On Life: A Orgasmic Festival at the Summit of the Impossible


Pessimism and Depression

These past few months have been hard, and they are especially hard because I’m without her. They were much harder than the last time I lost someone I loved. I died on the 2nd of December, 2020. I have not been the same since that day. Winter was not kind to me, it was fatal. During these three months, my pessimism reached a zenith it had never seen before. I thirsted for a taste of the cool liquor of death each day. I saw life as barren, destitute, and ultimately suffering which is to say I forgot my Bataillean roots.

The Accursed Share of Life

For Georges Bataille, life’s problems do not come from destitution, lack, or necessity but rather from excess. Life is exuberant. The month of March has been more kind to me than any month since October of 2020 (which may have been the best month of my life thus far) has been. It reminded me of that which is glorious, beautiful, and ultimately ecstasy. So, what are the aforementioned three things? My answer: experience. Life is play, a festival, an immanent experience in which meaning is derived from. Like sublime music which brings me to violently sob tears in its excessive summit of auditory beauty, life makes me quiver with wonder, awe, and violent paroxysms. Expenditure is the highest affirmation of the subject, which is also its negation, or, in other words, when we dissolve into ecstasy, into IMMANENCE, we deny transcendence, we deny those abstractions which seek to dominate us and make us servile! In this way, immanent experience is sovereign experience. When we TRULY embrace life, when we truly LIVE, we experience that which escapes the very object of experience. This heterogeneous base matter, this excess — the accursed share — which escapes experience, which escapes homogenizing cognition has the potential to overwhelm the subject in a destructive way just like the excess energy of the general economy has the potential to be expended ruinously within civilizations. But, this also means that this accursed share of experience has the potential to overwhelm, or better, dissolve the subject in a GLORIOUS way!

To be quite honest, one is not alive in the mode of existence which is project, which is just telos, or means to end action. One is not alive in the world of the profane, the world of production, either. One is only alive in sovereignty, constrained by nothing, expending into dissolution and joining solar energy in its movement across the playful and dynamic general economy. Life is truly that which is dynamic and alternating, it takes form and then becomes formless. Life in this way is only experienced in immanence. For one cannot experience that which is transcendental, that which is noumenal. Transcendence is not death, I must clarify. Death is the accursed share which is creeping up upon the living subject waiting to gnaw at the body to try to turn it into a putrefying corpse. When we encounter the impossible, when we go to the limit of experience, we are alive (ah ha, FOR ONCE!). But death comes to expend itself upon us like a black sun. That which death expends when we reach the limit experience is the solvent and our subjectivity is the solute. In the limit experience, life and death come together once again to hold hands, as they are separated in profane existence (project), self and the other both dissolve like rivers flow into the general economy of the ocean.

The self and the other break down into one in communion, in communication. They risk themselves in this communication, as they have a chance of losing themselves. Meaning is generated in risk. Life is excessively meaningful. Life is found only in risk, to be alive is to risk oneself for even the smallest and most insignificant immanent experience. One should dissolve into the immanence of the moment. Lose oneself. Let oneself go. Let go. Go.

Expenditure contra Thought

I can’t forget her. I think about her all the time. It is the 2nd of April, 2021. I have gone through four full months without her, yet I can’t stop thinking about her, I can’t stop thinking…

Thinking is that pause in the flow of solar energy. Reason itself is definitively within the work of project. Expenditure stops when thought begins. We stop dissolving, expending ourselves, into immanence when we become stuck in transcendence, utility.

The answer has just been right in front of me this whole time! ALAS! In the peaks of the mountains we find nothing! We can’t even bear to look at the truth which is the sun that is just barely eclipsing the peaks of the mountain. Our head is in the clouds and therefore we sever the head from the body. We descend into the darkness of the base. Look! Look there! In the ocean which CRASHES against the shore pushing its seismic excess onto the shore. We find what we came for: the answer.

The answer to getting over her is to take Bataille’s advice, which I should have been taking my entire life. WE’VE SEVERED THE HEAD! With this atheistic decapitation the future breaks down. Calculation ends. We are freed from God which is reason and utility. WE ARE SOVEREIGN! WE ARE NOTHING!

The answer is this: expenditure. Expending in writing and reading are my escape, my transgressive line of flight which violently cuts past the restricted economy towards the expending general economy of flux.

During these past couple of days I have prioritized expenditure, in the form of writing and reading, and my life is the best it has been in a while. My expenditure is not comparable to the sun’s though. All things pale in comparison to the exuberant and luxurious expenditure of the sun.

A Critique of Hegel: The Summit of Absolute Knowledge and the Base Matter of Non-Knowledge

Bataille is a thinker of evil. But this evil is the affirmation of freedom, sacrifice, communication i.e. that which is at the summit of the impossible.

But Bataille is also not a thinker at all. He doesn’t advocate for thought but epistemic expenditure which is non-knowledge.

As we head toward the summit, towards absolute knowledge, we go through a series of dialectical oppositions. If we are knowledge, though we aren’t irreducible to knowledge, then what opposes us in our progression to absolute knowledge is the radical negativity of non-knowledge which is founded namely in literature, poetry, and most of all ecstasy.

