeply and intimately." or the relations of "man with the absolute. on the other. they breathe this nature and they don't see it. It seems to me that I belong to another species" . nothing subsists any longer of the [End Page 71] haughty personage but "flesh . dealing with the "relations of man with God. . everyone else. and on the other. there is the One. human space is divided into two warring categories. Neither better nor worse: other" . defenseless. for Hilda. The question is one of a primary order. after a while. a class enemy but an ontological adversary). a question to which Sartre obviously does not reply. that of a man in a hurry to exist restlessly and as quickly as possible. It is well known that thirty years later Sartre will publish his self-criticism. which makes of Goetz a special and distinctive being. His first novel. "I was seeing things. This vision is again the prerogative of a being superior to most men: "How far I feel from them. twenty leagues from town. the most positive (or antimystical) play of Sartrean theater." With one. even in spite of himself. the modern Babylon infested with philistines. on the one side.Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism . they are completely wrapped up inside. unknown to himself. Like most of his characters. from the height of this hill. with the other. never on the same footing? Like Hegel. . above or below other men. they imagine that it is outside. . the supreme wise man. you can believe me--about the unjustified and primitive existence of my fellows and putting my own existence beyond question" [Les mots 210]. He too has two faces. he remains fundamentally and irreversibly other.Jean-Michel Heimonet . Still. But as for me. Goetz has become "anyone. I see it ." At first the image of Parrotin resists. but never on the same level. I see it. under the powerful stare of his enemy (an enemy who is not. Sartre quickly forgets the initial title. since. Both agent of and guinea pig for this substitution. One can find this dichotomy also in The Devil and the Good Lord.
Emoretta Yang was graphics editor of Diacritics and assistant curator of Asian art at the Herbert F. is more than meaning" [OC 11: 157]. 2. 308]. or in what takes the place of action for the intellectual. The first revolts against History. being only beyond meaning. Johnson Museum of Art." it still remains metaphysics. Notes 1. Albany: SUNY P. And of the worst kind: a sacrifice where it is no longer words but people who are the victims. injurious or ideological in another. Trans. appears in the last pages of Guilty. however. This was also his way of forging a fail-safe moral philosophy. La force de l'âge 292. Inner Experience. where the self-subject puts its sovereignty into play. "of the left. She works free-lance from her home in Ludlowville. often perverse. he fulfills the role of the great figure (very French) of the intellectual of consequence. This movement described by the term mise. the second wishes at all costs to make History. substituting the profane term nausea for the more romantic one of melancholia. Professor of French at the Catholic University of America. When he reproaches Bataille for his "two hundred pages of trumped-up considerations on human misery" ["NM" 221]. the other looks for it in action. Bataille gives a negative definition to "sacred": "That which. in the mise en abyme and the critical exercise of individual consciousness. beneficial. after the publication of Inner Experience. We should. 3. diametrically opposed and antagonistical. In his essay on Manet (1955). Even when one seeks to compel metaphysics to "go down into the cafés.Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:52 Europe/Copenhagen of his later years. of engagement by discourse. was not originally Sartre's idea. One looks for the absolute in writing. has published several books on Georges Bataille and the topicality of "romantic" thinking.htm Page 15 . or cathartic in one arena. Works Cited Bataille.Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism . this last [End Page 72] decade will have proved that History could in no way "replace the absolute. like that of Goetz. New York. Sartre is speaking as the spokesman of History. and the other as rupture and imbalance in the system" [OC 5: 385]. will be felt "among men." for the obvious reason that History is itself an absolute. that is. Translated by Emoretta Yang Jean-Michel Heimonet. Leslie Anne Boldt. the guiding of collective consciousness. These are in fact the only two forms. which Bataille wrote during 1943-44.Jean-Michel Heimonet ." But one is forced to acknowledge that recent political developments have not borne him out. with its dual effects. It is not enough to strip the Absolute of the mantle of Reason in order to stifle its avid demands. Georges. Bataille and Sartre are the spiritual embodiments of two divergent paths. the one as acquisition for the benefit of a closed system. It was suggested by Gallimard [see Simone de Beauvoir. With the collapse of the Marxist empire. the other centrifugal. including Politiques de l'écriture (1987) and Politiques du symbole (1994). file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262. note that this change of title. Sympathetic to Marxism and bard of the class struggle. If one admits that the quest for the sacred or the absolute represents an anthropological need in man. one centripetal." whose engagement. "Mise en action and mise en question are continually opposed.
] [Proj… [Searc… [Journals] [Journal Direc… [Contents] [… http://80-muse. 174-229. Habermas. Trans. Oeuvres complètes. of L'expérience intérieure.kb. Paris: Gallimard. Jürgen. Paris: Aubier-Montaigne. 1868. Quotations from cited French texts have been directly translated from the original texts. file:///Volumes/Arkiv/DownLoads/Jean-Michel%20Heimonet%20-%20Bataille%20and%20Sartre%20The%20Modernity%20of%20Mysticism%20-%20Diacritics%20262. Paris: Gallimard (Idées). 1963. 1954.html. Les mots [The Words].Jean-Michel Heimonet . A. 1975.dk/journals/diacritics/v026/26. "Un nouveau mystique [A New Mysticism]. Schlegel. Johann Gottlieb. La nausée [Nausea]. The Science of Knowledge. Paris: Gallimard (Folio). Paris: Gallimard. Le diable et le bon Dieu [The Devil and the Good Lord]. Paris: Gallimard. 1951. Cambridge: MIT P.Bataille and Sartre: The Modernity of Mysticism . 1990. Trans. Christian Lenhardt and Shierry Weber Nicholsen. Albert. Un théâtre de situations. [OC] de Beauvoir. The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. [Citations are to French text editions. Cambridge: MIT P. ________. Novalis. 12 vols. 2. E. ________. 1960." Critiques littéraires (Situations I). Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action. 1970-88. Lucinde. Sartre.edu. Paris: Gallimard (Idées).p-p-f. Fichte. Frederic.Diacritics 26:2 Fri Oct 03 2003 00:43:53 Europe/Copenhagen 1988. 1973. La force de l'âge. 1983. Kroeger.proxy. Oeuvres complètes. Paris: Gallimard. Trans. Paris: Gallimard. 1987. ________. ________. 1971. 1972. Vol.2heimonet. ["NM"] ________. Camus. ________. 1975. Paris: Gallimard (Folio).jhu. 1983. ________. Philadelphia: Lippincott. Paris: Gallimard.htm Page 16 . Simone. Jean-Paul." Les romantiques allemands. Frederick Lawrence. Trans. L'homme révolté [The Rebel]. Paris: Desclée de Brouwer. "Pollen.
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