A Critique of Blacnhot’s Understanding of Bataille

09/20/2021

Blanchot doesn’t suggest that the inner experience “still belongs to the possible.”[1] He doesn’t suggest this because inner experience is not “the result of a double negation.”[2] Now, he is right to argue this. Inner experience is not the result of a double negation. For Blanchot, if it was a result of a double negation, then it would be a part of the possible because it would be the “last dialectical reversal.”[3] Rather than pose inner experience as of the negative, Blanchot argues that inner experience is the affirmation of affirmation. Blanchot says, inner experience “does not even affirm itself, for then it would be subordinate to itself: it rather affirms affirmation.”[4] But this is not true, for inner experience is “a journey to the end of the possible of man.”[5] Bataille specifies that “[n]ot everyone can take this journey, but, if one does, this supposes the negation of authorities, of existing values, that limit the possible.”[6] hus, inner experience is most definitely negation, and not within the possible because it is the negation of the limit that makes the possible itself. Now, Blanchot is partially correct when he holds that inner experience doesn’t affirm itself. But this does not make it the affirmation of affirmation, because “[f]rom the fact that it is the negation of other values, of other authorities, experience having positive existence itself becomes value and authority positively.”[7] Inner experience, through negation, affirms itself as authority, but only to further negate itself. As Bataille says, “The paradox in the authority of experience: founded on questioning, it questions authority: questioned positively, man’s authority defines itself as questioning itself.”[8] Inner experience is not the negation of the negation because it is the affirmation of negation which only affirms in order to negate this affirmation. It negates its authority by questioning itself, and thus it is not stuck within the possible as Blanchot would supposedly argue if presented with this rebuttal.

References

[1]: Maurice Blanchot, The Infinite Conversation, trans. Susan Hanson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 208.

[2]: Ibid., 209.

[3]: Ibid., 208.

[4]: Ibid., 209.

[5–8]: Georges Bataille, Inner Experience, trans. Stuart Kendall (Albany: State University of New York, 2014), 14.

Bibliography

Bataille, Georges. Inner Experience. Translated by Stuart Kendall. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2014.

Blanchot, Maurice. The Infinite Conversation. Translated by Susan Hanson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

How sweet terror is, not a single line, or a ray of morning sunlight fails to contain the sweetness of anguish. - Georges Bataille