I am even more intrigued by his other book The Ideology of Tryranny, where it seems he is taking on the trends in postmodern and neoconservative philosophy. It seems as though he traces those trends back to gnosticism and the French thinker Georges Bataille, and sees them spread into mainstream culture through the philosophy of Heidegger and Foucault.
semper occultus » Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:02 am wrote:....previous mention...
Wombaticus Rex » Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:20 am wrote:That sounds like an extremely idiosyncratic notion of both Tyranny and Ideology. I would say that many contemporaries were influenced by the idea of Bataille, but few actually read him enough to get influenced by his ideas. He was an early media-academia hybrid sensation, the proto-Zizek.
Bear in mind my allergic reaction to the thesis presented here is borne of my own notions that Ideology is Tyranny; which is to say that any philosophy can be shoe-horned into the service of a wholly apolicital Elite who recognize such window dressing for the commodity it is.
I think his thesis revolves around the idea that the new postmodern trends seek to decentralize the idea of power (ie, avoid looking at the elite), which ultimately centers the arena of political debate among divisive 'tribalistic' groups, which hinders the formation of a wider platform of dissent.
Wombaticus Rex » Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:51 am wrote:No, I meant two things:
1) Bataille doesn't really have a coherent philosophy to build anything on, so I'm skeptical of the notion that he influenced anything philosophically coherent, and far more skeptical of the notion he's part of some secret Gnostic lineage. Bataille was an artist raiding the archives with an eye for the shocking and controversial. I don't mean to diminish his work but if he created post-modernism it was almost definitely on accident. It would be like someone saying they've got a model of the National Security State based on the work of Deleuze and Guattari: adorable post-grad horseshit.
2) As with so much of Foucault's work, his curation is artistic, to the point of being ahistorical. His ideas are endlessly interesting but inevitably a bricolage, so when he makes statements about history I take it as performance art.
Wombaticus Rex » Thu Mar 27, 2014 11:05 am wrote:To be clear, I do not mean to paint Bataille as a raving lunatic or mere poseur -- he was f'ing brilliant and a genuine polymath -- but his central preoccupations were sensual and very reactionary, and I have never discerned anything resembling a "praxis" or Big Idea uniting his work.
And when I say he was "raiding the archives" I meant it literally, my understanding is that he had free reign over the biggest library in Paris for most of his career. The results were predictibly diverse! My sense is they were not particularly coherent, though.
(For the record, I did snicker aloud when I typed "philosophically coherent" earlier. I was probably giving philosophy more credit than it deserves.)
As an exoteric front to his secretive brotherhood of the Acépahle, Bataille conceived
the creation of a scholarly outfit comprising a team of researchers and
literati, whose task would be to investigate the theme of social collective movement.
155 He named the enterprise the Collège of Sociologie; its curriculum would
span a series of seminars to be hosted in a variety of Parisian venues between
1937 and 1939. The programmatic lectures drafted by Bataille for the occasion
contain the near totality of his powerful and bewitching sociologie sacrée.
Bataille founded his own “secret society” in 1936, L’Acéphale (and released a
homonymous publication), which gathered a consorterie of Parisian aesthetes,
writers, and artistes (including Masson) desirous to experiment with the obscene
occult. Sade, Dionysus, and Nietzsche were the tutelary figures of L’Acéphale.
This fraternity of dilettante, Aleister Crowley–wannabes, “performed strange rituals,
including the sacrifice of a goat,” though what was truly needed to bond
“irremediably” these “initiates” to one another was a human sacrificial victim.
Queasy bourgeois that they were, alas, it appears that none of the founding members
volunteered to offer themselves up for the slaughter. Bataille’s biographer, however, suggests that a consenting victim was indeed found—someone possibly
outside the inner circle—but no sacred henchman to dispatch it. Whatever the
truth of this folly—all members having shielded the society with the deepest
silence—Bataille would later avow that “in time his collected works would
account for both the error and the value of this monstrous intention.”
