On the Labyrinth and Bataille’s Labyrinthine Ontology
For Georges Bataille, “Being is NOWHERE”. The reason Being is NOWHERE is because Being is in excess of isolated being or ‘the individual subject’. This is because of Bataille’s principle of insufficiency, where we are lacking sufficiency, lacking the totality. It is this lack which makes us isolated and discontinuous. Thus, because Being is NOWHERE, Being is achieved in sovereignty as “[s]overeignty is NOTHING”. We can therefore also say that sovereignty is the excess of the subject, and the subject is, therefore, sovereign only when the subject goes (exists) beyond itself.* Therefore, sovereignty isn’t a new ontological category but the undoing of ontology, as Being is eluding itself, just as God is in excess of Himself in His presence-in-absence. We can now finally understand Andrew J. Mitchell and Jason Kemp Winfree’s claim that excess is the principle of being. I do want to pose a question which I hope to answer in a future essay: can we connect Bataille’s ontology with his theory of the general economy? If we can, I think these words from Mitchell and Winfree give us insight on how it could be possible: the “ontological exposition of general economy: excess as the principle of being”.
For Bataille, isolated beings are within a labyrinth which is the “composition of beings, each composition a composite of other compositions, themselves composites…”. This composition of beings, the labyrinth, is not transcended by a totality (such as God for example (?)), but is instead “composed by mobile groups in provisional positions of transcendence and immanence”.
The labyrinth is “[a]n aberrant space”.
Bataille, Georges. The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy, Volume II: The History of Eroticism, Volume III: Sovereignty. Translated by Robert Hurley. New York, NY: Zone Books, 1991.
Bataille, Georges. Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939. Translated by Allan Stoekl. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1985.
Boldt-Irons, Leslie Anne. “Introduction.” Introduction. In On Bataille: Critical Essays, 1–38. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995.
Botting, Fred, and Scott Wilson. Bataille (Transitions). New York, NY: PALGRAVE, 2001.
Land, Nick. The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism (an Essay in Atheistic Religion). London, UK: Routledge, 1992.
Mitchell, Andrew J, and Jason Kemp Winfree. “Editors’ Introduction: Community and Communication.” Introduction. In The Obsessions of Georges Bataille: Community and Communication, 1–17. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2009.
: Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939, ed. Allan Stoekl, trans. Allan Stoekl, Carl R. Lovitt, and Donald M. Leslie Jr. (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1985), 173.
: Fred Botting and Scott Wilson, Bataille (Transitions) (New York, NY: PALGRAVE, 2001), 81.
: Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy, Volume II: The History of Eroticism, Volume III: Sovereignty, trans. Robert Hurley (New York, NY: Zone Books, 1991), 256.
: *(and this state of the subject existing beyond itself is often called ‘communication’ as this subject is fused with its object in communion, which forms a ‘community’.)
[5–6]: Andrew J Mitchell and Jason Kemp Winfree, “The Obsessions of Georges Bataille: Community and Communication,” in The Obsessions of Georges Bataille: Community and Communication (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2009), pp. 1–17, 4.
[7–8]: Leslie Anne Boldt-Irons, “On Bataille: Critical Essays,” in On Bataille: Critical Essays (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995), pp. 1–38, 7.
: Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism (an Essay in Atheistic Religion) (London, UK: Routledge, 1992), 159.