This oppositional non-knowledge builds up as we go through the circuit of absolute knowledge. Reaching the endpoint, reaching the summit, the peaks of knowledge, we have an epistemic excess which builds up in this circuit and like all excess it too must be expended, but this time it is an epistemic expenditure.

Going towards this summit there is the possibility of becoming the divine, becoming God in our absolute knowledge. But as Batailleans we deal not with the possible only with the impossible.

Like I said before, as we progress through the circuit of absolute knowledge, as we ascend to the summit, the (absolute) idealist high-point, we begin to slowly accumulate experience of existence. We obviously gain knowledge which is the relation to the known. But there is a waste which escapes knowledge gained through experience.*[1] This waste, this epistemic excess, is non-knowledge and it is accumulated into an excessive and monstrous negativity which threatens to overturn the circuit of absolute knowledge at any second.

So I stop repeating myself, let me be concise. This radical negativity is all of our experiences of non-knowledge, and as we go from dialectical opposition to dialectical opposition in our way to absolute knowledge, this negativity becomes the accursed share. What I mean by this latter remark is that the circuit of absolute knowledge is a system like all other things. But it is necessarily a restricted economy because of its servile elevation of knowledge which is slavery. This negativity of knowledge is the accursed share of the restricted economy which is the circuit of absolute knowledge.**[2] So, when we reach the summit, when we complete the circuit, when we reach absolute knowledge, we reach the breaking point where our accumulated excess of non-knowledge must be expended. It is expended in the form of a negation. Absolute knowledge is negated by its accursed share, non-knowledge, during its expenditure. It inverts the circuit, and we descend down into the acidic and corroding bile of the base matter as well fall from the heights of absolute knowledge. We go from unknowing to knowing back to unknowing again. Non-knowledge is rebellion.

Strikingly, Bataille’s critique of Hegel and his idea of the inversion of the circuit of absolute knowledge follow a model quite similar to the model of summit and decline. We reach the summit, we enter into an absolute relation to knowledge, but we lose ourselves in that radically negative blindspot of ecstasy. At the summit, we enter into communication, our subjectivity dissolves, we lose consciousness, we touch the summit, we break down into tears gnashing our teeth at death and life alike. Our body enters into uncontrollable spasms. Then we enter into the decline after we expend. We begin the circuit of absolute knowledge again. We head toward the summit once more, and then again, and again ad infinitum until spirit reaches absolute dismemberment in death.

In a more sequential and diagrammatic expression, this latter paragraph can be explained as follows:

Diagram 1 — The Summit and Decline of the Circuit of Absolute Knowledge

The more specific sequential expression would be:

Unknowing → Knowing → Absolute Knowledge*[3] → Non-Knowledge → Unknowing

Decline → Rise → The Summit → Negation of the Summit**[4] → Decline

A Bataillean Critique of Dialectics

All dialectics which posit themselves as closed systems (restricted economies) are fundamentally predicated on the idea that the accursed share doesn’t exist. That there is scarcity instead of excess. These dialectics and the dialecticians which construct them couldn’t be more mistaken.

Restricted dialectics is what we will call this aforementioned type of dialectics.

A great example of a restricted dialectic which I just extensively went over (see above) is the “dialectic of absolute knowledge”.

This approach will be kind of Derridian in the sense of using deconstruction to find that repressed third term which comes out of its hiding only as a result of deconstruction.

Dialectical oppositions put a series of two terms forward but once the circuit is complete, there stands a single term, the term which triumphed over all other terms. For restricted dialecticians, the dialectic ends there because this triumphant term has no negation. It has no negation because there isn’t another “second term”. But what if there was a third term? A term that was just suppressed in the dialectical schema. This third term would come at the very end of the dialectical circuit to negate the supposedly but no longer triumphant term and then out of its radical negativity it would negate itself. This third term would function like Bataille’s idea of sovereignty which has the dual elements of the most extreme self-affirmation and self-negation. This third term would affirm itself by negating the triumphant “last term” but then subsequently negate itself into dissolution. After this third term negates itself, the dialectical circuit restarts, and the third term accumulates quietly until it must once more negate that triumphant “last term” by self-affirmatively expending itself upon that triumphant “last term” and then this third term will expend itself to death, its negation. So what is this third term? What is its name? Base matter.


[1]: *(which is all knowledge (kinda?). In terms of a priori knowledge, I would say of course you can know things without experiencing them but this is still an experience as it is an existing relation to the known, which again is an experience.)

[2]: **(Note: The circuit of absolute knowledge is a restricted economy because it is a closed system. This is also where it opens itself up to Bataillean critique, as all systems are in reality open, they are really a part of the general economy.)

[3]: *(Note: I want to make another observation that may be of interest. For Bataille, to have absolute knowledge is to be God. This makes the reflection of the summit-decline model and Bataille’s critique of Hegel even more striking. “Why?” you may ask. Well it is because in certain examples Bataille gives of being at the summit, for example, when we sacrifice God, we become God at the summit. This is another parallel between Bataille’s theories and what I have put forward.)

[4]: **(Note: Going off of the note directly above this one, we can say that Bataille was right about non-knowledge being atheological, as at the negation of the summit, where non-knowledge starts, the death of God takes place.)



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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Evan Jack

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