A Note on Patrick ffrench’s Interpretation of Georges Bataille


I’ve been reading After Bataille by Patrick ffrench and I will say that, so far, it is quite a thought provoking and enjoyable little book. But at the same time, the concept of sacrifice, which is arguably one of the motifs in Bataille’s philosophy, is subject to endless critique. Now, the surprising thing is that I don’t have to write a counter critique to ffrench’s critique of sacrifice because ffrench presents not his critique but Bataille’s critique of sacrifice. This is all the more interesting.

It starts out with having sacrifice in reference to Bataille’s relation to Hegel as a concept with two forms: 1. A will to the totality (the desire to be everything) and 2. Inner experience (the dissolution of the subject and therefore the desire to be everything). It then extends this into Derrida’s interpretation of sacrifice as the sacrifice of meaning. It even acknowledges Bataille’s definition of it as the production of sacred things.

ffrench does admit to something, and I thank him for this. ffrench says that “[w]e should underline … that in this argument many of the meanings of sacrifice are being discarded or rewritten, leaving only the exposure to death in the instant that sacrifice reveals, and even here death as such is not the essence. The meaning of sacrifice is hollowed out, but sacrifice as such is not abandoned”.[1]

I still think that because of Bataille’s tendency to use words however he likes, Sartre did not like this fact, one shouldn’t exclude certain definitions. It is clear that Bataille “endorsed” some form of “sacrifice”.

I don’t think that ffrench is too far from me and my understanding of sacrifice. This latter statement is furthered when french says that with sacrifice “[t]here is no return and no transcendence”.[2]

ffrench holds that “Blanchot supersedes Bataille’s economics of loss by proposing that there is a transformation of energy at stake: in writing the writer creates something more powerful and superior in force to the energy expended in its creation”.[3] How does this go beyond Bataille’s general economics though? Does this not just show that Blanchot is within restricted economy? It seems that, for Blanchot, the writer can only lose themselves via accumulation. I would then just say that the writer doesn’t lose themselves. Now, this doesn’t have anything to do with the impossible or doing impossible things. What I mean by this is that even though we don’t exist exclusively on the axis of possibility doesn’t mean that the latter can happen. This is nothing more than the most violent attempts at recuperation. Blanchot may seem close to us, and he is, but this is nothing more than restricted economic logic trying to become general economic logic. I will grant Blanchot that he and his theories can exist on the axis of impossibility, but if that is the case then they also exist on the axis of general economy in which the writer loses himself through loss and not accumulation.

I find it so interesting that Bataille sees the death of God as that moment in which “[the unification] of the sexes” takes place.[4]

Blanchot puts forward the description of the ‘world of lovers’ as “anti-social” because of the “unsociability of lovers”.[5] I feel like Blanchot is onto something here. When I was with her, social bonds broke, there was only us. I got lost in our “dialogue of looks”.[6] Glances of longing defined me back then.


ffrench, Patrick. After Bataille: Sacrifice, Exposure, Community. New York, NY: Modern Humanities Research Association and Routledge, 2007.


[1]: Patrick ffrench, After Bataille: Sacrifice, Exposure, Community (New York, NY: Modern Humanities Research Association and Routledge, 2007), 93.

[2]: Ibid., 125.

[3]: Ibid., 129.

[4]: Ibid., 170.

[5]: Ibid., 176.

[6]: Ibid., 178.


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

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