The Tears of Eros Paperback – 18 Jan 2001
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the very structure of human beings
Veiled, in the face of oppositions
that vertiginously disclose themselves,
in these newly inaccessible depths
which are, for me,
"the extremes of the possible."
Sade and Goya lived at the same time in France and Spain. The French kept Sade in prison for many years and Goya was living in a prison of deafness, which made him heedless of what everybody said about his pictures.
The Introduction by J.M. Lo Duca states, “It was on the 24th of July, 1959, that Bataille decided upon the title of this book: ‘The Tears of Eros’ … The idea of ‘The Tears of Eros’ never left him, and he planned it down to the most minute detail, from the economy of the chapters to the cropping of the photographs… and including a very elaborate selection of images from the prehistoric era, the Ecole de Fontatinbleau, and from the Surrealists, both avowed and clandestine. For two years, from July 1959 to April 1961, he elaborated the layout of this work, which increasingly took on the proportions of a conclusion to all the themes he had loved. Putting it together, however, was slow, and ‘The Tears of Eros’ was held up both by circumstance … and by the decline of his physical strength… The book was finished… and he was happy with it; it was a unified whole, from the choice of the typeface to the rhythm of the page layouts; he had taken care that his ideas were neither slowed down, nor impeded, nor betrayed by a misplaced image.”
Bataille wrote, “In considering eroticism, the human mind is faced with its most fundamental difficulty. Eroticism, in a sense, is laughable… Allusion to the erotic is always capable of arousing irony. Even in speaking of the TEARS of Eros, I could give in to laughter… Eros is nonetheless tragic. Above all, Eros if the tragic god.” (Pg. 66)
He continues, “At this point, I would like to explain the religious meaning of eroticism. The meaning of eroticism escapes anyone who cannot see its RELIGIOUS meaning. Reciprocally, the meaning of religion in its totality escapes anyone who disregards the link it has with eroticism.” (Pg. 70)
He argues, “In the history of eroticism, the Christian religion had this role: to condemn it. To the extent that Christianity ruled the world, it attempted to liberate if from eroticism. But if we want to come to a conclusion about the consequences of this, we are obviously in a predicament. Christianity was, in a sense, favorable to the world or work. It valorized work at the expense of sensual pleasure. Of course, it turned paradise into the world of immediate---as well as eternal---satisfaction. But first it made paradise the outcome of an effort, the outcome of labor. In a sense, Christianity is a link that made the outcome of labor---the labor, primarily, of the ancient world---the prelude of a world of work.” (Pg. 79)
He states, “I write these desolate phrases in a state of mind quite the opposite of the delicious sangfroid that the name Erzsébet Báthory calls up. It is not a question of remorse, nor of a rage of desire as it was in Sade’s mind. It concerns opening consciousness to the representation of what man really is. Faced with this representation, Christianity went into hiding. Beyond doubt, mankind as a whole must forever remain in hiding, but human consciousness---in pride and humility, with passion and in trembling---must be open to the zenith of horror. Although Sade can be read with ease today, it has not changed the number of crimes---even sadistic crimes---but it fully opens human nature to a consciousness of itself.” (Pg. 140)
This book contains the themes for which Bataille is known, and the illustrative artwork aptly emphasizes his points. This book will be “must reading” for anyone seriously interested in Bataille.
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