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The Accursed Share: Volumes II & III Hardcover – 2 Apr 1992

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""The Accursed Share" is a brilliant Product of [Bataille's] loony-toons coupling of critical genres: pseudo/antisurrealist manifestos, leftist political treatises, erotics, Hegel 'n' Nietzsche studies, mysticism, anthropology, and sun worship.... This strange and impressive book should not be ignored."--Erik Davis, Voice Literary Supplement (review of volume I)

About the Author

Georges Bataille (1897-1962) was a French writer, essayist, and philosopher whose works include The Story of the Eye, The Blue of Noon, The Accursed Share, and Theory of Religion. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Paperback.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exploring inner complexity 10 Mar. 2010
By epic phlegm Hooha - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am interested now in a few pages near the end of the book associating destitution with art. Georges Bataille is quite familiar with forms of social analysis making a distinction between accumulation and consumption that directs the worker against growing accumulation as a way to increase current wages. The complexity at this point about the subjectivity of the "man of sovereign art" as a subjectivity lowering himself: "This loss of social standing is not opposed to inner knowledge of the human possibilities that classing alone opened up, but it involves itself in the negation of those possibilities insofar as they attain the cohesion that bestows rank." (p. 423). I see a major opening up between institutional thinking that hopes individuals acquire a regimentation for uniform thinking appropriate to their level within an organization, and those people possessing supernatural powers of an artistic nature that astound a world in which shooting for $14 trillion has become a fallback for coming up with the trillions of dollars that it takes to govern you people each year. The age in which actual solutions for our present problems locating the pillar of fire and cloud of smoke leading us to a promised land is rapidly turning into a time that does not exist, and what are we leaving ourselves with if not destitution?
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Georges Bataille is almost a prophet 11 Feb. 2013
By Mark Melchior - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You may not be ready for this book. It spells out much of the current social dilemma. Erotic lives lead badly.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Steven H Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Georges Albert Maurice Victor Bataille (1897–1962) was a French philosopher, novelist, and literary critic (and a librarian by profession); he wrote many books, including The Accursed Share: an Essay on General Economy, Vol. 1: Consumption, On Nietzsche, Visions Of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-1939, The Impossible, The Tears of Eros, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1949 book, “I wanted in this book to lay out a way of thinking that would measure up to those moments---a thinking that was removed from the concepts of science (which would bind their object to a WAY OF BEING that is incompatible with it), yet rigorous in the extreme, as the coherence of a system of thought exhausting the totality of the possible. Human reflection cannot be causally separated from an object that concerns it in the highest degree; we need a thinking that does not fall apart in the face of horror, a self-consciousness that does not steal away when it is time to explore possibility to the limit.” (Pg. 14)

He continues, “…the first volume of this work, where I analyzed the relationship of production to consumption…I was showing, of course, that production mattered less than consumption from being seen as something useful… This second volume is very different, describing as it does the effects in the human mind of a kind of consumption of energy generally considered base. No one therefore will be able to shift from the asserted sovereign character of eroticism of the usefulness it might have. Sexuality at least is good for something: but eroticism… We are clearly concerned, this time, with a sovereign form, which cannot serve any purpose.” (Pg. 16)

He states, “this dual character of my studies is present in this book: I have tried… to outline the consequences of the coherent system of human expenditures of energy, where eroticism’s share is substantial. I do not think, as a matter of fact, that we can touch upon the underlying meaning of political problems, where horror is always in the background, unless we consider the connection between work and eroticism, eroticism and war. I will show that these opposed forms of human activity draw from the same fund of energy resources… Hence the necessity of giving economic, military and demographic questions a correct solution, if we are not to give up the hope of maintaining the present civilization.” (Pg. 17)

He concludes the Preface with the statement, “My book might be seen as an apology for eroticism, whereas I only wanted to describe a set of reactions that are INCOMPARABLY rich. But these reactions I have described are essentially contradictory… Human existence commanded an abhorrence of all sexuality; this abhorrence itself commanded the attractive value or eroticism. If my perspective is apologetic, the object of this apology is not eroticism but rather, generally, HUMANITY… the laxity and lack of tension, the slackness of a dissolute self-indulgence detract from HUMANITY’S VIGOR; for humanity would cease to exist the day it became something other than what it is, entirely made up of violent contrasts.” (Pg. 18)

He states in the first chapter, “I will hold to a starting principle as my book progresses. I will consider the sexual fact only in the framework of a concrete and integral totality, where the erotic and intellectual worlds are complementary to one another and are situated on the same plane.” (Pg. 23)

