chapter
17 Pages

An introduction to Bataille: the impossible as (a practice of) writing

JOHN LECHTE

To say that George Bataille is an unusual, exceptional or even rare writer and thinker is to prejudge the case. For the risk is that we impose an already elaborated framework of normality onto the individual and his œuvre without first having been unsettled, repelled, delighted or transformed by the profound experience that reading Bataille entails. To read Bataille is to be confronted by an excess, by an experience of limits, by an experience of difference, by a horror that seems to derive as much from an interior experience which has no object, as from the text deemed to be exterior to the reading self. Does Bataille evoke things in us that we should prefer to deny, to keep under wraps, to repress? Or is it that Bataille is ‘outside’—so profoundly outside, and foreign and apparently beyond objectification-that a threatened self must work to domesticate him, render him acceptable, comprehensible, and worthy of being spoken/ written about? I must say that although every introduction qua instrument of illumination has to follow the course of ‘domestication’, I write about, or on, Bataille with anguish and uncertainty.1 For me, reading Bataille involves reading myself in more than one way. It is to confront a self that I do not always want to see; it is ultimately my self as dead that is at issue. What other meaning can horror-and the pleasure that is often the path to it-have? Take, for example, Bataille’s Story of the Eye.