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The Beast at Heaven's Gate

Georges Bataille and the Art of Transgression

The essays in this collection were originally given at the international colloquium Cent Ans de Bataille: La Bataille de Cent Ans held at the Fondació Tàpies in Barcelona in September 1998. They are written from a variety of perspectives but are drawn together by the singular aim of addressing and interrogating Georges Bataille as our contemporary whose fascination with the rupture between mythical and experimental forms of discourse defines our own age as much as it did in Bataille’s own time. More precisely, the essays in this collection range over Bataille’s status as a novelist, a poet, an art critic, a philosopher and a prophet of post-modernity with this aim in mind. They not only seek to advance and clarify debate about Bataille’s present status in the post-modern canon but also shed new light on the complex relation between Bataille and the present generation of readers who have come to him through the prism of post-modernist thought. It is of significance for each writer in this collection, most crucially, that the premonition of catastrophe which defined Bataille’s fluid political positions is also located between tragedy and irony.
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The Inner Scar

The Mysticism of Georges Bataille

Andrew Hussey

Since his death in 1962, Georges Bataille has acquired the status of one of the most influential thinkers of the age. The fact that this reputation has been established by the likes of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Julia Kristeva and Philippe Sollers appears to confirm Bataille as a precursor of the postmodernist condition. Few contemporary accounts of Bataille's thought have however engaged with those aspects of his thinking which are influenced by his interest in mysticism. This is an omission which is all the more striking given that Bataille considered his thought to be not only opposite to all philosophical traditions originating in the Enlightenment but also a form of speculation intricately related to the religious exigencies of the Christian Medieval period. This book presents the first major study in English of how Bataille's 'mystical' practices and texts interact with the outer worlds of politics, social relations and externalised discourse which Bataille sets up as the antipodes of his 'inner experience.' From this starting point, Andrew Hussey argues that the inner experience of limits in Bataille's work, the movement which he terms 'transgression', is, unlike the textual drams cherished by his postmodernist admirers, a non-metaphorical, even visceral event.