He admits at the beginning of chapter 4, “if from the world of passion, where without difficulty tragedy and the novel or the sacrifice of the mass form recognizable signs, I pass to the world of thought, everything shuts off: in deciding to bring the movement of tragedy, that ‘sacred horror’ which fascinates, in the intelligible world, I am aware that, disconcerted, the reader will have some trouble in following me.” (Pg. 111)

He suggests, “More generally, the lovers’ consumption is measured STRICTLY, by mutual agreement, in terms of possibility. But love joins the lovers only in order to spend, to go from pleasure to pleasure, from delight to delight: theirs is a society of consumption, as against the State, which is society of acquisition.” (Pg. 162-163)

He says, “I don’t intend to reduce ‘mystical states’ in this way to a ‘transposition of sexual states.’ The whole thrust of my book is contrary to these simplifications. It seems to me no more legitimate to reduce mysticism to sexual eroticism than to reduce the latter, as people do, even without saying it, to animal sexuality. Yet we cannot seriously deny the connections that turn two distinct forms of love equally into modes of consumption of all the individual being’s resources.” (Pg. 170)

He argues, “it would be childish to conclude right away that if we relaxed more and gave the erotic game a larger share of energy the danger of war would decrease. It would decrease only if the easing off occurred in such a way that the world did lose an already precarious equilibrium. Indeed, this picture is so clear that we can immediately draw a conclusion: we will not be able to decrease the risk of war before we have reduced, or begun to reduce, the general disparity of standards of living, that is, the general equilibrium. This way of looking at things leads to a judgment that is clearly only theoretical at present; it is necessary to produce with a view to raising the global standard of living.” (Pg. 188)

He acknowledges, “What I am saying is perhaps poorly supported, far removed from a reality that is neither simple nor pure. But the inner experience that guides me obliges me to maintain the autonomy of this representation with regard to the precise historical data that ethnography, for example, studies.” (Pg. 241)

He suggests, “I don’t know if it is reasonable to propose a ‘radiant future’ ‘to tomorrow’s humanity, but we would do well not to close our eyes to a truth that in part the fight ‘for a radiant future’ keeps one from seeing. We will be able to distinguish the present shape of this truth, where effects cannot yet be known, only if we are not obliged to get ourselves approved by the masses.” (Pg. 278)

He contends, “The respect due to man is meaningful only insofar as I remain associated with the impulse that led men of all times to contest the humanity of all the others. Often this contention is crude, but without it there would not have been humanity since, at bottom, its initial impulse was the repudiation of animality. But it is this contestation that we find from one end to the other in the apparent ascent of man, as well as in the moments of decadence, of unjustified contempt, of baseness.” (Pg. 337)

He explains, “In a rather general way, Nietzsche’s work exerts an irresistible attraction, but this attraction does not entail any consequence. Those dazzling books are like a liquor that excites and illuminates, but leaves a basic way of thinking intact.” (Pg. 365) He adds, “I am the only one who thinks of himself not as a commentator of Nietzsche, but as being the same as he.” (Pg. 367)

He observes, “the miserable idea of ‘art for art’s sake’ showed how difficult it is to perceive the simplicity of the problem that art poses to existence. ‘Art for art’s sake’ means that art cannot serve any other purpose than itself, but this formula makes little sense if art is not first extricated from the insignificant position it has in society.” (Pg. 418)

This is one of Bataille’s major “nonfiction” works, and will be of great interest to anyone studying his thought and its many manifestations.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sovereignty and Being 24 April 2008
By P. Cockeram - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Bataille's 3-volume masterwork is the triumph of his life's work in the philosophy of expenditure. For beginners seeking a comprehensive introduction to this most important of 20th century philosophers (a title Foucault bestowed upon Bataille), I recommend reading "Erotism: Death and Sensuality" first, then the three volumes of "The Accursed Share," and finally "The Tears of Eros."

To what has already been written here about "The Accursed Share," I would add a few words about the book's content. Bataille proposes that the sovereign state--that condition of ultimate value, in which we are removed from the world that tallies our value in terms of the work we perform, in which we exist for our own sake--is the secret goal of all humanity. However, this sovereignty is not so much a development of humanity as a return to our lost animal state, a return along the trajectory of self-consciousness that resulted from becoming human. Bataille defines the human as an eternal dialectic between this lost animality and the human world of work and reason.

His masterwork develops ideas that will benefit the fields of study including economics, morality, humanities, politics, aesthetics, Nietzschean philosophy, theology, and ontology, for Bataille elucidates some of the principles that link all these fields together--principles that many of these fields have loathed to discuss for themselves.
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