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Bataille: On Death

Inner Experience (1943) is Georges Bataille's attempt to explore the experience of excess, expressed in forms such as laughter, tears, eroticism, poetry, sacrifice and death. 

The experience of death is also the experience of the impossibility of experience: universal, yet outside of knowledge. There is no man that can attest to death from self experience. "It's always the others who die", as the epitaph on Duchamp's grave reads.

Heidegger's notion of being-towards-death, ecstatic and authentic as it is, appears as a pale attitude within the historical world compared to Bataille's self-that-dies: a liminal point between being and nothingness, a vertigo, in which the nullified self is nullifying the world along with it. The self-that-dies abolishes of the condition of possibility of experience, comparable only with the power of God. The experience of death could then be thought as an anti-experience.

According to Stuart Kendall, the self-that-dies "recognizes the tenuousness of its existences, the uniqueness of its being in the world - that a man and a woman came together to produce a unique child, a child nurtured by unique circumstances on a unique path through a persistently hostile physical, material world. The self is not of the world, it is heterogeneous to it, though it is in it."


Reading: Sections 1 - 4 of "Death in a Sense an Imposture" in Inner Experience (pp. 69 - 74 [pp. 51-54 in the pdf version] available to download in the Files section).

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