From Sade, as we saw, Bataille derived the
crucial notion of sovereignty, which he treated like an excrescence, a physiological
throwback to a time when the sentiment of destruction and ruin was a longing
clearly present to the conscience of men. “But sovereignty,” he added, “is
nonetheless [ . . . ] sin. No, it is the power to sin, without the sentiment of having
missed the objective, or it is itself the missing turned into the objective.”82
Sovereignty is an ancestral recollection of our divine desire to set the world
aflame, gratuitously, without expected return, without utility.83 It is that particular
mood that lifts our gaze beyond the conventional categories of good and
evil. Sovereign beings move with the convulsive flow, taking life as she naturally
shows herself. The knight possessed of a “sovereign sensitivity” is unafraid of pain
or misfortune—he wishes, instead, to stare both in the face, and to live up to them, free of rational restraint like an animal, careless of the morrow, and living
only in the present.84
Bataille distinguished two chief macroforces
of collective (social) behavior animating the world today: heterogeneity
and homogeneity. The former is the power of the inner experience and of communion
with “evil,” whereas the latter is the dour sphere of rational production
The impulse of the sovereign man makes him a murderer [ . . . ] Murder is not the
sole means to recover the sovereign way, but sovereignty demands the force to rape;
[ . . . ] it also calls for the risk of death [ . . . ]. The sovereign is the one who is; as
if death were not. And he is even the one who does not die, for he dies but to be
reborn. [ . . . ] Sovereignty is essentially the refusal of embracing the limits, which
the fear of death enjoins us to respect in order to ensure, under the auspices of a
laborious peace, the life of individuals.85
The emblem and symbol of Bataille’s sovereign eroticism is the knight of the
French renaissance Gilles de Rais (1404–1440). Gilles De Rais, Lord of
Machecoul, is an historical personage: the martial prowess of this nobleman was
so extraordinary that by age twenty-five, he had returned to his castle acclaimed
as a glorious maréchal de France after having liberated the city of Orléans with his
companion-in-arms, Joan of Arc. Upon his elevation, observed Bataille, he
appeared headed toward an “incomparable destiny.”108 But, then, inexplicably, he
went astray. Possibly the wilderness of war had taken on him a terrible vengeance.
Suddenly de Rais found himself burning with the “necessity to shine.” It overtook
him like “vertigo”: “he [could not] resist the impulse to dazzle, he [had to]
subvert by way of an incomparable splendor.”109 He began to lavish his immense
fortune, without rhyme or reason, doggedly, chasing as it were his own complete
“ruin.”110 “Capable of vile cruelties,” which he learnt to inflict well in the carnage
of war, he was “incapable of calculation.”111 To an admiring Bataille, Gilles de
Rais was the purest expression of sovereignty, of sacrality.... While blasting his riches
as the most munificent of chieftains, Gilles de Rais began, with the complicity of
a handful of loyal retainers, to kidnap village boys, whom he would kill, dismember,
and decapitate after having tortured and raped them.... Because he antagonized a powerful notable of the Church, and because
the (true) rumor spread in the county that he had been strenuously attempting to
conjure up Satan—who did not bother, however, to manifest himself to the
devout Gilles—he came under the scrutiny of the feudal judicature. De Rais was
tried and condemned rather for these two offenses than for the sexual murders,
whose authorship and details did indeed surface during the proceedings of
In the late thirties, at the time he was elaborating his sacred sociology, he
leaned on his work to sing the praise of fascism.
"The Fascist, heterogeneous, action belongs to the realm of the superior forms. It
appeals to those sentiments traditionally defined as lofty and noble, and tends to
constitute authority as an unconditional principle, situated above all utilitarian
In the latter he saw a pure expression of heterogeneity
barracuda wrote:The path from RI moderator to True Blood fangirl to Jehovah's Witness seems pretty straightforward to me. Perhaps even inevitable.
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