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Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-39 (Theory & History of Literature) [Paperback]

Georges Bataille
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £12.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press; 1st edition (20 Jun 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816612838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816612833
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 353,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Volume 14 in Theory and History of Literature series

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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 22 May 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Im so impresed with this mans work I am obsessed. He is a rare breed of intelligence. He has a piece in this called 'Mouth" which refers tothe position our heads take well being thrown back in a scream as that of an extension to our spines, inother words that we assume an animal architecture to our bones in the most extreme pains. Batailles constant opinions detailed here in wonderful totaly controlled short pieces , is for me, the only truly awful reading I have ever done. A music piece I often play also has this effect. It is genuis to have the power of horror in works not involving the 'supernatural". I am in awe of this odd,dead man.
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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reconnecting with the estranged parts of the mind 1 Jun 2012
By Jennifer F Armstrong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To understand Bataille, it pays in any case to have read some Nietzsche, Marx, Hegel and Freud, since he draws a lot from these. Visions of Excess has a simply premise from Nietzsche, that when we are unhappy we lose all moderation and go into excess. Another Nietzschean premise is that those who a psychologically rich can afford to go into excess more than those who are psychologically impoverished. So it is that Bataille tries to appeal to a particular segment of society -- those who have been made to feel unhappy by their lack of power in relation to society's hierarchical structure, but who are nonetheless intrinsically rich enough, within themselves, to express a different kind of spirituality than those who are on top.

VISIONS OF EXCESS contains short meditations, some of them pornographic, but all of them in relation to the structure of psychology I have described. He sees society as a body, with the lower parts being more important than generally assumed. He likes the idea of a body without a head. He also likes the idea of challenging oneself with greater and greater forms of evil. This is a Nietzschean conception, that incorporating more evil into the consciousness expands the psyche in a beneficial way.

As Bataille points out in his short essay, there would have to be two "suns" for us, if we were to process the story of Icarus in accordance with what most people believe (falsely) about the nature of reality. Our priests throughout the ages have taught us to bifurcate reality, so that loss, decline and deterioration do not seem to be part of the essence of humanity at all.

The climbing to the height is one thing, and it is understood as a representation of one kind of reality. Let us call it will to power and ascendence through the ranks of homogeneity.

Then there is the cry of alarm, the melted wings and the terrifying falling, away, away from the sun. This registers to our socially conditioned minds as a state of heterogeneity. It registers as discordance, as formlessness. We are alarmed because we implicitly believe the possibility of continuing to ascend to heaven to be infinite. We relegate all fallen heroes to the parade of shame which is populated by those whom we consider to typify those elements of disruption and shame (the heterogeneous) who have no place in well-ordered society.

There is a certain point in Icarus' journey when upwards starts to become downwards. What was ecstasy becomes grief. To a compartmentalising mind, there can be no association between the spiritual (or psychological) pathway towards ecstasy and the one which leads to grief. They are two different pathways, with two different results. Thus, the bifurcation of the mind, which demands two suns, for Icarus's falling to the Earth is also a falling into the sun, to be burnt alive by human demands that prohibit a failure of any sort.

Bataille's insight is that loss can also be a gain, a thrill, a mode of ecstasy, for it is part of life: Indeed, there is only one "sun" (one realm of human experience), and Icarus is falling into it.
20 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 22 May 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Im so impresed with this mans work I am obsessed. He is a rare breed of intelligence. He has a piece in this called 'Mouth" which refers tothe position our heads take well being thrown back in a scream as that of an extension to our spines, inother words that we assume an animal architecture to our bones in the most extreme pains. Batailles constant opinions detailed here in wonderful totaly controlled short pieces , is for me, the only truly awful reading I have ever done. A music piece I often play also has this effect. It is genuis to have the power of horror in works not involving the 'supernatural". I am in awe of this odd,dead man.
10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to Place 2 Aug 2009
By Steiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Bataille remains for me a thinker who is almost always interesting but rarely coherent. His fiction is brilliantly conceived and revolutionary, but this collection of essays ranges from the inspired to the merely fragmentary. Although by his own admission, Bataille was not interested in forging a positive philosophy to replace the systems of materialism or idealism, still there remains something strangely absent in Bataille's varied speculations on sacrifice, auto-mutilation, or the unforgettable 'pineal eye.' It is difficult to discern how literally he is to be taken. On the one hand, his excoriations of the Nazi's appropriation seems totally sincere and convincing, but his work on 'the solar [...]' is both juvenile and uninteresting. Granted, his essay on Sade is a brilliant and provocative analysis of the 'use value' of excrement, but this still remains a minor and confused work of thinking.
6 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and beautiful! 9 Oct 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Bataille was French surrealist who wrote like an alien trapped on a hostile planet. In searing essays like "the Solar Anus," he almost convinces you that the end is not just near, but here. Disturbing and beautiful, this book is highly recommended.
5 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars cant under stand book 25 Oct 2012
By Rob T. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
to hard to read this book. cant understand book. much boring. i think it should be burn. read harry potter instead.
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